Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Merriment and madness

May 31.2016
Isaac, our youngest grandchild, turned one yesterday. I enjoy such times with the family and their friends.
The birthday boy, siblings, and friends
And suddenly it's the last day of May. Another month has flown by.
Even a boring breakfast is tastier on china.
Yes, that is the last Nanaimo bar...
My new driver license arrives - another item off the "must-do" checklist. As usual, the picture is weird but identifiable. I sometimes wonder if I should care more. Too late.
Memorial Weekend was fun. The grands celebrated with a rousing guitar duet that included a couple of high kicks and guitar throws. Hilarious.

The grands are growing fast: every day they get more coordinated and faster.

There's nothing like a Radio Flyer horsie to wear off pent-up energy. Of course, the girl - without any prompting - runs upstairs and brings back her cowboy hat. Dress for the occasion. (Remember that, K?)
Feeding and riding the boys' birthday
present (though Levi's bday comes later)
I take a final look back over my shoulder at last week. 111 of us from 39 countries were administered citizenship. Some brought family members and friends to celebrate.

The blackberries are blooming in the hedges - and poppies are out in mass. Spring is Seattle's best season.
I may have to paint these poppies.
I miss Bandung. There are some things that people who fight for food and shelter understand about the value of being human. I have been thinking a lot about an article in the news. 

When did an animal's life begin to trump a child's? Um - doesn't scripture warn that corrupted and immoral people will do mad things and applaud madness in others? (Read Romans 1)

Crazy but privileged people often get a louder voice and more press than sane ones when it comes to protecting human life. Let me set this straight: as a Christian, I value life - human or animal. I take seriously our duty to protect the environment. Why? God, whom we love and serve, made the world beautiful and put us in charge of keeping it that way. He will hold us accountable for our stewardship.

That said, can we acknowledge thta it takes only a minute for a child's body to be shaken to death? if your child is in danger of death, after 10 minutes of being dragged around an animal pen, would you applaud saving the youngster's life above drawn-out debates about animal rights and maybes or what-ifs? How many parents would set a child's future and health over prolonged hopes that a wild animal will release our kid? (It may have been too late to intervene much later.)

But I wonder how many "animal rights" advocates have youngsters - or would protest saving their child in exchange for saving a gorilla. A deceased friend's son lamented to me that his mother always preferred her pets over him. That crushed him, growing up. "She chose the needs of dogs over me as her child every time." Luckily, his step-father assured him of his value and dignity as a human.

Insanity as norm has always frightened me. And I'm not afraid of much.

Read more:
*God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” Exodus 3:14 ESV

*In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4 ESV

*Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. Psalm 106:3 NIV

*Jesus Christ says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 ESV

*This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Hear our prayer, O Lord, in the words of the hymn writer. We are reminded of the great city Jerusalem, descending from above and the joy that waits for us there. We celebrate and rejoice in knowing and tasting such sweet bliss beyond compare. Incline your ear to us, and grant us your peace. 
Fill our hearts today with the knowledge that we have a purpose to fulfill, as we come to your throne asking for the confidence and the courage to complete the tasks set before us. As we close another month in this year, help us to walk in your deep love with our brothers and sisters. Bless us we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What I miss about Bandung

Australia is headed for winter, Canada is enjoying the start of summer, and Indonesia continues its wet season. 
Shooting pictures on walks in the hills
The world is an interesting place.
Bird sellers along the sidewalks
Things I miss about Bandung (some happily absent, while some I long for):
  • The guava tree beside the porch; clumps of "houseplants" outside; palm trees; birds of paradise plants so prolific they are chopped to the ground every few months. An amaryllis hedge anyone?
  • The smiles that instantly appear when we greet people.
  • Shining a flashlight at night before my feet touch the floor. Is there a roach by my shoes?
  • Food that is fried. Rice. Potatoes. Vegetables. Tofu. Meat. Dessert.
  • Only cold water faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. We boil water for dishes and mix boiled water with cold in a splash bowl when shower heaters aren't working.
A view of the city from the hills above
  • Sunrise and sunset at 6.
  • Walks in the hills. (Walking up our Seattle driveway doesn't have the same appeal.)
  • The constant chatter and subsequent explanations in languages I don't know.
  • Studies and friendships that grow more precious each month.
  • On and off electricity and water pressure.
  • Wondering - as I'm cooking - if 10 or 60 people are showing up for dinner.
Stunning landscapes - a volcanic lake

  • The smell of eggs from village chickens.
  • Skinny chicken drumsticks (look at your thumb for an idea of size).
  • Sambal (ketchup on heat and flavor steroids)
  • "Selamat pagi!" (good morning) at 7am by a gardener or 8am by a house helper. zzzz
A gardener sweeps the yard of constantly shedding leaves
(snakes can live in unkempt areas)
  • The chaos of traffic. Loose paving and litter along the roads.
  • Ant trails. Everywhere. Every dish must be closed or tightly covered.
  • Chocolate and chocolate chips in cookies melting on the counter. Frozen food thawing in minutes. Yup, it's hot in the house.
  • Checking for snakes before sitting on the toilet or entering the shower.
Vendors sell food and goods along the streets
More another time. I'm getting homesick.
C'mon over, wherever you're from! (Movie night)
Read more:
*But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 NIV

*Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:10-12 NIV
The foot-long blooms of this tree
seem to glow in the dark
*The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:15-23
Prayer: Dear Father, we are grateful to be your children. Let us reflect your love to everyone around us. Let us do many good deeds - not to try to win your favor, but in response to your goodness and kindness to us. Thank you for reconciling us to yourself through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Frenetic focus - and family thoughts

Adorable and active: Levi at Oma's
Tuesday, May 25, 2016
YouTube plays old-style instrumental songs while I chunk through chores. The cup of tea on my desk needs another refill by 5pm. I slept until 1:30 in the afternoon and have used 5 teabags to get revved up. Each bag makes two 12oz mugs of tea, so I must be dehydrated. (By midnight, 7 or 8 teabags litter a pretty porcelain catch-bowl by the kettle.)

Last night was not restful: I fell asleep before 11, but woke at 2am. Then sleep came just after 7am. Apparently I was stressed, which doesn't help on a jet-lagged sleep schedule.

This week has had its high points, though, including:

  • a wonderful family visit on Sunday: Timothy and Melissa hosted siblings, grandparents, a nephew and me. Every time my family gathers, I'm so grateful for the peace and joy of Christ that has shaped us, along with the affirmation and encouragement of my folks. 

(---Here I'm going to take a family detour to reflect on the influence of Dad and Mom. It's a heartfelt "Thank you!" to my folks between Mothers Day and Fathers Day. I'll end at the asterisks. *** Feel free to read or skip the whole section!)

Recently, a cousin pointed out what great guys my brothers are, skilled and creative at whatever they attempt. We talked about reasons why we siblings - such individuals - remain connected at the heart. We feel loved and self-confident, even when things don't turn out as planned. We and our parents can discuss things or disagree without staying mad. We accept each other's choices and quirks. We like to be together. Why?
    The tribe eats in peace
    More, more! Isaac takes a spin on the dining Lazy Susan
  • We are blessed with great role models, a dad and mom who remain committed to each other and us. They love us deeply and that provides security for life!
  • They provided family structure and discipline. There were clear expectations of behavior and manners while we were growing up. (Yeah, at times we had the 'meanest' parents of anyone we knew.)
  • We went to church together. Depending who caught us first in the morning, either Dad (the early-bird headed to work) or Mom (who saw us off to school) read the Bible and prayed with us.
    • Sleepy or lively: all generations
  • My parents were a team who set consistent rules and arbitrated conflicts. We could disagree respectfully but rebellion was swiftly rewarded. (No talking back! My final spanking at age 13 came when I told Mom a rebellious "NO." "Go upstairs and wait until your father gets home," she said, sending me to my room in dread. Dad affirmed with little emotion but great firmness, "You will not talk to my wife that way," just before he spanked me. I never sassed her off again.) Siblings weren't allowed shouting matches or physical fights, either.
  • When we got punished as youngsters, there were no timeouts or gentle explanations of why we deserved a licking = we already knew we'd "asked for it by testing the parameters - ouch! (Very effective for a livewire like me.) If we thought discipline was unfair, there was no harm in talking about the injustice later, though we understood we'd probably gotten away with something another time ... so things generally evened out. haha
  • Parental self-discipline = children's skills. We were kept busy! We did chores and helped each other as needed. Music lessons were routines not options, no matter what Mom and Dad had to do to make them happen. It was all for one and one for all, even when blizzards in Winnipeg winters made travel difficult.
      Grandmama plays with the great-grands
  • The extended family hung out together - even when some of them didn't much get along. (Blood matters.)
  • Hospitality was part of family life; we expected to give ourselves and our best to guests.
  • We were told we could accomplish anything. Our parents acted mildly surprised and occasionally sympathetic if we complained about disappointments and failure. The focus remained on possibilities, being a good person, and interesting ideas, not on the negative. Grudges and slights by other people were knocked away, with, "Well, small minds will think small things." (The clear message: don't have a small mind. Focus on worthwhile things and let other stuff go.)
  • When we fell flat, we were dusted off with a "Try again," or "Well, try something else next time!" There was no big drama around bandages and owies. Within the security of our family's love, life naturally included complicated messes, disagreements with siblings or friends, and unexpected thumps. "Oh well."
    Levi appropriates Oma's shoe tray for his trucks
 Mom and Dad continue to share their legacy and love through the generations. Sunday, they drove a few hours to have lunch with us. You are AMAZING, dear Mom and Dad! Thank you.

(Ok, that's enough about our family. But now you know why I feel incredibly privileged with good parents, right?) ***
Sunday, I also connect online with a lovely friend. Time with you refreshes my mind and soul, Brandy!
Goodbye, Mrs. Resident Alien: 
one last look at my 30-year-old Green Card

Monday, it takes all day to hand in my Green Card for a certificate of naturalization. I'll miss the reminder that we are aliens and strangers in this world.

Today, it takes until after midnight to prep and send off the syllabus for a class I'm teaching in the Philippines in a few months. The students needed the syllabus yesterday or sooner. But I have only so much energy and time to spend here and there. (It's done when it's done.)

Tomorrow, I will check about a passport application. (Passport = the reason for citizenship is that traversing the American border has become difficult.)

On the horizon: a writer's group, editing a friend's book, 2 class preps (research, notes, and PPTs), perhaps a trip to TX to help a son move.
Somewhere between, I'm going to be writing a book based on my dissertation. (Topic: the Spirit's empowerment of a disempowered group; Title: "What made them think they could?!" = the first generation of Pentecostal women serving overseas.)
I haven't scheduled art classes or much socializing this time around. The trip (Feb/Mar - for citizenship applications) filled my soul with good things. I'm not as starved for companionship, music, and art as I was when I got here last time.

It's long after midnight by the time I am done. What a day.

Read more:
*Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence! Exodus 24:9–11 NLT

*Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. 1 Kings 8:56 ESV

*I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel   never slumbers or sleeps. Psalm 121:1–4 NLT
*By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us. Luke 1:78 ESV
*Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work." John 4:34 NLT
*Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, once again we are reminded that you never cease to forget us or break your promises to us. May this reminder of your love serve to assist us to try to be more worthy of you. Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Flip those days and nights: life in JetLag

Familiar, bright, chaotic = Bandung
"Write the blog. Write the blog. Write the blog." It's harder to write during transitions but the chant circles in my head.

I've begun to adjust to the time difference (14 hours back) in Seattle - and feel ready for Monday's interview and test toward USA citizenship. Our work with an American non-profit means time abroad. Meanwhile, crossing the border has become more and more difficult with a Green Card. After 30 years, we're asking to join the country of our residence. (W is still awaiting his appointment date.) We'll have to stay here long enough to process an expedited passport.

A farewell photo: Hurrah for O Canada!
Saturday, May 14, 2016
We make a final trip to town with our guests. W and the guys ride the angkot to an appliance center. The team gifts us with a chest freezer. Now I can bake and cook in advance to make hospitality easier. AMAZING. It should be delivered Monday.

The service group has one more event at the English center at noon. The driver takes them after dropping me off at a crossroad about a kilometer from an outlet store. I need to pick up scarves and stuffed toys, requests from friends at home. (There's been no time for shopping in the past few weeks but there's nothing I need, either.)

I walk out with an armful of shopping bags. They get heavier by the minute as I traverse broken sidewalks and street gutters to the main street.

Our angkots are green; other routes have different colors
I flag down a little angkot van. It's almost empty. By the time we go up the hill, everyone else has hopped off and I'm the only passenger. In broken Bahasa Indonesia, I offer the driver Rp5,000 (40c, double the normal fare.)

"Can you take me home so I don't have to carry the bags?" He nods, smiles, and happily veers off his route to drive another kilometer to our neighborhood.

The group comes home for a quick meal. Their packing begins. Trudy shows me the craft projects they have left over. She leaves bags of craft materials and books for us. I'm stunned by the largesse - and how much fun we can have passing them along from our Canadian friends.

The men repair a kitchen window that sticks when opened. We have no fans in the kitchen so we rely on natural air flow to move cooking and baking smells outside.

While some sleep or pack, two of the four young people (Aaron and Kaylee) go on the hike / run with Waldemar.

Saturday runs can be dangerous - paths are slippery and become very narrow (or fall away) along the sides of mountains, across streams, and through rice or tea fields. Today it's particularly treacherous: it's been raining for days so the clay is slick as ice in places.

K and A latch on to the running group at the front. They're fit and fast but it takes great effort to keep up. The route of 8 km. (5 miles) is an endurance run. Kaylee slides off a bridge and falls into the stream. Aaron pulls her out. They have to keep up: if they lose the other runners, they'll have no idea where in the hills or villages they are!

Meanwhile, W and Gypsy bring up the rear with the slowest walkers. W is in good shape, but he always makes sure everyone finishes. When you lose the group, you're on your own. (Occasionally, people will be lost for hours.) Darkness is falling. Some young women have bitten off more than they can chew: one weeps and insists on being carried for parts of the way. W tells her to keep moving or she'll be left behind. They can't keep stopping in the dark as the trail markers are harder and harder to see.

Saturday supper at Wild Grass
Everyone makes it back safely from the post-hash circle at 8pm. A and K join us at dinner at Wild Grass outside our neighborhood gate. W stays back to shower and change: he's left his key behind and can't get into our room. (I locked up our room as usual: he "always" carries a key. I'm usually the one who is un-keyed.) It's a long day all around but a good one.

The Canadian team flies to Bali for well-earned R&R on Sunday morning. We're up early enough for breakfast, final packing, and prayers together. What a blessing they have been ... and leave behind for us.

Great getting to know my cousin Ron
and his friends and family
W drives them to the airport. I begin cleanup as soon as devotions are over. They have been so tidy, even stripping the beds and putting the laundry on the roof by the washer.

The neighbor is loaning her helper to me Monday. The towels and bedding need to dry before being ironed and put back on the beds. Our own helper is aging and suffers with arthritis. It would take days for her to wash and iron and restore the upstairs.

Monday morning is Bible Study. We have a new attendee - and really enjoy the interaction.

Over two days (Sun/Mon), I clear out the upstairs fridge, wash 15 or 20 loads of laundry, and hang everything to dry on the covered rooftop.

The hardest part of hosting any group:
saying goodbye and staying behind
Heaps of dried sheets, pillowcases, and duvets cover the ironing stack by Monday morning. Last Wednesday, when the helper worked for us, we said farewell with, "Sampai hari Senin." ("See you on Monday.")

But the helper doesn't show up today. I WhatsApp my friend, "Is the helper coming?"

"She will come tomorrow, right?" Her calendar says May 17.

Of course. May 17 is Tuesday. (I didn't look up the calendar date, just the weekday. My mistake.) This way is better: the helpers will work and visit together tomorrow. More fun for them anyway.

I stash craft supplies, tidy up, and pack, too. (Tomorrow we head to Jakarta.) After the morning study, Ibu Siti, our regular "massage lady," (@2 hours for $16) comes to the house. She kneads the kinks out of my neck and back in preparation for 30+ hours of travel on Wednesday/Thursday.

The gift of a freezer arrives. Oh wow! It has a sliding see-through cover under the main lid so we can find food without exposing it to the tropical heat. We are so grateful.

The driver isn't here at 7am. We wait another 10 minutes; has he slept in? W calls him and drives us down the hill. We meet the driver at the entry lane to his neighborhood and continue to Jakarta. Traffic is light: it takes less than 3 hours to drive 100 miles.

The highlights of the day are definitely IES staff meeting - love love love the liturgy Oyen collects into their weekly devotional - and lunch with friends. We head for Dim Sum at Sun City and enjoy the food, as always. But the company is the best part - we love M and D so much. We hear their heart for Jesus and ministry again, along with that of their staff member and friend.

Our must-do chore-of-the-day is testing a keyboard at a Music Store. Musicians Mario and Micha highly recommend this shop - the owner comes in especially to show us around. We order a Kawai mp11, along with a traveling case and bench (@2/3 the cost of a "best-buy" in the USA). I'll have a piano-ish when I get back! Unbelievable relief ... and about time. When you start playing at age 4 like I did, living without a keyboard is a bit like having a partial amputation of the soul. I sit in the shop and let my fingers roam around on different keyboards and pianos. When I've had enough, my heart clears. I'm done. The improvisations stop in mid-sound.

The beautiful children of our city
We also have to swing by IKEA (which opened  in Jakarta after we arrived in 2014). W is looking for some spare parts and I find a cart for my office in the "As Is" sale section. By mid-evening when we get back to the flat, we are tired.

Thanks, Paula and David, for a warm bed and a quiet place to spend the night.

The flight leaves at 1pm ... but you never know what Jakarta traffic is like. We're at the airport mid-morning. W sees me through security. I check in and the nice attendent finds me aisle seats for the first two flights.

Inside the halls, I walk. And walk. I have no trouble finding the gate but it's going to be a long day. No sense in sitting around.

The flight leaves on time and arrives in China 5+ hours later. It's a 3 hours layover, which sees me though more security lines in a very tidy airport.

The 13-hour flight to Los Angeles is uncomplicated. Two Australians on a Pacific countries tour (USA / Japan / etc.) sit in my row. They're musicians, free spirits, and interesting. Their trip is as long as mine, but they're on the final leg of 30 hours. Exhausted. I snooze for 3 or 4 hours.

LA offers 2 miles of exercise, according to my phone. After an hour in the immigration line (one lady serves the long line I'm sent to, while other lines have 4-6 agents each), I tackle customs. No problem. I have nothing to declare. A few small boxes of tea, some scarves, three stuffed animals, and a carry-on bag rattle around in my suitcase.

I need a boarding pass from Alaska Air. "Go outside and to the right to Terminal 6," an agent tells me.

As I walk out the door, a porter shoves a cart under my suitcase. "It's quite a walk. This will help." Thank you, sir!

I walk all the way to Terminal 7 without seeing an Alaska sign. (The light glares on the sign as I speed by and whites out the sign.) I stop a bicycle policeman to ask where Alaska Air is. "Upstairs, ma'am. Terminal 6," and he zooms on.

Will I miss the big bugs? Nope.
Except that there's no elevator in the terminal. An employee points me back to where I've been. "Go back between Terminals 4 and 5. There's an elevator there." Yup, more walking. Thank you for the cart, Mr. Porter.

And there's no trouble with the boarding pass, with hanging out watching a movie on my IPad, with praying over people who wander by. 5 hours later, I'm on the final leg of the flight - it's morning Indonesian time and midnight Seattle time when we take off.

The expensive Shuttle Express van is nowhere to be seen. I call from the luggage carousel, then again from the counter, then once more from the curb. 3/4 hour after the first call, a black Town Car pulls up. The driver uses the toilet and then we start off. We chat and relax. He comes all the way down the driveway, lifts my bag out, and stays until I round the corner to the basement suite. He turns around and pulls away.

Thursday - Jeremy's birthday
I'm at the flat before 4am. I'm hardly sleepy so I unpack and put the suitcases away. Do laundry. Sort mail. Make the bed. Shower. Cut my hair. And fall asleep at 5.

Our d-i-love Melissa calls down the stairs, "Oma? Mom?" and the name registers as I'm sleeping. I know she wouldn't wake me early but I feel groggy. I pull my watch off the charger and check the time: the basement is still dark. It's 2:30pm! I have had a great sleep.

The kids come down to say hi before we head out the door on my first "to do." I have to go to the DOL to renew my expired drivers' license. No problem. In the car, M fires up a movie for the kids while I go in to the Shoreline office. They are efficient: I'm out in 15 minutes.

Next stop is pick-up of a loaner SUV. Our dear friends D and Ph have offered their car again. THANK YOU! Ph comes to see the kiddos in the car before M heads home. I buy salad, flowers, and other groceries at Trader Joe, getting back about 6pm.

M has made supper - so good! - and the kids visit downstairs. One has had a melt-down over supper so has to wait for his stuffed lion toy until tomorrow. The other two play and chatter. Love these grands!

I call Jeremy for his birthday: our eldest is 36. My mom reminds me he'll soon be 40. (Some friends say that's a greater milestone for parents than for their children.)

Love our kids and grands
I'm up from 2-6am. Sleep is sweet until the alarm goes off at 8. A decent shower, sorting things, feeling like my body and mind are reconnecting, and then I meet my WPPR friends (sans Patti who is in SF) for 10:00 tea at Molbaks Nursery. How wonderful to connect: they catch me up on themselves, their prayer requests and their kids - to whom we are the WPPR Aunties.

I smell the fragrant orchids in the hothouse. The displays of tropical plants - which thrive outside our door in Bandung - are refreshing.

Book reviews, editing, studying for the citizenship test (did you know there are 435 representatives in the House?) and reading. The rest of the day flies by with a visit from the kids.

I'm up again from 2-5am. After I trim my hair some more, I sleep until 2:30pm. It's fun to have a visit from the grandkids. We make snacks (dried cherries, pistachios, sprouted grains,  chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, stirred with yoghurt and OJ.) I cook myself a few healthy meals, write, edit a friend's proposal, and phone with family.

A beautiful city: Seattle
Between, I watch several podcasts from a "Work By Design Summit." It's soon clear that millennials in North America think completely differently about productivity and the pleasures / pains of work than do Asians, GenXrs, and older generations. It's verrrry interesting.

I put on a music track of "dolphin sounds and relaxation" to see if I get sleepy sooner. At 10:30pm, I'm still wide awake.

Read more: (ESV)
*You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. Exodus 23:1

*The Lord God is a sun and shield. Psalm 84:11

*Therefore do not worry. Matthew 6:31

*So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors. Ephesians 4:25
Moravian Prayer: We ask you, Gracious Savior, to calm our thoughts and our spirits so that we may hear from you when you need to speak to us. The still small voice reminds us that you are never far away and we only need to quiet ourselves before your throne. Have mercy upon us we pray.
When we worry, Lord, it reminds us that we do not trust you fully. We allow fear to override your promises for us. Remind us that all things belong to you and that you always have the final say. We give you thanks. Amen.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house.

At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.

What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness.

The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Team Canada 1: hosting an ideal service team

A great group of children, staff and volunteers this week!
The BBC reports why I couldn't remember Indonesian during the first set of lessons: apparently the termite poop dropping on my face at night (waking me multiple times) disrupted memory acquisition. I remember that it became automatic to wake up many times each night to sweep my hands over the sheets and push the frass onto the floor. (We never went barefoot in that house!)

First supper together Saturday night
"Simply waking up humans or animals when they enter the REM phase, for example, causes stress and other problems that can confound any memory tests." (BBC summary here.)

So ... there was a physical reason why I couldn't acquire the language. The home we're in now is better, thank God. We can sleep.

Well, let's catch up on the week, working with a wonderful service team of 8 Canadians. Bit long, so skim through if you prefer. Hopefully the pictures will give you an idea of the great time we're having with this hard-working bunch.
Sunday, May 8 Mother's Day
We call our moms, who feel far away. It's strange to celebrate Mothers Day without parents or children nearby. We are offset by 14 hours, which always complicates calls.

Our guests, who arrived yesterday, are happy to have their children with them. W picked them up Saturday afternoon from the airport, hiring a second car and driver to bring luggage and people. They're home in 4 hours - fantastic traffic for a weekend.

It's fun to have visitors at church. Every week, people from around the world stand to introduce themselves in BIC fashion (Bandung International Church). "Hi. My name is (Alex? / Nancy / Aris / Siti, etc.) I'm from .... (country, Indonesian province, etc.)"

Afterwards, we eat at Bumi. We pray and the glowering clouds keep their rain during lunch. We see sheets of rain falling on the hills around us. A few stay to swim and the rest of us catch a ride home with W, who has run back to the yard for our car.

We pick up Dr. H for the afternoon study at the Bamboo Shack. It's fun having a larger group around the table. Everyone participates and we all learn from scripture. What a surprise when the hour has flown by.

This is the first morning of work at the orphanage. One of the team is ill. She and her mom stay at the house while the rest pile into the van.

Trudy and her family have organized craft projects into bags and have everything ready to go. The supplies they have brought are staggering: tools like glue, staplers, and scissors - and paper, hats, giveaway pins, postcards, scrapbooking pages, etc. Every member of the group has worked with children and teens in camps, service trips, and church. So they are happy to see the smiling faces before us.

We are introduced and the children are shy until they warm up to the visitors. During the week, the group reports that the kids hug them, sing along, howl and scream at games, and ... well, generally act like well-behaved children having fun. It's easy to see that the staff is doing an excellent job at communicating love and respect - these kids are well-dressed, clean, orderly, and generally happy.

The guys and Kaylee play soccer, while Lorraine, Trudy, and Jess start a craft with the rest of the kids. Each child designs a personalized bookmark. They love the stickers, the dress-up figures, and the decorations. Some paper bookmarks are so! artistic.

My legs are not used to being under me on the floor. They hurt after only 5 minutes. I am constantly shifting position. It's rude to show the foot soles, and women shouldn't sit cross-legged (comfy for me). So I try every alternative. And when I have to leave for the study at or house, everyone carries on - it's amazing how well-disciplined the team is, how they love the kids, and how genuinely they communicate a sense of enjoyment.

We love studying scripture - and this morning we read about Jesus and his commitment to obey God, no matter what the circumstances. Oh for such single-hearted obedience.

At lunch, the group chats with students on a university campus. They are people magnets and have a great time. They hand out our contact information so students can find out about movie night (Wednesday). Lots of kids promise to come.

And after lunch, it's back to work / fun with a new group of children. This week, high schoolers are writing national exams. Some of them will compete for scholarships so they have to study rather than attend the crafts and sports.

Before the team comes back to the house, they play soccer with kids from another care organization. Everyone is soaked by rain and sweat and ready for a shower when they come back. It's hot and humid out. They're mildly jet-lagged but excited to be here. They share their day before everyone drops into bed.


It's "volcano day" and Aaron's 22nd birthday. Most travelers love to spend time in nature and sight-seeing. We climb down to the shore of the lake that has formed where a mountain once loomed. The water is ice-green but warm. Plumes of smoke rise from the vents along the shore.

It takes us a few hours to drive each way. We eat ramen for lunch at a hot spring spa. It is beloved by locals, not a fancy resort for tourists.

We stick our feet into their fish spa, where minnows nibble at the calluses on our soles. When an especially big fish nips me, I've had enough. I enjoy the squeals and shrieks of the others as they get used to the fish who swarm anything in the water.

The guys want to stop at a knife store on the way home. They buy a few souvenirs and by the time we get going again, the local market is closed. We're all weary anyway, so the few hours home are quiet - and everyone's happy to relax. (Next blog post has the rest of the week.)

Read more:
*Do not fear or be dismayed! Joshua 8:1 ESV

*I will save you that you may become a blessing. Zechariah 8:13 NASB

*Paul wrote: Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 ESV

*Fight the good fight of the faith. 1 Timothy 6:12 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Gracious God, we give thanks, knowing that when we are going through the storms of life you are there. In all areas of our lives, help us to let go and let you work in us.
Lord, you continue to breathe the breath of life within us. Purge our spirits so that your life anew in us will be pleasing in your sight when we recognize that all things come from and through you. Let your glory be revealed. Amen.

Team Canada 2

A great group of guys!
Wednesday, May 11.16
The group is on a roll. Today, they create "life books" with the kids in their morning and afternoon sessions. Jess thought of assembling pages that contain the children's interests, goals, and autographs from their peers. The children write touching messages to the volunteers as well.

At lunch, they visit a university campus, talking to students who want to practice their English. They pass out our number: sounds like movie night is full (of students invited on Monday) so we'll invite this crowd next time.

After two more hours at the orphanage, they head to an English center to hang out with street kids. They listen to a lot of stories and come home full of gratitude for their own upbringing.

While they're gone, I'm cooking and baking. I start early and am done after lunch. In my head, the number of people coming over is 50. (I usually hear an approximate # of attendees. This weird and practical gift from God arrived when I planned alumni events years ago and continues to now.) 50 seems high. But that means I'd better get cooking!

Ibu Emi comes at 8, a helper on loan from a neighbor. I've forgotten - DrW and I arranged this 2 weeks ago but with all the coming and going, it completely slid out of my head. I am thinking about the flow of the day and that I'll have to wash dishes between food prep.

Then Emi rings the bell. Thank God! She washes pots and pans, irons the guests' laundry, and mops the floors. Before she leaves after 3, she rinses rice to fill two rice cookers. She's happy to take some food home.

  • First, I bake a few loaves of "1-2-3 Bread." Recipe: 1 tsp. yeast / 2 tsp. salt / 3 c. flour, stirred with 1.5 c. water. Let the sticky dough rise for a few hours in an oiled cast iron pan. Bake with a cover on it for 1/2 hour @425oF / 210C. Then remove the cover and bake an additional 10-20 minutes = until it sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. It should slip out of the pan easily. Cool it, then cut it.
  • W makes chicken wings. He's experimenting with a sous vide (water heat) gadget. I'm happy he's cooking. He grills them to brown the skins. They are a hit. 
  • I cook sausages in tomato sauce, bake 2 French toast casseroles, roll and fry little hamburgers with mushroom gravy, steam mixed vegetables, and stir up mushroom gravy and white sauce. Since the oven is hot, I bake dozens of profiterole cookies (puff pastry and sugar).
By early afternoon, most of the food is arranged and ready. I take a nap and catch up on academics before Team Canada returns.

Our movie night guests arrive at 6:30-7:30. We eat, laugh, and enjoy their company. Many of them bring treats to share: chicken saté, doughnuts, murtabak, and more.
Then it's time for the movie. Tonight it's The Truman Show.

Half-time means dessert. We have plates of cookies--most from a baking binge last week. Trudy and Lorraine help clean up the kitchen during the second half. WOW - what a treat to have such hard workers (who know how to run a home!)

After the movie ends, we all exhale and release the tension. W asks our 60 guests (50 + us), "Is it better to be happy or know the truth?" That sparks a spirited discussion. The last guest leaves at midnight. And we're in bed by 1am.

I drag myself to the computer at 3am-4am for a women's caucus meeting. Most women are in the USA. Some international attendees have a more reasonable time zone, but I'm the only board member on this side of the planet, so I get the ugly hour. It doesn't take me long to fall asleep when we're done.
Up and down the hills we go
We're up before 6. Everyone eats breakfast so we can do an easy walk around the valley. W leads 15 of us up Ciumbuleuit hill. The daily rain has made the trail slippery: the mud coats our shoes. We try not to slide on the moss that covers the stairs up and down through the villages.

We can't cross the river at the hydro dam because the rains have washed it out. Locals have dragged tree trunks across the gap over the river. We go further up the valley to the streets of Dago,

and then back down and across another bridge to our side of the river. ("We hope we are as fit when we're as old as you," says one young person. Haha -- and we wish we had your strength!)

Gypsy is a happy dog: he has a few young adults vying over his leash. It's short and sweet today: 2 hours, 4 miles. Joanna is not 100% but she's game and has come on the walk as well.

It's hot so we're sweaty as well as dirty when we arrive at Miss Bee's for lunch. They are happy to see us and provide great food and service.

Our guests go to Angklung Ujo downtown while W and I work at home. They make another trip to the English center and come home tired. But happy. We've rarely met such a diligent and creative team.

Our driver drops Team Canada at the orphanage in the morning, and drives to the top of the next hill to fetch our friends David and Paula from Jakarta. They bring McGregors to meet us. Alex M is a pro at placing service teams and interns around the world. We've been praying about effective ways to connect volunteers with opportunities in Indonesia - and here they are to advise us. So grateful!

We sip tea, eat bread fresh out of the oven, cookies, and a fruit salad in the morning air. We chat on the porch until after noon. I'm so engrossed that I forget to take pictures during the breaks in information.

The team is connecting with university students again at lunch, but W and I hop in the car to join them in the afternoon. The team also introduces two new local volunteers, met on our walk yesterday.

"We can come every week," the two women tell administrators. Great! How nice to connect them to this worthy (and fun) place to read, sing, and spend time with the kids.

Three gals favor us with a Sunda dance they learned at dance academy. It is graceful and beautiful.

Lorraine shares her story of becoming a commercial airline pilot. The kids are attentive. She persevered when everyone told her she should quit. She has attained "captain," in charge of flights on Airbus 319, 320, and 321. Two translators consult each other to communicate her words.

"I took every job I could," she says. "When the doors seem closed, you have to be persistent." She works in a male-dominated industry (3% of pilot captains are women.)

Lorraine encourages the kids to "follow your dream, even if you don't have money or think you can't make it."

We hand out candies and take our leave, a long process . Of course, we pose for pictures with the children. "Please come back," the kids say to Garry-Trudy-Kaylee-Jess and Ron-Lorraine-Aaron-Joanna.
Truly a caring staff - a farewell picture
The 4 young adults head home with the driver to freshen up. We and the parents walk the narrow village paths down and up the valley toward Setiabudi Grocer. The team picks up food and hand-carved wooden spoons (gifts for friends back home).

Kaylee and Joanna make a wonderful salad. W whisks the pre-mixed gado-gado salad dressing (peanut sauce). Upstairs, Jess prepares garlic bread. I stir gravies, vegetables, chicken breasts, sausage, German broth cubes, rice, and more into a hearty and flavorful soup. Oh my, we have lots of it! We only make it through 2 of the 3 full pots.

Over the meal, we review today and think ahead to tomorrow, our last day with the Canadian dream team. Their final assignment will be to write up the opportunities they've had for others who will follow.

Yup, we're canceling that early trip to the market in the morning. All are in agreement! We're tired.

Aaron has supper with a guy from Wednesday's movie night. About 7, several young people show up to hang out with Aaron on the porch. Love it.

Meanwhile, the dads wash up and tidy the kitchen. Impressed? (So am I!) Then they talk tech (yawn) and faith (cool!)

I have to write a backlog of books reviews and blog. The other women go downtown. They walk the streets with a charity group that cares for women and children.

"We're solving the world's problems," W says when I ask what the guys are talking about on the porch. We are so grateful for thoughtful friends. But it may take more than a discussion in the sweet night air to set everything right.

Read more:
*Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 1 Chronicles 16: 23-29 NIV

*I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19: 25-27 NIV

*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

*There is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. Psalm 130:4 ESV

*If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Thank you, O Father, for being our vision and leading us in the paths of righteousness. Help us to open our spiritual eyes to experience your greatness and your divine presence. These things we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Experiment in Criticism. On grief:
Real sorrow ends neither with a bang nor a whimper. Sometimes, after a spiritual journey like Dante’s, down to the centre and then, terrace by terrace, up the mountain of accepted pain, it may rise into peace—but a peace hardly less severe than itself. Sometimes it remains for life, a puddle in the mind which grows always wider, shallower, and more unwholesome. Sometimes it just peters out, as other moods do. One of these alternatives has grandeur, but not tragic grandeur.