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there’s always a reason to be thankful November 9, 2013

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about half a year ago, just a week before I was supposed to go on a mission trip to Bali that I had been waiting for, I got a very shocking news that I had to be quarantined for 3 months for TB bacteria infection. all plans were cancelled, I couldn’t go to work, and I couldn’t go anywhere for 3 months! even just imagining that was a nightmare for me. a part of me couldn’t accept that fact and couldn’t help questioning “why is this happening to me?? why now??” but another part of me was struggling to stay strong, keep rejoicing and trust God.

even on my first day in the hospital I already felt so bored that I wanted to get out from there immediately. I expected a miracle that the doctor would suddenly come to tell me that I can be released. but it didn’t happen.

I needed three consecutive negative test result to get released, but they only conduct the test twice a month. that meant the earliest I could get out was after 1.5 months. apparently I “failed” the first test so my staying time had to be extended, 2 months at least. I could only pray that the next one will be negative. and God answered my prayer. I got all negative for the second, third, and fourth test so after 2 months finally I could go back home.

it was a very tough time of my life, but thanks to all my friends and families, especially everyone from osaka church, who kept praying for me, supporting me, visiting me in the hospital, bringing me soo many stuffs for me to fill my free time there, I could endure from all the loneliness I felt at that time. with God’s love through them I feel so loved and it strengthened me up.

and with all my free time there, I could have more quality time with God. it made me realize even more that God is always there in every situation. He told me so many times to just trust Him. I still don’t understand why it happened to me but God only wants me to keep trusting Him. He knows what He’s doing and He’ll never leave me no matter what.

looking back to that time, I learned that even when I feel that I’m in my worst condition, there’s always a reason to be thankful. in my case, there’s even not only one but many reasons that I can thank God for. great friends and families, all the love I felt, or all the strength He gave me. I can’t say it’s a pleasant experience but after getting through it I know I came out as a stronger person.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. [Romans 5:3-5 NLT]

be a man April 29, 2013

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these past few months God has been teaching me a lot about being a strong man. I learned before, that a man should be able to lead, make decisions, treat women well, and so on. I’ve been through quite a long process and even until now I’m still learning more and more to become a man God wants me to be.

ted

some time ago I watched a movie called “Ted”. probably it’s an image of many men these days, and maybe in some way I was like that also. the story is about a 35 year-old-guy who is too attached to his “magical” teddy bear that he got since he was 8 years old. he feels too comfortable with the teddy bear and it holds him back from having a more mature relationship with a woman. even after he decided to move on, when temptation came he started to compromise and ended up screwing things up. an image of a man who prefers to do silly things, can’t make a strong decision, always try to play safe and can’t keep his words.

The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. -Eph 5:23 MSG

God puts a man to be a leader in the family, of his wife and his children. how can he lead well if all he thinks is all about himself, or if he can’t make any decision? there are two possibilities that maybe many of us can relate to. it’s forming either a selfish, strict, or even violent man; or, a passive man who lets the woman leads. I think these are one of the reasons why many marriages are unhappy, because it’s not how the marriage is supposed to be.

I think I can put myself into the second group. I never felt confident to lead. I couldn’t really make decisions. I didn’t really know what I wanted. when I was asked about something, almost everytime I will answer “anything is ok”, like when they asked my opinion of where to go for dinner. a female friend once challenged me, “hey don’t keep saying ‘anything’, you’re a man, you should learn to make a decision starting from simple things like this”. she got a point there. I couldn’t stay like that forever. what if I have a family and all I say is “anything” and leave all the burden to my wife? that doesn’t sound fair.

it was around the time when I ‘began my journey’ to become a real man. many years have passed, I have been through a lot of experiences and challenges, and I know even until now I’m still not ‘perfect’, sometimes I feel that making a decision is still a challenging thing for me, but I know how much I’ve grown throughout this time. not only learning to make decisions, I learn to lead people, to communicate better, to keep my words and have integrity, and so on.

recently I learned more about being a strong man from a book titled “Wild at Heart” written by John Eldredge. the journey of becoming a man doesn’t just stop there. it’s said in the book that many christian men feel bored because they are only taught to be nice but not to be how a real man should be. they are afraid to take adventures, take challenges that can make them feel ‘alive’.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

the problem is that there is a wound in every man’s heart. maybe from family background or experiences from the past, those wounds constructed a false self in most men. those wounds need to be healed and the only one who can heal them is God.

when I was a kid I used to be a crybaby, I cried easily when a friend at school tripped me over or when a teacher scolded me. “A man shouldn’t cry!” that’s what people around me always said, and I guess that’s the image of man most of us grew up with. unconsciously that created a wound in my heart and later made me an ’emotionless’ boy. I didn’t cry anymore, not only over small things like that, but also to anything. when other people shedded their tears (even guys) when watching something touching, I didn’t feel anything. until I started to know God more, God healed me and changed my life. now I can feel something again. now I know what it’s like to be touched in the heart.

As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. -Jeremiah 18:6 NLT

pottershand

there are still some wounds in my heart that God is still healing one by one. God is still shaping me into what He wants me to be. and I want to live a life full of adventure as a strong man of God.

a lesson from the unexpected February 15, 2013

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トゥース! (toos!)

that’s a famous meme by Toshiaki Kasuga (春日俊彰), one of a popular comedian duo Audrey (オードリー). if you’re a japanese, or if you watch japanese tv shows a lot, i bet you know it. first time i knew about it was when junior high school students in an english summer camp i went to in 2010 taught me about that.

when i first searched about it in the internet, what i found was this stupid-looking guy with slicked-to-the-side hairstyle wearing pink vest and i didn’t really give much care about. time goes by and i got to see him again as a guest in a tv program called Sekai Bandzuke (世界番付) that i started to follow. the show is about country ranking of many categories, basically anything. then things went interesting where in the show, Kasuga got his own special part called 「オードリ春日の部族滞在記」(tribe stay diary of audrey kasuga). when he first explained about the program, it just sounded as something stupid as what he usually does, where he visited a tribe somewhere around the world with a mission to make people there wear his pink vest. but seeing several episodes of it changed my opinion about him.

someone who is famous for his stupid joke apparently has something that i think deserve a huge respect. seeing him getting into a very small isolated tribe, staying in places where i think is far from comfortable, learning a very different culture, and being able to blend in with all the people although only within a few days of stay, is really interesting. well, they must have made things so much easier for him to stay there, no language barriers with the existence of a translator, and who knows what happened off-the-camera. but there are at least two things that i respect from him in this program.

kasuga2

1. he went to places where there might be no other people wants to go

so far he went to three tribes, in africa, papua new guinea, and the phillipines (as far as i remember). and all of them are isolated, very far from civilization, and takes lots of time and efforts to reach. maybe only a glimpse of people ever heard about these tribes before. but he did it anyway.

somehow it also opened my mind more. in this modern era these kind of people still exist. people who don’t need electricity. people who can live without cellphone or internet. people who content with what they have although we might think that they have nothing. reminding myself again to be thankful of what i have. and it reminded me again about vision. i feel i’ve been living a very comfortable life, but if someday God wants me to go to places that i feel “not comfortable” would i be able to happily go?

2. he’s not afraid of any challenges

there are some customs or cultural things in the tribes he visited that modern people would think as crazy things, like going shark hunting without “proper” equipments, or getting honey from a bee nest naked. but he challenged everything. he was never seen afraid to try new things, he didn’t care if he will fail or not, he just did it so that he can be accepted by the tribe and can get them wear his pink vest. this is also a reminder for me who sometimes couldn’t get out from my comfort zone, couldn’t get that first step to try new things. in reaching out to people, in order to be accepted by them, most of the times i will need to try new things which can be a huge challenge. at that time, will i do it?

these things really encouraged me which i totally never expected i would get from someone like Kasuga.

energy saving – hyouka (省エネ – 氷菓) October 11, 2012

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several months ago i started watching an anime called hyouka (氷菓). i’m not gonna write about the story, only about the main character which i found interesting. his name is Oreki Houtarou (折木 奉太郎) and he’s an “energy saving” (省エネ) person. he doesn’t do many things because he doesn’t want to waste his energy for unnecessary things. he studies only to get passing score although actually he’s smart, and he never intended to join any club activities. he doesn’t like troublesome things. his motto is “if it’s ok not to do it i don’t do it, if i have to do it i finish it quickly” 「やらなくてもいいことならやらない、やらなければいけないことなら手短に」

i found this somehow kinda similar with myself. i also don’t want to spend my energy to do things that i don’t think is necessary. when i go up on stairs, i always take two steps at once because i feel it’s less tiring compared to taking every single step. back in tokyo i chose to stay in apartment near to my campus, and now also my apartment is close to my office. although it’s a bit pricey, but i prefer that way because i don’t need to spend much energy to take the train (and some other reasons also). whenever i do some works, i always try to find a fast and efficient way, i don’t like complicated things, i just want them to be done quickly without so much hassle.

in some ways i think it’s good because i can do many things efficiently. but in some other ways it’s not that good. because of that “saving energy” thing, i tend to become lazy. sometimes i don’t want to do things because i think it’s too troublesome, it takes too much effort. but just recently i started to get quite a lot of responsibilities, i was pushed to do things that actually i didn’t intend to do. but after doing it for a while, i started to feel something different. the passion that i once had when i was still in indonesia and gradually disappeared, i feel that i’m getting it back. my vision is getting bigger, i want to do much more things, i want to improve myself, taking challenges and grow as much as i can. to be honest there are still some parts of me inside that feel these things are too troublesome, but i think i have to overcome it. i realized that the laziness will bury down many of my potentials. i should be able to control my laziness, keep getting motivated, release all i have to reach my vision!

break out that wall April 28, 2012

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after graduating, i started working in a Japanese company from the beginning of this month. we have a lot of trainings for new employees, and this first month we had some ‘basic’ training, about company’s philosophy, work manner, divisions in the company, etc. the last two days, we had English seminars, basically about business communications.

after the whole month i had to think, listen, speak, and write in Japanese only, which was very tiring, i felt quite excited that finally i can talk in English again freely. but apparently my expectation was too high. i can say that i still couldn’t talk freely.

from what i observed during those two days, although the instructor spoke very slowly (too slow for me), but many of the Japanese still couldn’t understand what he said. we also watched some videos where they speak faster, and it got worse. but i found that some of them didn’t even seem to give any effort to understand (probably they weren’t even really listening). during discussions, a few could converse well, some tried so hard to say some words, but some just kept silent.

one of the reasons i found about their problem in English (a friend also wrote something about this here), compared to Indonesia, is that everything is already available in Japanese. all text books in school or literatures from foreign publishers/authors are all available in Japanese translation. in Indonesia, mostly we use English text books in university because we don’t have the Indonesian versions. English tv programs mostly are dubbed into Japanese. we still have English tv programs without being dubbed (and when i was a kid we had the sesame street which i think helped me a lot in learning English at the first stage). they have their own web contents in Japanese for most things. we don’t have much web contents in Indonesia so most of the time we go to English ones. games are also available in Japanese, of course it’s because mostly they are created by Japanese. in Indonesia we didn’t have local games so we play the English one.

that makes a huge problem. Japanese people are in their comfort zone. maybe they think that if they can have everything in Japanese, why they should learn English. i observed in the seminar, the ones who can speak English well are those who have ever been living in an English-speaking environment, maybe living abroad, even only for several months. the leader in my group said that at first she also couldn’t speak English, but being abroad, she had to be able to speak in order to survive.

many Japanese asked me, why a lot of Indonesian can speak English. well, that’s the answer, because we were forced to get out from our comfort zone. we wanted something, and we couldn’t get it in our comfort zone, we have to get out to that “uncomfort zone” called English.

i admit it’s difficult to get out from our comfort zone. many times we don’t want to get out unless something forced us to. since i came to Japan also i felt that most of the times i was in my comfort zone of speaking English. in my lab i spoke only to international students in English and only took classes in English. that made my Japanese improved slowly. i felt that when i break out that wall of my comfort zone, especially during my job hunting time, where i needed to read-write-speak in Japanese, it just went up significantly. sometimes i kinda regret why didn’t i do it earlier, if i had a better Japanese skill maybe i could get into my first choice of company (but i’m still thankful for what i have now). and again this time, i have to do everything in Japanese, i’m already totally out of my comfort zone, sometimes i feel very tired, but even within just a month i feel that my Japanese is already much better compared to last month.

we can only go to the next level if we are willing to get out from our comfort zone. don’t wait until we are forced to get out, because at that time we may regret that we didn’t do it earlier. the longer we stay there, the more difficult it is to leave. find something that we want that lies “out” there and go for it!

stay strong by faith May 11, 2011

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it’s been exactly two months since the Great Tohoku Earthquake that devastated north eastern part of Japan with big tsunami and nuclear crisis following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. it was the biggest earthquake ever recorded in Japan. even the tremor is felt quite strong in Tokyo which is located about 300 km from the epicenter. the tsunami destroyed everything around the coastal area, wiped away cars and houses, brought them level to the ground. the cooling system in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was crippled by the wave that caused radioactive materials released to the atmosphere.

the disaster was huge enough to bring fear to people even in Tokyo. so many people, especially foreigners, fled away, some to the west, and not a few, back to their countries. immigration offices and airports were packed with people who were trying to get out of the country. many nations through their embassies in Japan strongly urged their citizens residing in Japan to go back, and even the embassies themselves were trying to relocate to other cities other than Tokyo.

some people got depressed and traumatized. a labmate from C country cried after the big long earthquake. even a friend of my friend from T country whom I just met a few days after the disaster greeted me saying “hi. nice to meet you. you might die tomorrow.”

i myself didn’t worry so much. i got a bit panicked after the first big shock since it was very long and i realized it wasn’t just a common quake, and at that time my leg was injured so if something worse happened i might be in trouble. but after a while observing the situations, although the shocks still didn’t stop, seeing my neighbors weren’t in panic as well, i believed that everything would be okay.

the interesting thing is, while many of my friends got calls from their families, forcing them to go back home, my family didn’t. my mom was travelling abroad with my grandma at that time so she couldn’t contact me. my dad just texted me, asking about the condition, and just told me to keep praying. last week i went to my aunt’s house and we had some chats about the earthquake. she said that after the quake she still went on shopping, and when she informed my grandma, the answer she got was only “oh i see”. she realized that our family is so calm toward this.

through this experience, through sermons in church, and through what my aunt said, i kept being reminded about faith. faith is an important thing to have for believers. a faith that entrusts our lives to God, a faith that believes that our Father will never forsake us, a faith that He is in control of everything. the reason why we can be so calm facing this kind of situation, it’s all because we have faith in an awesome unshakeable God. even in the worst case scenario, we don’t need to be afraid because our lives is already in His hands. with faith, i believe that we can face any disaster that might come to our lives, because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. -Heb 12:26 [NLT]

be thankful of 2010 January 10, 2011

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looking back to 2010, i can only be thankful…i don’t say that everything went well throughout the year…ups and downs happened, but even so, i want to be thankful for everything…if i see the targets i made at the beginning of the year, perhaps only half of them are achieved…maybe i didn’t tried hard enough, but there’s no need to regret, it just means that i have to try harder this year…

it was quite a difficult year, economically in particular…i spent a lot of expenses during the year, some for my own enjoyment, traveling and stuffs, but mostly for unavoidable costs…it was started with a quite painful thing in the beginning of the year where i had to pay two hospital fee within a month for my stiff right elbow and for pulling out my wisdom teeth (read more here)…then traveling to korea and western part of japan…and mid-year suddenly my notebook died, so had to buy a new one…then i was moving in to a new apartment, had to buy furniture and all the stuffs i needed…it was also the time of me going back home while also traveling to singapore and malaysia…all these things made me spent almost all of my savings…but i can still be thankful that i can still enjoy my life, eat good food everyday, traveling around, buying stuffs i like…God is still providing my needs…

i started my master course on april under a new supervisor in a new lab…during the entrance exam preparation, it was kinda stressful since my research proposal was being rejected by this supervisor…but then my mom reminded me to keep praying for him, believe that there’s favor of God in me…so i did and in the next meeting after i fixed the proposal he approved it and only gave small revision…so thankful, also after seeing a labmate who’s having the same exam (but for doctoral course) but her proposal kept being rejected for several times…i tried to enjoy the life in the new lab, although i have to come every day (which i don’t really agree with), and also with this new supervisor whose thinking is difficult to understand sometimes…but again i’m thankful because he cares to the progress of his students so i got more motivation to do my research…

meeting new good friends at school and from the english summer camp i joined, getting new experiences, having companions with similar interests, seeing my families and friends again back home, are great things to be thankful of the year…

rough times also happened, but well, many things i can learn about from those things and i just wanna see the good sides of it…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…so here i am, stronger than last year, and i want to face this new year with new strength, new hope, with a great God who never leave me alone…

めんどうくさい!! – Hotaru no Hikari October 8, 2010

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Hotaru no Hikari is a love comedy drama about an office lady named Hotaru who turns into a super lazy beer-loving self-centered girl that found love after so long time living without ever thinking about those kind of romantic thing. She is too full of herself that she always goes home directly after work, never joins any party with her colleagues, changes into training clothes which are the most comfortable outfits for her, drinks beer and falls asleep on the floor. After her love experience, she realized that there’s a lot of things outside her world that she didn’t know.

one of Hotaru’s personalities that caught my attention is that she thinks that most things are troublesome (めんどうくさい) that makes her too lazy to do, although perhaps they are important. i feel that i have some part of that feeling in me. sometimes i just feel too lazy to do stuffs because i think it’s troublesome for me. i prefer to just slacking off, idling around, doing more fun things. that is my comfort zone. it’s always said that you need to get out of your comfort zone to grow. that’s absolutely true. I feel that i don’t get anything after i stay in my comfort zone for too long.

these days i tried to discipline myself more. it’s very hard to get out of this comfort zone, but i have to force myself into it, otherwise i will never achieve my target. i can dream, but if i stay within my comfort zone, if i think that things are めんどうくさい, the dream will never come true. we can only reach our big dream if and only if we fight for it, do everything we need to do (not doing what we feel like to do), change our way of thinking that it’s not めんどうくさい because it’s important to us. there are so many things we can learn when we use our time for more useful things rather than just idling around.

dream is just a daydream until you wake up
and fight for that dream

a little boy with big vision January 22, 2010

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i just read this news from a link on a friend’s blog about a 9-year-old kid who’s already a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer…here’s the news (source: news.cnet.com)

Marko Calasan, a nine-year-old from Macedonia, is more than just a kid who’s into computers.

At age six, he got his first systems administrator credential from Microsoft and, last month, he became perhaps the youngest Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

“I must say that from the technological point of view, Marko is definitely a wonder child,” said Matej Potokar, the general manager of Microsoft Slovenia. Potokar said in an email interview that he first heard about Marko two years ago and was eager to get the chance to meet the young prodigy.

“When we were informed that he is coming to Ljubljana (Slovenia’s capital) and would like to meet with people from Microsoft Slovenia I was looking forward to meet him,” Potokar said. For a half an hour, Marko made a presentation to Potokar and his team about Active Directory and its benefits and challenges.

“It is amazing how much time and energy he dedicated to study this complex and extensive material. On the other hand, I hope that … he still finds time for his second biggest love, which is football.”

Marko already has his first gig as a system administrator, remotely managing a network of computers for a non-profit that works with people with disabilities.

“The employees … are very glad that there is a good administrator,” Marko said in an email interview. “I think that it’s true, but who knows.”

Marko said he typically spends about four hours a day at the computer, but concedes that it is sometimes 10 hours or more.

Marko is also a teacher with his own computer lab on the grounds of an elementary school where he teaches eight- to 11-year olds the basics of computers. The lab houses 15 PCs provided by the ministry of education. That’s on top of the five computers already in the Calasan home — Marko’s dad is also an IT systems manager.

To allow him more time with his computers, Marko has permission from the government to attend school infrequently. Sometimes it’s only several times a month. And he also has a set of keys so he can go into the lab at any time.

“Sometimes when the other classmates are sleeping, I go and practice in my lab,” Marko said in an email interview.

His latest project is trying to devise a way to send high-definition television (HDTV) signals over a comparatively slow network infrastructure. To support his effort, a Macedonian telecommunications company has given him a direct connection to its network backbone.

Marko proudly says that even over a basic DSL connection one can get HDTV without glitches. “The buffering will be very short,” he said. Marko hopes to demonstrate the technology at this year’s CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany.

The one computer-related activity Marko is not all that into is video games.

“I do not play games on computers because there is nothing serious about playing games on computers,” Marko said. “If you want to play, go outside and play with your friends.”

Although he is something of a celebrity in Macedonia, Calasan said he really wants to move to the United States to be closer to the latest technology — and to Microsoft itself.

“That’s my biggest wish,” he said. “I want to live in America because there are the highest technologies.”

wow, i think he’s even much better than a computer-science-graduate-student-to-be like me…even he likes going to the lab to study while the others, his friends, and including me also, prefer to sleep at home…he already knows what he wants to do while a lot of people still don’t have any dream, wasting a lot of time not knowing what they will be in the future…

this is also a slap for me who sometimes still slacking off, not using my time optimally for studying…but well, i don’t wanna lose to a 9-year-old boy…it’s never too late to learn…although it will be hard because that means i have to sacrifice a lot of my playing time, put more efforts studying what i still don’t understand, and a lot more to-do list…がんばりましょう!!!

lessons of 2009 January 1, 2010

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it’s year 2010 already, another year already passed…a lot of things happened, both good things and bad things, life’s up and down..as i reviewed my target of 2009, some are fulfilled, some are yet to be fulfilled, but some are totally out of expectation…

from the beginning of the year, i was preparing for my departure to this foreign land, saving money, spending times with my precious families…it’s not much and sometimes i still felt that i didn’t use that time quite well…so i came here on april, starting a brand new life here, meeting new people, learning a lot of new things, getting used to a new lifestyle until i passed these 9 months…still again, a lot of things that i regret, felt like a lot of things i did wrong, many times went wasted…i should have done better than this…

my biggest hit last year was about relationship…when i thought things had gotten better, the reality showed different thing…when i thought i still had some hope, it just vanished right in front of my eyes…everything went totally unexpected…after so much struggle since the previous year, in the end it still didn’t go as i wished for…i still don’t understand why, but i don’t wanna stuck on this thing forever…my mind told me to just keep moving forward, this world is vast, a lot of possibilities could happen, but my heart still can’t get away from the feeling…sometimes i feel that i’m lying to myself, i pretend that i don’t care anymore, but deep inside my soul is desperate about it…i dunno what will happen in the future…i dunno whom i will meet…i wanna have hope, but sometimes the feelings of uncertainty pop up, moreover with this idealism of mine…i wonder whether i should change my idealism or what…

but well, all i know for sure, God has prepared a very beautiful future for me, and i want to believe it…i can’t just stuck in the past forever, i need to move forward…although i still dunno how it will be, but i wanna still have that hope of a brighter future…no matter how small the hope i have right now, i have to protect it, and leave it to God’s hand, because all my hope in in Him…

i wanna face this year full of hope…i wanna trust Him fully, 100%…whatever it will be, i don’t want to lean on my understanding anymore otherwise i’ll just get hurt and dissapointed again…and i have to use my time more wisely, give my best and excel in everything so that i won’t have any regret anymore…i believe this year will be a much better year, where God will makes me grow stronger and stronger, and makes me glow upon this world…

“Keep moving forward, because life will surely
be much more beautiful than we think”
-仁-