Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday reflections

It's Palm Sunday. This morning, we commemorate the adulation and joy of people welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem - the week before they would kill him. (Read the story in John 12:12-36.)

At church, the pastor explains the shame and physical horror of crucifixion. I am overwhelmed by the love of God that carries our sin to the death. Such an ugly death.

This week, I've walked beside rivers, through neighborhoods and parks, and past a lot of people. "Nature is a witness to God," scripture tells us. Each place resounds with the beauty of God and the invitation to relationship with him.

I'm waking at night, hungering for God's presence. A song from last week's women's conference drifts through half-sleeps: "Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Come flood this place..." My heart beats to the pulse. My toes tap against the blanket as the music sings its way through me.

Waldemar is part of a theology commission in Missouri: he leaves early Monday and is back Thursday night. He enjoys the time of discussion and study with peers. I enjoy sleeping in one morning when I have no early appointments.

My parents meet our granddaughter Kinsey and me at a restaurant between Seattle and Vancouver. Grandpapa teases "Miss Susy" (Hey, Grandpapa, my name is Kinsey!) and we have lots of fun together.

We also have a bit of drama this week. My credit card has gone missing and a replacement turns up in the mail. When we go to activate it, the rep mentions that the company "declined a charge from Passport: is that important?"

Ummm. Yes.

Sketching turbulent rivers from a Bandung photo
The credit card company has stopped the fee without notifying me? I could be in trouble if my passport renewal process has been discarded.  I am officially in a foreign country without a passport. It feels strange.

We contact our prayer team and call Canadian Immigration. The polite man at the other end promises to pass along the new card number. A few days later, FedEx shows up with the renewed passport. Thank you, God!

W gets an appointment for biometrics toward his Ami citizenship. After that's done, we can go home. Hurrah. Indonesian friends at the house, in the neighborhood, and in extended circles - keep an eye on things and say we're missed. How we miss everyone there, too.

I review Indonesian lessons and am often stumped by the simplest phrases. (Google Translate is my friend.) I figure out how to ask, "Please ma'am, say only 2-3 words at a time." [Maaf Ibu, mengatakan hanya dua atau tiga kata pada suatu waktu. Similar, right?] I think that's how I'll tackle the language: otherwise too many words at once become a blur.

"I'm doing fine, even joking in Indonesian with our neighbors," says Waldemar, who is much quicker at language learning. Occasionally people may think I'm joking, but I'm not deliberately mixing up words like wind (angin) and dog (anjing) or "See you!" (Mari!) and dead (mati). Eeeek.

I remember a look of puzzlement and surprise one windy day. I remarked to a lady that "we have a lot of dogs flying through the house today."

"Oh, you mean there's a lot of wind, right?" she corrected me with a grin. Oops, yes. Haha (I admit to going into my room to laugh out loud at silly mistakes. But often I feel frustrated by the mashups.)

Five gals, plus Terry, who had to leave early
Six women show up Thursday to share life and community. I am storing up such warm memories of these meetings to sustain me when I feel lonely.

Roslyn makes a quiche for lunch at her place. (Yum yum yum. I get the recipe.) Brandy comes over for lunch another day. Another morning, I have to wait to sign for a letter, so Kim swings by our house before work.

Saturday, passports in hand, we make a quick trip across the border to Canada, visiting Waldemar's family and ours. Oh, these precious times! Relationships are key to living a full life.

The similarities and disconnects between Bandung and Seattle fascinate me:

Levi trying on Oma's walking shoes
  • People need God's love and the gift of Jesus everywhere. Here it's easy to overlook or ignore the needs of those who look like we do. 
  • I'm filled with ideas on serving and helping as I pray, look, and listen. Hopefully, some of that will translate to home.
  • What convenience in known culture and surroundings: we easily zip around here to find whatever we need. I drive the car a lot because these streets aren't made for walking, and public transport is inefficient.
  • My whole being feels alive in communication. English conversations, art, and books remind me how hard it is to interact when we're not fluent in the local language. 
  • Rich food: I've gained over 5 lbs. "Well, you ate a lot," Dad remarks after a big lunch. True. Everything tastes good ... and like we expect it to. In Indonesia, even things that look familiar have a flavor all their own (good but different).
  • SO MUCH stuff: things / foodstuffs / supplies are fresh, big, and plentiful. There's so much variety from around the globe. We feel the clutch of acquisition and slough it off with effort.
  • Friends are generous: Phyllis and Dale loan us a vehicle, which takes the pressure off the family as we share cars between 4 agendas and busy calendars.

Read more:
*You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me adn found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. Psalm 17:3-5 NLT

*As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth. Isaiah 55:10–11 ESV

*Christ said, “Those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.” Mark 4:20 NASB

*Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.  All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." John 6:35-40  NIV

*But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Moravian Prayer; Lord God, as we plan for this year’s garden, help us cultivate within our own lives fertile and receptive soil, so that our witness to your love and grace will be bold, far-reaching, and impacting. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The buzz and bevy of people we love

How can a half-month fly by so quickly? The Lenten "Paint your prayers" is filling up, and the Lenten blog is on its second last week, too. Only 12 days  of little painting circles (including Sundays) left to fill in.

Waldemar showed up on this shore last week and my pace seems to accelerate - or maybe it just becomes more complicated with two of us coming and going. His hours are different than my natural rhythms: I'm in shock when he falls asleep at 9 or 10 and is up-and-at-em at 7am. (Whah, my body goes to sleep after midnight and wants to sleep in until 8:30!)

I feel like God is filling up my soul at every turn: here are pics from recent visits:
Weekly time with Jen (W came as a bonus)
W updates our Thursday group at their monthly meet-up night. We have fun catching up with each other (plus BJ and Cheri provide fabulous food, as is always the case). We may be aging, but these ladies remain among the most beautiful women I know. Don't you agree?

Time with Oma - the grandkids come to visit whenever we're home (not as often as we thought we'd be!)
Miss K loves selfies
And going the other way in the generations, lunch with Mom and Dad an hour north of Seattle

Regular hangouts happen on Thursday mornings - here are some of the friends who showed up last week ...

I take long walks,  but don't get enough of them in a city designed for cars. I have a few doctor checkups (all is well), I get 3 moles cut off my face and biopsied (all clear), and go to the dentist for an annual cleaning. Other adventures punctuate the weeks.
The Kenmore cement plant along the lake trail
Spring is blooming in the park on our walk to town
I welcome time with friends in ministry: I miss these connections so much!
Monday coffee night with credentialed friends
We speak at a church in Kenmore - with friends Dan and Laurie Neary and Jim and Sallee Conn
An enjoyable Saturday and Sunday
Date night with our kids and a fast-paced duo of Irish bands at Third Place Commons
Good to hang out with Jeremy adn Rebekah!
Connecting face-to-face for the first time with an online "Mastermind" friend who has lived in Spain / Argentina / Philippines ... and ? What's next, Brandy! Come help us in Indonesia?
Good to get a hug from world traveler Brandy
At the NWMN women's conference on the weekend: bounty and abundance. The women of the Network spoil us with an abundance of household items (we, for Indonesia but others stock up for Russia, Europe, etc.) 

Best of all is the presence of Jesus as we renew and revisit friendships from across the state and the world.
Tea hosted by Melisa Turner
Squeezed somewhere between, I enjoy a Thai lunch with a dear colleague - wouldn't miss time with this gal for anything!
Beth, you're a friend who fills my heart with good things
At many appointments, I forget to take pictures because I am absorbed in the conversations and prayers. Blessings on all of you who so generously give of yourselves, chatting and advising and praying together.

Waldemar's off to a conference in Springfield this week (doing theology - yes, he loves that!) That means I have the week to catch up and ... the first day fills up with laundry. phone calls to family. washing the floor. writing. grandkids visiting. reading. cooking. calls from friends. calendar updates. and now it's evening.

Oh wait: actually, at a glance, my calendar is pleasantly full in the next few days. Forget resting. My heart is quite happy about that.

Read more:
*The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever. Psalm 23

*And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

*by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4 ESV

*For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV

Father in heaven, you know us better than we know ourselves. You know our graces and our pettiness ... and yet you flood us with your loving compassion and forgiveness. Help us to do the same. 

Thank you for the days with friends who live out your kindness and generosity. Thank you for the days where we understand the language and culture of those around us and thank you for the days when all around us seems a mystery.

Let us seek always to please you and to enjoy your presence. Thank you for being Good. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. 

Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature— while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. 

We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. . . . . 

Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.