Monday, October 5, 2015

Chasing the hare

Into the hills we go
Monday, October 6, 2015
"And they're off!"

I'm at my first hash harrier's run in months. The dash through the mountains and neighborhoods happens a few times a week. We "chase a hare", a person who runs ahead and marks the trail with little squares of paper and chalk arrows. If you miss the papers - or are diverted by the hare's false trails - you have extra steps to get back on track.

W goes Mondays and often Saturdays. I've always been "too tired" or "too busy" to go. Usually I'm weary after studies, visits, or errands. And by late afternoon, it's hot out. But because a friend especially asked and the day marks Chinese Independence Day, I'm going. No matter what.

The vegetable seller at the Monday hash
We have our Bible Study in the morning: this time a woman from the Philippines joins us. We talk about Abraham and the blessings on Ishmael and Isaac ... even before the covenant of circumcision happens. (Gen. 16, 17) Though Ishmael will be like a "wild donkey," always fighting with his brothers, God promises Abraham that Ishmael will multiply and live in Abraham's territory. (This is 13 years before Isaac is born.) God has kept his promises all these years.

I'm expecting company at 2. My friend and I have texted back and forth about the visit but my last message (confirming the time) doesn't go through. At 2:15, I send her another message. Tea's on, snacks are out ... and my friend says she's coming in a half hour. What to do?! Shall I skip the hash again?

Waldemar is determined to leave by 3:10; we're picking up someone on the way to the hash.

Down means ... going up soon
So Dr W and I settle for a very quick visit. Her dear face is an encouragement. She's been the kindest neighbor, introducing me to other women and the culture. She's a professor and travels a lot like we do - so whenever we are in town together, we pop by to say hi and reconnect.

She always brings a homemade local treat. Today it's yams in sugar and coconut water. Oh yum! But the meeting is short - too short. She calls over her gardener, who climbs a ladder to cut a jackfruit from our tree for her. (We are delighted to share the abundance.) The gardener takes the second fruit home.

We lock the gate behind us. The neighbor's dog warns off intruders at this point. We've been warned that the neighborhood thief is out of jail again. We pray over the house and yard because there have been break-ins and thefts from the time he was released. We're considering getting another dog or two for the big yard as the neighbor's dogs age. We need deterrents. Hmmm, I love poodles: a barking dog guards at night.

Chalk arrows mark the intersections
Finally, we make it up the mountain to Lembang. W gets call after call from an African fellow who has relocated to Bandung: he decides to take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to the start of the hash. But he arrives a half-hour after we start. Between the ojek driver, an Indonesian walking with us, and Clem, he can't figure out where we are.

W finally tells him to stay put: there's no sense in heading out into the hills alone if he can't even find the gate into the hash. We don't want to lose him in the footpaths. "We'll be back in an hour."

We buy a few vegetables (3 kilos of bok choy, cucumbers, celery, lettuce and a fresh pineapple) for under $8

We pray through the villages we pass
Then we're off down a hill, trailing the pack. "Oh no, what goes down must come back up," I think, instantly hot. Instantly flushed. And tired. I'm so out of shape, compared to months ago.

We trek through the forests, villages, and fields for 5 miles. I check my heart rate, between 150-175 for 20 minutes. A good cardio workout! I feel like I'm not getting enough air to propel my legs any faster. We pass a few people and others pass us. Most of the runners are in front but we're not the last by any means.

On the final hill, I doubt I'm going to make it.

W talks to the pineapple seller at the end of the hash
"Shall I pull you up?" W's been walking to town and on the weekly hashes. He's fit. And he puts out a hand and starts to tow me.

"Tell me if I'm going too fast," he says.

I reply, "Oh don't worry, hon. I'm just lifting my feet, one after the other." I'm not exerting any more energy than that!

Cooling ice in a tiny cup
He pulls me up the last steep 100 feet. The man behind us is feeling under the weather. He's usually one of the faster runners but we leave him behind on that hill. (Yes, it's that steep.) I'm happy to be at the top and level again. Yes, I need to do this more often.

We get to the starting building and eat a refreshing ice. Ice chips are scooped into a little cup. The toppers are fermented black rice. Fermented cassava root. Freshly cut pineapple. Surprisingly delicious. And cooling.

"What's wrong with your face?" Hendy asks me. "It's so red." Except for a white moustache, the signal that I've been exerting myself.

Happy that it's pretty clean

Playing cards while they wait for everyone to get back
"Give it half an hour," I tell him. "Then I'll be back to normal." It takes an hour for the flush to recede.

The toilets are a strange mix of modern tank and hole in the floor. I have to wait my turn; the stalls are full of gals changing into fresh clothing. Some take a shower with the hose normally used to clean the toilet so the walls and floor are soaked.

It's a hard-drinking crowd. When I'm called to the circle for some trumped-up offense (listening to the man from Hong Kong talk beside me), I dump my beer into the cups of the guys on either side of me. "Hey," one shouts. "Had I known I would have stood further away!" Haha. I hate beer. And I'm not drinking anything stronger than water.

Cooking up a feast for friends
One of the organizers notices. He comes up later, points to my glass of water, and asks if I am a non-drinker. Yes. He smiles in acknowledgement and leaves me alone. I'm having fun without it. These people need Good News, too. So we're right where we should be.

We eat a Chinese feast of rice, noodles, fried crackers, chicken, and pork. (The Muslims avoid the pork.)

A little band strikes up a musical round. "What do you think of that?" someone leans over.

Good food and loud conversation
They wince in pain at the tones between tones. It's a different style than what Westerners are used to. But it's enthusiastic - and very loud.

The person stays for the dancing when we leave. The party's heating up and it's time to pull out. We have walked, talked, met people, and prayed for some. All good!

W negotiates the narrow streets between motorcycles, carts, and cars. Back home, I watch a short movie with Kirsten, do an hour of Indonesian review, and then it's time for sleep.

Read more:
*Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

*Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6 NIV

*Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

*Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

God, give us hearts to worship you, wherever we find ourselves. May we be salt, light, and a voice of hope to those around us. Let us love as we have been loved, in gratitude and awe for what you have given us. Amen

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