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.

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