Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving and three free Advent gifts

Levi and his little brother Isaac
It's nearing the end of November, so our grandson Levi celebrates his 3rd birthday tomorrow. Waldemar has come back from 2 weeks of teaching in New Zealand.

Thunder is rattling the windows of the house and the Christmas lights are blinking on the little tree in our room. So many random thoughts go through my mind. Mostly, I'm grateful for God's goodness and generosity. We have purpose and friendships, even this far away from our previous life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Five women gather in the morning to study the book of Ruth. We meet in Karen's beautiful home. It's a new study and we decide to meet every two weeks. Lovely how God meets us and teaches us what we need for the coming week.

It's also time to write the monthly newsletter to our faithful partners. What a blessing you are!

On Thanksgiving Day, five of us (two Indonesians, a German, an Australian, and I) walk down and up the valleys to an organic farm. The village paths, slippery and mossy from rainy season, take us between fields and through the jungle. How can this be within walking distance of our house? Mind you, it's three miles of trails and steps. As the weather heats up, our faces drip with sweat and our clothing gets wet and dries (evaporation) as we go.
Scientist to organic farmer: our guide on a walk through the valleys
We tour rows of corn, peppers, and other organic vegetables. Each of us comes away with 3 Napa cabbages and a bag of singkong (cassava root). We keep some and pass the rest to our helpers. We knock the mud off our shoes as best we can: it's pure clay and sticks to our footwear like glue. We take the shoes off to catch a ride home. Everyone is happily back to our houses before noon.
A rather rickety bamboo bridge across a stream
W is away so I eat lunch alone: soup, rice, and a salad. How very strange to spend my first USA Thanksgiving as a citizen by myself. I cooked the feast most years until our friends took over a few years before we moved to Indonesia. I think of the dinners we've hosted - family, friends, and strangers have gathered around the table to enjoy turkey dinner with us ... and that brings a smile. Life is rich indeed.

The afternoon study moves to our house. Everyone's away but Dr Hanna and me - and she lives in my neighborhood. Meanwhile, Josue has arrived from Singapore. He is a professional business /personal coach with errands to run this weekend: Josue's family is moving our way. We can't wait to have them join us in the New Year.
4 nationalities at supper: Canada, Can-USA, Brazil, Indonesia
I'm always open to new friendships and experiences. But (yawn). At 7am, DrW and I walk down the hill to an exercise class with about 40 women. It's held at the local branch of a good hospital. Apparently, we can get our blood pressure checked for $1.50 and ask the nurses about other treatments. What a deal.

The ladies urge me to the front of the crowd. No way! I have no idea how the routines go and I'm fairly hapless at the best of times. I find a spot in the very back. Someone starts to take pictures: I duck behind others as best I can.

It's comical as I try to keep up with the body movements. My feet go this way and that in the general direction - but the clinic courtyard is cobbled and the surfaces between pavers are slick with moss. As we step step step to the right, to the left, forward and back, I'm glad for the wide-soled Salomons I'm wearing. My feet always seem to land on the edge of the tiles. Tip and tilt from the ground up.

The music booms against the concrete building and six-foot-high walls. Most of the women wear a kerudong (headscarf), long sleeves, and trousers. Some have on sweatshirts or hoodies. I'm happy to be wearing the lightest cotton blouse I own. It's 77oF (25C) and humid.

Sheesh - shoulders shrug shrug and knees lift lift. Ankles turn turn and hands curve curve. Only I have no idea, except that it's not pretty in my square. I can move hands or feet, not both. I almost laugh aloud with pleasure: the women are so gifted and their movements fluid - they bring me joy, just watching.

By the time the hour is over, my hips and shoulders are resisting. This is not the easy rhythms of EEk (Exercise for the Elderly) that we do in our neighborhood, that's for sure. But it's great fun. We have a drink of water, chatter with the others, and then walk back up the hill toward home. DrW and I agree to give it another try next week. (Listening is great for language acquisition, too.)

In late afternoon, Canadian Rob and Indonesian Mery arrive. They're helping herald the start of Advent by leading the service on Sunday at the international church.

Waldemar's plane lands just as Josue's takes off. It's great to see my husband again. Thanks for prayers for safety for us both. He had a great class of leaders in Auckland and I was safe at home.

The church is having a Christmas sale after service tomorrow. Proceeds go toward scholarships for their women's retreat. I finally get the urge to bake about 7pm. I bake dozens of peanut butter, chocolate crinkle, and Palmiers. Mery helps - and it's fun to have someone to talk to in the kitchen as well. Once the baking is packed away and the kitchen is clean, the day is over.
Ready for the bake sale
Last-minute baking flurry
W is fast asleep by the time I get to our room at 10.

Read more: First, three free resources for Advent: 

1. For the contemplative soul- a free Advent devotional

2. Music and prayers for a personal meditative retreat

3. For the artist or writer - enlarge this template. Then sketch, draw, or write words for each day leading up to Christmas, starting with the first Sunday of Advent, November 27. (The sample below in the photo shows what it looks like when it's done. I completed a similar one during Lent.)

All done, with lovely memories of scriptures
*The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. Psalm 1:3 ESV
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Moravian Prayer: God of love, joy, and peace, abide with us this day in all that we do and say. Take from us the things that worry us most and let us delight in you through all of what this day may bring. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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