Friday, September 15, 2017

Women as bright as birds

Saturday, September
It's our rule not to go to town on the weekends, when traffic is stop-and-go. But we need a new fridge and the landlord has agreed to contribute 4 Juta (about $300). We visit a bunch of shops on the “appliance street” and haggle the price from Rp5.6 J (about $400) to our price.

We count how many people help us in the next shop. Wow, 11 employees are involved, between walking in and paying. We have been greeted, shown to our department, seen all the features we’ve needed and more … When our shopping cart is ready, someone has recorded the price on a sheet and another has taken it downstairs to the payment center. We follow, pay at the counter (below), and walk away with smiles all around. There’s low unemployment here.

There's a big "Scout" meeting downtown. The police have roped off several main streets, so we chat with the kids as we wait for our Grab car. One girl sees me about to take a photo of her friends and runs across the street toward us, screaming, "Wait wait! Me too! Me too!" She squeezes in. Snap.

Is it a good idea for hundreds of scouts and their troop leaders to be sitting in the hot sun on the pavement? They must be assembling for a parade. Some kids are dragging dragon costumes around the lines of teens and children who are streaming from all directions. 

The Grab driver can't get to us. The roads are blocked, so we hike a half-mile to him instead. It takes another hour plus to get home (usually a 1/2 hour trip). Not bad. Traffic hasn't really started up yet. The evening's macet (traffic jam) will be ferocious.

After church and his theology class, W heads for a Catholic group who are interested in theology. They have lots of questions. It takes him until late evening to get home. Why? Apparently, iIf they miss the break between masses because they're wrapped up in discussion, they have to wait for the next pause.

I'm home when the fridge is delivered. It's the first of five on the pickup bed. One skinny young guy hops off the truck, maneuvers the appliance off the truck, and holds the two straps wrapped around the box. He hefts the fridge onto his back and into the house, before his friend helps him manhandle it upstairs. 

They ask if they can grab some fruit from the guava tree. Sure. One climbs the tree like a monkey, tossing fruit down to his coworker below. We add a small tip to their overflowing hands and they drive out of the gate happy.

The fridge is even better than we thought (how can you tell in the store, with the lineup of models?) Our friends shake their heads when they hear the price. "You are truly Indonesian if you only paid that much." Hopefully, the landlord will be as happy: it has a great warranty and came in at budget.

After the morning study, W and I do some writing and head for town. One of our strange little finds is a press: we don't know what it's used for. But it makes enough Spätzle (German noodles) for one person. We squeeze two lumps of dough through and bravo! what a great little invention, whatever it is.

There’s an arisan meeting (the neighborhood women’s group) which I’m attending for the first time in 3 months. We start munching from plates of snacks on the table and open the boxed water and snack packet. Then we eat the main meal. Soooo. Muuuch.  Foooood. What can I say? I take most home to share with the helpers. They provide plastic takeaway bags for such emergencies.

There are warm greetings all around, updates, and lots of conversation. The beautiful older woman next to me is the most honored: she's in her 90s and still active. She gets the first handshake and kisses on each cheek. 

I'm getting better at understanding – especially since these women are articulate and educated. They don’t use slang, though they slip from Indonesian to Sundanese in conversation with each other. Some know English, and translate the jist of what I need to know.

Our part-time helper is ill but bakes cookies in the morning to draw her day’s wage. It looks like the beginning of the flu – she has a lot of kids and grandkids living in her house. They attract and spread colds and flus, especially with the change to dry (or wet) season. She promises to be back Thursday, but nope, she’s still sick.

Rear-ended, plus 4 dings from traffic
It’s a deadline day so we have to skip the long walk. W and I take a break to walk 2 miles down the hill to see if our car is finished. (Not yet; it’s in the body shop – maybe tomorrow.) Then we hit the books. I’m determined to finish editing a few academic papers, and have just gotten another from a journal editor. I’ll wrap that up today and tomorrow.

We are at the study in the afternoon, along with several others. We share an Uber ride with DrH and her daughter on the way home. We haven't been at Wild Grass Resto for months, and we're too tired to cook. We eat, then walk home in the warm darkness to unwind with a movie and a bit more work before falling into bed.

We get a shock! William is in hospital, having surgery. He’s a French expat we met at our movie night. He is known and liked by many. Apparently, last night, he was cycling down a main street when a motorcyclist knifed him in the stomach. Thankfully, none of his major organs were hit, but he is in serious condition.

Many friends head to ICU right away, as we are hearing about it. They send texts, “Don’t come to the hospital. Already, there are too many of us.”

W WhatsApps William, assuring him we are praying and we will visit as soon as he is able to see us. We get a heartfelt thank you and a recovery timeline: if all goes well, he’ll be in a regular ward by Sunday. Then would be a better time for a visit.
Between everything, scribbling pen markings on a postcard of watercolor splashes.
But wait! Claudia WAs that her two kids are in the hospital, too, along with several others from their school. They’ve caught a stomach virus from the food and are severely dehydrated. 

“But don’t come. Apparently, it’s contagious.” The kids are on IVs – they’ll be there at least until Sunday when their vitals stabilize. We get a cute picture of them learning origami from mutual friends, whose son is in the next bed.

W walks down to get the car, while the driver walks the dog and waters the garden before heading home. (He doesn’t have an extra motorcycle helmet or he’d give W a lift.) 

It's marvelous to hit "Send" on 10 journal blogs to Jakarta, an edited academic article in town, and another to the Philippines. Isn't it amazing how we take for granted all the messages and work we exchange around the world? It's sure faster than a postal delivery, which is a wonder in itself.
Enormous blooms on the neighbor's tree
Isabelle flies in from Surabaya in the early evening. She’s a Montessori specialist from Surabaya, come to help about 40 teaching volunteers learn about life stages and classroom discipline.

We have a nice supper together W’s made chicken in his sue vide machine; I grill it, make rice and pasta, and add a green salad and papaya with lime. We eat a few chocolate and a few peanut butter cookies for dessert.

We leave the house just after 7am. It’s a one-hour drive. Dr Wuri’s driver, Pak Igo, gets us there on time. The superintendent of schools is waiting with the administrators. The minister of education shows up 20 minutes later. We wait in the office until he arrives and greetings are exchanged.

There are informal (community-run) and formal (government) schools in the city. The informal preschools have sent 40 teachers to Miss Isabelle for training. They are dressed like colorful birds in jilbabs (headscarves) and bright clothing. Bandung women are cantik (beautiful).

The steps to the second floor take up a mere 8’: yes, they are that steep (a 13-15” rise). Good thing we have healthy hips and knees! We sit on the floor, but luckily there’s a carpet roll at the side. I park myself on that for a bit of ease and a sigh of relief. Usually only the men sit cross-legged, but it’s the only way I feel comfortable on the floor. So I tuck my knees up and to the side. Several others gradually ease up onto the riser as well: it’s way comfier and I can lean my back against the wall (think, 4” chair).

After a few speeches (1/2 hour+), we stand up to take a lot of pictures – including one with the certificate that I will get for showing up. The minister says he is already hoping we’ll do this for schools all over Bandung. The room is bright and sunny. It's going to be a hot day.

These teachers may be volunteers but they are devoted to their young charges. Most teachers and students come from poorer homes. They cannot afford the uniforms, books, and extra-curricular fees required by government schools. (Tuition is ‘free’ but the peripherals costs money.)

Part of our reason for living here is resourcing worthy local projects and education. This morning, Isabelle brings her teaching materials for a day-long workshop. Dr W provides the snacks and connection to the schools. W and I provide the link to the master teacher, many prayers for the well-being of the participants, and pay for drinking water. The two little libraries we sponsored last year are filled with books for teachers and families to borrow. Everyone does his or her part.

The lead administrator hands me a gift (yummy cakes) as I leave them after an hour. I start work in the car - the one-hour trip down takes an extra half-hour on the way back. Traffic is picking up for the weekend. Soon every road will be crammed.

The wind chimes are ringing on our teras. Today, we are thankful to live in the northern part of the city, where mountain breezes keep temperatures about 5o cooler than in the central city.

Read more:
*My times are in your hand. Psalm 31:15
*Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
*God has helped me to this very day. Acts 26:22
*Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4 NIV
*Paul wrote: Let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we are thankful for your forgiveness and need your hand in all we do. Be with us always. Let us not forget that everything we have is from you. Keep our world living by your command. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment