Sunday, December 31, 2017

Welcome to the end of the YEAR OF OUR LORD 2017

Ornaments ready
Remember when some people thought the year 2000 marked the end of the world? There were predictions of catastrophic meltdowns, people stored puddings and canned goods in their crawlspaces so they could stay alive post-apocalypse, and we were told we were crazy because we thought every calendar day is like every other day to God. No worries.

18 years later ... God is still in control. We anticipate his good care of humanity in the year ahead, regardless of circumstances and human-caused hardships like migration, politics, and environmental concerns.

Friday, December 29, 2018
It's a day of odds and ends. I finish a painting and hang it in a guest room. We prepare the house for our 3rd annual New Year's Open House (on Sunday). We have no idea how many people are coming, which seems to be normal for our house.

I've painted 2018 onto the ornaments that our neighbors will take home, and the helper hung them on the sparkly white tree we snagged in post-Christmas sales last year. Earlier this week, we went to the 100 Day Memorial for a Catholic neighbor: they had last year's ornament on their tree. "I hung mine up, too," another neighbor says.

Love these video calls - the 2-yr-old goofs off
We start with a walk-the-dog loop around our neighborhood.

I've been resting. Years ago, my dear mother-in-law told W (who is a restless bundle of energy) that I know how to rest: maybe she saw me "check out" after a big event. I can "do nothing" for a few days without a single ounce of guilt. I might cook a few meals, walk around, read a few books, paint or play piano, and tidy when I feel like it. Or not. Puttering, the Brits call it.

The ancient Roomba vacuum roams the office and the teras; I'm not in the mood to clean, though I'm finishing a batch of meringues. We have a lot of egg whites left over from pumpkin pies (a total of 8 pies, 4 egg yolks each, @ Thanksgiving). We used up about half of them, from Thursday to today.

Holiday baking (IKEA's amusing gingerbread cutters)
It takes so long for meringues to dry (we don't have precise oven control) so I burn a batch - oh the stink. And as soon as they're dry - on oven, off oven, on again, off again... - we have to whisk them off the warm cookie sheets into a bag, suck the air out with a straw (inhale, extract straw, ziplock, closed!) and pop them into the fridge.

It's not worth it, I tell myself on the third day of baking. They're delicious, but doesn't it make more sense to make one or two Angel food cakes? We'll do that with the second batch of egg whites. Another time.

While W is rushing here and there, running errands in town (hopping out to walk when the angkot vans are stuck in traffic), I stay home. He's asked, "Do you want to come along?"

Are you kidding me? I still have a whole day of puttering (and baking) left. Or so I think.

I don't like to spend Saturday working. But today I get sucked into three editing jobs by opening email. I need to send all of them on their way before the New Year. One is a fundraising newsletter for an innovative, worthy BAM project in Bhutan (please let me know if you could help launch this center); another is the chapter of someone's dissertation; and the last one is the final edit of an advisee's dissertation. I really want all of these to succeed.

A 100-day memorial mass
in our first house, earlier this week
W and I say yes to such projects because we deeply believe that this area of the world needs to be heard: and most of the world can only listen and learn from what is written down. I spend 2 more hours (after the +50 already spent editing and advising the dissertation) fixing grammar, taking out spaces, reformating footnotes and the bibliography, and making it print-ready. (Someone did the same for me - thanks, Dr. Annette Newberry! I'll never forget your kindness or your expertise.)

There's thunder but no rain. The dog hides outside. The lizards are running up the inside walls - drives me crazy if they dart toward me. Something about the way they run shocks me every time. I was up for a call at 11pm the other night, when one ran across the floor. EEEEEK. Some people think they're cute. I think they're hideous. And scary. I know they eat bugs. But they also poop all over and scoot in my direction. (Please do your job and enjoy the place while I'm in the other room. Thank you.)

I take a break after editing by browsing Facebook posts. Friends are writing about massive snowfall across Canada and the USA.

Happy me! Some people love to watch snow piling up from inside their house. They're holding a cup of cocoa and toasting their feet by the fireplace. Me? I like snow only on pictures from places far far away. haha
Can you see the warm rain?
In the evening, W's stomach starts to heave. He's up most of the night, ridding himself of a day's lunch and snacks. Poor guy.

Our granddaughter plays us a song
I enjoy playing keyboard for church this morning. The regular musician in ill; she calls and ask if I can take her place. I've only played in public once in 3 1/2 years in Bandung.

Today is the second time. It feels like breathing, natural and sweet. (I started playing in church when I was 9.) We have a great bass player, who holds the band together. I lock into his rhythm and let the music flow.

We have to cancel our New Years Eve event. W is still too sick for company.

Our neighbor contacts her WhatsApp group with the cancellation notice. I put signs on the gate: the helper who delivered the invitations is in another city with her family. I don't know who has been invited, so a sign on the gate will have to do. It feels so rude, but there's no other way to notify our neighbors.

Happy New Years - to all of you tomorrow. We'll be going to bed early and resting into the New Year.

Read more:
*As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. Psalm 103:15-17
*From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
*Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16
*Paul wrote: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. Galatians 4:4–5
*So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Immortal God, give to us your mortal children the grace to receive new and everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word. Grant that this light, burning in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives. We pray through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Photo review: 2017

"The Flow" pretty much describes 2017
The end of the year is coming quickly. What was the most fun - or the most affirming for you in 2017?

On my desk are a few checklists: "Evaluate Goals," "Gratitude Reminders," etc. But the best boost for my year-end evaluation seems to happen when I steal quiet minutes in bed before the day begins. Memories and thanksgivings come easily.

This year has been full of opportunities. It's been challenging in as many ways. We got our one-year visa, a relief and a blessing. We've had hundreds of people over, written and edited, traveled to teach (not always together = time apart, plus hours of class prep and grading), and had several non-profit teams make our house their base while in Bandung.

Here are a few pictures for a peek at what we do. (FYI: I send a "New Normal" every week or so with a photo and short explanation of things we didn't encounter in N America. If you're interested, put your email in the comments. As soon as I snag it, I'll delete the comment. Or send it to me via my email.)
Weekly walks in the hills above the city when we're home
Celebrations with others
Friends on the journey (with a youth leader in Malaysia)
Weird traffic (see the horse and buggy among the cars?)
Monthly movie nights: menu on the fridge
... and then sampling the menu
Studies on the porch
Making connections: this time for preschool teacher training
Networking opportunities and challenges
Neighborhood women at the monthly arisan
Teaching (Jakarta)
Speaking (Bandung)
People coming and going
Online conferences
Strange-to-us transport
Airports and airplanes
And lots of local food - we are adventurous eaters
We love Indonesia. We've gotten to know students and non-profits around SE Asia. It's great to see people selflessly giving of themselves to improve life for others.

Read more:
*Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:1-4 NIV

*Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 NASB

*A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. Isaiah 42:3

*This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. Luke 2:12

*Paul wrote: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. Galatians 4:4-5
Moravian Prayer God who came, who comes, and who is to come, find your resting place in the manger of our hearts. Abide with us and let us find our abiding place in you. In the name of the holy child of Bethlehem. 
God of completed things, we pray that, in the fullness of time, you will claim us and name us as your own children. In the name of the One who is Son of man and Son of God. Amen.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas (and Xm Eve) 2017

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Christmas Eve 2017
I planned to do another advent painting this year. But the days got away, so I left the half-started calendar in Bhutan and brought the paints home. I put some lights behind a metal nativity on the picture rail and call it good. Ready or not, Christmas is here.
Tonight, the fans are whirring overhead. It's 90o and we're in a Christmas Eve service. We light the candles, one from another, row by row. Those standing under the fan shade their flame - sometimes ia draft blows out the candle, which is then relit by a friend nearby.
We've started the day with a trip to the south of the city and a morning Christmas service. It's been lovely to hear the scriptures read over us and to sing the carols. It's a small group, maybe 50, but feels warm and everyone's happy to be together.
We catch a ride back to town with friends, sharing a meal of noodles and meat at a local shopping center. W and I walk around and find palm sugar and white sesame seeds at a health food store and a few things for our Christmas Open House tomorrow. (We have no idea how many people to expect, so might as well cook a lot. Hopefully, everyone will bring some food to share.)

After 4, we're on our way to DrH and Alice's. The house is beautifully decorated with years of Christmas collections.
I'm feeling Christmas-y because of the attention to detail and the beautiful surroundings. The fountain in the courtyard splashes into the fishpond and masks the neighborhood sounds. It's so relaxing.
Alice loves to cook and they've prepared a feast of their family's traditional macaroni beet salad, as well as almond rice, crispy pork, and sauce. We start with a swirl of cream in cilantro tomato soup - and garlic bread. Truly delicious - never mind the homebaked cheese appetizers and Christmas cake. We're stuffed when we leave.

There's another surprise: two beautiful art pieces. What a lovely start to the evening.
We stop by our house to pick up a plate of cookies for a dessert buffet after church. The international church has a candlelight service - which is where the fans are blowing out our little fires. It's so different and memorable. I miss my family, though DrH has covered the ache with her friendship and love.

W and I come home to open the Christmas cards and presents we've saved until tonight. It's quiet and sweet to be together. We call our parents and talk to the grandchildren.

Christmas Day 2017
We're up before 5am. In the southern hemisphere, we're at the longest days of the year. We wake with the light. I lie in bed, planning the menu and the day ahead.

The weather is wonderful: 85F/29C with a light breeze. We don't know how many people are coming over today so as I start cooking, I hope for the best. Will we have 10 guests? 30? In 4 hours, I've made pasta, curried sausage, French toast, and a few more dishes. There are a few minutes to relax and pray for those who will gather.
We talk to some of our family in the morning, but they're 15 hours behind us. They're still working their way through Christmas Eve. How we miss them!
Our friends start arriving about 11 - and soon the house and porch are filling up. About 40 people bring food, White Elephant gifts, and their laughter. We read the Story, sing some carols, and then open our gifts.
We have so much fun opening them and stealing each other's stuff. The neighbors must think we're nuts; we're so loud.
Some of the young people have never been at a Christmas party so they cruise the house and take pictures of our decor. Because it's Indonesia, we take lots of selfies (or rather, W and I are in many others' selfies).
We eat until we're stuffed. There's Indonesian food and Western food ... on real plates instead of paper ones because the day is special. There are lots of desserts including cookies and brownies, which are a favorite here. Josue prays a Christmas blessing over us. Claudia takes lots of pics (thanks!)
And then we relax and unwind. The last guests leave about 5pm. The dog comes off his leash and runs like a crazy thing around the yard, happy to be free.
The helpers toss the garbage, gather the leftovers to take home, and wish us Selamat Hari Natal before going out the gate. They'll have a feast of their own to share with their families tonight.

Read more:
*The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:49

*Thus says the Lord, “I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me.”  Jeremiah 35:14
*Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son. Hebrews 1:1-2
Moravian Prayer: O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven. Amen.

Friday, December 22, 2017

National Day, Tiger's Nest, and "Farewell, Bhutan" Pt 3 (of 3)

Dancing on National Day
Sunday: Bhutan’s National Day
I have no itinerary so each day is an unfolding adventure. I’m happy to be in Bhutan on its national holiday, the 110th anniversary of this royal family.

King V rules the Kingdom of Bhutan. He's now 38 years old. In 2008, when he was 29, his dad, King IV, retired (aged 58). This king has a young wife and son, adored by the country. Their pictures hang in shops, public spaces, and in homes. They are a beautiful (and photogenic) family.

Traditional family structure prevails: the men do “manly” things, including traditional sports of archery, darts, and football. The women take care of the house and children, even if they work elsewhere.
Teens practicing the national sport: archery
Yellow signboards along the road share cultural values. One of them says, Don’t gossip; let him drive. Women drive, but if their husband is along, she's probably not behind the wheel. Other signs encourage slow and careful driving, cautious living, and harmonious relationships.
Narrow neighborhoods in the capital city Thimphu
This morning, we eat an early breakfast and I’m ready to go. However, just before we leave the restaurant, I find out that we are moving to a different hotel this afternoon. I run the steps back to my room. It takes 15 minutes to unplug the chargers, snag my PJs from under the pillow, and grab things from the safe. I toss everything – from the bathroom, from the closet, and the nightstand – into my suitcase. What a jumble.
Blue sky overhead at the National Stadium,
with the royal box in the middle.
Today is National Day (the equivalent of July 1 for Canadians and July 4 for Americans.) We are at the National Stadium at 8am. The King is not showing up today, so only the middle section is filling up. On the other side of the stadium, the royal box is flanked by foreign dignitaries on one side and the judiciary on the other.

"We must wear traditional dress to enter a government office," the guide tells me. "Many workplaces require it as well." The national dress for men is a skirted robe in traditional patterns, worn with knee socks and every manner of Western shoes. Here, the view is male knees, not female.

The women wear bright-colored jackets with floor-length plaid or striped skirts. Older kids and adults dress up for the day. Just beautiful. I opt for warm trousers, a down sweater, and a winter coat until the sun comes around and heats us up.

The dances and parades start almost on time. In the first round, a statue of King I is brought in and set up to "watch" the festivities in front of the royal box.
I am fascinated by the dance troupes: they are mostly slow-moving and imprecise. The lines wander here and there, and occasionally someone scurries from the participant area to catch up and enter with their group. Latecomers slip easily into line and participate with equal vigor and joy.
Mountain horns in the shops
Though the national brass band has many instruments, all the music is played in unison. The low drone of the mountain horn (similar to the Swiss Alpenhorn) growls off the mountains around the stadium. People hum or sing along with the variety of music.
Huddled under a scarf and hat to ward off the sun.
"You almost look like a terrorist," says the guide.
When I glance at my watch, it’s already 11:00. Time is flying by – dances, the king's speech via broadcast, encouraging his people to unity and harmony. And there's music. I love it all.

We enjoy a home-cooked lunch in a warm and friendly household with 3 lively sons. The food is delicious, with wind-dried beef, the ever-popular red peppers, vegetables, and the cheesy potatoes I’ve grown to love. It’s a feast.
I'm going to miss the cheesy potatoes
We go back up toward the college, overlook the valley and the distant gold Buddha, and in the evening, drive to Paro, the airport town.

I’m booked at the Tashi Namgay Resort, but a group of Chinese tourists has stayed an extra night. The staff drags my roll-aboard suitcase into a room on the hillside. It’s ok and I sleep well. There’s only internet in the lobby, but I have a few books on my Kindle.

Where we're headed - see that white dot on the right?
At 7, I join the guide for breakfast. We’re climbing to the Tiger’s Nest monastery, a Mecca for Buddhists. It’s billed as a 5½ hour hike that many people undertake as a pilgrimage. The guide wants to leave at 7:30 to avoid the crowds and heat.

But I’m moving rooms again. I toss my luggage together and leave it for the staff to relocate. We are in the car by 8 and at the bottom of the climb by 8:45.

We go up and up. The ground is stone and dust. My Salomon snow moccasins are amazing, though I’ve worn most of the tread off them on our Indonesian walks.

Homemade Buddhist wind drums
(painted water bottles and plastic spoons)
The starting elevation here is 2200 meters (7200 feet) above sea level versus 900 m (3000 ft) where we climb each week in Lembang, above Bandung.

Today we are climbing to 3120 meters (10,240 ft). I’ve been running hotel stairs for a week (84 steps to my room in Thimphu, elevation 2300 meters) – and that’s helped. Mind you, I didn’t know that first hotel had an elevator, though I probably wouldn’t have used it anyway. With my heavy tote bag the first few days, I feel the burn in my lungs. That’s sorted itself out and I feel acclimated.

The hill … is … long. At the top, we look across the valley to the monastery. Wait – there are stairs, flights and flights of them, maybe a few hundred steps, down into the valley and up the other side. I feel my legs start to burn. The treads are uneven, both in width and height. (Indonesia is good prep for this!) I watch my feet and take photos when I’m out of breath.

Many Indian and Chinese tourists ride halfway on their pack horses. They dismount and start to trek as we arrive at Base Camp 3, but we leave them behind as they saunter and pant their way up the trail.
Tiger's Nest
There are a few people ahead on the path ahead. “Oh no, doctor. They cheated!" says the guide, scolding the young people we meet at the top of the first hill. "They’ve ridden the horses up to the base camp. That’s not a real climb, like we're doing.”
After climbing 900 meters, there's one more descent and climb across a deep valley
 At the famous monastery, we have to check our phones and backpacks. Apparently, there’s been vandalism in the past. In 1998, the monastery burned to the ground. The government offered early release to prisoners who would rebuild the site, and many accepted the challenge. It was reopened in 2005.
Belongings and phones are left at the guardhouse
 The hollow where the second Buddha is supposed to have meditated is tucked into the back of one of the little buildings. There are statues, candles, incense, and donation boxes in every room on the site. Using the toilet costs about 13c (USD).
Typical trail: stone and dust

And then we step down the stairs, cross the valley, and trek up the other side to the top of the trail. We pass many exhausted tourists, who ask us how much further they have to go.

“You've achieved 80% distance to here, but you’ve done only about 50% of the effort." Actually, that last valley – especially coming through the second time, when you're already tired – is a killer. But it's worth it.

Halfway down, the day is quite hot. The sun is overhead. The guide asks if I want a tea break.

"What? Tea?! Where?" says this tea addict. "Yes please!" I finished drinking my water on the way there, so the tea is welcome hydration. I look across to where we climbed.

Coming back down, I'm surprised that it is so steep going up. I guess we put one foot in front of the other, just like on Thursday walks in Bandung.

When we're done, the phone records almost 16,000 steps, 150 flights of stairs, and 7 miles. My calves are burning, my knees feel a little achy, and my heart is pounding. It’s taken us 4 hours instead of 5.5. Yes, that was a good walk.
Almost there ... partway back, I take a screenshot

At the bottom of the hill, vendors line the entry/exit. “Much cheaper here, with no tax and direct sales,” the guide advises.

I would like a non-religious bell to hang on our guava tree to remind me of Bhutan. I find a three-bell set and the seller swaps out a non-musical bell for another I like better. (Back in my hotel room, I ring it many times, enjoying the clear tones.) I find pretty silver and stone rings and hairpins, too.
What goes down must later come up.

We stop in the village for lunch, a Chinese-Bhutanese buffet. Delicious. I browse a fabric shop but can’t make up my mind. We head back to the hotel for a foot massage and then have a hot stone bath afterward at an eco-farm.

A "hot stone" bath? What's that? Wooden tubs are filled with water and flowers. Hot stones, in a compartment at the end of the tub, heat the water. The first tub is cooooold! I sit and shiver and wonder when someone will bring heated stones.

"Oh, maybe move over one." I do. This one is so hot I think my skin will boil.

A wind-driven prayer drum at the pack-horse base camp
"Are you hot enough? I will bring the salt and pepper. Tell me when you are boiled." The tour guide jokes - and I'm feeling it, with a smile. After a half hour, it cools down enough for more stones. They hiss as they hit the water. I read and relax. It’s good therapy after our climb.

We eat a simple supper at the organic restaurant next door. Then we head back to the hotel. I’ve put my cap and gloves on my seat, and when I hop out to take a picture, I kick my fabulous gloves out the door. They’re black and in the dark, I don’t miss them until we’re at the hotel.

The tour group has left and I'm in a nicer room
The driver goes back, but they’re gone. I’m so mad at myself. They were a gift from a friend and they've kept me warm every day. Today, they kept my hands from blistering on the wooden walking sticks. I guess I won’t need them anymore. But I’m still sorry to see them go. Someone else may be very happy to find them. Not me.

The phone rings at 8am. I wake up but don’t answer. It takes me a while to get my tongue in motion. And the phone rings again at 8:30 while I’m in the shower. Last night, I arranged to have breakfast before the café closes at 9, so if it’s an emergency they’ll come to the room. I put every bit of computer, cables, socks, clothes, and souvenirs on the spare bed. Then I pack a suitcase and tote bag. I’m sitting down to an omelet and toast a few minutes ahead of the deadline.

Bright local fabrics
I drag my luggage to the lobby a half-hour before our 10:00 meeting time. It’s 10:30 by the time the guide checks out. We head around the curves hugging the mountain to the village shops.

Both the guide and I have the sniffles: it’s cold in the mornings. There’s a thick layer of frost on the windshield. (We’ve had the exertion of yesterday and who knows who else touched the railings along yesterday’s staircases.) He is miserable and heads off to a pharmacy while I look around the store.

I’m buying a length of cloth for a friend and one for myself. We ask for something under $50. I send her pictures via WhatsApp of the beautiful embroidered fabric. While she’s deciding, we go up the street to a few more shops. Prices range widely for the same items, many imported from India. Hand-woven silk is the most expensive; cotton embroidery on silk is next, and the most reasonable is all-cotton. The store I visited Sunday is closed for the local New Year’s celebrations.

We’re finally back to the first shop. My friend has chosen her favorite, but the seller rings it up for $250. What?! (They have apparently shown us expensive bolts, and there’s no way we can afford them.) It’s back to the search. The guide negotiates a 2-for-1 deal on hand-woven hangings. I hope they please my friend as much as they do me.

“I want to give you one more special treat before you leave,” the Ethne guide says. He consults with some women sitting in front of their shops before setting off down a side street. He pushes open the door to a very small café and waves me to the benches behind a hodge-podge of low tables.
This little "hole in the wall" serves delicious dumplings
 A young woman brings a bowl of broth and five homemade dumplings for each of us, accompanied by hot chutney. The guide orders tomato sauce (ketchup) on the side and we mix the two – spicy and sweet. Oh my! They are delicious. The ground meat is tender, the pasta wrapper savory, and the mix sublime. It is comfort food against our colds.

It's time to fly away. The tote falls off the suitcase a few times: the support was severed this morning when we were putting down the handle. Ugh – from now on, W and I will be doing a careful balancing act rather than depending on good luggage design.

What's that? There's a car parked on the road under a yellow tarp. It's in the middle of the lane as we come around a corner.

Airport security looks in the back window and waves us through on the gravel road before we turn onto the main street. When I finally check my luggage – behind a group of 40 Chinese tourists, there are only rear seats available.

When I reach immigration, there’s no one in line. Except that the gal sends me back to another counter for a departure form. I fill it out in 2 minutes and head back … and have to stand in line. Oh well, I’m relieved to get through immigration and security, heading to the gate.

Besides five or six rows of Chinese tourists, no one is in the waiting room. We have just over an hour before boarding. Slowly, slowly, people trickle in. By the time we leave (20 minutes late), the plane is full.

I’m in the family section. There are lots of kids all around, but my earplugs filter their cheerful shouts and the roar of the jet engines. We can smell the toilets.

The first flight to India is just over an hour; we’re exchanging a few passengers. The next flight – to Bangkok – is bumpy and lasts a few hours. We’re ahead of schedule though.

We land at 9:30 – which gives me a mere 8.5 hours to hang around until my third leg. Though it’s nice to take off from Bhutan in the afternoon, the connections are lousy. Actual flying time is around 11 hours, but with all the waiting, it’s over 24 hours in transit, airport to airport. (I think I'd prefer to leave early in the morning to cut the sitting time in the airports.)

At 10pm, I find an empty row of 3 chairs and shiver my way through a stop-and-start nap until 2am. I give up. I’m wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, a thick sweater, wool socks, heavy shoes, and a winter coat … under a pashmina shawl that serves as my blanket. This is the draftiest airport ever! Time to write.

And then we continue home. The flight is only delayed an hour. Suddenly, I'm back in the tropics. I haul my tote down the steps off the airplane and across the taxi-way. Ah, home airport sweet home.

When I walk in the door of our house in Bandung, W gives me a big hug. The Christmas lights greet me and I'm back to where I belong, in the country we've grown to love so much.
Read more:
*I hope for your salvation, O Lord. Psalm 119:166
*Woe to those who plan iniquity, because it is in their power to do it. Micah 2:1
*It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he came into the temple. Simeon took the child Jesus in his arms and praised God. Luke 2:26-28
*Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:42-43
Moravian Prayer: God of humanity and humility, teach us the way of gentleness. May we be servant leaders. May we overcome iniquity by the power of your love.
O Dayspring, Brightness of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.