Saturday, July 2, 2016

Oh, how I like it here

Wednesday to Friday. 
It's time to go home. Timothy has taken the luggage up to the car the night before, "helped" by Kinsey and Levi.

I have one more breakfast, combing food from the fridge.

Then it's time to clear out a few last things in the flat and close the door. I take a look around our little kitchen, turn off the heat, unplug the kettle that keeps water hot for tea, and take my carry-on luggage to the car. We hug goodbye and my time in Seattle is over. Errands are done. I have 2 passports in the bag. I fly out as a Canadian: we booked tickets before the citizenship process.
Goodbye - this kitchen served me well.
Our daughter-in-law Melissa drives me to the airport on Wednesday afternoon. We don't cry as we say goodbye, but how I appreciate her sacrificial service. I rarely cry at partings though sometimes I wish I could.
Melissa and the 3 kids take me to the airport
I'm in transit for 34 hours from Seattle home door to the hotel in Indonesia. It's Canada Day when I finish 3 flights: Seattle to LA. LA to Guangzhou, China. And finally Jakarta. 

We leave LA 2 hours late but somehow the longest trip flies by.
4 long lines in China. We're divided into seating sections.
Somehow we all fit into the airplane.
Before this second flight - 15 hours - I hoist my carryon into the overhead bin. The plane is big so the bins are up high. I have to stand on the seat. No one is nearby. I slip, pushing the suitcase into the cavern ... and fall on my back in the aisle. My leg wrenches but my back is just fine. I get up and strap myself in. Ouch, sharp pain shoot down from my knee.

My seat is beside 3 toilets. "Is there any chance of moving to another aisle seat?" I ask the China Southern Air attendant. The smell is already nauseating.

The flight attendant comes back before takeoff and helps take down and reposition the heavy bag. I limp toward the new seat - ah, it's perfect. (Well, actually, perfect would be business class with fully reclining seats, but it's a great improvement.)

I watch a few movies, nap, and eat indifferent food (the vegetarian option) on the long flight across the Pacific. We lose a day and cover 9,560 miles, flying up the West Coast past Seattle, over the Alaskan - Russian bridge, and down the east coast of Asia. Amazing to imagine what engineers have accomplished, squeezing hundred of us into a metal bird.

There's no trouble with luggage, visa, or customs. I sail through immigration in Jakarta to find my husband waiting. We hold onto each other: this year we've been apart almost 3 months already - and it will be even longer when his interview comes up. He'll fly back to the States alone for that.

He's found a reasonably-priced ArtHotel between the church and train station. We were hoping to walk to the church for Pastor Dave's 60th birthday party and to the train station in the morning. My knee says no. "No way."
Artwork everywhere, including on the ceiling
For $10, the hotel masseuse comes to our room and gives me an hour-long treatment. My leg loosens up and the usual water-retention from flying a day-and-a-half has receded by the time she leaves. Bliss.
Check in 
A Ramadan display in the lobby
We enjoy Dave's birthday party with over 100 others: he is beloved for his friendship, smarts, and being real with his congregation. 
Beautiful Kristi and Daniela, Indonesian daughters
and lovely baby#2 Journey. Big sis Kamille poses
for pictures elsewhere - so cute!
His wife and daughter (Gigi and Isabelle) are gracious hosts. The food is marvelous: Gigi always chooses feasts that delight. I especially love the spicy Indian and Indonesian offerings.
3 sucklng pigs: Filipino style
Dave loves Jakarta and is thrilled to be serving here. On video and in person, his friends express how much he means to them. W prays for him near the end of the evening.
We catch the 6:30am train. It leaves the station at 7:15, an extra transport during the busy final week of Ramadan. Muslims go home to their villages and families, similar to Thanksgiving in the USA and Christmas in Canada. The hotel packs 2 meals-to-go. 

In the train station, the windows at Starbucks are draped during Ramadan. Muslims feast during the evening and pre-dawn but abstain from food and drink during daylight. I sip my venti Chai Leaf tea and carry it aboard.
Train station pillars are decorated
On the train, I eat a few pieces from my breakfast box (there's so much food!) but W's stomach is reacting to the spicy food from last night. He fasts breakfast along with the majority population. Our helper will be happy to take his meal for her family the next day.
Box breakfast
I keep snapping pictures. They don't do justice to the beautiful countryside. We pass lush fields, roofs of galvanized metal or red clay tiles, and people people people. My heart fills up on the beauty of this country. How we love it here!
Mountains and river valleys
Terraced rice paddies and banana trees
People waiting at cross-roads
Volcanic mountains and red-roofed houses
Modern freeway stretching across the rice terraces
Obedient and impatient  cyclists
Laundry drying on every imaginable surface
Little village graveyards, all Muslim graves aligned with Mecca
Children on school holiday
Markets and holiday shopping
Three hours later, we are in Bandung. A driver brought W to Jakarta yesterday, picked me up at the airport, dropped us at the hotel, and then drove home with my suitcases. (It took him 6 hours to drive 120 miles, which usually takes 2 1/2-3 hours.) He is at the station to pick us up.

We make a quick stop at the store for vegetables, bread, and chicken. And then we're home. The dog barks in glee and jumps all over me.

The house is tidy and clean (thank God)! The helper is all smiles. I see 4 ant trails in the first few hours. W's been spreading diatomaceous earth and that keeps them at bay. Sort of.

I slather on DEET against the mosquitoes: a friend and her mom drop by for an hour before supper. We sit on the porch with cookies, enjoying the heat and the cooling breeze coming up the side of the hill.

W and I are in bed and asleep by 9pm.

In the morning, the dog walks a kilometer with us to Yogya, the closest grocer. We need sugar, flour, oil; W also wants a few staple supplies. We pass along treats from Seattle to friends and the helper: she likes her sparkly t-shirt and hand towels.

I empty the fridge of a few things. (Ibu A, cooking for her extended family this week, takes home whatever I'm clearing out, plus rice, flour, sugar, and oil.) I bake a loaf of bread, make ramen for lunch, and flop into bed for a quiet afternoon of reading and writing. I'm not tired, exactly. More like weary.

Oh, it's so gooooood to be home. I am so grateful for God's calling, for his protection, and the peace in our hearts.

Read more:
*You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Psalm 30:3 NIV

*Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10: 12 NIV

*Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not
believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:14-18 NIV

*He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Colossians 1:13 ESV 

Moravian Prayer: Gracious God, you rescued us from the depths of darkness. Help us to reach out to others and share your word with them so that they will not taste death, but will receive eternal life and live in your kingdom. Amen.

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