Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sweet Sunday together

Just beautiful, even sitting curbside.
Sunday, January 24.15
The days are flying by. Saturday morning, we walk to Jogja - the local grocer - for dog bones, taking Gypsy for his walk. He is happily tied up while we have a light breakfast at Koloni, a series of food stalls.

We hear Gypsy's deep bark and walk over. When he spots us (shush-ing him) his tail waves exuberantly like the proud flag of a small nation.

W pulls down a suitcase and I pack. I'm a little leery of leaving the suitcase open for a few days. What if a roach gets in and infests our suite when I open the suitcase in Seattle?

"Don't worry," W says. "I haven't seen roaches in our bedroom. Only in the rest of the house." Thanks, hon. He is our exterminator, drowning roaches in the toilet on a regular basis. Sometimes they are dead on their backs. Sometimes they're just flipped over and still kicking. Ugh Ugh Ugh. Yeah. Ugh.

Every night, we hear the lizards chirping above our heads in the bedroom, chasing bugs in the coffered ceilings of this old house. They creep me out because they sit and then dart around. I have been known to shriek when they pop up from behind the bed or the water dispenser.
Besides clean water, I'm looking forward to seeing
these darlings soon!

Ah, water. I'll be able to brush my teeth in the shower when I'm in the USA. We don't take this for granted! Here, we only drink bottled water and must brush our teeth, rinse vegetables, and cook with the same ... just like the locals do. W has a drip going continually in the back kitchen so we don't have to buy water like we used to. One helper uses almost a half-bottle (about 2.5 gallons) to rinse vegetables. That got expensive, even at $.65 for 5 gallons.

W thinks he's trapped all the mice and their babies who were living between the floors. They would come down at night to bite holes in the little packets of spices, mayonnaise, and grains in the kitchen. He set up a security cam to see where they ran across the counters. Between traps, poison, and sticky paper, we think we got the whole tribe.

When we get up today (Sunday), Gypsy needs a walk and then it's time for church. Pastor Terry and his wife are Canadians - we "get" their culture and their references during the talks. The encouragement for me from the sermon is how Elijah (1 Kings 18) thought he was all alone - but there were 101 other prophets of God also serving. We are never alone in the Kingdom of God, no matter what we imagine or how we feel.

It's time to let some women know I won't be back for a while - and to say good-bye after church.

"That is the nature of our work and how it goes for all of us," says Karen. She's right: our friends here are constantly coming and going. You never know who is in town until they show up. And many people move here and leave with the military, with company transfers, and as long-term tourists.
Our view from the church seat: the canopy flaps in the wind today
and it rains while service is on
W asks one of the staff if he knows of good house-minders. The pastor tells him to put a note in the church program. Good! Prayers appreciated for a reliable couple or family to take care of the place. Though we are staggering our time away, it's good to have consistent live-ins.
Tofu fritters
We have a pizza ($5) at Miss Bee and "HURRAH" they have avocado juice, one of my favorite drinks. When avocados are in season, there's nothing quite as wonderful as whipped avocado with a bit of chocolate syrup drizzled inside the glass. Sounds awful? Tastes fabulous.

The server comes over and asks if we want a photo taken. Why not? (We've taken more pictures (and had more taken of us) in Indonesia than in our entire lives before.)

Read more:
*Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 ESV

*Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 ESV

*If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord of love and kindness, help us to show your true power. May we seek not our own joy but to bring happiness to others; not our own security but to help others find hope; not our own peace but a harmony that brings others together. Grant us your love. Amen.

From C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity:
I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. 

In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while
yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your
own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A few final things ... and a brain freeze

In transition: a building site prepared
by tearing down the old walls
Do you know the feeling of "checking out?" = the disconnection between what is happening around us and what is going on internally. I feel myself starting to "check out" this week.

Yesterday we are in town, talking to people in the market and on the streets but my mind won't focus. Words I know that I know slip away and I find myself stuttering and limited even in basic phrases of Bahasa Indonesia. And I'm exhausted, that soul-weary fuzzy zone of almost-not-thinking that precedes another transition. 3 more sleeps in this house before we drive to Jakarta for my early-morning flight to Seattle ...

Wednesday, January 20.15
Gypsy gets his first-ever bath: the mats are cut out of his hair and he is glossed and pretty when he comes home. But the natural oils that made dirt shed off his feet are gone, too. When he plays in the mud, the fine grains stick and his paws turn tawny yellow. 

We have 2 new walkers this morning, a neighbor and a new language school student. There's a new dog, too - a beautiful Rottweiler who is calm and friendly. Several drop off food (potluck afterwards at our house) before we start walking. We go behind the complex and down through the villages to cross into the grasslands that line the valleys.
Center dot: a walker (hat visible) coming up the trail between tall grasses
Gypsy is half-neutered, we find out. And the half that is not neutered is aggressive and won't calm down on 5 miles of walking. He pulls, barks and strains toward the other dog, and continually plunges ahead of me. I've never had a dog who returns to the same behavior time and time again after correction. (Poodles and Dobermans are more compliant!) 

I've scheduled the first appointment with the vet possible: W will be the "nurse" when the dog comes back from surgery next weekend.

The trail is slick as glass after several days of rainfall. Several of us slide back down hard-fought ground between the tall grasses. Gypsy sees the dog coming up behind us and pulls me down. Slip and slide, and we fortunately stop within 5 feet of the other (well-behaved) dog. 

Everyone clambers back to their feet and before long we are winding up paved alleys and through villages. We knock the sticky mud off our shoes. Scrape it off. Drag our shoes through grass - back and forward and sideways. But it sticks until it begins to dry and we can stomp it off on a paved path.

At one point we cross the river and pause to watch boys jumping and swimming in the strong current. There is no adult to supervise. No lifeguard or minder yelling from the bank. Just boys having fun in the sunlight and the swift, dirty run-off from kitchen sinks and muddy hillside. 

We have another steep hillside to climb before our house. Today we end with a tea party.

I hurry ahead to our house while the group climbs a final veeery steep hill. Do I have time to dive into the shower to rinse off the clay and splash of the trail? QUICK.

Then it's time to finish cooking and enjoy food, tea, and great company. For the first time, I meet the famed pavlova, an Australian meringue concoction that takes like sweet heaven. I've come to love these women and will miss our walks!

Then it's off to the Bamboo Shack for our Bible study. We cherish this time - it is food for our souls. It's always hard to say, "More next time" because the scriptures are so interesting.

The driver walks the dog while we get ready and clear a few emails. When Pak Entang returns, we go to town. W is looking for travel trousers but we only find fabric stores where we can buy "Italian" wools, silks, and cashmere blends for $5-10 / meter.

"We manufacture fabric in Bandung for Joanne Fabrics in the States, for the couture shops of New York and Europe, and for tailors in the whole world," one seller tells us.

One of the great privileges of being here is praying. As the ritual prayers ring out from the central mosque, we pray for those calling out prayers. We pray for their families. We pray for those listening. We pray for those praying along. May God make himself known in all his fullness and glory to them and to us.
The central mosque of Bandung
The city is full of curiosities. It's 90o but a young woman is dressed in full bridal wear to advertise a shop.

We browse the little shops of women's wear and updated traditional wear.
Chic clothing for the modern Muslim
I'll miss Miss Bee, the local restaurant where meals range from $2-10. We stop in for a light meal.

And I'm absolutely exhausted. I can feel how slowly my mind is working. I feel like my brain is atrophying, especially in the last month since we found out we have to return to the States for a few months.

"What I've missed most," I say to W, "is our habit of constant learning and engagement with information." 

Because our Indonesian is basic, we cannot read and scan and absorb everything around us like we are used to doing. Sure, we're still reading books, learning language, and trying to converse. But it's like slogging through a field of wet clay.

When W asks me to decide where to eat, where to go next, or to make other small decisions, I shrug him off. "You decide," I say. "My head is full."

And he is just as tired. When we drive by the downtown market, I ask to stop. W says, "We can come back later."

But we both know we'll be too weary after a few hours in town to fight traffic to return. It will be a few months before I get the right-sized swimsuit ... I just hope the vendor of the little stall is still there.

Read more:
*We your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13 ESV

*O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Psalm 105:1 ESV

*Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV

*Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

*Paul wrote: We may proclaim the good news in lands beyond you. 2 Corinthians 10:16 ESV

*With joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12 GNT 

Moravian Prayer: Great Shepherd, we are your flock, honored to hear our names called by you. You, Lord, give us green pastures to lie down in and still waters to walk beside. In you we find all that we need for true purpose for our lives. Call on us; we are yours.

We find comfort in your message and purpose in its proclamation, heavenly Savior, but too often we feel like we are in a world that doesn’t want to listen. Remind us that it is your message that we are called to share, not our own. Help us to take ourselves out of the message and share only your true light. Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Song and dance

Saturday, January 16.16
W walks to town (15 km) while I work at home. I call the kids. "Is there anything I can bring you?" I ask Kinsey, our 4-yr-old cucu. She requests shoes. "And how big are your feet?" I ask. She holds her feet up to the phone camera. Thanks. Helpful indeed.

In the afternoon, W goes on the weekly walk and takes Gypsy. He hammers his knees. During rainy season, grass grows on the trails and the foot lands below or above where expected. W ices his knees afterwards. Ouch.

Teachers help the kids scramble up the wall
to their seats. Yes, there were stairs.
DrW invites me to join her and her alumni class at Anklung Udjo. Years ago, a famous Sunda musician preserved traditional Sunda dance and music by building a theatre and anklung classrooms to train the next generation. He has passed away but his family maintains the center, which attracts locals and tourists.

The women are a diverse group. They live across Indonesia. Though they all studied agriculture (undergrad), they have become doctors, government officials, and have other distinguished careers. Many are still actively working but they make time to meet every second month. We share lunch: traditional Sundanese food and great company.
Good friends after so many years:
the WW (Wonder Women) and one Plain Jane
"We would love to have you join us regularly. You will learn the language more quickly if you speak with us." The president of the group is welcoming. They meet in Jakarta, sometimes in Bandung, and often elsewhere in Java.

The beautiful kids of Indonesia
I promise to come again when I resume language study in May or June. Their formal Indonesian is more useful in language practice than the village language spoken by helpers and local shop-keepers.
School kids enjoying the performance
Boys buying slingshots.
We all know what comes next.
One lady makes jewelry and brings it to sell. She shows me a necklace she made with fresh-water pearls and red coral. At $22, I decide to "buy it as a birthday gift from my husband" (haha - coming up soon).
Handmade art
"Wah, the price for you is less Rp50.000 ($3.70) less!" exclaims the gal next to me with a laugh. All the jewelry is beautiful - made with an artist's eye and love for detail.

I truly enjoyed these women and look forward to getting to know them.

My dear friend, happy birthday!
Sumathi and I get to celebrate her birthday, stopping on impulse at Haley's Café. It's supposed to be fusion Vietnamese food but I'll remember having a nice time with a girlfriend over a good dessert. Mind you, the lamb curry was tasty and the stuffed chicken not bad!

My mom's flying home from Europe today. In just over a week I'll be on the same continent (N Am). Can't wait to see the faces we love. My advisors have said, "God has chosen this time for a brief return. Enjoy it with all your heart!" so that's what I intend to do.

Read more: (ESV)
*The Lord makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters. Isaiah 43:16

*So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 

*Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5:36

Moravian Prayer: Lead on, lead on, O glorious Lord. Lead us on the path of righteousness! Turn not back to see if we follow; we follow you! Amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Working out body, soul and spirit

Wednesday, January 13.15
One of the pleasures of being a coach is talking to people around the world. Today I meet with someone working in Europe. Adjustments to culture are the same in every country.

The day starts with a Google Hangout at 4am. The rest of the women's caucus is up at a decent hour, which means that I'm up at night.

The walking group has an early start to miss the rain predicted at noon. We meet at 8, another big group. We start with a steep uphill climb for a few kilometers.

The views are spectacular as we walk along the tea plantations to the tea factory. They want to charge us to poke around and see how tea is made, but there's only black tea for Lipton on the conveyer so we pass.
Tea picked the traditional way
Looking back at the hills as we climb
From Australia, Germany, and New Zealand
... and our dog Gypsy love walking too. 
We pause for a picture when we're almost done.

Our rides are waiting at the end of the walk, beside a former hotel turned nursery and mosque.
Priorities in agriculture country: a former swimming pool filled with plants
As usual, we have lunch on the way home. This time we eat at Kampung Daun. It's a stunning collection of thatched huts set into jungle beside a rock face. The little restaurants feature local food and share the menu It could be the sterotypical tropical resort and many locals and tourists come here.

Angela's last walk before a few months in Germany. We'll miss her!
"Please miss, may we take a picture together?"
(after which I take a selfie with her)
The entry to Kampung Daun
And then it's off to the best time of week, a study at the Bamboo Shack. We've been studying Jacob's life in the book of Genesis - and we take time to pray for each other. God knows how to take care of us.

When we run to town, we are hardly surprised by the way we negotiate traffic. When traffic stops ahead, our turn lane moves into the empty lanes for oncoming traffic. While the other cars wait for the light, we cross until they start moving again.

Into the oncoming traffic lanes: it's how we turn
Flowers in the garden
K's room is empty. How we miss her!
Read more: (ESV unless noted)
*You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

*You know me, O Lord; you see me; and you examine my heart’s attitude toward you. Jeremiah 12:3 (NASB)

*No one can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24

*Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5

*But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

Moravian Prayer: O Lord, we open our hearts to you. May they be found not wanting, but ideal for your kingdom here on earth and your home in heaven. While we walk in your creation, may all that we do be pleasant in your sight.Heavenly Lord, use us! We are your own! Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Adieu, sweet daughter

Saturday, January 9.15 
Creative cakes in the window
Our first chore is a call to an immigration lawyer in Seattle. American border immigration officials have complete authority to take our Green Cards whenever we enter the country. Getting them back is a hassle.

We are in complete compliance with current law, according to the lawyer - but it would take money and time if someone refuses us at immigration. We want to spend the least amount of time away from our work, especially if we can expedite the process with citizenship.

We'll have to spend 3 months in the USA before we apply for citizenship. We can fly back here after that while the application is processed. We are almost due for a normal biannual sabbatical of several months.
Lunch, with a jolly Chinese-Indo family - kids being fed by Mom behind us.
W and I consider whether we should stagger our returns so we don't miss so much time here. But the next evening, I run into a cockroach - or rather it rushes towards me, so I holler for W to come kill it, and think about everything that could go wrong in an aging house. I'm not sure if I want to stay alone. Prayers for wisdom appreciated!

After the call (mostly good news), we have to run errands. The helper strips beds, irons, and makes herself lunch while we're gone. Today, we have to get to immigration to extend our Indonesian visa. Above the car, a net in the parking lot catches leaves and fruit that would fall on people below.

We speak together downtown in an Indonesian church. The welcome is warm, the people friendly and the interpreter adds and subtracts according to what he knows about the group - that's a part of the exchange that we take for granted.
Our friend Josie comes to cheer us on and pray for us. Encouraging!

Tree complete with Disney-wrapped gifts
under the tree

Kirsten is saying her good-byes all week, exchanging greetings, WhatsApp numbers, and little gifts. She begins to pack, sorting what she can take and has to leave behind on her return to the States.

Dog walk. Every morning, we take the dog out. It's good for our health - but it feels so early after late nights and events! Usually we walk between 6 and 7:30am. Sunlight begins to brighten our room about 5:30 so we're awake, just not always happy to dress and get outside.)
The prettiest part of our neighborhood
The women and children are on the street. The gals chat and feed the babies and toddlers in their charge, smiling and calling Selamat pagi (good morning) as we pass.
Kids almost as big as their nannies. Breakfast is served ... as long as it takes, spoonful by spoonful.
After morning Bible study, participants pray over K. DrW drops in to say goodbye as well. I forget to take pictures. 

K finishes packing as W and I toss PJs and overnight take-alongs into tote bags. K's room looks abandoned. I've got a long chore list for the helper, who then texts that she's not coming today (tends to happen on Mondays, as K notes.)

The driver comes about noon and we head out in crashing thunder and lightening followed by a gushing downpour. The water in low areas is 12-15" deep within a few minutes. The main street down the hill becomes a river. Motorcycles pull over as their drivers can put on rain gear. The cyclists lift their feet up out of the water where the going is deep and swift. Cars slog through. A few, parked at the side, slip and slide into the gutters with the force of the water.
We stop at Porto for lunch before leaving Bandung: Kirsten's at her favorite food places for the last time. Between us, we have 4 kinds of potatoes on our plates. Mashed, fries, wedges, and potato soup. I'm not a big potato fan but these are tasty.

We never know how long it takes to get to Jakarta. Our friends share their guest room in Jakarta with us. They're away on a visa run to Singapore. In the evening, we head across the street for a little supper/snack at a coffee shop before bed.
Snacks at the CircleK mart may be packaged familiarly,
but they include shrimp chips, seaweed, coffee-flavored popcorn, and cassava chips.
We eat leftovers for breakfast but eat at a local mall for lunch: Kirsten is hungry for Chinese food before she leaves tonight. We decide on Japanese instead. You know how that goes.

Whew, this mall is not like home. The upscale shops looked just like "back in Seattle" when we first arrived in Indonesia. Now the difference between well-maintained Western-style shopping in Jakarta and what we have in Bandung is starkly obvious. (Maintenance is not a high value near us. W notes the new paving in the neighborhood is already lifting and pitted with potholes.)

K needs to rest so we skip the mall and head back for the flat. We call the driver, who doesn't see us standing near the exit. He makes a complicated U-turn to find us but nothing is easy in Jakarta traffic: a simple U-turn involves leaving the lot, battling traffic around the block and coming back in.
We're in the X of the intersection, with traffic criss-cross-ing in every direction beside us
After a nap at the flat, we head for the airport. Traffic is good so we hang out in a coffee shop before hugging and kissing Kirsten goodbye at the security gate. The guard lifts her suitcases onto the X-ray conveyer belt.

Then she waves goodbye and is gone. Her trip is about 40 hours, so we'd appreciate prayers for safe and healthy travel. She'll need a good place to live and a roommate when she arrives.

W sleeps on the 4.5-hour trip home, while I read, pray, and think. Another season finished. My mother-heart doesn't know what to feel. Numb, mostly. I peek into the empty room. IbuA has stripped the bed, washed the floor, and folded the things on the floor. Thanks be to God. I sink into bed near midnight, exhausted.

After the dog walk, the landlord calls that he's on his way. More inspections and pictures needed for his loan to develop the property next door. A lovely surprise by the gate: an orchid is blooming, just like last year when we moved here.

I need better internet to grade projects, so I walk down the hill to Ethnic Resto. I couldn't ask for a prettier place to grade papers!

Beside my table, a worker fits a plywood sheet to the door.

Their Vietnamese spring rolls are fried in so much oil - when I put a napkin under the rolls to drain fat, they're immediately saturated. And they're still greasy. But the tea is hot and bitter. Perfect.

The plagiarism checker notes aberrations to the assignments. Students struggle with knowing how to do their own work and quote others.

Read more: (ESV unless noted)
*One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning. 2 Samuel 23:3–4

*God says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 

*I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Ezekiel 11:19-20

*Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Acts 20:28

*If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17

*So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28  NIV

Moravian Prayer: You, O Lord, revel in a repentant heart. Teach us the value of humility before your throne and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. May we be dressed in the white robes of your salvation.
Gentle Shepherd, you grant us your authority of love. In every way that we find ourselves in authority over others, let us take your example and lead in gentleness and love. Amen.