Friday, April 1, 2016

The start of goodbyes

This is one of my favorite days of the year, the joyful celebration of God's provision. I finish the Lenten blog with relief: it's a tough discipline, compounded this year with painting each day of prayers.

The youngest grandson, Isaac
We attend church with the family. The pastor encourages us to live in the faithfulness and love of God. Inspired, we eat lunch together at one of our favorite restaurants, Sichuanese Cuisine.

Our daughter arrived from Texas last night. The family is together - all the boys, their wives, and their sister. We include Lemuel, our nephew studying at Northwest U. He's never been to the Chinese restaurant. We devour 10 plates of chicken, beef, noodles, and rice.

The kids come back to the flat for crème brûlée and mango juice bars. Of course the grands get Easter baskets: trucks for Levi and princess jewelry for Kinsey.

Monday: my 60th birthday
Today we celebrate 2 birthdays with family and friends: Jonathan's (27) and mine (60). We run errands and then I lay low for most of the day. Periodically, I check Facetime as hundreds of wishes stream in from around the world. We are blessed!

At 5, we head to Third Place for supper from the various vendors around the Commons. My parents and brother meet us there, and friends start to arrive shortly after. Soon the room is full. Our daughters-in-love Melissa and Rebekah set up and clean up a party for about 60 people so it's a relaxing evening of visits for me.

What a delight to see our various groups of friends connecting and chatting together! (writers, university and ministry peers, girlfriends, W's coffee group, Jonathan's friends, etc.) Many know each other, but new connections always make my heart sing. We enjoy cakes and ice-cream (vanilla, plus maple nut ordered through Voula's restaurant - amazing!)

My mom has baked a Black Forest torte, her specialty. Fresh natural ingredients, lots of whipped cream and cherries, and deep chocolate cake. It's a family tradition that takes hours to prepare. She also brings Nanaimo bars, a Canadian and family favorite.

Guests arrive from Eastern Washington and around the Seattle area. I feel utterly honored by their presence. W prays a blessing over Jonathan and me, as well as our friends.

"Do you feel any trauma in entering this decade?" asks one friend. Nope. Every 20th birthday seems to be a special celebration. Dad sent me (and my mom) to visit my brother in London for my 40th birthday. I have very special memories of that trip. And I suspect this will be a highlight as well.
Levi with Grandpapa and Grandmama

The sun's out! My parents meet us for breakfast at the Woodmark Hotel's Beach Café. (Thanks to Norm and Carrie for this special treat.) Grandson Levi joins the fun, well-behaved and fascinated by Lake Washington's boats and the dogs walking along the beach trail.

We eat lunch at the Olive Garden with family and dear friends, Mel and Martha. "We thought we'd go somewhere that is not like the food you eat in Indonesia," they say. The salads are fresh - and as usual, there's far too much food.

It's a pleasure to relax with them in basement suite for the afternoon. Crème brûlée dessert caps off lunch - and makes us feel like we should have a nap!

Instead, we chat and get good advice. It's amazing to share married children with best friends who ... and very special that they have loved us enough to coach us and pray with us over the years. We make a quick trip to Frye's Electronics. Martha and I sip tea in the restaurant while the guys cruise "a store with nothing in it," according to my tastes. Of course, the men enjoy browsing all the technology and gear.

For supper, we meet our kids Jeremy and Rebekah at a Jewish deli. Ooooooh - the food! and the good company. More leftovers, though. Our small fridge is getting full - for the next few days, I must resist cooking so we can consume leftovers.

Mom sets a beautiful table
We get an early start, driving to Canada to visit my parents. Kirsten and her dog Zoe come along. While my folks and I visit over lunch, W and K zip an hour away to see his mom.

While Dad's in his violin workshop, Mom and I take Zoe (toy poodle) on a walk in the sunshine along the Hope River dike. The road of my teen years has been paved over as a walking trail. We meet neighbors, dogs, strangers ... all friendly and grateful for a warm, bright day.

"Even she couldn't make your $200
fine magically disappear."
The hilarious sign asking people to clean up after their animals reminds me I'm in Canada, where the humor leans more to British than American.

When W and K return, Kirsten chooses some giraffes she likes from a big collection of African art. Grandma promises "to put her name on them." The carved legs are too fragile to put into a suitcase. I choose a birthday gift as well, a pretty porcelain breakfast set.

These are my last meetings with Kim, the Thursday morning group, and Jen (who graciously moved our normal visit from Wednesday to today.)

Four of six women who show up at Third Place Commons
Over the past weeks, these gals have filled my heart with friendship and wise advice for times when I may feel lonely in a country where my language and communication skills are still limited. How glad I am to have such faithful companions and great friends!

Dicks Burgers is a Seattle classic drive-in. W and I head over to Dick's for lunch. It's a tradition.

We have an appointment at the university, inquiring about internships. Does David know young people who might spend a few months serving in Bandung? Maybe so. There's time for a very short nap when we get home.

And then we're off to an adventure with two sets of friends. Verlon and Marilee Fosner are longtime friends who spearhead community gatherings around Seattle each week. Thursday night is Greenwood's community dinner - an excellent meal cooked by Upper Crust Catering, a food service with a big heart. The windows of the loft space where we eat are boarded up - casualties of the blast from a gas leak that rocked the neighborhood a few weeks ago.

The Bunda family joined us for a few months in Bandung, so they understand the wonderful country where we serve. Their kids pitch in to help dish up the meal. Trey holds tongs for bread with his left hand and a spoon for corn in his right. Kamaile hands out cherry cobbler desserts.

After dinner is cleaned up, we walk across the street, past the building leveled in the explosion. Newer windows of neighboring shops survived; those from 50 years ago shattered.

We share conversation, hot chocolate, and the free chocolate truffles for first-time visitors to the chocolate store. We pray over each other's requests and hug goodbye.

Then we drive home and fall into bed. Tired out! but happy.

It really is the last weekend? Wow. And the sun is out.

Our breakfast with Arlyn and Sharon is a blessing. They are enthusiastic encouragers. Sharon flies out of bed to meet (after our miscommunication that only the guys were getting together) - and is at the Pancake House in a flash.

Love you, Zahra!
Arlyn warns us in advance about big portions. Turns out, with a dish each, we have enough food - potatoes, pancakes, omelet, and Dutch babies - for lunch and supper! Reminds me of "Friends don't let friends ... eat too much."

We set them up with WhatsApp and W answers a few tech questions before we share the joy of living in Indonesia. It makes me homesick, thinking about Bandung.

Our next stop is to see dear friends of 27 years!, Sadri and Zahra. They came nearly 40 years ago from Iran. (We've been here over 30 years.) They've taught us about the graciousness of Persian culture. Zahra always reminds me of Queen Esher, who married a Persian king and earned a whole book in the Bible. Zahra has fixed a delicious pot of tea (sugar held between the teeth please) and brings fruit and pastry to the table. We haven't had apple turnovers in years - yum!

When we get home, we start to pack. We have a few more errands to run but mostly we're wrapping up life here, preparing to go home.

Read more:
*"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior--from violent people you save me. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. 2 Samuel 22:2-4 NIV

*The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 53:1-3 NIV

*For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

*Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. Psalm 139:4 ESV

*When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7–8 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, you know our hearts and minds even better than we do. You understand our needs and you are there for us. Help us to express our love and thankfulness directly from the heart, unfiltered and true. In your name we pray. Amen.

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