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.

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