Friday, August 26, 2016

Walking in your paths ...

Thursday, August 25, 2016
We walk our neighborhood today. W and I start down the hill with Gypsy, meeting the others at the park at the bottom of the hill.
Schoolkids on an outing swarm Gypsy and
pose for a picture with W
"Let's take a picture," they ask.
Some of these guys studied in Germany.
The surroundings are gorgeous - we look at the pictures we're taking and exclaim,

"When you're living here, the flowers and lush greens feel so normal. We get used to it. We hardly see how so beautiful it really is here."

The day heats up and gets muggy.

We're panting as we walk along the river.

Squatters have built up a community across the water. Laundry hangs from electric wires, bakes dry on the rooftop, and drapes from fences.

Our shoes are mucky from wading in the path washed up by the heavy rains overnight.
Small huts and shelters along the way
We walk past a few little family graveyards.

It's a steep hike up the hill on the way back. 
A look back up the hill after crossing the valley below
The last climb is the steepest, so we pause to sit on a wall. Motorcycles and chickens pass by. Typical.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because he lives here and he's tomorrow's lunch.
Two little boys come up to say hi. One dashes over to pet Gypsy. Then he runs to his mom, giggling. He tells her how brave he's been and comes back for another touch. (Muslims here are taught to be afraid of dogs; being licked could make them ritually unclean.)

We get together at Ethnic food court. And we're home before 2. After a shower and nap, we drive over with Dr. Hanna to study scriptures at the Bamboo Shack.
Traditional figures carved into the concrete walls
of the Bamboo Shack. (Tables and chairs below for perspective.)
We're working and making calls until 11. Then we go for groceries. 4 little boys follow us around the store.
They are happy to pose for a picture with W. I'm glad that we find everything in one place. I'm not much of a shopper.

Read more:
*My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued. Psalm 71:23
*Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23
*Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 
*Do not abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. Hebrews 10:35
Moravian Prayer: Constant Sustainer, your love is ever-present. It is always enough. Lord, guide us to live life from your fullness of grace, rather than from the emptiness the world offers. Alone, we are weak; together, we are strong. With you, nothing is impossible. 
Precious Lamb of God, let us never grow tired of singing your praises! You have set our feet upon your firm foundation. We are so blessed. Lord, open new ways to share your love to all those whom we touch, both near and far. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A summer kind of gal

Everyone online seems to be talking about autumn. Blogs about "back to school" and "changing seasons" move me in a different way than expected. I am SO relieved that fall and winter won't be coming here.
The neighbor's hedge
I love summer. For the past 30 years, I've loved only spring and summer.

My friends look forward to the colors of the changing seasons. They exclaim with pleasure when the leaves turn red and gold. Not I. I get depressed when the days get shorter and the sun lies low in the sky.

Those northern winter chills and greys are coming. But I admit that I hate winter. I grew up in Winnipeg so maybe I got an overdose of minus 20-40 degrees?
Green, year after year
"Will you miss the changing seasons?" our friends asked when we moved to the tropics.

Nope. I won't. Probably not ever. I don't care if I never see another snowflake, pull on another warm scarf, or experience another six-hour day of sunlight. (Maybe W will.)
Specialty rice costs $1.50, poolside at Ethnic.
Color and warmth pull me in. Lift my moods. Make me laugh. It's God's gift and how he's wired me.

I tried to decorate with black and white when we moved into our rental house. After a few months, a few pillows crept in. A man came to the porch with rolls of his oil paintings ($7 each). We put some on the picture ledge. And suddenly we are back to bright and cheerful. It's inevitable.
The natural creep of color on a black-and-white IKEA rug
It makes me happy to live in the tropics. I'm thankful every morning for these hot bright days, balanced with "cool" nights (70oF/20oC).

This afternoon, I opened the bottles we found at the Bangkok airport, returning from a work conference a few weeks ago. With wooden chopsticks, I pulled the fingerling-sized orchids from the planting medium.

Borma (Indonesia's Walmart) didn't have orchid mounts in their garden section. I'm not much of a shopper so I went to the cleaning department. I found just the thing! coconut-husk brushes. The replacement bristles have little loops at the top so they can be attached to a handle.

I soaked the brushes, pulled a string through the loops, and attached the little plants on the side. They're now hanging from the empty perches of an abandoned birdcage. I'll mist the teeny orchids until they grow big and strong.

Life is uncertain - sometimes we must leave behind family, friends, and familiar comforts to follow God's plans. And sometimes, part of His consolation is an unexpected alignment with our inner hopes and unspoken wishes. Warmth. Green. Light. Flowers. Color.
The joy of new friendships at Sunday lunch
God is good. My heart is grateful today as summer continues. (I suspect heaven will be summer-y all the time so its streams never freeze over, and the Tree of Life can bear its fruit year-round.)

I'll surely enjoy your notes and your pleasure as the maples turn red and golden. As the nights chill. As you enjoy autumn and the winter. Blessings on you who appreciate all the seasons God made!

Read more:
*Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work. Exodus 20:9-10
*Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29
*When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them. Isaiah 41:17
*The sabbath was made for humankind. Mark 2:27
(Christ says,) “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” John 12:46
*Let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Revelation 22:17 
 Moravian Prayer: Provider of wholeness, give our souls peace. Light our hearts’ flames yet again. You are the giver of all good and wonderful gifts. Let us never forget to use those blessings to glorify you.
Trusted Rock, faithful Savior, thank you for offering shelter to our weary souls. Thank you for healing our brokenness. You have called us by name. We hear your voice, and we will follow you.
Star of the morning, you have written on our hearts your divine salvation. You are the Lord of the ages; your love never ends. Your grace is perfectly eternal. Only you can grant us true rest. Let us be ever humbled by this amazing gift. Amen.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Daughters are special. National Day. Hill climb. = interesting life

Saturday, August 20.16
Yesterday was our daughter's birthday. It would have been so nice to celebrate together. We used to fly her from Texas to Seattle to join us on her special day. This year, we are far far away so she's celebrated with friends and a brother nearby.

We had only one girl (until the two lovely additions when two of our sons married.) With 6 next-generation family members, we are praying for the other two - perhaps a future son-in-law and daughter-in-law, Lord willing.

Anyhow, when we first held Kirsten, we had no idea of the joys and challenges of a woman-child. She grew up surrounded by a few girls and lots of boys = an older and two younger brothers and plenty of uncles.

I am always happy that my family is close-knit: my folks made sure Kirsten and her brothers knew their Canadian neighborhood (almost as well as ours in the USA). When the pack was young, European girl and boy cousins reliably dropped by for a few weeks each Christmas.We saw other family members on holidays, too.

Now she's all grown up. She's become a lovely woman. I'm pleased and grateful to be her mom.
  • She loves Jesus and reflects his goodness and kindness to others.
  • She's always had a mind of her own: by which I mean, she is determined and focused when something catches her attention.
  • She's gifted in administration, math, color, and words.
  • She loves beauty and pattern. Even as a teen, she combined the craziest things to create her own dress style and her surroundings.
  • As a youngster, she changed her outfits so often that I stopped picking them up and let her sort them from the floor.
  • For a while, her hair came in many colors not set by God. As long as it wasn't blue or green, it was ok with me. Purple? Oh well. Sure. If she must.
  • Despite many health challenges, she makes friends and stays in motion.
  • Her brothers think the world of her and value her counsel.
Love you, Kirsten!
Hydrangeas are blooming in the yard.
I find a cool 2' vase in the cupboard.
What else is new?

All our company went home. So the house feels quiet off and on, between short visits from friends.
Mariska and Bart say goodbye before heading home to Holland
Gypsy will miss his first owner!
I'm editing. Grading. Got my head in the books. W and I are actually watching a Korean drama to clear our heads before bed. Yup, that's how slammed we are.

Wednesday is National / Freedom Day (Hari Merdeka). Every neighborhood has competitions and traditional sports.
Young men climb each others' shoulders
to grab packages at the top of greased poles.
During the day, the grease gradually transfers
to clothing - and the poles become less slippery.
Food and clothing are for sale. Entire families - the women in bright headscarves and the children lively and energetic - bring picnics to Bumi, which opens its grounds on holidays. Here, like in many parts of the world, people leave their food wrappers and bags behind.

We take time off Thursday to walk the hills. It's only my second time since May. Our elevation is a mile above sealevel. Puff puff. (Actually not bad. I'm surprised.)
See the string? That's the guardrail at the edge of a cliff.
Step beyond and you're falling +100 meters
to the valley below.
No lawyer will get you compensation
for not paying attention.
At the top ridge of Gunung Batu (Stone Mountain) 
One side = a valley. There's a completely different valley
in the other direction from the ledge.
Spectacular views of Bandung and surroundings.
Thursday afternoon, we study Genesis 48 at the Bamboo Shack. I've never thought of Jacob's meeting with grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh as a fascinating chapter. But the six of us are captured by the story and God-with-us.

Friday, DrW has her handyman build a Little Free Library. I unpack my #2138 charter sign, which I got a decade ago. Doctoral studies and general busyness prevented my putting it by the mailbox across the street in Seattle. (Our Seattle neighbor gave me permission; I just couldn't get my handymen and my motivation coordinated.)

The handyman mounts it on the front of her Kitchen Center (composting bins for the neighborhood). Dr H sends a bag of books for the library with W after he hangs up artwork at her house.

Oh... and DrH has taken us to Reading Lights this week. They are closing out art and books. Seriously - $20 for a framed 2'X3' original canvas of two cranes? The color and movement are stunning.

This pastel painting of an Indonesian man caught my eye the first time I walked into the bookstore. Today it is half price. How could I leave it there when we have so many bare walls? 

We haven't purchased much art here. But what we have reflects our love for Indonesia, the privilege of living in the tropics, and artists who see the world in a new way. W pounds a few nails into the concrete walls.
Two of my foil prints that didn't make the print exchange.
W hangs them on a bedroom wall.
Today a sweet friend Oktavia drops by for tea, bringing the MOST delicious cake from Jakarta. She stays for lunch and conversation. She's doing well! We are happy to pray over her and bless her.
Read more:
*Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered. Psalm 105:5 ESV

*See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Holy Spirit, please come upon us—fill our lives with your peace. We are redeemed by your sacrifice. We are saved from our sins because of your love. God, help us to be all that you created us to be. Amen

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ramblings: things I think about at night

Wednesday, August 17.16
It's the middle of the night.

Well, it's not the middle any more. It was, when I woke up 3 hours ago. I think to myself, lying wide awake in a comfy bed, that it's not so bad. Sure, I'd rather be asleep.

But I've heard the clang clang of the security guys tapping a metal rod on the gate as they stroll through the neighborhood. They warn off potential burglars and intruders so our friends can rest peacefully in their homes. The cacophony of rain has stopped drumming against the roof and the runoff that's lifting the paving off our street is gone. All is quiet.

I'm smiling, remembering a visit with DrW before lunch yesterday. I dropped by with the sign for Little Free Library #2138. I've had the sign for about 9 years, intending to set up a neighborhood library in Seattle. But the doctorate intervened and I packed the sign away. It was one of the miscellaneous hopes I packed in the luggage of our move here. DrW is building it for our neighborhood exchange. (Read about Little Free Libraries here.)

We talk about being co-stewards of the library as we sip warm orange juice and water, taste a few cookies baked by her gardener's daughter, and joke together. I love this lady so much!

Hillsides of villages
And outside, the 4am morning murmerings begin in the turrets of a dozen mosques. Sometimes one vioce will start on a distant hillside but gradually the chants will pick up in volume and intensity and the shouts, calls, and melodies tangle and blend over the neighborhoods. Some of the routines are taped. I wonder if they are on a timer or someone flips a switch to turn on the recording. It's the morning ritual - but we expect high decibels during this day of festivities, traditional games, and community gatherings.

Today is the Indonesian equivalent of Canada Day or the 4th of July. Our helper has the day off. W and I have long to-do lists to crunch through. We hoped to call his mom today. She had knee surgery last week. But she's delayed in hospital and we don't have a way to connect until she's home. Prayers have to suffice.

Dreaming of a basil-seed ice tea
My stomach is growling in protest of dinner: ground chicken and hot chili oil on spaghetti. It didn't taste great and I ate about a third, so the grumbling is not unexpected. We walked to a nearby café last night - weary after a day of paperwork. I needed to stretch my legs and wasn't hungry. Should have had tea and been content, I suppose.

What paperwork? I'm editing an interesting book. I printed out 2 pages per paper, perched reading glass on my nose, and hunched over my desk for a few hours. The copy blackens with the chicken-scratchings of edits. Move a text block here. Say it clearer. What transitions make it flow? A good idea deserves my undivided focus.

I'm also finishing an application to teach online. The school sent 17 items in the hiring packet. Included are PPTs to make sure I don't accidentally call a fellow or student "old" (no throwing "over the hill" retirement parties! which may offend the retiree or a bystander). The aim is to help faculty avoid potential pitfalls with sensitivity training.

A few days ago, I signed off on the training PPTS, after a few hours of clicking through the presentations. I downloaded and copied the certificates of completion. Today I call the bank for a routing number for payroll, and fill out page after page to be scanned by my faithful office manager (Waldemar - bless his soul. I think I can still say that.)

Though I'm a rehire, HR needs to start over. Updated laws mean more work all around. (Americans who've made a sport of suing others have sure complicated things for everyone else.)

Tuesday, we drove across the valley to the next hill to find a notary for two pages of signatures. She needs to confirm that I'm me. The office assistants made a copy of my passport, took the forms, and told us the notary was leaving for National Day (today) - so we should come back Thursday (tomorrow.) Will do, in an already packed day.

Yesterday I got a text - which I didn't see for hours:

"Good morning, Mrs. Rosemarie. I am Mary, notary assistant whom you met yesterday. May I ask you something? The document that you gave me and should be filled by the notary, is it should be typed or handwritten? Thank you."

"Handwritten in block letters is fine."

Hours later I see another text. "Is it ok if I type them on typewriter? Or you still prefer typewritten?"

"Yes. Typing is fine."

I do another two hours of editing before dinner. And I have four chapters to read from a doctoral student I'm advising. That will have to wait until tomorrow.

By 7pm, W and I were ready to stretch our legs. We walked through the dark lanes. (Sunset was 6pm, as usual.) In parts of the street, neighbors have forgotten to turn on their lights. There is no city lighting: every house on the street is expected to flip the switch to light their portion of the road. When they forget, our phone flashlights come in handy: we avoid potholes and washouts in the paving. (W put our street lamp on a sensor and labeled the light switch, "DO NOT TURN OFF.")

Afterward, I catch up with a friend online via Google Hangout. An hour of conversation, and I've processed something i needed to think through from last week's conference. Thanks, Kim!

W and I wrap up the day with an episode of a Korean drama. But it's not relaxing: in #17 of 20, the action is gearing up. (We must wait until next week to see what happens next. haha) We watch little TV except for background language. So an occasional story is fun. This drama centers on a hospital. There are politics and power plays, choices of revenge or forgiveness, and death and life rituals set in Korean culture. Doctors is #1 most-watched in Korea, so others must find it as interesting as we do.

Guest-ready bedroom
Above our heads, our last guests are beginning to stir. They leave this morning, on their way home to the Netherlands. We keep forgetting to take pictures but I hope to remember today. We've enjoyed their company: Mariska gifted us with Gypsy when she moved away last year; the dog has enjoyed having her around almost as much as we have. She and Bart are the last of three sets of friends staying here the past few weeks.

Something has just crawled on my arm, trying to get into the sleeve of my PJs. I flip it back onto the floor. Maybe a big ant? A little roach? I don't care to know. I hope the bug doesn't make another attempt.

The half-light of dawn creeps past the drawn drapes.

Read more:
*I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2  NIV

*The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 14:3 ESV

*Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. Jeremiah 23:3 ESV

*The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind. Matthew 13:;47 ESV

*Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Loving Father, you are so good to us. You comfort us during times of loss, pain, and sickness. You freely give your grace even though we are so undeserving. Lord, help us to accept your love, and to share it with those in our lives. 

All-seeing Lord, you know all of our transgressions, and yet you still love us. God, forgive us our sins and draw us closer to you and give us strength. Guide us as we strive to love our neighbors, and do not let us yield to our weaknesses. Amen.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Consequences of dengue, a conference, and company

It was exciting to see new leaders voted in at an NGO conference this week. They open the door to building on tradition with fresh ideas and many prayers.
Batik day at the conference
It was also a sad week. Karen, a part-time instructor of English contracted dengue fever last week: I was at APTS in Baguio at the time, along with our international students. Karen was bitten by a mosquito and within a day of entering the hospital, she experienced continual seizures.

A week later, her heart gives up and she's gone. It's a loss for her friends and a reminder of our mortality. When the time comes, we get to go Home to our heavenly Father.

The trip from the Philippines is a van ride, 2 flights, and a car ride. 17.5 hours door to door. I leave the Baguio campus at 9:15pm. The driver pulls over into a rest stop and snoozes for a half hour. I'm tired. Tired enough to sleep part of the way. We coast through construction zones in Manilla, and make it to the airport by 2am. I talk to a retired military guy who is traveling Asia.

The flights are uneventful and I reach Bandung by early afternoon. W stops at Jonn Brothers food truck because I'm getting hungry. We eat burgers. After Thai food. Filipino cafeteria food. And airport snacks. Burgers taste good, even if they're not the style we're used to.

Two huge leaves drop from the trees near our table. In the tropics, leaves fall all year.

Monday, September 8.16
We begin with a Bible study. Then Dr H and I meet her friends at a historic building downtown. The Watercolor Society is hosting a show, and one of Dr H's friends has a painting in it.

Katie and Tirza arrive from Jakarta by train. We also pick up Pastor Rey from the airport in the evening. Mariska and Bart are already here. So we have only a few beds empty by nightfall. The islands (the Philippines and Indonesia), the Netherlands, Canada, and the USA are sleeping under one roof.

The conference starts this afternoon. We hear so much Indonesian. (Of course! ... this is Indonesia - with 1200 attendees.) I'm surprised by how much and how little we understand. Most of the time, I can use Indonesian for what I need but W is much more fluent.

Mario translates for the talks by 3 English speakers on Tuesday through Friday. He moves and emphasizes the original messages - we are amazed at his gift. Later in the week, tired and still going, he acts out a word he forgets - and the story is woven into IES Jakarta history. Baaaaah.

We eat together often - joining the IES staff, the Garrisons from Missouri, or President Joseph C of Northwest U.

We invite our friends over for an impromptu Open House. We live 3/4-1 hour away from the hotel, depending on traffic. One driver drops a group at the traditional market, another group goes to an outlet complex for discount goods - Bandung is the textile center of Indonesia.

I keep going up the hill, stopping first to buy eggs and flour at the grocer. I'm dropped at our house, to the surprise of the helper who is washing bedding. "I thought you were coming back Friday," she says. Well yes, a slight change of plan. She helps me bake several kinds of cookies. I arrange the baking on serving trays, slide them into the fridge (chocolate melts at room temperature here), and walk to meet the others at a neighborhood restaurant.

Then we come back to relax, hang out, and eat sweets with coffee and tea. Katie uses the Aero-Press to make everyone's coffee. Tirza and Isabelle pitch in to make sure there's a drink for everyone. Then it's back to work, voting, and building relationships at the conference.

The conference elects the first woman to serve on the national council. Our good friend Stefano will serve as the organization's secretary.

The driver shows up to take a group shopping. He drops me off at the market to buy quilting fabric. (Joanne's cotton @$10-12 is made here for $2-4). I'm done in an hour - and then takes me to join the rest at Hummingbird restaurant. The food is good.

The conference wraps up with two morning sessions. People seem happy with the results of the business meetings. This group meets every 5 years, so elected officials serve five-year terms.

By noon, we're packed, waiting in the foyer as Pastor Rey says his goodbyes. We stop at Aroma Coffee factory first. Our guests buy freshly-bagged coffee to give their friends on upcoming trips. Sadly, Aroma no longer gives  factory tours of their hand-roasting process.

Our mid-afternoon meal is at Porto. Then it's home. The guest beds have been freshly made, towels put back in the room, and we all settle in. Mariska and Bart (Dutch couple) are here as well. Our room is as we left it.

Someone has gifted W and me with a nasty flu. Our noses drip, our sinuses ache, and we have no energy. We wash our hands often and try not to touch anything that could pass along the awful symptoms. I stir together an easy bread dough. It rises while W shows the gals how to make soft cheese (queso fresco) from milk and a lemon. The bread bakes for tomorrow's breakfast of fresh bread and homemade cheese.

In the evening, W walks to Miss Bee with Tirza and Katie. They bring back crispy pizzas and tofu fritters (better than they sound.) We talk and pray together. I cry - which is unusual - but I'm greatly encouraged by the time we go to sleep.
Beloved city: Bandung

The young women are up first. By 6, we're at the breakfast table. W takes them to the airport at 7 and comes back with bananas and tissues. (Last night, I used up our tissues on my dripping nose.) My head is pounding. I hardly slept last night due to headaches.

Online, I call my parents and some of the kids. My dear dad's 84th birthday has come and gone. I finally get to wish him a Happy Birthday. W's mom is recovering from knee replacement surgery earlier this week. Life goes on without us.

Ibu A arrives at 8. She washes the stacks of dishes we rinsed and put beside the sink last night. She puts the bedding in the washing machine, and begins to iron as things dry.

W takes Pastor Rey to the airport around noon. Ibu A washes and cuts vegetables and cooks enough nasi goreng (fried rice) for all our guests. However, there are just the three of us at this late lunch, so she takes the rest home for her family.
It's a busy city, especially on weekends.
Today is a day for recovery. I can't bring myself to tackle anything on my long list of to-dos. It's a rare thing that W and I actually have an evening together. We've been apart most days in the past 3 months. We heat up leftovers from this week of meals and fall into bed.

Read more:
*May the Lord our God incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways. 1 Kings 8:58

*Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:19

*Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish. Jonah 3:9

*When the Lord saw the widow, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” Luke 7:13-14

*If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

*His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3
Moravian Prayer: God of fire and flame, ignite in us a renewed spirit. Give us loud voices to sing your praise. Cleanse our hearts so that we may love deeply and forgive, as you have forgiven us. 
Loving Redeemer, you will never leave our side—we are never alone. You are our dear friend, Jesus. Lord, help us to be better friends to those who are suffering in our world.
Kind Shepherd, you lead us to life-giving water, to paths of righteousness, and to everlasting life. Strengthen us so that we may bring others into the fold. Amen.