Friday, September 9, 2016

Packing and packing

September 10, 2016
This is a big weekend for Muslims. The story of Abraham and Isaac is familiar to Jews and Christians from Genesis 22. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his precious son Isaac. Abraham obeys - but God intervenes and shows him a ram caught in a thicket. (Complete story below in Read more.)

Muslims celebrate their holiest holiday of the year, "Sacrifice Feast" or Bakr-Eid this week. The goats tied to pickets on main corners will be sacrificed and eaten by families or neighbors in honor of the story, retold with Abraham and Ishmael.

Saturday, September 3
Today we've been married 39 years. That's a long time. And he's a good man.

We celebrate with a date to Wild Grass restaurant, just outside the gates of our neighborhood.
"Detox Water" - so refreshing
We have a full house again. Our friends from Singapore are wrapping up their visit.
Doing what he loves best: W teaching Proverbs
They engage in the Bible study in the morning and join us for lunch. Their kids Kat and Leo dive into the pool and run around the playgrounds.

In the afternoon, while they pack up, W goes to the airport to get Sumathi. She and her husband Augustine met us in Cambridge, UK, when the guys were studying at Tyndale House. Sumathi and I went to concerts together and became friends.

When the Pagolus moved to Singapore, we met up on teaching trips. Then they relocated to Indonesia. But their visa runs coincided with our teaching schedule and they'd make time for us: we'd have a meal and chat together.

When W and I considered living in Indonesia, I contacted her. "You were moving from Batam. Where are you going to live now?"

"Bandung." Whaaat? God has given us 2 years in the same city. The four of us spent a semester together in language school. It's been food for my soul to have such a dear friend nearby, though we were both busy.
How I'll miss your smile, my friend.
Augustine's health is a challenge, so they've returned to India after decades abroad. Sumathi has come back for a few days to pack up the house. Several Indonesian friends and I will help.

Sumathi will sleep over through Thursday (except for Monday night). She prefers a cold room but we bottom out at 22oC (73oF) this week. At least she has air-con in her apartment as she packs up.

We're up bright and early. It's a travel day for our Brazilian friends and me.

Sumathi cooks breakfast for W and me. Upstairs, the V family gets their luggage and breakfast sorted. S's Indian crepes with garlicky sauce tickle the tastebuds. YUM YUM.

A great week of dreaming and planning comes to a close
The driver drops 5 of us - Josue, Claudia, Kat, Leo, and me - at the airport. He goes back to the house for Sumathi and our helper, who will assist in cleaning and packing today and Wednesday.

The V's and I are on the same flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malasia (KL). They're continuing on to Singapore and Thailand. Josue plans for us to have coffee to say goodbye after 5 days at our house, but the flight was delayed in Bandung: their connection is waiting.

I have to stay overnight in Malaysia and fly home in the morning. I go through immigration without a problem. Take a train to Terminal 2, buy a trail mix and ginger ale, and walk a few hundred meters to the hotel. And it's time to settle in to grade papers. I'm focused and not hungry. I don't leave the room until morning.

Why? The internet was cut to the house last Thursday. Apparently, a neighbor at the entry to our 60+ home neighborhood complained that electric technicians could see into his yard when they fixed power outages. So the company dug up our road several times to run the wires underground along his property.

They severed the internet cable and rolled up the wires into a neat tangle. And we've been without wifi since. It's not the best timing: W's working on his theology papers and I'm teaching an online class. The students submit 96 assignments. I get online at the hotel and hours later - I'm done! I fall into bed at 8pm and sleep until 4am.
At KL airport: Harrods employees celebrate a staff birthday
Before 5am, I stroll back to Terminal 2, jump on the train to Terminal 1, and check in for my boarding pass. I wait at a coffee shop to catch up on email and reading and then climb aboard a short flight for home. In less than 2 hours, we touch down in Bandung. I can't wait for W's citizenship issues to be resolved in the USA: then we can get a better visa and avoid these disruptions.

W is waiting with flowers. How romantic! The driver takes me straight to Sumathi's flat at the seminary where her husband taught. Sumathi is wrapping up 2 years of living in Bandung. She hopes this trip and another will finish the job.

She's stayed up much of the night, packing up a bedroom and part of the kitchen. We get to work straightaway. She's got to sort through what to keep (move) and what to sell or give away.
Dwi - a friend from the seminary - helps, too. We touch every item. Into the box (or removal pile) it goes.

"Do you love it?" I ask, holding up the book or blouse or kitchen implement when Sumathi can't decide. By 11:30, she's exhausted and decisions are slower.

"Time for a break in 15 minutes," I say. We've done a good morning's work. We walk across the street to the Aquila Hotel and a decent dim sum lunch. Lo and behold, W has been working in the seminary library. He joins us.

Afterward, W heads home. Various friends, Sumathi, and I work until evening. Santi handles sales and collects the money. We fall into our beds with relief, sleeping soundly until morning. (KL is an hour ahead, so I was up at 3am, Bandung time.)

Wow! By the end of the day, we post the 3 remaining big-ticket items are listed on a Craigslist-style site. All other goods are sold or sorted, tagged, and ready for the movers. Sumathi has visited with many people coming and going all day. Our helper stays and cleans until late, when the driver takes her home.

Four of us even squeeze in a massage by Iby Siti, a wonderful masseuse who serves our aging neighborhood. Siti is a wonder: one after the other, she unknots us. Sumathi's back and neck eases. Siti grinds the travel-and-hospitality kinks out of my mid-back. The investment is an average meal in the USA: $15 for 2 hours of health cure. Aaaaah. Thank you God, for Siti! (She's happy too: a hotel worker, helper, handyman, or average employee earns $4-10/day. Yes, you read that right ... per day.)
Students come to say goodbye to Sumathi
So many people come by to visit. Dwi goes out to buy Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and fritters. When Sumathi and I ask about whom to pay, Pauline jokes about collecting $80 per meal. We're so tired, we may have paid it gladly. haha

W comes back for us in the car: we have bags of things to give away. On top of the items brought from Singapore last weekend, what a godsend for our workers! They pass clothing and items along to family or sell and recycle for extra income.

Sumathi is flying out 2 hours later than expected, so we cancel our walk. We head to the airport with her. It's a sad goodbye. Though we get used to welcomes and farewells, this one is especially hard for me. S's been a friend for 13 years ... I feel like I've lost a partner as well as a friend. (Please pray with us for Augustine's healing and recovery!)

"Maybe you'll come teach in India," she says, waving goodbye at the security door. Maybe we will.

When we get home, Ibu A sorts the bags of recyclables with me. "These gifts are God's provision through Ibu Sumathi."

I try to divide things somewhat evenly, with Ibu A, our older helper, getting priority. At the end of the day, the pile has shrunk. The driver takes things home, ending his day by driving our car to the top of Ibu A's neighborhood. Her husband comes up the steep paved path on his motorcycle to help take things home.

"Outside with you!" At 8am, I join 9 women for EEk (my nickname for Exercise for the Elderly, a twice-weekly program of movements to keep old people supple = a great stretch and a good way to get the blood moving. Most women are in their 70s and 80s. One is younger than I.)

I bake dozens of cookies when I come home to celebrate the stillness - and in anticipation of visiting neighbors. And I zoom into town for a recreational shopping trip. The city is full of outlet shops (fabric and clothing center of Indonesia is Bandung.) But as expected, part of one floor of one shop ... and I'm done.

We wash a lot of dishes today. Ibu Sumi washes and irons bedding, sweeps and mops the floors ... and the house exhales with quiet. Sumi, who worked with Sumathi Monday and Wednesday, is happy with the bags and an old suitcase at the end of the day.

"Maybe you want to go here, across the street to the next store? Or shall I stop here? Or ...?" suggests the driver.

I shake my head. I'm totally shopped out in an hour. I have found Christmas gifts for the grandkids. Checkmark for the list of "do-it-when-you-can." (Oh wait, it's September. But when W's citizenship trip comes up, we won't have time to shop.)

I'm praisingGod, a bit staggered that we got the entire seminary flat cleared out this week. And I'm happy that the house is in order.

Read more:
Genesis 22:1-19 Abraham's sacrifice
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba.

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