We Listen to Reply

Based on my previous blog post, chronologically this post should be about “How to Apply for Germany Student Visa” or “First Week in Essen” and so on, but anyway :p.  A few months ago, I found this quote from Stephen Covey somewhere in either my Facebook timeline or Tumblr dashboard


At the moment I was like “Wow, this is so freaking true”.  I personally don’t like to talk if there is nothing I want to add and I feel annoyed if in a meeting or discussion people just throwing out their opinion without a point and just reciting everything else that has been said before, just for the sake of replying.  I am not saying that I hate people expressing their opinion, but at some point at some institutions this ineffective habit of throwing pointless arguments is just, well, time-wasting.

Not until I have moved to Germany that I found this quote way way more relevant to my daily life.  FYI, I live in Essen, the 6th biggest city in Germany, the 2017 European Green Capital City with around 560.000 inhabitants.  It’s a very busy city along the Ruhr River, home to the famous steel company Thyssen Krupp and in the 19th century was a highly industrialized (and polluted) area.  People here are highly busy but not that english-speaking as another bigger cities such as Berlin or Munich, just to name a few.

Before I come here I have taken a German course in Bandung for 1,5 years.  I was thinking that “Well, I might not be able to write something in perfect German but I think I can manage that”.  Turns out I was wrong.  Yes I am able to understand some German terms, yes I can write e-mail in German but I cannot understand what the people are saying in German.  At all.  So I can start a conversation but I am not able to interpret what the response is.  Up until this time (4 months) I only manage to understand at the most 50% of what people are saying.  This is because they speak very differently with whatever it is I have learnt. Different speed and different accent.  There was a period when I was so overwhelmed by the fact that I cannot understand spoken German that I just didn’t want to go anywhere.  Even asking for toilet location at church can be overwhelming, simply because I was too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand the reply.  And I learnt it the hard way that to learn a language in its native land, you simply need to understand, and you should thrive to listen and understand what the question is.  (That also includes the courage to ask “Could you repeat a little bit slowly?”)

To speak about linguistics would be too far, but this is the point of communication.  How could I reply, if I don’t understand what the question is in the first place ? I have experienced this same thing with Sundanese and Javanese language back then.  But I never think of it, after all people will ask me question in Indonesian anyway, so why bother?   But here, I was given the basic, most important lesson in communication the hard way (well, according to my previously-spoiled-life-in-convenient-city). We listen not to reply, but to understand first.




I don’t really like October

Somewhere in the past, somebody left in October. Another also left in October.  The former left to another hemisphere of the earth while the latter left for a new stage in life. So it is normal (?) if I always welcome October cautiously.  Triggers are everywhere.

And yet this October will be full of drama

What, So What, Now What ?


One of my favourite thing to do is attending seminars. Like seriously, if I could spend my whole life listening to people talking about something in particular, listening to lectures, and reading book, I would. There is nothing more satisfying than gaining new knowledge…only to find it buried down deep for the rest of my life (until now, hopefully).

Last year I attended a Bible Camp on Christian Apologetics and last Saturday I found myself in a similar but slightly more comprehensive seminar by the same speaker and I could not help but start wondering “what have I achieved this year?” Seems like whatever I was learning last year just stay there, unanalysed even though I am really trying to implement it in my daily life (super difficult, though). So the thing is that for me, I am searching for so many knowledge and found them not useful, yet. Or it was me not trying to make use of all of them. I always get motivated in a seminar and by the time I get out of the building, the motivations disappear like a vapor into thin air. I also fancy collected tons of training materials, only to found it not being used until now, where I found myself wondering I could have done this project better, if ony I refer to those training materials. My bosses have also admit that they attended lots of training or seminar and then buried the material somewhere inside that enourmous cupboard on the corner of the room.

This made me recall an event I was doing last month with my colleagues. It was a training and bonding activity and one of the key message that kept resonating inside my head is “reflection”. So let’s say that you have a particular event in your life. How big it will have impacted your life will be determined by your reflection on the event. What is the event, so what you feel about it, and now what you will do about it. Those are the questions that were continouously being asked by the facilitators. Although to be honest, most of the training materials are quite heavy on New Age worldview, which are not suitable with my worldview, I had quite a battle inside my heart over it throughout the training *sigh* . Anyway, without routinely reflecting on everyday events, my life and the worldview I hold onto wouldn’t be developing too. In short, we can develop much more progressive toward a better person, if only we tried to routinely reflecting, in my case, on those seminar materials, training, and of course, life’s tribulation


Disclaimer : The title of this post are mottos frequently said by the EcoLearningCamp team


I should be so depressed at the moment, after failing (another) master’s scholarship application, failing to meet a dearest old friend after 2 years since last meeting (and 6 months of silence), the AirAsia QZ8501 accident which triggered all emotions from 2012’s Sukhoi accident, and watching a friend with his significant other sharing some good times while here I am standing and pouring all those feelings out (and secretly hoping to not meeting any of them again). That was stupid and momentarily though, I should not be expecting to not meeting any of them. In fact they have been such good friends, it’s just me who found it damn hard to face reality as it is and stay too long in the past.

Anyway, to ease such pain, I decided to make a list of things that happened throughout 2014 that I should be hugely grateful of. Even though the year 2014 ended quite chaotic for me, I believe there will be something good come through this messed-up yearend, maybe this year, maybe 2 yrs from now, maybe 10 yrs from now, God knows 🙂

1. Graduation ! After another depressing episode in the past of doing my undergraduate thesis, dealing with those daphnids, struggling and pleading to be permitted to have the examination before new semester started, finally I tackled the exam on January 17th (new semester started at January 20th!) and enjoyed a bit of the ceremony on April

2. First job. I was offered to fill-in my thesis partner in assisting our advisor on an EIA project for 500 kV transmission line for the national electricity company. The project is still ongoing until now (national company’s habit) but we are hoping to finish this by April. Nonetheless, so far the project taught me a lot of things and gave me chance to work with the assistants (my classmates). We have been stuck here for a long time and hopefully we’ll end this soon enough !

3. Prothumia Camp. I have been a long time fan of Christian apologetics but did not have any chance to learn it thoroughly. So when I saw this announcement of apologetics camp at South East Asia Bible Seminary , Malang, East Java, I was so attracted but I did not apply immediately. After finding myself drown in apologetics questions, I applied on the last minute. So many knowledge and faith-strengthening insights. Sometimes we do not ask questions because we are afraid that the answers will not make us satisfied, or worse, disappointed. I am so grateful that in this camp I got the answers to the questions I were afraid to ask.

4. Second job. Since the EIA project progresses very very slow (typical national company), I decided to apply for another job while keep applying scholarships. Submitting my application 2 days late than the actual deadline for the position, I found out that they replied my application pretty fast and offered me a full time job in the interview! This ordinary motion turned out to be super extraordinary when the projects we were involved in are in fact challenging my personal skill while at the same time facilitate what I have been longing for : working with foreigners. The project were super time-and-commitment-consuming but I am so beyond grateful to finally finish the project. Combined with the responsibility trusted on me, words cannot express how grateful I am.

5. My best friend wedding. It was super fun to be part of my besties wedding, the 1st year college gank returned to have some fun and witnessed the happiest moment in our friend’s life

6. Christmas Eve service. As I have mentioned before in #4, the project my office was involved in made me unable to craft any ideas for the XMas Eve service, where I was assigned to accompany. Thank God on the D-1 day, I found out that the choir conductor’s husband has been longing to play in the service (If only I found that out earlier!). So we had practice in the morning and played in the evening. Turned out the congregation was really enthusiastic to sing the songs in the liturgy.  I could say that my comeback as an accompanist after 2 month hiatus just made my day, while earlier at the same day I found out that another scholarship application was just turned down. It was such a blessing to close that day.

There were lots of things that happened that should be grateful of and I cannot made a detailed list of everything. At the end of this post I just want to wish everyone a happy and memorable new year! Stay thankful (to me also) !

Ethics, Revisited


Not very long after I had started my journey as a church accompanist, I was invited to a seminar held by the church’s sound operators.  The issue brought out was our church’s poor acoustic condition and how to deal with it.  One of the speakers said that in most churches, the big problem concerning audio is not caused by the technical issues , it is the non-technical issues that get in the way.  These days, the latter seems to be the cause of many damages done , in churches and other places as well.

One of the most crucial non-technical issues of living in a community is ethics . Ethics are shown in one’s etiquette.  To be clear, Oxford Dictionary explains ethics as “moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity” while etiquette as “the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group”

There is an assumption that these days people’s rules of etiquette is diminishing.  Not only in children , but sadly in adults too .  Even more sadly, this also happens in community where people’s ethics are supposed to be ameliorated because that place was built for religious services. Yes, I’m talking about none other than the church, and the servants, specifically. Contrary to the fact that ethics are being held high by business executives, ironically.

Ever seen these behaviours?   Accusing another person for a mistake rather than giving an advice, shouting to another fellow in anger (which is unnecessary), discrediting another person solely on personal judgement rather than fact, and so on. These behaviour resulting in people got hurt and not a few chose to leave and thus we lost another member of the fellowship. Leaving another soul broken and damaged relationship.  There are just too much arrogance and self-centeredness inside everyone of us.

H.B. London presents an argument on the fact that people these days are losing ethics , beside the influences of postmodernity and media . ” In my work as a pastor to pastors, I see ethical mistakes, financial integrity mistakes, and men and women disregarding one another and their families because success is so important to them. Sometimes I think we use God as J.B. Phillips describes in Your God Is Too Small. When we put God in a box and only pull Him out whenever we need Him, it presents ethical problems. When we speak, teach, and think for God, it is really not for God at all. It is for our convenience. We are simply using God as a crutch.

Churc h is meant not only to facilitate worship services, but also to build fellowship.  There should be a strong bond between the members so there is no need to blurt out ego and being unethical instead.  There are indeed a lot of challenges for church servants, but that should not be the reason to be sarcastic.  Problems should not be a reason to justify our unethical behaviour, even though we could argue that we did it to make things “better”.

I am glad to quote Tina Seelig on how to execute the right thing: “There is a significant difference between doing the right thing and rationalizing a decision that’s best for you.  Your actions always affect how others see you, and, as mentioned innumerable times now, you will likely bump into these same people again.  If nothing else, you can be sure they will remember how you handled yourself”  See, impressions are indeed matter .

Another cause for unethical behaviour is lack of communication.  This is a classic, devil’s circle problem that always appear anywhere.   We tend to get to a certain goal fast, without including other people’s interest and capability in achieving it whereas the goal itself is mutual rather than personal.  We need to take a little time to approach our partners in a friendly way to help us reach the shared goal.  Although this is not an easy task, time spent being friendly is clearly not wasted, it is an investment for the sake of the healthy community.

For all the people who felt uncomfortable in the place where they should feel most welcome, for those who endured at the place where they have been personally discredited, let’s be ethical rather than a self-centered person.   It is not too late.



Resources :


Burchett, Dave. 2011. When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Waterbook Press : Colorado

Seelig, Tina. 2009. What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20. Harper-Collins: New York

Dreams and Resources

Taking Risk

I am not a risk taker, to be honest.  Lately I was trapped in a project with very big goal but limited resources.  It is not that i don’t want to help, aside from the fact that this project is unfortunately a kind of merely personal ambition, but rather to the fact that I don’t believe in belief-driven goal.

Some of my acquaintances are risk takers. Hard core. They are people who willing to do even everything just to achieve a certain goal.  They believe in their dreams . They don’t even bother if they do not have the resources yet, they believe they will obtain them eventually. Even in a short time. I should say these people are driven by belief.

Unlike me , I do not take many risks though I do dream big . I am very resource-driven.  Living in the music school business for the past 3 years makes me realize that resources (e.g musical skills) are indeed important. Unless you are a very good performer or teacher or scholars, you wouldn’t survive there .

Sadly , most people think that living there could be supported by just an ordinary level of music performing.  This phenomenon is explained by Cal Newport in his book  So Good They Can’t Ignore You .  Many people pursue their dream without realizing that they do not have sufficient resources.  How could I achieve something big by only using the passion and belief itself? You need to be financially secured for that , at the very least.

It is not that I discredit successful people who used to dream big and eventually achieve it .  It is the fact that I am concern about these people, will they get along well?  I do think people need to dream big , just please don’t get blinded by the dream and passion.  Sometimes you need to put a strap onto yourself while chasing dreams, and prepare everything well.

Cal Newport owns a blog dedicated to decode patterns of success , in studying and working. Go check it out :Study Hacks

Some To Do List

Thanks for this rollercoaster year

Failures & achievements
Hellos & goodbyes
Tears & laughters
Despair & hope
Questions & answers
Journeys & routines

Those constant life questions waiting to be answered

Those silly thoughts waving ocassionally

Those dusty corners on the attic waiting to be swept

Those face-palm moments

Those endless wars between mind and heart

Those perseverance tests

I’ll see you soon

A Midnight Self-Inquiry

have you ever felt like you are doing something that doesn’t make any sense to you ?

It feels like you don’t even know why you are doing this

It like doing something that you don’t even believe in

It saturates your thoughts until you want to see it no more


All that push you through is only the belief that you are doing this for something good

To keep people’s faith

To share an experience that is probably good for others

To help yourself see that you don’t have to feel sorry for yourself

and finally, to see what awaits you in the end of all things


The Time To Trust

When is the time to trust?

Is it when all is calm, when waves the victor’s palm, and life is one glad psalm of joy and praise?

Nay, but the time to trust is when the waves beat high, when storm clouds fill the sky, and prayer is one long cry,

“O help and save”


When is the time to trust?

Is it when friends are true, is it when comforts woo, and in all we say and do, we meet but praise?

Nay, but the time to trust is when we stand alone, and summer birds have flown, and every prop is gone

All else but God!


When is the time to trust?

When you have tried your way, and learned to trust and pray, by bitter woe?

Nay, but the time to trust is in this moment’s need. Poor broken, bruised reed. Poor troubled soul, make speed

To trust Thy God


When is the time to trust?

Is it when hopes beat high, the sunshine guilds the sky, and joy and ecstasy fill all the heart?

Nay , but the time to trust is when joy is fled, when sorrow bows the head, and all is cold and dead,

all else but God



(Taken from 101 More Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck)