Sabtu, 07 Juni 2008

Reaping the Rewards

I feel like I have fought a good fight here in Indonesia, have kept my faith, but have yet to finish the race. This chapter is about to close; another about to begin. It’s always wonderful to look back and reflect on life and how far you’ve come and the lives that you’ve touched and vice versa.

When the Apostle Paul said that he had learned to secret of being content in any and every situation in his letter to the Phillipians, for a long while, I never could grasp the idea. Often times, I thought it’s when I have this or that, then I’ll be content. But Indonesia has taught me that contentment is a state of mind. I’ve lived with people who have so little and yet they learn to be content with the little that they have. God has used the people and circumstances here to teach me that true peace is independent of material possessions, social status, and even relationships, although they add so much to life. But true peace can only be found in God alone.

I may not have every thing I want, but does that matter? With God I’ve lived a victorious life, rich in love and amazing relationships. It’s not about how much I have in this life, but where I keep my focus. Peace that surpasses understanding is God’s promise. Pretty soon, I’ll have to push through more challenges in life, but for now, I want to reap my rewards after long suffering and make every minute that I have left in Indonesia count.

(Special message to disciples worldwide: The Jakarta church has been a tremendous encouragement to my faith. My good friend Kelly Nico said that the Jakarta Church is a place where disciples come for healing. I didn’t think that I needed any spiritual healing when I decided to come here. It was more for adventure. But little did I know, God brought me here so I could be healed. With the set backs that our churches around the world have gone through since 2003 and some are still going through, the Jakarta church didn’t seem to be affected that much. Thanks to the strong leadership and that most people didn't have access to the Internet. Being here, I have seen people’s lives changed before my eyes, mine included. I’ve seen the scripture in Acts 2:42-47 come to life. And the Lord adds to our number. I believe God has blessed us because we love Him and each other deeply as the Bible says. The amazing thing is that I have more hope now than when I first arrived a year ago. More hope in the Word of God. To Him Be the Glory.)

Rabu, 04 Juni 2008

What have I learned about Indonesia in 1 year?

In Indonesia...

  • You eat fried rice for breakfast.
  • Indonesian food can be very spicy!
  • You can hire someone to carpool during rush hour, since it's their profession. Carpool rules: 3 in 1, not 2.
  • Music is big here.
  • Bribing a cop when you get pulled over is much more efficient.
  • Pirated DVDs are dirt cheap, like $0.70 a piece.
  • Going to the movies costs around $2-$5.
  • At the theaters, sweet popcorn is more popular than buttered one.
  • A mosque will be your 5 am alarm clock. About 5 times a day( 5 am, noon, mid-afternoon, before sunset, and after sunset), you'll hear a deafening prayer from a mosque near by, and there seems to be one at every corner.
  • People eating off your plate is considered loving.
  • Each ride you take whether by car, taxi, or motorbike (Ojek), can either tricker a heart attack or an adrenaline rush depending on the condition of your health.
  • Getting Dengue Fever is a fact of life.
  • You are your own crossing guard when you cross a street.
  • The yellow stuff in Soto, the famous Indonesian soup, is called cumin.
  • Indonesia is about the size of the US, if you combine the land from all the islands.
  • Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and tsunamis are not common occurrences. As a matter of fact, Indonesians have a more relaxed attitude about these things than you'd think.
  • Wearing batik, or traditional Indonesian design, is in nowadays.
  • I look like a native Indonesian.
  • And that being here will definitely teach you patience like no others and that life is not all about material things.


A year in Indonesia is almost over, and yes, I'm going home. Thailand I mean. Well, the OC is home too but so is Thailand. Calling more than one place home is a byproduct of being a third-culture child. Anyway, back to Thailand so I can be with my parents and brother and sister-in-law, and cousins, and nanny and the extended family. The funny thing is now that I look back, I left Thailand when I was 14 and it has taken another 14 years before I will move back there again. How long will I stay there? Only God knows, but I hope for awhile. All the traveling and living in foreign countries have been fun but also exhausting. I wonder how long will it take before I get itchy feet again?

I also read somewhere that one must go on a journey in order to find home. Is that true? I guess in my case, the statement applies.

Kamis, 15 Mei 2008


Kau begitu sempurna You are so perfect
Dimataku kau begitu indah In my eyes you are so beautiful.
kau membuat diriku akan slalu memujimu You make me praise you always

Disetiap langkahku Every step I take,
Kukan slalu memikirkan dirimu I will always think about you.
Tak bisa kubayangkan hidupku tanpa cintamu I can't imagine my life without your love.

Janganlah kau tinggalkan diriku Don't you leave me
Takkan mampu menghadapi semua I won't be able to face life
Hanya bersamamu ku akan bisa Only with you, I will.

Kau adalah darahku You are my blood.
Kau adalah jantungku You are my heart.
Kau adalah hidupku You are my life.
Lengkapi diriku You complete me.
Oh sayangku, kau begitu You my love, you are so
Sempurna.. Sempurna.. Perfect...

Kau genggam tanganku You hold my hand
Saat diriku lemah dan terjatuh When I'm weak and when I fall
Kau bisikkan kata dan hapus semua sesalku You whisper words and erase all my sorrows.

Sabtu, 26 April 2008

Safir 6

The last time I talked about my roommates, I've only mentioned Mida and Ria. Then there's Sally. She's our helper and has been with us since I moved in. Well, she's more our caretaker and a mom, and our house would be such a mess without her. I have a rather unique friendship with Sally. She is the only person in the house whom I communicate with in Indonesian, and it seems that only we can understand each other. My broken bahasa Indonesia has gotten better mainly because of her. She is also my partner in watching American Idol. Every time she asks me what does Simon say, I'll either give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and she understands me completely.

Well in February, Dinda moved into our house. This comming May, Dominica and Jenni will be moving into our house. There'll be 7 of us in a four bedroom house. Ever since Ria, Mida and I have dealt with the issues of our differences, God has blessed our house with so much joy and laughter. Last week, we invited some friends over for dinner and spent four hours playing the Mafia game. Everybody loved it so much, they didn't want to go home. Or a few weeks ago, we finally were able to have a group date at our house. Everybody contributed in the preparation. I made Tom Yum Kung, Mida made Pat Thai, Dinda made fried beef, Sally helped with the preparation, and we were excited to encourage the brothers. Then we shared our childhood pictures and embarrassing childhood memories. Andreas was my translator that night and he used the words "chicken sh**." I asked him to say "chicken poop" instead. He didn't think there was any difference, but I properly informed him that there's a huge difference and that he should use poop instead of sh** from now on. That very night, Dinda gave a nickname to our house--The Safir Mansion, since our house is located on Jalan Safir or Saphire Street.

I'm grateful to see that Safir 6 isn't just a house, but a refuge to me, my roommates and those who have spent nights at our home. Some days, we have so many people in our house, it was hard to move around, but that doesn't matter. Lately, I have been thanking God for being single. I have been able to serve, enjoy, and share my time and energy in ways that I wouldn't be able to if I were married. The other day, my pregnant colleague asked me, "Don't you get lonely without a boyfriend." I told her that at times I do, but to be honest, while I'm waiting for my prince charming, I'm having a blast and my life has been well lived. And with God, life is rarely ordinary. To quote Gordon Ferguson, "Life with God is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs, but never boring." The freedom that accompanies surrendering and letting go of life's worldly expectations have brought me peace and contentment. I'm no saint for sure and still struggle every day, but God's been very good to me everywhere I am in this world.

Today, I prayed that God would show me a glimpse of Heaven. Maybe he already has. Maybe he already has...

Kamis, 17 April 2008

Teman Teman (Friends)

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
~Ecclesiastes 4:12

The world would be so blah without friends. In a previous blog, I recorded my struggle to build friendships with my roommates. Some friendships you have to fight for. Some they are just pure blessings. My friendships with Satyajeet, Jimmy, and Darme are kind of like that. Satya is a high school teacher from India. We call him Papa Jeet for short since he sponsors many of our outtings, and we often say "Thank you Papa Jeet" and rub our heads on his shoulder. Jimmy and Darme are Indonesians. Jimmy is an Ambonese singer whose slapstick humor just makes you roll on the floor; Darme is a Batuknese pre-school principal who always carries candy with her wherever she goes.

We've been there for each other through hell in a hand basket and back. We've laughed till our stomachs hurt, been through depths of each other's despair, or maybe just Darme's and mine, and have challenged one other in our walks with God, giving each other room to make mistakes and grow. I appreciate Satya and Jimmy's sense of humor. They are walking comedians. If I want to laugh after a long stressful day, I just hang out with these two. Darme, on the other hand, helps to balance the testosterone. One minute we can be so deep, another silly like little girls. Once in a long while, God blesses me with an incredible group of friends, and they've made my life so rich in so many ways. Some people you just feel so comfortable with that you don't mind sharing the most embarrassing moments in your life and still feel so yourself around them. They are the spices of my life. Bersyukurlah... 

Rabu, 26 Maret 2008

The Home Stretch

"A teacher affects eternity. [She] can never tell where [her] influence stops."
                                         ~Henry Adams

Today I officially started the last term of the 2007-08 academic year. It’s the home stretch for us teachers and students. There are things to look forward to: literacy week, the school play, finals, graduation, and then, the summer holiday. Last night I arrived back in Jakarta at 1 am from my holiday in Thailand and had to wake up four hours later to go to work. (By the way, I attended my brother’s wedding last week, March 15, 2008, and I now have a beautiful sister-in-law.) All teachers seemed to benefit from the spring break. Everybody smiled and greeted me with a warm welcome back. We agree that a week off was short, but we are still in good spirit because summer is near.

Today I got to rehearse a couple monologues with my students—Bea, Patrick, and Ella-- to prepare them for the characterization contest. One monologue was by Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The other was the famous “All the World’s a Stage” by Jaques from As You Like It. I thank Mr. Shakespeare for his works that have enlighten and tickled the fancy and possibly puzzled the minds of students of literature for centuries.

Today two of my students, Johnathan and Maria, brought me gifts for Easter. John is a troubled kid who doesn’t seem to care one bit about his academic achievements, and many teachers like to roll their eyes when talking about him. But the kid is brilliant in music, loves to crack jokes and usually is the life of the party like when we went on a field trip for instance. I’m a firm believer that academic excellence isn’t the be-all and end-all. We had a verbal spat in class once, and he could be hyperactive one day and extremely lethargic the next, but through it all, I see him as a kid with a good heart who’s starving for love and attention. John told his class advisor that he likes me, and that means a lot. Then there is Maria who doesn’t seem to have any friend. She talks to me more than any of her classmates. I think I’m her only friend besides her sister. Once she invited me, and not one of her classmates, to watch a Saturday performance where she played a Chinese musical instrument. In all honesty, I can’t stand traditional Chinese music, but I had to go. The next day I told her that I was there, and I saw a hugh smile splashed across her face before she shied away. 

Today I watched Patch Adams with my ninth grade class. The dismissal bell rang at the end of the day, but all their eyes, including mine, were still glued to the movie. Some students held up their four fingers and tried to see beyond what was in front of them. Hunter Adams fought to love his patients despite the strict rules and regulations; and in the same way, I have to fight to love my students. God has revealed something beautiful about each one of my kids, and I’ve definitely grown attached to them. I’m going to miss them so much when I leave. I know being a foreigner in Indonesia and dealing with the school bureaucracy have not been easy; but at the end of the day, my students are worth fighting for. I wrote in an earlier blog that teaching has taught me to think about others and not myself for once. For once, I learn to suck it up and endure so I can be there for these kids. I hope that I’ll remember this valuable experience and lesson one day when I have my own kids. The idea of happiness can be illusive, but one thing I know is that to sacrifice for others is painful but, at the same time, brings the kind of joy that words cannot describe…