Thursday, May 25, 2017

A sabbatical retreat

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Today is the first day of Indonesia's Ramadan. The speakers are loud from the mosques all night long as Muslims begin their month of fasting food and water during the day. Most people will participate: children, pregnant women, and the aged are exempt. It's a bit disconcerting to our guests, who are surprised by the din.

We had movie night last night - this time it was The Princess Bride, a hit with attendees.

Intern Amanda, hard at work
I baked all day Monday: we had only about a dozen cookies after all our company. After the baking spree, we have 5 boxes full, plus 6 dozen cupcakes.

Tuesday, with a pause for an online conference mid-morning, I cook most of the day. Our friend Agus drops by for the afternoon. W is out walking with the Thursday group, who has shifted days for the start of the religious holiday. They get lost a few times and get home in late afternoon.

Wednesday morning, I finish up in the kitchen with time for a nap at 2-4pm. And then the house fills up. By 6, people start arriving.

At intermission, we are expecting the "ice cream man," a fellow with a cart of homemade coconut ice, but he doesn't show. It's a good thing that Ibu A and I filled up the freezer with baking earlier this week. I pull it out, whip up some frosting, and we ice the cupcakes and fill a few trays with cookies.

On the low table, tools for the day
Today, Brandy and I have planned a retreat. I'm exhausted, as is she. But we catch an Uber before 8am and stop at the new Starbucks down the hill. It's empty ... until a Chinese walking group comes in. I tease them about walking for health and then stopping at a restaurant. They're good sports - and good neighbors to us. The Starbucks has moved into the neighborhood near the university. Most students are Muslim (though the university is Catholic), so the shop is vacant. It will be crammed again at night.

Brandy and I get to the retreat center before 9. It's quiet until other prayer groups come in. I plug my ears with kleenex, focus my heart on what God is saying, and enjoy the day.

I check my phone - whaaat?! It's 12:30 - time to eat. I assembled rice and cooked a few eggs for Brandy before we left; I also grabbed some spaghetti and 2 chicken wings (last night's leftovers) for myself. The paper plates are a bit crumpled but the food is intact. We head for a gazebo beside a waterfall and overlooking a creek. Stunning beauty.

A blossom plucked from the lawn and my notebook
Oh oh! I've forgotten forks so we eat with our fingers, sitting cross-legged and squishing ants who get too close on the wooden floor. We are in Indonesia, where all 3 things are normal.

The afternoon whizzes by as well. By the end, I have a book of illustrations of the Lord's Prayer, a renewed sense of my calling, and settled heart. I didn't expect "this much" from a day away. My heart is filled with joy after spending time in God's presence.

Brandy and I debrief - we booked our rooms until 7pm and wrap up on time. Our Uber driver finally finds us and takes us back home. I fall into bed happy. Renewed. And tired. God is good.

Read more:
*Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV

*Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the Lord. Zechariah 6:15 NASB
*Christ says, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John12:32 ESV
*Jesus prays: “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 ESV
*“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man Saul and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:13,15 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Sometimes we are homesick for Eden, God, and we fill the empty space inside of us with unhealthy things. Help us to be full of you, our constant love and friend. 
As St. Francis prayed to be made an instrument of your peace, Jesus, we look for you, ascended into heaven and present in every person. May we likewise be made instruments of your work. Amen.

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