Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Getting ready to move

Our friends from Jakarta, Pastors Stefano and Livia, took us on a 3-day fact-finding trip to Bandung. Our tasks in the next few weeks are to:
  1. sign up for language school
  2. find housing
  3. experience the setting and people, praying grace and favor on them - and that we feel at home in this new city.
Rice bowl, leaves line the basket
We wonder if some of the best food in the world is made in Bandung. Over the three days, we especially enjoy Maxis and Roma Enak Enak, blown away with tasty menus. When the bill comes, we are astonished: we four eat for the expected price of two. 

Deeeelicious fish

Saturday:
We eat breakfast on the second floor, overlooking the hotel pool. It's shaded in early morning and I'm a warm-water swimmer. (They were doing maintenance on it when we arrived so the pool has just opened.) Two little boys splash into the pool from a Little Tykes slide. They stand at the top of the slide, jump over the sides into the water, and dive to the bottom of the 3.5 depth. 

Trying to imagine this breakfast view in the USA: no lifeguard,
no safety rails on the Little Tykes playspace...
The realtor and friend come by again at 10. We go to House #1, take a lot of pictures, and ask a lot of questions. 

Pastor Livia on the front porch
"What about the furniture?" I ask. There are multiple shelf units, 2 or 3 beds, lots of occasional tables, a dining set, and two living room ensembles.

"Come for supper" - a kitchen and dining area
"Think of the furniture as a bonus," smiles the realtor.

I ask him to check if the owner would be willing to let us live in it for a week and then remove the parts of the "bonus" that we didn't need? Could they clean before we get in? It has already been cleaned once, we're told.

A place for company - entry / living room 1
When we look up at the high ceilings, a 6" lizard sits near the top. 

Can you spot the lizard?
"That's what the spots are on the sofa," says the realtor. (Oh, lizard poop. Where's the vacuum? We can take care of that in a jiffy.) Livia says we don't chase out those lizards: they eat mosquitoes and other bugs. Yay, a house lizard - a good sign. And the kitchen is open to the garage, which has vent slats open to the outdoors. Couldn't keep lizards out if we tried, I guess.
Back yard shade
Perhaps these things can be negotiated, the realtor says. We make an offer for a year-long lease but haven't heard back by Tuesday (today). Please pray with us; perhaps this is the place to begin.

In town, we eat another great lunch. Then it's a long drive back to Jakarta: 5.5 hours ... and S & L are still miles from their own place when they drop us off about 8pm. Pastor S has to preach in the morning, too. We pray together over the services tomorrow and the accomplishments of the weekend. We are grateful for the generous attention of the IES Jakarta church and our friends during this transition.

Classic BMW motorcycle in the hotel lobby
At 11:30pm, we get a text. Our visa is partially finished. We need to hand over our passports tomorrow in church and appear in person to sign the visa next week. Whaaaaat? Don't we need the passports to get on the flight to Lombok tomorrow? We partially repack our suitcase for the next retreat - and fall into bed after midnight. God - and Indonesians in the know - will have to sort things out.

Sunday:
Pastor Dave's family lives down the hall from where we're staying. They are back from a trip to the States and offer us a ride to church at 8. PD (as he's called here) introduces us to the congregation and asks people with Bandung connections to consider a one-week-a-month commitment (for three months) to bring local friends and family to the service, once we open. The meeting is refreshing and inspirational. Between services, we walk quickly to a nearby mall and find the moneychanger to exchange funds for the retreat.

We're told not to worry: we can use color photocopies of the passport and passport sticker (temporary visa), with a letter from the church explaining why we don't have our passports in hand. Pastor Stefano writes the letters, makes color copies, and sends us off in good shape. (What would we do without him?!)

We have to finish packing so we go back home in a taxi. We get caught in a jam a kilometer from home, so jump out and walk the rest of the way. We set off for the airport at 2pm to make sure we get on the 6:15 flight. The driver is the first woman cabbie we've met here. She heads to the toll ring road and gets us to the airport in good time. We have supper in a local-style restaurant before meeting coworkers at the Starbucks. 

It's an uneventful flight but W's luggage takes a half hour to unload. Our fellow travelers wait patiently before we all catch the shuttles to the hotel, an hour away. It's 11pm by the time we reach the Sheridan and later still when we settle into sleep.

Monday:
We miss our granddaughter's third birthday. It does our hearts good to look at new Facebook pictures of her and her little brother.

It's a full day in Lombok. What a glorious setting upon awaking. The palms wave outside the balcony, with the ocean beyond them. The breakfast buffet includes several counters of international dishes. I eat lightly: the conference schedule includes snacks as well as meals.

The welcomes are warm all around as coworkers from across Indonesia meet. It's clear that the field is united in purpose. I have a quick swim before our afternoon business session, which is conducted efficiently. W and I watch and listen. Diverse personalities and ministries are encouraged; differences of opinion are aired without criticism. Participation in the evening worship session is enthusiastic and wholehearted, led by Pastor Gigi Kenney and her sister, Chelley Rody.

The beautiful pool in the evening
Tuesday:
Over breakfast, the SE Asia Area Director Bill his wife Kim, and Pastor Dave (and daughter Isabella) help us understand procedures and expectations. We need permission to travel, submit receipts a certain way, and should consult on anything we have questions about. The field committee will discuss particulars as they come up. We're grateful for mentorship - and offers of friendship - early on. 

The morning business meeting concludes this year's business agenda. The field committee has been expanded to 3 men and 1 woman. At the lunch buffet. Katie sits with us and shares her heart for Community Development. She's interning this year at IES Jakarta, learning by working with their staff. At 23, her heart has been captured by Indonesia, so we will be praying that she continues to find direction and make an impact. Please include her in your prayers, too.

We go back to the room and nap. Then I have to write. Thank you, everyone. It takes a while to get the internet connection, so most of the afternoon and early evening are gone by the time I'm done.

God's peace to you - and loving prayers from Lombok, for all that you need for life and to carry out the mission of God.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bandung - we explore

Text only. Check back in a few days for pics: we have limited internet here. Thanks!

Monday

We start for the airport at 5:30am, missing the worst of morning rush-hour. By 9:30, our flight leaves for Singapore. It’s a short commute – less than 2 hours. Singapore sounds so subdued after Jakarta, and cars drive between lane markers. The shuttle takes us to the YMCA, one of the most reasonable hotels. Scripture verses line the halls and hang over the bed.

We’ve forgotten how humid the island is: we are sweat-soaked in a few minutes, but the breeze steadily wicks off the moisture. It’s 30o+ (90s) and the humidity is 85%. We walk to Plaza Singapura and Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum standout we love. We like the familiar things we’ve ordered and are less impressed with the chef’s recommendations on the menu. We also find an Aveda store. Somehow, the hair product I’d specially purchased for our move didn’t make it into my suitcase. W treats me to a replacement at the shop.

Tuesday

After a breakfast buffet at the YMCA, we walk a mile to the free city bus tour that came with our plane ticket booking. The tour starts with a half hour in Little India. Not many shops are open at 9:30am, but the colorful fabrics tickle the eyes while the fragrance of flower garlands (for special occasions and idol offerings) pleases the nose. Singapore is a real mix of old and new: a glass diamond-motiv skyscraper rises across from colonial-era two-stories with wooden shutters.

Our tour guide Janice points out Arab Street and the Muslim quarter along the way. Apparently the shops – known for their carpets and baskets – don’t open until much later. The Raffles Hotel “is yours for $700-7000 a night, but not part of the tour expense. On your own dollar-la,” she laughs.

The Chopstick Memorial, for stakes pointing to the sky, reminds Singapore of the atrocities of the Japanese during WWII occupation. The four chopsticks represent the Chinese (now 77% of Singaporeans), the Malays (14%), Indians (7%) and the others (2% including Europeans) caught by the conflict. “We remind Japan that this should never happen again. They come to visit and take pictures. We hope they will remember.”

Janice gives other interesting facts: (skip down if this doesn’t interest you)

  • ·      5.5 million Singaporeans live in their city-state of 42km (28 miles) east to west, by 23 km (14 miles) north to south.
  • ·      High-rises house 90% of inhabitants. 80% own their homes. Flats that sold for $125,000 20 years ago now cost $450,000 (for approx.1000 square feet, 2-3 bdrm/1-2 bath.)
  • ·      The higher up the flat, the more air flow for ventilation and hanging laundry on a bamboo pole outside the window. So each floor adds $2000 to the cost.
  • ·      The ground floor is open for gatherings of neighbors and traditional events: Chinese hold their funeral wakes here. The cleansed body is brought in a coffin, then after the feast, is cremated and a table put into the Chinese temple. Malaysians hold their weddings here for hundreds of guests. “The Malays show us the importance of community and family. Chinese are more interested in self and prosperity.”
  • ·      Leases are 99 years (like Hong Kong for the British). After that, the flat returns to the high-rise owner or government.
  • ·      Because of the housing demand, you submit your name and preferred apartment area, block, and floor. The wait is about 10 years and selection is somewhat by lottery.
  • ·      Parents stay in the flats to pass them on to their children without the high inflation. Rate.
  • ·      Wages are garnished at 17%; your boss adds 3% of your salary. The government holds that money into 3 accounts: 1. Savings (retirement, etc.) 2. Special funds for housing, etc.; 3. MediSafe (or similar name), which pays medical costs. We pass hospitals for the rich and others where the government subsidizes care. A baby costs $3000, but the third child (for a mother under age 28) is free. Why? The government is trying to boost the population to a sustainable 7 million, but upwardly mobile women resist having kids and staying home to raise them. BTW: If you can’t pay, the family is expected to do so.
  • ·      Retirement age is 70 and there is no government pension or welfare system. No begging is allowed. If you run out of retirement money in your #1 account, your family takes care of you. The motto is “never be lazy,” so the elderly work and sell little things on the street if that’s the only way to eat.
  • ·      The National flag hangs from balconies for the month before National Day (August 9). The crescent moon represents a young country (established by separating from Malaysia in 1965), the red stripe represents (strength?), and the white stripe, purity. A big cloth flag costs $5 from the high-rise council and is stored year after year between celebrations.
  • ·      Sir Raffles, a British governor, is considered the founder of Singapore. He paid $5000 to Malaysia for the island and brought in foreign investors, erected the Palace Mosque, and established the global trade that put Singapore on the map. There are no natural resources here. It’s resource is its people and their ingenuity.
Then the bus drops us off at Marina Bay with its spectacular views of hotels and shops on reclaimed land. The financial sector with its banking skyscrapers loom above us. At the harbor, the Merlion spouts water, a national symbol of strength of a lion and the water around (fish). We snap pictures and grab an ice-tea at the 100th Starbucks store.

Chinatown is a warren of alleys and streets, mixing stores and small vendors. Tourists and citizens alike buy specialties here. We revisit a restaurant shop: I’m looking for dishes and cutlery at hotel quality and wholesale prices. I find Swiss cutlery for a fraction of retail and order it for pickup tomorrow.

We pause for 20 minutes at Singapore Gems, a factory of craftsmen cutting gemstones. They create pictures with semi-precious stones, from small (3X5”) to large (4’X6’+), build castles, carve statues, and make jewelry. The men hunch over spinning wheels without breathing masks, the stone dust flying into the air. I wonder how heavy the dust in their lungs.

Our final stop is the Botanic Gardens, featuring Singapore’s national flower – orchids. Janice points out a strip of jungle that Malaysia owns, now being purchased back by Singapore’s government.

In the gardens, we wander between towering flowering trees, our “houseplants,” ferns, and orchids of every imaginable size and shape. Some orchids are wired to trees, some staked into hedges, and some ground-hugging. I love the fragrant garden best, lingering over the sprays of perfumed flowers. W’s in his glories, snapping photos on every side.

Wednesday                       

We put another 26,000 steps on our foot soles, starting in the morning by picking up cutlery in Chinatown at a restaurant wholesaler. In the shops, it really hits home what we had accumulated and distributed (as well as given away.) Each of our children took a major appliance: Vitamix, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, and Bernina sewing machine. We couldn’t replace them here on a mission budget.

We have an indifferent wanton noodle lunch in the early afternoon. W finds a cordless phone and the shampoo I like (different water here). We trudge all over the downtown area in computer malls, electronic stores, shopping malls, and vendors who line the streets. By 4, we’re almost done in – the very hot and humid weather wears us out and we’re ready to get back to the YMCA. We pick up our luggage from behind the hotel counter, flag a taxi on the street (saves $2.50 booking fee), and are on our way to the airport.

For supper, W orders Texas Chicken and I try again for wanton noodles (ok, but not great). We walk through immigration, hand over our entry visas, and are on our way home to Indonesia by 7:30pm. I’m sitting by a 20-something from Czech Republic. She’s in Jakarta with her boyfriend, and says her mom is having a hard time back in Europe. “When I first came, my mother thought, ‘Only a few months, then she will be back.’ But now that we are here 14 months, she misses me more.”

She gives us the funniest one-liner yet: “Indonesia is so … Indonesian.” Ok, what does that mean?

We have no trouble with our entry kitas (visa). W spots a counter where it is activated and we are shooed to the luggage retrieval without further ado.

There’s supposed to be two custom zones: red zone (things to declare) and green zone (nothing to declare). I don’t even see a red zone. We’re under the limit of what we can bring in, so we follow the pack to the security scanner (“hand luggage only, ma’am), and out the airport door to the curb.

We wait an hour in the Blue Bird taxi queue. Various independent taxi drivers come by, soliciting tourists by promising great deals and no waiting. Every guidebook warns against them. So we wait.

Our Blue Bird driver debates with the next taxi driver, trying to get out of taking us.  We find out why about 1 km from the airport: the driver has no idea where he’s taking us. We have him call B’s but his pre-paid phone has no minutes, so W texts Livia, who calls back and gives him directions. He drives off happily, without further trouble. We’re home in an hour – and upstairs in our flat by 11:15pm. By the time we unpack, hand-wash a few things, repack for Bandung, and turn off the lights, it’s well after midnight.

Thursday

Stefano and Livia B pick us up at 8:30am. We get snarled behind an accident or two plus traffic for the beginning of the new school term. Cars turn their hazard lights on to go through tunnels and to warn those behind them that they’re coming to a sudden stop on the highway. Stefano impresses us by negotiating the ins and outs of Jakarta congestion and the freeway, getting us to Bandung by 1:30 (120 miles?) The countryside landscape stuns us with its beauty, the hills terraced with gardens and rice paddies, Dutch train trestles built in the early century, and blue-green hills in the distance.

We’re meeting friend R (the friend of friends A&M). But first, to lunch. R tells us about Maxi’s, a restaurant near the language school (IMLAC) and our hotel. Oh my! For the price of an American burger, in a beautiful setting – surrounded by trees and plants – we order an amazing meal: lamb chops for me, tenderloin with egg, mushrooms, and cheese for W. (Livia notes that it’s much cheaper to eat here than in Jakarta.)

Friend R and two other fellows meet us at the hotel after we eat, showing us two good-sized homes. One has been available for a year and needs a lot of work. The other is much too big for students like us. Maybe it would be more appropriate in a year, once study groups are established and we have lots of company. They promised to look for an apartment that is closer to our needs and budget.

We find IMLAC just down the street from the hotel. The office is closed, but we’ll come back to register after breakfast tomorrow. The buildings are worn but sturdy. The time-cards of at least 20 students are filed by a time clock. Maybe we have to punch in and out of campus. We land back at the hotel for a 2-hour rest, walking by the fish pond, where 1-2’ koi swim lazy circles under the walking bridge. Their mouths gape open and shut beside the path as we lean over them: they must be accustomed to being fed at that spot.

We end up in the Braga district, the street lined with shops full of art, both paintings and reproductions. The restaurant we want to go to is full, with a long waiting list. While we wait for them to call us with an open table, we stroll down the street. The tables are full of people breaking their fasts, but we find a Bangi Kopitam (restaurant chain) with an opening. The guys order dim sum; L has roti prata (flatbread) with curry, and I have kwei teo Bandung, a combination of prawns, chicken, egg, and flat rice noodles. Yummy. My jeans are still too tight to foster an appetite so I eat half.

Friday

We wake for the first time In Bandung. We pray over the government, police, religious and political leaders, neighborhoods, and our home-to-be. We pray for the churches and people that support us, and the church sponsoring our plant and the church-to-be. We pray over our parents, children, grandchildren, extended families, and friends.

We open the balcony doors to a balmy, sunny morning. And we decide to take another look at the first house we saw. The layout is excellent. The grungy furniture and bugs would have to go and it needs some maintenance. We’ll see it once more tomorrow.

We go to the language school after breakfast. Each of 9 sections runs five days a week for four weeks, with a week off before the next module. Looking over the info, we’re in sticker-shock. Because of our working visa, class costs are more than double the student visa rate: we’d be spending thousands more than budgeted.

We visit another language school in town, designed for Christian workers. We have friends (also professors) who will be enrolled in August. The cost is less: there is no penalty for our visas and the classes are tiny (2-4 students per tutor). Our Indonesian friends help us check out the first semester’s text-workbook: it’s a challenging program designed for conversation, as well as the ability to give a testimony and preaching in Bahasa Indonesia. The schedule of two semesters may be more conducive to starting small groups = four days of coursework weekly for 16 weeks, with  a month between semesters. Something to think about, anyway.

We have a wonderful lunch at Roemah Enak Enak, our first taste of Sundanese food. The side dishes and 4 main courses are under $20. And it’s outstanding food! My boneless barbecue ribs in peanut sauce compliment the red rice and mango juice perfectly. W has chicken and white rice before we share an amazing dish of “young coconut” that tastes like dessert.

Our vehicle get stuck in traffic on the way to visit Augustine and Sumathi, friends we met in Cambridge 10 years ago. They moved to teach in Bandung in April. On their way out the door, they delay their errands to wait for us. They meet Stefano and Livia. We share hugs and happy conversation all around, looking forward to living in the same city again.

We go back into traffic and then B’s introduce us to the Indonesian pastor of a downtown church and his family. They serve us tea, then we pray together and talk about our hopes for partnership. It’s wonderful to tour the church and talk about hopes for future work together. We have different constituents: they’re a Bahasa Indonesian group; we’ll be reaching out to English-speakers.


It takes until evening to reach the hotel again. It may only be a few miles away, but traffic is backed up through downtown. We make a quick stop at a grocer. I have a chocolate bar from Canlis (Seattle) in my bag. We split it and Earl Grey tea from Trader Joes with B’s before bedtime. 

In the next room, a big family is eating and screaming as the kids fight and chat together. Guess it's earplugs to make sure we sleep tonight.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We find out more things we don't know

A surprising physical resemblance: candidate Jokowi
(presidential candidate of Indonesia) and Obama
Wednesday:
Today Indonesians vote for their new president. It's peaceful in our neighborhood, with a feeling of celebration. The outgoing president served two five-year terms and cannot be reelected, according to term limits he put in place.

I'm awake from 2-9am, so after I make rice and eggs for breakfast (delicious, we both agree), I read and snooze the morning away. So much for being over jet lag! Some people tell us to go watch the voting, while others say, "Best that bules (foreigners) stay inside, in case there's violence." We decide to venture out mid-day and eat supper in the flat.

Broccoli juice: it's what's
for breakfast
Part of the learning curve wherever we go is figuring out how appliances and bathrooms work. Around noon, we toss our bedding into the washer. The washing machine on the patio has two sections, a separate tub for washing and soap, and a rinse/spin tub. I don't drain the wash tub after washing the first load of bedding. Instead, we pull the wet bedding into the spin tub. We change the water intake from the washtub to "spin cycle" so rinse water pours over the spinning sheets. The first load rinses while the second load washes beside it. Next, we drain the wash tub, moving the spun-out first load to the dryer and the second load to the spin tub.

Once the second load is rinsed and spun, it rests in the rinse tub while we wait for the first load to dry. (Turns out, the dryer is very inefficient; the bedding is still wet after 1 1/2 hours, so we drape it outside to dry.) W and I walk a few kilometers to the Indo Super and the Holland Bakery. At 1:30, we can't get lunch: most restaurants are closed during the day for fasting and elections.

"Forbidden," smiles the gal behind the counter. "Only takeaway." It's 92oF when we find a donut shop, where we order iced green tea and sweet donuts (tiramisu flavor for W; cappuccino for me.) I take pictures of the pretty sweets. I'm perspiring off all the sunblock and relieved to be in the shade. It's hot even with a hat on.

Risky business: first time cutting
my hair without a comb
or back-mirror.
By the time we buy tomorrow's breakfast at the bakery, it's overcast and temperatures have moderated to a more pleasant 84o. We walk back to the grocer, and, hands full of groceries, we catch a cab home about 4pm. Time for a cool-down swim: 40 lengths today. Last minute, I tossed sunglass-goggles into my suitcase and I'm so glad! The pool's 12-14 double-strokes long, so I'm turning often. I swim on my stomach one way, on my back the other, always facing away from the sun. My new self-haircut dries without fuss.

Each afternoon, Yahoo's Indonesian home page counts down the minutes to the end of fasting. We watch the day's fasting end on TV with clips of mosques, calls to worship, and people praying and celebrating. Newscasters update election results all evening. Based on various exit polls, both candidates claim the most votes. Final results will be announced by July 22.

I wake at 11:25pm for an online coaching webinar (the more reasonable time in Seattle is 9:30am). It's great to hear the voices of friends who have been big influences on me. I connect with some of them afterwards. By 1am Thursday, it's time to go back to sleep!

Thursday:
We have a relaxing morning. When the wall phone rings, we don't understand enough to respond. But soon. Very soon, we'll know enough to converse.

A mini-parade of 15 people strolls by the flat, two gold-costumed figures twirling and a little band banging drums, playing a flute, and collecting money in plastic buckets. They hop off the street when traffic backs up behind them, then continue on their way.

I want to upload pictures for the blog. But where oh where is my IPhone? Between the grocer and home, my phone and wallet have gone missing. Inside: my driver's license, some money, and a few credit cards. Sigh. W walks back to the places we were yesterday but doesn't find it. My last pics were at the donut shop. I text my phone so if the finder is honest, they can contact our Indo friends. Perhaps it was lifted from the grocery cart at our last stop. Maybe I left it in the taxi. I last remember holding it in my palm, the strap looped around my wrist.

Searching my suitcase just in case, I read a verse tucked between clothing: "God of all of me" and appeal to God. He knows where that phone is. Fortunately we have our passports and other ID with us. Prayers appreciated for recovery of what was lost or taken.

Read more:
*Your name, O God, like your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth. Psalm 48:10 ESV

*After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God.” Revelation 19:1 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, we raise our voices in praise. Let those praises and our good works also proclaim your glory. Let our voices and actions carry to the ends of the Earth—Hallelujah! Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Exploring Jakarta

Honest about what they do:
"Pores, Pimples, and Pigmentation"
A sign for a clinic in the church skyscraper
Sunday:
It's a true Sabbath for us. We wake at some unearthly night hour, eat a light breakfast, and fall asleep off and on during the morning. By noon we feel rested.

We've begun studying the book of Mark together, in preparation for preaching and teaching in the future church plant. Our thinking is to approach scripture with a variety of study methods. We're taking notes on theology and tools to make sermon preparation easier later on, when the pace of living picks up.

This lull in activity is unusual for us: we were crushed by to-do lists before we left. And we'll be swamped in a few weeks when language school starts. (So these days of rest and exploration are precious.) Of course, W's grading, I'm writing, and both of us are sorting out relationships, language, and how things work. But that feels like a vacation, compared to our normal schedules!

On our first trip to the grocer, Livia steered me to some rice she liked. Its fragrance and freshness bear no resemblance to the stale bags of Calrose white rice at home. We eat some with leftover chicken from yesterday's dinner. While the pot simmers, I plunge into the pool - I've doubled the laps I could manage when we arrived last Thursday. My back and arms feel more flexible in the water every day.

In early afternoon, I re-tape my blisters (healing well) and we ride a taxi to the mall. We walk our 10,000 Fitbit steps from floor to floor in three adjoining buildings, browsing the sights and relaxing together. In lieu of supper, we opt for tea at the TWG teashop, a Darjeeling for W and a clear Ceylon for me.

In Seattle, days cool down at sunset. I was worried about "losing" our sunlit summer evenings in the tropics: the sun goes down at 6pm on the equator. What I didn't consider was that evenings here are warm.  A whole new set of activities starts after dark. During Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month), the restaurants are crowded with people breaking their fasts. Streets teem with cars and motorcycles as workers rush home to eat out with friends and family. Note: "Rush" is a relative term; "rush hour" describes an intent to hurry, rather than actual miles per hour!

Dragon fruit, halved
Monday
One of the pleasures of Indonesia is the variety of fruits and vegetables. We have a dragon fruit for breakfast, its hot pink peel tipped with lime fins, and inside, its purple-black seeds submerged in sweet white flesh.

Monday is nominally a day off for the church staff. After I have a good swim, Livia and Kristi pick me up for girls-day out. After Livia drops us off at a spa nearby, Kamille and her grandma head to the Baby Spa. Baby's pampering starts with a light rub-down. Then she goes swimming in a warm bath, and ends with a massage. Needless to say, KC is one happy – and sleepy – baby after her treatment!
Kamille at Baby Spa
We hear the rain drumming on the roof of the spa. We have a double room so Kristi can interpret what’s going on. First we are scrubbed with a salt mixture, from head to foot. Eew as all the skin sloughs off. My massage is intense and painful enough to release the tension from the other day’s 10k walk. I ask Kristi if hers hurts. “No, I told her to go easy on me.” Smart girl!

The gals cake us with a tea mixture that makes us look like piggies rooting in the mud. After it dries, we head for separate rooms to soak in bathtubs.

Generous girlfriend – you know who you are! – today I used your gift of “Please do something just for yourself,” on Kristi and me. With great thanks for the luxury of bonding time and pampering.

Spa room
The tropical downpour has snarled traffic. W buys a refillable-ink printer and is lugging it home in a cab. He’s near the Pondok Indah Mall, so we ask him to hop out to join us there for supper. Traffic is so bad that his cab bill is $15 rather than $5 (normal) - and he's still a long way from our flat. Meanwhile, Stefano has it worse; he’s stuck in a cab for over 3 hours. We get a lift home with B’s driver – through flooded streets where motorcyclists lift their feet out of the water and some cars are submerged to their bumpers. No vehicles stall in the 8”-20” surge; it’s just very slow going, especially as people head home to break their fast.

Dark clouds above, raging waters below
We're getting American solicitation calls at 2-3am on our home phone number, which W set to take calls here. We unplug the phone before bedtime. Meantime, Yahoo and other home pages have switched to bahasa Indonesia (language); they give us English only if we request it. Since we can't read Indonesian yet, of course we request English.

Tuesday
The streets are dry by morning. I swim 6 laps before a nosebleed puts a stop to it. Our cab drops us at IES for their weekly staff meeting. I’ve worn a sweater, anticipating the cold air con.

Waiting, we look down on a skyscraper building site. The machinery is submerged in ponds or slogging through several feet of mud. “They’re used to it,” says Livia. “This happens regularly.”


The staff meeting begins with worship songs sung tunefully, rhythmically, and with gusto to the accompaniment of two guitars. The liturgy of interactive readings and prayers refreshes us and helps us focus on Christ and the mission of God. The staff shares prayer requests and ministry updates. Participants are engaged and noisy – there’s a lot of banter and history among staff members.

Pastor Mike has returned from the States with bags of goodies. He passes them out, to loud hurrahs. “This is our tradition,” says Tirza, sitting beside me. “Anytime anyone travels, they bring back candy and treats for staff meeting.” She writes the names of the staff in my notebook as they introduce themselves to us. We are warmly welcomed.

White "crackers": no one could tell me
what they were made of
We eat lunch together in the staff kitchen: chicken, salad (basil and cabbage), rice, and crisp crackers that look like meringues. W starts talking tech; I visit and catch up with friends.

About 1:30, a driver takes us home. A light beep on the horn tells others you’re coming, merging, or turning. Somehow the vehicles flow around each other. We pull into our gates, opened by the security guard by 2:30, while the driver heads back to the church.

Palm trees are the tropical equivalents of Pacific Northwest evergreens. They come in many sizes and leaf-shapes. 3-5’ Staghorn ferns droop from tree trunks, while coconuts and mangos hang above the streets. Plants that we consider houseplants thrive in the medians between street lanes. Tropical plants shed leaves, blossoms, and fruit continually, so it’s easy to see where gardeners are employed. Otherwise, things lie where they drop.

Minum taro: sweet deliciousness
We catch up on reading before heading down the street for supper. Christian music is playing in the restaurant. The owner tells us he spent 3 years in Canada so he can speak some English. We start with minum taro, a sweetened soy drink with taro doughballs floating in it. Yummy.

Then comes mee goreng (fried noodles) and ayam (chicken). The birds here are tiny: a chicken breast or drumstick is typically 2½-3” long. (Compare it to the smallish tomato below.) It’s flavorful and filling. As we’re waiting for the bill, the owner brings over corn fritters, hot from the griddle. I’m too full to have more than a half, but W finishes mine and a few more besides. We promise to come again.

Spicy, soy sauce (salty), and sweet options
Mee goreng and fried chicken

We head out the door in the direction vaguely pointed out for the Hero supermarket. After a few blocks we give up and walk home. We’ll find it another day – it’s getting dark and the roads are crammed with people going home. On the sidewalks, sate grills, barbecues, and other types of food vendors are setting up for the onslaught of Muslims breaking their fast. 

W’s asleep before 7pm. During the night, I wake up for a few hours with my first (slight) encounter of traveler’s flu. The process of acclimation has begun.

Read more:
*I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. Psalm 138:1-3 NLT

*In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV)

Moravian Prayer: Father, you call us to love one another and to serve. Today let us clearly hear and without hesitation answer that call. Thank you, God, for the gift of your son and your everlasting love. Amen.
--
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: to Mary Van Deusen, on the difficulties of moving and on the lessons moving teaches us. 21 November 1962: 

I think I share, to excess, your feeling about a move. By nature I demand from the arrangements of this world just that permanence which God has expressly refused to give them. It is not merely the nuisance and expense of any big change in one’s way of life that I dread. It is also the psychological uprooting and the feeling—to me, as to you, intensely unwelcome—of having ended a chapter. One more portion of oneself slipping away into the past! 

would like everything to be immemorial—to have the same old horizons, the same garden, the same smells and sounds, always there, changeless. The old wine is to me always better. That is, I desire the ‘abiding city’  [Hebrews 13:14] where I well know it is not and ought not to be found. I suppose all these changes should prepare us for the far greater change which has drawn nearer ever since I began this letter. We must ‘sit light’ not only to life itself but to all its phases. The useless word is ‘Encore!’

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A welcome landing strip

These first few weeks, the plan is to meet our partners, the International English Service staff, and explore Jakarta. We'll attend a ministry retreat for coworkers before moving to Bandung. Our friends (the Bramono family) have graciously made us feel welcome! The temporary landing strip is a flat with comfy beds and good internet. We have free texts. W rigs our home number to ring here so we can phone as if we were in Seattle. (We unplug at night so we aren't accidentally woken by folks at the other end of 14 hour time difference.)

Sumathi, a dear friend since our husbands were researchers in Cambridge 10 years ago, checks in from Bandung. We eagerly anticipate seeing her and Augustine - and finding out what they already know about living in our new location.

Our July 4 "bbq" is Nasi Goreng, the
national favorite of fried rice,
topped with egg
Friday: hope it was a happy July 4 for our American friends! Our hearts are full. I set my YouVersion app to read scripture aloud and it pours over like water. I'm in Matthew, listening to the sending of the disciples to heal and proclaim Good News of the kingdom of God, and the mission of God-among-us.

The flat is equipped with filtered water and a rinsing solution for veges and fruit. We brought Trader Joes teas to drink until we find local teas we like. What a difference local water makes to taste. Some of the teas we've purchased overseas have tasted awful in Seattle. My favorite TJ Jasmine green has hardly any taste here.

Breakfast is a star fruit and "French toast" from the mall bakery, with Jasmine tea and W's local coffee mix. W grades papers while I clean up, swim, and begin to wrap my head around being so far away from the past.


I get a gushing nosebleed while updating the mailing list. I have had nosebleeds at least 3-4 times a week in the past month = stress-related, I think. My nose starts to bleed again during the swim. Out of the water I go! My folks email the label from a German remedy for nosebleeds; let's see if we find it here.

Let's get you there! A two-storey escalator
W's uses a mapping app to plot our way to the mall. We're supposed to be headed for the one we were at last night, but two nearby malls are near a golf course and have the same coffee chain shop.

Starting at noon, we walk two and a half hours (instead of 37 minutes to the nearer mall) to the Senayan City Mall, mostly in single file along extremely busy roads. Motorcycles and cars veer to miss us, just like they move around other pedestrians. The sidewalks are irregular when there are sidewalks. That irregularity includes holes to the drainage canals below, uneven paving when there's paving, and curbs ranging from 2' to non-existent. We walk up and down, over gaps, and around trees growing in the walking strips.

When our faces become beet-red from heat, W mentions, "It's just another hour's walk, but we can call a taksi anytime you want." Ah, if we're this far along, why bother? Both of us wear sunglasses and unglamorous sun hats and carry water bottles. The perspiration removes some of my sunblock and my face is red for the rest of the day.

Typical "two-lane" traffic, with dozens of
motorcycles darting between the lanes
(including oncoming traffic lanes, if it's faster)
We pass mosques (on this first Friday of Ramadan), a neighborhood of garbage recyclers, hole-in-the-wall stores and prosperous shops, slums and magnificent homes. Vendors pull their carts through gaps in traffic. We follow others who are darting across intersections. A local trick seems to be to cross at least 20-30 feet from a corner so you can see who's coming in plenty of time - vehicles definitely have the right of way.

Indonesians are friendly. Many initiate a "hallo," tip their heads slightly, and smile kindly at the foolish bules (foreigners) who have ventured into the heat and sun. We smile back and keep walking. We never feel in danger or threatened. Maybe we're just ignorant: we sure wouldn't walk through similar neighborhoods in any US city. Our Fitbits record about 15,000 steps. Our feet say it may be more, considering the terrain. When we reach the mall, we head for an Indonesian restaurant and eat a late lunch at 3pm. The new blisters on my feet are happy for respite.

Yummy ramen lunch
We like to know where to get things we need, and the mall is thoroughly modern and well-equipped. The people stream by. "Who among you knows the Prince of Peace?" I wonder. The reason we're here is constantly on my mind.

We're so tired and hot (even with stops along the way to buy water) that we don't feel like browsing. We buy pastries for tomorrow's breakfast and W looks at options for a printer while I check out small appliances. I completely forget that I need a dishwashing basin. (We pick that up the next day.)

Kristi and Kamille meet us for supper. While we wait for Jonathan (Jojo) to finish work, Kristi drops me off for a massage and W for a haircut and massage (combined, strangely).

Connected: Kristi and Kamille
About 7pm, we eat at a place with Persian-style tenting and a menu ranging around the globe, from the West to Middle East to China to SE Asia. I order lamb in fried rice, topped with an egg sunny-side up. W has a steak and avocado salad. Kristi has a chicken and noodle soup. Though it's yummy, only W finishes his meal.

When Jonathan arrives from work, they drop us at home. It's a half hour drive; we're even further away than I thought. W crashes on the sofa before taking a shower. I scrape the dirt and sweat off my skin with a rough washcloth and soapy water and pull on PJs by 9pm. We've stayed up all day and hope our jet lag is wearing off.

Saturday:
The stairway to the pool beyond the courtyard.
(It takes a few days to get used to the top
stair, a 12" drop from the balcony.)
We're up by 4am. I log in on FB to see the July 4 celebrations 14 hours behind us. What fun to see all the families together. After breakfast, W works online with NU students. I swim before it's back to work on our mailing lists.

W points out that about 1/3 of the addresses in our Excel sheet are not highlighted "so they're just writing, not emails." (Whaaaat? No wonder some of you didn't get updates. My apologies.) It takes a while to fix that and to finish the MailChimp lists. W sets up a fancy hack so that we're online after getting bumped offline. Does he know everything? Well, almost; makes him fun to travel with.

W is researching prices for gear and essentials before our move. "Shall we walk to the nearer mall?" W asks. Except for one-inch blisters on the balls of my feet, we feel great after yesterday's walk. (Good health is a blessing we don't take for granted.)

Dr K tapes moleskin from his handy foot-kit to my blisters
We take a taxi to the mall but we're not really in the mood to shop (again). The B's driver returns us to the flat for a nap before church.

The mall train for children loops the length of the corridor.
A little truck pulls open wagons over painted "tracks." Clever.
The International English Service starts at 5pm. Going to church is like coming home, no matter where we are in the world. We walk in and God's presence surrounds us. Katie, at pre-field orientation with us last year, is at the welcome desk. She's been here for a year.

The IES music and worship, wonderful as always, draws us in. When we sing our granddaughter's favorite, "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)", my heart feels overwhelmed. The sermon about the power of God and his empowerment of his people confirms our dependence: in the mission to which we're called, we need the anointing and power of the Spirit.

We eat supper at the Tony Roma's downstairs. It's a joy to reconnect with our other "daughter" (Daniela, who lived with us) and her husband Mario. They're a wonderful match, co-pastors with complementary and opposite temperaments. M makes us laugh, as does his friend and table-mate, an Evangel alumnus who's taught in Indonesian international schools since his graduation over a decade ago. Of course Kamille entertains us with coos, smiles, and bright-eyed joy whenever she spots her auntie, grandpa, and grandma. (She looks surprised at our pale faces and hair.)
At dusk, the streets come alive
with roadside shops.

We fall into bed exhausted, but wake up again at 3am. We'll sleep well soon, we promise ourselves. Usually we don't get jet-lagged on arrival. (Going home or a second leg can be brutal. Packing up and moving may have made us less resilient.) W falls asleep about 4:30. Lucky man. Outside, the birds chirp madly in anticipation of morning. I'm up until after 7.

Have a blessed and happy Sunday, everyone.

Read more:
*Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 ESV

*Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” John 4:23 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Spirit of love and redemption, we come to you with songs, words, and meditations of worship. We pray that our days, no matter how busy, will be full of acts of praise. Amen.