Friday, August 28, 2015

Colors and oxygen

Wonderful food and company
Monday, August 24
Sunday night, I get a call from one of the neighbor ladies, "Are you still coming at 10:00 tomorrow as we agreed?" Of course I say yes. I can't remember her face.

We can't get in touch with the Monday morning study host to ask if we're meeting this morning. Maybe she's still traveling? (Later we find out that her phone isn't working.)

But what have I agreed to? I put on black trousers and wrapped a silk scarf over my linen blouse and ask the driver - who is our cultural guide in many situations - if I should take food or cookies. 

He has a standard answer, "Well, maybe. But it depends."

Tea and updates: listening to a report
I wrap up some chocolate cookies and go down the street. Oops. Wrong street. She lives in the next block so it takes me a while to find her house. When I knock at the front door, she looks a bit worried, like I wasn't going to show up. Isn't this the right time? She said "10 asd la wei nlsd kfja oija najan?" (well, I just put my fingers on the keys, but there were a lot of Indonesian words I missed. Later, when I look at the calendar, I see that I'd been expected to come early.)

She is dressed to the nines, bright headscarf, beautifully embroidered dress. I didn't remember that we were going anywhere but she looks for our car. Not there.

"I guess we'll have to take public transportations," she says with disappointment in her voice. She's in her late 70s and not very mobile!

OOOOOOh. Another memory fail. With my brain tangled in language studies, I've forgotten that our driver has been scheduled to take us to the big arisan meeting (the women's groups of the whole hill = 3 regional chapters.) She and I talked last month about her taking me along. Yikes! Her friends have already left in a car that holds only 4. Since I wouldn't fit in the car with them, she's offered to ride with me in ours, making sure I find the place.

I call home: W and Kirsten are preparing to go to town and they will swing by to get us. The house we're going to is on the way down the hill. We wait ... and then our Kijang shows up. Whew.

Beautiful foods: what do you recognize?
We are dropped off at a big, beautiful house, on a huge corner lot. The courtyards are filled with orchids and exotic tropical plants. The family has lived there for years. It is built like ours - all the 1960-70s mod-cons. In our house, some systems are iffy and half-replaced, so does she have electrical and plumbing issues like we do?

First, we listen to reports of where our fees have been spent (children's charities) and hear greetings as we sip tea and enjoy snacks. What an abundance of food!

Every table top is covered with chips, cakes, and other goodies. The ladies heap my plate and are surprised that I like the hot pedas local snacks. I protest: maybe there's still lunch coming? Of course, they say, but I should try everything.

I am the least-dressed-up of all the feminine flock in their bright headscarves and long dresses. And the youngest by 10-15 years... I'm the foreign woman who doesn't know their customs but they're very patient with me.

Gather around! W's regular Monday night Hash
At these meetings, we socialize (rotate around the room), eat, eat, eat, and get business updates on their social projects. I'm getting used to it, not quite as out of place, and they know me and that I know nothing. They're patient and this time I could understand maybe 10% of the conversation, a delightful upgrade from 1% previously. One of the ladies sits down beside me. She is the widow of the former army officer, regional governor, and Minister of the Interior for Indonesia.

They send me home with a big bag of leftovers. I again protest: it's too much! But each time I leave the table, someone puts more into the bag until it's almost bursting. 

When I get home, the family is grateful for all the samples of delicious food. (I can't eat another bite. I skipped desert at the arisan meeting. Too much is too much!)

Meanwhile, Kirsten has seen an arthritis and internal medicine specialist today at the best hospital in town. She wants a doc locally as well as in Singapore. Thanks to our friend Dr Hanna, we have somewhere to begin.

We mostly take the driver and Kirsten can walk around in the malls and for short spurts on the streets. She's used to stairs from Korea but wears out quickly.

In the evening, we take K along on our hash (a walk and a barbecue) in the hills above Bandung. The air is full of oxygen from the trees on all sides.

K is sore: she lies down in the car for a catnap while W and I walk. When we come back, we join the circle of people visiting. After an hour, she is cold, too. Mind you, I am also freezing with a light coat on: it's only 65oF in the mountain air. The stars and a bright moon shine above us.

Sundanese song and dance
Our friend from Jakarta arrives while we are running morning errands. He says he doesn't mind the peace and quiet and the views from the porch, relaxing before we return.

In the afternoon, while K rests, Micha, W, and I head to Udju. A few decades ago, a Sunda musician noticed that traditional music was disappearing and decided to opened a culture center. Though he has died since, his children maintain the school and cultural presentations. We love going to the bright, colorful show. Micha gets ideas for IESJakarta's Christmas celebrations, perhaps using local instruments.

Serious treads for dusty and dirty trails
Thursday is always busy and today is no exception. We take Micha on our walk. Usually we walk a big loop of uphills and downs. Today it's almost completely downhill on a paved trail through the jungle. I don't need to brace myself on slippery slopes or haul myself up muddy banks, so W clips my walking sticks to his caribiner, along with his own.

The monkey families are chattering in the treetops and when we get near the end of the trail, we hear the wailing of a little boy. A monkey has stolen a mango from the little guy; he scolds it while he complains to his mother.

Can you spot the monkey?
Two sets of military caves are dug into the hillside. Long bunker rooms for prisoners or ammunition and supplies are joined by tall tunnels. The separate systems are only hundreds of meters apart: one was dug by the Dutch, nicely paved with concrete wide enough in places to drive a jeep inside. The other, hacked into the solid mountain by the Japanese, is similar but has smooth round stones set into paving. Both have air vents that could function as escape hatches.

Micha inside the Dutch tunnels
We eat a good meal at the Bamboo Shack, just below the exit from our walk. When we get back to the house, we leave Micha to rest and visit with David and Paula. K, W, and I go back to study Ruth 3 with Ibu R at the restaurant.

W stops to run a "quick errand" to buy phone minutes for David on the way home. Of course, we already know nothing is quick here. While W does business in air-conditioned comfort for 20 minutes, four of us sit and wait in the car, including a the host of the walk, who lives near our place. Ugh. We are hot, sweaty, and stinky from the walk.

The beautiful hills above Bandung,
with illegal farming on many hillsides
We get home, K and I are dropped off, and W picks up Micha for the regular Thursday evening gathering. For supper, K and I warm up some food left by our helper - eek those green beans are spicy! - and relax for an hour or two with a Korean drama.

A reminder to plant our roots deeply
into Indonesian soil
Our friend DrW drops in with some home-jelled coconut (oh, yum!) and helps us arrange a garden helper. We must tame the yard: the grass is dry and weedy and the hedges are growing shaggy mohawks. W has never liked yard maintenance and we have other things to do. 

The man who has been coming for years (a day or two a week) has taken a security job and only shows up occasionally. His pruning skills are a bit brutal. He rakes fallen leaves around the trunks of the trees and in the corners of the yard, making nice nests for snake or rodents. And there are broken flower pots and tools here and there, ladders propped against trees, etc. 

The new person works for DrW. She says he knows gardens: he is willing to work two half-days a week. Otherwise, he's busy.

Read more:
*I am going to gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. Jeremiah 31:8 ESV

*The master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23 ESV

*Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29 ESV

*Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV

Moravian Prayer: God, we are embarrassed by our prejudices. We hide under the veil of innocence even though you know our inner hostility. Help us to see those who are vulnerable as your chosen ones. Help us to glorify you through outrageous hospitality. Amen.

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