Church Camp 2017

Just came back from FOCUS church camp 2017 – this year topic was “Living Success – God’s Wisdom for Life”.

It’s interesting that God’s words keep on speaking to me even though I have been through camps / sermons / bible studies on Proverbs (the main book we’re studying for this camp) several time. In fact, I was a bit reluctant to go thinking that I know this stuff already – which is a very arrogant statement, as a Christian you could never be hearing His word enough.

My main take from this camp is – the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom, wise sayings, observations are not exclusive to the bible – other religions or even the non religious have theirs too and many are the same as Christians wisdom. However there is one big different – Christian wisdom is rooted on the fear of the LORD.

Having all the wisdom but not knowing the LORD is the same as not having wisdom at all. It can even be said the wisest thing someone can do is trust Jesus – God’s wisdom.

I don’t know how many FOCUS church camps left for me and my family, so I am trying to treasure this as much as possible. I throughly enjoyed talking to and getting to know the next generation in our Indo church – thing that I found difficult to do in the weekly church. I am thankful to be part of a faithful church.

Last day of 2016 in Ambon

Last day of 2016 will be a memorable one for me and for our family. At that time, we were in Ambon holidaying with Lina’s family, as usual we live at my in-laws house, it is a huge three levels house (bare with me this is an important details).

It is a custom with Christians in Ambon (Lina’s family included) to go church on the last day of the year for kebaktian tutup tahun. As family we were going to the 5pm service in 2 groups / cars.

As the 1st car was about to leave, they found that the road outside the house was blocked by government’s/military cars. There was a little bit of commotion as we were trying to get them to move their cars so we can get ours on the street.

Pa was upstairs at this stage as he would go later with the 2nd group, but he noticed the problem downstairs and he went down to help out (as he always does). At that time I was downstairs helping with opening the gate – since I have done my part, I was heading back up to prepare myself.

Me and pa passed each other on the steps – shortly after that I heard a noise and when I turned my head, to my horror I saw Pa fell down the steps, it happened so quickly I was shocked and couldn’t do anything to prevent it. Pa was lying down at the bottom of the stairs not moving, people downstairs were rushing to him as they heard the thud. Pa was bleeding from the cut on his head. He bled quite a lot.

Sui, San and some other people then took him to hospital after that (thank God that Sui can drive and the generous cousin that lend us her car). Thank God again that apart from the cut and some bruises, there were no major health issues.

The aftermath

After it happened, I apologised to Pa, I should’ve been more thoughtful when passing him on the steps – I should’ve let him hold on the rails or I should’ve stopped and let him pass first.

He quickly dismissed my apology, he said it was no one fault, he also didn’t see the accident as something “bad”. He said nothing happens that God doesn’t allow to happen, we may not know what God has in store from this accident, but it’s for our goodness.

To be honest, at that time I can’t see the good that comes from this accident. But maybe he’s right – at the very least God shows me how a Christian should handle a misfortune or suffering – he should handle it fully trusting in God’s goodness not by complaining or anger.

I am always amazed at my parents in laws for their simple yet deep and strong faith in God – they’ve experienced so much sufferings in their life and yet I never once I detect any resentment from them.

I thank God that we still have them around so me and my family so we can learn from their faith.

Mom’s stroke

Most of this post was written during my visit to Surabaya few days after the stroke happened, I didn’t manage to finish it and now 8 months later, I finally had a chance to.

Mom had a stroke on Friday, 29th April 2016 – just a mere few days after she came back from visiting us here in Sydney Australia.

On the day of the attack, in the morning, she started to feel pain on her right arms or back (can’t remember). And then later on, while walking, her right leg was “stuck”, that’s how she described it. She then fell and hurt her backside quite badly.

My family including mom were not that informed with diagnosing a stroke attack, hence they focused on treating the pain on the backside and arm by taking her to “tukang pijat” (traditional masseur). They self-diagnosed mom’s condition of losing control of her right side as her being tired (capek) or masuk angin as she has been travelling overseas for awhile. On a side note, please do have a read about recognising symptoms of stroke – it’s very easy to spot.

When my sister messaged me about mom, me and Lina had this fear that she was having a stroke (although we prayed that it wasn’t that) and did urge family back in Indo to take her to hospital asap. But things are not that straight forward with my family, they have this “family doctor” (more like dodgy doctor to me) and God knows why he suggested against taking her to the hospital (only in Indo – when doctor suggesting not going to hospital on critical case).

My sister finally admitted her to emergency ward on Saturday as her condition has turned to worse.

Much to our family dismay, the hospital didn’t seem to take mom condition urgently, apparently because it was Saturday, the specialists aren’t there – so they won’t do anything but monitor mom and told us to wait until the doctor came the next day (seriously you need a specialist to see a possible stroke patient?).

The details are a bit blur after this – but the doctor in hospital finally did confirm of a stroke attack. After that confirmation, I flew to Surabaya on Tuesday.

Here are my observations during my stay.

About doctors and hospital

So my mom is assigned two doctors – a heart doctor (dokter jantung) and a neurologist (dokter saraf). These 2 doctors don’t stay in the hospital the whole day – they only come to see the patients once a day (usually in the morning).

I wanted to see these doctors as soon as possible as to get better understanding on mom’s condition. The doctors already explained it to my sister and aunt, but I wanted to hear it from the source.

Getting hold of them proved to be quite frustrating. I don’t sleep in the hospital at night, so I try to come in the hospital very early to meet these doctors when they see mom. However it was trickier that I thought, sometimes they don’t come to the hospital at all, sometimes they come earlier than usual so I missed them.

When I finally met them, getting an explanation out of them is also quite interesting experience. The neurologist is quite friendly, he explained what happened quite clearly. The heart doctor on the other hand is quite challenging to talk to, he looks to be constantly irritable and doesn’t like answering questions.

So in summary, I found the hospital system here in Surabaya (RKZ hospital) is inefficient bordering dangerous (mom not immediately treated) and strangely organised (doctors don’t stay on hospital). I am somewhat thankful of Australian health system – sure it has its own issues but miles better than what I experienced here.

Diagnosis

Both doctors said that mom’s condition is quite concerning, there were blockages on the blood vessels on the neck that deliver blood to the brain. I asked whether mom needed operation to deal with the blockage and they suggested against it as it is high risk.

The neurologist said the best solution is for mom to lower cholesterol level to a very low level and maintain it for a number of years then hopefully the blockage will slowly go away.

I am quite sad with the recommendation simply because I know my mum, she isn’t someone who is willing to persevere. We were hoping for a quick fix like operation or medication.

Family Tension

Understandably, my family in Indo which consist of my aunt, sister and grandma were finding it hard to cope. Since my dad passing (and me no longer living with them), my mom is the de facto head of the family. Now that she is incapacitated, my aunt had to step up. I am grateful that she was there to hold the ship, but it did take a heavy toll on her.

As the tension was high – everyone seem to be getting to each other nerves. There were a couple of big and small clashes. I think to this day 8 months after it happened, the relationship has sadly changed a little bit for the worse.

I also saw a lot of selfishness out of everyone – me included. Our sinfulness is just magnified and brought into light in this difficult time.

Sharing the Gospel

When I was accompanying mom at the hospital, I made use the time to read the bible to her and praying with her. She was quite receptive and even asked for bible reading and prayer at times. My sister did her share of reading the bible and praying with her too.

Although I am happy that she was receptive but also at the same time I am sceptical knowing her. She believes that all religion is the same, although she considered herself as a Buddhist (well Taoist really but she can’t tell the difference), and she would gladly seek and accept prayers / thoughts / whatever from any religion if it is going to help her to get better. Although I am sceptical – I keep her in my prayers because maybe this is just a seed and one day it will grow – God knows.

Mom’s attitude

I was hoping that this situation made her question her life, maybe prompt her thoughts about after life, about getting right with God rather than getting things from God – unfortunately looking at our conversation months after the stroke doesn’t indicate a change on her attitude on life.

She kept on focusing on the negative aspect of the stroke – she whinged and whined a lot, she sees the stroke as a misfortune (“sial”), she’s impatient with the slow progress of her recovery.

My concerns

I am actually at lost on how to relate to her now.

I should be encouraging her to keep on working towards recovery, but also at the same time I think I also need to prepare her about the possibility of long recovery timeframe (years not months) and the level of recovery (just don’t expect 100% recovery).

Mom is so focused on recovery – but I am more concerned in the blockage, how can we get that monitored regularly – a second stroke would be fatal needless to say.

Of course, the biggest concern is her spiritual sickness – one day it will be too late for her to be right with God.

 

New year

I was reflecting on the year that has just passed yesterday as well and making plans and goals for this year, as we all do this time of the year. As I was doing that, I took a break in the middle to reflect on God’s word.

I have been using John Piper’s app called Solid Joys for my reflection and I found today’s reflection from 1 Corinthians 15:10 is worth pondering.

The proper response to the grace you experienced in the past is thankfulness, and the proper response to grace promised to you in the future is faith. We are thankful for the past grace of the last year, and we are confident in the future grace for the new year.

A lot has happened in 2016. both good and bad – but one thing to thank God for is his grace, by his grace I can call him Father, his grace has sustained me, his grace worked in me through my sins and failures. And in 2017 and onwards, regardless what happens, good or bad, his grace will still be there, this I can be sure of.

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. (from Amazing Grace)

Kaya dan miskin

Found out this note that I wrote back in 2010, I still feel the same way.

Setiap kali pulang ke Indo – aku selalu diingatkan akan jurang perbedaan antara kaya dan miskin. Menurutku aku termasuk golongan yang kaya, yah antara menegah ke menengah atas lah. Bukannya bermaksud menyombongkan diri tapi ini adalah realita, keluarga aku memang berkecupukan. Melihat orang-orang sekitar di Indo, kadang aku sulit mengerti kenapa bisa sebegitu besar perbedaan finansial aku dengan orang lain.

Sulit dimengerti, lebih sulit untuk dicerna. Contohnya, tante saya dapat hadiah menginap di hotel berkelas di Surabaya, sangat bagus – saya ikut kecipratan juga merasakan tinggal di hotel bintang lima ini. Tinggal di hotel ini serarasa tinggal di surga. Keluar dari hotel aku serasa menginjakkan kaki ke neraka. Hanya bebarapa ratus meter di luar hotel terlihat pedagang kaki lima, anak2 kecil dan orang2 berusaha menyambung nafkah di bawah terik matahari dan bau asap kendaraan bermotor.

Yang menyentuh perhatian saya adalah, tadi saya melihat bapak, ibu dan 3 orang anak lelakinya. Ayahnya sepertinya punya usaha tambal ban di pinggir jalan. Ayah menyuapi anaknya, salah satu anaknya tertidur pulas di pinggir jalan, sang istri menggendong anak yg paling kecil (masih bayi). Tambal ban.. berapa penghasilan yg dapat diperoleh sang suami setiap harinya? Tentunya dia tidak pernah merasakan empuknya bantal dan dinginnya AC di hotel yang baru saya tinggali.

Kehidupan di Australia sangatlah berbeda – tentu ada orang miskin di Australia, tapi saya yakin semiskin-miskinnnya orang di Australia, hidupnya tak akan lebih susah dengan kaum miskin di Indonesia.

Bagaimanakah seorang yang kaya hidup di Indonesia? Saya rasa hidup di Indonesia bagi saya pribadi akan menekan batin. Saya mau menikmati hidup, siapa sih yang tidak mau? Tapi mampukah saya 100% menikmati yang saya punya ketika saya dikelilingi orang yang berkesusahan? Haruskah saya menutup mata dan telinga?

Kadang saya juga tidak habis pikir melihat keborjuan orang kaya di Indo – bangun rumah kaya istana sampai pake satpam segala – padahal di sampingnya kampung yang banyak orang miskinnya.

Seperti pikiran2 saya yang lain – saya tak punya jawabannya.