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Imperfect, Yet Purposeful

This morning I met a friend at the bus stop.

"Hey, you look great!" I said.

I did love her new haircut. She had her  smooth and straight hair short cut. Made her look young and fresh.

"Well, thank you."

I told her that I would have my hair cut, too. When my hair get long, it becomes so wavy and frizzy.

"But I like your wavy hair."

Yeah, here we go. Two people think that the grass is greener on the other side. 

In our modern competitive world, it seems normal to value ourselves materialistically. How do I look? How much do I make a year? How many assets do I have? And so on.

Among women, the first of those values plays an important role. Tan skinned want to be white, and vice versa. Those with monolid eyes want to have almond eyes. Flat-nosed want to have sharp nose. And the list goes on.

Why did God create us differently anyway when he got so much power to do the contrary?

Jesus answered that God has a purpose in our imperfection. God wants to work in each one of us (John 9:3). Were he with us now, he might say, "Come on, you people, don't sweat the small stuff! I've given you so much more than this!"

He's right. We all are imperfect, yet purposeful. Nick Vujicic is born with no arms and legs. He was once lost in his imperfection. He prayed every night, asking God to give him arms and legs to make him feel better. But God didn't fulfill Nick's request. Instead he helped Nick overcoming hard times of bullying, of self-doubt and find his path. Now he is living God's purpose to encourage people around the world to have a purpose driven life. (NS)

*This is my first writing in 2020 after
I abandoned my blog for months.

Another Visit to Taman Safari

Let's go to Taman Safari, I sent the message to my little sister.

Again? We've never been to Istana Panda.


So, on one cloudy Saturday we made our trip. 

We stopped by a local stall right after we drove in the main street heading to Taman Safari. We bought fresh bananas for us to nibble and carrots for some animals. 

Safari Journey, Feeding and 
No Feeding Time

Luckily it didn't rain in the conservation site. We could see the elephants, the hippos, the deers, the zebras and the other inhabitants of the animal kingdom.

Some animals were excited to welcome us. What do you bring for us? Do you have fresh food? 

Yes, we have! Here you go. Guten Appetit!

Some were not interested. They were the mighty ones. And of course we didn't dare to greet them either. The official rule says it loud: don't open your car window. Don't stop. Don't get out of your car.

Istana Panda
The safari journey ended. We headed right away to Istana Panda which has been operating since November 2017.

To our surprise, visitors should park their cars and take a bus instead at the bus shelter. I didn't notice how long it was. The road was narrow and steep. It must be the reason of using bus, instead of car.

Taking panda bus is also certainly environment-friendly.  I think, a panda bus can take circa 60 persons at a time.

Finally we were there. The air was cool. The view was so beautiful. It is a buffer zone of the national park of Gunung Gede Pangrango.

Hu Chun and Cai Tao
Both "black mask-wearing bears" came from China in 2017. In 2027 they should be returned to their homeland.

Before seeing the giant pandas, visitors  gathered in a studio to watch a short documentary movie about giant pandas.

Then, we may meet the couple. Cai Tao, the male panda. Hu Chun, the female panda.

Is it Hu Chun?

Is it Cai Tao? 

Panda loves resting. It was exactly what Hu Chun and Cai Tao did. So it was disappointing not to see them playing around.

In contrary to Hu Chun and Cai Tao, we found the red pandas in Istana Panda playing around. According to KOMPAS they are called "fire fox". A red panda is a smaller panda weighed 10-15 kg that looks like a red hairy fox.

I will definitely come again to this panda castle.

The Days I Spent with You (2)

Dear Tony,

thinking back when we first met,
I was so snob. Me, a black man, would hire you, a white man, to be my chauffeur. Me, a black great pianist, would give my best performances on piano to highly respectful white people in the South.

You and me, we were as different as chalk and cheese. You were like a water cannon. You did whatever you liked, said whatever you wanted. The impacts didn't bother you.

At some points you were so annoying, but you were right when you said,

You now, my father used to say, whatever you do, do it 100%. When you work, work. When you laugh, laugh. When you eat, eat like it's your last meal.

You enjoyed your every single moment. 

Deep down inside you were a warm-hearted man. You stood by me in my worst moments of being alone and unequally treated.

You are a family man. Every single day, you wrote a love letter to your wife (with your to-me-so-unpoetic-diction). 

And when you found out that I lost contact with my brother because of a conflict, you came right away with your words,

the world's full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.

And you made me realized that somehow I had my own wall that separated me from my own people, by not singing the favourite songs of black people and not interacting with them.

Dear Tony,

thank you for taking a part in my tour journey, my life journey.

Your Shirley

*Retold from 2018-Green Book movie, the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at 91st Academy Awards

The Days I Spent with You (1)

Dear Shirley,

never ever I imagined that I would work for a black man. In my big family, we even called negros eggplants.

One morning two black janitors did some repair at my house. My wife served them water after they finished their job. Right after they left, I threw away the glasses they used in the dustbin.

Remember that story? I told you about it when you asked me if I had problems working with black people. Well, as long as I could earn much money, I didn't mind to work with them. Besides, all I needed to do was to drive and to make sure that you arrived on schedule. Even into the Deep South. piece of cake.

Then, we made our trips. You set many rules.

Don't smoke in the car, Tony. I can't breathe here in the back.

Eyes on the road! 

Let me have a quiet time! 

You even told me to drive back to the road where I threw away the empty basket of fried chicken I bought in Kentucky!

To tell you the truth, I underestimated your music skill until I saw your fingers dancing beautifully on the piano keyboard. Wow! Even your white audience gave you long standing applause at the end of your performances.

Being with you in the South made me realize how hard your life was. You were invited to play your beautiful music, but your hosts didn't allow you to use the toilet. You had to go back to your motel! You had to change your cloth in a janitor room and weren't allowed to dine together with other guests. Once you wanted to try on a suit in a store. But, the salesman didn't allow you to.

All because your skin color: black!

I wonder why you could stand those miseries. You managed to shake your white audience' hands, smiling at them. I couldn't get it until Oleg, your fellow musician, revealed your reason.

It take courage to change people's heart.

But, everyone has his limits, right? You thundered at a rainy night.

If I'm not black enough and if I'm not white enough, then tell me, Tony, what am I?

Shirley, I was a rasist and bad-tempered. But you changed me. You once told me,

you never win with violence. You only win when you maintain your dignity.

You helped me to see the inside, not the outside of others. I'm very grateful for the days I spent with you.

Your friend,

*Retold from 2018-Green Book movie, the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at 91st Academy Awards

Jejamuran, the Mushroom "Kitchen"

A visit to the so-called Jejamuran restaurant was on my family itienary in Yogya. Many people give positive comments about Jejamuran. So, we  decided to prove them.

'Jamur' means mushroom. Yup, this restaurant located on Pendowoharjo Niron, Sleman, offers a list of mushroom dishes, made of different kinds of mushroom.

At the entrance, we were asked about how many people were going to eat. Then, we received our table number, the menu and two order forms. One form was for ala carte dishes, the other was for set menu. 

A waiter took us inside to our table. It was in the main area. If you want a private dining room, I think, there are some avalaible. But you better ask the terms and conditions first.

Lunch Time!
It was heavy raining. We decided to order something hot and spicy ... tongseng jamur! Original tongseng is a beef stew or goat meat dish in curry-like soup combined with sweet soy sauce and tomato dices. In Jejamuran, the meat is replaced with  jamur merang 'straw mushroom'.

The second dish was sate jamur. Sate or satay is a dish of grilled skewered meat chunks served with nut sauce or sweet soy sauce. Again, in Jejamuran, the meat is replaced with jamur tiram 'oyster mushroom'.

The third dish was jamur crispy, crunchy mushroom. It's also made of jamur tiram.

We usually don't order any drinks than sugarfree tea. But that time, my kiddo couldn't resist the temptation by looking at the bright coloured picture of a drink. And ... one of its ingredients is mushroom too! It's called enokitake.

The dishes were delicious. The only thing we regretted was that we didn't try other dishes 😁😁 Well, we were already full.

The Man behind Jejamuran
Visitors can see some photos of the man behind Jejamuran on the walls of the exit alley. His name is Ratidjo. He has been growing mushrooms since 1968. All dishes served in Jejamuran comes from his mushroom farm. Jejamuran is his business with love and passion.

Miscellaneous Things
The atmosphere is quite nice. There are two fish ponds. The following is in the exit alley.

Right after that we find a small shop where people can buy mushroom crackers. And outside there is a corner with lovely display of mushroom plants that you can buy and grow at home.

Last but not least, the corner can be used as "photo booth". We took our picture. Here we go:

What? It suppose to be Jejamuran, not Jamuran 'moldy' 😂😂 We are awful travellers that we don't have a tongsis (tongkat narsis) ''selfie stick'. But nevermind. The thing is, we've been in Jejamuran. Mission is completed! (Nancy/pictures (c) Nancy)

God's Blessings in LittWorld 2018

It was October 28. My heart was pounding when I went out the arrival gate in Changi airport. Who am I going to meet? Will I be able to understand the presentations? Can I communicate with other attendees? I am just a passive English speaker.... 

Now stop it. Whatever happens, happens. 

LittWorld 2018
I started to remember how this LittWorld thing started.

I joined LittWorld 2018 writing contest "The Word Made Fresh" held by Media Associates International (MAI). I failed it, but I stumbled upon the announcement of LittWorld 2018 conference on MAI website and the scholarship offer....

One afternoon, a WhatsApp message popped up on my android screen. It was Eberhard Will, asking me about LittWorld 2018. He told me that Martin Hein forwarded my email asking him whoever be a contact person for financial support. I already got a half from MAI.

I will try my best, typed Eberhard.

I  kept wiping my tears, hoping that no one in the bus wouldn't notice them. Thank You, God, for sending me kind people in the dark phase of my life. John Maust (MAI president), MAI donors, Martin, Ruth, and Eberhard-my dear German friends-and my other anonymous kindhearted sponsors.

So, I was finally there, at the conference, with other 249 attendees from 52 countries of the world! Writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, comic artists, movie makers, motivators, priests....

LittWorld 2018, 28.10-2.11

Colourful God's Creations

God is amazing Creator! I think, He loves diversity. We are the living proof, black-haired, blond-haired, bright-skinned, tan-skinned, dark-skinned humangbeings. We speak different languanges and have different cultures.

John Maust among some Indonesian.
Only the lady in the center whom
I already know before LittWorld

African (Zimbabwe), Cambodian,
Malaysian, Singaporeans,
Indonesian, Mexican

Gratitude, Humility, Expectation, Faith, Love, and Hope

We began our day with morning worship, followed by plenary session, core track (mine was nonfiction), open track (various subjects of different tracks), and ended with another plenary session or devotion.

In two different plenary sessions, Dan Elliot, the editorial director Tyndale House Publishers, spoke about gratitude, humility, expectation, faith, love, and hope.

It is the center of ministry. The answer to the question 'what God has done for me?' motivates the ministry.
Gratitude should reflect on our ministry.

My ministry is not my ministry. It is God who allows us to be a part of His work.

Have a higher level of expectation and clearity for a better future in God's plan.

It is about being disciplined in maintaining your relationship with God.

It's about reaching others.

What is your legacy for a better future in God's plan?

O, my, I have so much to improve myself in those aspects. To be a Christian writer is full of responsibilities.

Books and Books
Some speakers are authors. They shared their experiences in writing. One thing they have in common is that they speak about God in their books. They use their writing talent to ministry.

Those books above are written by Miriam Adeney, an American author and professor.

Miriam & me

At the lobby hotel, on the day everybody had to check out, she saw me and came to me. She showed some of books she wanted to give away.

"Which one do you want?"

"Pick for me, please, which you think is suitable for me."

The book below was her giveaway to me.

Yeay, a book for free!

Emily Lim was a Singaporean successful professional. One morning she woke up without a voice (she was inflicted with a quirky voice disorder called Spasmodic Dsyphonia). She gave up her job and found a new voice in writing. She has written many children's picture books.

Awarded the Bronze Medal at the 2008 IPPY Awards
(World's largest independent publishers book awards)

Emily & me

Jeanette Windle, an American author, was one of the speakers of nonfiction track. I took her class.

Jeanette. Sorry, I can't find a
better picture in my handphone

She has been writing biographies.

Giveaway book! Yippe!

Reverend Soo-Inn Tan, a Singaporean, was a dentist. God called him to ministry. He preaches, teaches, mentors, and writes.

Soo-Inn Tan's book

Soo-Inn Tan & me

New Relationship
I didn't expect to be a roommate to a writer I worked with. But being together with her for almost 5 days changed our relationship (at least from my point of view), from professional to something more personal.

LittWorld 2018 had left a trace in my heart. LittWorld 2018 was definitely a God's blessing to me.[Nancy]

Orangutan dan Kelapa Sawit

Bumi diciptakan sempurna. Manusia, tumbuhan dan hewan hidup harmonis di alam.
Seiring perkembangan pengetahuan, manusia menciptakan berbagai teknologi untuk mendukung kelangsungan dan kenyamanan hidupnya. Perubahan tersebut kita kenal sebagai modernisasi. 
Ternyata, modernisasi tidak hanya meningkatkan kualitas hidup manusia. Di sisi lain, modernisasi tanpa kendali dan batas merusak kelestarian lingkungan  dan kelangsungan hidup penghuni Bumi, termasuk manusia itu sendiri.

Orangutan Tersingkir dari Rumahnya

kreasi Michelle saat belajar
tentang orangutan /For: Dok. Pribadi

Suka ke kebun binatang? Sempatkan diri melihat hewan berbulu halus cokelat kemerahan, yang bergerak gesit dan lincah menggunakan kedua lengan panjangnya. Ya, orangutan. Banyak dari kita bersedia membayar biaya ekstra agar bisa berfoto bersama anak orangutan yang lucu dan menggemaskan.
Saat ini, melihat primata asal Sumatra (Pongo abelii) dan Kalimantan (Pongo pygmaeus) itu adalah hal biasa. Namun, di masa mendatang, kegiatan itu akan jadi sesuatu yang luar biasa sebab oranguta ternyata sudah masuk dalam daftar spesies terancam punah.
Orangutan Sumatra berstatus sangat terancam punah (critically endangered), sedangkan orangutan Kalimantan terancam punah (endangered). Status tersebut ditetapkan oleh IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Natur), organisasi internasional yang memberi informasi dan analisis mengenai status keberadaan spesies dalam rangka konservasi keanekaragaman hayati.
Menurut WWF Indonesia, ada beberapa faktor penyebab orangutan terancam punah. Penebangan hutan untuk dijadikan perkebunan sawit, pertambangan, pembukaan jalan, legal dan illegal logging, kebakaran hutan, dan perburuan. Jika hutan habis, di mana orangutan akan hidup? Orangutan menghabiskan sebagian besar hidupnya di atas pepohonan di hutan tropis. Pepohonan di hutan juga menjadi sumber makanan primata tersebut.

Minyak Kelapa Sawit di Mana-Mana

Faktor terbesar kerusakan hutan adalah penebangan hutan, khususnya untuk mendapatkan lahan perkebunan kelapa sawit. Digunakan untuk apa saja sih kelapa sawit?
Pertama, tentu untuk menggoreng. Siapa dari kita yang suka makan gorengan? Rasanya, kebanyakan Dari kita akan tunjuk tangan. Tahu goreng, pisang goreng, tempe goreng, ikan goreng, ayam goreng, kentang goreng …. Kalau diteruskan, daftarnya akan sangat panjang. Gorengan memang paling mudah dibuat dan didapat.
Ternyata, minyak kelapa sawit juga menjadi bahan pembuatan mentega, cokelat, es krim, sabun, kosmetik, bahan bakar mobil dan pembangkit listrik. Saya pun baru tahu setelah mendalami persoalan perkebunan kelapa sawit yang hendak saya jadikan bahan tulisan ini. Tak heran, permintaan terhadap minyak kelapa sawit sangat tinggi. Menurut catatan RSPO (The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), India, China, Indonesia, dan Eropa merupakan konsumen utama minyak sawit.

perkebunan kelapa sawit
merambah hutan / Foto: mongabay.co.id

Fakta mencengangkan lainnya adalah bahwa 85% minyak sawit dunia diproduksi di Indonesia dan Malaysia lantaran kelapa sawit hanya tumbuh di daerah tropis. Inilah yang menyebabkan perkebunan kelapa sawit di Indonesia tumbuh subur, bahkan sampai mengorbankan hutan-hutan tropis yang tak lain adalah rumah orangutan.

Cermat Memakai Minyak Kelapa Sawit
Pemakaian minyak kelapa sawit dalam berbagai produk yang dibutuhkan manusia tidak dapat dielakkan. 
Masih menurut RSPO, mengganti minyak kelapa sawit dengan minyak nabati lainnya akan membawa dampak yang lebih buruk bagi lingkungan. Dibutuhkan lahan yang lebih luas untuk memproduksi minyak nabati selain minyak kelapa sawit karena kelapa sawit menghasilkan 4-10 kali lebih banyak minyak dibandingkan tanaman lain per unit lahan. Perkebunan kelapa sawit juga memberi dampak ekonomis bagi para petaninya. 
Solusi terbaik adalah cermat memakai minyak kelapa sawit. Beli produk-produk yang mengandung minyak sawit berkelanjutan (sustainable palm oil). Produk-produk yang mengandung minyak kelapa sawit berkelanjutan (sustainable palm oil) ditandai stiker sertifikat RSPO, sedangkan produksi kelapa sawitnya sendiri bersertifikat lestari (CSPO). 
Lalu, minyak kelapa sawit yang bagaimanakah yang berhak mendapat sertifikasi lestari? RSPO telah menetapkan sejumlah syarat. Salah satu syarat terpenting yang dapat menghentikan pembabatan hutan adalah bahwa produksi kelapa sawit harus diadakan di lahan yang terlantar dan bukan hutan primer atau lahan konservasi keanekaragaman hayati.
Persoalan minyak kelapa sawit sangat kompleks dan erat hubungannya dengan masa depan hutan. Kalau saya pribadi, saya akan mencoba mengurangi konsumsi makanan yang digoreng. Meskipun mungkin tidak berdampak banyak bagi penyelamatan orangutan kalau hanya saya saja yang mengerjakan, hitung-hitung, bisa berdampak positif bagi kesehatan. Anda?