Saturday, September 30, 2017

Eating in community: it's a thing

Sunday, September 25, 2017
Today is our team barbecue. Everyone shows up at 15:00 (3:00pm) to cook and feast together. These friends are so dear; we are becoming ever closer as we study and socialize together.

One of the values of IES is good food shared in community. We live up to our value with a combination of food from Brazil (meat! done perfectly on the bbq), Germany (potato salad, red cabbage, and green vinaigrette salad), and Thailand (young papaya salad) dishes. Look at the plate full of goodness!

I've printed out the agenda for tomorrow's team meeting. Do we just want to finish it tonight? Clau is off to Timor to work on a children's recording later in the week. Josh is headed for another part of the island with his kids as well. Time is precious.

We're already here, so we decide to read, pray, and plan together. It's hard to focus with such contented stomachs, but we work, wrap up with smiles, and hug our goodbyes with happy hearts.

My 7am online meeting is canceled. This morning's study is big enough that the teras is crowded. We push chairs back, insert more seating, and drink 4 big pots of tea. The cookies and other treats disappear.
Still a few missing outside the photo
Since our team met last night, W and I can head into town for lunch with the group. Two teens, who love attending with their folks, want to eat at a shop across the street from their school. It's over a half-hour in traffic but only a few km. away.

We stop on the way home to buy groceries for movie night. How exciting, right? We look at each other. "Let's stay home and watch the movie for Wednesday, instead of heading out to date night." Yes. Let's not battle traffic and then come home and have to watch. It's a tear-jerker - Lion (2016), a story of being lost and found. A relaxing date indeed.

W and Josue take the train into Jakarta to attend a staff meeting. I have to stay behind to work: they leave first thing in the morning and won't come home until late evening.

The gardener (who tames the rampant tropical growth once a week) shows up at 7:00am. I line up a hose to show him where I want the grass cut out for a flower bed. He takes a little shovel and cuts out the grass - it takes him all day. He also decants 3 little trees into the ground. A good start.

Where there was only lawn, there will be a flowerbed.
Meanwhile, the ibu-ibu (helpers) and I are busy from morning until late afternoon. We bake, cook, and clean for tomorrow. 7 kg (15lb) of chicken breast in the sue vide. Then cooled. Stowed in the fridge for cutting and assembly of two dishes tomorrow. Done. 3 kg of cocktail sausages cooked in homemade curry sauce. Check. German potato salad (15 potatoes, 7 eggs) made and refrigerated. Yes ... and more. Each item is checked off my to-dos.

After the women leave, I go outside. About 40 potted plants from the teras are sitting in the driveway and around the backyard. I haul them into place in the new flowerbed. Wow, that adds useable square feet to the porch! Now if they'll get planted "just like that" (with their backs turned to the house and their good sides to the yard), they'll look great. They'll get put into the ground next Tuesday. Luckily it rains all week, so they're content to sit without watering. Who has time for that?!

Where did all these pots come from?
I come back inside about 17:30 (5:30pm) when it begins to get dark. Supper is a quick pot of ramen. I tug on my PJs with relief, put my feet up, and relax. At last!

But at 19:00 (7pm), there's a knock on the front door. "You-hoo! Rosemarie? Rosemarie?"

Who's that? Am I expecting someone? I throw a robe over my pajamas and find two guests outside.

"Did you forget? We have to go over the material for Thursday."

Yes, I forgot. I apologize and ask them to give me a minute. I dash into the bedroom to dress, run a comb through my mussed hair, swipe gloss over my lips, and invite them in.

Just about that time, W walks in the door. The guys had a good trip. Typically, I don't get many details, but by the time I see him again, I'm too tired to ask questions.

I'm not sure what we are doing - I look on as the learning center leader shows me what she is presenting and asks about an essay she sent my way. I looked at it. I didn't do anything with it though. She leaves after an hour and I drop into a chair. Put the TV on for an hour. I need to decompress.

Today is movie night! Hurrah. We have done most of the prep. 59 guests signed up, but we never know who comes. I putter and make sure things are in order. I call my friend in the USA, who encourages and prays for me. And I glance at the calendar. IbuA has her 57th birthday tomorrow. I put together a gift with a card, and hand it to her.

"I thought you forgot, and I was wondering if I should bring it up," she admits. I would have forgotten, except for the inner prompt to check the calendar.

At big events like movie night, I have enough energy for the day and nothing more. When the helpers come at 15:00, they're surprised by how little they have to do. A local gal comes in about an hour after they arrive, bringing along a friend. "Can I help?" she asks.

I direct her to the women hanging out in the back. No, they don't have work for her. They are chopping fruit, washing vegetables, and rinsing rice, and chatting and laughing together.

So she and I hang out until I have to get back to the schedule on my fridge. 17:00: warm up the curried sausages. 17:15: plate the cold food. 18:00: put garlic bread in the ovens. Etc. Etc. I learned in college that a list keeps my feet moving when the pressure mounts. I go through the checklist and the meal is done. Dr H brings a big bag of vegetable fritters, which go on the vegetarian side. I snag one for myself since I probably won't eat until everyone else is done. I love her food!

Small groups cluster as they eat, a good way
to meet and make new friends.
As young people arrive, the volume begins to pick up. Many of them are late tonight: we had a big rain. Looks like rainy season is back - not after the 6 usual months of dry, but after 3 months this year. The rain went on and on until the end of May (instead of Jan/Feb.) I'm not sure I'm ready for the downpours, but I'm sure people down the hill are not looking forward to the flooding either.

Midway through the evening, the house is full and the movie is playing to a rapt audience. I get a text. "Sorry, my vegetarian friend worked late and we are not coming." Oh well, we were ready, just in case. Maybe next time. (Early in the day, texts flew back and forth: "Will there be tasty food for a vegetarian? I want to bring my Indian friend from Thailand." "Of course," I text back. "But no eggs or butter," he writes. I was vegan for 7 years, so I prepare an extra dish for his friend to eat.)

The group sings "Happy Birthday" to Ibu A, who smiles and claps along with their singing. The cake she frosted this afternoon was her own birthday cake.

The house is quiet by 22:45. W and I clean up a bit and drop into bed. We fall asleep around midnight.

I miss our walk in the hills today. W and I count on the long hike to stretch our bodies and get us out of the house. There's no time today. I write Morning Pages, the first time in weeks. The three longhand pages help me sort out what needs to be done and what just needs to be processed in my head.

One of my best "heavy-in-the-suitcase" items was our robot-vacuum. I love it! Every day, it lumbers over the cracks in the tiles and beats the rugs from every angle, sweeping up crumbs and dust. This morning, it passes around the main room and kitchen. 3 full dustbins later, I empty the Roomba and plug it in for the last time.

W directs the return of furniture to its place. Today, his main task is preparing for a trip he's taking in 2 weeks.

My task is joining a learning center team, training high school teachers about writing. I'm not sure what my part is in this. Am I support, in case they have English questions? Am I there to listen and find out what the learning center does? We have a 3 hour workshop. The essay I received to look at was partly edited and ... wait, was I supposed to make more edits in it? Am I presenting? Am I helping?

At 11:00, I jump in the car to a top international high school, where the learning team is setting up. The teachers come into the room and are energized by the other presenter, who is lively and engaging. Since it starts at noon, helpers bring in individual lunch boxes containing traditional food (yum - chicken, noodles, rice, hot sauce, and a vegetable) and bottled water. The first presenter goes through information on writing a descriptive essay. She asks if I mind her taking more time from the amount allotted to me?

No. Not at all. I have no idea how much time I'm supposed to take, and actually, I'm still not clear about my part. Watching her, I pull up a few files. Maybe that's what I'm demonstrating: argumentative essays?

I scramble to find and arrange the files, which come up hidden one behind the other. I have no outline for the talk, no PPT, and no graphics except the partly edited files. I read them through again, noting what has changed between the original submission and the edited one.

There's even dessert - "green banana":
sliced banana, young coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and ice.
With sprinkles on top.
When I pull up the files to demonstrate what to look for and how to edit student papers, someone leaps to the front of the room to help me out. He narrows the margins so I can view the text @350 so all can see. Ah... that's one way to do it. So logical. Every time I fail, I learn something new. Cool.

I have to think on my feet. If I'd known what I was presenting, I'd have pulled together the session. I printed out some handouts, but they're not duplicated or handed out. The other presenter collects them and takes them back to the office with her.

Next time, I'd know to submit handouts in advance for copying - and I'd be sure to clarify what I'm supposed to do ... until I understand. Though I sound relaxed, my brain is churning to organize the ideas into a logical flow. Comes 15:00 and we're done. I'm exhausted. We say goodbye with handshakes and I'm off to the next thing.

I have to pick up storage bins. This week, two big mice landed in traps in the dirty kitchen (an open room used for storage and frying food.) The rodents chewed up replacement refill bags of sauces and other food. After a quick trip to the container store, I toss the plastic boxes in the back of the car.

Ibu A's husband is a handyman. He built shelves inside and above the old water reservoir in the dirty kitchen (photo below). The ibu-ibu are happy to have more space to work on movie night, when we stash everything from the regular kitchen in the back.

The driver churns through traffic, the weaving motorcycles, the pedestrians pulling carts or crossing between cars, the big busses pushing through any opening, and the little vans parked fully in a lane to take on passengers. I check messages and emails so I don't have to watch. He takes us safely to the restaurant where W is wrapping up a study.
Before: an unused water reservoir
After: storage galore with water bottles underneath and storage bins atop.
The newspaper keeps the mice off the water heater.
Coming home, I'm barely awake. My focus now has to shift to the next class in Jakarta. I have little "hard work" done ahead of time. One by one, I find myself planning new classes between our regular obligations. I know what's coming, but I don't have the headspace to do more than read new textbooks and mark them up.

I dump all information into a big file. This class already has 50+ pages of notes, which I'll sort and cull into submission before the class begins. Once the class starts, I will work late every day, pacing information for the capacity of students. (The second time one teaches a course, it's SO much easier. The first time, anything can happen - and it sometimes does, no matter how much we know.)

Someone calls with another opportunity. W and I accept: we'll speak together on a Sunday morning at a local church. The topic interests us both: stewardship of the environment, based on the Bible. What is the obligation of someone who says they follow Jesus?

An email pings into the inbox. It's from the head of the seminary. The students need a syllabus of textbooks, the class outline, etc. What? They have no syllabus yet?

I had asked for an older syllabus a few months ago to prep my coursework to match previous versions of this class. At that point, I was told I didn't have to give assignments or grade. So I assumed I didn't need to prep a new syllabus. Hmmm, how will the doctoral students read the texts, with the class one and a half weeks away? Most are not English speakers, so the lectures will be translated.

I refuse to fret. This is a country where flow is the norm and information is given as needed (we hope). The interactive group time in class will show me if students understand the information. I don't mind explaining, though it helps if the class has done advance research.

A family vehicle ...
Today's the day to get the syllabus out the door. First, I take everything off my desk. I need focus while I work. I crank up "Focus at Will" techno music. Most of the day is spent on the syllabus, though I get up to organize my office and order my bookshelves. Every once in a while as I'm typing, I squish the little ants that run across the computer keyboard and screen.

I look in a group WhatsApp and see that someone has posted a brochure of the course with my picture on it. (Things have a way of going roundabout before we see them.) New info for me: it's an open lecture format so anyone can attend. That makes it even more interesting. Hmmm.

All of life is sorting: we have many opportunities but not everything aligns with our available time or vision.

I get a late-evening call: "Would you send the material you presented yesterday, along with the edits?" I've just sent off the syllabus and am tired. But if it needs doing ... I get up and go back into my office. Where are the files? (Oh, I thought I was done with them! I'm glad I didn't delete them.)

A beautiful rooster pecks through the garbage
at the side of the road
It takes me another hour to pull together the material into a handout that will go to the teachers. I send it off and tumble into bed. It's a good lesson. This is not the best use of my energy and time. I'll focus on higher ed and leave the younger schools to someone else.

The weekend is for sleeping in? Resting? Not this one. I'm off and running with academic prep. The day flies by.

I cook breakfast and am so hungry for lunch that I toss that together, too. W joins me from the porch, where he's sorting contacts for his upcoming trip. I pet the dog each I go by the open door. (No walk for him today!)

As evening comes, W walks to Miss Bee to pick up fish and chips. "We'll split one order of takeaway." Sounds good.

Except he returns with a pizza and salt-and-pepper-tofu. "What! Sorry, hon," he apologizes. He completely zoned out and put in an automatic order. It will taste good anyway, though I was hungry for fish and chips. ahha

Read more:
*Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart. Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

*As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 NIV

*“In the last days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

"I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:17-21 NIV

*Paul wrote: Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, when we find ourselves in the wilderness and alone, be with us. Help us to find our way home to you. Amen.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Prayers and a neighbor's memorial

Friday, September 22, 2017 
There's a civet on the roof (pics from the internet). At least, that's what we think is walking on the clay tiles at night. A civet has the face of a rat, racoon, or bear, depending on how you see such things, with the body of a cat = God mixing it up and maybe smiling at the cute outcome. 

They often eat the papaya that we are ready to pick, the night before we do. Great hunks of orange flesh, the rest of the fruit still hanging on the tree, mark their feast as the fruit. These cats also consume and digest coffee beans, which are gathered and sold as expensive kopi luak. We see the poop on our walks in the forest, sometimes. (And we leave it there.)

Many pet and feral cats live in the neighborhood. Our Japanese neighbor loves cats and adopted one or two. Now at least 5 or 6 roam the property, having found the food bowls outside our houses. They eat dog or cat food, depending on their appetites. We keep them off the furniture by sprinkling black pepper on the cushions = non-toxic and highly effective. The cats stroll boldly on our teras. 

Gypsy, our beautiful black mutt, chases off the strangers and plays with "his" cats. Something is bugging him: he's ripped chunks of fur out to scratch his skin. The vet sends along some steroid pills to soothe the itching.

We spot a youngster carrying a fighting cock (chicken) under his right arm, while he turns his bike and steers down an alley with his left. Boys love to raise these chickens and host cockfights. It's hard to see him in this picture because it took a while to get my phone out of the bag.

As we exit our neighborhood, several ponies are hard at work, taking little kids for rides. Every weekend or holiday, in this case for Muslim New Year today, Sunda horsemen tether their horses outside shops and popular hotels. They ride into town from pastures in the hills above the city - or hold the horses' reins to trot them beside a motorcycle.

We have made it a habit to pray Fridays at a retreat center nearby. Clusters of rooms (six per building) allow us to have personal time listening for God's direction before we pray together. It's crucial for us to hear God's voice with so many cultural and social adjustments.

I usually take along some art supplies and as I pray, I doodle. 
Occasionally, it looks like "something" but usually, it's not much of anything. This morning is about presence and becomes filled with color. Strangely, the bird looks the same upside or down. Can you see the two figures on the bottom left, leaning in to listen? (left above) Turned upside down, it's something else entirely. 

The shapes are abstract and hardly proportional. I doodle all around the pages, not paying too much attention as I'm praying for others. Using my hands sets my heart free. Most of the time, I can barely reach the scratchpad across the table where it's shoved behind my Bible and notebook.

My meditation is on Hebrews 1:1-4 (written out below). It's one of my favorite scripture passages. Since J&C have a morning commitment, we pray together before they leave.

W come an hour later, finds my shoes outside the building, and settles into the room beside mine. We wrap up by sharing what we have heard.

On the way home, we detour onto the Adventist University campus, where we've heard there is a health food store. One of the students jogs alongside the car, "I know where it is. I'll show you," he says - and takes us right to the door. Nice young man! We pick up a few staples (nuts, seeds, oatmeal for homemade trail mix) and are home for lunch about 1:30.

We leave the house to catch an Uber at 6. We're attending prayers for a Catholic neighbor who was our first landlord. His funeral is tomorrow - Saturday - and it will be a big deal. His body will be transported to the university where he worked as a respected biology researcher and scientist. His four sons also work in medical or scientific fields. 

Dozens of flower boards line the entry to the prayer chapel behind the hospital. They are memorial boards from classmates, coworkers, and friends. Some have four separate bouquets attached, a costly display of his high esteem.

We greet his sister. She tells us she has just arrived from Germany, where she's lived for 47 years. "I came yesterday, but haven't slept yet," she confesses. She's a medical doctor. She points out her siblings, likewise well-educated scientists.

Dr Alfred's grandkids are there, too. "They'll miss their grandpa," says their father. He's the youngest son, who studied in Seattle. They still have a cousin who also went to UW, and obtained a green card to live in Seattle.

The casket is gleaming white, draped in netting as is the custom. It's surrounded by flowers in an alcove draped with purple and white satin. Dr A will be laid to rest tomorrow in a Christian cemetery alongside his first wife, a departure from the usual Chinese cremation.

The odd thing about this hall, located behind St Boromeus Hospital, is that three viewing alcoves share the space. Dr Hanna, who takes us along tonight, says that "sometimes all three are occupied at once. It can get a bit chaotic if the service times coincide." This time, Dr Alfred is on his own.

As per tradition after the last night of prayers, attendees eat bubur ayam (rice porridge with chicken). I just ate before we came so my stomach says no, though it's a favorite food. We're still learning the local customs.

We ease awake and fall back asleep. I start the day by baking oatmeal pumpkin muffins. They're not sweet at all: next time I shall add sugar as well as honey.

Most of the day is spent doing research. I'm prepping a class. W buys my tickets to Thailand, reserving the first two flights of three, en route to Bhutan in December.

My mind keeps going back to last night: what is temporal - money, wealth, power, relationships - is left behind. Only eternal investments go with us through death into eternal life.

Read more:
*It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Psalm 127:2 NASB

*Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 NIV

*Paul wrote: My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV

*In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV

Moravian Prayer: 
Lord, thank you for being with us and helping us to rest. Continue to give us strength. Amen.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mentoring in Medan

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
We're off to Medan in the evening. The flight is not long: Medan is on the other side of Singapore - about 2:20 away. The drive is smooth - the roads are paved and curbed.

We stop to eat at a restaurant that has a unique form of service. The waiter piles plates in the center of the table. Anything that we touch, we will pay for. The rest goes back to the kitchen. We serve ourselves, and it's all delicious.

The university puts Pak Hubbi, W and me up at a nice hotel. The beds are comfy so we sleep deeply.

Comfy leather executive seats for every faculty member
We are in a car on the way to the university by 8 and ready to start by 9. But the faculty is returning from a budget meeting and we start at 10. Hubbi and I go back and forth, teaching research writing.

There's enthusiastic participation. The faculty is kind and attentive. The boxed lunch of rendang (Indonesian beef stew) is delicious, but we're back in the conference room within an hour to finish up.

typical edits
We break into small groups and let them edit a paragraph of their peer's paper. W demonstrates a citation program to help them footnote their papers more easily.

And then we wrap it up with speeches, selfies, and a group photo. They present us with a picture frame from the rector and wrap me in a local fabric.

Indonesians love selfies. So we take a lot of them, besides the official photo.

W and I meet for supper with Karrie and then tour her church. We see two groups studying and enjoying time together. "Doing life together," we say.

The city is full of little motorcycle taxis. One lady waves as W leans out the window of the car to snap a picture.
A little beca (taxi)
We have an early breakfast at the hotel and are on our way to the airport at 6:30. One flight later, we're on the runway in Bandung. There are no motorized jetways (bridge) at the airport, so everyone walks from the plane to the terminal, hauling carry-on luggage.

Today, we have to wait near the plane after we walk down the steps to the taxiway. There's a plane leaving. It taxis right by us - an attendant keeps us from getting run over by putting out his hand and making us wait until it passes by. Then we walk across the hot pavement to the domestic terminal to get our luggage from the one baggage carousel.
Yes, it's that close. The wing extends over our heads.
The new terminal is such an improvement from the old one, which had one conveyor belt that shot luggage off the end into the waiting arms of passengers.

We catch a Grab home by 12:30 @Rp16.000 ($1.20).

I'm exhausted. W has some administrative work but I take the rest of the day to read. We have no study in the afternoon. It's another national holiday - this time, New Year's in the Muslim calendar.

Read more:
*The hearing ear and the seeing eye—the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12
Paul wrote: Test everything; hold fast to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Moravian Prayer: Lord, open our eyes and ears to see what you see in others and to love those that are difficult to love. Amen.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Water from where?

Apparently, our tap water (and shower water and toilet water) comes straight from the nearby river. Someone just told us the good news.
Rice paddies upriver
We know that river. It runs through dairy farms, crop fields, and villages on its way into the city. It stinks when you walk next to it because people dump everything into it. Everything.
A bridge over troubled waters
Now I know why, when I ran a bath in our portable tub a few weeks ago, the water was greenish. I sat in it anyway. I was desperate to read a textbook that had my eyes glazing over in minutes, sitting at my desk.

PVC pipes are strung along the walls of neighborhoods, and I guess they bring the water directly in. Other open-ended pipes poke through retaining walls, draining water from home sinks and showers right back into the streams.

Sometimes the water smells musty; sometimes it smells of other things. A while back, a friend of ours got amoebic dysentery when he brushed his teeth in the shower. Yeah, that was a bad idea. Even locals buy drinking water.

Most weekends (Friday through Sunday, and sometimes during the week,) there's not enough water pressure to have a shower. At least five new highrises were built on the hill in the past two years, and as many new restaurants. But our infrastructure is the same.
Wash vegetables at the sink. Then rinse them well with filtered drinking water. And you're seeing correctly, that's a bit of garden hose attached to an outdoor faucet - at the "dirty kitchen" in the house. The previous tenants took their faucets with them. We've replaced most of them, but a few are still in "original" move-in condition. (Another fact of life: that back room is open to the sky and wind - anything fried is made there since no kitchen stove has a fan to whisk away grease.)
We often walk along the river
This morning, I open the kitchen taps (gravity fed from algae-crusted roof-top tanks), toss an electric heating coil into the basin as it fills, and wait for it to warm up. (Oh yeah, we have to get someone to go into the tanks to scrub them clean. We're too bulky to fit in.)

Every traditional bathroom has a pail of water beside the toilet. A plastic dipper is used to scoop up water for sanitation after using the toilet. Most people don't use toilet paper. (That's also why you never use your left hand to pass things to others or bring food to your mouth.)

We have a few dippers lying around, relics from the people who used to live here. Our helper fills one to rinse the shower once a week. After a few years of rinsing, I figure the dipper is pretty clean. Today, I use it to splash water on myself in the shower. Do I feel cleaner? Maybe.
Irrigation, drainage, you name it ...
The house looks quite modern and sturdy. When people come to visit (esp. our Western guests), they think we are living beyond our means. "We could never afford the 40-year-old stone tile flooring in the USA." They're right. We couldn't either.

And then they try to shower. "There was no hot water today because the pressure was low. I feel kind of stinky without a shower," or better still, "We have no water at all." Yeah. We know.

The basics are sometimes a challenge. For example, we bought a dozen dining chairs from a local commercial shop with an excellent reputation. W and I both liked the look of them. They were narrow enough to seat 12 around our table, and that they were half price at Informa's annual clearance sale.

After a few months, the piping began peeling from the seat and the back. The manufacturer apparently used material that disintegrates in the heat and humidity. No returns permitted, of course.

"Oh well," we have to shrug. Such surprises are par for the course. I sewed slipcovers last month to prevent further damage. The canvas covers are made from a huge painter's dropcloth (bought ages ago at a USA hardware story).

Truth be told, Indonesia has been good for us. It's reminded us that life is not about appearances. It's about reality. About people, living with us side by side, life on life, day by day.

Being here is wonderful. And crazy. And interesting. If you're particular or a perfectionist, you would soon be in a madhouse. But if you don't mind an unexpected event or two every day and something new every morning (in addition to the blessings of God), this is a wonderful place to be.
Regional delights: a wild banana tree in bloom
Locals seem taken aback when we say we like it here. "Isn't it a step backward? We want to go to the West and leave here." "But it takes so long to get anything done!" and, "Don't you mind the garbage?"

yes yes yes. Our experienced expat friends warned us when we moved here: "Don't compare this to that. Just live in the day or it will kill you." Their counsel has been spot-on. Time after time.

Yet when you know you're supposed to be here, you love it. Ask anyone who's been in our shoes.

Read more:
*Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits. Psalm 103:2
I will praise God’s word, I will praise the Lord’s word. Psalm 46:10 NKJV
Jesus says, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63
Moravian Prayer: Lord, you are great and you created all things. May we always remember your goodness and keep your spirit in our hearts. Amen.