Monday, February 27, 2017

Grandkids are the best

There's a fresh dusting of snow on the trees outside our window. I grew up in Winnipeg so God maxed me on snow early. I don't miss cold weather - and never care to see another flake. We live on a hill in Seattle, a non-walking suburb. The nearest grocer is over a mile away. Visiting friends means driving. The hills, iced under the snow, are a challenge to drive on. We slip and slide around all the others who don't know how to drive on the slopes. We have 3 appointments today that we can't move.

"Can't" is relative - I'm actually hoping for rain to swish away all the snow. (Just admitting it: "I've hated winter for about the last 20 years." No surprise to those who know me.)

Monday, February 20, 2017
We drive into Jakarta with our friend Josue. After the driver drops us at the airport hotel, he takes J to our friends David and Paula, where he's overnighting. Tomorrow he'll meet the IESJakarta team and make some new connections for his coaching dreams.

It's a long day of travel from morning to night. Two flights. Our son Timothy picks us up for the ride to our Seattle home. Brrrr. We get into the basement suite and it's coooold. The concrete floors haven't had heat on them for months. We have feather blankets under the sofabed. I pull them out - one for under us and our quilts on top. We drop off to sleep in the wee hours after unpacking.

Time to think about the days ahead. We go through our calendar. And we meet our grandkids again. They look at us a few times before they cling to us. How we've missed them!

The pantry is stocked in the basement with canned and dry goods. We buy fresh and frozen groceries at Trader Joes. Ah, what a variety of tastes that we recognize and have missed. Ravioli. Sausage. Yellow potatoes. Fresh washed salads. Plump asparagus. (Oh, so many kinds of vegetables!) Crisp apples. Frozen mango bars. And a frozen TJ pizza for an impulse or late-night supper down the road.

It's Thursday morning! Girlfriend day. We meet at Third Place Books, which is the refreshment for my spiritual life and lets me speak heart-to-heart with others. (They speak English. Woohoo!)

I stop in at the bookstore. English books galore. Shelf after shelf. Aisle after aisle. What unbelievable luxury for this addicted reader.

One last stop - an outlet store. I wander the store as recreation. I'm not a shopper. But I recognize the products and know what they're for. I can imagine using them - and leave almost empty-handed because it's seeing and knowing that I've craved today.

In the evening, we're at Canyon Creek. They interview us about what we're doing. And Brandon's talk speaks to my heart. I'll hear it 3X more Sunday morning - he's a compelling speaker and his words stay with me - when God sends us, he goes before and provides the way.

We drive up to Mt Vernon to lunch with my parents. Ah, to wrap arms around each other in a big hug. The portions are huge at Red Robin - W has to finish mine. He heads off to the boat and friends night - while I rewrite a syllabus and do some other writing. I haven't started on the book edit on my desk. I watch a movie and am up until 2:30am. Jet lag.

And I wake at 12:45pm. What? I check my watch. Check my phone. Check the computer clock. Yup - earplugs worked better than a magic pill and I feel rested.

W comes back with food poisoning. He staggers through the day - while I clean and set up house.

The kids and I go to the park. All three walk all the way - I push the stroller there and 3-yr-old Levi pushes it home. His big sister (5) gets a bit impatient as he weaves along the side of the road. I'm just keeping my eyes on the little feet of almost-two-yr-old Isaac, who tries to put them onto the main street more than once.

Kinsey and I gather moss and feathers for our moss tray when we get back to the house.

A lovely day among friends at Canyon Creek. They encourage us and Brandon's talk - even 3 more takes - is just what I need to hear. On this trip, I've asked God to open my heart to instruction, to fill me up for the trip home when we give of ourselves. The young staff takes us to lunch: Thai food. Yum for heart, soul, and body.

And the kids are waiting at home. We call the missing two - one is away, but the other settles into the conversation with jokes and tech. Ah - boys! We eat dessert and then a few appetizers later in the day. By evening, we're tired but happy. W's stomach has settled and he's getting his energy back.

Read more:
*The word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. Psalm 33:4
Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:2 ESV
Moravian Prayers: Unchanging God, thank you for wanting to be in relationship with us. As we see you in history, and in our lives, we gain new insights. May our faith be strengthened as we see clearly your desire to bring us closer to you, and to each other, in love. Amen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Suffer the little children ...

Friday, February 17, 2017
We start the day with a long walk. IbuS cleans up the remains of movie night and irons blouses and shirts.

Wedding book attendants
on their phones... like everywhere else in the world
My alarm doesn't sound so we miss our morning walk. While W stays home, DrW takes me to a mid-morning Batak-Medan wedding in the Bandung Women's Hall. The daughter of her classmate is getting married.
Primary school classmates, after 50 years
I stick out as a blonde among dark-haired beauties. Official and personal cameras capture my attendance, from our entry to greeting to the family, and through the buffet line. It's strange, this attention.

For someone self-conscious, it would be hard to bear. I don't care if they stare at me: the people here are as interesting to me as I am to them.
A fiddler ushers the couple and their families to the front, where dancers do a few traditional turns before posing for pictures with them.
We are close to the front of the line and soon reach the bride and groom on the stage - and what a look of surprise the bride gives me! ("Who is she and who invited her?"). I tell her how pretty she is and twish the couple God's blessings and peace.

The buffet line is in the middle of the reception room but there are four other food stations - dessert, ice cream, soup, and saté. That's usual here: the more "grand" the wedding, the more food options there will be. People leave used dishes everywhere - on the edges of tables, on chairs, and even under things. Attendants walk around and pick them up.
People shove their used buffet plates under the chairs in front of them
Then DrW takes me to a favorite cafe, where we pick up sweets to take home.

And we make a stop at a renowned bakery. Then it's after 2pm and I have an hour to pack and nap.

At 3:30, Waldemar joins me at a new neighbor's. He's not new to the neighborhood and we've greeted him many times on our morning walks. But our friendship is just beginning, courtesy of DrH, who has invited most of the guests who show up at his house. It's a distinguished and interesting group. The best-known Bandung historian is a 40-yr expat. She loves cookies and offers her driver to take me home and back to get some homebaked goodies. We add the tray of cookies to the many foods on the table.

The host, a well-known architect, lives part-time in Singapore. He and his team renovated Raffles in Sinagpore - He loves mid-century contemporary design. And he founded the Manchester University (UK-Asian) alumni club. We admire pictures of him with the British royal family and other famous alums. It's fascinating for me as former alumni director: his fellow alumni understand the value of connections and the need to support their alma mater with thousands (and millions) of pounds in donations.

Our next stop requires an Uber trip through downtown traffic. Our friend Bob is saying goodbye for a few months. He and four friends are traveling across Asia and Europe to the German VW festival in their UW combi-van and a Beetle.

Then it's our last stop of the night: an alumni birthday party, hosted at the Savoy hotel by one of the afternoon attendees. We eat supper, listen to alums sing karaoke, and celebrate.
And then it's time to come home and sleep.

We walk the dog around the block (1.5 km) and "park" him near the security guards while we eat breakfast at Miss Bee. We enjoy this neighborhood hangout.

We take the dog home, and before we know it, it's 9am, time for church. After that is W's theology class. Today's question: "Does God exist?"

Our regular dining hall at Bumi S is full. In full swing are a wedding, a birthday party, and an alumni meeting. Every seat is full so we go to another restaurant. I have to leave early for a 2:00 meeting at the house.

DrW brings the leaders of a preschool association to discuss how we might help them. They have over 1000 underprivileged or poor preschool students in 48 informal and 70 formal schools. There are 30, 50, or 70 children in each learning group.

Most teachers of the informal institutions are untrained, and some just have primary school education themselves.

Her first request: do I know teaching interns or experienced educators who could train these local preschool teachers? They need help in understanding the stages and skills of children, aged 0-6. Perhaps could we also provide an unofficial certificate as an incentive for them to take the training? "All our teachers would try to come - we have at least 300."

In undergraduate studies, my minor was childhood education. But I need to recruit current trainers to teach these teachers.

Her second request: do we know anyone willing to share their physical resources to bless these little ones? Currently, most volunteer teachers are unpaid. A bare minimum of $30/month would support a part-time teacher and $80/month would pay for a full-time administrator. The schools also desperately need children's pre-school books, as well as educational and craft supplies.

I make no promises. But perhaps our partners who have a heart for children will consider spending out of their abundance (or sacrificially) to improve young lives here. Please let us know if that is you.
On a weekend night, cars creep along at 5-10mph between pedestrians, motorcycles, carts, and tour busses.
Read more:
*The Lord will again rejoice over you for good as he rejoiced over your fathers. Deuteronomy 30:9

*Paul wrote: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
*Paul wrote to Timothy: I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 2 Timothy 1:5
Moravian Prayer: Good Shepherd, you search for the one lost sheep, and rejoice when it is found. May our faith in you be as strong as your faith in us. You desire good for us. Let us believe and live with that promise. In your name, Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Walk in the Clouds - missed

We missed our walk in the clouds for 2 weeks. Haven't had time to head into the hills and we miss it!
Two friends showed up Wednesday evening
to chop fruit and vegetables for the helpers.
The kitchen is where the action happens.
Sunday, February 12, 2017
I lead service in the international church (a last-minute request). W's theology class has 20 people. He loves teaching - and it shows. The response is positive.

Walk. Bible Study. Language school. Pictures for Seattle. Bake over 200 cookies.

Our landlord shows up at night, while I'm in a conference call. I pause the call to cosign our house lease - another 3 years, coming up. We are grateful for a pretty and very functional space.

Fall into bed. ZZZZZzzz.

I fry 4 trays of sausages and make 2 quarts of curry
sauce. Good thing a stiff wind blows through the
front doors into the kitchen or the house
would really smell!
I spend the day cooking and doing other prep for tomorrow ... IbuA deep-fries 7 kg of cut-up chicken breast. She doesn't wait for the cornstarch to settle on the meat, so we have oodles of crumbs. The sesame sauce I make is tasty but the crumbs wick it away. Oh well.

Some gals come by to ask if they can stay here for a few months. They're from a sister group, working with impoverished children. Maybe. We have a few things to talk through first.

Ibu A agrees to swap work days. She'll come tomorrow afternoon to help IbuS clean and prepare for movie night. After everyone has eaten, they'll do dishes and mop the ("you know it's going to be messy!") kitchen floor. Then she'll take Thursday off. Her family has an impromptu wedding this weekend and she's the chief organizer, mama-in-charge, and cook for the clan. The gals work hard when we have so many guests and often leave about 10:30pm. Thursday off is a good thing.

It's an impromptu national holiday, called by the president. (He announced it without warning on Monday.) It's a pleasant surprise because the nation is voting today for governors. Schools scramble to inform parents that they're closed. Yup - that kind of chaos hardly rates a mention here.

Regardless, we have our Chinese Bible study on Mark 1. It's in another neighborhood, a mere half-hour away. I bring fresh-baked cookies and introduce Claudia, who will moderate whenever I'm away.

I have to hurry home afterward, but first we drop Claudia off in her neighborhood. By 1:00, I'm back at work for our monthly movie night.

For the first time, on Monday, W restricted the number who could sign up: 70 max. The list was full in 12 hours. Then the negotiations began on WhatsApp:
"Sorry, I have to work so #35 open."
"I'm taking #35."

"#65, 66 - my friend and I are sick and can't make it."
"Taking #65, 66. Bringing my classmate."

"Can we bring 8 people?"
(Um no. The list is full.)

Because of a downpour in the city, "only" 50-ish show up. But no one seems unhappy - at least we have room on the floor! and no one goes hungry.

We gather from various islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, France, Germany, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Iran, China, Korea, Australia, and the USA (=countries that we're sure were represented.)

Some students bring parents or parents bring their children.

Menu: Sesame chicken, mashed potatoes, spaghetti in bolognese sauce, 6 baguettes of garlic bread, French toast, nangka (cooked jackfruit), Indo-style veges, cocktail sausages cut and reassembled into heart shapes, and rice (of course we have rice - but this month hardly anyone eats it so the helpers take it home).

Some of the attendees bring chocolates and one bring a box of cookies. Yummy.

Look at these faces!
I ask: "Who would like to learn to cook or bake these Western-style foods?" Most put up their hands.

Ok, that won't work. 6-8 in a class at a time = maximum. Some teachers beg for Saturday afternoon classes. Hmmm. Add schedule restrictions. (Maybe I'll consider this in a month or two.)
The living room overflow is the terrace
We also announce our first IESBandung event: Easter lunch at a restaurant. (That's actually what is taking up most of my prayers and headspace.)
A country of beautiful women
It is great fun to watch the movie "A Walk in the Clouds" together. I hear much laughter but also see some tears.

Halfway through the movie, we break for Valentines cakes, cookies, cut fruit in yogurt, and chips. Afterward, everyone talks with those around them. Our topic tonight: "What does your family think is important? Who has paid the price so you can keep your core values? Or what price have you paid for others to do so?"
Discussions are lively

One young man lost his mom last Christmas. He gives me a heartfelt hug, which makes me feel like I'm close to our own boys.

We say goodbye to the last young people at 11. W takes down the projector. The living room waits for cleanup - maybe in the morning?

Calm after the storm
All is quiet. In the afternoon, we go to the restaurant for a study - a few regulars are missing, but we have a new guest as well.

We're reading Exodus 17. We contemplate how the people refused to ask God for help - they only complained. But Moses constantly went to God with the people's complaints and his own questions on leadership. Sometimes we feel inadequate to lead: it must have been overwhelming for this leadership novice to shepherd a nation "in the middle of nowhere".

DrW and I start with an hour-long walk at 6:45am. Between school business (syllabi, paperwork, etc.), we start to pack for our trip to the States.

I'm reading As Kingfischers Catch Fire (By G.M Hopkins) every day this week. It reminds me that God has designed each being, every stone and bell, and every facet of creation to show off his glory and his goodness. My soul is full of scripture and poetry. What's not to love?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Memory lane

Monday, February 13, 2017
Every corner of the city has passageways. We walk around to the street that dead-ends behind our house and it looks like the end of the road.

We've been told there's a passage all the way down to the valley, so we look more closely 

and no kidding ... there is a narrow staircase that stretches out of sight. Each house has a landing
but the steps go down down down. (Look closely to see the houses, blocks away.) And when we look back up to the cul-de-sac, we notice these are not exactly regulation-spaced steps. We're so used to irregular walks on sidewalks, steps, and streets we don't even notice.
Almost at the top of dozens of connected staircases
We're asked for an updated photo by a group in Seattle. W brings his tripod and camera; we wedge that into the calendar. Click. Click. We'll hit "send" a few minutes after we reach home.

Before heading back, we pray for the people whose feet travel this lane every day. May God bring his peace to every household and every neighborhood.

Last week's review: a few more snapshots from the Philippines
Rice in a tofu wrapper. Unexpectedly delicious
Such orderly and spacious streets. Curbs, even! We felt like we were in the USA with the strong American influence

An old Jeepney - these elongated jeeps are the busses of Baguio
The seminary had a traditional shirt made for W -
I loaned them one of his dress shirts
And the faculty prayed for us before we left, a sweet moment
 And closer to home this week:
 The neighborhood security guards painted the community garden walls tomato red. Pretty, but after a few nights of heavy rain, they are already getting dusty.

Two 8' tall cacti are blooming along the path. We stop on the way home from church to admire them.
4" blossom vs.
12" blossom ...
 W is teaching a theology course - he starts with a toolkit for understanding scripture. About 20 people show up.

We have an early Valentines meal after a chore trip to town. We decimate the spicy tofu - whewwwwww - hot-hot-hot exquisiteness on the tongue. 
The meal ends with a decent gelato. (Not great but we're spoiled. We've tasted Italian gelato in Europe.)

Ironic muzak: Justin Bieber sings, "If you like the way you look that much..."
while a beautiful gal in the restaurant admires herself and her phone
This morning (Monday), I check the calendar. Study and language school. I'll get home about 2. There's no way I can do everything on the list. So my first chore is to clear the calendar of everything that can be postponed and write tomorrow's meeting agenda. 
Nice graffiti on the wall - students paint these each year or two
Movie night is coming up on Wednesday. For the first time, we decide to limit attendees to the first 70 on the list. Within a few hours, 59 have signed up. About 60 is ideal. Tomorrow, IbuA will help me cook 7 kg of chicken, which we chopped and froze last week. There are 4 new kinds of cookies in the freezer from a cooking spree last week. Bake a few Valentine cakes, peel 15 potatoes, cook a few other things,  set the tables ... and we'll be almost ready.

Ok, what can I scrape off my plate for this week?

Read more:
*Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him. Deuteronomy 30:19–20 ESV
*See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God. Isaiah 55:5 ESV
Jesus said, “Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29 ESV
Moravian Prayer: God of all people, may we be instruments of your peace, and spread your good news through our loving deeds. Amen.