Saturday, February 24, 2018

Art makes the words go by

Ok, where did the week go? I eye the little table on the porch upstairs and wonder if I should work there.

Monday, February 19, 2018
It's the usual Monday, with 3 meetings in a row from 7am-2pm. I catch my breath as W takes our guests into the city to explore. The city is filled with shopping outlets and snack stands. They have a good time.

Two meetings are canceled so I begin to write. I'm so behind on my book.

At 10, we leave for town. W and our guests stand in line for coffee beans at the Aroma coffee factory, while I pick up some reframed prints from a frame shop. Neither the work nor the scale is good; now the art looks "less" rather than "more." Oh well.

In contrast, sometime last week we got these pictures back from Ade Piguar, a framer recommended by DrH. Oh my, this man knows what he's doing (@the same price as the not-so-artistic guy.)
He did a spectacular job on the African paintings (purchased on a trip my parents took in the 1970s) and 2 little Balinese sketches that W picked up at a garage sale for $3! Look at the before and after - nothing to something!

I am so pleased with his craftsmanship. When the pictures are hung, the guestrooms are done.
He even makes my abstract splashes look professional = no mean feat! (16"X24" Flow, plus frame)
Meanwhile, during our errands, Rachel and Marilyn are taking a painting art class. We drop by to cheer them on.

They're graphic designers and creatives, opening a studio in Kuching, Malaysia, next month. They're looking for ideas on holding similar art classes and hosting spaces for people to enjoy each other.

I make a simple supper and then we talk until late evening about changing and updating spaces with just a few tweaks. They have lots of ideas about their new shop. They promise to send me pictures. At this point, the space is open and gleaming white. I feel a little twinge of "space envy," imagining the fun they'll have, designing the office and retail areas.
Sundown across the valley
Our guests - Dave and his 3 grown kids - say goodbye and head back to Malaysia and Singapore early in the morning. They have been a treasure, easy to host, generous in encouragement, prayers, and otherwise.

I have to grade papers for an online class and finish some writing. The neighborhood masseuse comes by: can she work the kinks out before our trip next week? Yes, please.

This tiny Sundanese lady has hands of iron. I get straight back to work after she's done, but my back feels such relief after a week of sitting at a desk and in the car.

In the late afternoon, the book club meets to discuss Submission, a French satire. We have a lively conversation and celebrate some birthdays.

Dolly brings her own cake, a magnificent chocolate creation, topped by white chocolate swirls.
W has a meeting in town, but I stay home and prepare for the rest of the week.

The walk is moved to another day so this morning, I finally have the chance to visit a new women's study at Claudia's. She's made tea and it's lovely to explore with the women.
Between appointments, I haul out my trusty Bernina to sew a favorite scarf into a light jacket.
Evenings can be cool (70F/22C)
The house is settling back in after the whirlwind. I warm up the Thanksgiving leftovers: turkey in February doesn't taste the same, esp since the foil cover kept coming off when the helper shifted things around the freezer. But I'm trying to pare down the fridge and freezer before our next trip.

W and I head to the evening study at 5:30 and are back about 9:00. Our stomach is rumbling: I guess the dog will get the rest of the turkey in the morning.

When I walk in the door after a 3-hr trip to town (2 hours driving, 1 hour of errands), W is waiting: "We have to go, but first, we have to make a video for our partners." He's set up the IPhone and a tripod on the porch upstairs. We plop down for 3 minutes (2 quick tries) and call it good.

This afternoon, Hela has invited us to meet with her faculty in a college up the hill, a mere 7 km and 1 hour away. I'm dehydrated so we stop along the road to get some fresh coconut juice. The vendor chops off the top of a coconut, pours a half-liter into a baggie, tops it with a straw, and passes it to us through the window (80c of nourishment).

Oops, the faculty forgot to mention that they've changed the meeting time. They've decided to start at 3:00pm instead of 3:30, so everyone is waiting when we arrive at 3:10. (And we thought we were early.)

We are introduced to the faculty and study a scripture passage with them. As always, we learn more than we contribute. They teach us about the many ways Indonesian culture differs from ours. Each worldview affects the reading of the text, of course. Here, status, age, connections, and what a person experiences greatly influence when you can speak and how much you can say. It's fascinating to us: Indonesia is probably closer to biblical culture than the West.

Traffic is not easy, but walking isn't straightforward either. On a new sidewalk, you have to duck or walk around the benches and trees. One trunk leans over the sidewalk, 4.5' from the ground.
"Why doesn't the city cut the tree and replant one where it was?" I ask someone.

"Because of the spirits living in the trees," he explains. "We try not to disturb the spirits living there."

Our sweet neighbor drops by in the morning. We're traveling in different directions next week, so time together is precious. Between movie night last week and today, she's attended a multi-day scientific seminar on the other side of Java, our island. Constantly learning and constantly growing: that's one of the things we love about her.

We have tea, pumpkin pie, and cookies. She wants to inspect the water filtration system in our house, in case a similar Sawyer filter would be useful for her. (Our house water is marginally filtered from the nearby river, so everyone buys bottled water for drinking and washing food. That gets expensive.) She brings along a few treats for our new grandchild in the USA.

W's off to town to buy a few last-minute gifts and I'm relieved to clean up and start packing. By 4:30pm, it's dark and thunder is rumbling around the hills. We're in for a rain and wind storm. Time to turn on the lights, though sunset comes at 6:00.

Read more:
*Does God speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

*Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:16-20  NIV

*Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes. No one can be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted. Proverbs 12:1-3 NIV
*Jesus said to Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we see your power in the thunderstorm, but we also see your delicate touch in acts of love. There is so much of you around us—reminding us why we desire to always be held by you. Amen.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Friends and neighbors

Cruising the bowl
Saturday, February 10, 2018
After a meeting downtown, W returns with some avocado juice from a little juice stand. I love the thick green stuff: it has chocolate syrup down the sides, which makes the creamy fruit even better. It's my favorite (next to mango juice, which isn't in season now.)
In the afternoon, we grade papers and finish travel plans to will take us through May. W is great at finding cheap flights and hotels.

We go through our talk for tomorrow's church service a few times, tweaking who says what and how it's said. Our preparation always feels like wrestling toward clear communication, and we're not done until we're actually speaking.

Sitting on the porch, we look past the gnarled guava tree to the flowers that pop up in the garden every few months. Today, I can see blue hydrangeas, red amaryllis, and fragrant white blossoms that look like gladiolas but appear on stems similar to corn stalks. The smell of gardenias wafts from the shrub beside the porch to where we're reading together. Everyone loves to sit out there, including our study groups.
A Monday study
I browse a few gardening blogs about "Early Spring Blooms" and enduring the cold weather until the garden warms up. I sometimes can't believe that we live in summer - all year. It feels like a gift every morning when I go outside.
The view from the window at church
Because of the climate, the fishbowl on the porch needs no filter and no heater. I drain it every few weeks and refill it with water. The plants keep it clean and soak up the fish waste. When I walk by in the morning, I drop a few pellets in. That's it.
The little red fish (platys?) thrive in their natural climate, while a beta (Siamese Fighting Fish) in the water lily bowl keeps the mosquitoes at bay.

Our assigned topic is "Jesus meeting ... Adam and Eve." Each week in this series of "Jesus meeting..." someone is sharing about Old Testament encounters with God's Son. W and I love to speak together - and this morning we are speaking at an international church. W wrote the core talk and we went through it a few times to customize it for a duet, each with our own voice.

As I sit beside W on the front bench, waiting to begin, it occurs to me that perhaps I should be nervous. I check my body but there's not a twitch or a sweaty palm. Just anticipation and gladness, that we get to do what we love. It's actually relaxing for both of us.

When we are done speaking, we ask for takeaways from the meeting. As usual, we learn more from the responses than from our own studies.

What a special celebration: Dr Hanna turns 75 today and Josh just had his 50th birthday. The Bible study attendees celebrate them with 2 cakes, singing, and lots of birthday wishes. We are so glad to have them on our team.

We continue the celebration over lunch and a team meeting.

Then Robin meets me downtown to go to a rattan shop. The shop owner is an architect who recycles old carvings, rice bowls, and artifacts.
I fall in love with these 2.5' carvings
Before we turn around twice, the day is over. W has sent out the movie night invitation for Wednesday. Within 20 minutes, the 70-person list is full and we have a waiting list of 20. (Over the 3 days, the waiting list eases into spots vacated by those who are ill or have other plans.)

It's time for the arisan to meet - the food is good and the company warm and generous in heart.
Sundanese foods

It's our monthly movie night. Today we order pizza in, rather than cooking. Strangely, Valentine's Day has been banned in Indonesia this year (but I don't find that out until a few days later.) Thanks to everyone for pitching in with food.

The movie is Sleepless in Seattle. The question is about our expectations: how does God bring unexpected turns and good things when we seem to reach a dead end?

The house fills and overflows onto the porch. We have about 80 people from 23 countries here tonight. The conversation lively and international, intercultural, and interreligious.

 People are here from Uganda, Libya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Italy, Belgium, France, Ukraine, Germany, Brazil, Malaysia, China, Korea, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan (who's knitted me a pair of socks) ...
Azerbaijan traditional pattern: socks knitted for me by a guest are promptly tacked on the fabric wall.
... Iran, Canada, Mexico, the USA, and elsewhere. I lose track but someone counts up to 21 countries ... and we add 2 with late arrivals.

We walk in the morning, down the hill and through the forest along the river.  
Brightly painted houses
The view of an orphanage yard

A steep climb on uneven steps
A bridge, washed out by a flash flood last year, has been replaced by cement slabs resting on metal barrels.

On another bridge, motorcycles speed alongside us. These riders have crazy skills to negotiate pedestrians, tight turns, narrow paths, and steep hills (up and down).

By lunch, we're at a friend's house for Chinese New Year (eve). Her mom is an amazing cook - and we stay for almost 2 hours, feasting and enjoying their company.

Traditional tapioca crepes with all kinds of fillings
We go from there to Dr. Hanna's to hear a neighbor's presentation of his pilgrimage, a walk in October from the cathedral in Porto (Portugal). Last year, we watched the 5 friends training for the walk by hiking the neighborhood: when they got to Europe, they walked over 20 km daily, about 220 km total.

Our regular study comes together at the Bamboo Shack in the evening. The group shares a few surprises, many prayers, and a challenge to serve God and others more deeply.

It's Chinese New Year. Firecrackers go off. Families get together. And W fetches our friends from the airport in the evening. Dave, the dad was his student in Malaysia. He and his three grown kids are stopping over with us until next Wednesday, after spending a week in Lombak (a beautiful island near Bali).

W takes Dave and the family downtown for bubur ayam  (chicken rice porrige) and drops them off at the factory outlets. The young women are back in early afternoon, while dad and brother shop until later. Meanwhile, Ibu S is doing laundry and cleaning for the guests. She bakes 3 loaves of bread and puts out a plate of cookies for tea in the afternoon. She and I are the only ones around for lunch, so I heat up some chicken, she makes rice, and we have a few veges.

Just after noon, our Indonesian kids and their 2 beautiful girls come over. The kids and dad love bread, so Sumi makes 2 extra loaves. (I'll send one along for their ride home on the train tomorrow.) We spend a relaxing afternoon with naps, visits, and a trip to Bumi Sangkuriang.

The little girls swim with their dad and we eat supper together at Bumi. Then we walk back home, relax and chat while the girls color, play piano, and run around. It's midnight before I get to sleep.
Jojo and Kristi leave for the train at 6am. W's up but I barely make it out to the gate as they're leaving with the taxi: I heard the kids waking up but fell back asleep.

It's time to make a big breakfast: scrambled eggs, fresh bread with jam and cheese, and sausages. Then Dave's family walks to church with us.

After the service, we cross the street to Bumi Sangkuriang. We've also invited new-to-church New Zealanders, Ann and Anthony, to join us. After lunch, they walk the 1/2 mile home to our house for dessert.

I open the fridge door to see what we have inside that might qualify for dessert. There are always home-baked cookies. I spot some brownies and plate them with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar so we are ready in 5 minutes. W puts sparkling water and ice water on the table. I pour myself a cup of tea.

We sit around the dining table where it's cooler: it's too hot to sit on the porch today. We talk about our hopes for what life might look like in 5 years - a fascinating outpouring of hopes and dreams, of gifting and opportunities. Dave's kids are in their 20s, Ann and Anthony in their early 70s, and we're between.

We listen and share takeaways: what did God say to us today? The talk this morning has left a definite impression. Wonderful - "Thanks!" to Pastor Terry. We pray, one person after another around the table, giving our thanks and requests to God.

W takes Dave and family to town for another look around. They're back about 5:00. I rest.

And then we head up and around the mountain for dinner. Dave treats us to a spectacular view across the north side of Bandung and a delicious meal.

Read more:
*Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. Psalm 25:8
*God says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15
Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord, your God, is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. Zephaniah 3:16-17
*Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
*Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet. Hebrews 12:12-13
Moravian Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we fall short. We remember that you alone create, bless and redeem. We cannot ever earn your grace or love, but may we follow your will the best we can. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Shown by the rainbow after the flood, we know that you are our God of promise. In you we trust as you guide the way. In your name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Paper. Work. Walk. Talk. That's all folks.

Blooming bananas in our yard
these school kids took our picture
Ah, so much happens in a week. I sometimes feel tired looking at the day ahead, but I usually feel more tired thinking of the week behind. Smiles.

from 6 countries - our weekly hike

spectacular views from our ridge trails
where's the safety net?

negotiating for rambutan (fruit) sold from the back of a pickup
Traffic jam, hill style: the cycles wait for pedestrians to see them and move over

a dairy farm
We eat lunch at a coffee shop - today day we talk about how important our Thursday walks and lunches are. They provide great stress relief from crossing into a new culture. Most of us depend on time together to decompress and keep doing what we're called to do.

At the end of the day, W, friends, and I head for the Bamboo Shack. Alice leads us in reading about the Spirit's inspiration on artists and donors, from Exodus 36. How interesting - God is specific on what he wants, but he lets skilled craftsmen and teachers set up and manage work and workers.

The helper explains what words mean, from the kids' vocabulary book I bought 2 weeks ago. She giggles: the easiest words are hardest to explain to a foreigner. "We just know this." Yes, you do; you all do ...
But I don't - yet. And it's great fun to negotiate meanings between English and Bahasa Indonesia. Google Translate helps in a pinch or when I'm totally in the dark. I learn the words for the sides of a box, gagging or muting someone, and a chocolate-colored fruit I've not yet seen. (Maybe not your everyday useful stuff.)
Today's tasks include submitting proposals for two book chapters, reviewing the upcoming Sunday talk with W, and grading the papers submitted from a December course in Bhutan. (Submission deadlines are 1-2 months after the classes: they catch up to us eventually.)

The other odds and ends on my checklist are "maybes." My normally tidy desk looks like it's been hit by a hurricane. Now to work!

Read more:
*You, O Lord, are a refuge. In you, peace and contentment we seek and shall find. In your name we pray. Amen.Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:17
*You shall meditate on the book of the law day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. Joshua 1:8
*I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89:1-2
*They shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. Ezekiel 34:28
*Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it! Luke 11:28
*The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
*I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:20-21
*A Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. Hebrews 4:9
Moravian Prayer: Dear Lord, in the silence, let us hear you. The glory of God is all around us: the wind as it blows through the trees, the song of the bird, the morning dew, a child’s eyes! What wonder it is to be alive.
May we take time to pause today—to give thanks and meditate on your will for the church. We thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.