Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homeward bound

Opa plays peekaboo with the grandkids
Sunday, October 19

He's back. Yay - Waldemar brought himself, tea, and a few other things from Seattle - including Christmas ornaments from our kids. It is good to have him back. I was in Jakarta while he was gone, for reasons of safety, security, and sanity.


After my day of language studies and relaxation on Wednesday, J sends a driver over Thursday morning to pick me up for Life Group. After passing through several security checkpoints,  we make it to Sally's lovely apartment and a warm welcome.

Flowers plucked from the yard, in a one-of-a-kind vase :
glass hand-poured over a little tree stump.
There's something about meeting with women. We share an instant camaraderie. These women are travelers who have roamed the world and encountered many world-views and curiosities. 8 of us gather around a beautiful round table to talk about living out our common faith. J is a natural leader and facilitator. She and S are a great team: our discussion centers around Jesus' request about inviting the outcasts and needy to share in God's generosity.

The papaya and mango cubes are delicious, and the spicy rice, wrapped in banana leaf, tastes enak-enak (totally yummy). The fruit here has overtones of flavor beyond the standard kinds we can buy in North America.

J tells me the driver has worked for the family since she was 14. Now her children are the same age, and the driver continues to bless them. The driver's son is doing the same. How cool! The older driver has me back at the flat before 2. I thought I was tired enough to take a nap but end up watching Indonesian and Korean TV (sound and story) and studying. Twelve hours later, I fall asleep.


Sometime in the week, Avery and I
have the old polish peeled off our toes
and our feet made sandal-ready.
Hearing Avery's heart for ministry and her call to God's mission encourages me. She's lives in the church-owned flat where W and I landed in Jakarta. For the week, while W's gone, I enjoy the clean space and deep sleep of nothing in bed but me. No bug falls nearby, no dirt lands on the sheets in the guest room. Ah - "sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite" is a sweet thought.

While W and I are gone, our helper and her husband sleep over at our place. They stay hard at work all week. He builds bamboo scaffolding so he can take apart, clean, and fumigate the ceilings. (They're as high as 17' high  at the ridge.) Every day, Ibu A will clean the mess that falls down. She also washes and irons our bedding and scrapes the hard-water stains from the bathroom floors and scrubs the dirt from our bedroom floor.

The landlord apparently comes by a few times. He is appalled by the live termites. (No, they weren't all dead as he'd hoped!) The leasing agents also swing by. Ibu A says they take pictures for their records. Good! We don't contact anyone at the house while we're away but let them work away. We'll find out the news - good or bad - when we get home.


PD preaches on the Prodigal Son with
Micha's creation as backdrop
There's time for a swim in the pool before heading to church around noon. The staff is wonderful: they share stories and advice about learning the language and starting small groups. Katie promises to share her 2-week intensive course notes. Mario reads our text in amazement: "No one speaks like that! We used those words back when I was in elementary school. They're so old-fashioned." Maybe Jakarta is hipper than Bandung, too?

The senior pastor's family and our friends the B's take exceptional care of us. It's the little things that stump us. I buy a big drink at Starbucks in the lobby because I missed lunch. However, Stephano B shows me how to order lunch through the church's helpers, who run down to the shops on the lower levels of the skyscraper and bring up food. Meanwhile, the worship pastor is hard at work on the stage design. Micha is full of creative ideas - I'm often surprised by what he comes up with.

Gourami fish at Senayan Restaurant
The service refreshes my heart. Oh the worship! Though I'm not a singer, the music always minister to me. (Click here to hear one of my favorites online.) Pastor Dave's message is on Luke 15 (about the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son and his brother). He invites us into God's presence and then sends us as messengers of hope into the world.

Afterwards, B's take me home - but first we stop for traditional Indonesian food: chicken saté, gourami fish, a Javanese soup with crisp chips and roasted peanuts, garlic crackers, and rice. Indonesians know how to cook! It heartens me up to be with friends: I'm missing my husband.


W calls from the airport after 8am: he's landed and is getting luggage. I dive into the pool for a quick swim but forget to put in my earplugs. The foam keeps popping out of my wet ears so I manage only 20 laps and have to quit.

Volunteers (including Avery) participate in
a medical and children's service day in Jakarta
Before I know it, there's a knock at the door and there he is! Hurrah - larger than life and energetic: he slept on each flight and had no trouble at immigration or customs.

I debated all weekend: should I drive the car to Bandung or have the tired man drive? I make the decision based on this: "I only regret what I don't try. "So I hop into the passenger seat with the car key - oops - remember you'll be on the right side of the car as driver. Step out and get in the right side door.

It's a piece of cake. Traffic is comparatively light and vehicles flow from lane to lane. Sometimes it's stop and go. I have to get used to the tolls and I occasionally flip on the wipers instead of the turn signal. Weird. Wipers are on the left, signals are on the right. (W did the same when he first drove; he admits he did it again in Seattle after driving here.) But no problem. Who cares? And the windows are clean.

It's relaxing and fun to drive after 4 months of riding along. It's certainly less nerve-wracking to negotiate the freeways and winding neighborhoods as driver than as passenger! We're home in less than than 2.5 hours, even with zig-zag detours as directed by Waze (app).

Ibu A and Pak E have been working their hearts out at the house. Your prayers have brought this dear Sundanese couple to us. We could not have found better help. Ibu A and I agree with big smiles that we two are happier with progress. The house is sooo much cleaner. She kisses my cheeks and gives me a big hug because I'm so pleased. We say we are adik and kakak (little and big sisters, though I'm just a few years older.)

The curtains she washed and rehung have gone from dirty gold to a lighter shade. The only "crumbs" on the kitchen counter are from the kitchen cabinets where termites still rule. The cabinets need replacing, with or without the landlord's help. (If we and our mission partners have to fund them, we'll put the old junk back when we leave and take the new cabinets along.)

Pak E has built a frame for the sink and replaced the crumbling drawer, eaten away by termites in our bathroom. He's finished replacing and fumigating the ceiling in our bedroom, one living room, and the kitchen, and is working on the offices and other rooms. Nothing seems to be missing or broken. We give our helpers Seattle chocolates and tea, with a jar of peanut butter for their grandkids. And offer our heartfelt thanks. Much better than expected - or hoped. Onward - until it's done. Thanks be to God!

When Ibu A leaves, I snag a dozen guppies from the pond for our indoor fish bowl, arrange flowers in a vase we bought in Lombok (at the field retreat in July), and put up fresh shower curtains. They started as white sheets "painted" with Sharpee markers to cheer up the windows of my Seattle office.

We head to town at 3. I haven't eaten yet! and W had breakfast in Singapore at 6am. (If I don't eat breakfast, I am not hungry.) I enjoy a half dinner and W helps out by eating his and a chunk of mine. He's looking for a new doorknob for the bathroom (currently doesn't close) and new locks for the bedroom  (we've loaned out our keys while away). I pass 11,000 steps for the first time since W left Indonesia - and actually enjoy the familiarity of the little angkot public buses.

Lia shares beauty as easily as most
of us breathe in and out.
When W unpacks, it's a bit like Christmas. Jim and Sallee gave us two plastic bins last year so we could pack fragile things. W's included my dental retainer, bug repellent, and greeting cards from Trader Joes, amongst other things. Our kids put in a personal ornament each. (I brought only two silver hearts from home. They'd look lonely at Christmas! No worries now - we have enough for a small display.) Kim sends dot notebooks.  Sylvia sends home magazines and tea. Mom K's jam and my mom's cookies promise good tastes to come. Sharon sends chocolate chips. Other friends tuck a bit of this and that from home in: I'm overwhelmed by their love and the greetings W passes along.

Perfect shoes to go with other treats
When evening comes, I open the last package - from my friend Lia. It makes me smile just looking at the box. She is an artist through and through: even the package brings great pleasure! And inside = marvelous shoes, a Seahawks T-shirt, and a journal notebook. I've been keeping my eyes out for a guest book without success. This book is the PERFECT size and color. Every guest can enjoy it with us!

W turns the TV on to an Indonesia channel - and instantly falls asleep. It's 8pm. He did pretty well!! I'm up until 11. We have school tomorrow so we'll be up again at 5:45am.

Read more:
*Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NEV

*Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, “What has the Lord answered?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” Jeremiah 23:35 NEV

*Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Father, help us to understand and accept your will. Open our hearts to see the many answers to our prayers that you have given us. Thank you for your spiritual presence in our lives and let us be living witnesses for Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Left behind: the week between this and that

 It’s indeed a peaceful time tonight, Tuesday. I’m in Jakarta for the week while W is in the States on company business. Hopefully the workers at our house in Bandung are scraping off the bug accumulations to make it a comfy place for guests and friends. Here's what's happened so far:

W, happy with his 82c haircut and art excursion,
holds up his masterpiece
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's cultural experience is a trip with the language class to Barli's Art school near Bandung. He's a famous painter. His wife greets us and introduces the school. First we shake bamboo instruments that are tuned to C scale. I get the instrument pitched E. When #3 (E) shows up on the chart, I shake it. We play a few songs, mostly movie themes.

"Play by numbers". Each person gets a
bamboo instrument with the pitch number on it
Then we get to paint! Oh, I've been thinking about a flower on the neighbor's shrub for a week - and wanting to paint it. Instead of the bold graphics others put on their vases, I try to remember the flower. It's not a successful likeness, but I don't care. It's such a relief to hold a paintbrush again.

becomes this.

Isabelle, you definitely earned those flowers!
We're all proud of you.
From school, W drives to Jakarta.    Drives.    To Jakarta.    Believe me, it's a big deal. We pull into the gates of the apartment with great relief. He packs and repacks and makes sure everything is set to leave for Seattle. I press down my feelings about being left behind. Focus on the positive. I'll have time for language studies. How exciting. 

We eat homemade soba noodles at Dave and Gigi's with 2 other pastors. They have invited us to the first night of a school play for which their daughter is stage manager. It's funny, professional, and presented in a gorgeous auditorium. Many professional companies would be happy to do as well as these students of the #1 International high school in Jakarta. 

And W flies home.


Wake. Pray. Swim. Thank you God for water and the ability to move and float through it. That is all.

A net covers the open casket.
Then we head to the wake of Tirza's dad. (He was younger than we are.) Throughout the day, various staff members go to her parents' church and express their sympathy. She preaches the memorial service that evening.

At IESJakarta, we're in a series called, "Dr. Luke invites you to dinner." Pastor Dave encourages us to leave our preconceptions of church rules behind, to continue the mission of Jesus. We share communion in groups across the auditorium.


Avery and I have a day off. After a swim and language study, we're at Pondok Indah Mall before 1pm. First, we secure an appointment for a foot massage. I’ve seen a map of the mall so I’m pretty sure where the place is. 

"Where is the Kenzo massage store?" we ask the man at the mall door . 

He points to another mall across the street. “You have to go to Mall 1. There is no such place here.” We walk past him into the parking lot in spite of his directions and there it is, the first shop outside the door. However, the earliest availability for a session is at 5pm.

What on earth is there to do in a mall for 4 hours?! We eat lunch at a Japanese fast-food booth and look around. I walk 8000 steps, try on a few things, and buy trousers and a top. Avery has only been in town for 2 weeks. She finds bargains on shoes, a pretty dress, and a few other bits she needs as she settles in.

Finally, it’s time for dim lights and a foot rub. The past months of walking have pinched a nerve so my big toe seizes up when I point my toes. The massage helps. We buy a few groceries afterwards and take a taxi home at 7. By 8, we’ve made supper: rice, corn, and sausage. Yum. 

My evening task: sending out our weekly photo of The New Normal to a few hundred subscribers. And learning a few more words.


After my quick swim (30 laps), Pastor Dave takes us along to church at 9. The staff meeting is the highlight of my week when we’re here. I love the liturgy, praying and reading scriptures that have been spoken by generations before us. It gives me a sense of continuity and community, of God living among his people in different places, at different times. Micha, the arts leader, brings a blow-in keyboard to lead the 2 guitars playing for worship. “Never a dull moment,” says another staff member. Sounds good though.

Lunch together is time for everyone to relax. We talk about theology, life, and ministry. Our hearts turn toward Tirza and her loss. We also share stories of how strange and funny Church life can be. We are odd ducks, one and all, swimming in the common pond of God’s grace.

Guess what we saw at the mall? yup - a Lamborghini or two
One of the staff is speaking at High Tea, a gathering of about 25 women in a nearby hotel. We're a bit early so we walk through the mall to the hotel lobby, admiring the Italian cars parked between shops.

Worship starts with a cha-cha-cha rhythm programmed into the keyboard. The women sing with enthusiasm. 

The speaker points out that each of us is lost, using three stories from Luke 15. Some of us wander off (the lost sheep), some are lost through circumstances (the lost coin), and others willfully disobey (the Prodigal Son). Christ seeks us out and reconciles us with God. I’m full of wonder at God’s persistence. My heart is refreshed. When we’re done, the table is spread with a dozen main dishes and desserts.

The wife of one of the original founders of IESJakarta encourages me. Others talk about their interests, ask for help with visas (sorry – I’m not American), and otherwise include me in their conversations. I’d attend the meeting regularly if we lived here.

Pastor Dave, our coach and mentor, asks me today how much language we want to acquire. We actually don’t know that yet. We think the answer will become clearer as we get to know people around us. We probably want enough Bahasa Indonesia that the hearts and intentions of those around us are not completely hidden.

Dreaming of a kitchen cabinet strong enough to hold
our dishes ... what's going on at home while I'm gone?
This is supposed to be my week to catch up on language studies. (As if I could learn 300+ words a day and actually catch up.) It’s discouraging to review the list of 100 words written down the first two days. There’s no capturing all this vocabulary in the next months, never mind this week. But it’s exciting to think that we will know what all this means – in due time. I try to memorize three or four words, a few times a day. Some stick. Others are new each time I look at them. I try out the words as we go out. Even the little I know helps in getting around. Berkumpul: gather. Berangkat: leave.

Before 6, we’ve driven home in the lightest traffic I’ve seen in Jakarta. I tackle my language book, eat a mini-Magnum ice cream bar, write, and talk to a peer in Seattle before heading to sleep at midnight.

Read more:
*I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

*Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

*Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Patient Father, when we do not understand the events of life that trouble us, let us turn to you in prayer. Change our sorrows into joy. Give us the courage to show our thanks in all circumstances. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two Teas till Tuesday

A find: where to enjoy Indian food
We discover a good Indian restaurant with our friends from India. So Sunday, our post-church lunch is excellent. The debate is where to eat that is not too warm. Ah, a breeze is blowing through the patio. Snag a seat, enjoy a banana leaf plate, and eat with your (newly washed) fingers. Totally yummy. So what if your thumb gets stained yellow by the curries.

Monday, October 7

After class, we run some errands. The bank reminds us that we need our original passports and visas for banking transactions. So our bank business must wait until tomorrow. One more stop before we head home: the water bill has to be paid each month in person,  downtown. (Apparently our bank doesn't do money transfers to pay online. Oh well.)

We're home in time to take a short nap. W's not 100% well yet and I'm tired from a short night. Crash.

The strange juxtaposition that is Bandung: palm trees,
Dutch heritage (a windmill on a bakery), planes overhead,
and the chaos of unregulated buildings
Dr. W crosses the street at 5, from her house to ours. She exclaims over the new arrangement. We've moved furniture, making the rooms more livable with the same stuff we inherited. We haven't added art or made it our own yet.

We share a late tea of homemade apple pancakes, cut papaya and lime, and a few local baked goods. The pancakes are fresh and hot. We've begun a neighborly tradition of taking food home. We always have goodies after visiting Dr. W's house so she happily takes some pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast with her. We talk about how God loves us and how grateful we are for his care.

In the evening, I try to review some of our language studies. A few things are starting to stick in my brain. Acquisition is slow but W insists that we'll reach a critical mass when lots of words will sort themselves out. We're glad to be learning grammar as well as vocabulary. Having a TV helps SO much. We've begun to piece together patterns of how the language is used.

Tuesday, October 8

Watch your feet. A typical
sidewalk ... when there is one.
Today's class focus is review - just the two of us and a tutor, without Augustine and Sumathi. They've flown off for a week, conducting business in India. I miss my friends already. During the half-hour class break, W heads to the bank with our passports. He comes back with the mission accomplished.

We are welcomed home by the usual savory smells of Bu A's cooking. Today she's cut up a fresh mango and baked a casserole of rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and sausage. It's another winner - she has a flair for seasoning! Both W and I have seconds. One of us has thirds. I ask her if she will cook this - (and the gourami fish and the wilted green veges) when we have company. They'll love it!

She and her husband Pak E are living in the house while we're gone next week. He and another fellow will open the ceilings to clean out the insect damage. Theoretically that will clear out most of the mess we live in. I don't really want to be here while that's done! Ibu A will clear out what falls down. I'm hoping to come back to a clean house, but she warns me that the men might not finish the whole place before we get back.

W heads out for a haircut while I wrap my blanket over my head and nap for an hour. It was another short night last night. I woke a few minutes after falling asleep and then couldn't get back to resting until almost midnight. The morning arrived too soon: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we're up at 5:30am.

Dr. H is a wonderful hostess.
At 4, we get lost on our way to tea at Dr H's place. She's the medical doctor we met on the way to church Sunday. Luckily, we have a phone number. We turn around and go the opposite way. There she is! waiting on the street for us. Her husband cannot speak English and we're not yet fluent in bahasa Indonesia. Soon, we tell ourselves. Soon.

Dr. H speaks excellent English, among other languages. Before she retired, she studied or worked in public health in Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, and around Indonesia. Her house is lovely. She's collected ethic art throughout SE Asia. The territorial views from the upper floor - on three sides of the house - are stunning. The rooms wrap around a plant-filled, two-storey atrium that makes us feel like we've stowed away in a secluded greenbelt. The wind rustles the palm fronds reaching for the sky beside us as we sip tea and eat.

Oh my - she has prepared a lot for her high school reunion which ended before we arrived, and also for us. We sample the banana-leaf wrapped rice and Dutch Croquettes. Both delicious. (Regrets because we ate so much of Ibu A's good home-cooking? Ah ... nope. Never.)

Before: the windowsill looks a little worn but not bad
After: simply lift the sill off for evidence: happy termites indeed
The sun has set by the time we get home. House repairs are ongoing. W packs for Seattle and Springfield and is asleep by 8pm. Meanwhile, I write, read, and send out a New Normal photo to subscribers.

Email us at, subject line: New Normal, if you'd enjoy a photo every week or two = something that is normal here but not seen in Seattle. There's no obligation and it's one click to unsubscribe if you change your mind.

Read more:
*If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7 NIV

*Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2:23-24 NIV

*Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV*See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.

But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Great conqueror of sin and death, thank you for the strength and courage that your Spirit provides. Keep us firm in our faith and grounded in truth. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the destruction of sin. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Strange stories

Goats come in all colors (including this one in "Oreo Cookie").
Both does and bucks are sold for sacrifices. The seller quotes
$200-400 each but locals get better prices than we would.
Connections are on my mind tonight. How does God tie life together for you? Here are a few of our connections this weekend, in these strange stories of God-with-us.

1. Spiritual. The sounds of the mosque prayers rang out from 5:30pm last night (Saturday) until this morning. The prayer-callers were busy off and on yesterday but the real action started at sunset. "Ear plugs are a good idea," suggests my friend across the street. I fall asleep at 1am, with the voices bouncing off the hills. Of course I'm exhausted when I wake at 6:30.

This past week, in anticipation of the 4-day feast of Eid al-Adha, goats were sold on many street corners. A looped rope is passed through a temporary bamboo railing and connects the heads of pairs of goats. We saw slaughtered animals on the backs of motorcycles and live ones trotting along the side of the street with buyers holding the leashes. Goodbye 

Cousins celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael and God's provision of a lamb instead. (The Bible names Isaac. Same story. Different sons. Genesis 22) On our way home from church, W points out various crowds gathered in open spaces. He thinks they might be doing ritual slaughter. I want to check it out but his stomach is still not up to much after some kind of bug last week. He isn't in any shape to hop off the angkot with me and I can't stay by myself. We miss the whole thing but maybe next year.

Communion with the Baptists: the table
set with flowers and a caption overhead -
Holiness to the Lord
The many local prayers and rituals remind us that God is found in relationship. We are so grateful for the Son who loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins! He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8).

2. People: We couldn't plan the connections God is bringing our way. Friday, some gals from IES Jakarta hail me in a Bandung outlet store. It's only my second excursion into the outlets since we got here. We're choosing a few gifts for W to take to our Seattle family. The Jakartans are on a shopping stop, before meeting a group for white-water rafting Saturday. 

One of them mentions that her family lives in Bandung. "My mom would like to meet you," she says. She takes my phone number.

This morning (Sunday), we are running late on the way to church. A lady walks up to us as we wait for the angkot at the main street. "Are you Rosemarie?" she asks.

I admit it with some surprise. She asks a few more questions, including whether we are connected with IES Jakarta. (Yes we are.) We discover that she is the "Friday Girl's" mom, who we were hoping to meet. She lives only a few blocks from our house. We find out she's a medical doctor as we ride in together. We sit in the same bench at church and introduce her to our friends Sumathi and Augustine. She introduces us to her friends in the parking lot after service. We exchange phone numbers and she also invites me to tea at her place on Tuesday.

German honey cookies and "biscotti"
 (almond cookies)
3. Cultural: Food reminds us of home. I've been craving a taste we can't get here and I don't know what it is. When we moved, I packed a little Baggie of cookies baked by my mom last Christmas - yes, we eat them all year. Today I opened the bag for the first time. We pulled out 2 cookies each for W and me. Eating them helped.

4. Habits: I'm spacey in learning and easily distracted. To get through my PhD, I'd run a bath and sit in the hot water, reading my textbooks until the bubbles were gone. It became a brain-saving habit.

I'm really far behind in language class memorization. Our surroundings-in-process have meant a big diversion of energy. All kinds of "little things" are missing in the house, including drain stoppers. W hasn't been able to find one anywhere in Bandung. Even ACE Hardware has been out for months with no idea when they'll have stock again.

Ugly but effective. Yes, that wrench is
in the bath water, white hard-water stains
line the edges, and a hole-to-nowhere
has been drilled in the tub itself...
In desperation today, I finally stop up the drain with plastic wrap. W loans me a crescent wrench to keep it from floating away - and I get my first bathtub-study session. It takes ages to fill water to 4" with the low-pressure shower head. (There is no direct faucet.) The hard water stains have resisted scrubbing and I loathe burgundy (the tub color). But I get a lot of work done between reheating the water and looking up words on Google Translate.

5. Serendipity: we can't anticipate God's gifts. Saturday, we drive to the train station about noon to meet someone delivering a TV purchased for us by friends from IES Jakarta. The tiny porter, also laden with 2 suitcases for another man, walks to our car with the big package.

I've forgotten how quiet a house is without TV or radio. (W listens to his beloved jazz on headphones.) We already recognize a lot of words on the news. We need to listen for an hour or more a day to capture the language and how it's used. How grateful we are for this provision!

Today we hear good news. Our friends have negotiated the return of W's IPhone! It was pick-pocketed 6 or 7 weeks ago in Jakarta. It took the Bs many weeks of talking but they meet up with the kids who purchased it (and couldn't make it work.) Yay for Apple's lock-out ... and especially for God's grace and favor. 

These same friends got my IPhone back a month after it was lost during the week we arrived in Jakarta. One return is almost unheard of. Two? "It never happens. You never get your phone/s back," we were told over and over. 

But you prayed. Our friends worked hard. And we are amazed and grateful to God.

Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done! 

Read more:
*Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3 ESV

*But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.

His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:13-16 NIV

*You ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Spiritual Father, may we each celebrate and serve you with love and joy. Grant us wisdom to be Christ-like every moment of the day with which you have blessed us. Hear our prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Everyone is somewhere

Some snapshots of our side of the world:
Traditional Sundanese garb - an angkot rider, happy to have W take his picture
Today I was struck by how many of our acquaintances don't live in their hometown. Many of us aren't even in our homeland. W lived in Germany for a year. He and I crossed the border from Canada to live in the US as university students. We returned home to pastor and study - and then shifted to Seattle in our late 20s. We stayed 29 years, putting down roots, making friends, and birthing our fourth child (a dual citizen, like his sister who took out citizenship in the US).

Cute kids hanging out beside the clotheslines and a poinsettia shrub.
In Seattle, we buy these plants in nurseries ... at Christmas
Over the years, some of our friends have stayed in the city where they were born. But we've watched people come and go across the continent or overseas, too. For many years, I sent letters, cards, magazines, and anything else I could think of that might interest them. Since we've arrived, we've had two pieces of mail (one was a credit card replacement) but hundreds of emails. We do feel connected! Well, sort of. In some ways.

17 is the legal age for driving a motorcycle. 9-12 is more likely.
How I admire early travelers in the faith who lived without connection to home. Mail boats might bring news every few months. Parents and siblings died without them knowing. Joys and tragedies happened at home and they were so far away. Out of touch. We read the stories in biographies and summary paragraphs, think, "Hmmm must have been hard," and move on to the next item on our agenda.

10 minutes from our house, a trail through a jungle valley
Even with all the connections today, we miss our parents, kids, and grandkids - and friends. We can see their faces on a Google Hangout, but we can't give a hug or put a hand on their shoulder. It's really strange being on this end of the we-miss-you!s that we said to others. We're in a big city with a roof over our heads. Many serve in deserts, jungle villages, or on the sea. I'm filled with wonder at God's choice of destination for each one.

A typical street between houses for motorcycles. Pedestrians. Bicycles. Carts. Chickens. Cats. Lizards.
Hope you enjoyed the walk through our neighborhood today. Where is Jesus sending you?

Read more:
*The Lord says, “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine.” Exodus 19:5 ESV

*The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25 ESV

*Does God speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19 NIV

*Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

*In Jesus Christ every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

*The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Dearest Jesus, thank you for allowing yourself to be the paramount manifestation of God’s love for us. 

Lord, the blessing of your love is made manifest through your Son. May his light shine through us to the rest of your world. Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Circumcision and walking through the jungle

With the proud parents
Sunday, September 28

We're invited to a circumcision party, along with 700 other guests and neighbors. We are - needless to say - the only fair-haired people in attendance.

We attend a small Christian Alliance gathering in the morning. The service ends with the baptism of a young woman in a pool the size of a hot tub. She and the pastor shiver as they climb into the tank: it's in the shade, though it's a warm day as usual.

In front of us sit two young couples who are studying at IMLAC (the school we were supposed to attend). One pair lives directly across the lane from our house. The other lives two houses further away. They're Americans with young families and neither seems particularly interested in more than a perfunctory hello. We walk home without meeting anyone else.

Where the action happens: women cooking
The all-out Muslim celebration at noon is many blocks down the back side of the hill we live on. It's held in the home where our helper was born and raised her own children. Three families live in her small home. Her sister lives next door - and everyone knows each other up and down the street. We feel honored to be included. They fuss over us because we showed up - and probably because we don't know what's expected of us. Visitors sit, stand, flow in and out of the house, eating, greeting, talking.

The women cooked all day Saturday. While we're there on Sunday, they keep gathering and washing plates as people finish eating. The serving bowls are refilled as soon as guests empty them of fresh chopped vegetables, saté, broccoli and mushrooms, and other dishes, accompanied by rice. Delicious! W's stomach gets upset later in the afternoon but I'm fine.

The live band stations itself at the side of the alley, blaring at full blast. "To let the neighbors know there's a party," W muses. We lose some hearing - one of my earplugs falls on the floor and I can't find it to pick it up from the floor until I'm done eating - and dancing!

Bu A, her husband and their grandson
Bu A grabs my hand and pulls me on the stage, a little area beside the path and between the houses. She says I'm supposed to dance with her. Eeek. I can't dance Western-style, never mind doing Sundanese folk dancing! Awkward. I wave my arms around and move my hips. Her little grandson is a doll. He peeks at me and smiles from the time we first wave at each other until we leave.

Bu A probably hoped this bulé (Western foreigner) could raise some money as she did - putting out her hands for the bills thrust into them for her nephew. I don't even notice the money part until I've made it off-stage. Oops, too late.

The family asks to take pictures with us. We are immortalized in snapshots with boy+parents, grandparents+children, helper+assorted others... under a canopy strung around the room. The plan walls are wrapped with vari-colored fabric to make them festive. The family wears bright sparkly costumes to mark this occasion. We leave them a donation and card with Ps. 20:4 in it. (In the Indonesian Bible, it's Ps. 20:5. The verses of the Psalms are offset just as those in the Luther Bible we grew up with.)

Bu A and her husband take us into their house and offer purchased snacks. We're full enough to have an excuse to refuse politely. We ask questions about the family history and wish Ibu A a happy birthday. Yes, today is also her birthday. (I have a nice scarf at home, to give her Tuesday - when she comes - as a belated gift with a card.)

Delicious home-cooked food - for 700 guests
After an hour, we leave and the party goes on without us. We head down and away from our neighborhood, avoiding the occasional lizard who scurries across the path. The path down the hill winds through the jungle. It's well-traveled. Very thin, wiry and fit men haul water, rice, and other things up to the neighborhood on the slick gravel and mud. The waterfall for the local electric plant culminates at the base of the adjoining hills. It's a beautiful valley and we could imagine that we're far away if it wasn't for the city noises echoing off the slopes. After we've gone down, we have to climb up the other side to Dago, the next hill over.

Kids are flying kites on the hilltop. Motorcycles race out of the little lanes between houses on both sides of the path. And three boys pose for W to take a picture of them jumping into the canal beside the street. A few feet away, a long line of men hold fishing rods. One shows me his 7" fish, dropped in a net under the waterline. Part of the canal has fishing line strung 4' apart, from bank to bank. Each man is permitted to swish his line back and forth within his numbered spot.

Boys jumping into the canal:
10' away from 20-30 fishermen
We walk downhill for a few miles, passing some of the outlet stores that Bandung is famous for. I stop into one or two while W waits outside. I find some shoes (about time! - mine are worn out) and pick up a few things for our grandkids.

We're tired and crabby when night falls at 6. By the time we finish our errands, W is hungry and ready for supper at Miss Bee's. We arrive about 8:30pm. I can't find a thing on the menu: I'm craving ramen at home. But it's 9:30 when we get home and all I want to do is sleep ... after we finish our homework. It's lights out at 11pm.


Typical morning - except that I'm wide awake at 4pm, wondering if something just fell on my face. Maybe. Maybe not. There are termite "crumbs" in the bed, which I swish off the sheets and onto the floor. W plans to pick up a mosquito net to ward off the bigger pieces. I can't get back to sleep though I'm really tired. I listen to the whole book of Revelation and then give up and get out of bed. (We fall asleep to scriptures read aloud each night.)

Goats tied to fences all around town
We walk to the angkot past a new little bamboo fence at the intersection. What's it for? I wonder. We don't know until afterwards. First, we catch the little bus to Pasteur Rd, then walk our 2-3 km. to school. Up 37 stairs and across the concrete walkway above the busy street. Then 37 steps down and a brisk walk to the school driveway. The parking lot looks pretty empty today. After the big open house hosted by the elementary and high schools last weekend, maybe the kids have the day off. 

W occasionally take the lift at the seminary if he's heavily laden, but usually we climb 3 flights of 20+ steps from ground floor to #3. Lantai - or floors - are labeled with Ground, then floor 1, then 2 (which we'd call #1, 2, 3, etc.) So going to Floor 3 means three full flights of steps. It's good for us. I breathe in on the landings and out on the steps as though I'm pacing breaths for lifting weights. 

Language class makes more sense today. At least, I feel I can follow along more intelligently. W always tries complex structures in our writing exercises, but I'm happy with a noun, verb, object - and perhaps a descriptor or modifier here and there. I'm relieved when I get something right and know I understand. (What would we do without Google Translate to help us with the new vocabulary in every paragraph?)

Narrowest house ever, on our Sunday walk
We have a TV coming soon. That will help us acquire the language more quickly. At this point, not that many people can engage us in complicated conversations. We have to stick to the basic questions -where we're going, what we're doing, if we like Bandung, our age!, where we lived before and live now, how long we've (or they've) lived in Bandung, and if we have children. We're looking forward to watching news reports and Indonesian family dramas on the tube.

After class, W and I look for a present for Bu A's birthday - but no luck. So, a scarf it is! Her husband's working on the window when we get home. Friday, he nailed a board over the open space where the windows had been removed. He's come back today to continue working on it. 

At the bamboo fence build overnight, someone has tied a few goats. People stop their motorcycles and pause to feed and pet the goats. Some kind of festival is coming. The goats don't know what they're in for. But neither do we.

The cutlery drawer - before vacuuming
While W heads back downtown to run a few more errands. He is sent across town to three shops for mosquito netting - with no luck. Back home, I step on a few ants, squish others in my fingers (the ones on the kitchen counter while I wash dishes), and vacuum out the drawers and floors. There's a pile of termite granules in the cutlery drawer, on and around the plastic I keep to cover the knife and fork organizer. 

Our landlord insisted Saturday that he's taken care of our bugs. W was gone and Dr A refused to look at the drawers full of bug stuff. When I pointed out the poop beside him when he sat down at the DR table, he said, "That's dirt." Excuse me! I told W I'm not talking to the landlord about this any more. But I do need sleep - so we may have to pay an exterminator ourselves. The first quote is $1000 - to take up the roof tiles, crawl into the attic, spray the ground, and bore holes in the floor tiles to place poison under the house. Not exactly healthy, but probably effective. We'll try to be away when they do it.

The dining room window (eaten away)
and the handyman hard at work
We ask our Indonesian friends about our options with the landlord. (We can't move out: we've paid a year's on a two-year lease; it's doubtful that we could get our money back.) They point us to the seminary's go-to gal, who can probably talk to him and mention potential legal action. I'm considering having the neighborhood women put pressure on him as well: they are already afraid a few sprays with a general pesticide will send the termites fleeing - to their homes. (Termites travel up to 100 yards, looking for welcome spaces like they found in the empty house before we got here.)

W is fast asleep by 9pm. He's walked 19km (12 miles) again, while I'm at 5-something km (3+ miles). Have a great day - and pray that we have a good night. Thanks!

Read more:
*I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9 ESV

*I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him. 2 Timothy 1:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: God, we ask for your presence in our lives. When we don’t receive it in the ways we feel that we should, we sometimes have anger or lose faith. We humbly ask that you would open our eyes to the many different ways you live within and are present with us. Amen.