Back in Geneva (and loving it!)

After an 8 hour plane ride to Abu Dhabi and another 7 hours from Abu Dhabi to Geneva where I was either kicked, elbowed or subjected to displays of affection by the two people sitting next to me, I arrived in Geneva yesterday at 07:15am. To my ultimate joy, T was there at the airport to pick me up. Well, I already knew she was coming, so what was more of a joyful surprise was walking into my bedroom to see a huge banner that T, M and N had made. It made my day 🙂

Then I unpacked, took a shower, and went to work. YES, went to work. Before you think that the WCRC is a big meanie, let me tell you that it was my request to go to work. It was my way of dealing with jetlag, which proves to be highly effective.

Anyway, it was lovely to see Daph as well as C and others as well, and I had fun seeing people’s expressions as they received the gifts I brought (hey, I had an empty suitcase!). Daph of course was an angel and bought me lunch AS WELL AS baked me a cake which we had for tea time. It was an orange chocolate cake and it was the most delicious thing ever.

After work I accompanied T to her doctor’s appointment which was a great time to catch up before she went to a dinner and I went to the airport to pick up N who was on holiday in Germany. YES, it was ironically funny. I tried calling M who was supposedly at the airport too just because I thought it would be brilliantly funny if I meet both of them at the airport. LOL. Nevertheless, as N and I arrived in front of my apartment, M was already there. And so we had a catching-up dinner which was great.

The strange thing of course is that I did not feel like I have been gone for almost three weeks and just got back in a long-haul flight.

As always, it felt like coming home… and I think I found the perfect quote to describe why:

Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.
Christian Morgenstern

Updating from Indonesia

It’s been too long since I posted something proper here. Well, my little novel (not yet done, I know) is proper, of course… but I mean something that tells more about my life and my experiences… maybe with some insights and reflections. After all, that’s what this blog is supposed to be about. Sort of like my diary, but only the parts I would like to share with the world 😉

So anyway, here I am in Indonesia. As you might (or might not) know, I’ve been living in Geneva, Switzerland for the last eight months, but I came back to Indonesia on the 2nd of May on a business trip (as cool as that sounds, I have to admit I wish I didn’t have to do this trip, but that’s a long story).

From the 4th to the 8th, I attended the National Consultation on Mission held jointly by the WCRC, the CCA (Christian Council of Asia) and the CCI (Church Council of Indonesia) in Jakarta. On the 9th, I flew to Medan to take part in the Executive Committee meeting of the WCRC held in Berastagi, North Sumatera, between the 10th and today.

Despite missing Geneva like crazy, I have to say the experience has been a great one for me. First of all it was an opportunity to engage with so many people who are leaders (or future leaders) of their churches. To listen to the discussions, to be an “insider” to some issues that people on this level are talking about, that too is a privilege not many receive.

It has been a time of new acquaintances (I would say friends but as I spent more time engaging with my computer than with people, at least I have come to know them better than before), of discovering new talents (like interpreting!), of pushing my limits, of trying something new.

It was also great to finally be on Sumatra! And I’m looking forward to visit some places I now have friends in. It has also been a time where I reflect and reconsider my calling, and while I still am unsure, at least I have more things I can consider, and a bunch of people I know I can talk to.

All that being said, I must say I am looking forward to being back in Geneva, and in a way also looking forward to being back in Indonesia in June for the GIT.

As I always have said at one point or another in one way or another, I shall go where the Lord leads me to, and do what the Lord wants me to do there, and rejoice in the Lord always.

Just some random (but highly memorable) dinner moments

So we had a Mac&Cheese dinner gathering at Daph‘s place today… And here are some of the random memorable moments of the night 😉

—————

Daph (to her 2,5 y.o. son): K, come here please, you need to have your dinner!
K: No, I’m playing football with the big people.

—————

K was having his dinner in front of the laptop where my phone was also charged. We were waiting for M and I thought if he doesn’t find his way to Daph’s he would probably call. So…
Me: K, when my phone rings you call me, ok?
K: yes, when M is here!

—————

T and M said something at the same time…
T: Jinx! Now he can’t say anything until someone says his name! Haha. So, nobody says his name, please…
(conversation happening between me and T… And I was trying to call K over… Less than a minute later…)
T: Stop trying to make K say M’s name… Oh, whoops!

—————

T and I were getting ready to practice our mime that will be presented as a reflection at the chapel on Friday and K was playing, standing right where we were going to do the mime.
Daph: K, come here, they’re going to educate you, darling…
K: Okay, I’m going to shoot them!

—————

Daph: (telling something to her husband about K)
Daph’s husband: I really like this truck…
Daph: you like all his toys.
Daph’s husband: no, but isn’t this just the coolest truck ever? It’s so colourful. If I had a truck, I would definitely paint it in these colours.

—————

We were talking about age differences between husbands and wives… And how far it could go and all that…
Daph: look, M is 20, so his girlfriend should be born now!
Daph’s husband: No, not girlfriend, future wife!
T: well, M, you might want to start practicing… ‘hey, baby!’ 😉

—————

M came with an onion he bought cause he needs it to cook something. On my way home, I realized I didn’t see him bring it back with him, so…
Me texting M at 22:17 — did you bring the onion?
M texting back at 22:19 — no, realized that 2 min ago!
(guess we jinxed the onion!)

—————

I just love you people!!

Anymore moments to add??

(I left my heart) In Vienna

I didn’t do it on purpose
Of that at least I’m certain
But when then did it actually happen?

Did the cat perhaps steal it
Quietly
While napping on my lap?

Or perhaps I might’ve dropped it
On my long walk around the first district
Maybe when I crossed to fourth

I could’ve easily lost sight of it
With the sun shining bright
And buildings glimmering with light

Maybe it fell on the steps leading up the hill of Bellevue
Or perhaps the wind had blown it away
While we were walking through the gardens of Schönbrunn
Talking about the past and sharing our future plans

Could I have misplaced it somewhere in your room?
Did I store it in a locker
While visiting museums?

Perhaps it simply slipped away
Distracted by your uncanny smile
Or delighted with the food you made

Maybe it happened in a restaurant
Though most likely somewhere on the Bahn

I wonder if it was still with me
When I took countless random photos here and there
Or did it already drown in the third glass of drink you poured me
At the party the night before?

Was it with me at the club?
When we twirled did it get dizzy?

Maybe it had faded away
With the smoke of your tenth cigarette of the day

Perhaps it simply forgot to go to bed
Caught in the endless stream of chit chats
More friends to make, more names to remember
As another day goes by
On the steps of Museums Quartier

I guess it could’ve decided to stay in your embrace
Or maybe it was too early when I left

Perhaps it simply wanted to wait with you
As you watched the bus turn out of sight

Well,
Somehow I left my heart in Vienna

If you ever find it
Please keep it safe

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, and traditionally it celebrates Jesus’s last supper with his disciples, which includes the well-known foot-washing “scene” where Jesus, the teacher, the leader, put himself in a servant position and washed his disciples’s feet. Many churches today celebrate Maundy Thursday with an actual foot-washing ceremony. So did the church I go to here in Geneva, the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The way it is done is that people can choose to come forward to the chairs provided and take turns washing each others feet.

I hesitated about coming forward for a long time. Slipped my shoes on and off a couple of time. Waited, waited, and in the end I never went.

My reason? I was ashamed. My feet are in an ugly sort of state. Dry heels, unkempt toenails… I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone in the congregation washing my feet — positive that they will have negative thoughts about my feet.

Then, the strangest thing happened. As the congregation cleared up the sanctuary, I helped someone carry away the bowl of water that had been used for the foot-washing ceremony. The bowl was heavy and even with the two of us carrying, it was still hard to maneuver. The aim was to get to the trees so the water in the bowl could be poured to the trees. Somehow we made it. And then as we poured, I realized the water splashed right on to my left foot.

It was as if God was telling me that he wants me to get my feet washed ANYWAY.

Because no matter how ashamed we are of our state of being, physically, socially, psychologically. No matter what we did or what we have been doing, God has chosen us, and he washes more than just our feet. He washes our heart. And after that, we become his servants, serving others in the world.

I have taken you from the ends of the earth and called you from its most distant places. I said to you, ‘You are my servant. I’ve chosen you; I haven’t rejected you.’
— Isaiah 41:9, GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Just hanging out! (an argument)

This past weekend (well, yesterday and the day before yesterday), I spent a LOT of time just hanging out with a group of friends. Pretty much the usual lot, really. And I had such a great time. At the end of the day, I wrote a status message on facebook saying “I think I have finally realized the fun of just hanging out with people… Of course it has to be the right kind of people 🙂

The truth is, I’ve never really been a hang-out kind of person, and bad experiences in the past have led me to generally despise planning outings with people or going places with other people. I used to prefer going alone to events, movies, shops… I told myself I preferred travelling alone AND I preferred staying home or in my room than “socializing”. In a way, I was rather anti-social. I don’t like crowds, I’d rather keep my thoughts to myself, I never quite understood people who would be “hanging out” all the time.

So what changed? Well, I think a combination of growing up, living abroad (alone), a little heartbreak and opening up to this great bunch of people are some of the most important factors.

Then the question came from another friend, why do you NEED to hang-out and what do you DO when you hang-out? She mentioned that she needs to explain this to her mom, and funny enough I’ve had similar experiences with MY mom. She thinks hanging out is a waste of time, which is probably also why I don’t usually hang-out much.

Well, 06:30 on a Monday morning having only slept roughly five hours and 30 minutes, I replied to this comment… first with random things like “to not be anti-social (hey, after all, human beings are social creatures!), to wind up (it’s been a rather tough week at work, as usual), to share stories (obviously, d’oh!)” but then I came up with THE answer, partially inspired by my all-time favorite quote from Girl, Interrupted –> Sometimes, the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy.

And so, why do we NEED to hang-out? In order to keep sane by spending some time going insane with a group of people! Because it’s always better to laugh your heads off when you’re with other people (imagine laughing out loud on your own — in public!) and in fact things are more hilarious when you share them with others.

Case in point, while we were sitting on a bench at the chocolate festival yesterday (we stayed at the bench for more than 3 hours, I think), we watched as helium balloons were flying off to the sky. It started with a Winnie the Pooh balloon stuck at a nearby tree. If I was alone, it might have made me smile, that’s it. But being there with two other people, this is what happened:

Person A — Oh look, there’s Winnie on the tree
Person B — That’s okay, he always does that to get his honey.
Me — *LOL*

Soon after, we saw a Papa Smurf balloon (“he’s probably trying to escape from Gargamel”), a flying unicorn (“we found it! we found it!”), a princess (“maybe she’s looking for her unicorn!” “Oh, Papa Smurf, did you see my unicorn??”) and a train (“look, the train is coming to pick the princess up and bring her to the land of far far away”).

Yes, we had a hilariously good time just making up stories of the balloons, which would not have happened if I was alone. Lots of laughter was involved. You do know that laughter is the best medicine?

The other thing about bonding with people over a good hang-out session is that it’s a closer bond than any other relationships and is therefore also a good tool for networking, and even an ecumenical gathering at it’s best.

Because you will probably forget that person in the same black suit as everyone else you met at some random office party by tomorrow, but if you spent even half an hour with this person making up stories about flying balloons, you’ll remember him… and if you’ve laughed out loud because Papa Smurf moved on from one tree to another with someone, you are definitely less likely to be having a dividing argument with this person about some theological term.

Meanwhile, a hang-out setting, very relaxed, no hidden agenda, just being there with others and bonding through laughter does create opportunities to talk about “serious” matters too, like sharing heartaches, problems, concerns, ideas, etc.

As for the question of what do you DO when you hang-out? Well, you talk, you share stories (see paragraph before), you take photos, you eat, you enjoy the sun/the environment… and you laugh at flying balloons — or whatever else that comes up in your conversations.

PS: Thank you, my wonderful group of hang-out people. Looking forward to hanging out with you more often!

Celebrating Ten Women of the Bible

Today is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future”, and I thought I would take the opportunity to celebrate the women of the Bible. As much as I would like to celebrate ALL the women in the Bible (there’s not that many of them and yet still quite a good number), that might take a whole book to do. So here’s my selection of 10 women to celebrate today.

1. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, Pietro Perugino (c. 1490s)

Possibly the most controversial woman in Christian history, Mary Magdalene (or Mary of Magdala). The most common misconception about her is that she was a prostitute (an idea brought forth by Pope Gregory I). In the gnostic writing The Gospel of Mary, Andrew and Peter seemed to completely dismiss her… and yet most gnostic writing hail her as a true disciple, one who Jesus favored much (some opinions in fact think that Jesus was in love with her — and Dan Brown in his Da Vinci Code developed this idea). While discussions about Mary Magdalene could be very intense, let us celebrate her for what the gospel of John says about her… that she was a close follower of Jesus who became “the apostle to the apostles” as she brought the news of Jesus’ ressurection to the disciples with her famous line “I have seen the Lord” (read John 20:1-18 and listen to the song “I have seen the Lord“).

2. Deborah

In the days after Joshua died and before Saul became king there were judges who lead Israel, and Deborah was one of them. Yes, that’s right, a woman was giving the people of Israel instructions on how to lead their lives. In fact, the commander of Israel’s army came to her for advice… and he did not want to go to war without her by his side. How’s that for some female power?? While we’re at it, there’s another female in this particular story, Jael… who is actually sort of cooler cause it was her who effectively won the war when she killed the enemy’s king! (read Judges 4 and 5)

3. The Proverbs 31 woman

Proverbs 31 verses 10-30 talks about The Wife of Noble Character and has always been a passage that just annoys me to the max. This woman does EVERYTHING. She keeps her household in good order, she takes care of the business, and she even finds time to look after the poor and needy… and where’s her husband? Oh, he’s just sitting there at the gates talking to the other men, bragging about his wife. Huh, WHAT? Well, despite the fact that I personally think that no woman should be doing all the work while her husband just sits back and relaxes, kudos to this woman who is able to do it all, way before the days of emancipation and feminist movements (speaking of that, how did society go from letting the women do everything to letting the women do nothing but have kids and clean the house??)

4. The Canaanite woman

In the International Women’s Day worship at the Ecumenical Centre this morning, we read and reflected on the passage about the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), possibly the most disturbing passage in the gospels when you’re a woman because here’s Jesus… and he is comparing this woman with a dog! Well, yes, there are good explanations to it, but still… WHAT?!! And yet, this particular woman is so awesome… she replied instantly to Jesus with such a witty comment that Jesus healed her daughter after all. That, my dear readers, is what I call female power.

5. Mary, mother of Jesus

Okay, she probably deserved to be mentioned earlier than this, but anyway… this Mary was a young woman who was obviously very devoted to her faith, and without her there would be no Jesus (well, okay, I suppose if she had said no, God could’ve found another woman too, but still…). Imagine what a shocking moment it must’ve been for her, and how difficult it was. Not only does she have to deal with her husband-to-be (luckily God took care of that) but also with society and with the pregnancy itself! Not to mention the tough deal of the journey and giving birth and what about seeing your precious son dying on a cross? For being such a strong and courageous woman, Mary, we celebrate you.

6. Abigail

I think many women could relate to Abigail… were there days when your husbands (or boyfriends) act like complete idiots? Yes? Welcome to Abigail’s life. Reading 1 Samuel 25, one could imagine that Nabal was possibly a complete d-bag. And yet, Abigail doesn’t give in to despair. Instead, she takes charge… and she saves her household with a highly courageous act. Bravo, Abigail!

7. Esther

I think I’ve made it clear by now that I’m aiming to get a whole variety of women and to celebrate them for many different reasons. We’ve had courage, wit, faith, bravery, well… here’s THE woman to be celebrated for beauty. Esther won a very important beauty pageant… instead of just receiving a crown and being treated like a princess for a day, she actually became the queen. Yet, she was not just beautiful on the outside, but she was beautiful in the inside too. Read her story in the book of Esther (one of only TWO books in the Bible to be named after a woman). The whole story is actually told to tell the origins of the feast of Purim, which coincidentally is celebrated today as well! How’s that for a celebration!

8. Vashti

It wouldn’t be fair to celebrate International Women’s Day and to include Esther in the list but not Vashti. If we’re going to be true to the roots of International Women’s Day marking the day women took a stand against the mistreatment they have been subjected to, here’s the woman did exactly that: speaking out against mistreatment. Read Esther 1… there he was, the king having a party, he got really drunk, and he summoned her queen to be DISPLAYED in front of everyone. And, while I’m sure she knows what the rules are, Vashti refused to come. Ha! Way to go, Vashti, woman of integrity!

9. Ruth

The other book of the bible named after a woman is the book of Ruth. And interesting enough, she wasn’t even an Israelite. The story of Ruth is a very touching story. Instead of going home to her family after the death of her husband, she decided to stay with her mother-in-law. Highly unusual, no? I often wonder what it is that made Ruth take this bold decision of going to a foreign country with no clear future… but perhaps it was an overflow of love to someone who needed it. Imagine Naomi, who had lost everything in her life. She was bitter, she was sick of it, she probably wanted to go home to Israel to die. She sent away her daughters-in-law so she would be all alone, no more burden, and she could be done with life. But no, Ruth saw the sadness, Ruth saw the bitterness, and even though she realizes it’s going to be tough for her, she decided to stay with Naomi. And they lived happily ever after. That, is genuine sisterhood.

10. Leah

Limiting myself to only 10 women makes it a bit difficult to choose who to feature as the count is almost up… but Leah has always had a special place in my heart ever since I read this novel that retold the story of Jacob’s clan from Leah’s point of view. Leah has always been misunderstood, overshadowed by her pretty little sister, and imagine having a husband who never wanted to marry you in the first place! And yet instead of Rachel, Leah was the one buried with Jacob in the cave of Machpelah, the same place where Abraham and Sarah, as well as Isaac and Rebekah are buried (see Genesis 49:29-31). Now what does that tell you? Well, it tells me that Leah was special. And perhaps, like in the novel (whose author’s name I can’t remember), Leah was the woman Jacob went to for counsel. The one he regarded as his “suitable helper”.

So there you have it, my selection of 10 women in the Bible who are to be celebrated for various reasons. Who would you celebrate and why?

Heartbreaks, Haircuts and Happiness

It started when I was in university, circa 2007. A happenstance. Then it became almost a habit, a necessity. I would get a haircut whenever I get my heart broken. The reason was always as described in this post: no use crying over spilt milk, broken relationships and cut hair.

So when I recently felt heartbroken, one of the first things I thought was: I need a haircut. Add to the above reasons the fact that he used to tell me how he liked my pretty, long brown hair. But being in Switzerland posed a problem. First, haircuts are highly expensive and second, for most hair salons I need to make an appointment. So I struggled. Asked a friend. Toyed with the idea of cutting my own hair. At one point I really felt like I desperately needed the haircut, so I went to the airport–thinking they would probably accept walk-ins and completely ignoring that it is even more expensive than anywhere else– but when I arrived the hairdresser had gone home (it was late) and I almost broke down.

Strangely enough, the next day I get an e-mail from Groupon, which I do every morning, actually… but this had a deal for a wash-cut-blow dry… for 39fr. instead of 105fr. How awesome is that?? Needless to say, I bought the deal and then planned with Wanderingdaph to go together as she also got it. It was hard to fit our schedules though, so Daph said I should just go ahead… and she booked me an appointment.

The appointment was yesterday afternoon. On a side note, I thought it was kinda cool that it was leap day. After all, getting your hair cut is almost like a leap of faith *wink*. As the time neared, I was more anxious than excited. Partly because of the thought of losing my hair, but also because of fear that I won’t be able to communicate properly and my hair would turn into a disaster. I had a picture of what I wanted, but still. As a last resort, I asked a friend to accompany me. HE was sweet enough to actually say yes.

To cut a long story short since the point of this post isn’t the process itself (I think the hairdresser merits her own post — a review post. Later.), got my hair cut. It turned out so well that every single person at the salon agreed that I looked “trés jolie” (that’s like 6 or 7 people, 8 if you count me, but I’m biased).

Strangely enough, I did not weep as the hairdresser cut my hair and I did not miss my long tresses. Also, there was no sense of relief, and somehow I had completely forgotten to relate it with my hearbreak. This morning when I woke up and saw myself in the mirror, I had completely forgotten how I looked like yesterday. It was as if I had always had this hairstyle, and I loved the person looking back at me.

In retrospect, perhaps I had seen myself in my mind with this hairstyle all along. And I didn’t need a haircut to divert me from the heartbreak because the wounds have healed. Instead of giving me a diversion, the hairdresser had simply cut her way to reveal what I did not manage to see before.

A beautiful, happy, very much loved little me.

My Pencil Case, loaded for a new semester!

Based on this post on school supplies, here’s what I packed into my pencil case for this upcoming semester:

Pencils, 2 mechanical ones along with extra lead (0.5, 2B) and an eraser. I initially wanted to pack a ‘traditional’ pencil as well but figured it was too much of a hassle.

Pens, in blue, black and red, as well as an extra blue gel pen that I love.

Correction pen, as well as a small cute correction tape.

Highlighters, in purple cause it’s my colour coding system for my college works, and in fluorescent yellow cause traditional is always best.

Whiteboard Marker, in black cause it always comes in handy and black is the best to read on the board.

Ruler, self explanatory.

A pack of coloured pencils, cause I like to decorate my notes.

A mini stapler with extra staples and some paper clips, because they come in handy too.

I also put my student ID as well as library card in the case along with some spare cash just in case, and I have a marking flag post-it keychain hanged to the pencil case.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got my stationery grounds covered 😉

The Verdict!

So I spent countless (actually I didn’t really count) hours looking for the perfect way to organize (organize??) my social networking accounts (that includes my e-mails, instant messaging clients, as well as stuff like twitter, etc.) and to actually have fun doing it (that’s all I really want it to be. FUN!). And after testing quite a few stuff, here’s my decision on which works best, for me 😛

Google Chrome almighty. Although I’m tweaking my Firefox which I’ve been abandoning to make it a little more eye-friendly since I’m kinda interested in a few add-ons.

Digsby for IM and webmails cause it supports multiple accounts and keeps it all easily managed and thus oh-so-pretty.

Tweetdeck for twittering, and reading facebook status messages. If only it could reply to facebook status messages like Seesmic. Why not use Seesmic, instead? Cause I like Tweetdeck’s interface way, way, better.

Ping.fm, the ultimate social networking update web, although with the risk of making people angry at reading the same thing in several different accounts. But I try variety once in a while, and that’s why ping is still awesome.

and more to come as I dig deeper and deeper into the web. LOL.