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.

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