Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Just for fun, on a quiet break

There are some weeks - not very many, I'll admit - when life feels quiet and restful. Sometimes, God plans a pause before we know we need it. There's a guest speaker in the international church next week, we have small groups meeting instead of the normal big dinners, and movie night isn't until next week. Aaaah. Rest.

We have a dear coworker as a houseguest for a few day. Otherwise, all is still around us.
I've been listening to a free app of background noise while working. Today's tranquil sound is the duduk, an Armenian instrument.

Isn't the world a fascinating place for curious people? Whether it's listening to a new instrument, exploring a new technique, or reading books from people you've never met - we're so blessed to explore.

Life can also be a puzzle that's not yet finished or understood, somewhat like this print-in-process.
Since I'm working from home this week (sniff, cough, sneeze), I play in my art books during breaks. There are so many ways to see the world. I think an artist's job is to see the world and redefine reality for others.
Apparently, I need to sketch more Asian faces - my default is still mostly Western, though the colors and patterns are becoming more interesting.

I don't post "tests" on FB, but here's a funny one. (An FBI agent is like a mom, grandma, organizational lead, lecturer, and writer? Who knew.)
We're looking for the next thing on our programs and the big poster for the international church wall. The theme is "Learn from Jesus" during Lent, leading to Easter. Isn't this beautiful? I have to find the artist! I love the vibrant colors and international shapes.
 I walk every day, observing the natural rhythm of rainy season. There's a progression of mushrooms,
 leaves, and pruning.
The clump of leaves above are enormous - this is at least 6'X7'. It reminds me of carefully constructed "tropics" landscapes in Seattle. Here, things just go wild once they're set in the ground. These grow in the middle of a steep bank along someone's hedge. It's nothing special until you really look at it.

Indonesian yardmen can be brutal. They chop off every branch of a tree that gets too tall. The bare trunks regenerate within weeks and become lush growth again. It astonishes me.
Mom says I've always loved growing things. Yesterday, the weekly yardman hacked away an extra 2 feet of lawn to give us a bigger flowerbed for flowers along the porch.

Our date day last week was into the hills for whatever catches the eye - for the price of a medium pot at Molbaks (Seattle nursery), I pick out a jasmine, a few twirly red flowers, and a lipstick palm. Pak Lili shoves them into the ground after tearing out 6' tall marigold-like flowers that have taken over the back of the garden.

I toss in a few handfuls of fertilizer as the dirt goes in - but is it needed? The volcanic soil "grows everything." (Yup, there's an active volcano bubbling away about 10 miles up the mountains.) There's a saying that you can "Put a stick into the ground and it will sprout" in Indonesia. I think it's true. During rainy season, there's a shower or two every day between sunny patches. No need to take care of anything, besides chopping back what grows too fast.

On my office desk is a cylinder with a beta in it - the twigs are from the tree and the plants are from the old bathtubs found in the backyard. When I'm stumped as far as details,

The paludarium in the office guest seating is soothing, dripping with water. It's filled with plants found along the road: little orchids, grasses, and ferns. It reminds me that our heavenly Father oversees the smallest details of life. We can trust Him to take care of us, too.
Read more:
* And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11NIV

Jesus, you who know us and still love us, thank you for the quiet days. Thank you for the times when we don't even know to ask for a pause. Thank you for the Sabbaths that refresh our souls. You are good, and your mercy endures forever and ever. Amen

Monday, February 17, 2020

Weeks come and go

We have colds. Maybe even the flu - I don't have a fever, but W was feeling under the weather when he used my computer. Usually, I'm ruthless about avoiding touching stuff but I didn't want W to feel worse. So here we are...

Saturday, February 15, 2020
The weekend was busy - when W and Kirsten leave for Community Dinner Bandung tonight, they leave me behind, fast asleep. I'm coming down with something - I'm just plain tired. W's cancelled all his morning appointments, but he goes to the dinner tonight.

Meanwhile, we're moving forward a few administrative items. The business meeting at the international church went well. It's so good to work with a peaceful group. We ask each other probing questions but the discussions are amicable. That's heartening.
The flowers Ibu Fenny sends this week are beautiful. Ibu Titik takes them home to bring a smile after her husband's hard work keeping the accounts straight. So I choose a few items and pop them in a long cylinder for our front table. It's an interesting arrangement.
We have lunch with friends. The waitstaff brings us the most delicious appetizer: goring something, a kind of fritter. I always enjoy the shrimp flavor - I who don't like fish. I'm happy that our friends like it too.
Ugh. We really are under the weather. At least it's warm outside. Josh takes the study while W and I stay out of sight. Anytime we pick something up, we sanitize our hands. No one needs this!

My college roomie sends two pictures. This is her driveway today, in 2020. There are big banks of snow, plus more on the ground.
This is the same driveway in 2015. Bonnie says there was very little snow in years past.
"We have to get used to winter again," she writes with glee. She loves the cold of the dead of winter as much as I like the heat of a tropical summer all year round.

 I take the time to do a bunch of book reviews. I need to get through about 50 books in the next few weeks. Academic reading is what's called for. Skim the covers and the content, determine the audience, and then write a review. Is it worth reading or not? My blog is here if you want to read it.
I like to read all kinds of books - psychology, leadership, and art. Romance novels and thrillers. Fiction and non-fiction. It's all interesting to me. I have a few favorite publishers and look forward to their new books.

Our lunch of lettuce wraps is delicious. Sumi cooks fried rice that we put inside lettuce leaves, flavored with hoisin sauce. 
While I'm writing and reading, I often watch a long-running Korean drama. After almost 80 1/2-hr episodes (!), I'm finally past halfway. It's taken ages - months! to get to this point. Every detail is so drawn out! At this rate, it will take the rest of 2020 to get to the end of the story.

I enjoy learning about Korean traditions. The families care about such different things than our German family of origin. Korean Christian history - especially the effects of pentecostalism - mixed with Buddhist roots. Those two combine in a unique culture of duty and care for others.
It's a world apart from Chinese and Japanese dramas, which I occasionally watch for contrast. The other Asian stories seem violent. The culture is also power-and-shame based, like Korea. But Chinese and Japanese values seem quite opposite to Christian morality. A Christian core value is loving God and your neighbor. That never comes up for China and Japan. The Chinese highly value filial loyalty and ancestral obligation. (It's vital not to shame your family, but that's based on duty and appeasement instead of love.)

The dramas are entertaining, but also totally fascinating for a student of culture. (My PhD is in Intercultural Studies.)

Besides, I prefer to stay home with a drama rather than go to a theatre for a movie. I don't have to choose what to watch. Whenever I'm in the mood for the screen, I pop on an ongoing tale. The cinematography is advanced and the consequences of unfamiliar choices keep me interested. I can't predict what will happen.

Cough cough. I better log off and get back to book reviews and the agenda for our team meeting tomorrow.

Read more:
*Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? 2 Samuel 12:9
*Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.  Hebrews 12:1-2
Moravian Prayer: Loving God, may we always remember to turn to you when we are weak, fearful, or self-righteous. Remind us of your presence, even when we are clinging to sin, that our strength comes from you. May we put you first and follow the guidance and direction you provide. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

In them there hills...

Another week is about to wrap up. Here are few snaps from it. First up is a panorama from the top of the mountain where we walked today. We had some gorgeous sunshine, but you can see the rain storm rolling in at 1564 meters high (5130 feet or almost a mile up).

Monday, February 10, 2020
After an early morning meeting and a study on the porch, five of us head down to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. Noodles are my choice, of course.
 I pick out the fat and gristle ... and toss it onto a side plate. "What's that?" Alice asks.
She mentions the inedibles to the server. A few minutes later, he returns from the kitchen with real meat, less fat. Delicious. Thanks, Alice.

Since W and I speak limited bahasa Indonesia, we usually don't complain or send food back; we just avoid that place the next time. Today, version 2 is yummy.
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are my biggest work days. I often spend Fridays and sometimes Saturdays at my desk as well. That's why I really look forward to Wednesdays!

Wednesday - date day
Our sabbath or day off is Wednesdays. W and I usually start with breakfast at Nara (#PinoTerrace) down the street. The 20' high arch at the entry is dripping with enormous clusters of orange blooms.
Today, I dump a scrambled egg (no oil) into a plate of noodles. It's just the right combination.
After a stop at home, we're headed up to Lembang, a city whose entry road is lined with plant nurseries. I'm looking for garden color for a few bare patches.

The last few weeks, the cattleya orchids by our gate have had a headful of flowers. The orchids are leftovers from the last owner. I'm glad she didn't take all her plants along. She was quite the gardener. She left a green legacy, including the mature trees that are dripping with fruit.
She planted a "chandelier" shrub that has been ailing with age. Today I find a new bush ($4) that we'll dig in near the old one.
While I'm browsing and talking to an Indonesian ibu who runs one of the nurseries, W goes into a tea shop. He runs into a guy who studied at the Seattle Art school. The Indonesian man negotiates a fair price on a red-stemmed "lipstick palm" that will become a focal point in the backyard.
W overhears the word "equestrian" as another tea drinker is about to leave. I've just arrived, and ask her if she knows Maddy, a friend who rides horses in competitions. Turns out they not only know each other, but are distant relatives.
We're headed to Dusan Bambu for lunch. There are bamboo bridges,
enormous bamboo sculptures,
custom bamboo chandeliers,
and even dishes cooked with bamboo. W orders chicken steamed in a bamboo shoot. It's delicious.
I - who rarely order rice - choose "oxtail fried rice." It's indescribably tasty and a perfect combination of flavors with sides of krupuk (bitter melinjo crackers) and acar (pickled vegetables.)
Our table overlooks a manmade lake where 2-3' koi swim vigorous laps and boaters cruise lazily across to cabins on the far side.
We prop ourselves on a few pillows and listen to a podcast on communication, vulnerability, and marriage. It's good for us.

The 30" recycled glass lanterns on the stairs catch my eye. I bet they glow at night!

The sun was out when we sat down. Soon a stiff wind kicks up. The clouds glower overhead by the time we're done. It's raining on the way home. Perfect timing.

We're out in the hills, walking again above Lembang, in the mountains north of Bandung. The walk is short but slow; we take 2 hours to go 6 km but it's mostly uphill. Senta has chosen to go from the opposite end of the usual walk: hiking downhill on the slick mud trails can be treacherous.

We find that out on the last kilometer: it's like a skating rink on the trail. We use use our walking sticks as brakes, even with big treads on our soles. We choose the grass beside the trails whenever we can. The tall grasses along the way smell so good! There are little grasses with star-shaped seed heads, tall blades that look like corn, and everything in-between.
Along the way, we detour to peek into one of the old Dutch cement forts. The Dutch built a series of forts tunneled into the mountains in their efforts to ward off WWII Japanese invaders. The Dutch never occupied them, Senta tells us. Instead, the Japanese housed soldiers there during their occupation.
Today we climb a gradual 255 meters up (840 feet) and 150 meters down (just under 500 feet). The trails are overgrown in places but it's the elevation (almost a mile high near the top) that makes us catch our breaths. Probably good for our hearts and lungs! I'm happy to be outside again. After a bad fall on city streets last July, it's taken a while to get back my stamina.

We stop for lunch at the Lembang Mandarin. More Chinese food - outstanding as usual. Our favorite dish is a steaming spinach-beef-quail egg combo that bubbles in an iron skillet as it's brought to the table.
We have never lived in a more connected place. Even when we get away physically, we do a lot of business online and can catch up on work and workmates. To check out completely, we have to turn off notifications and put our phones away.

Read more:
*It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8
*Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
Moravian Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for being our shepherd; for watching over us no matter where we are in our life’s journey. You are ever-faithful, never forsaking us even in our darkest hours. Be with us and watch over us—ensuring no harm comes to those under your care. Amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Fish and flowers

February is the month of love. Japan celebrates couples days on Feb 2, according to our friends. And there may or may not be something for Valentines. Indonesians don't celebrate it.

We make a trip to the local fish street, where all kinds of fish (saltwater and fresh), salamanders, and turtles are on display in plastic bags.
The flower arrangements are beautiful - though I have to rework them a bit so they're not so one-sided, as suits the congregational hall.
 The one for Chinese New Years is especially lovely.
 We take the dogs out to walk through the neighborhood.
One day, we run some errands and visit Atmosphere for lunch with our daughter. We have such beautiful views from our table.
 The restaurant is surrounded by a long koi and waterlily pond.

On the way home, we snap a picture of  two guys changing the billboard way-up-in-the-air. No harnesses in sight.
Life here is so different than anywhere else. We love itl.

Read more:
*Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Psalm 118:26
*Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! He has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers. Jeremiah 20:13
*He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. Luke 1:52
*Jesus Christ came and proclaimed peace to you. Ephesians 2:17
Moravian Prayer: Gracious Savior, as your followers, may we humbly lift up the lowly and serve the needy, just as you did. In doing so, may we be reminded of the kinship we all have in you.
Dearest Jesus, you came proclaiming peace in these times of geopolitical tension, war, and disaster. Help us to promote peace in all we say and do. Hasten the day when your peace will reign supreme and all strife and suffering ceases. In your name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

January - where did you go?

It's been a month without blogging. That hasn't been deliberate - but it's the longest break ever. I was as tired and busy as you! The house was quiet after the Christmas decor came down - many a silent night, which I love and find renewing.
After the Christmas season ended, our daughter Kirsten arrived. She's a restful guest. It felt like I sat around for a few weeks, but when I look back, W and I were speaking each week, I read about 30 books to unwind 2019 and open 2020, wrote and sent off a chapter for an academic book, and did a few other "this and that"s. Yikes.

Here are a few pictures from January: the first Sunday, I made a floral centerpiece from our yard while the church florist was on vacation (4' tall).
All I have to do is take a scissor outside and clip away - there's so much color in the yard. I made another 3' tall bouquet for the house one weekend when a friend loaned her glorious Chinese New Years bouquet to the Gathering. (Yes, those are little oranges.)
The most stunning flowers have appeared. Here's a 2' bromeliad that rests in a crook of the guava tree. Its center fills with little periwinkle blossoms on red stalks.
Rainy season unleashes a splurge of colors on Indonesia. You should see this red hedge of flowers!
On a morning walk, I paused for a showstopper: all of these blooms and buds - yellow, pink, and reds - were on the same shrub.
Our dog Gypsy gave us a good scare by staying out overnight. Apparently he ran off when someone opened the gate; he hid from the thunder and we didn't notice until morning that he was gone, rather than hiking around the yard.

In the morning, I whistled and called for him on my way to work. I asked a few people if they'd seen him. He showed up at our gate not long after. W and I were very relieved. He's our security warning and protector - plus a good buddy.
We celebrated two Chinese New Years and one Korean New Year events - what delicious homemade food, eaten with dear friends!
Before that weekend was over, we had tea with new German friends at the Padma Hotel up the street, too.
We celebrated the baptism of Halu, a young believer in Jesus. She's returning to her homeland Japan soon.
We set up a prayer room at the international church. I've enjoyed spending time there with others each week.
Movie night was fun as always - though I didn't watch the actual movie A Quiet Place. K and W told me about it.  I cooked, served food, and avoided cluttering my brain with awful possibilities.

"It was great," everyone said. But I heard them squeal when monsters jumped out. That's not for my active imagination. Just tell me the story line.
The kitchen filled up for dinner and for dessert later on.
 And the next morning, we took down the projector and put the house back together.
Seems like we celebrated this first month of 2020 with a lot of people. Family Sunday was full of kids listening to the KidTalk by Nicole - always a treat.
CDB (Community Dinners Bandung) moved to a new place: the Central Station cafe. What such a noisy, interactive, and people-filled evening. It was a full house.
There were conversations, idea exchanges, games, and puzzles galore. Plus good coffee, according to W.
W and I ate gourmet one day, made by a friend at #Roadrunner. Alan is full of passion and experience regarding good food. He cooked what may have been one of the best burgers we've ever had. It looked just like the picture - fluffy bun, thick juicy meat, homemade sauce, and fresh veggies. Thanks, Alan.
W and I happened on a fully set up paludarium that I'd noticed in an aquarium shop last August. It was just too expensive then. This week, it was half off and prettier than ever, planted and equipped with everything you could imagine.

"How about an early birthday present?" I asked my husband, who happily takes gift suggestions.

A paudarium is a land and water tank - ours is home to a little school of neon tetras, a beta, and a few cory catfish. The waterfalls provide a soothing backdrop in the office, plus I like to watch the fogger roll little clouds over the front lip.
We met friends old and new at tables around the neighborhood. We're doing a 7 Systems diet together, but it's hard to stay on track with such good friends and food! I've shed 5 unwanted pounds in 2 weeks. Not bad.

It's wonderful to hear about good will and hard work done by the many volunteer in community care around Bandung.

Sadly, our family lost a dear cousin. I grew up with Elaine in Winnipeg - she was closest to me in age of all the cousins. She passed away from early onset Alzheimers. Elaine began to exhibit symptoms around the time I started my PhD. That's unfair, to say the least. What a terrible illness. We pray God's comfort for Garry and his family.
Now it's February. The "Happy New Year" is in full swing with its highs and lows. We kicked off the first Sunday of February (today) with a team BBQ, anchored by grillmaster Josh and assistant Dave.

Everyone pitched in for the rest of the food. The kids ran around the house and the yard. We love to celebrate together. Shared wins today included a new home and school, a pre-teen/teen startup, and other milestones. God is good.

Read more:
*The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced. Isaiah 50:7
*If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea. Isaiah 48:18 
*To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying. Acts 26:22
*For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
*Christ Jesus became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30
Moravian Prayers: Dear God, let us walk beside you. May we listen for your voice and allow it to guide us to do your will. Although we may stumble and fall, we know you will be there to pick us up and brush us off. Thank you, Lord, our guide and comforter. 
God, we turn to you to lighten our way; to help us see that you are there, not only to guide, but to bring us peace. May we always turn to your wisdom when we struggle, knowing that you will not steer us wrong. In Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.