Saturday, November 30, 2019

Turkey dinner and chicken pox

Thursday, November 28, 2019 HAPPY USA THANKSGIVING
After packing, we toss everything in the car. We're making an early morning visit to friends with Dr.H, who is an able translator. Traffic takes long enough that we don't even have time for tea, though it's offered. We love these friends and pray with them before leaving.

Pak Gum drops us off at the train statin. We have everything along to spend the day in Jakarta. We have fresh-baked cookies and bread in the bag, too.

There's always lots to see from the train windows. There's everything you can imagine on the roof-tops, to keep them from blowing away in the wind and rainstorms We see tires, tiles, rocks, metal motor parts, etc.
 Railroad workers are digging out the new rails with pick and shovel.
Here's another burn of garbage - someone rakes together leaves and trash and lights it on fire. And then they leave.
A fishing hole is set up for men's companionship and gambling (on fish caught, size, type, etc.)
Wow - those are long bamboo poles with home TV antennae perched on top.
 We cross slow and fast-moving rivers between overgrown banks.
Suddenly there are stairs to nowhere, in the middle of the jungle.
We like the train because it's usually on time - and we can calculate our arrival. When we get into Jakarta, we take a cab a few miles (1 hour). We stand on the street but can't flag a cab - until we go back inside the station gates ... and find all of them!

Our driver is a musician with connections, or so he says. I hand over my brother's contact info. Maybe they can plan some music here in Indonesia.

We get a tour of our friends' new quarters. An auditorium, classrooms, and offices are in the works. Snce I like spaces, I'm happy to take a look around. I am fascinated by the architectural imagination of cities. This nearby building has one balcony in three offset, creating an interesting facade.
There are mosques everywhere. Since we've lived here, we've noticed more being built all the time.
We hop in the car about 4. It takes us 2.5 hours to drive the 7 miles to our friend's house. The next day, we hear that Indonesia's President is caught in the same traffic jams. "This is why I intend to move the national government to another island," he says in the next day's news.

Indonesia is a strange mix of modernity and the past. Even when things are built new, they are not maintained well. The sidewalks cave in or heave around tree roots, the curbs disintegrate, and potholes on side streets get bigger and bigger.
Gigi's a true hostess who makes us all comfortable. She's spread a feast on tables around the kitchen, a buffet of "best foods." The turkey, ham, duck, roast, and rendang are all delicious. There are side dishes and sweet cakes and desserts afterward. We are celebrating 3 birthdays, as well as Thanksgiving.

The house resounds with laughter and stories.
Man, I'm itchy. Have I been bitten by a bunch of mosquitoes? I remembered to put on my repellent, so that's strange. I notice a few bites on my ankle.

After supper, our friend's driver takes us back to the Jakarta train station. It's a city full of art and people. I snap a picture of a 25' statue of a war hero as we drive by.
We wait at the station from 10 until the train leaves at 11:30pm. It gets dark outside about 6pm most of the year, and the sun reappears about 6am. The station has no night - it's a roar of too-loud announcements, people milling around, or sitting and waiting for their trains. Many eat snacks from the vendors lining the common areas.

For whatever reason, our train goes slower than usual. It arrives 15 minutes late, reaching Bandung after 2:30am. We catch a taxi in the station parking lot. The driver is overly cautious and not very chatty - probably exhausted. He drops us off unscathed outside the gated lane to our neighborhood.

"Why wake up the sentries?" W says, "Do you mind walking?"

Well, I'm itchy, but why not? We duck under the barrier gate and walk a few blocks to our place. We are enthusiastically greeted by very happy yard dogs. They eat something while we slip inside the house to unpack and get ready for bed. We're in bed after 3am.

When I wake, I am a mass of itches - welts have appeared all over my body. Looks like ...

Chicken pox!? Not again. This is at least the fourth time I've had it. From head to toe, I start to break out. Can I use my imagination to feel better? It's a bit like a sunburn rash. Maybe I can pretend that I'm on vacation and sunburned? I scratch. (It's not working.)

The helpers have loaded the kitchen cart with 1' long beans. People call them "stinky beans" because they produce gas in most people after they're eaten. They're a favorite treat - and we have an enormous tree in the backyard dripping with them. We distribute them around the neighborhood.
I put a little nativity on the table outside. It was a white-elephant gift a few years ago and everyone enjoys it. Sometimes adults like to move the figures around, too.
The BIC design team has been hard at work all week, setting up the BIC hall and a photo booth. I bring more supplies and decor from our place most days. Today, there's a request for "more presents for under the tree, please." I gather my stash of empty boxes, wrapping paper, and bows. Ibu S helps me wrap about 15 boxes of varying sizes. We tie bows and ribbon around them. Looks good. They're empty promises, though. Oh wait, did we just wrap the one with all the red ribbon in it? Oh well, we'll use that next year. No sense in unwrapping it now. We drop the gift boxes at BIC.

By morning, my whole body has erupted in a mass of spots. My scalp, face, arms, legs, and everything between is pickled red.
I get a variety of advice from FB friends. It ranges from "You can't get chicken pox twice, so what is it?" to "I've had it 4X as well. Commiserating," to "Why didn't you get vaccinated?" to "Get some gloves."

I can't figure out the gloves. Why did they suggest that? "It will help you not to scratch." Probably not: I'd need a straight-jacket for that.

I give W the list of things I'd normally take care of on a Sunday like tomorrow. It's the first Sunday of Advent, our Communion and Family Sunday with a kid-talk, we're saying farewell to some university interns, and we're kicking off Christmas fundraising.

Afterward, there will be a Christmas Bazaar. I've asked how things are coming along with vendors and promo, and urged planning, but it's not my event. Now I won't even be there.

W brings me a cup of tea before heading to town for some meetings. I wash thoroughly before putting a few hundred home-baked cookies in 50 bags - chocolate, peanut butter, and butter crumb cookies. I have everything on hand - ribbon, bags, baking. It looks pretty when it's done. And the helper has left the kitchen spotless, so its easy to assemble the packages.

Into the fridge they go until morning. We never leave butter-based, all-natural baking on the counter here. It's too warm. And why tempt roaches and rats?
Ruth agrees to sell them at the bazaar in the morning. We're raising funds toward a two-fold Christmas Project: 1) buying supplies for a special-needs school and 2) creating universal access for our auditorium. Both invite community support and a welcome to anyone with challenges in accessing "normal" life.

Read more:
*Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. Psalm 6:4

*As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. Psalm 103:13
*If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11
*Jesus says, “I tell you, many 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: Father, your steadfast love saves us! Your gifts abound! Help us to come to you with our true needs. We pray in the name of Jesus. 
Lord, we rejoice in the compassion you have for your children. We revel in the day your people come from the east and west to dine in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for a lot of things

Monday, November 25, 2019
It's cold. 70o (21C). And in the afternoon, it rains. Maybe rainy season is here to stay. The last two weeks were dry after a week of rain when we all thought rainy season was here.

The thunder scares Gypsy the yard dog - he runs out of the gate and will only jump into the tailgate of the van to come back home. Cocoa,the poodle strolls through the kitchen and into the crate to wait for her buddy to show up. We put on "gentle pop" music, as chosen by Alexa.
W has Christmas music streaming in the LR. I've been using a "white pine" JR Watkins Soy Wax Candle as a stress-diffuser for months. I smell the forest behind our Seattle house as I inhale. When culture here feels disconnected from my reality? one sniff and I carry on.
It's fun to have the mix of things - stockings hand-made by our friend Sitora, a framed Christmas Words picture from Sandy, who's back in Canada, a few ornaments from my mom and grandkids ... it all goes into the Bandung mix.
W drops off our white Christmas tree in the BIC hall and I fluff up the branches. It has yellowed somewhat in the sun over the past 2 years. And the plastic wrap during the year doesn't help! The white tree usually sits on our porch through New Years so the neighbors can take an ornament from its branches after our New Years Eve gathering.

I walk home while he heads to town - I get to our house's overhang just as the rain starts. It's pouring within minutes, so Pak Gum takes Ibu S home in the car - and I forget the bread baking in the oven until the smell reminds me. Well, it's a bit overdone but still good!

My home office is full of plates, bags, steam trays, and other klim-bim from Community Dinner last Saturday. Somehow, someone forgot that I hate clutter in here and ... it's still here. We'll get rid of it by tomorrow at the latest.

We are hiring an assistant to pick up details for the 3 routines: movie night, community dinners, and the Bandung IC. I've done so little teaching that I can do most of the scheduling for that until s/he gets up to speed. But we're drowning in details, going in so many directions!

The team meets in the morning. W has prepared the talk for Sunday and I'm reading it through for the first time. By the time we present it Sunday, it will be ready. This is a weekly task that brings us great joy and teaches us so much about our faith and the scriptures.

W is off to the hospital to visit someone with stomach issues. My next meeting arrives so I have to take care of that. Someone is donating time to clean our facilities - we do a tour to see where the most important areas are. They're cleaning our chairs! That's probably the first time in ages... I can't wait.

In the BIC hall, he design team is doing a great job. They set up a photo booth where families and friends can snap a memory.
We start with a breakfast date at Nara as usual. Then it's time to head for town. I need fabric for the "free" furniture - its foam cushions are poking through the worn-out fabric.

We drop W at one place where he tries to renew a telephone plan. "Not until you run out,
 says the clerk after 1 hour. "It expires tonight at midnight." He runs some other errands.

I find the fabrics in the basement of King Mall. Trust me - I'm a quilter. They'll match once they're sewn into sofa covers and pillows.

We meet up at Mother's Bakery - there are Western-style sandwiches we love. The orchid is blooming in the parking lot.
 So is another beautiful parasite that climbs up the trunk next to it.
We're home by mid-afternoon. W grinds coffee for a friend who accidentally bought coffee beans. And we have a relaxing evening. Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving, but I'm thankful in advance.

Read more:
*You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2 
*Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
*Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11
*Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
*In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  James 1:18 
Moravian Prayer: Lord, you are holy! We are born from the word of your truth, and the first fruits of your creatures. Let us take time to be still and know that you are holy.
Christ, you are the great king! Even as we mourn, we take comfort in your everlasting promise to join you in your kingdom. Help us to be still and know that you are God! Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Scoot to Singapore

It's our last travel week for a while - we hope. We have regular meetings Monday and Tuesday.

The agenda is as usual, but we have our annual team Thanksgiving lunch at the house after.
It's delicious. Everyone chips in with food and we have a feast.

Wednesday, we're headed out for a visa run. We leave the passports at the hotel desk for pickup by a visa agent. The first time we were separated from our passports was scary. Now we're used to it.

The flight's to Singapore is on time. We're on a new airline: Scoot - and it's excellent. We get into the city-state in time to catch a bus to IKEA. That may not seem like a world-class destination, but Christmas is coming and they're sure to have specials in their "As-is" section.

They do! I buy a few things but W urges restraint. "We can get it tomorrow at the other IKEA." (Yes, we plan another trip tomorrow.) I insist on getting a few light stars and a children's toy for our nursery department.

The city is as orderly and clean as we remember. That comes as a relief after the chaos and criss-crossing traffic of Bandung. Then we hear how stressed out taxi drivers are and watch people scurry from one place to another. They're working long hours and education is so competitive that the children start and end school days with tutors and special classes. No thanks - great for a visit but it would be hard to live and work here.

My big chore is seeing the dentist. Under my sore molar, which has been nagging for a half-year, the dentist finds gum decay.

"Pull it out," he says. "The foundation of this house is rotten." But the tooth is still healthy so I ask for a second option. He charges a fortune for meds: 2 courses of penicillin "which doesn't work 90% of the time."

I can tolerate meds better than regrow a molar. I choose Option B. Why tear out a healthy tooth and get an implant, etc. if I have a 10% chance of keeping it?

We head to town after I have a wonderful bowl of Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant.
I decide to take the stairs instead of the escalator up from the MRT. That's before I look up - and see that I'm partway up 100 steps. Ugh. I have to stop on two landings to catch my breath but thanks to all the hiking, I'm at the top.
We make a final stop at a second IKEA. The As-Is is disappointing. (Reminder to self: "purchase what I need when it's 75-80% off!" How much more do I expect?)

This is one of my favorite buildings - made special by color.
 They say the national bird of Singapore is the crane. Now you know why.
W takes me to a bubble tea place - real fizzy tea that he loves. "We saw bubble tea and decided to see what would happen if we put real bubbles in tea," says the owner. #dangerclosesingapore

We're at the airport early so we check out luggage (exactly at capacity) and cross the street to see Jewel, a new terminal with an enormous waterfall at its center. It's quiet this early in the morning.

We have breakfast in the lounge. Our flight is boarding as we walk up to the gate - we're on time? (2x in a row?! wow) The flight is uneventful and home is welcoming.

While W is gone, I finish the Sunday talk - it will be short. The children's program at BIC is early since some of the families are leaving for holidays this week. They're practicing this morning - and it's fun to see them run back and forth, learning their lines.
Daniel is at work getting the silhouettes ready for the Christmas season as well.

In the afternoon, we drive through average (bad) traffic to the international school. At 5, students and young professionals start showing up. We have so much fun tonight - it's a talent show.
We're wrapping up the fall theme of "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made." We have thought about where we come from, our families of origin, how we all got to Bandung, and how God has led us to where we are today.

 The talent is amazing, the participation is lively, and we have good conversations around the tables about being thankful to God and others.
The table centers get taken apart. The paper mâché figures that we made weeks ago go home with their creators.
It's the Children's Christmas Program. The calendar says November, but our Thanksgiving dinner is past, the tree is decorated at the house, and this is the only week for the program at BIC. I'm ready!
The kids are so cute - and the message is spot on - Christmas is coming, and it's all about Jesus.

Read more:
*My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued. Psalms 71:23
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves. Ephesians 5:19
Moravian Prayer: Redeemer, we shout for joy and sing your praises. We make joyful noises in your name. Let our hymns, our voices, and our instruments ever glorify you! Amen.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Thankful for ... easy changes.

What little shifts in life or work bring you joy? What micro-changes disconcert you? Is it sound, color, touch, smells (you'd hate Indonesia if you react to this - oh the smells on our walk through the neighborhoods today!) or taste (you'd love it here if you're an adventurous eater, though.)

Today I'm going to talk about the constant where we live - the weather. How do I mark the flow of the tropical year? With minor, external changes.

Since the temperature has no dramatic shifts, people are aware of only 2 seasons where we live - wet and dry. Dry season is actually cooler - the nights without clouds allow the heat to escape. These mountain mornings are refreshing (68o/20C) and the days are perfect (about 80o/28C).

In rainy season, we may still have 2 sunny periods pm most days. The night-time cloud cover prevents the ground from cooling off so the drop is less. We might cool off to 72o/22C at night, with hot days. (It was 90o today/32C.) We can live outside all year long.
Growing up with 4 distinct seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, I only liked two of them anyway. Spring brought the hope of warm weather and green surroundings, and summer - heat, color, green, swimming ... those were my favorites.

This is the first time in decades that I have enjoyed autumn. I loved the color of the leaves when we visited the Pacific Northwest in October. That was because I wasn't depressed: I knew I wouldn't have to live through the cold dark winter ahead.
I watch weather reports of the falling temperatures in my hometown with dismay - how can people enjoy the short days and the cold? My college roommate Bonnie, on the other hand? She hates the heat of summer and can't wait for snow and frost. Love you, gal - and glad there's room on the planet for us both.

So how do the seasons change for me? In Indonesia, I mark the seasons by changing the house around. We felt the end of summer a few weeks ago ... the bright greens and purples with black accents kept things light.
and now Christmas is coming. So we feature reds, greens, and a few blacks and creams.
What would I do without a #Beddinge IKEA futon and a plethora of covers? The IKEA model was discontinued in the USA years ago, but not before I had gathered white, beige, red, pink, purple, brown, grey, and black covers for it. Every time the "as-is" section had a returned cover @$20 or less, I'd buy a different color.

I've only brought a few of them here, but the change of color marks my changes of season. Black for reflection as the new year begins, cream in dry season when the flowers pop. Then purple in -ber months, when the clouds gather and rainy season starts. And red for Christmas.
In our windowless Seattle basement, white covers the 2 futons in the living/sleeping room. We bought many of the same IKEA models of Craigslist when we lived upstairs - and sold most of them when we left. They have amazing versatility with the change of a cover.
I used red covers and an enormous oriental rug the last year we celebrated Christmas in Seattle. It felt too dramatic with all the events and people we see. Calm white with a bamboo rug remains my favorite for that space.
And no, I don't miss cool or cold weather - ever. Updating the decor is all the change this visual person need. Thanks for asking.

What changes are you looking forward to as the year draws to an end?

Read more:
*Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Psalm 118:25
*It is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
Moravian Prayer: God, through you all work is done! Let our deeds grant us success in magnifying your name. Amen.