Friday, January 8, 2016

A wonderful week

Sunday, December 3
We speak at the International Church in the morning: what a fine New Years' treat for us. We speak alternately to keep the attention of a diverse audience.

We meet Paula and David for lunch: it's our New Years celebration together - they're back from Thailand and we're back from Jakarta after the Christmas break. It's our third time at the Padma Hotel since we arrived in Bandung. Its reputation for good food is matched by stellar views over the valley north of our home.

We are early for the meal. So we have a smoothie and the first time to talk together in a long time. The view at lunch is breathtaking. We've traversed the valley before with a walking group.

Time is running out on Kirsten's visit. I'm catching up on grading this week - I have a few late projects to send back (papers that missed their deadlines so weren't in the grading queue). We have a study of Mark in the morning.

Our friend Dr W arranges a facial for herself and K and for me afterwards. The sun is very hard on the skin and this necessity is disguised as a New Year's treat.
From the car window: a horse cart

Grading. Prep for tomorrow and the visitors who are coming. Between, the neighborhood masseuse arrives. She loosens K's muscles and gets her ready for the long flight next week.

The day goes by in a blur of chores, meals, and academics.

W and I walk to Yogya at 8am for groceries. The dog envies me my Japanese charcoal and green tea ice-cream. (I know I know. Ice cream for breakfast.)

It's movie night. There's a half-day of cooking in preparation for the evening. Josie and her mom swing by in the afternoon, bringing frogs' legs for K to try. We enjoy tea and cookies together. Josie's mom loves walking around the garden, but today - other than the guava - there's little to harvest.

K chooses the movie (Jurassic Park, which neither W nor I have seen) and the main course: tacos, Texas style. W finds good Indonesian subtitles and sets up the projector. That means the art comes off the picture ledge, the furniture is rearranged, and we try to use less electricity in the same circuit. Even so, we trip the breaker three times. (You can't plug in a kettle at the same time as another appliance - or the projector.)
Three guests at their last movie night: Kirsten, David and Paula
We've made enough food. The tacos are a hit as the house fills up with people chatting and visiting. The Cannon family from Spain arrives partway through the meal. The parents and two siblings are visiting our friend Katie in Jakarta. They've come to Bandung by train and our driver gets them; then he heads home himself.
Movie night focus
The movie is fun. Midway we break for dessert. Then we visit at the end of the movie. By midnight, everything is tucked away: the furniture is still awry.

We are at the meeting place for the walk just after 8. We have a full car to the meeting place, but we're running behind. W and I walk Gypsy. I catch a ride with our neighbors part-way. W's a quick walker and catches up.
Still clean: before the sweat and grime
Today we have some new hikers on the route from Lembang up to the volcano. The Cannons are game to try. And friends David and Paula have not yet been to the volcano or on a nature walk because they've been in language school. They move to Jakarta tomorrow - so this is their one chance to see what they've been missing.
Ellen and David chat at the tea plantations
The walk is a tough one, but everyone perseveres on the steep and long trek (4.5 miles, equivalent to 71 flights of stairs, according to the GPS). We start climbing through the tea plantations on the first hills.
Contours of hill country
The grass has grown tall on the roads between rows of tea bushes. We almost miss one of our turns and have to double back to find the marker. The two women (Angela / German; Veronica / Australian) have unerring senses of where we are in the "middle of nowhere." Soon they find the way again and once we're on the right track, we pose for a picture.

The next terrain is pine forest. And then we're in the jungle. In rainy season, the grass and bushes grow over the paths. We push our way through the tall grasses, avoiding sharp spines on some. The shrubbery and the branches meet across the overgrown path. As each person goes through, the greenery snaps back into place and the next one has to part it again.
Left: before - coming through. Right: a few steps later
We smell the volcano before we reach it. Then we're in the scorched wasteland of rock and sulphur and steam. The pools are successively cooler, the farther they are from the main vents. We find one that is mid-heat and sit on the edge.
Volcanic mud scrub
Kiki is a local: he negotiates a local rate for all of us to have our feet and hands massaged with volcanic mud. (It's 40% of what tourists pay.) Oh - all our feet are aching and that massage helps so much! The men and women who do the foot-rubs earn good money: each tourist pays twice what a helper makes in a day - for 20 minutes.

"I'm doing this for my children," says the young woman who scrubs my stiff muscles. And her brother sells us 5 water-bottles filled with volcanic mud for the price of one tourist bottle (another example of "local price.") We distribute the bottles W buys eggs (30c each!) and boils them in a strainer over a bubbling water vent. Then it's a relatively short walk - another kilometer - up to the parking lot. We hop into our cars and drive up the winding road toward the crater.
Official badge
The other two cars have already gone ahead.  Two men on a motorcycle pull us over. "Where is your ticket?" they ask?

We protest that we have paid a fee and our driver and car have paid the entrance fee. But the officials insist on sending us back to the entrance and checking all our IDs. They want foreigner admission fees from our guests and the ones who have forgotten their IDs.

One of the teens started the walk with her mom and sister. The mother and daughter had to turn back: the young gal was feeling dehydrated and ill. (They have only been in-country for a few weeks. It takes a while to acclimate to the tropics.) The mom has the daughter's ID so another gal whose husband is in the Australian military pays the high foreigner fee.
A wood statue sprouts ferns near the volcano
It takes over an hour to sort everything out: we are starving by the time we are permitted to leave. But the Mandarin restaurant is worth it - it's not American-style Chinese but Chinese and Indonesian mixes of ingredients and flavors. Delicious.

And just like that it's 3:30. We drive across the ridge to the Bible study at the Bamboo Shack. What a wonderful time - looking at the Old Testament this afternoon, the story of Jacob leaving his parents and encountering God for himself.

I'm struck by the mystery of God-with-us. Why does he choose to make himself known to people like Jacob ... who make little effort toward him? And what a strange way to seal a promise - a ladder between earth and heaven. Wow - (Genesis 28, if you want to read the story).

When we get home, the furniture is back in place and the house is clean. We shower the sweat and dirt off ourselves, change, and walk down the street to Miss Bee's for a late supper. We're home before 9, weary.
Miss Bee for supper

I make scones for breakfast and mix a loaf of bread. It's baked before W and I go to the train station with David and Paula. They're moving to Jakarta today.

On the way home we go into immigration for our visa extension. We fill in the forms but need a photocopy. The copy shop next door is on break. We walk down the street but no copy shop is open. And by the time we get back (empty-handed) immigration is closed as well.

Back home, I make a quick lunch of salad and meatball soup. The bread is still warm, the soup is tasty, and the salad slightly bitter from the red cabbage.

W takes the Cannons to the train station for their own trip back to Jakarta ... and drop the visa extension request at the immigration office.

Just before sundown at 6, we walk down the hill to a student food court, Kolony. K's still checking off her list before leaving next week: a final supper at Pots and Pans? Check. Fortunately, it usually costs about as much to eat out as to prepare a meal.

Read more:
*Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes to rain righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 NASB

*Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Loving Lord, you call us into repentance, a moment for us to be honest with you. Let the false luster of our lives be transformed by the beauty of your kingdom. May we be renewed by your Spirit in order to live the life to which you call us. Amen.

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