Saturday, June 17, 2017

W's Birthday and a week in 3 big cities

June 12, 2017
Happy 60th Birthday to my husband, Waldemar. He chose a date night over having a group over ("if we were in Jakarta, we'd go out with our friends...") - but I'm still in Singapore. He's hosting the usual study on our porch.

So I text the helper to find a cake from the freezer. "Back bottom, on the left." She pulls out this
no! please don't eat my Costco Christmas cake!
and this
and then I send a picture of the pan and she finds it. She serves it unfrosted, but in this heat at least it thaws quickly. And she does find the birthday candles in the drawer.

In her TX evening, Kirsten takes photos of all the cards she's received for W: she sends those to me. Combining the emails and photos takes most of my Monday morning. I send the file to W in the evening. He is overwhelmed by the good wishes and kind comments. Thanks to all who participated! It was a good surprise.

I hopped a bus to Singapore's IKEA Saturday, where I met the visa agent and handed off my passport. He promised to process the visa papers first thing Monday (today.)
The view from the 5th-floor stairwell at our apartment: basketball coarts, parking, playgrounds, gathering spaces
Sunday, I walk to meet Claudia's friend at the MRT (rapid transit train) station in the next suburb. She hands me cash - this visa run is complicated. I'm grateful to have the money in hand. W took most of our money back to Bandung after he got his visa  Thursday... so I don't have cash to pay for my visa. Our friends offered to help.

I guess I could have taken the bus, but the walk is pleasant and there aren't hills in Singapore.  There are a lot of steps, starting with 100 steps down from my apartment to the ground floor. The freeway overpass has another 100 side-to-side.
The pedestrian stairway to get across the freeway: every step to code height
 I clock 5 miles and +700 stairs in 95oF (35oC) heat and humidity. Of course, I am soaked by the time I get back to the flat: happy to shower in the tepid room-temperature water.

Meanwhile, in Bandung W is hosting two people from Surabaya - Korie and Isabelle - teachers who will be assisting in training preschool teachers in surrounding villages. I'm so sad not to be there: they are taking up a challenge from our neighbor to work with 118 preschools.

W and I sponsored a little library for one of the schools, and another friend (Yoanita) has donated 4 bags of her children's school books. Korie takes pictures - and I feel like I'm there. (But I miss seeing her face.)

Monday afternoon, I hop a bus to town to get the visa. Four #83 buses don't show up, and finally, the first one comes after 45 minutes. It's slow and winding but I don't have to do transfers. I alight but get lost underground in the tunnels under the street - there are entire shopping centers - but I finally make it out to the street I want to be on. A few blocks later, there's the hotel ... and the person I'm meeting shows up about the same time.

The noodle dish (recommended by the server at the little mall restaurant) is delicious - softest beef and spicy sauce. I'm home by 7:30pm - a quick run up the steps to the 7th-floor flat ... and it's time to pack for home.

I catch a taxi on the street at 5:30 am - and make it to the airport for an uneventful flight to Jakarta. After negotiations, the taxi driver is willing to take me from the airport to town for Rp200.000 (about $14) - and then wants toll money (100.000), which is silly - I refuse and tell him to wind through the streets if he doesn't want to pay tolls - it doesn't matter to me. He's already getting Rp100.000 more than a regular metered taxi. He goes through one toll, then pulls off to take side streets, which don't take long at all.

W has come in from Bandung this morning by train. We hand in our new visa applications to the agent in Jakarta. (We have to come back for the completed forms on Monday.) This visa will keep us from having to exit the country every 30 days. Hurrah!
The Starbucks at the train station is curtained; fewer temptations for those fasting for Ramadan
One of the blessings of association is sitting around the table to hear what others are doing. We join the staff meeting and eat lunch with the IES team - love these friends! We are always inspired by their reach into (and heart for) their community. W gets his wish: there's a birthday cake for him and PD at lunch.
Lovely friends and NU connections at IES: Tirza (alum) and Katie (currently in the grad program)
We make it back to Bandung on the train late in the evening. I'm exhausted: Singapore is one hour ahead of Indonesia - so I've been up a while by the time my head falls onto the pillow at home.

My hair is bugging me. Singapore voltage is hotter than Indonesia, and my hair gets burned with the dryer. It takes 15 minutes with a scissor in hand in front of our mirror - and I'm happy. 1.5-5" lengths of hair are swept up into the garbage. (Much faster than the salon and I know what I have to work with when I'm done.)

Today, 5 students from Northwest U in Seattle arrive. Amanda's been here before: in fact, she's left her things upstairs. It's her temporary home-away-from-home for 2 months; her family in the States has moved to a new house while she's been gone.

We take them to Anklung Udgo, a cultural show where they can see some of the region's music and arts. They're still worn out from doing a youth camp last week, so it's a low-key evening.

I make French toast and sausages for breakfast: we need energy for what is ahead. We walk 5 miles, up and down and along the river that borders our hill.

Some of the students are wearing sandals, maybe not the best plan for the tall grasses and jungle settings - Gypsy runs ahead and scares off snakes. W bats a 9" spider off the web above the trail, slashing both sides of the web instead of one ... it falls on the path rather than off to the side. But we walk by without incident.
Across the river: houses neck on neck
 One of the students has no appetite at lunch: he probably has a touch of heat stroke: he wore a black T-shirt and cap. Living here, we take certain things  for granted (wear bright, loose cotton shirts, not clingy T-shirts; wear broad-brimmed hats rather than baseball caps, wear shoes not sandals in nature, etc.) The students refused walking sticks so a few are muddy from slipping on the trails. Otherwise, they're tired but in good shape.
from my art book - 5 min sketches
We decide to have the study at the house: getting across town in Ramadan traffic can be a bear. Ibu A has made supper - jackfruit in curry, fried rice, and leaves/berries from our backyard tree. She goes home early: she'll be cooking at night for her family, who will eat at 3-4am and fast food and drink all day. Ramadan is not a rest for women.

One of the cultural surprises when we first came - as it is for most foreigners - was that employers are required to pay a bonus salary (usually an extra month's pay) to Muslim helpers. Meanwhile, the women are exhausted from cooking so their families can finish feasting before 5:45 sunrise. Muslims work at half-speed during the days of fasting month, but that's the norm. Everyone understands.

The student team is heading back on the train this afternoon, after 3 days with us. Amanda decides to go to Jakarta with them. That means a mad scramble on WhatsApp and email for me. She's left - already on the train - by the time we get things sorted out.
An exotic fish at the aquarium shop near the train station
After many apologies and interactions with our Jakarta friends, I know the process for "next time." This internship has been a learning curve: we will be much more specific with our teams - and stick to the agenda. (Otherwise, it takes more energy, time, and calling in of favors than the benefit for the student or us.)

We have a half-hour at home before W and I walk down the hill. We're meeting a new couple and their friends. W and Finn met at our last conference in Malaysia; they used to work in Indonesia but are based in China. They want to introduce us to locals with a heart for philanthropy and community care.
Meeting Finn and Sandy
We are delighted - what a nice group. They drive us back up the hill, take a tour of the house, and then sit down for a bit. Finn takes a conference call - the way so many of us keep business going - while the rest of us have supper at Miss Bee. The sun is down when he joins us - as does the local couple's son. The young man is an architect who works for the mayor's office. He walks back with us to our house. I serve him and W tea.
Jolly old ? (not St Nick): the Ramadan display at Miss Bee
While they chat, I pull new linens onto our bed. (I stripped off the old bedding this morning. It's still drying on the laundry racks on the roof.) Ah, finally, we stretch out between the fresh sheets; it feels like pure luxury to sleep in our bed with the house to ourselves. It's been a long week.

Upon waking, I listen to the Jesuit "Pray as you Go" for the day. The words are startling and the scriptures speak directly into my heart. Thanks be to God. W sits on the porch with his slough of emails.
A street chicken peeks into the window of a chicken restaurant (ayam = chicken)
After a few morning phone calls, I start editing, wrapping up in the early afternoon. This time I'm rewriting my own dissertation into a book. It's harder to sort through the information I know: what to cut? what to keep? But by the time my eyes blur and my back starts to ache, the rough copy is ready. Then I give myself the rest of the day off.

I read, nap, and in the evening, we walk to the neighbourhood Maxis Restaurant. We order ravioli and a grilled chicken entree. I have mango juice, and W enjoys a desert and coffee. It comes to about $15 (a splurge).

We overlook a courtyard where a young bride and groom dance and host their friends. We pray a blessing over them, pay the bill, and walk back home in the warm darkness. The chants and prayers continue through the night.

Read more:
*Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle'sPsalm 103:1-5 NIV

*He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth--the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13 NIV

*I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit iin you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28 NIV

*We will say no more, “Our gods,” to the work of our hands. Hosea 14:3

*Paul wrote: All belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. 1 Corinthians 3:22-23

Moravian Prayer: Our God and Father, may we truly believe that we are one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We can never get outside of God’s love. We are created in his image and we receive all the sap which flows from the vine. Our very being is totally dependent on him. May his Spirit continue to push us to drink deeply from the rock. Amen.

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