White Belt

So I have been training in karate for about 6 weeks now and it’s been an interesting and challenging experience so far (more on that later).

I wanted to do karate mainly because of Jet and Matt. They have been doing karate for about 2 years now. I slowly fell in love with karate after watching them practising and competing. I thought to myself, how nice it would be to be able train with them and enjoy karate together.
I also then started to read more about karate – its origin and history, its founders, its differing styles and philosophies, watching kata videos – I became more interested.

The next move was to find a karate dojo that I can train with. My sons’ dojo naturally is the first place that enquire. I am very happy with my sons’ senseis and dojo – but unfortunately they don’t have adult training nearby.

So I spent the next few weeks after that, searching and researching karate dojos. It wasn’t as easy as I thought initially, the problem is, I wanted to train in Goju Ryu specifically and there isn’t that many Goju Ryu dojos around (more Shotokan and Kyokushin). The training times also need to fit with my family and church commitment (means no Friday nights and earlier training time better). Finally, I found G.K.M.I – could only fit one training weekly but I think that would have to do for now.

Six weeks in, I can say that karate is challenging – physically and mentally. For me personally, being super stiff doesn’t really help. I am also struggling with some of foot movements and combinations. But good thing is, I am improving – very slowly. Practising kata unsurprisingly has been a highlight for me. It’s good being a noob all over again, being a student again.

My gym routine now has changed too, I am now looking for exercises that will benefit my karate (been reading Hojo Undo book – but probably too early for me). So I have almost stopped lifting weights altogether and focused on getting more flexible.

9 years

Nine years since he’s gone, I think about Dad less and less every year, I guess it’s just the way it is.
He still appears on my dreams once in a while, in them, he is still alive and around.

I remember our road trips during school holidays – usually to Bali.
Driving from Surabaya to Bali back in those days was around 8 hours I think. I remember the long ferry queue between Ketapang – Gilimanuk.
Mom told me that he did like driving, although as he got older (and plane tickets cheaper), those long drives eventually ceased.

Our longest road trip, was from Surabaya to Jakarta. It was just me and him, and pretty sure that’s the only road trip with just the two of us.
From memory, mum and sister had gone first by plane.
I was pretty young back then, probably 10 years old.
I remember bringing a lot of Donal Bebek and Bobo magazines – just in case I won’t have anything to do (ah, those good old days before gadgets) – didn’t end up doing much reading though.

I remember food is sweeter in Central Java – I think we had Soto in Kudus, which was sweet tasting unlike the in East Java where food tend to be salty.
We stopped and stayed overnight in Solo or Jogjakarta (which is midway between Surabaya and Jakarta).
The only memory I had about this stay is something that involved toilet – so I better stop it there.

Weird thing is, I don’t remember the trip back. Ah, all of these memories, they won’t be whole again. They will remain as fragments and sometimes I don’t even remember which fragments belong together.

What would my boys remember of our time together I wonder, what would be their treasured moments – what would be the fragments that they hold into long after I am gone.

August SHUM

Last month, our bible study group was involved with SHUM (Surry Hills Urban Mission).

SHUM is a ministry that aims to bring the good news for disadvantaged people around Surry Hills area – this may includes people who are homeless, poor, unemployed, those with substance abuse and those with some mental issues.

SHUM is mainly run by Michael and every month there will be a different group of people committed helping him for the duration of the month. So for example our group was helping SHUM on the month of August and another bible study group from our church will do SHUM the month after.

SHUM group goes to Central Station every Tuesday nights from 8:00 to 9.30, they bring food (mainly sandwiches) and hot drinks for people at Central Station. However giving out food is not the aim of SHUM, by serving food and drinks, we’re hoping to engage disadvantaged people in Surry Hills in gospel conversations.

On the week before we started our mission, Michael gave as an orientation night, here are some of things that he expected of the group:

  • Aim to end every conversations by praying with people whom we talked to.
  • Pick a parable and learn to share it with people
  • Read news and give a Christian point of view of them
  • Pray and pray some more

So those were the main things that we did during the four Tuesday nights of August. Every night is different, the first 2 Tuesdays were busy and hectic, the last 2 were quiet. I had many interesting conversations, met many wonderful and interesting people.

An example of such encounter: on the first Tuesday, I met a guy called S, I spent the most of the time talking to him that night.

S is a pensioner and had issues with his current accommodation so he needed to find a new place. However this wasn’t easy due to his lack of rental history (and photo ID). Can’t help but feeling sorry for him, the task of getting a photo ID maybe trivial for people like you and me – but for him it is a challenge. He was told to go back to Melbourne (where he’s from) and get it done there, otherwise he needed to do it via the internet, which is difficult as he is computer illiterate.

I asked him about his belief, he told me that he’s a Christian but not practicing. We chatted a bit about this – then he remembered reading a horoscope column, in which it was told that he needs to start a commitment. He kept wondering what that meant. That Tuesday night, he decided to take a walk around Central Station and by chance met us there.

He then connected the dots, perhaps he said, the commitment mentioned in the horoscope column, is commitment to God. Very interesting conclusion, but I didn’t disagree – I told him that indeed God may indeed calling him through that.

In the end, we prayed together, for his accommodation issues and for him to find church and indeed commit his life to God. From all of the people whom I spoke to during the month, he’s made the most impression to me and I had hoped to see again on the following weeks, but I never did, I put him on my prayer dairy though – I hope to see again as a brother if not in this life, then in the life after.

I found my time with SHUM is very valuable, for people in our bible study group and for myself personally. For me, it is valuable as it has given me opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with people.
I was also humbly reminded that I lack skills in evangelism and I need to work on my willingness to talk to people.

I was encouraged by people in our bible study group who were very enthusiastic, bold and genuinely care for the people we met.
Ben our SHUM leader (Michael took a break on the month of September) was very encouraging too – he could easily turn an ordinary conversation to a gospel conversation.

I was reminded again and again how good and gracious God is, he does not discriminate, he loves everyone, rich and poor and he wants them to be saved.

In the end, I thank God for his love to people through SHUM, Michael, Ben – I hope and pray many will hear and receive the light that can’t be hidden in their dark lives.

If you are Christian, I highly recommend joining SHUM for a month, you can find more information about it here:

Coffee Thoughts

Thanks to my coffee snob colleague – I have been introduced the wonderful world of coffee making. So here is some of my thoughts about coffee.

I might be stating the obvious – but the most important piece of good coffee is the beans. I enjoy tasting different single origin beans. Brazillian Bourbon is my favourite – it has light citrusy flavour – perfect for Aeropress coffee (which my preferred coffee making method). I didn’t find grind or water temperature made any difference – for Aeropress anyway.

I have been roasting my own beans for the last few weeks. I found the process is really interesting – different beans requires different roasting handling. What’s so cool about roasting is you can tailor your beans to your coffee making method – for instance: I think lighter roast is better for Aeropress. I also enjoy waiting for that first crack and second crack.

I think if I have the money, I’d rather get a roaster rather than an espresso machine.

A tale from kerusuhan Ambon

I am holidaying in Ambon at the moment and I thought of sharing a story (a tale?) from kerusuhan Ambon year ago. I cannot say whether this is a true story or just a hearsay – probably something in between?

During this time of kerusuhan – the local army requested reinforcement to help with the situation. A reinforcement battalion was then sent from Bali. This is a good move since the soldiers wouldn’t take side with conflicting parties, the Moslems and the Christians (most Balinese are Hindus).

And so when this Bali battalion came in – they did well, they upheld the justice by punishing the wrongdoers regardless of the sides – not showing favour to either sides. A lot of Jihadists got killed during this time. Unfortunately this didn’t last long, the leader of this Bali battalion was then assassinated (allegedly by the Moslems or the Jihadists – another point of distinction which probably warrants another story). The Balinese troops were outraged and they joined arms with the Christians and dealt a considerable damage to the Moslems. They were no longer able to maintain their neutrality.

Hearing this, rightly the central command withdrew this leaderless Balinese battalion from Ambon. And sent a battalion from Java to replace them. However this reinforcement from Java were not neutral (majority of Javanese people are moslems) and sided with the Moslems in Ambon – they carried out retaliation to the Christians for what they’ve done previously. And so the cycle of hatred lived on.

Again can’t vouch for the truthfulness of the story. And I heard more stories – most of them seems to point to the fact that there were forces outside Ambon that prolonged the conflict in Ambon. Such a sad history on otherwise a beautiful place and very nice people irrespective of their beliefs.