Sunday, February 7, 2016

The price of a mission

Thursday, February 3.15
Oh, a great start to the day: a visit with a dear friend. We meet at 7am - like we used to when I lived here (except then we met later). One of the things I miss most in Indonesia are the rhythms of consulting with others. It's hard to share thoughts when you're not fluent in the language ...
Refresh: add carnations and
baby's breath to an aging bouquet
But Kim and I pick up where we left off and I hear her heart and call - with new insights and maturity. I'm encouraged. Then she's off to work and I dash home to hand over the car: the kids have a busy day today!
A friend indeed
When the sun goes down, I walk about two miles to a regular gathering. I get a bit lost in the dark neighborhoods, walk a longer distance, and that's not all bad. I pass three others walking and few cars: it's a lonely night out there.

These friends have met almost 20 years, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, and for richer and poorer. Like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, they've stuck together and supported each other in good times and bad. They pray and partner with each other and with us. Several couples are traveling so we miss them.

I feel privileged to share how much we love Indonesia and why we're there. Bonus: Bev has made excellent apple and peach pies. I have a thin slice of each. Oooooh. Yummy.
Thursday night group
Good friends give me a lift home - it's chilly in the evening!

I have to drop by Northwest University to get some gear for a Jakarta friend. Autumn treats me to a cup of tea and an update. One student strolls past her basement window: "Hey, I'll see you in a minute!" I am startled to my feet and dash out the door.

"Lem! Lemuel!" My nephew turns in surprise. Yup, it's his aunt - and he gives me a hug and agrees to meet for Sunday lunch. How cool is that?! I was hoping to catch up with him and here he is.

I have an appointment with a gal I am coming to love. Jenn makes me laugh - and think. She shares her life with me, raw and real. She's my age, a children's author, and a mad reader, so we have a lot to talk about. Time flies by - and we're just getting started.
Jenn and Rosie - at Jay's Café
I can't believe how much I'm eating, though I pack half away for later. Jay's Café is the local greasy spoon with huge portions and hearty home-cooked tastes. (I get 2 more meals from the leftovers.)

The pots of tea are big - and when Rosie joins us, she orders the same. Jenn heads out and I find another artist friend in Rosie: what a joy to meet women who love God and live life to the full.

The kidlets (grandkids) come for a visit before bedtime: it does an Oma's heart good!

At 7:45am,  I show up for a 10 o'clock seminar (I think). I'm #16 in line, in spite of showing up 2 hours early. The blurb for the seminar said they'd take about 50 people. The offer is free legal help in applying for American citizenship. W and I have a few questions. Meanwhile, our friends are praying that all goes well.

W filled out forms in advance, wrote out questions to ask the lawyers, and prepared documentation for any questions they might have. I have a thick envelope of papers and a tall mug of tea. It takes no time at all to complete the initial screening - I'm soon in chair #2 in the waiting room.

For the next few hours, a Mexican immigrant tells me his story: he loves his work at the airport and can't wait to become a citizen. I quiz him on the citizenship test: I only need to know 20 / 100 answers. (I've been a resident over 20 years so need to study less items than he.)

Finally, we are called into another room where the volunteers - paralegals and lawyers - are kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. Bart, a lawyer who specializes in naturalization, offers answers no one else knows. His folks lived in Indonesia: his mom grew up in Bandung. What are the chances? His Dutch grandpa was in government in Bali.

I'm pre-screened as eligible for citizenship. Do I want to proceed? Sure. Thanks, Erin, for your help!
Thanks for your help, Lawyer Erin!
Into another room, a paralegal copies W's forms into her own. Another lawyer has to check that everything is correct. Bart claims me, makes sure all is in order, and signs my papers.

"Go to Walgreen's for passport pics: 2 for this form and 2 for the passport later," he tells me. "Then you're done."

I'm the first one finished, thanks to W's prep. I write a $780 check and get photocopies of everything, along with an envelope with all the forms ready to mail. 

"Don't lose these," say the copier volunteers. "Keep your copies in a safe place."
Smiles at the photocopier: "You're the first one through!"
The final item is an exit interview. The gal asks for permission to snap my photo for possible promotion. Sure, but why do they want a pic of a blond when the other applicants make me feel at home? = they were beautifully dark-haired! I'm the palest applicant by far.

I drive out of the parking lot in shock. I'm done? I thought I was getting advice ... and instead, I have a signed citizenship application. I pull into a Walgreen's to get pictures taken - the guy pulls down the screen and loops a chair leg through the handle to keep it down. The fix makes me feel at home. I seal the envelope with photos, check, forms, and a prayer enclosed, and drive to the nearest post office. $9  and 10 minutes later, the check is in the mail.

Did I just do this?! Citizenship has become a necessity because we work overseas for an American organization We have our residence here but when we travel, it's become a hassle to re-enter the country. To ward off possible confiscation of our 30-year Green Cards and the diversion of time and money that would mean, we know we need to take this step.

Though we are applying only because of work, our organization declines it as an expense, other than the flight. They define citizenship as "your personal benefit:" so the +$800 for pics / application / postage comes from our personal funds. It's a squeeze. (A Green card gives all the responsibilities but our new rights would be to serve on a jury and to vote ... and pragmatically, to negotiate the border without detention.)

Yikes: citizenship is one of the high costs of doing the mission. Those who work overseas say the unexpected bumps are the fiercest surprises. So true - my body reacts with the start of an ocular migraine, its marker of super-stress.

But our grandkids come downstairs and say hello - we play 101 Dalmations and I'm Cruella, except that I'm a nice one who catches kids and is good to them. Kinsey hops from one "island" to another (between couch, chair, and rug) to avoid being caught. She and Levi jump into the playpen and we heap them with pillows. They remind me of what is important.

Kinsey sleeps over - and her little brother comes down to help make pancakes for breakfast. When they're done eating, they brush their teeth over the bathroom sink.
"Levi, spit in the sink!" Miss K demonstrates.

I have the day off, so I go to Elevation Church in Kirkland. Pastors Ben and Lia discuss what good relationships are - and practical ways to foster strong marriages. It's a good reminder - and makes me miss my husband.

And then I have the first good Thai food in a year - in great company. Kids, grandkids, nephew. What's not to love?

Read more:
*For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. Psalm 33:4-5 ESV

*Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 90:1-2 NKJV

*O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10 ESV

*Lord, you gave your good spirit to instruct our ancestors. Nehemiah 9:20 ESV

*We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Loving Spirit, we rejoice because you have called us into relationship with God. You have opened to us God’s word which proclaims the wonders of God’s work. You make us aware of all God’s miracles surrounding us each day. Amen.

CS Lewis: Mere Christianity
There are three things that spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper.

If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.

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