Saturday, December 9, 2017

Worth the wait

The week slips by in relationships and food shares.

In KL airport: a wall-to-wall sign for the nursing room
beside one of the mosques
Wednesday, 6 December: St. Nicolas Day and, 'It feels like Christmas.'
I think I'm saving time by having pizza delivered - and I've done enough cooking and hosting this week and. Nothing is certain: will it be ready at the right time? So W is a bit anxious about what will arrive when. We have someone delivering it in two shifts - the first 8 "1-meter pizza" (each delivered in 2 boxes) at 6pm and the second when he can get back down the hill at 6:20pm.

There are sOOOOso many boxes, and they're here on time. Some of the guys go out to help bring them into the house. They sit stacked and heaped on the stove while three of us cut the huge pieces in half and put them out. Everyone piles in to eat after we say grace at 6:30.

People keep coming. Probably 80 show up tonight. Cool!
The loveliest part for us is sharing our family traditions with our growing local "family." We have a motto at movie night: "First time, you're a guest. Second time, you're friends. Third time, you're family!"

We overhear the students tell each other, "Today is my third time. I'M FAMILY!" It's a big deal. And they give us a hug - I'm their mom from here on in. They're more shy with W, but they swarm him to talk. We've really grown to love them and taken them into our hearts.

After supper, we read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. My friend wrote an 11-part script that we've shared with family and friends since the 90s. We skip the carols between (for example, the Magi reading is in 2 parts, followed by We Three Kings). We 'll sing the carols and do the readings again at our open house on Christmas Day. Today, we pass out the script and whoever wants a part reads it aloud.

Then we watch Miracle on 34th Street and talk about what we believe after the fairytales of our childhood are over. It's a lively bunch tonight. Everyone is in a festive mood - some are graduating in a week or two, and except for the high school kids, are done with projects and exams.

Dessert at intermission? IbuA has been baking each time she's been here this month. She puts the last cookies from the freezer onto two trays. She's set them out for study groups, our team Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving brunch, and everything between.

"Ibu, that's all. I think I have to bake some more," she says. Earlier today, she made a double recipe of peanut butter cookies. Good thing! All but a dozen (of everything) is eaten tonight.

Later, when the movie is over and conversations are in full swing, I look around the room. What a wonderful mix! Old and young, all faiths and atheist, from many islands of Indonesia, from Australia, USA, Iran, Europe, Philippines, Thailand, Malasia, Uganda, China, Singapore ... we're all talking, laughing, and thinking aloud together.

The last ones wave goodbye just before midnight. W and I lock up and fall into bed. He's dead asleep - but it takes me an hour or two to unwind.

I'm supposed to be studying. But I can hardly think. I catch up on other things, set the house in order with W and the helper - who comes an hour later than usual because of last night's late hour - starts to bake.

Then she sits down to cut 2 huge bunches of bananas for the freezer (we used up our frozen mango with fresh papaya, bananas, apples, and pears with yoghurt and a can of fruit cocktail to augment the baking). She shakes her head, "I feel like I'm a bakery worker, but I love baking." She cools them and then fills three square Tupperwares with cookies, storing them in the fridge.

I hear our Roomba 650 buzzing around. When it stops, I plug it back into the charger and an hour later send it back out. It has been a lifesaver. W initially questioned why we needed an auto vacuum when a helper would sweep and mop every time she came. The Roomba used up a lot of suitcase space, which was tight on that trip.

But it zooms around automatically once a day and makes 4-5 rounds after company. Each time it fills with lint, grit, and dust blown in by the wind and tracked in by us and our friends. No one wears outdoor shoes in the house. A shoe stand full of flip-flops stands at the entry to the porch and we wash them after use - but ... yeah. I'm glad to have the vacuum. Today I thank God again for its inventors.

I'll have real Chinese dumplings in Malasya
Finally, I finish reworking next week's course, pack, and get ready to be on the road. Well, in the air. W notices that the first flight has been delayed by two hours. He starts to rework my flights - the later one won't give me enough time, but the airline says, "Impossible," until they work it out. Thanks, hon.

In Malaysia, my first stop, I need 3-4 hours to get through immigration, pick up my luggage, check in and drop luggage, then go through immigration. I don't have a connecting flight there or in Thailand. I'll have a 3-hour flight, an 8-hour layover before another short flight with a 7-hour layover, before two more flights.

It's going to be a brutal 24 hours in airports and on 4 airplanes. I'll arrive Sunday morning. I hope no one expects me to be perky and sweet.

We're on our way to the airport by 7am. W and I have a quick breakfast across the street from the terminal. Then he heads home and I swipe my suitcase through the scanner and go to check in.

The plane leaves at 10, with no hitches. I'm sitting beside the sweetest nine-year-old and her dad. We'll connect again in Bandung, from where she flies to all kinds of competitions. "She doesn't especially like chess, but she loves to compete," her dad explains. She loves spelling bees, art, and many other things. And she loves reading.

Cheering on a young chess champion
She's the #1 Indonesian chess champ for her age group, and #1 in "under 10" in the world. While her dad and I discuss the existence of a Creator, the value of science, cloning, artificial intelligence, and logic, she reads a whole book. Reading for pleasure is unusual in a country where almost no one picks up a book voluntarily. (It's a literate but oral culture). I love her already.

The lounge is on the other side of security. The check-in counter is closed until 3 hours before the flight. So I eat lunch noodles at one place and dumplings - fantastic - in another. For 4 hours (after 2 in the immigration line and getting my luggage), I sit around. My body is weary but let's see what happens. These adventures are a lot of wait wait sit stand sit wait - between the good stuff.

Read more:
*Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
*The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5
Moravian Prayer: God of light, illuminate our lives at this darkest time of year. Quell our doubts, calm our fears, relieve our sadness. Restore our joys and let us share them with the world. Amen.

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