Sunday, November 29, 2015

Indonesian beauty

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Leonardo and Kathleen walk the dog
A young family is staying with us this week, arriving Sunday afternoon. Claudia and her two kids (5 and 6) moved to Singapore so husband/dad Josue could work on his Masters degree. Like us, sometimes they need to leave the country for visas. So they come to Bandung.

They are lovely! Mom is exploring the city for universities and schools. Bonus: the kids like walking Gypsy so he is being socialized to children (has never been around kids).

It's Thanksgiving week for Americans. When we lived in Seattle, we'd have people over for a big feast or go to family's house on Thanksgiving Thursday.

This week is a little different from how we used to celebrate Thanksgiving. Here it is in pictures:

We have fruit trees in the yard. The helpers (ours and a friend's maids) climb one big tree beside the porch to harvest the guava. These are not teenagers: these gals are in their 40s and 50s. Can you imagine yourself climbing up the tree?

I don't mention it to them that we saw a 3' rat snake in that tree 2 weeks ago...
Helpers climb the Jambu (guava) tree to reap fruit
We get up early so the driver can drop us at the train station by 7:30am. We're on our way to Jogjakarta, 7.5 hours away, for an organizational orientation conference.
We wait for another train to pass before crossing the tracks to our own train
Kirsten and I watch a drama on her IPad to pass the time. I marvel at the blessing of living in the tropics - in such a beautiful country.
The natty attendants stroll the aisles of the train with food and drinks
We check into the conference hotel (very reasonable by Western standards). We're greeted with a jasmine lei and the clang of a big gong as we start down the covered path from the parking lot to the reception desk.
Toooonnnnng! sounds the gong upon arrival
The concierge and chef greet us with enthusiasm. "Anything you want, just tell me. We will make it," promises the chef.

Well, maybe I'll have to cook in his kitchen: I'm responsible for the meat stuffing for Friday's turkey lunch. Will he be as enthusiastic if I ask him to share his stove? Hmmm.

We wake to a beautiful setting. "This country grows every stick that is put into the ground," an expat once told me. Apparently, the sticks have been positioned beautifully at the hotel. I can't believe our view at breakfast.

Breakfast table
The temples nearby are filled with statues and gods. Similar objects line the paths and pools of the hotel. It's astonishing to me to think that people sculpt a figure and then expect it to respond to them as it sits still and lifeless - whether metal or stone - on the pedestal on which they place it. No movement. No speech. No breath.

How different from our God ... who speaks and breathes life into us and his creation minute by minute, hour by hour.

After a day of orientation and occasional shopping (for ground beef, other supplies for meat stuffing), Kathleen takes me to the expat store for sage and beef bacon. She drops me at Tasha's, who lets me spread out in her kitchen to cook the stuffing. We stash the meat in Tasha's fridge for the morning, when she'll cook two small but costly turkeys.
A cute snack presentation of watermelon
We meet teammates for supper at 7pm in a little restaurant. It's dark, cozy, and conversation swirls between people who love Indonesia and are excited about what God is doing here.

Our breakfast appointment helps us gather ideas from team leaders. Then W, Kirsten, and I take a taxi to the main historic street and look at shoes (the dog chewed the leathers off Kirsten's walking shoes last week), batik (the local fabric that is dyed around multiple layers of wax resist), and souvenirs (which look interesting but we don't need any).
Jogja is full of new sights and sounds. We like this gold-painted becak along the street
Lunch is an American-style Thanksgiving. Our taxi is caught in traffic so we arrive later than planned.

But this is Indonesia. No one is upset or cares that lunch is served after the time on the schedule. I take pictures: everyone talks and moves around the room until we find a place to sit and eat.

In the late afternoon, it's back to the hotel and rest. Friend Paula and I get a traditional massage (lots of pinching, ouch!) I can't think of eating the rest of the day. W heads out to see what the local English Center gathering looks like. Great time with college kids, he says.

We've done so much sitting! W is under the weather - his throat is raspy and he may have a cold. He stays in the room while I walk the perimeter of the hotel golf course. I'm always surprised by the beauty around us and so grateful for lovely views. No one can earn such a privilege: being in these surroundings while working is a God-gift, for certain.

Beautiful hotel landscape below a hallway window
The director of the national non-profit partner gives us the history and background of the work: we expats are willing peers in helping the locals.

Friends Paula and David join us as we quickly retrieve our luggage and head for the airport. It's another mess in traffic but we make it on time ... only to have the flight delayed. I wander around the airport lounge but there's not much to see.

Finally, we take off and an hour later (remembering the 7.5 hour train ride on Wednesday!), we are back in Bandung.

We drop Paula and David at their house and are back in our own place before 10pm. It takes me until 1am to fall asleep.

It's the first Sunday of Advent. I love this time of year. May God bless and keep you as Christmas approaches!

Read more:
*How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 ESV

*Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21:33 ESV

*See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Coming Christ, we begin this journey of light and hope with your Spirit. Open our hearts, eyes, and minds to the call of new birth and new life given to all. Thank you for coming to us. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Friends weekend

We have visited (and eaten) so much this week that I'm afraid to get on the scale.
Friday, NU chapel airs a talk on video:
Bandung to Seattle via technology
Thursday, November 20, 2015
W meets Pascal for breakfast and gets baby pics of the little miracle, Desmond. He's perhaps the cutest answer to prayer ever!
Darling Desmond
Gypsy takes his final walk with his previous owner Mariska. She's wrapping up life in Bandung to return to Holland and her folks are helping pack up the house.
River forded, hill climb ahead!
It's a lovely few hours on "Mariska's Walk," a trip across a waterfall, up and down through the jungle, and between shrubs in the tea plantations of the hills around Bandung. We cool our feet in a river and let the dog run free through the fields.
Tea plantations
In the afternoon, we meet to study the story of rival twins, Jacob and Esau. We marvel at how God orchestrates his plans. Whether or not we feel secure in what's coming, God knows the whole story.
Teacher Bridget's birthday dinner
In the evening, Ms Bridget celebrates her birthday. She invites co-teachers from her school and two couple friends. The food is good but the friendships are precious. We love her - and wish her a year of blessings.

I leave Bandung at 7am to ride to the Jakarta airport to pick up friends Phyllis and Dale from the USA. Phyllis has been part of my accountability group since 1993 ... a long time.

They're returning from India and Thailand, where they support children and street rescue missions. They are full of stories of redemption and God's intervention. How encouraging!
Friends over the years
The flight lands on time at noon: finally I spot them outside on the curb, waiting to be found. We make it back to Bandung with on-and-off naps, conversation, and some traffic congestion: the 2.5 hour trip (100 miles) takes us over 5 hours.

We eat a late supper at Miss Bee's and talk the evening away.
44 friendship beads: matching Tiffany bracelets
W and I are up and out the door before 6 as usual; the new security dog needs a half-hour walk before breakfast or he's hyper all day. Sigh. Getting fitter, anyway - even if we are more tired. The dog brings us the leash when we are in the yard.

Day by day he reacts less to dogs on the street. We always appreciate a calm walk without wary side glances and snarling dashes towards other dogs. 

Overnight, he comes on the porch and eats the leather tops off 3 shoes: 2 of Kirsten's and one of our guest's Clark sandals. The dog owners are NOT happy with him. But Gypsy wags his tail and enjoys his walk regardless of his scolding.

It's time for some shopping and culture. We visit a few outlet stores (in this fabric manufacturing center of Indonesia).
Patient husbands waiting for wives to finish shopping
and then we head for Udjo, a venue for traditional Indonesian music, puppetry, and dance. (Below: Puppets and angklungs - bamboo instruments - waiting for the show.)

Can you spot Phyllis and Dale dancing with the kids?
After church in the morning, we meet friends Sumathi and Augustine at Raja Sunda, a restaurant with Sundanese food. We love bringing friends together - and the food is excellent as usual.
A favorite: Raja Sunda
Phyllis and Kirsten chat while Dale and Waldemar head down the hill to check on the airport shuttle for tomorrow. We try to rest in the afternoon.
Our Brazilian guests, Claudia and her two lovely kids Leo and Kathleen (ages 5 and 6) ride from the airport to our place with the driver. They need to leave Singapore for 2 weeks (re:visas). They tuck into the space upstairs. The kids discover the toys in the playroom while Claudia arranges the luggage and settles in.

North and South Americans and Indonesians gather on our porch for Bible study (Mark 8: the healing of the blind man; the query of Jesus: "Who do people say I am ... and who do you say I am?"

We head out immediately after the study, eating lunch at Porto before dropping Dale and Phyllis at the airport shuttle bus at 1:30.
And they're off - goodbye until next time
At 4pm, W takes the dog on the hash run (3-4 km) and gets home about 8. The kids are sleeping upstairs and we're about ready to do the same.

Read more:
*You in your mercy have led forth the people whom you have redeemed. Exodus 15:13 NKVJ

*One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32 NIV

*Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV

*Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 ESV

*“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord of all, hear our praises and our songs! Thank you for all the gifts of abundant life here today and with you tomorrow. Shape us in your likeness to share this good news with all the world.

Patient Teacher, we are sometimes distracted from your hope for the world by anger, mistrust, and doubt. Send us your peace that the burdens we carry may be released so we can follow you well. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Rebekah! and a dog week

Mariska's friends (she's in the front, middle)
November 18, 2015
And just like that, it's Wednesday again.

We take a dear friend Mariska to lunch. She's moving back to the Netherlands - and friends come from her charity organization, her book club, and her walking group (where I met her.)

We celebrate the birthday of a wonderful daughter-in-love Rebekah last week. These milestones are covered with a phone call and remind us just how far away we are from family. She's dear to us and we wish her a lovely year ahead.

W and Gypsy
In addition to regular appointments, we've begun new routines. Late last Wednesday, friends dropped off Mariska's dog. We've thought about security for our house for a while. And a dog seemed a possible solution.

Because Mariska is moving back to Europe her retriever/sheepdog mix needs a new home. We agreed to give Kaoki a week's trial.

He didn't come when we called his name so we changed his name to Gypsy. That worked better. W and I are strict. We started with a walk on Thursday morning. And training carried on from there. Dog treats work miracles with a smart canine!

The dog pulled me off my feet the second morning (=scraped elbows but no holes in my trousers). He was trying to attack a pack of dogs who were walking on leash across the street. He's still restless around other dogs but improving; apparently he stayed for a few weeks at a home with two guard dogs (Rottweilers) who weren't happy to have another male in the yard. He's wary of all strange dogs. He leaves cats, chickens and horses (encountered each morning) alone.

A quick walk around the yard yields these beauties
After the first night of constant barking, it began to get better. W took Gypsy on the weekly hike through the hills on Saturday and did just fine. We've put a harness and packs on the dog to give him the idea of working.

By yesterday, we decided that Gypsy should stay with us. What he's taught me so far:
Meet Gypsy

  • Kindness when you're young lays a good foundation for life. Kaoki was a beloved pet, well-cared for by Mariska. So he enjoys people and defends his family.
  • Determination shows up in the body. I don't let go of the leash even when I'm on the ground. Who knew?!
  • Sometimes changing your name makes you change your attitude. Made me think about how God calls us his children when we accept his love through Christ - and thereafter we hear him call our name and respond to him in a new way.
  • Exercise at 6am is over-rated, even if necessary. I'm burning more calories than I have in months, getting up early to walk the dog. It's time with W though - and well worth it.
  • God is full of surprises - and they can even show up as a security dog with a big bark and wagging tale.
Father and daughter across the table from my camera
Trying a Taiwanese dessert, Kirsten's favorite
Kirsten cooks for her parents. Oh yum.
In regular meetings, we've studied scripture, visited, and deepened relationships. We continue to work on visa issues and would appreciate prayers for those. We also look forward to Friday when American friends come for a visit.

Read more:
*Moses said, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28 ESV

*I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them. Ezekiel 37:26 ESV

*(Jesus said:) You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 NIV

*Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV

*In Jesus Christ every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Holy God, you keep your promises and we entrust our lives to you. Help us to share your love and grace as you have shared it with us. To you all glory on earth and heaven be given!

Jesus, you have shown us what it means to live as God intends. May our lives show your love, mercy, and compassion to all those we meet as we seek to be your disciples. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mosaic of a Monday

Batik and scarves, ready for a wedding
 How did it get to be Monday? (And a Monday that's almost over in Indonesia ... )

The Friday helper stayed home after a family funeral the day before. But I washed 8 loads of laundry: (bedding, towels, and clothing) and hung them to dry on the covered rooftop. That roof is leaking: the corrugated fiberglass panels need repair or replacement. Besides holes, there are small gaps where duct tape has been put over previous breaks. The puddles on the deck floor are 2-3" deep in places. I step carefully around or through them in my house flip-flops.

The Saturday morning helper comes early. Her eyes get big when she sees the job for the day = ironing. I tell her to put the folded sheets on the bed when she's done. The other helper can make the beds on Monday. There's no way to have guests and keep house while working here. I am so grateful for household helpers who do basic chores and cook occasionally.

The yard man shows up to clear the weeds that have sprung up in the garden. His occasional workdays ensure that we don't drown in the foliage that springs from every branch. With simple hedge clippers and a machete, he hacks through the overgrowth.

Just after 10, Kirsten and I join Dr W and Ibu S at a Sundanese wedding. The bride is modern and has designed the festivities, decorations, and clothing herself. It's beautiful, held in a garden and hotel that belongs to the sister of the lady who lived in our house. It's a sentimental day for Dr W, whose daughter married at the same place seven years ago.

The bride's family, ready to appear
Family processional
The bride appears with her little attendants
The bride enters as her brother, an amazing saxophone player (he's won a national music prize), plays a Western jazz tune. In the receiving line, she asks if she can come to our house sometime to speak English.

"Yes please!" we say.
Guests enjoy the visiting and beautiful surroundings
A young female physician talks to Kirsten and asks the same thing: would we mind if she comes over to practice English? We say, "Yes of course! Please come." Hopefully the women will contact us through Dr.W.
We pose with the dance troop
who perform a traditional "plate dance".
Mother and daughter outfits
The food is amazing. Saté, barbecued goat, chicken, rice, bakso (soup), coconut ice cream, thai siew mai, juices, and other goodies. Soon it's all disappeared into the stomachs of hungry guests.
Starting young: turning the barbecue spit with the goat carcass
When we get to our neighborhood, Dr W's driver drops us at the door of the arisan meeting. The other women are leaving as we arrive.

Our hostess is Finnish; her husband is Indonesian and they work and minister here. They live right behind us. We agree on a visit before we head home. She wants to send food along but she's out of plastic containers; we send our helper back through the rain to get the Finnish-style mashed potatoes and meatballs. Yum.
The tail end of the arisan meeting
K is in an arthritis flare, exhausted after our guests and not sleeping well. There's a change in the wind, which affects her joints. She heads for a nap when we get home.

Rainy season starts today, lightening flaring across the hill, thunder crashing on the day after our family leaves for Switzerland and Germany. The temperature cools down (to 70oF/22oC) and we shiver in our long sleeves or sweaters.

I think I might nap - and fall dead asleep for 4 hours.

It rains most of the day. The grass has turned from brown to green overnight.

After morning service, we take Sharen with us to lunch. She's good fun - and a good sport as we have to shift to another table to stay out of the rain.

I get faster at plugging my ears with each really loud clap of thunder. Lightening strikes 1-5 seconds before thunder so it's close (3 seconds = 1km / 5 seconds = 1 mile).

At the next table, a woman is presenting essential oils to a small group. The drumming of the rain on the roof means she has to speak loudly.

We were supposed to start a trial week with a dog whose job it will be to watch the property. But his host family is celebrating a birthday so he'll come in a few days.

In preparation, we buy a bag of dog food and contact a neighbor family with 4 kids: "Would your children like to walk the dog?" They left their dog behind in the USA when they came to Indonesia, just like we did.

After I write a checklist and go over it with the helper, she gets to work. Dishes. Floors. Bathrooms. Laundry. Put the linens on the beds.

A friend comes to the Bible study, held on our porch this week. (Our regular host at the restaurant is traveling.) We're reading Mark 7-8, how Jesus creatively obeys the Father and provides healing and restoration for those around him. There's no cookie-cutter formula for what he does.

Our guest walks me up to a nearby guesthouse where she swims every day. She signs me up for a month (@$12). There's also a little fitness room in case I want to lift weight. Do I? For today, 20 laps (40 lengths) of the pool have to do.

I'm working on a syllabus for a Spiritual Formation class I'll teach at a local seminary later this month. That takes the whole afternoon: my "work until 3 and take a break" never happens because I get caught up in the work.

Kirsten and I watch one episode of a show but we're both too tired for a second. She heads off to bed and I upload some new books that are about to be published. (I get them from the publishers to review them.) By midnight, I'm ready to sleep.

Read more:
*The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you. Leviticus 19:34 ESV

*The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. Psalm 121:7 ESV

*The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. Psalm 146:8 ESV

*“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18 ESV

*Even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid. Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Welcome all creation, O God, into your ways of love and compassion. Remind us that we have all been strangers made friends through Jesus Christ. Help us embrace one another as you embrace us all.
Redeeming God, you are always bringing light into our darkness and hope into our hearts. May we live with gratitude and faithfulness in your way and truth. Amen.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Family work and play

The local volcano
Friday, November 6, 2015
This morning I’m working on a course I’m teaching in a few weeks. My brother’s family has left for the airport. They return to Switzerland and Germany after spending a week in Vietnam and a week with us. They left us with many chocolates and goodies! We’ll have sweet memories for months.

It’s always a strange feeling as guests leave and we stay. The breakfast table is cleared, beds are stripped, and I can hear the swish of sheets being washed in the machines

… when the helper calls. She has a family funeral today: Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours when possible. Washing floors and ironing the bugs out of bedding can wait until tomorrow.

Family are friends
Even when it's cloudy, if you don't live in the tropics, wear sunblock
or shade yourself with an umbrella
a massage with lava mud feels good!
(We ran out of cash so I'll do it next time)
A refurbished hot spring pool is a good thing

Hanging out with family is the best
Our guests crammed a lot into a week. (I'm too focused when working to take pics, but I catch us at play in between.)

·      Speaking at a local church
·      Meeting children at a local center
·      Volcano walk and hot springs lunch
·      A morning at an elementary school (thanks, Teacher Bridgett!)
·      Prayers and small groups
·      Monthly movie night
·      Food – of course we shared some of our favorites!
·      The guys drove to Jakarta to meet staff friends at IESJakarta
·      A local hymn writer’s presentation
·      The Sundanese cultural center for music, art, and dance
·      Rest and hanging out
·      ·      Shopping
·          Creme bath (head massage and conditioner, an Indonesian "must do" at $5/hr)

Food brings us together
Some love to perform
And some love to watch

What I learned:
·       ·       The love of family and friends remains through the years
      ·       Eventually, we all turn into our grandparents and parents!
·      ·      Nothing can beat European chocolate. NOTHING. Nothing.
·      ·      Generous family is a delight
·      ·      A willing heart is open to the world (good to see our great-nephews engage the city with their parents)
·      ·      We have many places still to explore in Bandung
·      ·      God is full of surprises: we did more and saw more than we had planned
·      ·      Flexibility is golden – leaving some things for “next time” is fine
·      ·      Rubbing sharp edges brings the most direct results
·      ·      The food you grew up with isn’t the same food in Indonesia, even when the pictures are identical
·      ·      Home is where your heart is, anywhere in the world.
·      ·      Cooking, like riding a bicycle, is quick, useful, and a skill never forgotten
·      ·      Helpers are a good thing (especially when you’ve cooked for 20 guests at movie night)

Praying together matters
We love my brother's tribe
We love Bandung. As our guests head back to the cool temperatures of winter in Europe, I’m thinking setting up a Christmas tree might be in order ... after I have a cup of tea under the shade of the guava tree and finish my class syllabus.

Brothers stick together
A love for animals is inborn
Goodbye until next time!
Read more:
*Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 ESV

*Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalm 31:5 NKJV

*He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 NIV

*We will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:17–18 ESV

*Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. James 1:22

Moravian Prayer: God, may your presence empower us to live boldly and to do the work you call us to do with energy and hope for your future!
Lord, let our lives be testaments to our trust in you. Let our hearts be shaped by your love and our lives known by it. Amen.