Making Progress

Sometimes what you hear may not be what matters are. And perhaps some matters don’t even have a definitive definition! My friend told me a fairly wise thing last night, that in an argument both parties are right—at least in their own eyes. And some things isn’t always about being right or wrong either. Haha and my friend said something else too—that whenever you feel that you’re experiencing the greatest stress, think about it as the halfway mark of your next biggest obstacle. And fear not he who can kill the body but rather fear He who can kill both our body and soul.

And a tweet by Ps Kong: 因為祂活著,我能面對明天!因為祂活著,所有恐懼都離去!

Amen! No matter how bleak the future looks, he holds tomorrow in his hands :D

Small Stuff and Big Stuff

Earlier I was chatting with a friend re the STB dispute, and he made the remark that “in life all this are small stuffs, we are healthy … can eat .. can walk .. can jump, PTL!!”. How true! Thank God that I can finally release the mental burden of the case.

Tonight during dinner the thought of the North-South Korean situation came to my mind, and it suddenly adds perspective to the dispute with my neighbour. I thought about the millions of Koreans stranded on either side of the peninsular, families split apart by few who hold the power in their hands. I thought about the amount of grace that the South has continually given to the North, not just the financial and material cost of numerous humanitarian aid packages, but the repeated “slaps on the face” every time the North responded with belligerence.

Truly, there are far bigger issues to invest our time in.

Seeking Peace—At What Cost?

I am currently representing my parents on a dispute with a neighbor who has filed against us on leakage from our unit to his. When I started out taking care of the case, I saw this as an opportunity to take care of the case for them and easing their burdens on this. After all, in the words of the other party’s lawyer, this is “a storm in a teacup” so it shouldn’t be too challenging while being useful experience in the event that I have such an issue myself in the future.

Now, after countless hours of meditation, thinking about what to say, attending a direction hearing and drafting a submission, I don’t want to play this game anymore. Coming to my senses I realize more and more how significant the costs that both parties have spent are. He has probably spent more in terms of dollars engaging lawyers and a building surveyor while we have spent more time having opted to take care of the case (so far) by ourselves. At the rate we’re going, the total costs spent on the case will possibly very soon exceed that of the actual leakage. Sadly the leakage appears to me to be a reason for unleashing pent up bitterness, whether it was caused by prior “noise disturbance” from our unit or otherwise.

There is no glory in winning over a storm in a teacup. What are the potential benefits of putting all this time in? In gambling (not that I advocate it) the potential of winnings is proportionate to the risk level and amount put in, in a way a roughly fair game (e.g. for roulette with the exception of number 0 and 00). In destructive habits e.g. smoking, the nett outcome is a generally known as a loss. If this case is purely about the stated matter of water leakage, then it looks like any potential benefit from the leakage being fixed has been erased by the cost put into fighting. If this case is not purely about the stated matter, then I’m afraid that the losses will be much greater, for then it would be a fight of emotions, of words, of egos. Why not invest our efforts in endeavors that bring probable or guaranteed returns instead? Something as simple as simple as taking a walk along the beach with a loved one?

Stephen M.R. Covey details in his book The Speed of Trust so concisely about how high trust increases speed and decreases costs, while low trust decreases speed and increases costs. How apt his theory is to this case.

The goal of terrorism is not in the crashing of planes, the taking of lives or even extortion of billions of dollars, but it is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” (New Oxford American Dictionary). The losses for the USA have been large—increased cost of flying, more time spent from check-in to boarding the plane. Low trust. Terror and intimidation. Taking disproportionate precautions to statistical risk because of “what if” statements. Isn’t that a perfect game plan, when all it takes is a few plane crashes to cause the world’s largest country to spend billions of dollars on precautionary measures. And who thought that after putting in all these security measures, the next target was trains and not planes?

WWJD? At what cost do we seek peace? Definitely not at all costs, but I think one should be doubly certain when choosing the path of conflict.

The mediation hearing is scheduled for this Thursday (direction hearing -> mediation hearing -> court case). Holy Spirit please come with me into the mediation room. I don’t want to go there by myself. I don’t want to go into a storm of words and emotions. Give me the words to say; not words of death but words of life. I pray for the other party that you will bring your peace into his home right this moment. Come and meet his deepest of needs. Let your light shine through the matters at hand for all around to see. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Do Your Research

Phew, I was in the midst of writing up a job application to a PR agency that looked fairly attractive on their website, and just after a bit more Googling, I realized that they have done some work that goes beyond the kind of work I’d want to be associated with. So glad I looked! Also, I didn’t notice that the address I was about to send another application to was outdated. Full of expectancy :-)

Visit to Skudai Harvest Church

After missing church for two weeks due to travels, it was good to go back to the house of God. Last night I went to Skudai Harvest Church and it was quite an experience. I’m glad they’ve moved on to use simplified Chinese and spoke in Mandarin, unlike the Vietnamese church I visited that still used traditional Chinese and spoke in some dialect. I think the decision to use standard Mandarin will give them a strong position in the future economy.

It’s been ages since I last flexed my Chinese muscles so last night was a little bit tiring. But I was richly blessed by the preaching of the word. Ps George Ong is really anointed and the presence of God was thick. I felt the sister who shared the offering message did not have much dialect accent, which was pretty cool. There was this Indian dude playing those “hand drums” and he seemed to be singing along too. That accounts for at least 3 non-Chinese whom I’ve seen speaking Mandarin so far. Are these indications of things to come?

Sermon was about Speak Words of Life (说生命的话). God let not a word of death come out from my mouth again. How can this temple of yours speak forth both life and death? Put words of life into my spirit each day. Amen!

From the Heart Friendliness and Hospitality

I just finished dinner at Sodam Korean Restaurant. It’s a really nice place, albeit a little quiet when I came in.

In recent days, there were two service experiences that really touched me. The first was my Jetstar flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore. Having traveled a fair bit, I tend to zone out during the standard preflight safety briefing. However the stewardess making the announcement this time was really bright and chirpy, especially so for a 10:40pm flight. I do not remember the boarding greeting but it must have left a good impression. The captain had a really warm and friendly voice, and the pre-landing announcement he made was both friendly and informative, going out of the box telling us to expect a short taxi as we were to park at gate XX. The stewardess once again announced the landing with brightness in her voice, “..and we landed 15 minutes ahead of schedule!”

Clearing immigrations and customs was such a breeze, I don’t remember much delay. Apart from waiting for what felt like no more than 2 minutes for my luggage and 2 minutes for a taxi, everything was go go go. Definitely a most pleasant flying experience.

When I came in this evening at 6:20pm, Sodam Korean Restaurant was empty, but staff were really warm. It was one of those experiences that makes you empathise with the staff, and I felt sad for the quietness of the place. I’m glad more people came later, about 5-6 parties so far. Learnt from one of the waitresses that the place has been open for about five years. It feels really new though, and everything feels thoughtfully planned from the decor to the choice of background music. At least one of the staff is from Myanmar. Lack language is more than made up for in friendless and a bright smile.

Feel so blessed and touched to come in contact with people who make the world a better place :-)

Visit to My Hometown

It feels like ages since I last came to Ipoh. Actually checking my records I was here for Chinese New Year last year, but only stayed for one night. As time moves on, it appears that my memories of Ipoh slowly fade bit by bit. After all I left this place when I was 7, and thus do not have much memories from before that time apart from the somewhat annual trip back during Chinese New Year.

While progress has not been evident, inflation has been really high. Lunch today was RM7 for some mixed meat and rice! Felt that was almost comparable to Singapore hawker center pricing. Going out to tour Ipoh town now. Write more later!