Sunday, July 29, 2018

Hellos and goodbye

The sun shines through a restaurant window, making its own rainbows.

Thursday, July 26, 2018
After a walk and breakfast, the women's study meets for the last time on our porch. We're handing it back to Claudia, who returns from Brazil on Sunday (hurrah!)

--From the study:
It's wonderful to explore what Jesus is doing in scripture and continues to do today.

In John 5, Jesus asks a disabled man, "Do you want to be healed?"

I've always found that questions fascinating. The tendency is to snap off: "Of COURSE! he wants to be healed." But as we discuss, we agree that the man must decide to adopt a new identity if he is no longer ill. He will have to work rather than beg. He will not have "special" (noticeable) status or distinction from those around - he'll just be like everyone else ... 

and so it's a good question. It's also one that Jesus continues to ask. He offers us grace, freedom from the sins of the past, healing of body, soul and spirit.

But what if, when we are praying for his help, he stops to ask you - or me,

Some of us prefer to hang on to our broken identities, our revenge, or our familiar ways of functioning in relationships. So, though God wants to heal us, we stay where we are - safe and sick and unhappy.

Take a few minutes to listen as Christ asks you: "Do you want to be healed?"

In the evening, a bunch of us study Joshua 11. W leads the discussion of now-and-not-yet, of battles won and still to come, and of our trust in God in the middle of settling into God's plans.

W and I have breakfast where his Friday study usually meets. Today, we are the only ones (had a heads up, but it gets us out of the house and talking through upcoming opportunities.) No one ever is alone in the neighborhoods - streams of young people, kids, and adults walk together.

W has lunch but I'm not yet hungry. After, we head over to Terry's house to see his progress on wrapping up life in Bandung. He's almost done - the house is clean, empty, and there are just a few things to do. It's bittersweet for us - we've enjoyed his leadership these years in Bandung and will miss him and Sandy so much.

From there, we drop into Café Oz for book group. W grabs some meat pies for supper and heads back home while the women and I discuss our book.

Manju hosts the women's book group while DrHanna leads the discussion with some questions. Today, we're studying Being Wrong, a book each one had trouble finishing. There are so many studies, examples, and quotes that we get snarled in a thicket of research. But we have a lot of back and forth about what it means to "be right" or "be wrong" and if that's even possible.
I get a call, which Dr Hanna kindly interprets - Cocoa is on her way to the house. And indeed, when we get to our neighborhood, W takes Gypsy (our yard dog for a walk). The transporter follows us into our neighborhood and brings out this beautiful creature.

Cocoa runs around the yard, smelling this and that. We go for a walk to stretch her legs after her 3-day trip. I've forgotten what a people-magnet poodles are! Kids, teens, and adults stop and smile. "Anjing lucu!" we hear over and over (=cute dog!) And a few exclaim, "Bonika!" which means a doll or stuffed toy.

When I take Cocoa into the house, Gypsy can come back into the yard. Each time Cocoa goes out in the evening, W takes Gypsy for a walk in the neighborhood. They'll meet tomorrow, after they're familiar with each others' smells. Meanwhile, the LR is improved by the poodle, don't you think?

Groan. We took Cocoa and Gypsy out and around a few times at night, not knowing if Cocoa can wait until morning. She patiently lies in her crate from 4:30-6:30am, after wandering around the room  earlier to find her perfect spot.

"This is why we don't do puppies," I say to W as we head out before 7am. Judy kindly lets us use her fenced yard for the dogs to meet. W takes the long way around the block while I head straight to Judy's.

We're stopped several times along the way as people want to know what kind of dog she is, if she's ours, and if she's very expensive. ("She's a blessing and a gift from a friend," we reply to ward off potential dognappers.) "Ah, so beautiful!" Yes she is.

Cocoa bounces around the yard and then waits nearby. Gypsy goes wild when he is let off his leash. He dashes past her, inviting her to play and run. She's not sure - she has the cautious nature of my other poodles. Eventually he gets settled down enough to sniff around and we walk back to the house together. She comes in; he stays outside.

Before noon, we walk down the hill to a coffee shop with both animals. What you can't see is the fireman sitting in the back of the firetruck. He waves traffic to stop as the truck approaches, sirens wailing. Then he waves from his window for traffic to continue after they pass. Sirens alone make little impact. Indonesians are watching for movement rather than listening for another sound in the chaos of traffic noise.

We get stopped a lot - most people have never seen a standard poodle.

They do fine, even with all the attention and exclamations. Both are great on the leash. When we get home, they're free to hang out together. One chooses one end of the porch; the other sprawls on the other side. W has a quick nap as well.

Then W and I get to work - we're presenting an online talk together later this weekend.

BIC is having a community potluck for Pastor Terry's farewell talk. W and I get up early and walk the dogs. (I think this may be slimming.)

I make a huge pot of pasta before leading service at 9. We send a few cards around for people to sign and send their love to Sandy, who has stayed behind in Canada. It is truly a wrenching farewell for us, losing our friend. He says a fine and encouraging goodbye. He is commissioned by the church's leadership team, to preach and teach in Canada. And then we gather around to pray for him.

Last Sunday, I sat behind him and sketched my goodbye. (The angle of the photo is skewed so this is more rounded). We won't forget this fine man, intent on hearing from and speaking for God on our behalf.

Lunch is delicious: lots of noodles, rice, sweets. A big bucket of ice cream draws me back twice. "Wow, you must like chocolate ice-cream," says a little girl, looking at my bowl. Yes, yes, I do.

Andrea drops by in the afternoon - but we are so full of food that we don't bother with tea or cookies. That rarely happens! We share some cold water instead.

Monday is always a long and satisfying day. This morning, a conference is cancelled as our friend is doing other things.

Good timing. W and I are live on Facebook. Pursuit Church Live has asked us to speak on a movie theme, so we choose our last movie night film, Queen of Katwe. The time shift means they're getting the feed Sunday at 5; we're speaking Monday morning at 7. I have my mug of tea in hand.

It's no biggie for me to be alert because of my usual 7:00 conference call. But W exclaims that we've already had an "event" with more to come later in the day. Yes, Monday starts early, but it feels like a rewarding day as we meet with studies and our team.

For all the ways you love us, God, we thank you. 
For all the ways you comfort us when we have to say goodbye, thank you.
Today, we accept the new provisions and the future from your hand 
With gratitude and trust. Amen

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Waiting (for water)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
I had to pause, writing the year above. I'm editing a book with a lot of references from 2002-2006. And when I look up, all of a sudden a decade has gone by.

Much of the morning, messages are going back and forth on Whats App (the free app for calls, messages and photos popular in Asia and elsewhere.) Lizzie, W, I, and the Pet Taxi confirm that today our new dog starts her journey from eastern Indonesia to Bandung.

"Very professional service," Lizzie writes us, with a wrench in her heart as the van pulls away from her place.

And just like that,, Cocoa, the 6-yr-old Standard Poodle, is on her way to us. She's scheduled to arrive Friday. You wouldn't think Indonesia is that big. Depending on traffic, it can take 3 days or more to drive across Java (the main "horizontal" island where we live). Plus, there are 17,000-ish islands in all. So - it can take a while to get from A to B.

Lizzie sends me a final picture from her house. She's a poodle breeder; Cocoa has done her part having puppies for the kennel. Lizzie says she's ours, to give her a good life and big yard. Her clip this morning is cute!

Last week, we met Lizzie and her dog between conference sessions. I haven't had a poodle since Seattle. Last year, sure that we're staying, I started to keep my eyes open. Most poodles here are little dogs, expensive, and not sound. Plus, orange ("red") and apricot dogs are the rage in Indonesia. (I don't like either color.) Cocoa happens to be chocolate brown. We're not inclined to train a puppy, so this sounds like a perfect match. Even W is happy about it.

Today is our date day - but after work in the morning, we catch a quick lunch. We are both back at work by afternoon.

In the evening, Scott and Sarah bring pizza for the teens who show up for Youth Alpha. Upstairs, in the house or on the roof, something has died. It stinks too badly to hang out in the youth room.

So they take the nook apart, put the picnic table on the porch, and have fun. They watch a movie and afterward, we can hear them laughing and discussing it. I'm in PJs by 9:00 when W says goodbye and they put the furniture back.

It's a working day. Casey goes home when his family comes back before noon. The animals have one final romp around the yard; then the house and yard are quiet.

We had no water in our neighborhood yesterday. That's not unusual. We've had entire days with nothing coming up the hill. The city is rationing water (or something).

When we do get water, there's rarely any until mid-morning. It comes on for a few hours to fill the reservoir tank. Of course, that makes it hard to do laundry. The garden is dry and the lawn (not grass but some other green leaf) is turning brown. Today there's water part of the day and we fill several basins so we can take a shower later.

Most mornings, we use a little portable heater to heat water collected in the basin the day before. We toss little bucketfuls over ourselves to rinse soap off. I have a hard time taking a cold shower ... but with no water coming out of the taps, any water is a luxury.

W sorts online books and helps me get ready for the next classes. He's off to a meeting in the evening while I wrap up coursework.

We planted the miniature ornamental corn I brought 3 years ago - and it sprouted. I see that some of the shucks of corn are turning brown. When I pick two little cobs, they're tiny but ripe. I cook both for supper. It's a few mouthfuls so I have to come up with plan B as well.

Read more:
*God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

*May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him. Psalm 67:5-7
*Turn back to the Lord whom you have deeply betrayed. Isaiah 31:6
*In the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12
*Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking. Revelation 3:20
Moravian Prayer: God of the lost, we know that no matter how far we stray from you, you will always seek us out. Thank you for your persistent love, mercy and grace, even when we lose our way.
Creator God—we come to you amazed by the intricacies and interconnectedness of all that you have made. We are all made in your image, and we pray that you help us to be good stewards and servants, remembering that all comes from you. Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Of animals and people - lots of them

Monday, July 16, 2018
It's an early start to the work week, with a phone call before the regular 7am meeting. Then we study scriptures with friends on the teras and eat lunch as a team.

In the early afternoon, we put a tall glass bowl on a piece of wood. It's not just any glass and wood - it's a specialty of Bali craftsmen: wet wood roots are planed on one side, which becomes the base. Hot glass is poured and blown over the top of the stump or roots. The customized pair can be used as a vase, pitcher, or other display.

We filled our with water and put the fish and plants from our old jar into the 2' bowl.
It is striking, something I thought about since I saw the first glass bowl a few years ago.

Later, Kiki and Veronica drop by for some kombucha and a chat. She's off to Australia for a few months, to help her mom recover from surgery. We'll miss her a lot. Life as a foreigner means saying many hellos and goodbyes.

DrW and I walk to the dressmaker's at 7am. Both of us take the fabric sitting on our shelves: Ibu Kruni will whip it into a blouse or skirt for $10-20 each.

On the way home, we have to stop while 2 young men muscle a cabinet out of a building that's being remodeled. EEEEE - hope they don't drop it! One stands on a stool, the other catches from below the wardrobe. In a few minutes, they're done. No one has been crushed, the lane is clear again, and we walk home.

The women's study is lovely - I really enjoy the ladies and their discussions.

In the evening, we make a presentation around a table ... but first, we share delicious Chinese food.

The servers stand beside us to cut a roasted duck. First, the skin is removed for one dish, and then the meat is cut into 1/4" pieces for lettuce wraps. SOOOO delicious.

The gourami is a work of art, too Thanks, Pak D for the good meal.

And the avocado-cocoa mousse? Maybe my favorite.

Friends are sharing ways to serve our communities. It feels like an exciting start of a new season.

In the late afternoon, DrH and Alice invite us over to celebrate Jenni, an Australian teacher learning Indonesian. Jenni's headed home in a month or two. The company is great. Since Alice is cooking, the food is tasty (as usual). Tomato bisque and a "rendang" salad.

I don't sleep well. There's a lot on my mind. I'm up-and-at-em by 5:30.

After a 6am meeting online and another breakfast meeting at 7:30 nearby, participants start arriving for the study on our porch. We enjoy exploring scripture as usual. At noon, our team meets. After devotions, we head down the hill to talk over rice and noodles at a small shop. We're back by about 2 - and I need a nap.

Casey, our friend's dog, loves to do headstands. She's here for a week and romps around the yard with Gypsy.

Our dog loves the company and steals Casey's stuffed animal whenever he can. He looks innocent though.

Before 5, we get a ride to dinner and church blessing - the pastor of 26 years is becoming the pastor emeritus of the church and going off to study for a while. There are many flower arrangements around the church entry.

Dinner is good Indonesian food. 

After we finish eating and chatting, W and I are asked to join a procession into the chapel. For what? Regardless, we end up sitting in the front rows.

Pak Henry's wife (Ibu Lily) is a beauty. I also appreciate that she's becoming a friend.

We try to stay in the background for pictures afterwards. No luck. We are pushed into the middle of the photo. No one told us the dress code for pastors is apparently a black suit. So we foreigners stand out even more in our batik... 

A bonus after the event is a hug from Pauline. Well, two hugs or more - one from Josie (another friend and former tutor who in in Norway at the moment). At least Josie's mom is there, too.

Read more:
*The Lord said to Isaac, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” Genesis 26:4

*Manny will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11

Moravian Prayer: God of our ancestors, we are grateful for the blessings upon blessings that you bestowed upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and also upon us. Thank you for the promise of your unending faithfulness. Amen.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

God and gods

Friday, July 13, 2018
We sit in traffic for hours but finally make it to the Airbnb. We hear many languages: there are tourists everywhere -  from Europe, Indonesia, and all over Asia. There are American visitors, too.

You can buy gods of many kinds along the streets. In front of our hotel, there's a collection of Hindu parade gear and ceremonial things. Gilded musical instruments, statues, costumes. It's fascinating.

You have to watch your feet as you walk along. That's a 3'X2' hole in the sidewalk, and you'll fall 2' until you hit the ground underneath.

We have breakfast at a restaurant that backs onto a rice paddy. We dangle our feet off the edge and watch the ducks parade back and forth along the fields.

It's a vegetarian and vegan place. I have cashew cream over porridge.

Waldemar has a tempe scramble. I'm more impressed than he is.

Beautiful flowers are for sale as we walk along ... or you might find them growing in your yard. 

Everywhere you look up from the sidewalk, there are temples, gateways with statues inside, and evidence of the integration of religion into everyday life.

Lunch is at a restaurant famous to locals: the mango juice and fresh coconut juice are refreshing.

The sink is totally weird. We wash our hands anyway.

Every corner has so much beauty that we can hardly take it in. The tropical heat and humidity produce moss on every stone and concrete surface.

Around a corner, a fence post overlooking the jungle has a crown on it.

As we walk back to the hotel, I take one more picture of a gateway. Bali is full of them.

It's a long day. I have mango yoghurt, organic lettuce leaves, and part of a package of salted cashews from yesterday's run to the grocer. W is not interested, but I make lettuce wraps for a delicious breakfast.

W always makes sure we arrive on time, so we start for the airport at 8:30 for our 1:30 flight.  When we drive from Ubud to Kuta airport, we pass a huge Rama and Monkey Warriors installation in a roundabout. We're at the airport about 11.

We come home after an uneventful flight. As usual when we open the car door, the dog jumps all over us, brings a leaf in his mouth, and is happy to sit to be petted. He's guarded the place since we left and continues on night patrol when we're back.

Last week's conference is now a memory. It's back to regular work. This week,  I'm prepping to teach a class in a few weeks. That's got to come into sharp focus.

Read more:
*Surely God’s salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Psalm 85:9
*Lord, you silence the song of the ruthless. Isaiah 25:5
*The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18
*The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
*If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him. 1 John 2:29
Moravian Prayer: God of all things—help us to wait on you in faith that, in time, all will feel the blessings of your truth and justice. Help us to seek you for daily guidance.
Great Protector—thank you for keeping us safe from harm as a hen protects her chicks. How good it is to be kept safe, nestled in your care. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Island life, mixing work and rest

Saturday, July 7, 2018
We get stopped at a railroad crossing, but ahead of us a fuel tanker sits on the track as the barrier comes down. Traffic in front of him is stopped.

"Move it!" we say hopefully, from inside our car. He makes it out of harm's way just before the train comes a minute or two later. Whew.

We buy a hand mixer at the kitchen wholesaler to replace the one the helper burned out last year. She's been beating everything by hand, but her arthritis is getting worse so we get another.

"This is the last one," I warn. "If you put hard butter into the bowl and burn out the motor, I'm not replacing it." She seems to understand.

We are on a flight to Bali. Sounds romantic? Of course. But first, we watch as the wing of an airplane goes over our heads. The plane is taxiing to the runway and we have to wait for it to pass so we can walk across to our own airplane.

Truthfully, we're on the island for work. But the setting is stunning. All around us are flowers, gardens, Hindu statues and temples (unlike Muslim turrets and mosques where we live), and the beach.

Several times, I feel almost overcome by the enormity of God's love and faithfulness to the good and the wicked. Everyone may enjoy the beauty and abundance of his deep blue oceans and their sandy shores. I'm wonder as we walk the shoreline, "If any of us were God, would we let anyone but our friends and family explore our world?" Thankfully, we are not gods but created beings ... and our Creator God is very generous to us!

On of the things I've missed in Indonesia is my poodles. (We adopted adult poodles from breeders in the USA over the years, but had to give that up to come here.) I've heard about excellent breeders in Bali. I contact one and she sends me a questionnaire. And then an invitation to meet her.

The taxi driver refuses to go the way we were instructed and ends up in a lane so narrow he has to pull in his side mirrors. He just misses scraping the sides of his vehicle. We hear the story later: someone got angry with the neighbor and erected a dividing wall down the middle of the street. 

Never mind the dogs: Lizzie herself is beautiful at 71. In our interview, she determines that we are a good home. We know about grooming, the temperament, and high-energy of the breed. She says, "Once you've had a poodle, nothing else will do." True.

She gives us a dog she is retiring - Cocoa, a stunning chocolate Standard Poodle. I am initially worried that W will say no, but Cocoa likes him right away. (I'm ignored.) She bounces, prances, climbs the gate into the puppy pen, and owns the yard.

W smiles and says yes. He makes arrangements for her arrival at our house in 2 weeks. Gypsy will love his new playmate, too.

We walk back along the beach for about 5 miles. Kites soar above our heads. The tourists are baking in the sun while the locals bundle up with long sleeves, hats, and trousers to avoid it. In contrast to the Australians in bikinis, the Indonesian Muslim girls are fully dressed. Both happily take selfies and splash in the water.

 I'm amazed by the silvery sand patterns as the waves wash back out to sea.

Our feet are tired. We sit on a hotel lounger to watch the sun set before heading in. An older lady comes by and asks if I'd like a foot massage for $5 (1/2 hour). 

"$5?!" Sure. We talk about our kids and grandkids, about working and living together as families, and about God's care for us.

When we get back into the hotel, the maid has a surprise for us. I left my sunglasses on the counter, and she's wrapped them around a towel shaped like an elephant. It makes us laugh. 

In the evening after work, we stroll along a tourist street. I get a scoop each of pistachio and mango gelato. It is delicious. Across the street is a surf shop. Of course. This is Bali.

W has to top up our phone so we have internet. The local 7-11 has shelves of cut fresh fruit. Yum! Some restaurants even have vegan and vegetarian offerings to please the tourists. It's so different from where we live.

Along the road, a man taps a dome-like bell. Sweet sounds fill the air.
Most restaurants and shops have a shrine with food or flowers and a statue. These sit mute and still. (Only our God watches, speaks, and interacts with his creation.)
We've learned so much this week and had sweet conversations with fellow non-profit workers. After a morning walk on the beach, W and I take John and Ryan for lunch. It's John's 40-something birthday and no one should spend that alone, right?

Then we drive 1 1/2 hours north. (We've added 2 nights as a mini-break before we head home.) With negotiations between the driver's "known way" - which is at a traffic standstill - and W's Waze app, it takes us 3 hours.

It is utterly pouring when we arrive. We hop out of the taxi just as someone comes by with raincoats for sale. We grab two for $3, shrug our damp bodies into them, and run for the reception desk, dragging sopping wet luggage. It costs $20/night for us to stay here, but it truly feels like we have a few days off.

There are 28 steps to our room at the Airbnb. We lock the door; simple but effective. We hope.

Below our window, the water is overflowing the pool in the courtyard, the skies are angry grey, and we have to stay in until the downpour stops. (The photo improves on the real thing: the coconut tree framing the foreground makes it look amazing, right?)

Inside, the shower pan is cut into the floor, with loose gravel spread in the basin. I hope the stones have been sprayed with bleach; otherwise, there's a lot of area for foot bacteria.

 Every house and yard seems to have a Hindu-style entry with statues inside and out.

We talk to an Australian couple sitting near us at dinner. Then it's back to the room. We're tired. W's asleep by 8pm.

Read more:
*I made the earth, and created humankind upon it. Isaiah 45:12
*The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
All in the crowd were trying to touch Jesus, for power came out from him. Luke 6:19
*God is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27
*But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:13-16 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Loving Creator—you made us to be in relationship with you. Help us to be ever mindful of your presence in us and in all of creation around us. 
Spirit of wisdom, our hearts are grateful that you are in control. We ask that in your divine justice and mercy, you guide our steps into the way of your peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.