Monday, 15 July 2013

Dear Me, at Seventeen

You're 17 years-old now, and you're on your senior year. Congratulations on making it thus far!

At this point, you may feel like you've grown up so much and that you know everything you need to know about life. You look at your juniors and you think, 'How little they are, how vacant they look!' And you laugh and look at yourself and your classmates, and you think, 'How great we've become!'

Yes, how great you've become. But you will be greater. What you are now is not your fullest self.

But we both know that already, right? What I want to say is, the path to greatness will be very different from where you are right now. In fact, some time in the future, you will have to climb down. You will have to stoop so low to get underneath the fence which separates you now from you in the future. There's much humiliation and lots of challenges ahead. But you won't be destroyed. What will be destroyed is the parts that can hinder you from living the great life you're designed to have. Yes, it will hurt. But yes, you will be grateful.

You are used to question stuff, heavy stuff. That is good, but you must learn to listen to the answers. You know you can't just keep asking, just as a ship cannot keep sailing and a mouth cannot keep gaping. Eventually, the ship has to throw anchor, and the mouth has to shut. There are answers, believe me.

But wait, I know what concerns you: you're popular now, and that's quite an achievement in the high school life. Will this stay?

Dear me, you will learn, that when God seems to remove certain people from your life, it means they're just not for you. It's neither their fault, nor yours. They can be really good people, and that's why you always want to be with them. But then they have to move somewhere. They take classes or get new friends that change them. And suddenly, though you still talk to them, they become disconnected from you. The bond is no longer there. When this happens, it's a sign to move on. Maybe they'll be back later, maybe not. If they don't, then I assure you: you will find that you're glad they don't come back.

And what about those who come and stay? That will be unexpected too. You will connect to strange people from strange lands. You will see that, by God's grace, it is possible to have the farthest people as your closest.

Also, don't worry about beauty. I know you're self-conscious sometimes, because all the other girls already look so mature and you're... well, you seem to be a little late. All those advices about inner beauty, no matter how convincing they are, we both know the truth. But oh, just you wait! You will not only become beautiful, but you will also feel beautiful! Actually, you're already beautiful even now, because that's how God created you. It's just that the high school world has a silly idea about what beauty is. Don't buy into it.

Why am I keep talking about God, you ask?

Dear me at seventeen, this is the core of everything I've said to you: that you will learn to trust God. I may sound like that little preacher girl who quotes Bible verses in the locker room. But I'm serious. Sometimes you worry so much, and you can be so prideful. Later, you will learn to listen to God's subtle whispers and to read His ways. His ways are much safer than your own understanding.

There is another form of greatness that you haven't discovered yet. This greatness only He can provide. That's all I can say.


You at twenty-three

Thursday, 11 July 2013

30 Beautiful Quotes from Lumen Fidei

I'm going to be honest with you: Lumen Fidei was the first papal encyclical letter that I managed to sit through and read in its entirety (unless you count the Epistles of Peter, of course, written by — why! — our very first Pope!).

To my surprise, this encyclical was very readable and not as complicated as I had imagined. Pope Francis wrote in a friendly and almost poetic manner that could've been expected coming from him. I can imagine his face framed with his usual innocent-if-not-a-little-shy smile popping at me from in-between the lines. With his attitude, LF could've simply been a particularly long blog post written by a particularly joyful Catholic who knows his sh*t but doesn't really fit in.

Here are 30 beautiful quotes from Lumen Fidei that speak to me the most.

*   *   *
The longing of the pagan world
The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light. "No one — Saint Justin Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun".

Faith is the beginning
Faith opens the way before us and accompanies our steps through time.

Faith understands
Faith understands that something so apparently ephemeral and fleeting as a word, when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable, guaranteeing the continuity of our journey through history. Faith accepts this word as a solid rock upon which we can build, a straight highway on which we can travel. [...] As Saint Augustine explains: "Man is faithful when he believes in God and his promises; God is faithful when he grants to man what he has promised".

Faith guides
Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. 

Faith is patient
Faith is also a knowledge bound to the passage of time, for words take time to be pronounced, and it is a knowledge assimilated only along a journey of discipleship.

Faith in hearing and vision
Hearing emphasizes personal vocation and obedience, and the fact that truth is revealed in time. Sight provides a vision of the entire journey and allows it to be situated within God’s overall plan; without this vision, we would be left only with unconnected parts of an unknown whole.

Faith sees in the same direction
Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing.
The experience of love shows us that a common vision is possible, for through love we learn how to see reality through the eyes of others, not as something which impoverishes but instead enriches our vision. 

The Christian faith
Christian faith is thus faith in a perfect love, in its decisive power, in its ability to transform the world and to unfold its history.

Faceless idols
Idolatry is "when a face addresses a face which is not a face".

To "believe" and "believe in" Jesus
Saint John brings out the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus for our faith by using various forms of the verb "to believe". In addition to "believing that" what Jesus tells us is true, John also speaks of "believing" Jesus and "believing in" Jesus. We "believe" Jesus when we accept his word, his testimony, because he is truthful. We "believe in" Jesus when we personally welcome him into our lives and journey towards him, clinging to him in love and following in his footsteps along the way.

Love transforms
Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith. By their openness to this offer of primordial love, their lives are enlarged and expanded.
For those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, faith becomes light for their eyes.

The unity and individuality of Christians
Christians are "one" (cf. Gal 3:28), yet in a way which does not make them lose their individuality; in service to others, they come into their own in the highest degree.

Faith without truth?
Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life.

True love
Love cannot be reduced to an ephemeral emotion. True, it engages our affectivity, but in order to open it to the beloved and thus to blaze a trail leading away from self-centredness and towards another person, in order to build a lasting relationship; love aims at union with the beloved.

Love needs truth
Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey. If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time. [...] Without truth, love is incapable of establishing a firm bond; it cannot liberate our isolated ego or redeem it from the fleeting moment in order to create life and bear fruit.

Love and truth are inseparable
Love and truth are inseparable. Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives. The truth we seek, the truth that gives meaning to our journey through life, enlightens us whenever we are touched by love. One who loves realizes that love is an experience of truth, that it opens our eyes to see reality in a new way, in union with the beloved.

The common truth
Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual. Since it is born of love, it can penetrate to the heart, to the personal core of each man and woman.

Truth leads to humility
Truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us.

Faith encourages science
The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is always greater.

"I delivered to you what I also received"
Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves. [...] The word, once accepted, becomes a response, a confession of faith, which spreads to others and invites them to believe.
It is impossible to believe on our own.

The relationship of the people
Persons always live in relationship. We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others. Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others. Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory.

Baptism, and thus faith, we receive from others
Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by entering into the ecclesial communion which transmits God’s gift. No one baptizes himself, just as no one comes into the world by himself. Baptism is something we receive.

 The integrity of faith
Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole.

The nuptial vow
Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love.

Brotherhood without a common fatherhood falters
Modernity sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realize that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure.

Faith, forgiveness, and true unity
Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.
The face of God
Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Melancholic Turned Phlegmatic

I usually don't give much thought to the Four Temperaments theory of personality. I much prefer MBTI because it's more detailed and thus more discriminative (16 personalities!!!). Besides, I don't really like the ill-sounding names of the temperaments: sanguine - blood, choleric - cholera, phlegmatic - mucus, and melancholic - depression. How much more medical can you get.

Recently, though, in my usual lazy surf around blogosphere, I came across this post by Amanda at Worthy of Agape. I always enjoy WoA, so seeing a post about the Four Temperaments there sparked my interest, although not fully, because [I thought] I already know what my temperament is: melancholic, or to be precise, melancholic/choleric.

This test confirmed it. However, this test put melancholic as my secondary temperament, and put — dum dum dum — PHLEGMATIC, as my primary temperament.

My initial reaction to this was pretty choleric in nature but then I looked at the list of traits. Here's a table comparing the four temperaments taken from the second website, starting from left to right, from my highest score to my lower score.

Calm and collectedSensitive to anguish of othersSelf-sufficientJoyful/Cheerful
QuietAnalyticalBorn leaderOptimistic
WittyDeep thinkerDynamicPassionate
KindArtistic or musicalCompulsive need for changeResponsive to emotions
InoffensiveSelf-sacrificingMust correct wrongsCharismatic
Hides emotionsPoetic and philosophicalUnemotionalCompassionate
Reconciled to lifeAppreciates beautyStrong-willedImpractical/Dreamer
Not in a hurryPerfectionist with high standardsIndependentStoryteller
Takes the good with the badDetail consciousOptimisticChildlike
PracticalNeat and tidyNot discouraged easilyMemory for smells & colors
Dry sense of humorOrganizedConfidentMakes friends easily
MediatorSees the problemGoal-orientedDoesn’t hold grudges
Avoids confrontation and conflictSeeks creative solutionsKnows the right answersLoves people
Cool under pressureMust finish what is startedCan see the whole pictureInattention
Takes the easiest wayContent to stay behind the scenesQuickly moves to actionLack of concentration
Good listenerLikes charts, numbers, and listsThrives on oppositionDisorganization
Likes to watch peopleCautious to make friendsLittle need for friendsEasily distracted
Compassionate and concernedWill listen to complaintsLeads and organizesForgetful
PleasantProblem solver for othersExcels in emergenciesImpulsive
Good administrative abilityMoved to tears with compassionDelegates workRestless
IntuitiveTries not to raise attentionMotivatorVery talkative
DependableSerious Long-term thinkerInterrupts (Egotistical)
Slow and LazyStudiousCruelEmotionally unstable
Selfish Not practical--DreamerImpatientCircumstantial
Detached observerMoody

What surprised me is that, apparently, the traits of the phlegmatic, or rather, the combination of phlegmatic/melancholic suits me better than the combination of melancholic/choleric does. I didn't know temperaments can change!

A few of years ago, I was your classic melancholic/choleric: serious, studious, thinker, solitary and proud to be, perfectionist, aggressive especially in debates, hot-tempered, and even cruel, I gotta admit. Just ask the victims of my bullying in high school :p

So I wonder, since when did I become the calm, composed, patient, pressure-proof, sympathetic, and *KIND* phlegmatic??? :D

Which of the two temperaments dominates also matters. Here's another paragraph from this website that compares phlegmatic/melancholic with melancholic/phlegmatic:

If you are phlegmatic-melancholic, it’s likely that you are a bit more upbeat than the melancholic-phlegmatic, a little less introverted, more trusting, slightly less moody, more generous with your time, and a more gracious host. You will rarely find yourself angry (though your feelings may be easily hurt), forgive more readily, and do not hold onto hurts in the same way that a more dominantly melancholic temperament would.

Way-hay, this seems like a good maturation over the years! Still it's funny how one can change dramatically. Maybe it's due to the hours I put into reading less Nietzsche and more John Paul II? ;) Well I just hope I didn't completely lose the good qualities of the choleric: confident, motivated, courageous, and a born leader! (The image of St. Paul the Apostle quickly comes into mind!)

So there you go, I'm the phlegmatic/melancholic. My saints are: St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope John XXIII (phlegmatic), St. John the Evangelist, and Bl. John Henry Newman (melancholic). Great guys!

What is your temperament?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


This is still a shock to me even now: I just discovered that I've been working directly under and for a member of the wealthiest and most influential conglomerate family in the region. Not just country, region. As in Southeast Asia. Here's the full story:

One day, at the start of this year, I was contacted via e-mail by a member of the faculty; she said she had recommended me and 4 other students for a disease database project that the uni hospital wants to create from scratch. A disease database, that's all the information I got. It seemed to involved a lot of writing and some light research, so I expressed my interest. I was then referred to a woman in the hospital office, and that woman referred me to her boss, the Corporate Network and Communication General Manager, let's call her Mrs S. Mrs S and I had a private face-to-face, one-on-one meeting, and she told me to get more friends to help me with the project. By the way, Mrs S was so nice and welcoming yet professional at the same time; even then I already got the impression that she was an important person, though I wasn't sure in what way.

I got the many additional hands I needed, and we began straightaway. The first part of the project was in cooperation with Mayo Clinic; Mayo provided the resources and we translated their articles. I was the de facto leader of the team, because I was the first person who responded to the job offer. *sigh*

There came a problem. Some members of the team inquired about possible salary or any other forms of recognition. I told them I already dropped hints about it to Miss E. And I did. Hints, because I wasn't sure if talking about salary was a wise thing to do so early in the project. In my mind, we were only fresh graduates, with no clear titles, zero experience, who were we to demand money?!? We were [future] doctors after all, weren't we supposed to not be money-oriented?

Long story short, it was clear to me that corporate work was very different from clinical setting. Corporate is corporate: business. So when I, Miss E, and Mrs S held another meeting just between the three of us, Mrs S asked me directly about what we were expecting from this project. To put it frankly, what do you want? (She asked this matter-of-factly, not with a degrading tone or anything, she was just being honest). Before this meeting, our oh-so-patient editor Miss E had explained to me that I could just say anything in my concerns to Mrs S, because she is powerful and she can do anything, and she will much prefer openness and sharing of responsibilities over silent frustration and repressed exhaustion. So I did just that.

To my relief, Mrs S took everything I said gracefully, and she even agreed on many points. She told me that she was glad about me being honest, because otherwise she wouldn't have known. Well I agree 1000% on that, it's just, most people I had encountered did not very much like open discussions; they much preferred subtlety and reading between the [very finely drawn] lines. Not sure if this is personal preference or if it's an Eastern culture thing, but this seems to be one of the social rules.

Shortly after this meeting, a classmate not on the project discovered who I've been working for, and he was like, OMG!!!! Mrs S is one of the grandchildren of MR and the niece of JR!!!! MR is a senior banker in the country, a conglomerate, and a hugely successful tycoon; he was the one who established a huge banking network in the region and built an entire township, complete with an advanced education and health system, whose high school and university I went to and whose hospital I'm working in!!! MR's entire family dwell in this gigantic family business and philanthropy. Meanwhile, JR, one of his sons and Mrs S's uncle, funded the freakin' campaign of the United States' Democratic Party!!!

Well at this point, my face was already like this:


Guess I hadn't known what I signed up for.

Monday, 8 July 2013

7 Quick Takes #3: JULY

Hi, everyone! I know I've been M.I.A. for a while in the blogging sphere, so I apologise for that. Although, I'm not sure if anybody even noticed or cared...? :p

Things have been pretty hectic yet unbelievably blessed!!! Everything that happened from mid-June to early July was all a colourful blur of random events; it's like rain that suddenly pours hard and then suddenly stops again as if it has never started. You wonder if that was really rain or if you just misheard its rumbling sound.

Here they are, in no particular order, my first 7 Quick Takes on the month of July:


I'm officially a medical doctor.

Left to right: Oki, Yi Yin, me, and Rivaldi, in our brightly coloured graduation robes.
Light green for medicine, yaayyy!

Me and my my friend Anggi, with Anggi's mum in the middle.
I love wearing traditional kebaya and sarong, and I love seeing women in kebaya and sarong!

On the 5th of July, 2013, I and 65 classmates took the Hippocratic Oath. This Oath is a major milestone in the life of any medical students: it is an official transition from being a medical student to being a licensed doctor. Though in our case, our license is only temporary for internship. We'll get another full-fledged license later after internship (and possible comm service, when the eternally-indecisive government makes up their mind for it).


GREECE IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!! I was blessed to be able visit this ancient land in late June. Greece has always been one of my dream destinations, thanks to the many mythology books I read as a little kid (yes, I was already a geek even then).

I went with my parents. We actually went on a week-long medical convention in Athens, but we only spent 2 days in Athens because, as usual, travel is more important than the convention, hehe. Another plus side of this kind of travel is, well, it's free! We only need to think about our own personal expenses.

So we went to Meteora, Delphi, Athens, and three of the islands: Poros, Hydra, and Aegina. My favourite places are Delphi and Hydra. Delphi has a general atmosphere of the typical European small town, with most "streets" (actually, footpaths) made of stones, tiny houses built right next to each other without much open space, and people, old people especially, sitting around on tiny flowery chairs sipping coffee, enjoying pipes, or simply having late afternoon chats. Time trickles slowly here and all worries will be irrelevant. I felt so peaceful being there. And not to forget, the great Temple of Apollo!

Delphi around 7pm, as seen from a restaurant on a higher ground.

The rocky hills of Delphi, around the site of the Temple of Apollo.

Me at the great theatre of Apollo.

Hydra is one of the Sarconic Islands of Greece, located in the sapphire-blue Aegean Sea. Most, if not all, the buildings on the island are painted white, and the main mode of transportation there is... dum dum dum... DONKEYS!!! Donkeys carried our Lord, right?? Therefore donkeys can carry anything! From children, adults, to your luggages. Seriously though, donkeys are effective because the buildings on Hydra are constructed diagonally upwards following the slopes of its many hills, so people need a mode of transport that can move on staircases and along narrow corridors of footpaths.

I'll let you take a look at a few pictures and judge by yourselves :)

Just look at the crystal clear water! The boats look like they're hovering!
"And God created the island of Hydra, and saw that it was awesome."
Hai boys!
I believe the best time to visit Greece is in the summer, around June-July. When I was there, the sky was always clear, and yes, it was hot, but still tolerable. Compared to the tropics like Indonesia, Mediterranean heat is more dry than humid, and more warm than prickly to the skin. The guide book I took from a hotel says that the hottest month is August, so you might wanna avoid this land in August.


My left brain needs to go to the gym!! So I [finally] decided to acquire another foreign language: Dutch! I'm determined to learn this language seriously until I reach fluency nearing or at the same level as my English; a fluency where I can think in that language, and comfortably switch between that and other languages I've mastered.

Why Dutch, you ask? Three main reasons:

1. It's a natural thing to do for Indonesians. Indonesia is a former Dutch colony for 350 years. Many Indonesian words are loan words from the Dutch language, and the two countries have always had very close cultural and diplomatic relationships. There are many Dutch people living in Indonesia, and there are many Indonesians living in the Netherlands. Even in Javanese language, all Caucasians are called "londo", which means Dutch, wherever they may come from.

2. It opens the door to at least 2 other languages: German and Afrikaans. There are also Flemish (Belgian Dutch) and Surinam Dutch, although I'm still not sure whether they are Dutch, or daughter languages of Dutch, as in the case of Afrikaans.

3. It makes me able to read museum inscriptions :p The point is, I like being able to read or at least pronounce something correctly, and Dutch will help me learn history much better.

Another general reason that I always give to people who ask why I bother to learn another foreign language when I'm already fluent in The One International Language, is this: I love learning new languages. In fact, I love anything related to language and words. I happen to be especially blessed in the linguistic area; for me, learning a new glot is a lot easier than, say, mathematics, or even natural science, which is funny because I chose medicine as my main career path. But see, you can't avoid love, so :)


Some of you might be sick already with this, but I can't help getting *somewhat* addicted. Here's for your troll-dancing pleasures.


The salary for internship has been raised to IDR 2.5m per month, from previously IDR 1.2m per 3 months. This is a significant positive change that we've all been waiting for. I don't want to sound materialistic, but the previous number, IDR 1.2m per 3 months, is roughly IDR 5,000 (approx. USD 0.50) per hour. I'm sure the parking lot guy earns a lot more than this. Plus, the national minimum wage for labourers is IDR 2.2m per month. Considering the huge responsibility and equally huge health risks posed to medical professionals, I think this improvement is well-warranted.


English is hard ;)


"We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others."

"One who loves realizes that love is an experience of truth, that it opens our eyes to see reality in a new way, in union of the beloved."

"Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing."