Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Endings and middles

Funeral flowers line the street
Sunday, January 15, 2017

A well-known person who lived nearby has died. Huge memorial placards filled with flowers line the streets.

When we walk, the streets are filled with men leaving the memorial at his house.
Leaving the neighborhood memorial

Monday plus
Josue, Claudia and their kids have found a great house. Today they move into it, painting and getting it ready for company. Our house feels quiet with Waldemar in the States. He completes his citizenship process and returns by week's end.

Once he's back, we connect with the landlord to begin negotiating the lease on our place - little by little things fall into place. We have the Bible studies, the gatherings, and other routines between.

What a glorious walk in the hills. I have grown to love the group - and the scenery refreshes, even as our bodies are challenged. Each week, I'm grateful for the health that allows me to hike up and down without a problem.

Japanese-style cakes
David and Paula are with us for the weekend. They arrive Friday night and stay through Monday morning. What a treat to have faithful friends who understand what it's like to transition across culture. And they speak English. My heart unclenches a little with each conversation.

Waldemar and I have to shoot a video for partners back home. I write a simple script, but the paper flaps in the wind, the camera bobs, and we look like deer in headlights. We do it and redo it a few times before saying, "Enough is enough." Our helper also does a short clip in Indonesian. We send it off. Chop chop - glad it's done.

Pak Entang has agreed to drive us today. He has to head home to visit with his family at 5, so we get an early start, driving up winding roads to a floating market. 

 The koi swarm the docks where the kids feed them.

Colorful little boats are tied to docks in this lake above the city. They're filled with food. The shops along the pathways are lined with souvenirs. Families stroll, paddle canoes, and play on the edges of the water. The kids' amusement area is crammed with little ones. There's even a swimming pool - two pools actually, one a separate "ladies only" area that boasts a few naked tots playing while their moms swim in full Muslim bathing suits (covered arms, chest, and legs).
The floating market - colorful little boats with a cook in each one
 Many walkways and docks line the lake - this one is a photo studio. People dress in Japanese costumes and get their pictures taken.

flower petals in a floating pot

Wayang (puppet figures) are traditionally used to share stories and folk tales

Beautiful wood carvings in the roofs of the traditional eating houses
Sunday (January 22)
W teaches the first session of Christian Thought at Green Gate. It is well-attended and he is in his element ... teaching.

We have lunch at Bumi and relax in the afternoon. Paula and I snap pictures galore - but forget to shoot our group. Oh well.
colorful bicycles waiting for riders
It's our first IESBandung team meeting. What a pleasure to pray, talk, and plan with Josue and Claudia. Their kids are in school, happily getting to know the kids in their classrooms.

Afterward, Claudia and I head to the Pasar Baru (New Market) in the middle of town - 7 storeys of fabrics, clothing, food, and crafts. It's actually a massive warren, aisle after aisle of shops, frequented by tourists and locals - with very few people who look like us. (Actually, I don't see any.) Claudia is fluent in Indonesian and bargains for fabric to redo the pillows in her new place.

In the evening, I make a quick supper and think about preparations for movie night, coming up tomorrow.

Oh my! We have 60+ RSVPs for the evening. I start cooking and baking at 7 in the morning and call it done when the helpers show up in late afternoon. (Naptime for me.) They cut fruit, make rice, and clean the kitchen. Good thing I have baked goods in the freezer: 3 cakes we didn't eat at Christmas. 

W fills a 5 gallon water dispenser. IbuA pops in slices of pineapple and lemon and lets it infuse for an hour. The table is set. The furniture is moved and the pictures taken off the ledge: the wall is our screen. W hangs the projector from the ceiling with his custom-rigged stand.

People start arriving early for 6:30 dinner. They chat with Waldemar and the porch and the living room fill up. 

About 80 people get in line when the doors open. I say hi as they shuffle into the kitchen, grab a plate, and leave with a full meal. Some we've seen before, but about 20 are new tonight. The house is buzzing!

What a lot of beautiful faces! They've brought family and friends, too.

"God, please multiply the food like Jesus did the loaves and the fishes." I stand in the middle of the kitchen as hungry students stream by.

And he does. We have enough food and - during intermission - enough dessert for everyone. There's food left over for the helpers to take home. Not quite 12 baskets, but still ...

I ring a bell when it's time to start the movie: we're watching Ant Man (based on a Marvel Comics character). The question of the night rests on this premise: "God has created each of us as unique persons, to do his work in the world."

W asks them, "What is your superpower? How could you use it to serve God and others?"

And everyone gets in small groups. The volume of noise rises as they talk about what they're good at. They're bubbling, happy to get to know other people and share their "superpower." I listen in on a few groups.

The last person says goodbye around 11pm. The helpers leave behind a clean kitchen before hopping on their husbands' motorcycles with their bags.
I skip the walk. I have to write some book chapter proposals and we're packing to work in the Philippines - W will deliver a few lectures and participate on Q&A panels. I'll help students with doctoral projects. We look forward to visiting with all those we've met ... and meeting new friends.

Read more:
*God, you remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102:27 NIV
*“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Everlasting Lord, how superior you are to us in character and strength. Yet you love us with an unfailing love. Thank you that you are the same always, and we can rely on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A wedding, a long walk, and poetry

I get to preach today! I love speaking. The subject (King David as Artist and Writer) resonates with me. David wrote music and poems inspired by his relationship with God, his hopes and dreams, and his life experiences. Even today, David calls us to true worship and the integration of life and art.

Saturday, January 7, 2017
We attend the wedding of one of our movie night couples. What a beautiful celebration of their beginning.

Josue and Claudia arrive with their two 6-year-olds. They move upstairs, from where they'll get their bearings. They'll be improving their Bahasa Indonesia at a local university. J is a professional life coach, so they look forward to engaging people around them.

I take a quick walk around the neighborhood to DrH's house. Her Christmas decor is still up; she's waiting for a film crew to shoot a non-profit film. Her high school friend - who now lives in the Netherlands - is visiting. It's a privilege to meet her.

The family confirms schools for the children and finds a house to rent. For a very reasonable price, it meets their criteria. It is near schools, shops, and in a good neighborhood. Wow - this is like riding a toboggan on an icy hill - things come together so quickly! We have prayed for a long time and God is answering with specific provisions.
Gypsy is happy, having his own boy to play with.

Language school restarts next week. First, I have to prepare to speak on the weekend and finish administrative work. Waldemar gets his American citizenship done and is relieved that the ordeal is over.

Before we get all hot and messy
The kids start school. For me, it's another walk in the hills.

The side trail to a "bonus" waterfall is so steep that I'm sore for 2 days after. The view is worth it. Gypsy is in his glories, bounding up and down the paths.

This is the first time we've had to pay for this walk. The fee is under $1US, but still... how annoying. Someone is buying up rights to all the walks, fencing off wild areas and making hikers pay to walk the forest trails.
We may be paying, but the walk has deteriorated: a stream runs across the path
Where the walk is totally washed away,
they put a handrail beside a metal irrigation pipe.
We cross the stream on the pipe.
That someone has built 2 bamboo bridges across the river span of Mariska's Walk (named in honor of our friend's final walk before returning to the Netherlands.) We no longer have to balance across a log at one end or wade the rushing currents under the beautiful waterfall.

"The bridges somehow make this less of an Indiana Jones adventure," says a walker.

It's safer but less fun. I sit on a huge stone, take off my shoes and socks, and cool my feet in the icy pool below the torrent.
And then  we leave a wide track for a tiny path through the forest and back to the cars.
Friday and Saturday
I'm holed up with paperwork and sermon preparations. Conference calls take a few hours.

The family comes and goes, familiarizing themselves with neighborhoods and amenities.

They also grab a ladder and fix the plastic drooping from the skylight upstairs. It's a family affair, this repair!

There's a really good band at church. After the service, we head to Bumi S for lunch. What a privilege to celebrate God's goodness with spiritual friends. And to rest up in the afternoon.

Read more:
*You have made the Lord your refuge. Psalm 91:9 ESV

*Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness. Isaiah 5:20 ESV

*The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we his servants are going to start building. Nehemiah 2:20 ESV

*We are God’s fellow workers. 1 Corinthians 3:9 (NKJV)

*For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:21-22 ESV

*We who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. Hebrews 6:18 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Omnipotent God, through your mighty works you created us, your workers. In all that we busily do to prepare for your coming this Advent season, remind us that our work is for your good and perfect will. We are thankful that you are our refuge indeed. Thank you for guidance in this life and for our future home with you. Help us to bring your consolation to others. 
Most gracious Lord, thank you for the example of your life that you have set before us. Help us as we share in your sufferings to remember that we will one day also share in your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Did someone say Happy New Years?

My chicken schnitzel costs $4.50. 
So much happens in a week that much is forgotten. I lay low for the first half of the week, worn out from Christmas and New Years. Here's what the pictures remember: the rest is a blur.

After so much cooking, I take a pause. We eat lunch out, while we run errands.

The week is filled with calls, editing W's lectureship (sending his notes off is his week's big chore), and writing thank you notes. My long to-do list shrinks day by day.

We are grateful for online connections as we wish our families a Happy New Years. But they seem very far away.

When we walk the dog in the morning, we greet the neighbors. One is dressed in full (hooded) parka. The air feels cold at 72o. W and I are in trousers and short sleeves.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
We meet a friend and his sister for lunch. We enjoy time together - she is a 40-something mom with a youngster, trying to figure out education and how to raise a child.

W stays home, preparing for a trip, while I walk with 5 others. We head for the mountains above the city - and zig-zag our way up to the top. The trip down is just as steep.

Fortunately, the weather is pleasant (75-80o?) and the constant wind wicks the moisture from our skin and clothing. There's no rain ... good when we are on mud paths - and there's no sun, either. It stays behind high clouds so it doesn't get too hot as we climb.

I've brought extra walking sticks along to share. We are all grateful for those sticks as we clamber around rocks and slip on the slick grass and loose mud.
What goes up must come down

Some Indonesians like statues,
like these above the entry to a hotel

Many holes have formed in the sidewalks, paving washed away in floods. These holes are a mere 3' deep. Most of us don't even notice that we're watching our steps. We automatically go around.

A farmer cuts wild grass for his sapi (cow). He bends double, bringing the grass on his back down the trail on a steep bank. (He thinks he might be carrying 25 kilos or 55 lbs.) He'll haul it to his house via motorcycle, but first he has to load it up.
"For one day, one cow."
Motorcycles do heavy lifting.

Cargo-motor with a load of grass

We eat lunch together at the Mandarin, a fairly good Chinese place. 

Around 7am, I stand in the rain for 15 minutes, waiting for the gal who is supposed to walk to exercises with me. It's drizzling so I wait under a tree. She doesn't come so I go home. We've had a lot of rain overnight but the day is pleasant, clouds swirling overhead as they cross the mountains.

I have a conference call that refreshes and informs me. Good counsel is such a blessing!

Read more:
*I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. Psalm 119:147 ESV

*Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 ESV

*Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation. Romans 5:1-9 NLT

Paul wrote: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that we are able to come to you with every concern and need. We place our confidence in you. Thank you for being our rock in all circumstances.
Dearest Lord, please be with us in the darkest hours of our lives when we have strayed from your will. Please forgive us and give us your love to show to those who come to us unloved. In Jesus’ name, Amen.