Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Isn't This a Surprise!

The waters that bind us…

Sometimes you are just surprised by the ways in which we really are all bound together.  It happened last week at church.  In the short bio they had put in the worship guide about me, pulled from the Providence website, it stated that I have been active with the SC Campaign toPrevent Teen Pregnancy.  (In all fairness it is one of the great organizations in our country and I am so proud of my connection with them!) 

Well, a young man in the congregation came up to Anita after the service and said that he would like to talk with me.  He was helping put together a conference on issue around teen sexuality and wondered if I would be a part.  I took it to mean that he was inviting me to be there, to listen and learn.  I thought it was a wonderful opportunity and so quickly agreed.

Last Saturday he called to confirm, and as we talked I realized that he wanted me to present—to the teens.  Sure, I thought!  I have some stuff on my computer that I have used previously.  I will just do that!  With a group of 25-30 I can talk, we can have some questions, it will be wonderful!

On Sunday as we were finalizing everything I just happened to ask, to confirm my assumptions, “So how many teens are going to be participating?” 

About 300!

Well, it turns out that he was wrong!  There were only about 250!

So this morning I found myself in front of a bunch of Indonesian teens (loosely termed—actually the ages ranged from 10-20!) talking about sexuality and how to make good decisions!  Fortunately, I had an interpreters, since I don’t speak Indonesian and they didn’t speak English.  Someone asked how it went and I can honestly say, “I have no idea!”  I really don’t know what I said!  Oh, I know what I said, but what did they hear???  Ask my interpreter!!!

Anyway, I did my spill, and then opened it up for questions.  That is when I realized that a)I had overshot my audience.  They were really Middle Schoolers; and b) they asked the same questions that teens in the US want to know—about relationships, and affection and intimacy and making good decisions and friends and family.  Not one question about plumbing—thanks be to God!

One more similarity, when I asked them how many of their parents had talked to them about sex, there were 2 hands that were raised—both females.  Indonesia has the same problem that we have in the US.  Parents are failing to be the educators that our children so need!  We need to do better—all over the world!

So if you are in the US, and have children, talk to them!  You can find wonderful resources to help at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy as well as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies.  Talk to them!  They need it and want it.  Otherwise they may have to hear it through an interpreter—and who knows what he will say!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

One more reflection from China

I wish I had paid attention to the calendar.  We were in Tiananmen Square on June 3, the day before the 24th anniversary of the crackdown.  It is a peaceful place now, where several individuals came up to have their picture made with Alison—but not me for some reason?

But 24 years ago it was a very different scene.  There are no commemorative markers there, but how long did it take the US to recognize what occurred on the road from Selma to Montgomery, at Kent State, at Wounded Knee?

We do try to hide our dirty little secrets don’t we—as a nation, as individuals.  But I do think there is an old line that says confession is good for the soul.  For us all.

A footnote:

It is good to know that Batman and Supergirl are keeping everyone safe!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Everyday life in Bali

By Anita: 

Everyday living in Bali is  a bit different than our usual routine.  Our house is on the corner beside a rice field.  This week, we’ve been watching as the workers harvest the rice, first by hand and then finish it up with a large machine.  (Clearly, I need to find someone who can explain this process to me a little better.)    

In a vacant lot two doors down are some Balinese cows 
and chickens that roam the street.   Our eggs come from these house chickens that roam freely in Bali. We don’t have to pay extra for these organic, free range eggs!  On my walk this morning, a mother hen and her chicks scooted across the path in front of me.  I wasn’t a quick enough draw with my camera to catch them before they disappeared into the bushes.  

As Don has said - it’s hot here - imagine the temps and humidity of Charleston in summer.  Many places in Bali are not air conditioned  - except for the tourist places - so by 9 a.m. we’re pretty much coated with a fine sheen of sweat that just increases throughout the day.  But we’re learning to sweat gracefully.  Ha!
Our house is small but nice -
 with one bedroom and an office.   The bedroom and office have air conditioning  - which is helpful for writing and working and for sleeping at night.  The open doors in the living room and kitchen sometimes pick up a breeze  but it still gets quite hot  (ok... really hot) in the afternoon.  

Our kitchen has a two burner propane stove and a toaster oven - and a rice cooker.  
Since tap water here is not drinking water ( at least not for Westerners), we have a giant bottled water dispenser.  I think we’re going to set a record for the most water jugs two people can go through in a week.  

We share the house with a variety of small lizards.  Lizards in the shower take a little getting used to.  Our bathroom shower has enough hot water for me to either wash my hair or shave my legs - a lesson in clarifying your priorities.   And we do have a western style toilet -even though I’m getting used to the squatty potties. 

We do have internet now but instead of paying by the month, we pay by the amount used.  You become aware of how much time you spend aimlessly surfing the net and just leaving the internet on while you’re off making a cup of tea or cooking dinner.   The thing we don’t have right now is television - and those of you who know Don Flowers know he is going through news, sports and The Voice withdrawal. 

By far, the best thing about our little house is our pembantu, Ilou.  A pembantu is a house helper.  Ilou has helped us do everything from paying for electricity and drinking water to cooking some fabulous Balinese food for us for lunch.  She shakes her head at us when we don’t know what to do,  then tells us what to do, and translates for the visitors who show up at our door.    

It's a slower pace of life here - not so driven and rushed.  People take their time about life.  Not a bad plan at all. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gamelon lessons

By Anita:

It’s our first week in Bali and we’re headed out for music lessons.  Balinese gamelon is a traditional musical ensemble that features gongs, xylophone-like instruments, and drums.   Each instrument is tuned to a specific ensemble and are not interchangable with other gamelons.  All the instruments are tuned in pairs, but with just a slightly different tuning on each so that when the same note is struck on both instruments, you can hear the vibration of the note almost shimmering in the air. 

The notes of the scale are ding, dong, deng, dung and dang. It seems easy - just strike the right tone and mute the last one- but there is no written music.  You watch the notes the leader is playing and the signals that he gives to  know what note you should play next.  You also memorize the patterns the leader is playing so you know what to expect. 

Playing gamelon means paying complete attention to the leader and listening in a whole new way.   I think it would be much easier with a sheet of music in front of me.  But playing this kind of music is a practice in listening to a different sound in music  and watching carefully - especially when the leader is speaking in Indonesian!  

Who knew Don was a musician?

Our friends, Daniel and Mary, follow the leader on the higher notes.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Don's No Good Really Rotten Horrible Day

Since Alison Flowers has already outed us on Facebook, I thought I needed to share the whole story!  

Today Anita and I decided that we would go shopping for some beach towels, get some flip flops so as not to ruin our shoes, and then go to the beach and grab some supper.  Sounds easy enough, right?

And we made our way to Hardy's which is like a Super Wal Mart.  Bought 2 beach towels and 2 pairs of shoes for $25.  Then we stopped by the church to see if Anita's internet card had showed up--it hadn't.  (Note the music change to much more foreboding!)

We headed back to the beach, thinking that we would eat at a resturant where we ate on Sat--right on the beach, but couldn't find it.  So we walked for a while and then started driving to find it.  Remember, I am driving a little scooter in the land of crazy drivers.  

We look and look and look for the resturant--it has become a quest--when Anita asks, "How are we on gas?"  "Fine!" I say, because it is close to the end.  Only, as I looked at it, it was past the E!  So food takes a backseat (if we had one on the scooter) to gas.  We ask people about Petrol, they send us on a quest that ended up on the traffic equivalent of Savannah Highway at rush hour, only faster.  At last we see a place, make a U-turn and get in.  

Let me say that I was as stressed as I have ever been.  What do we do if we run out of gas, have no idea where we are, or where a gas station is!  Filled the tank up for 18000 rupiah, or about $2.00.  

Now with gas we can head to supper!  Back on Savannah Highway, get to the light where we are to turn, and it turns red just as we are starting across.  We aren't in a good space--even worse when a policeman comes over and "invites" me to come see them!

They are very polite, telling me that I have the wrong license -I can't drive a motorcycle in SC.   He also cited me for not backing up.  The bottom line, I can either give up my license and registration and go to court, or we can settle it there for a mere 250,000 rupiah, or about $25.00.  What would YOU do???

I now have a criminal record; but escaped life in an Indonesian jail.  All in all not a bad day!  It was a really horrible no good rotten day!

I know, I know!  It's Bali!  But can't a guy get a little bit of sympathy?

And no, I didn't take a picture of the nice police officer, but I will get you a picture soon of Don Flowers, preacher and soon to be Hell's Angel!  With Anita Flowers, my Motorcycle Mama!  Or Scooter Sweetie--either way she has a hot red helmet!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Have you Been Whelmed Recently?

There are those places in the world that you hear so much about that you are just certain they are over-hyped.   You go because you “have to go,” but you really expect to be under-whelmed.  There is just no way the Grand Canyon can be THAT Grand!  How great can a wall in China really be?  It’s just a way after all!

It is a GREAT Wall!

No, that doesn’t even come close to my reaction!  It was there, standing shrouded in a mist that arose from the depths of the earth.  (OK, in fact it was another cloud of pollution, but the effect was the same!)

We took the cable car to the top—there just wasn’t enough time to hike to the top, nor do I think my legs, ribs or lungs could have managed it.  So how in the world could an entire army managed to get up there and then fight their way over?

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me give you just a few thousand! Words, not pictures!

The next time we get married we are having our wedding pictures made on the Great Wall!

Reading your Nook on the Great Wall.  When centuries collide!

If Savannah had been here the day would have been perfect!  Well that, and if we could have done the toboggan down the hill, but Anita says broken ribs say no!  Next time though!

A reflection:

This wall was built over centuries to keep the Mongolians out.  It was successful.  It did keep them out—but it also kept the Chinese in.  For centuries the flow of people and idea stopped, which led to isolation.  That is beginning to change, but the fear of outsiders is not a Chinese monopoly.  It is just as alive in church as over the centuries we have built walls to protect the precious valuable faith that we hold, but also to keep “them” out. 

I wonder in a couple hundred centuries if our walls will be deemed this great?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Beijing - First impressions

By Anita:
My first impression of Beijing was the one I really wanted to see.

There they were...behind a large group of fairly somber Chinese people waiting to pick up friends and relatives at the air port...Alison and James jumping up and down and waving!    The real reason reason for the trip to Beijing!

Other first impressions:    *When you can see the pollution in the air,  it's a bit polluted.  *Don't ever complain about American traffic.   Beijing traffic, including cars, buses, motor bikes, bicycles, and lots and lots of people, is complete madness.  And they believe in car horns.   *There are a lot of people in Beijing.

*It's amazing how much you can communicate without knowing a  language by using gestures and context clues.  And pointing at pictures.
* You really only need to do rush hour in a Beijing subway once in your life.  It an incredible mass of humanity.  You're packed in like sweaty little sardines in a tin.

As Alison says, "You have absolutely no personal space."      

First day in Bejing, we toured the silk market, visited Lake Houhai, and shopped in a houtong. But the hugs and the stories and the love were the best part.