Friday, April 29, 2016

Climbs and classrooms

Panoramic view from the crest of Gunung Batu: stunning
We're slated to start language school next Monday. I'm excited rather than apprehensive, which I attribute to the prayers of friends and the interesting way language is taught there. Not having to speak right away is huge for me.

Thursday, April 28.16
Don't we look fine before the heat and climb get to us?
We start early in the morning, taking 2 gals with us up the mountains. 11 of us walk today. Everything is done by relationship and being together is a great way to get to know people. It's also healthy, nice to get out of the city.
That's the "Rock Mountain" behind us
We walk up to Gunung Batu (Rock Mountain), a hill that pokes up after a long uphill trek.
We can see miles of fields and villages from the tip-top of the hill
The whole walk is close to 5 miles (8 km?), so it's not far. But it's up and down for good exercise.
We perch on a gate made of long bamboo stalks
The dog carries his pack and behaves wonderfully. He's working. After his start as a "wild thing" on the trails, we are relieved.
W enjoys taking pictures
but these are from my phone camera
It's great to be on the way down.
A little Indonesian lady passes us, going up.
We eat together afterwards. This day's walk includes Indonesians, Australians, Americans, and Canadians.

The rains are washing out the roads, day after day. The thunder and lightening is fearsome. But on our walks, we have had glorious weather. God's provision.
Washing away, bit by bit
In the evening, a group of women gather at Wild Grass to say farewell to Bridgett. I met her on the walks and later, in church. Her husband is in the military and has been posted to Korea. They're off in the morning: she missed her last walk to supervise the movers.

"After they packed up, the movers are sleeping in the truck outside our house," she exclaims. "My husband says they'll take the truck to the port in Jakarta tomorrow." = the new normal.

We have breakfast with Pascal, Yunnie and the handsome Desmond. W and P meet every week but Y makes a special effort and is at Ethnic by 8am. Wow! I'm impressed.

We walk to Bumi where the national science research organization (LIPI) rents classroom space. We teach 3.5 hours (Teaching Methods) with these VIPS (very intelligent professors). Most are more comfortable in the lab than the classroom. We share ideas to keep students engaged in their fantastic information.

Whew. Whenever Indonesians meet, they share food. The days is no exception. A delicious lunch of cream chicken soup, gado-gado (peanut-dressed vegetables, fried tofu, and egg slices), and a "main course" (Help!) of stuffed chicken, fish, rice, and broccoli with bread crumbs. We taste a bit of everything - delicious - and are full.

The hour after lunch is known as the deadliest for drooping students, but the lecturers gamely participate. And of course, a mid-afternoon tea break with pastries means more food sampling.

W wraps up his session with a Q&A that goes overtime. And then, as the pelting rain begins to fall, DrW drives us home. Whew - we walked here and the ride is most welcome.

I get in touch with several children's organizations. An incoming group of volunteers is interested in working with children and youth.

W has prepared a roast in the sous vide (big enough to eat over a few days). The bag has burst in the water so the beef has boiled but since the water temperature is under 60oC, it's not too tough. We try it for a late supper. 

It's time to pack up the day with paperwork, prayers, and reading. And tea of course. 

Something has bitten W. He puts a few dabs of liniment on the bumps. The smell reminds me of my paternal grandma. I miss her: after all these years, her kindness and love of home remedies come back in the scent of pungent medicine.

God is good.

Read more:
*Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV

*For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 

*The Lord says, “I will not continually accuse, nor will I always be angry.” Isaiah 57:16

*For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

*God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9

Moravian Prayer: Savior, your grace sustains and surprises us! You give us this gift freely, no strings attached. As a result, we feel your calling on our hearts—to follow where you lead—to serve. Thanks be to God! Amen.

C. S. Lewis in The Problem of PainOn kindness
Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—“kindness” or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. 

Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy. . . . 

The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.

You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grasshoppers and grit

An enormous grasshopper
Sunday, April 24.16
We arrive at church at 7:45am. W continues on his walk with Gypsy: he'll be back at 9. I'm in music rehearsal for the service. Church attenders typically call the music and prayer portion of a church meeting "worship." It's our community response to God, enjoying his presence and singing words of adoration and thankfulness to him.

It's the first time in years that I've play for "worship." I've had piano lessons since I was four; when I gave up playing to focus on other things, it felt like part of me had been amputated. Every few years (in the last two decades), it's nice to be back. 

I watch artists wield their brush in natural sweeps and dabs. It's fun to hear a speaker who's worked at her craft. It's a pleasure to read a writer who has honed his skills. 

And even after so many years away, the sounds come up with minimal effort from the keyboard. The ease with which I play doesn't mean I don't have to practice and focus. But my reach across the keys is a combination of reflex and attention. Playing refreshes my soul.

Our $2 typically Indonesian lunch: chicken saté
We have been trying a used keyboard at home. It sadly won't be suitable. The keys are unequally stiff, which makes control of the "touch" in classical music impossible. (Imagine speed-typing on a keyboard where several keys inconsistently have to be pushed harder than others.) But even with the problems, my fingers are warming up, playing nearly every day.
A beautiful setting
We eat lunch at Bumi, the restaurant at a conference center a short walk away. We sigh over the beauty of Indonesia: families play in the pools or gather to eat and visit. How we miss our grandkids when we see all the little ones running around!

At this neighborhood gathering spot, food is cheaper than most other places = $2 for chicken saté. (Fees to play tennis, use the fitness club, and hold meetings must cover groundskeeping and maintenance costs.)
Family playground
In the afternoon, we study Genesis 38 with friends. It's the story of a charismatic man, a visionary leader who is gifted in administration and management. Whatever the situation, he works hard, brings God's blessings to the business, and rises to second-in-command - entrusted by his boss with everything in the company. Does he prosper? Sure ... before he is sabotaged by the interests of others and unjustly punished.

We talk about the consequences of our honesty and integrity. Good character, great skills, and hard work are not always rewarded and applauded. Politics, insider relationships, and jealousy can sideline us. 

Wherever we are, we are called to faithfulness. To work our hardest and invest our talents. "It is God you are serving," says scripture, so we do our best, as did Joseph. Eventually, God elevates him and saves both Egypt and his family through him. 

But we're not there yet in the story. I'm feeling the awfulness of Joseph's dismay and his shock at being attacked and abandoned - because of his attractiveness and success. He's in prison. And still serving. Still working. Still using those strong leadership gifts, even in jail.

"Hang in there, everyone." I want to shout encouragement to readers who feel it's not worth trying because your hard work, popularity, and honest efforts are overlooked - or even punished. "God sees you and is directing your path - he's your Boss, in control even when life spins into wild territory."

A friend comes by to talk over choices for the future. A few doors have closed. Others are opening. We pray for God's direction and peace of mind for her.

Avocado juice: tastier than it looks
We have a new attendee at the Bible study, an encouragement to us. This week, I read Pete S's blog on the impact of life-on-life with a few. He notes that Jesus spent most of his time investing in 12 disciples, though there were bigger groups and crowds around. We want to faithfully pour our lives into others, too.

A new part-time helper is trying out this week. She speeds through the upstairs, scrubbing lizard poop off the walls, washing grime off window ledges, and mopping the floors. How quickly things decay in the heat and moisture. The cracks in the home-built windows let in the dust of the fields and city. 

The dynamics of household help require harmony between workers, just like in any office or factory. There are long-standing relationships (and family ties) among people in these hilly neighborhoods. The workers here and at the neighbor's house know this lady or members of her family. They welcome her and there's a lot of chatter this first week.

I meet with a social worker at a nearby orphanage to organize classes and connections. The task would be impossible without Sharon, a friend who shows up early on her motorcycle. She gracefully negotiates times and subjects. I leave with our calendar ready to go.

W is already in the next meeting with Josie and Pauline, our language tutors when we first arrived. These dear friends advise us in many aspects of life in Indonesia. The walls ring with laughter whenever we meet. Today is no exception. We learn a lot, but always have fun together.

Then we're off to check out a new language school. It's not that far, but takes over a half hour to get there in relatively good traffic (up to 25 mph!!) 

We get a sample lesson and my whole body breathes with relief. We won't have to speak right away: the first stage is pointing to a toy or picture, or doing an action (running or walking in place, sitting, standing, etc.) They'll send home a photo and sound recording for review each day.

One pressure in learning the language is that only one sense works strongly at a time for me. When I'm forced to repeat a string new words, my mind focuses on the sound, blocking understanding and retention. I hear: "Apa ini blah blah blah."  2-3 words, and my brain blanks out. I zone in only to the unrelated sounds; I have no idea what is being said. (Other friends complain of the same problem, while learning Indonesian.) After I connect meaning and sound, bit by bit, it begins to make sense and stick. 

We stop for groceries on the way home. Suddenly I feel sensory overload from people, cars-motorcycles-carts-near misses, language, noise, movement. Ah, get me home.
Out the car window: carts, motorcycles, pedestrians, vans ...
I'm exhausted but it's suppertime. I manage to make ramen, tossed with peppery greens and other vegetables from our fridge. Yummy.

Today is crunch day. I have to finish a PPT for the 3-hour presentation W and I give on Friday. We'll engage local scientists and researchers in Methods of Teaching Adults. Typically in Asia, a teacher tells students information. Students memorize the facts for tests. However, these scientists want more options so their students can grasp the implications of knowledge and can manipulate the info.

Participants are accomplished university lecturers. Many will not have studied pedagogue. Most speak limited English. We're counting on those who are more fluent to help out. I've taught the subject elsewhere but never here. Should be fun. Back to work!

Read more: (ESV unless noted)
*Does God not see my ways, and number all my steps? Job 31:4

*For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

*Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me. Isaiah 46:9

*For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 1 Corinthians 8:6

*God reconciled us to himself through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18

*Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Lord—Father, Son, Spirit—you call us together as your people. You bless us with gifts and abilities to use in service to you and your children. Everything comes from you; today we pay special attention to that grace.
Lord God, you amaze us by not rejecting your sinful children! If we came before you on our own merits, no one would stand. But thank you for choosing to love us and to work wonders through us. Your love never ends and never fails. Thank you for the grace which redeems us through Jesus. You see what is unrevealed and redeemable in us.  In Jesus’ name we give thanks and say alleluia! Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Shape of Life

The Shape of Life

(Note: this is a repost of an older blog. Enjoy.)

One night, my neighbor and I stood in her front yard and shone her little flashlight on the apple whips. It was only 7pm but already dark. The temperature was plummeting. I’d promised to show her how to prune the fruit tree in front of her house, but it was late before I’d gotten to her.
We shivered in the darkness, and without good lighting, resorted to feeling the hard, cold buds along the branches. One of the sides of the tree was elongated, oddly shaped with a jutting branch that she had been too afraid to prune back last winter. In the summer, the uncut branch put out several twigs that hung over the lawn, making mowing underneath difficult.
“Feel this bud. Do you see how branches will come outward in both directions if you cut here?”  I showed her the little protrusions. “Just cut it back; it will reward you with a good shape.”
“I’m not sure I have the courage to cut so far back.”  She sighed and pointed to another joint about a foot further up the branch, “I think I may cut only to here, and then perhaps that will be enough. If not, can I cut it again next year?”
Sure, I thought. You could, but every year the branch grows thicker and the trauma of the cut is greater. Why not just trim it back early on, rather than letting it put out whips that have to be cut completely back.
The evening reminded me of how much pruning God does. He lets me cooperate to the extent that I decide. Sometimes things that should be lopped off have been left to grow and bother those around me. I resist the hard cut-back, worrying that too much of me will disappear and I will be unrecognizable and ugly. What if I never recover and I am stunted in that area? What if an important part of me is taken away forever?
Like on Kathy’s tree, God lets nature have its way. When I resist the loving hands that wield the scissors I find all kinds of stray growths poking out of me. I become an asymmetrical, misshapen life, far removed from the symmetry and wholeness of God’s plan for me.
In John 10, Jesus talked about His Father as the husbandman who would prune away dead growth. He allowed His life to be shaped, and achieved what He was sent to do: “I do nothing on my own, but I only do what the Father tells me."
Lord, give me the courage to submit to the hard cuts and skillful trimmings under Your hand, knowing You will  shape me into a useful and beautiful design. Amen.
Questions: Why does God allow pain and disappointments come into our lives? How is God in the process of pruning your life today?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Walk with us

Traditional Indonesian food
Thursday, April 21.16
The first hour of the morning is the most precious, time for scripture reading and prayer. Some days we study for a few more hours, making notes for future talks and classes, sketching plans for the future, or consulting with others.

We got news yesterday that I am to appear for American citizenship interview and tests in May. That's months sooner than we thought. And it may interfere less with the summer schedule. W will start looking for cheap tickets ASAP and I will plan to be away a month so I can get a passport.

This morning, we and three friends leave our place about 8:30. We meet others and drive out of town for a walk through the hills. We've done the walk before, but never when the rainy season has been in full swing. We have to wade through a rushing river partway. And one of the trails is now half-waterfall.

Come along with us via pictures?
Fighting our way through tall plants
What goes down must come up - the steep bits 
Almost psychadelic blue and gold butterflies
A pause in the tea fields
Overgrown trails
Determined to cross on makeshift bridges
Soothing aching feet in cold pools
A brief stop to admire the view
The rivers and waterfalls are full.

Everything grows like crazy in rainy season
so the trails are often narrow and overgrown.
Bamboo sculptures

The little bus takes us up the hill for a late lunch
The view from the tables is pretty.

And back down we go - a van festooned in ribbons.
We are tired after +12,000 steps and over 5 miles (8 km). W and a few others get sunburned.

We are home at 4, in time to meet a worship leader. She comes over to practice for the upcoming Sunday's service. (I'll play keyboards in church for the first time in years.) When she leaves after 6, she takes some cookies along for her family. I baked 20 dozen yesterday, stocking up for just such occasions.

I'm ready to rest.

Read more:
*But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6 NIV

*But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV

*The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. Daniel 2:44 ESV

*John wrote: Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah.” Revelation 12:10 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Savior of our lives, we rejoice that your kingdom is near. Let us work for peace and justice until it comes. Find us ready to enter into your immediate presence, having fulfilled your call to prepare the way! Amen.
C. S. Lewis in MiraclesOn God
It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry, “it’s alive.” And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity. 

An “impersonal God”—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads—better still. A formless life- force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all. 

But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God”!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Logging in

My computer is broken. W retrieves the data but the pics are inaccessible at this point. So writing only today.
Saturdays, April 15.16
The neighborhood Arisan (women's group) meets in the morning. The food is plentiful, starting with five or six kinds of 'snacks.' Then the main meal includes traditional soup and peanut sauce / verges that are the Indonesian version of a salad. 

The women are lovely, lively, and fun. We are given a blank color page (from an adult coloring book) and markers to color while we chat. Some women carefully fill in flowers and paint stems. I fill in a bunch of backgrounds, wander around the flowers, and hand it in after painting the empty spaces yellow.

'Sign your name please,' and we do. They ask if I'm an artist. I think it's because I filled in the spaces between and no one else did. I and 2 others win coloring books. They hand out a sheet explaining 'spiritual connection to the colors you choose' but one look at me--with my minimal language skills and the plethora of colors--and they skip me.

As usual, they draw names and divide the Arisan fee. I get 1/3 of the June amount in advance. We will not meet in June because the women are expected to fast for Ramadan then. Meetings are not held without food. 

I bake bread in the evening, using a cup of sourdough starter made last week with yeast brought last year from Europe by our family.

From 9-11 pm, I log on to a meeting with ministry leaders in Seattle and Texas. I am so energized by the conversation and ideas that I can't sleep until 1 am. Oh, I'm going to be tired tomorrow!

|||Sorry for spelling mistakes. I can't go to fix them on the iPad, which has frozen.|||

The current series in church features young speakers. They are teaching through James and it's nice to hear young people preach.

At the end of service, our dinner guest list swells from 4 to 9. So the table is full - with 11 of us - by the time we sit down to eat at 1. 

W uses a new gadget, a sous vide temperature control that makes tender chicken. Seeing the guests, I fry a frozen bag of fries, which disappear along with the rice, a broccoli-egg-cheese-sauce casserole, mixed veges, bread, and a salad. DrW bought the chicken and broccoli at the market yesterday. DrH mixed a delicious punch. A guest brings rice crackers. There's just enough. Perfect.

We end the meal with tea, Trader Joes chocolate squares, and home-baked cookies. I'll have to bake soon, something I do in great batches so we always have some on hand. 

Around the table, we share networks, connections, and conversations galore. We tell something we thank God for and ask his help for things that concern us. The last guests leave before 4:30. 

W and I are finished washing and drying dishes by then. Our helper has been sick for a week. I swish around the kitchen floor and hope she is doing better by Tuesday, her next day of work. The ironing is piling up.

Five of us study Mark 11. We discuss the authority of Jesus and his humility and boldness. And we pray together. 

After noon, W and I head for town (my first time shopping since we arrived 1.5 weeks ago.) We check out digital pianos. We ask the Apple techies if my computer can be fixed. Nope, it's shot. When we turn it in, it beeps at me in a steady rhythm. We buy groceries. We drop off a gift with a friend. W checks out a lawnmower.

W returns to the Apple shop with an Envoy that can hold my computer files, amazing the young employees with his SSD enclosure The shop uploads my recent work onto it and gets info on what W's just shown them is possible. I'm just happy I haven't lost all our recent work. 

I bake another loaf of bread for supper, which we eat with European vegetable pâté (thanks Kristi and Doris) and cheese. While W files our taxes, I watch a TV show. I can pick out a few Indonesian words by now. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rice paddies and rainstorms

Every morning. Every morning.
Wednesday, April 13, 16
Every morning starts with a walk and prayer. The dog gets us out the door and back before 8am. We meet neighbors and pray God's blessings over the homes and shops we pass.

Before we leave, I feel an urgency to pray for the weather. It feels a bit like praying for a parking spot, but I obey. I ask for light overcast, no rain, and a pleasant day on the trail. (More about that in a minute.)

W and I ride at 7:30am with two friends. First, we meet up with a walking group at the Bamboo Shack. Then we caravan in 6 cars up up up into the mountains. We did this walk to the falls last year so I'm looking forward to it.

It feels like we have a new dog. Gypsy, a previously wild thing who lunged at every dog within sniffing range, has been transformed by neutering. Wearing a dog pack with two water bottles in them, he behaves like a working dog. He even lets Dexter the Rottweiller walk behind or ahead.
A working dog
About 20 of us start up the long steep beginning of the trail. It's slippery clay, eroded by heavy rains. We dig in our poles to muscle our way up, gasping and puffing. The older ones fall behind the younger, fitter hikers. No matter, they'll be waiting for us at the top.

The waterfall is spectacular during rainy season, gushing from mountaintop spring into the pools below. Several young people don swimsuits and plunge around the pools while the rest relax. Gypsy dashes into the pools to cool off and then zips around as though he's supercharged - up the hillside and back, playfully charging Dexter, and running circles around us.

We walk back through the rice paddies. Dexter refuses the bamboo bridges so his owner and Veronica walk back the way we came. Gypsy, surefooted and confident, strolls across. Once, he slips off a bridge and plunges into the stream below. He scrambles easily up the 6' bank and returns to his stroll. The rest of us are happy that sometimes there are handrails.
Valleys of rice paddies
Small stepping stones lie along the berms that keep water on the rice. The paths are narrow and one of the ladies falls into the mud up to her arms. She rinses off in the water beside the muck. The rest of us do better - but at one time or another, each of us has slipped and fallen on our walks.

"I don't mind falling. It's breaking my bones that bothers me," says one lady. She broke her ankle years ago, stepping off a small ledge. In spite of it, she loves walking each week.
One of the better bridges, handrail included
Ingenious systems of bamboo pipe shunt water to the fields. The farmers attach short lengths of bamboo to long ribbons and drop them into the streams. The water catches the bamboo; the gushes of water tug the lengths of ribbons that are crisscrossed over the fields. The colored stripes bob overhead to warn off birds.
Clever ways to move the ribbons overhead
Remember the weather? It's just perfect, overcast after a sunny beginning so it's not too hot. The storm clouds mill above our heads and cup the mountains all around us. A few drops of rain splash down but they quickly evaporate. The wind is moderate. I continue to pray for good weather, a strange urge that I can't remember feeling before. Will God hold off the rain? He does. I can't get over how beautiful the hike is, all 4 miles of uphill and downhill.

Meanwhile in town, the wind whips up and the rain pounds down. Neighbors tell us later that it's the worst storm they can remember. Tin roofing flies off houses and shops. A tree falls on fishermen sitting along the stream on the next hill from our house: three are killed. Rain sweeps in onto our porch and soaks the chairs 10 feet under cover. Branches are down. Power is out. Roads are flooded. It's a mess.

But nothing has touched us up in the hills: God has protected us in the forests and in the rice fields in a miraculous way. We would have been in great danger, had wind, lightning, and rain poured on us.
Rice harvest
We are innocent of it all until we get back. We're just dirty. Exhausted. Happy. We drive back to Lembang for a very late lunch at the Mandarin Restaurant. It's a hole-in-the-wall from the doorway, but has surprisingly generous seating. Our companions and we stick our muddy feet under the table, waiting until we get home to wash the dirt off.

We toss our clothes in the washer as soon as we get back. I wait for my shoes to dry on the roof so I can knock off the dirt. It takes a long time for laundry to dry in wet season, even on the racks. By morning, anything left out is damp again.

I stay home while Waldemar heads out to a nearby concert in the evening.

The study this morning was postponed from yesterday. Scriptures come alive, fitting situations in ways no one but God could orchestrate. W and I are staggered by God's kindness and intervention, a confirmation for us being here. I am missing my family and friends so much today, and this soothes my homesickness.

After noon, we pick up a used digital piano from people we've met at church. It's on trial. I'm hopeful but when I play, several keys stick. It won't work for classical music unless I can get them evened out.

WE HAVE INTERNET!!! for the first time since our return a week ago. We've been using our phone link in bursts. A technician comes in the morning and leaves again. He says he needs a ladder. When he returns in the afternoon, he says someone strung indoor cable wiring from the pole outside to the house. No wonder we've lost our connection every time it rains. The man replaces it and we suddenly are online.

We arrived last week and it's chore day. Bedding, laundry, writing, cooking. Our helper is still out with the flu and ironing is stacking up. Ironing is a necessity to kill bugs in this climate. We don't have a dryer so everything washed becomes wrinkled.

Read more:
*The Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him. 2 Chronicles 30:9 ESV
*Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19-20 ESV
Moravian Prayer: God, today we say more than a simple, “I’m sorry.” We ask forgiveness for all of the ways that we fall short, resolving to truly repent and repair the brokenness in our lives and in the world. Guide us in Jesus’ name. Amen.
C. S. Lewis in Mere ChristianityThe more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of ‘little Christs’, all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented— as an author invents characters in a novel—all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him.
It is no good trying to ‘be myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call ‘My wishes’ become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men’s thoughts or even suggested to me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night’s sleep will be the real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating decision to make love to the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideas. 
I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call ‘me’ can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Maybe curry soup

Flowers from the garden
Sunday, April 10.16
The church service feels like coming home to a warm welcome. Afterwards, I poke my head in the door to see if the women’s meeting is something for me. Nope. (Thankfully.) There’s a presentation on keeping young children safe and the young moms are visiting together. I duck back out, happy that our kids are grown. It’s so much work raising young children in a foreign country. Mind you, we had “young-mom energy” once, too.

We need to pick up our entry cards for the neighborhood gathering spot, Bumi. We can’t believe how beautiful this area is. As a bonus, there’s a fair-sized neighborhood pool. I’ll have to swim early in the mornings: at noon it’s full of hotel guests and splashing kids.
Overlooking a children's play area and waterslide at lunch
Our  Bumi lunch is big and tastes more like American home cooking than Indonesian. W’s dish and my chicken, plus drinks, is about $10. We’ll be back because I can hardly cook a meal for that. Chicken and other meats are more expensive in grocery stores, but we trust the quality more than if we buy in the local market. (W has a weaker stomach than I do so we must eat “selectively local” for health reasons.)
W's homemade cheese
Supper is home-baked bread, home-grown salad, and W's homemade cheese (W's recipe: 1 liter milk and a slice of lemon. Salt and seasonings optional.)

We’re up early, still jet-lagged. The scriptures speak directly to me this morning and my heart worships. Tears run down my cheeks. How kind of God to give us personal attention and his overwhelming love.

We take the dog for a walk and meet a few neighbors. Then it’s back to work.
A 7" spider hovers overhead;
the river rushes beside during rainy season
In the afternoon, we look at an old digital Yamaha piano that expats are selling as they return to the USA. We also have to go to a few shops before we find a pitchfork for our vegetable garden.

A gardener usually comes weekly to keep the weeds and rampant growth of rainy season in check. He put goat manure on top of the soil some months ago, but the rain lifts it into the gutter. Once in a while I still see round goat poop but most has washed off. We'll dig another bag and the abundance of composted leaves into the soil and hope for a better harvest next time around.

Local 'organic' methods are variable since no agency registers compliance. Purchased vegetables are carefully washed. First we scrub them in tap water. Then they are rinsed again in drinking water. W filters tap water into 5 gallon bottles (air minum), which are tipped upside down on stands for pouring into pots and glasses.

We’re barely out of our gate when Gypsy spots a neighbor dog with an erect tail. The dog confidently walks toward us, stiff-legged. Bad idea. Gypsy growls and lunges forward. His leash snaps. As the clip breaks cleanly, our dog is off and running. When the smaller dog sees he’s in trouble, he loses the attitude and takes off, squeezing between the wires in his gate. Oh Gypsy, that other boy was itching for a fight. On Gypsy's end, neutering hasn’t cured everything.

We loop the leash through the dog collar and take a long morning walk around the base of the hill. These are low mountains, actually. (In Tennessee, they’d be proud of them.) My shoes slip on the slick moss that coats stairs and pavements. And we slither around on muddy trails. It’s a mini-hash, all our own. It takes us an hour to climb down and up the steep hill on a not-too-impressive 2-mile hike.
Pause to inspect a local construction project along the trail
I unclip Gypsy’s leash when we’re on the trail. He doesn’t go far: he’s wearing a dog-pack with full water bottles. People point to him as we walk through the narrow cement alleys of the village; apparently most have never seen a working dog. We make it back without mishap.

DrW comes by to give us direction for a 3-hour session with the scientist-teachers in her group. They're researchers, accustomed to the lab rather than the classroom, and most would like information on teaching. Their classes include young adults from all over Indonesia.

The helper has the flu. We send her home after she makes lunch. She doesn't understand what I want her to cook so DrW helps translate. I've asked IbuA to use the chicken broth I made yesterday for a soup base. 

"Here are the vegetables and meat," I show her. She chooses a curry cube for seasoning. Fine with me.
Looking outside from the dining table
Ibu A comes to the porch where DrW is meeting us. Between sniffles, she asks DrW a question in Bahasa Indonesia and both women look puzzled. "We can have curry or soup. Not both," they explain.

Is it complicated? "Cook the meat with the curry. Then add it to the broth with the vegetables." Can it be done? Maybe not. Lunch is rice and a thick curry, using half the broth as a base. It's strange which parts of our "normal" don't translate well. Some small things cannot be done here unless we do them ourselves.
Running errands is no small matter:
a driver squeezes through the tight lanes.
Read more:
*Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. 1 Kings 8:56 ESV

*The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

*Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! Revelation 5:12 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Brother Jesus, we forget that you’ve known everything we feel. We forget that you walk, hurt, and rejoice by our sides, faithful no matter what. Help us to acknowledge your presence alongside us as we go through this day. Amen.