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.

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