Friday, July 29, 2016

On the move: guests and off to the Philippines

Saturday, July 23.16
Our dog Gypsy jumps over and around himself with joy when we come home. He fetches the ball, comes for head pats, and runs in circles while holding a leaf (his sign of happiness). He's now shared with the neighbor: when the husband went on a trip, the wife let Gypsy indoors and he hangs out there at least half of the time. Happy dog.

We spent last night in Singapore with friends who become more dear with every visit - in Indonesia or Singapore. Claudia made supper for her kids and the three came with us to Tampines Mall. The kids were happy to finish up their meal with a McDonald ice cream. A good Chinese Dim Sum was still serving upstairs at 8, so we three adults had that.

I forget to take pictures - we love the family and the kids are so much fun. We walk through the grocer at the mall and pick up brown sugar (for movie night baking), a liter of good olive oil, and red Thai rice that we can't get in Bandung. (Our friends here love that full-flavored rice.)

You can buy "any" food in Singapore. Since cultures blend here, most grocers carry Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Expat preferences. We fill the remaining kilograms of our carry-on luggage with the food purches and hope for the best at check-in tomorrow.

This morning (Saturday), J and C offer us a tasty breakfast of rolls, yogurt, and fruit. It's a precious time to hear and share vision for the future.

No trouble at the airport! Whew. I purchased a few baby orchid plants in Thailand and am worried that customs might not like that.

"You can't take those into the United States," cautioned the duty-free clerk in Bangkok airport, glancing at my new USA passport. However, since the orchids are inspected and sealed by the Thai authorities, they are accepted without question in Singapore and Bandung.

The Bandung airport has been completely revamped. Its lone baggage conveyer spits out our luggage without a problem. We get a Visa on Arrival, good until we have to leave to teach next week, get checked through immigration, and then stroll past customs, handing our form to the security guard.

We flag a taxi after wandering around a bit to find the new location of the taxi stand. The driver is chatty and enjoys talking to W, who is becoming fluent enough for basic conversation.

W leads the life group - they are enthusiastic learners of scripture and give him a warm welcome. It's the Sabbath: I rest up most of the day and don't check items off a list or "accomplish" anything. We have a busy week behind us and another coming up. Thanks to God, the only One who gives his people a rest instead of demanding more and more of his people (whether sacrifices, duties, or obligations).

The group at the house studies the resurrection of Jesus. Some of our discussion revolves around the question: "Was Jesus really dead on the cross?" Scripture records a similar question by authorities at the time, since they feared a scam.

  • Pilate sends the Roman centurion to confirm, not wanting there to be an escape or deception. 

"He's dead!" says this military leader. He has nothing to gain: he could be penalized or killed for lying. He's credible, too. By the time he becomes a centurion, he's not a novice: he and his soldiers have probably crucified a lot of criminals for Rome.
Orchids drape from a trellls and drip off the walls

  • The highest Jewish leaders bribe the soldiers to lie about the resurrection. They promise to protect the soldiers from retaliation: normally solders would be severely punished for an escape. They wouldn't make up the story on their own.
  • The amount of detail, told from several points of view in the gospels, is typical of historical eye-witness accounts. (If the Bible were a secular book by Plato or Josephus, the details would be taken as fact - resistance to biblical accounts is usually philosophical, not scholarly.)
  • Jewish myths would put men, not women, at the center of the story as eye-witnesses. (Women and slaves were not considered credible witnesses in that culture.) Yet God chooses women as the first to know about the resurrection of Jesus. An angel instructs the women to tell Jesus' disciples that he has risen. (Interesting.)
I'm working on the class that lies ahead. Finally, the unruly bits begin to stick together. I feel almost ready to pass along the information.


Katie, Laura, and Kaitlyn come from Jakarta. We pick them up from the train station and go for a late lunch at Porto. The restaurant serves Indonesian food and Western-ish options at a reasonable price.

We sit outside under the orchids and vines. The food is good - we haven't been there for a long time since it's on another hill. We talk about faith and work, while the servers eavesdrop to catch English words. We encourage the students to pray wherever they go. God cares for the poor and needy, and makes himself known to those who seek him.

Who is the little girl? We don't know.
This youngster sneaks into our photo
Bandung has a reputation as a tourist getaway. People drive, take the train, or fly in from SE Asia and Indonesia. They shop at Bandung's bargain outlets (clothing manufacturing), enjoy the beautiful scenery and cooler climate of the hills, and eat its delicious food. The shopping is wasted on me, sadly. Once I have clothes and household basics, my interest in wandering the shops dissolves. But it's fun to take others and watch them enjoy their time.

The two interns are heading back to the States soon. "Would you like to do a bit of outlet shopping?"

Oh yes they would, having been primed about Bandung by Jakarta friends. Even the most reluctant of shoppers - you know who you are, Katie, haha - find gifts for friends and clothing and enjoy the tropical setting.

I'm ready for sleep, reading devotions before clicking off. The green notification bar keeps popping up: W is updating our phone and data. I should have shut off notifications: they jerk my system into alert so that I lie awake until 2:30am.

Happy trails to yoooou!
We're up at 6:30. We played yesterday and so we'll work and work out today. We walk with the regular walking buddies. It's a lovely jungle path (4.5 miles / 7 km) in the hills above Bandung. Gypsy is delighted to be off leash and so am I - it's the first time in 4 months that I'm home for a Thursday walk.

The monkeys chatter overhead, scolding Gypsy who dashes up and down the hillsides to bark at the base of their trees. The wind ruffles the tall palm fronds and shuffles the enormous leaves on either side of us. It's peaceful. Perfect.

Katie climbs the tree roots (from one tree)
Bridges over waterfalls
We eat at the Bamboo Shack, near the base of the mountain we hiked and at the top of north Bandung. The food is good. The company is sweet. Bob, coowner, joins us and gives the gals a tour of a photo competition posted on the second floor. He's always a wealth of information on Indonesia and the shop is a popular hub for Indonesians and visitors alike.

A small but happy group study
We're home in time for a shower and nap. The house is quiet for an hour before we head out again. We have a study group at Bamboo Shack every Thursday at 4. Traffic is good: we're there in 20 minutes.

Today we read Genesis 47, marveling at Joseph's wisdom in politics, people management, and resources. What a gifted leader - but he wouldn't have been in place to save Egypt or his own family if he'd been faithless. He endured desperate times (the jealous hatred of his brothers, being sold into slavery, and false accusations that got him thrown into prison). Wow.

We drop Katie and her interns off at an English learning center. The liaison person is not there and the attendees are not sure who the gals are ... or if they're trustworthy. They talk and look around: would this be a helpful place for future volunteers?

I make a quick supper for W and me and pack my suitcases. Computer. Cables. Thumb drive. Notes. Oh yes, clothes. I'm traveling light: W isn't along with his tech gear, which can be bulky. I bake a loaf of bread and the house smells like a bakery.

W drives into town to pick up Katie's crew. They stop at Setiabudi, the biggest grocer for expats, to buy gifts for sponsors. They also pick up bags of Aroma Coffee beans, roasted in Bandung after the beans are sundried and then cured for 8 years. It smells so good.

They bring home a late supper of pizza and by the time we finish talking, it's 10. We fall into bed about 11:30. And this time, I sleep soundly.

I'm up before the alarm at 4:40. Katie is also awake, cheerful with her first cup of coffee as she sits on the deck. "I've found my favorite spot and it's so peaceful," she sighs, comparing the quiet to Jakarta's constant din. She'll be back to visit in a few weeks.

The view from the airplane door in Bandung
Look left and right when crossing the taxiway
We pick up the driver at the alley to his neighborhood at 6am. He hops in and negotiates traffic for us on the way to the airport.

The driver returns to the house for the women: they need to be dropped at the train station for a 10:30 trip. Meanwhile, W meets with his Friday regulars.

My flights - 2 hours to Singapore, a 3 hour layover, and a few hours to the Philippines are uneventful. I have to do some online training for an adjunct faculty position. I most of the two courses online in the Singapore airport.

Friday night, Manilla - with all its cars - flees to the countryside. We leave the airport before 7pm, so we're in traffic with everyone else. It takes 4 hours to leave the city and over 7 hours (total for 250km or 150 miles) to reach the seminary. The driver's wife is texting him as we drive on the highway. I ask if we need to pull over.

"No, she is texting but I cannot reply." He can only read what she writes? haha He gives us trying to text back after that.

He's a good driver. Sure, he passes semi-trucks on hairpin turns, swings wide in the lanes, and is sleepy. That's not out of the ordinary in SE Asia. He cranks up last year's pop from his Iphone playlist - I know most of it. Off and on, I ask a question to see if he's still awake. If one is inclined to carsickness or fearful, this would be hair-raising. But I have a good book I've been dying to finish. I close the last page before a final half-hour of switchbacks on the mountain road. The school sits 5300 feet (1630 meters) above sea level.

By the time our ID is sorted by security and the seminary gates swing open, it's 2:30am. I have instructions not to pay the driver. Oh oh, he says someone has forgotten to leave his fee envelope, but I explain that the school will reimburse him.

He drives me to the apartment, where he and a watchman hand me a key and bring my suitcase to the room. They disappear into the night. I sure hope he didn't drive back right away ...

Beautiful Baguio
I toss the suitcase on the bed, pull out PJs, and write a note for outside my door. "Please don't wake me until 11am." I'll need time in the morning to sort notes and resources in preparation for class next week. Without a pause to recalibrate, Monday will be chaos in my head. I'm asleep by 3:30.

Sweet dreams ... until 9:00. I work until noon. The college has left fruit and bread in the room for breakfast. I'm busy until lunch, enjoying the quiet and calm, so I skip breakfast altogether.

Outside my window, the view across the valley is stunning. The temperatures are cool, the skies overcast. "We had 20 minutes of rain yesterday," the driver had said. It rains every day; lightning was flashing across the skies as we ascended the hill last night.

Back in Bandung, W picks up two guests from Holland. She's Gypsy's first owner - and W says the dog goes crazy when she walks in the gate. Hurrah! Lucky boy.

Read more:
*With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. in your might, you guide them to your sacred home. Exodus 15:13 NLT

*The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1 NLT

*Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me. Jeremiah 2:19 NIV

*Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:11 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Gracious Savior, teach us your ways so that we will never forget your greatness or go astray. Plant seeds of your holiness and righteousness within us so that we will yield good fruit for your kingdom. Amen.

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