Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Note: the Lenten Blog starts today at SimpleLIFE. Subscribe there or hop over daily.

A new Lenten discipline for a friend and me this year is painting a daily medallion daily until Easter. Today the art spiral begins at the outer fringe:

46 days of remembering:
40 days of Lent plus Sundays
A palm frond in the fire and a smudged cross

I walk a few miles down the hill in the morning, meeting a friend for brunch and a heart-to-heart exchange. We visit the children's section of the bookstore to look for illustrators: she has authored children's books that our granddaughter just loves.

Melissa and their kids come for a visit - what a privilege to enjoy their company.

Later, the kids are watching me start to paint. My big mug of tea slips back and off the desk as the kids lean forward on the front of the art book. Oops, a splashed half-litre of yellow-brown douses the white drapes, floor, desk, books, and ... whatever else is in the way. I send the kids upstairs like a good Oma and mop up what I can.

Ah, hurry! Snatch the books, paints, monitor, computer off the deska. Get those curtains off the rod. That means, get a chair. Stand tall. Unscrew the rod. Strip off the fabric rings. Dripping tea, run to the washing machine. Too late - faint tea dye has done its job. Ah well.

In the evening, there's an Ash Wednesday service at Inglewood Presbyterian Church. I come home refreshed and blessed.

Read more:
*We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God. Joshua 24:18 ESV

*[God of power and mysteries] During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king." Daniel 2:19-23 NIV

*Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV

Moravian Prayer: In us, O Lord, you have entrusted a sacred obligation. To us you have shown the great mysteries of your love; in humility you find greatness, in weakness you find strength, in self-giving you find abundance, and in death you find life. May we always be guided by the mystery of your love. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rest and reboot

Seen in the bookstore: Magnus Muhr's "fly calendar"
Edging toward mid-week, time is flying by.

Monday, February 8.15
After finishing some work, I go to meet my friend - except that our appointment is tomorrow. My first instinct is to go home and start over. But I have so few days that are completely unscheduled. So I think,
"If you could do anything, what would be relaxing and a good day off?"

- and of course I end up in a bookstore. Ah, the ease of reading everything my eyes land on ... how I've missed it. I pick up some greeting cards for Indonesia, a few gift books, and a couple of $1 novels.

As my daughter and I talk on the phone, a little calendar catches my eye ... honestly, some people may have too much time on their hands - when you can sketch feet on flies and make them jump? Too much time indeed. But it makes me laugh aloud. People turn to see what's so funny.

Basement dining: my favorite restaurant = home
I troll the little mall and get a lumbar support for driving in the car ($1.50 from Daiso.) Cool. I have one in Bandung and it helps ease the pressure of sitting in traffic.

Melissa has cooked and invites me upstairs for supper (good) - though something has been nagging at my brain all day. There's something important today, isn't there? but there's nothing on my calendar. I'm puzzled but decide to make it an early night.

Until another son calls, "Hey Mom, I don't see you here..."

and I pencil in eyebrows and eyeliner and dash out the door to meet him. We have a good chat. But yikes. (We left this child at church once - I get a shivery sense of deja vu. He was an undemanding child to have around but this is ridiculous.) We agree to meet each week - and it's now on my calendar. I love my kids and am so glad they are forgiving when I totally crash out of the supermom program.

It's foggy. I'm out the door early in the grey gloom. Ah, this color and damp cold? I haven't missed it at all.

Traffic on my walk around the neighborhood:
none. (Feel envious, Jakarta and Bandung?)
My friend Terry is ordering breakfast when I walk in. How I've missed our time of connection - we used to meet each week. I get so wrapped up in our conversation that I forget to snap a picture. We share prayer requests before she starts off to her day and I'm off to the next appointment.

I've missed this place a lot! Joy Spa (Kirkland) offers a one-hour leg and back massage @$30. Laura and I meet there, and it's her first time there so we relax and unwind.

Then it's my turn for a first - lunch at one of her favorite Chinese restaurants. I order basil chicken - which tastes very American to me after being gone (like the Chinese food in Indonesia tastes very Indonesian.) Adaptable and tasty cuisine. L's family spent a few months with us last year - she knows the people and places we talk about. And her family's adapting to routines after a year of travel. What fun to catch up.

Cute - and welcome!
Trying on Oma's reading glasses
On the way back, the sun is shining, my walking shoes are in the car, and I'm ready. I park the car and hop out at the bottom of a steep hill. Up up up - and then around the neighborhood (3.5 miles) until it's back down to the car and home.

The kids are off to the park in the sunshine but they stop by for a quick visit and some stories. I pull out a children's book with Mandarin script. We make up a story -

but Miss K asks, "Oma, why do they say, 'Oh my, oh my, oh my?'" so I tell her this book has no words we can read so we can make it say whatever we want. That's a new idea. (My own kids were used to such quirks. haha A new generation of creative minds is coming up!)

A few phone calls and chores and the day is almost done.

Read more:
*They went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel. 1 Kings 8:66 NIV

*Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

*And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there.

But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:8-10 NIV

*We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV

*Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, the good you do for our sake fills our hearts with joy. Teach us to bring that joy to others, so they too may behold your love and grace. In your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The price of a mission

Thursday, February 3.15
Oh, a great start to the day: a visit with a dear friend. We meet at 7am - like we used to when I lived here (except then we met later). One of the things I miss most in Indonesia are the rhythms of consulting with others. It's hard to share thoughts when you're not fluent in the language ...
Refresh: add carnations and
baby's breath to an aging bouquet
But Kim and I pick up where we left off and I hear her heart and call - with new insights and maturity. I'm encouraged. Then she's off to work and I dash home to hand over the car: the kids have a busy day today!
A friend indeed
When the sun goes down, I walk about two miles to a regular gathering. I get a bit lost in the dark neighborhoods, walk a longer distance, and that's not all bad. I pass three others walking and few cars: it's a lonely night out there.

These friends have met almost 20 years, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, and for richer and poorer. Like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, they've stuck together and supported each other in good times and bad. They pray and partner with each other and with us. Several couples are traveling so we miss them.

I feel privileged to share how much we love Indonesia and why we're there. Bonus: Bev has made excellent apple and peach pies. I have a thin slice of each. Oooooh. Yummy.
Thursday night group
Good friends give me a lift home - it's chilly in the evening!

I have to drop by Northwest University to get some gear for a Jakarta friend. Autumn treats me to a cup of tea and an update. One student strolls past her basement window: "Hey, I'll see you in a minute!" I am startled to my feet and dash out the door.

"Lem! Lemuel!" My nephew turns in surprise. Yup, it's his aunt - and he gives me a hug and agrees to meet for Sunday lunch. How cool is that?! I was hoping to catch up with him and here he is.

I have an appointment with a gal I am coming to love. Jenn makes me laugh - and think. She shares her life with me, raw and real. She's my age, a children's author, and a mad reader, so we have a lot to talk about. Time flies by - and we're just getting started.
Jenn and Rosie - at Jay's Café
I can't believe how much I'm eating, though I pack half away for later. Jay's Café is the local greasy spoon with huge portions and hearty home-cooked tastes. (I get 2 more meals from the leftovers.)

The pots of tea are big - and when Rosie joins us, she orders the same. Jenn heads out and I find another artist friend in Rosie: what a joy to meet women who love God and live life to the full.

The kidlets (grandkids) come for a visit before bedtime: it does an Oma's heart good!

At 7:45am,  I show up for a 10 o'clock seminar (I think). I'm #16 in line, in spite of showing up 2 hours early. The blurb for the seminar said they'd take about 50 people. The offer is free legal help in applying for American citizenship. W and I have a few questions. Meanwhile, our friends are praying that all goes well.

W filled out forms in advance, wrote out questions to ask the lawyers, and prepared documentation for any questions they might have. I have a thick envelope of papers and a tall mug of tea. It takes no time at all to complete the initial screening - I'm soon in chair #2 in the waiting room.

For the next few hours, a Mexican immigrant tells me his story: he loves his work at the airport and can't wait to become a citizen. I quiz him on the citizenship test: I only need to know 20 / 100 answers. (I've been a resident over 20 years so need to study less items than he.)

Finally, we are called into another room where the volunteers - paralegals and lawyers - are kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. Bart, a lawyer who specializes in naturalization, offers answers no one else knows. His folks lived in Indonesia: his mom grew up in Bandung. What are the chances? His Dutch grandpa was in government in Bali.

I'm pre-screened as eligible for citizenship. Do I want to proceed? Sure. Thanks, Erin, for your help!
Thanks for your help, Lawyer Erin!
Into another room, a paralegal copies W's forms into her own. Another lawyer has to check that everything is correct. Bart claims me, makes sure all is in order, and signs my papers.

"Go to Walgreen's for passport pics: 2 for this form and 2 for the passport later," he tells me. "Then you're done."

I'm the first one finished, thanks to W's prep. I write a $780 check and get photocopies of everything, along with an envelope with all the forms ready to mail. 

"Don't lose these," say the copier volunteers. "Keep your copies in a safe place."
Smiles at the photocopier: "You're the first one through!"
The final item is an exit interview. The gal asks for permission to snap my photo for possible promotion. Sure, but why do they want a pic of a blond when the other applicants make me feel at home? = they were beautifully dark-haired! I'm the palest applicant by far.

I drive out of the parking lot in shock. I'm done? I thought I was getting advice ... and instead, I have a signed citizenship application. I pull into a Walgreen's to get pictures taken - the guy pulls down the screen and loops a chair leg through the handle to keep it down. The fix makes me feel at home. I seal the envelope with photos, check, forms, and a prayer enclosed, and drive to the nearest post office. $9  and 10 minutes later, the check is in the mail.

Did I just do this?! Citizenship has become a necessity because we work overseas for an American organization We have our residence here but when we travel, it's become a hassle to re-enter the country. To ward off possible confiscation of our 30-year Green Cards and the diversion of time and money that would mean, we know we need to take this step.

Though we are applying only because of work, our organization declines it as an expense, other than the flight. They define citizenship as "your personal benefit:" so the +$800 for pics / application / postage comes from our personal funds. It's a squeeze. (A Green card gives all the responsibilities but our new rights would be to serve on a jury and to vote ... and pragmatically, to negotiate the border without detention.)

Yikes: citizenship is one of the high costs of doing the mission. Those who work overseas say the unexpected bumps are the fiercest surprises. So true - my body reacts with the start of an ocular migraine, its marker of super-stress.

But our grandkids come downstairs and say hello - we play 101 Dalmations and I'm Cruella, except that I'm a nice one who catches kids and is good to them. Kinsey hops from one "island" to another (between couch, chair, and rug) to avoid being caught. She and Levi jump into the playpen and we heap them with pillows. They remind me of what is important.

Kinsey sleeps over - and her little brother comes down to help make pancakes for breakfast. When they're done eating, they brush their teeth over the bathroom sink.
"Levi, spit in the sink!" Miss K demonstrates.

I have the day off, so I go to Elevation Church in Kirkland. Pastors Ben and Lia discuss what good relationships are - and practical ways to foster strong marriages. It's a good reminder - and makes me miss my husband.

And then I have the first good Thai food in a year - in great company. Kids, grandkids, nephew. What's not to love?

Read more:
*For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. Psalm 33:4-5 ESV

*Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 90:1-2 NKJV

*O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10 ESV

*Lord, you gave your good spirit to instruct our ancestors. Nehemiah 9:20 ESV

*We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Loving Spirit, we rejoice because you have called us into relationship with God. You have opened to us God’s word which proclaims the wonders of God’s work. You make us aware of all God’s miracles surrounding us each day. Amen.

CS Lewis: Mere Christianity
There are three things that spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper.

If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Back to white

A room of generations: my grandma's dresser as sideboard, Brazilian
footstool (wedding present 38 years ago), mid-century lamp, a beloved
Canadian painting, mixed with Indonesian fabrics and African elephants.
In the closet: a basketful of toys for the grandkids' visits.
Wednesday, February 3.15
Today I finished washing floors in the main rooms. The jury is still out whether I'm going to do a job as intensive in the guest room and closet.

Call us crazy, but when we set up the suite, we painted the ceiling, walls, and floors white. It feels bright and fresh. I can also see every speck that needs cleaning. Without little kids, that's easy and quick.

Getting the painted concrete back to new took over 20 hours on hands and knees. (New may have been an ambitious goal: a fine young family took care of it for over a year - well done, you two+one.) But I'm pleased: it's done, after loading old washcloths with Simple Green, dish soap, hot hot hot water, and baking soda (an amazing scrub).

Candlelight: peaceful bedtime
Everything lifted off. Even faint lines from human traffic, doggie claws, and moving furniture back into place disappeared and it looks almost like new. I'm not a perfectionist. Just a close-to-great-ist.

I lit the candelabra last night. I'm celebrating: the furniture is back in place. The white slipcovers are retrieved from storage, the bedding is washed, the blankets fluffed up in the dryer.

We don't know how long we have to stay here but we're taking the time from God's hands. Already, I've had time with sweet friends and partners.

Love my mom!
More things I notice:
  • Reading faces and body language is easier when you grow up in an area.
  • Dear friends remain dear friends. I especially value time with the women of influence who have shaped my life.
  • God's precious gift: my parents always affirm and encourage. It was a special treat to see them face-to-face: they drove to meet me from Canada. Dad reminded me to live outside other peoples' boxes (to follow God's design for me) and Mom told me how much she loves me. Doesn't get much better than that!
  • What freedom to hop in the car and go. Driving is like riding a bicycle: the body remembers. I didn't drive for over a year in Indonesia and I've missed it. When I go back, I'll learn to drive on the left. (W owes me 4 small dents on the car from his self-tutorials haha.)
    A great view: loving parents across the table
  • Medicine is complicated here. Oh the insurance forms to wade through. (I understand nothing but am hopeful that I'm getting things right.)
  • It's good that my husband arranges the 101 permission slips and gathers pages for every little procedure. (Hon, I hope things are in order for the Saturday workshop. We are applying for Ami citizenship to alleviate immigration issues; I've traveled to Seattle to attend a free legal seminar.)
    Twist two faux stems from Molbaks = a spring arrangement
  • The unexpected times that seem like detours (this trip for me) can be accepted as pressures and diversions or blessings. My accountability partners remind me that I can choose to be grateful for this time, arranged by our Heavenly Father. 
  • The chance to go to church with people who adore God is awesome! I treasure a visit to Molbaks with a prayer partner and supporter, the check-in with a ministry colleague whom I love, a place to stay that soothes and refreshes my soul, and the chance to hear what God is doing in Seattle.
I'm thankful for it all, surprised though I feel at times to be here. God is good!

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

*When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken,” but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. Psalm 30:6–7 NIV

*This is what the Lord says--Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come--yes, let them foretell what will come.

Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." Isaiah 44:6-8 NIV

*Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep (already died). 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 NIV

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5–7 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord of all blessings, we often become content with our lives, thinking we will never be shaken; but when hardship arises we fear losing you. You are never far from us and we need only to reach out with humble spirits, acknowledging your grace and love even in the most difficult times. Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2016

In transit

"Oma, can I have this?"
"How about I take your picture with it instead?"
It's been a week since I wrote. And what a week it's been. What I notice about Seattle:
  • Grandkids are even sweeter in person.
  • It's so quiet! that you can hear individual voices and cars.
  • Toilet paper (padded to the max) can be flushed - no garbage cans or spray guns beside toilets.
  • You can buy everything - big, fresh, and packaged to sell - but most things cost more than I remember.
  • Everyone protects their own space. "It's mine" vs. "It's ours" (Indonesia).
  • I can read everything, talk to anyone (English), and learn anything (free art demos at Daniel Smith)
  • Internet - it works. The pics that take 5-10 minutes to upload into the blog in Bandung take 4 seconds here.
  • Traffic is sparse and orderly, even at rush hour. "We could fit 3 motorcycles between," I think when people leave gaps between cars at the stoplight.
Tuesday, January 27.15
Suitcases are packed and ready. We leave our home for Jakarta. But first, two friends come to say goodbye. Relationships are everything here, and people go out of their way to maintain them. I am touched: our friend Dr Hanna leaves Jakarta at 6am and to make sure we don't miss each other. She brings batik squares and a few scarves for incorporation into a craft project. DrW stops by to give me a double-hug traditional in Indonesia. I will miss them both!

Mickey perches
And Rambo glowers
We drive pass the themed "hero" factory outlets near Ciwalk Mall. They seem so weird but apparently help sell to tourists and locals who shop on weekends.

In Jakarta, W and I meet up with Kelly, a NU alum who is going to intern at a non-profit in Bali. Life is in flux for her but she is on a journey of faith. Very cool. 

We're up at 3:30am. The shuttle drops us at the airport and W waves me through security before hopping back on to get some more winks of sleep at the hotel.

3 flights. 24 hours. For the 9+ hour flight from Tokyo, the airline asks if I will exchange my aisle seat for a "middle-of-4" seat at the back of the plane. Economy class is full and a couple wants to sit together

Of course I'm happy to move ... if they will bump me to business class where there are several seats available. 

"You are on a very cheap ticket," the attendant informs me. (I know that.) And she makes other arrangements.

I've ordered Kosher meals. The flight attendants bring every one to me at the start of the flight. Apparently I have to puncture the plastic wrap and take it off to guarantee that it's Kosher and untainted. Who knew. The meals are tasty though.

Rebekah, our d-in-love, picks me up from SeaTac without incident, though I don't have a working phone. We catch a late lunch at a juice bar that happens to have fabulous Pakistani-style gyros. Delicious!!! She drops me off and wades back into traffic after greeting the family at the house.

It's such a treat to say hi to son Timothy and his family. "Oma! You're here! You're here! I'm so glad to see you!" our cucu greets me at the door.

Kinsey goes to gymnastics and loves it. Oma enjoys watching her play! 

First off: flowers
We stop in at Costco on the way home and I'm staggered by the abundance of everything I haven't seen for a while. I load up on fruit, vegetables, goat cheese, and a multigrain bread. With W far away, only healthy foods make it in my cart.

We have to rush back because a cleaner is coming. I thought I'd hired her for the day, but she arrives at 11:30 and leaves to get her kids after school. Oh well - it's a good start! She vacuums and runs a rag over the floors, cleans the kitchen and bath thoroughly. That gets me focused on the job ahead. I start scrubbing the floors on hands and knees, using baking soda and soapy water to bring the stains off the white-painted concrete.

My knees get cold. I find the foam "prayer" block in the spare room and carry on. 

The bedding under the sofas has mildewed so the laundry machines get a good workout: I love the sanitize and allergy cycles - they restore the white sheets and freshen up the pillows and blankets. (It takes a few days to get through everything.)

I zip out to Trader Joes for flowers and a few staples in the afternoon.

Our granddaughter gets permission to walk to the store with Oma - and we talk about all kinds of things. She pretends to climb a tree and tells me knock-knock jokes.

I get a few groceries but she wants a lollipop to reward her for the long walk. We agree to an ice-cream sandwich since there are no lollipops available. And she promises to eat her lunch when we get home. (I toss a chunk of ice-cream in a garbage can along the street when she's had enough.)

"Oma, I feel like being carried," she says after about 2 miles. We're on our last street before getting back home.

I agree. "Me too! I wish there was a pony that could take us home." I tell her about the horses that take kids for rides around the Padma Hotel in Bandung. And we walk the rest of the way home together.

Timothy calls T-Mobile to find out why my SIM card isn't working. They've messed up the number somehow - I've had no internet or phone (except WIFI) since Tuesday. The rep is helpful, polite, and knows what she's doing - and it's fixed! (Thanks to our son, too, who understands the jargon and electronics.)

I meet a friend at Third Place - oh so good to see your face, Kim!!! - and then it's off to Seattle.

Amazing workshop at Daniel Smith
I'm at Daniel Smith Art for a few hours: how I've missed being able to go to the demos for inspiration! First off is a class on composition - how to put together a painting. Then a young printmaker demonstrates collographic methods of making art prints. I leave with a full heart, feeling like I've eaten a huge meal for my soul.

Between every event, I'm sorting/washing clothes, cleaning/rolling up the rugs and moving furniture to wash the floors. What a good workout! 

I am ready to move to my own space tonight. A guest room is great (thanks, Melissa!) but our home is the basement suite. Little by little, things flow (well ... are hauled) back into place from storage. 

Bandon speaks at Canyon Creek Church, Mill Creek
One of our sponsoring churches is celebrating an Open House in a new space. Dozens of volunteers have completely redone the facilities and I decide to spend my first Sunday with them.

Except that the website map is to the old site. And I accidentally punch in a wrong number. So I'm in the middle of a neighborhood. Then at an elementary school. And finally I find the actual address (light font in the middle of a paragraph. Oh, dumb me, a skimmer when there's a map link in sight.) 20 km and a half-hour late, I'm there.

And so glad I persisted. The volunteers, under the direction of senior pastor Di Beals, have done an amazing job. The building is inviting, the greeters welcoming, and I immediately feel "at home." The message is inspiring, something I needed to center me for this unexpected trip back to Seattle. Thanks, Pastor Brandon Beals! Afterward, it's fun to talk to people who know and pray for us.

The grandkids come and go as I sort and organize before lunch. Levi (2) is fascinated with the family pictures in the stairwell. I hear a picture glass breaking; oops. I ask him to leave the rest hanging. 

"Why?" he asks. Just because. (Trust your Oma. haha)

Rebekah cooks 2 new recipes, both of them "hits": super-charged nachos and an apple crisp. Oooooh yum! It's wonderful to see our sons and their families together. And it's kind of weird because I used to cook and prep for everyone on Sundays. I hold the youngest grandson while Melissa and Rebekah clean up - grateful for dear women who have joined the family.

I'm not jet-lagged exactly, but feel weary and disconnected after cleaning, lifting big bags of upholstery out of storage (sofa covers, blankets, etc.), etc. My brain hasn't yet checked out of Indonesia - and not having a phone for a few days hasn't helped in making connections. 

I decide down time is not overrated for a grandmother! Especially since I'm working until midnight most evenings. A few more days and I'll be settled. I hear the kids thundering overhead and am glad to be a grandma. I pray blessings on their mom and wish her much joy in doing for her generation what I and my friends did for ours. :-)

Read more:
*Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

*Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:25-26 NKJV

*How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:1-5 NIV

*From the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:13–14 ESV

*Paul wrote: I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:33 NIV

*For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Generous Lord, infuse our spirits with your love and compassion that we might see the broken spirits of others and respond as you have shown us. Where there is need, help us to meet it with your kindness. May all that is good be seen in us, your children. Amen.

C. S. Lewis, writing to a friend: on the meaning of interruptions and real life; on the difficulty of being patient; and on expiating through embracing one’s own sufferings.

Things are pretty bad here. ... Sometimes I am very unhappy, but less so than I have often been in what were (by external standards) better times.
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time—I know your problems must be much the same as mine (with the important difference that mine are of my own making, a very appropriate punishment and, like all God’s punishments, a chance for expiation.)

Isn’t it hard to go on being patient, to go on supplying sympathy? One’s stock of love turns out, when the testing time comes, to be so very inadequate: I suppose it is well that one should be forced to discover the fact!

I find too (do you?) that hard days drive one back on Nature. I don’t mean walks . . . but little sights and sounds seen at windows in odd moments.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sweet Sunday together

Just beautiful, even sitting curbside.
Sunday, January 24.15
The days are flying by. Saturday morning, we walk to Jogja - the local grocer - for dog bones, taking Gypsy for his walk. He is happily tied up while we have a light breakfast at Koloni, a series of food stalls.

We hear Gypsy's deep bark and walk over. When he spots us (shush-ing him) his tail waves exuberantly like the proud flag of a small nation.

W pulls down a suitcase and I pack. I'm a little leery of leaving the suitcase open for a few days. What if a roach gets in and infests our suite when I open the suitcase in Seattle?

"Don't worry," W says. "I haven't seen roaches in our bedroom. Only in the rest of the house." Thanks, hon. He is our exterminator, drowning roaches in the toilet on a regular basis. Sometimes they are dead on their backs. Sometimes they're just flipped over and still kicking. Ugh Ugh Ugh. Yeah. Ugh.

Every night, we hear the lizards chirping above our heads in the bedroom, chasing bugs in the coffered ceilings of this old house. They creep me out because they sit and then dart around. I have been known to shriek when they pop up from behind the bed or the water dispenser.
Besides clean water, I'm looking forward to seeing
these darlings soon!

Ah, water. I'll be able to brush my teeth in the shower when I'm in the USA. We don't take this for granted! Here, we only drink bottled water and must brush our teeth, rinse vegetables, and cook with the same ... just like the locals do. W has a drip going continually in the back kitchen so we don't have to buy water like we used to. One helper uses almost a half-bottle (about 2.5 gallons) to rinse vegetables. That got expensive, even at $.65 for 5 gallons.

W thinks he's trapped all the mice and their babies who were living between the floors. They would come down at night to bite holes in the little packets of spices, mayonnaise, and grains in the kitchen. He set up a security cam to see where they ran across the counters. Between traps, poison, and sticky paper, we think we got the whole tribe.

When we get up today (Sunday), Gypsy needs a walk and then it's time for church. Pastor Terry and his wife are Canadians - we "get" their culture and their references during the talks. The encouragement for me from the sermon is how Elijah (1 Kings 18) thought he was all alone - but there were 101 other prophets of God also serving. We are never alone in the Kingdom of God, no matter what we imagine or how we feel.

It's time to let some women know I won't be back for a while - and to say good-bye after church.

"That is the nature of our work and how it goes for all of us," says Karen. She's right: our friends here are constantly coming and going. You never know who is in town until they show up. And many people move here and leave with the military, with company transfers, and as long-term tourists.
Our view from the church seat: the canopy flaps in the wind today
and it rains while service is on
W asks one of the staff if he knows of good house-minders. The pastor tells him to put a note in the church program. Good! Prayers appreciated for a reliable couple or family to take care of the place. Though we are staggering our time away, it's good to have consistent live-ins.
Tofu fritters
We have a pizza ($5) at Miss Bee and "HURRAH" they have avocado juice, one of my favorite drinks. When avocados are in season, there's nothing quite as wonderful as whipped avocado with a bit of chocolate syrup drizzled inside the glass. Sounds awful? Tastes fabulous.

The server comes over and asks if we want a photo taken. Why not? (We've taken more pictures (and had more taken of us) in Indonesia than in our entire lives before.)

Read more:
*Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 ESV

*Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 ESV

*If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord of love and kindness, help us to show your true power. May we seek not our own joy but to bring happiness to others; not our own security but to help others find hope; not our own peace but a harmony that brings others together. Grant us your love. Amen.

From C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity:
I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. 

In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while
yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your
own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A few final things ... and a brain freeze

In transition: a building site prepared
by tearing down the old walls
Do you know the feeling of "checking out?" = the disconnection between what is happening around us and what is going on internally. I feel myself starting to "check out" this week.

Yesterday we are in town, talking to people in the market and on the streets but my mind won't focus. Words I know that I know slip away and I find myself stuttering and limited even in basic phrases of Bahasa Indonesia. And I'm exhausted, that soul-weary fuzzy zone of almost-not-thinking that precedes another transition. 3 more sleeps in this house before we drive to Jakarta for my early-morning flight to Seattle ...

Wednesday, January 20.15
Gypsy gets his first-ever bath: the mats are cut out of his hair and he is glossed and pretty when he comes home. But the natural oils that made dirt shed off his feet are gone, too. When he plays in the mud, the fine grains stick and his paws turn tawny yellow. 

We have 2 new walkers this morning, a neighbor and a new language school student. There's a new dog, too - a beautiful Rottweiler who is calm and friendly. Several drop off food (potluck afterwards at our house) before we start walking. We go behind the complex and down through the villages to cross into the grasslands that line the valleys.
Center dot: a walker (hat visible) coming up the trail between tall grasses
Gypsy is half-neutered, we find out. And the half that is not neutered is aggressive and won't calm down on 5 miles of walking. He pulls, barks and strains toward the other dog, and continually plunges ahead of me. I've never had a dog who returns to the same behavior time and time again after correction. (Poodles and Dobermans are more compliant!) 

I've scheduled the first appointment with the vet possible: W will be the "nurse" when the dog comes back from surgery next weekend.

The trail is slick as glass after several days of rainfall. Several of us slide back down hard-fought ground between the tall grasses. Gypsy sees the dog coming up behind us and pulls me down. Slip and slide, and we fortunately stop within 5 feet of the other (well-behaved) dog. 

Everyone clambers back to their feet and before long we are winding up paved alleys and through villages. We knock the sticky mud off our shoes. Scrape it off. Drag our shoes through grass - back and forward and sideways. But it sticks until it begins to dry and we can stomp it off on a paved path.

At one point we cross the river and pause to watch boys jumping and swimming in the strong current. There is no adult to supervise. No lifeguard or minder yelling from the bank. Just boys having fun in the sunlight and the swift, dirty run-off from kitchen sinks and muddy hillside. 

We have another steep hillside to climb before our house. Today we end with a tea party.

I hurry ahead to our house while the group climbs a final veeery steep hill. Do I have time to dive into the shower to rinse off the clay and splash of the trail? QUICK.

Then it's time to finish cooking and enjoy food, tea, and great company. For the first time, I meet the famed pavlova, an Australian meringue concoction that takes like sweet heaven. I've come to love these women and will miss our walks!

Then it's off to the Bamboo Shack for our Bible study. We cherish this time - it is food for our souls. It's always hard to say, "More next time" because the scriptures are so interesting.

The driver walks the dog while we get ready and clear a few emails. When Pak Entang returns, we go to town. W is looking for travel trousers but we only find fabric stores where we can buy "Italian" wools, silks, and cashmere blends for $5-10 / meter.

"We manufacture fabric in Bandung for Joanne Fabrics in the States, for the couture shops of New York and Europe, and for tailors in the whole world," one seller tells us.

One of the great privileges of being here is praying. As the ritual prayers ring out from the central mosque, we pray for those calling out prayers. We pray for their families. We pray for those listening. We pray for those praying along. May God make himself known in all his fullness and glory to them and to us.
The central mosque of Bandung
The city is full of curiosities. It's 90o but a young woman is dressed in full bridal wear to advertise a shop.

We browse the little shops of women's wear and updated traditional wear.
Chic clothing for the modern Muslim
I'll miss Miss Bee, the local restaurant where meals range from $2-10. We stop in for a light meal.

And I'm absolutely exhausted. I can feel how slowly my mind is working. I feel like my brain is atrophying, especially in the last month since we found out we have to return to the States for a few months.

"What I've missed most," I say to W, "is our habit of constant learning and engagement with information." 

Because our Indonesian is basic, we cannot read and scan and absorb everything around us like we are used to doing. Sure, we're still reading books, learning language, and trying to converse. But it's like slogging through a field of wet clay.

When W asks me to decide where to eat, where to go next, or to make other small decisions, I shrug him off. "You decide," I say. "My head is full."

And he is just as tired. When we drive by the downtown market, I ask to stop. W says, "We can come back later."

But we both know we'll be too weary after a few hours in town to fight traffic to return. It will be a few months before I get the right-sized swimsuit ... I just hope the vendor of the little stall is still there.

Read more:
*We your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13 ESV

*O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Psalm 105:1 ESV

*Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV

*Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

*Paul wrote: We may proclaim the good news in lands beyond you. 2 Corinthians 10:16 ESV

*With joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12 GNT 

Moravian Prayer: Great Shepherd, we are your flock, honored to hear our names called by you. You, Lord, give us green pastures to lie down in and still waters to walk beside. In you we find all that we need for true purpose for our lives. Call on us; we are yours.

We find comfort in your message and purpose in its proclamation, heavenly Savior, but too often we feel like we are in a world that doesn’t want to listen. Remind us that it is your message that we are called to share, not our own. Help us to take ourselves out of the message and share only your true light. Amen.