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.

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