Saturday, April 7, 2018

Warm welcomes back to the city

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Dr H and Alice host tonight's study with a dinner at their house. There are two birthdays to be celebrated, as well as a welcome back for us. We are looking for a new place for the Thursday study, since two previous places closed. A restaurant would be ideal where everyone can come and go; the bonus is that some will stay to eat, beyond tea and snacks. But a community room would be good, too. Ideas, anyone?
Friends new and old enjoy time together
Alice's cooking is both pretty and delicious. And of course, because of the birthdays, we have noodles. I wouldn't mind having a birthday more often: I love noodles!
Starfruit is delicious and cools the spices on the tongue.
W is fading from jetlag because we arrived at 4 this morning. I slept for 6 hours this morning, but he only for 2 or 3. (I cann't sleep on the plane like he does.) So I take him home at 9pm. The balmy air and narrow lane, lit by house lamps on one side, make us feel at home. It's so good to be back.

Dr W and we are back in town at the same time. Unbelievable. (We all teach abroad.) So she comes for tea and cookies on the porch at 10. She spoils us with freshly-made banana fritters, too. I miss her neighborly friendship when she travels.

The Bandung Book Club has a lunch date at Maxis. Such a great group of women. There's no book on the table today because we are celebrating two March birthdays.

As usual, the birthday gals are international: Indian Manju and Can/US Rosemarie, along with our friends from Europe, North America, Australia, and Thailand.

The group buys our birthday lunches as well as a delicious cake. Those are cheese-flavored cookies on the outside. Um, we're older than 21, right? But the sparkly candles add a cheeky touch for sure.

I make oatmeal for breakfast. That should keep us sated until lunch. It's not the most exciting meal and the chopped dried cherries (Trader Joe) are wasted by cooking. They're much better munched as a snack!
So glad to be walking down our street again
We believe a rest day each week is God's gift. We're not always consistent but today rest and relaxation look like a 4-mile walk down the hill to town. It takes about an hour (as fast as driving on the weekend) and helps reset us from jetlag. W checks exchange rates for currency, thinking ahead to an upcoming trip. He needs an electrical adapter. No luck there.

I'm just along for the walk. The Bandung mayor has replaced potholed walkways of varied pavements and heights with smoothly-paved sidewalks. Unbelievable difference! Now you don't have to carefully place every step, though I do tip an ankle to the side, negotiating around a cutout for plants. Here, wherever a tree grows, everything goes around it - roads, people, cars, bikes ... so as not to disturb a spirit possibly living in the tree.

Himalayan treck with Salamon Mocs
My old grey Salomon Snow Mocs are fantastic - I hiked to the Tigers Nest Monastery in Bhutan in December and have walked the world in them over the past 8 years. The treads are worn down but the roomy toe box makes them feel like slippers. If I could find another pair or two (size 7 or 7.5/37 or 38), I'd get them in a heartbeat. (I gave my second pair away when we downsized in Seattle. What was I thinking?!)

Some little boys shout at us Bule, Bule! and laugh and run around us (= Western foreigner). Not the most polite, but hilarious enthusiasm. We get the chance to greet a lot of people, who ask how long we've lived here. We can understand so much more culture and language - that comprehension takes time, which can't happen on a short volunteer trip with a group.

One of our stops is La Belle, a Dutch-style bakery with a long history in Bandung. Our first month here (2015), we were caught in a fierce rainstorm across the street from La Belle. Soaked, we sought shelter - and tried their risole with a green hot chili in the middle. The mashed potato inside, crumbs on the outside, and hot spice are a perfect combination.

Who's that? Our dear friend Dr Gati is also at the counter. She insists on treating us with croquettes and risoles for "welcome home." We've missed the flavors of Indonesia! So yummy - but seeing her is the best present.

We catch an angkot (tiny public bus) back up; looks like rain. On board, we meet four civil engineering students. They're coming up from the city with hands full of gifts for friends who are graduating from the university today. We invite them to join a movie night before they graduate in July.

And sure enough, just before we hop out to walk 1.5 miles up the hill to home, it starts to pour. We change plans and scramble out to transfer busses. Or should we take a Grab? The driver cancels. Standing under an overhang, our shoes and trousers are getting wet from splash-up.

We finally hop another angkot to find a better shelter to wait for a ride. If we continue up the hill with the angkot, we'll still have a 1 km walk across the hill to the house. Maybe not the best plan.

Quickly, W downloads a taxi app - thanks, Blue Bird! The driver is friendly and courteous. He takes us right to the gate and even opens my door for me. We run to unlock - slip into the house for hot showers. (W powers up the pumps; we often don't have enough pressure for hot water, but today we're in luck.)

A few minutes later, the sun comes out, the porch and yard dry up, and ... wow. Welcome home indeed. I look out at the border, which is thriving. Indonesians have lots of potted plants - the visual clutter of plastic pots is ignored and the leaves and flowers enjoyed. (It takes some getting used to - just like ignoring the electrical extension cords that string from lamps and appliances to a single outlet in a room.) We ended up with about 50 pots on our porch from friends and by dividing plants, but needed more room for company.

What to do? A few months ago, the weekly gardener reluctantly and with some protest hacked back the green a few feet from the house and transplanted the plants into the ground. The plants have flourished and the flowers self-seeded into pink abundance.

"Ibu, indah!" he says to me. ("Looks beautiful." He's proud of his work. I think, just wait a few months until it's really established.)

"Put a stick into the ground and it will grow," say Indonesians. It's almost true.

Read more:
*So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

*Silver and gold cannot save on the day of the wrath of the Lord. Ezekiel 7:19
*Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Matthew 25:45
*Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:22-26
*[Jesus told his followers,] Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. John 14:27
*For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Moravian Prayer: Architect of generosity, show us (and show us again!) how we will find fullness of life through the sharing of our bounty! Give us courage to follow the example of the ‘least of these,’ whose cup never runs dry. Amen.

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