Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Years amid a miscellaneous review of strange and random cultural accommodations

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - Christmas Day 6
It's our second movie at a Bandung theatre. We see Star Wars in a luxury theatre (under $4.50 a ticket). I almost fall asleep a few times because the crashing, shooting, and light flashes tire me out. It's also cold: they provide blankets for the recliners and I've brought in my own fleece blanket. With two covers pulled up to my neck, I'm fairly comfortable. Sleepy, but comfy.

It's nice to relax: it's been busy and tomorrow is a big day. I drop in at a neighbor's house to ask her about customs and details. We are so lost at times! She offers to bring homemade yoghurt to the party tomorrow. Accepted with thanks.

The gardener who comes once a week missed last week. He shows up unexpectedly today. Everything in the yard grows all year around; there's no way to keep up without help in raking, pruning, and weeding. The regular monthly hedge-trimmer hasn't come for a month. The lawn(-ish) is scraggly and 12" high in places.

Pak Lili levels the grass-like plants to the ground, crouching and slashing with his machete. He's weeding the seeds I've sown when I point out that those vegetable shoots are deliberate on my part. Sigh. He rakes up the guava fruits lying under the tree. But he doesn't pick the ripe guava as requested: it continues to fall into the yard day by day.

Overhead, as evening falls, the fruit bats flap and fly and eat themselves full on guava fruit. They ignore the porch lights we leave on to chase them away and hang from the rafters during the day. W gets out his super-soaker water gun and squirts them until they find another perch.

Polite company: shoes off at the door -
flip-flops on against the cold marble floors
Thurs - New Years Eve 2015 - Christmas Day 7
We don't know what to expect tonight. We've invited our neighbors for an early New Years dinner (6:30-8:30pm). At least we think we have!

Neighborhoods have a Pak RT (neighborhood council head), voted in by the community. As far as I can tell, they serve for 3 years. A fine man keeps peace/harmony (RT) here. He settles disputes, makes sure security men patrol day and night, negotiates construction that will affect the neighbors, and keeps track of who is visiting more than 3 days.

We used to report long-stay guests to him until we moved one house over last year. Now we have the weird privilege of having a gate in the neighborhood but belonging to another RT section that looks after garbage pickup, etc. Our dog takes care of security, barking fiercely when people come near the gate. We'll tie him up tonight. In general, adherents of the majority religion (Islam) dislike or are afraid of dogs.

Pak RT on left
Anyhow, the Pak RT and his wife looked over our invitation last week, helped us revise it, and said they'd distribute it to the neighbors. We have no idea who has been invited or who will show up. Several of our friends cancel: they have other activities tonight.

After walking the dog from 6:30-7:30 in the morning, it's time to get serious in the kitchen. Kirsten helps me prepare food for the evening. We bake bread and two kinds of cookies, make an bread/sausage/egg casserole, puff pastry sausage rolls, and beef/chicken meatballs in barbecue sauce. (We have no pork at the house so our neighbors can eat anything we provide.)

Last month when 1-2' jackfruits were falling off our trees, the helper cooked a huge batch - which tasted like roasted meat! I froze some then and pull it out for tonight; we need some Indonesian food as well.

Mid-morning, a local restaurant delivers pre-ordered meat pies and Kirsten gets a rude surprise. She's dressing when a man walks into her room. K yells until the man backs out the door. (No one has ever just walked into the house, especially not with a delivery.) The young man runs back out the gate, rings the bell, and calls out "Pizza!" Must have watched American TV and is trying to get our attention. Just weird. And disconcerting.

The local handyman (the helper's husband) is here as well, repairing the roof over the laundry area. The duct tape over the holes in the old corrugated plastic sheets hasn't kept the rain out during this rainy season. The laundered clothes or bedding will be partly dry and a rainfall will splatter them wet and dirty again. The handyman says he's ordering white plastic but he removes and replaces the ruined sheets with clear ones. Oh oh, that will heat the whole house in dry season. (He finishes on New Years Day. I'm glad. We have no dryer other than the clothes racks on that roof terrace.) Nothing is completely straightforward here.

In need of repair: a duct-tape fail
By 2pm when the helper comes, I'm ready for quiet time and a nap. She agreed to work late today: 2-9pm before celebrating with her family. She makes rice and tidies up. (We're on the third round of dishes by the time she arrives.) She washes and chops fruit and pours yoghurt over iced fruit. The neighbor's helper has delivered the yoghurt along with a punch bowl to serve the fruit in. One of the hooks breaks and a glass shatters on the floor. Oh no!

A hit! Yoghurt and fruit salad
The pembantu washes the rice, mops the floor, and vacuums. By 4:30, I'm rested enough to shower and get moving. The prepared food heats in the oven and I plug in the slow-cooker and rice cooker.

A good friend drops by at 5 with a tofu salad (bean sprouts, dried and fried onions, dressings, celery leaves, and more). She asks if she can help, but we're almost done so she goes back home until the event starts.

There's a downpour about 5pm. Oh oh - people won't show up if it's gushing rain! But it lets up and two guests are here at 6:30; will others come? We relax, chat, have some water ...

and a half-hour later the house fills up. Over 30 guests of all ages enjoy Indonesian and Western food. (The fruit salad / yoghurt and tofu salad supplied by our friends are big hits.) We laugh, chat, and visit. W prays a blessing over them and their families. We encourage them to take a scripture promise for the New Year, our family tradition since childhood.

Beauties: the one on the left claims to be 50!
About 8:30,  guests fill goodie bags with baking and the house empties. (Yes, we baked a lot! and everyone is full so we send home cookies for them to try.) Two friends visit with us for another hour, talking about God's good plans for us and the blessings of scripture and faith.

God with us = a wonder we cannot comprehend.

We don't know what this New Year will bring, but we know who holds it in His hands.

W walks a couple of women home - and then leaves again to deliver a phone left at our place. (Surely the families will want to greet each other for the New Year!) Cleanup is mostly done by 11. Then we read and unwind, pray and talk about the year past and ahead. How blessed we are to usher in the next season with our daughter here!

The sky is exploding with fireworks. We watch from our balcony as the New Year rolls in.

New Years 2016 - Christmas Day 8
I sleep in until 7. I slather on sunblock as usual. We call our families before the dog and I walk a few miles. W works on other things and then goes over to help a neighbor.

The handyman bangs away at the roof repair most of the day. Previously we had two lights on anytime we'd work in the kitchen. Suddenly there's light streaming in - the old dirty panels blocked sunlight. Wow, what a difference.

I strip the ornaments off two trees (4' post-Christmas bargains last year @$4.50 rather than $50.) All our personal ornaments fit on one of them, including tiny anklung souvenirs from trips with guests to the Sunda culture center downtown. W helps put the garlands and ornaments into a bin for next year. We didn't buy ornaments this year: we got the basics at post-Christmas sales last year.

We'll keep a tall pre-lit tree in the LR for another week: it had no ornaments. Instead, I hung up paper labels with daily Advent verses. Each day we read a verse and tucked it into a bowl. The empty tree is pretty. Simple. Serene.

For lunch, we walk to Koloni and order dim sum and sushi, Bandung-style. Maybe we'll try something else another time. Just saying.

It drizzles a bit but the rain holds off. The dog is happy to be on a second walk and snoozes on the wall outside the food court until we are done.

Happy New Year to you!
It's a productive but relaxing day. I spot-clean the tablecloths, put away the dishes, and organize the fridge. In the evening, we open the bag of Pfeffernuß cookies that my sister-in-law delivered when they visited in November. Yum. They may be from a bakery in Switzerland but it's the taste of home, a comfort when we're so far away.

Sleep well, everyone. The first day of the year has been a good one for us. How about you?

Read more: (ESV)
*O give thanks to the Lord of lords, who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:3–4

*This is what the Lord says- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV

*For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2

*Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

*Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

*Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20–21

Moravian Prayer: Lord, through you all things are possible. As we sit at the precipice of a new year, may we look upon it with hope and expectation of what you will enable us to do in your name and through your love. 
Trusting you completely is a daily, sometimes hourly, struggle, Jesus. The mystery of your incarnation and your resurrection competes with our desire for proof. When tough times and unanswered prayers weaken our faith, grant us the strength to pray the prayer that never fails: “Thy will be done.” Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment