|Cruising the bowl|
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|
|The view from the window at church|
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|
It's time for the arisan to meet - the food is good and the company warm and generous in heart.
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.
*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.