Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to you all!

A stuffed rabbit for a little girl who loves
bunnies: coming your way soon
This Christmas, we ponder with amazement the wonder of "God-with-us". How can our human minds grasp the mystery? And the cross-cultural shock of God leaving heaven to live among us? Such love. Such concern. And such power transforms our hearts.

When our hearts open to God's goodness, our behaviours and thoughts change as well. We move away from rule-keeping as part of religion and toward reflecting the very nature of our Good God, the One and Only.

And that's how we recognize who is doing God's will: is their heart surrendered to him? Then their every act will lean to gratitude, goodness, and peace toward others.

Thursday, December 22, 2016
we've come from below
We are so glad to be walking - and just minutes from our house, we pass through villages and enter jungle paths.
but what goes up must come down the steepest paths

Thousands of bottles lie beside the path (the local recycle pile)
We head for home after 2 hours and 5 miles of hills and uneven stairs. We spend most of the afternoon in town finishing Christmas preparations.
Stairs up and down in the middle of the store.
= for no reason
A family vehicle. Small child standing in front of parents
An industrial building ... missing
the front of a step at the landing.
Oh well.
A neighborhood lane: entry to a city village
One of two towers at the central mosque
My morning starts with a 7 a.m. walk with a wonderful neighbor. By 8, W and I are sitting with a dear couple and 16-mo-old Desmond, eating breakfast. Gypsy, our dog, is "parked" outside, his leash looped around a tree in the parking lot. W will give the security attendant about 15c (which we joke is the parkir anjing or dog-parking fee).

Desmond showing off his cute little teeth
This kid is so adorable.
A typical Indonesian breakfast
At 10, as I walk in the gate, I turn to see Dr H and her daughter Alice coming our way - great timing. We spend the next few hours talking while W works in his office, writing his lectures.

We get a note from our lovely friend Sumathi. Her husband and our dear friend Augustine has gone Home. Our hearts feel like breaking when we hear the news - we will never forget him, a kind gentleman who was an excellent professor and scholar. Prayers would be appreciated for Sumathi and the (grown) children, Adarsh and Amitha.

Saturday, Christmas Eve 2016
Today is a long work day. From 7-3, IbuA and I bake, cook, and clean for Christmas tomorrow. We make about 20 dozen cookies, cook curried sausage, meatballs in tomato sauce, 3-step chicken drumsticks (boil, bread and fry, and then glaze and bake in the oven for an hour), make a French Toast casserole, peel and soak about a dozen potatoes, and wash and chop vegetables.

After a quick nap, it's off to church for a candlelight service. We share 2 plates of cookies after service: they disappear. Everyone bring something to share and a generous man donates 12 Black Forest cakes! Wow - we cut cake and share it - and the pastor sends two home with us. (Will share it with our neighbors on New Year's Eve.)
We have no church service but W and I get ready for our guests. We don't know quite how many will come, but that's normal at our place. Yesterday before church, we had 11. After church, the count stood at 18. Today we have about 20.

DrW comes by with her grandchild. She leaves a set of pretty embroidered bags. (Indonesians are known for their handwork and creativity.)

I am so grateful when a sweet helper appears. Two gals are sleeping over and one does all the dishes. By the time she's done, the kitchen looks impressively ready for guests.
Thank you, Lela!
Friends from all over Bandung eat together, read the Story, sing carols, and chat through the afternoon. DrW from next door sends her helper over for 2 hours: dinner dishes reappear after the meal, washed and ready to be put away. (What a blessing and great Christmas surprise you are, Ibu Emi!) She goes home loaded with treats, of course.

Ibu Ingrid brings a wrapped red and black batik, which we open after everyone leaves. Beautiful.
W and I are so grateful to God for Jesus, our Savior, the precious gift that we celebrate each year. Though we miss our families, we are thankful for dear friends who enjoy the Presence with us.

To top off the evening, our daughter-in-law Melissa FaceTimes. The kids are up (6am their time), excited to see what Santa has brought them. Our hearts are warmed by the excitement of those cute little persons. 

"We love you. Merry Christmas!" we say to each other - an ocean apart, except for the blessing of technology. Before night falls, most of the family check in with each other.
One-a-day, from the first Advent Sunday to Christmas
Read more:
*The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 ESV
*All the ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord. Psalm 22:27
*The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 1 Samuel 2:4
*Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
*And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name. ... He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:46-49, 52-53
*[The angel said to the shepherds:] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:11-14 KJV
*The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9
*If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:38
Moravian Prayer: Light of the world, we pause to give you thanks for showing us the image of God through your presence. You lighten our dark world and enrich our lives through the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 
Creator of all that shall be, we’re blessed by your incarnation. Separated from you, alone and in darkness, we languished until you came, gave us good things, and lifted us up. Comfort us. Set our feet upon the path toward your kingdom. Amen.

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