It’s been a couple of days since I updated my blog – I was in Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam when I posted the last entry. I arrived in Jakarta on late Thursday evening and stayed at my sister’s house and flushed out my jetlag by sleeping and resting. On Saturday, the whole family congregated in a little city called Lembang, just outside Bandung, my ‘former hometown’ for a family gathering and retreat. The venue is a house called ‘Puri Bernadi’, a two-storey house overlooking a valley, on the outskirt of Lembang
When I think of how wonderfully timed everything is, I can’t help being amazed that God is such a Master Orchestrator. When I decided to have a four-week holiday around Europe, I didn’t plan to head down to Indonesia. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt because it seemed wrong for me to get out of Australia and head over to Europe, flying over Indonesia and having a stopover in Singapore, and not visiting my parents at all. So, weeks before I decided to fly to Indonesia, I asked for a five-week annual leave instead – one week extra from what I initially planned. When I told my second sister that I would be coming over, she then revealed that she wanted to have some kind of family retreat, to have some time of reconciliation and praying amongst the siblings. The evangelist who she contacted could make it during the time when I was there -what a perfect timing!
The family gathering took place from Saturday to Monday morning and I had such a blessed, rejuvenating time spiritually. If my four weeks in Europe have been relaxing and energisining mentally and physically, the last couple of days in Indonesia has been amazing spiritually. The praying team were from Semarang, Central Java. There were Pak Hindro and Ibu Lusi, as the leaders of the team, and there were four prayer warriors who came along with them. Pak Hindro and Ibu Lusi’s children also came along to the gathering. The whole family prayed and cried together, and learned more about the importance of maintaining love for one another and focusing on God rather than what we eat and drink (we’re a family of enthusiastic eaters!). The prayer team also came around to my parents’ house, my late brother’s house, my fourth sister’s house, my fifth sister’s house and my older brother’s house to pray and anoint the places.
There were a couple of events that I would cherish for a long time – some are quite personal, including the time when all of the children washed our parents’ feet. During the last session, each child also presented a single stem of rose to our parents to show our respect, love and gratitude. I was reminded that a lot of people wanted to express their love and respect to their parents, but it may be too late. The only time that they present their flower and tears to their parents, is during the wake or memorial service.
I was given a chance to present my single stem of rose to my mum and dad, to show that I sincerely love them and respect them. My mum and dad are no longer strong and healthy. I know that my time with them is limited, and God is kind enough to grant me and the rest of the siblings a chance to show our feelings together.
When I gave the flower to my mum, I couldn’t help crying – the word that I said was ‘Hampura, Mama …’. Hampura is Sundanese for ‘Forgive me’ – to me it feels deeper than just ‘Sorry’, or ‘Maaf’, the word for sorry in Indonesian. Hampura feels deeper – it’s like a word that a subordinate says to a master. It’s not like a trivial, everyday ‘sorry’ that you can easily say and brush aside. My mum also cried and said ‘Hampura Mama ogé’ (Forgive Mama too). I said the same word to my Dad – and even though he couldn’t hug me because he lost the use of his right arm after the stroke, and couldn’t speak clearly anymore, he cried along with me. It was such a special time. Afterwards, everybody hugged each other – and in my nearly thirty-six years of existence, that was the only time that the siblings ever hugged each other so freely.
The moment marked something wonderful in my life – as I mentioned, many people often has the need to ask for forgiveness from their parents and the moment often comes too late. In my case, I’m given the chance to say it to them in person, and to hear and see their response. Often time, it’s the response that we crave when we express our feelings. I have never expressively said that I loved my late brother when he was alive. A couple of weeks after he passed away, I had a dream of meeting him in our childhood home. I remember that I cried in my dream and told him that we missed and loved him so much. In the dream, even though I could sense that he understood the anguish and the sincerity of my feelings, he didn’t say anything …
We returned from the family retreat today – I had a chance to join the praying team in a group prayer before they returned to Semarang. It was also a wonderful time just to strengthen one another in a communal prayer. I’m spending one day extra in Bandung and will return to Jakarta either tomorrow or on Wednesday, because on Thursday, I will be flying over to Singapore and then on to Adelaide – all refreshed and rejuvenated, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
One song that keeps on playing on my head for the last two days during the retreat is Don Moen’s song ‘Like Eagles’. The song seems to speak to me in my current circumstances so yes – I shall return to the battle back in Adelaide with God on my side! 🙂
Like Eagles – Don Moen
O, my soul
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
It’s been told form the beginning
The Lord your God is on your side
O, my soul don’t be afraid
Hope in the Lord
By His righteousness and power
He will strengthen
He will guide
And I will soar
On wings like eagles
Held by the hand of God
I will run and not grow tired
When on His name I call
For the Lord is never weary
His ways are beyond my thoughts
I will trust in Him
With all my heart
And I will rest upon His promise
Patiently I’ll wait …