Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bold beginnings to the week

Saturday, April 27, 2019
It's Community Dinner night, which we love! Over 30 people show up for a delicious meal and time together. W and I integrate the topic and a game activity (resourcing your time). Our game pieces are round colored candies - yum.

Josh and Clau have brought games as centerpieces, so when we leave after 8, the games are just beginning. It's so much fun - and so great to have a big family that loves to hang out together.

We're at the Gathering site by 7:30, along with a bunch of volunteers. Today Clau speaks on the book of Ruth (way to go!) and someone is baptized. Her friends pray blessings over her. Of course, then it's time for a long visit around the Community Table.
We eat lunch with a friend at the restaurant across from the Gathering. (See the white buildings in the background?)

It's so pretty that it feels like being on a tropic holiday - oh wait, I get to live and work here. How blessed I feel! (For me, no tulip field erupting after the long rainy winter in the NW will ever compare to this ongoing beauty and warmth, week by week. "Thanks, God. You know me so well.")
I nap for an hour before we head downtown for a chamber music concert. It's W's first classical concert in Bandung. Afterward, some friends pose with the composer-in-residence. She wrote a song about harmony with a Sunda motif.
Benjamin Britten's Fantasie Quartet #2 is my favorite piece. I gravitate toward contemporary and modern art and music.

Since it's a song for the imagination = a "fantasy", the musicians encourage us to relax and visualize the music. It comes alive for me as one day in my life as a 30-something mom ... with 4 kids and a 3-job husband. The music dances and pushes forward full of dissonance, recombinations. Britten reimagines the violin, viola, and cello by knocking, plucking, tapping, bowing the instruments.

In the music, I hear W leaving for work early in the morning before the kids get up. They're coming to meals - talking talking, arguing, and working together. I feel the 101 things that have to be organized in a homeschool family. I'm herding the kids into the car, dealing with freeway traffic and carpools. W walks back in during the evening with his hands and head full of to-dos. And finally the family comes to rest: the kids go to bed, I finish my chores, and W puts down his work papers. The house is a mess but it's late at night ...

... and the composition is over. I doubt that's what 17-yr-old Britten had in mind when he wrote the Fantasie, but that's what I felt in the music.

I'll have to listen to it again - my empathy on the ride home is with mothers/house-fathers with a houseful of small kids. I haven't forgotten the jagged pace, the pieces we juggle, the traffic, the activities and noise, and esp. the fragments and dissonance that resolve into occasional bliss and harmony. I especially remember the love and energy needed to cover it all.

Of course I can't fall asleep right away. It's way after midnight when I turn off the light and listen to the devotional reading on my phone.

At 6, W and I take the dogs for a walk before one of my favorite times of week: a call with a mentoring peer. LOVE and feel renewed by our time. As always, thanks K.

By 9:30, the study group has gathered on the porch with pots of tea, cookies, conversation, and scripture... and the week is off and running.

Read more:
*See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god beside me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39
*Jesus said, “I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 
But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible. Matthew 19:24-26
*Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21
Moravian Prayer: Heavenly One, there can only be one god. It is you. Help us to shed the baggage of our pride and independent ways, so that holding no hand but yours, we might slip effortlessly through the eye of that needle. 
Help us to remember that we cannot be saved by the good works we do - the cost is too high and the gap too wide between a Perfect Creator and fallen creatures  We thank you for the price you paid to bridge the gap between us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

April means Easter

The weeks before Easter are non-stop.  After returning from the States, I am without Waldemar's help or an admin for 2 weeks. That is a crunch!

Waldemar is in the USA for 2 extra weeks. He comes back just in time to change suitcases, speak on Sunday, and then flies out to teach a week of seminary in Malang (2 hr flight). His trip is a day shorter than expected: he can't get a flight back on the Easter weekend - so classes last longer each day. But he's home a day early, which gives him an extra day of rest. or it would, if he'd rest).

Tuesday, while W is away teaching, a group of volunteers shows up at BIC. We clear Christmas ornaments, old children's items, and other clutter from backstage of the auditorium.

Besides gaining a classroom, we clean the sound booth and organize music binders and instruments into a side closet. It's a big job - but Della provides a delicious boxed lunch. We all work together to make the space sparkle. (On Easter, we use the space backstage for one of the Experience Easter stations ... good timing, thanks everyone!)
In-between somewhere, I've written a Holy Week devotional booklet. Nicole (Children's Director) has a friend who prints it, posters, and other pages. On Palm Sunday, we pass out the booklets for people to engage in Holy Week. A few mention how much they enjoy the activities in the booklets, reading and thinking about what Jesus has done. Cool. Me too.

Easter Sunday 2019
On Easter, morning, W and I are at the international church before 7. Many other volunteers arrive shortly after we do. Our young adults group, the special Easter volunteers, arrive by 8. Everything is in place, thanks to Nicole's hard work.

W and I speak at our regular gathering at 9, before dividing into 4 groups at 10. Each group, accompanied by 2 volunteer guides, takes the next hour to go through four Experience Easter stations.
The stations are Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Cross, and the Resurrection. It makes the Story come alive for us all - it's especially good that families get to go through together. The kids enjoy the "disappearing paper" at one station. The volunteers are awesome - they make it enjoyable for all.
And then we eat together - everyone brings food to share, and everyone is full when we're done.

The routines resume. Monday morning, after walking the dogs, I lay down on my bed for a brief nap before the study ... and fall fast asleep. Good thing Waldemar is leading the study - I wake with my alarm just before our lunch appointment.

Our new office admin is getting used to us and new routines. He knows where a lot of things are - before W returns, Sanny and I clean out the rest of storage. Once W comes back, his computer gets hooked up, and I pass on things that landed on my desk before Easter.
All week, I go into the office to debrief Easter and clear up - I like to wrap up completely and plan the next year. Then for about a week, I take hours alone to rest. After a big push and lots of detail work (like this Easter), my mind needs to recover.

"When do you take a break?" people often ask. Just like this. I go go go and then rest rest rest. I know when I'm done resting when my energy is back and I'm ready for the next thing.

W and I have breakfast at Pino Terrace for Rp15,000 a few mornings, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. The governor of the province is having breakfast there one morning - and poses for pictures after asking what we're doing in Bandung.
I'm bemused as I watch the lawn being swept with a long straw broom - every day the trees drop leaves and needles, so someone will sleep them into a pile and take them away.

We go for our first walk in months - in the hills of Lembang. It's beautiful and refreshing.
Our destination at the end of the 8 km (5 mile) hike is the Orchid Forest - where all kinds of national orchids are tied to trees. Beautiful.
 The steps down are not exactly even in width or height. The rough boards are laid on top of rough risers. We do 30 flights of stairs on this walk (one way, up - not up and down).

The army is out in force - lots of trucks are parked nearby. Maybe they're somewhere in the forest, training?Someone has carved a stump into an ocean sculpture. And the chessmen are 3' high wayang puppet figures. 

Lunch halfway back to home is good: a self-serve Indonesian buffet. It's cooked but served at room temperature, as usual. The corner where the dishes sit is dark, so I don't know what I'm looking at for most of it. At least it's near the kitchen. Most of the food is brown or golden from frying. No wonder my cholesterol is getting higher!

We have a Community Dinner again tonight - but W has to go down the hill first to courier our passports to Jakarta. We have a visa run coming up again; someone misplaced part of our paperwork so we have a time crunch for renewal, which means a mandatory trip to Singapore soon.

Tonight, W is speaking about the wise use of resources, including money, well. I customize a game board which also serves as decor (placemats.) The game pieces are little colored candy balls. We can eat them once we're done!

Read more:
*Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”   The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Psalm 96:7-10  NIV

*Satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Psalm 90:14

*The Lord says, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good.” Isaiah 55:2
*Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal. John 6:27
*Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3
Moravian Prayer: Dear God, when we consider Jesus, we see one who nourishes us, leads us, and fits us for service in your name. We will never be hungry when we follow him. 
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who is our lamb, and who has conquered. Let us follow Him. Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Well then, dive right back in!

Friday, April 5, 2019
The office is clean, my Sunday talk is written and presented to the team. I'm catching my breath. What a productive and hard-working week it's been. 

My mind is trying to use Indonesian again - and bahasa Indonesia is nothing like English. Here's an example: 
Friday, March 29
It's my first day home. Last night, I arrived at 8pm and fell into bed at 9:30 after unpacking. I carry the suitcases upstairs. I'm SO happy to be home.

A resignation email from our office assistant was in our inbox yesterday when I landed in Taiwan: his last day is Sunday. He has been a supportive and creative bridge during our landing at BIC. Since he feels called to other things, we wish him well. He says he "doesn't come in Friday," so we schedule his exit interview for Monday. 

I go into the office and write an administrative assistant job description for the next person, including "give a months' notice" into the expectations. I finish writing BIC e-news for next month and schedule it for Monday morning.

Friends pick me up from the office for a late birthday lunch. We go to MyStar, one of the best Chinese places in town - and eat until we are almost bursting. WuJin and Dony are so sweet to think of me - and they're fun company! They're like our kids - Dony owns an English-speaking school and WuJin is a Mandarin teacher studying with him.
In the evening, our group hosts a Community Dinner. Della has cooked - and it's yummy.
Josh's talk is about the distraction of social media and what makes a good life. (Hint: being on your phone 24-7 is not it!) Our evening challenge is "don't look at your phone the first two times it buzzes with a message." (I immediately fail the challenge.)
The table activity is making a poster about FOMO (the fear of missing out). Here's our poster: we had a few graphic artists at the table. Can you tell?
The end to the evening is another lovely surprise - a birthday cake and a loud rendition of "Happy Birthday." Love it. As I age, I'm more appreciative of others' efforts and less modest about celebrating being alive. We cram together for a picture.
I walk the dogs and get to the auditorium early. It's my turn for the morning talk at BIC - about a man who starts out fearful and a "nobody" and yet becomes brave and the leader of his people. (Gideon, from Judges 6-8. What a great story - read it here for yourself!)

We have lunch with friends who are working on a massive community project = inspiring, to say the least. I'm feeling jetlagged by evening and fall into bed happy.

After the morning study, I head to the office for the assistant's exit interview. It makes me smile when someone follows their dream - and that's what's happening with him. He hands over passwords, answers questions about procedures, and give me a thumb drive with his weekly templates. I will certainly have more questions in the week ahead, but it's an amicable and warm start to his disengagement.

Lunch is with the IES team. Only 3 of 5 can make it to Miss Bee's but the food and the company - with 2 family members added - are good. I've left my money at home; a quick raid of my desk - whew, there's just enough to cover my lunch. (And no more money in my stash. Oh oh.)

It's back to the office to catch up - and begin office chores. This week, I spend more time on WhatsApp and on the phone than I have in months, arranging next weekend's gathering.

After a few hours in the office, it's 10:30, time to meet the Bandung Book Group at Miss Bee. We're in fine form, catching up, celebrating four March birthdays (including mine), and just happy to see each other. I order a salad - I'll have lunch in a few hours.
Before lunch, our house helpers come into the office and clean up for a few hours. We wipe down and move bookshelves, wash windows, toss garbage, and sweep away years of dead beasties including dust bunnies.

The second wonderful meal at 1:00 is at Maxis. I'm still full. The mushroom soup and chicken is delicious though. And my friend sits across the table from me ... how I love and appreciate this neighbor. She's smart, funny, and kind - and my mentor in all things Indonesian.

The property manager is repainting the office storage room: a leak last fall was quickly repaired but mold takes hold in this tropical climate. Luckily, I don't have allergies.
He and a worker take everything from our storage and put it in a nearby classroom. "You have things from the 1980s!" he exclaims. I know. (And we're not putting it all back without sorting it.)

I promised the children's leader a 6-page family devotional for the week before Easter. That's my first priority when I get to work. Off it goes. Isn't email amazing?!

I also write a review for an excellent book by Janet Creps. I set it on my resource shelf for people who are discouraged when life doesn't turn out the way they thought it would. For those who work hard and never seem to get anywhere. And for those who just want encouragement. It was a delight to read.

The helper comes back to the office with me - she finishes clean-up. Oh my, the windows are sparkling and the floor is clean. Soon we've emptied shelves and drawers. We put things back, but there are open spaces now (and 6 empty drawers.) Office supplies, paper, and electronics are grouped. 

Every surface shines. I'm leaving the admin's desk for him or her; my part of the room is almost done.
I don't work well in chaos. My head is always busy and full. An orderly space lets me sort surges of information. The office is reconfigured, my desk is organized, and my calendar is set for the next week or two. The worker from property management is hard at work in the storage room. Fine!

Aska drops by to ask if he can help. "Oh yes! Thank you." 

He helps set up the auditorium for Sunday and looks at the area we plan to clear and clean on Tuesday. (The musicians and production volunteers will have a great space for their gear when we're though.)
I shoot a short announcement video and I'm done. 4:00 is here before I know it. WEEKEND!
How I love the Gathering! We celebrate Communion together on Family Day, the first week of the month when all of BIC is together. Kids spend the day with us. Nicole prepares an activity for them and does an object lesson. 
Then we have community time, eating delicious snacks from Ibu Tuti and Pei Pei - and others who pitch in ...

Read more:
*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

*Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117

*Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. Ecclesiastes 5:10
*Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:33-34
*If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Moravian Prayer: God, you are enough. Let us not seek after money or wealth that will never satisfy; instead let us focus on your treasures of faith, hope, and love that will never be destroyed. Amen.