Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oct 6, 2006--The Jakarta Post

This article was first published in The Jakarta Post on Oct 6, 2006

Placing His Trust in God


Friday, September 29, 2006, 7:33 PM Local Time

MAMPANG, JAKARTA – The pain awaits him each morning -- the result of the hours, months, and years spent working on the feet and hands of others.

Half an hour of kneading, probing, and massaging is required to free his hands from this pain. Every day Pardi is his own first patient.

Pardi is a reflexologist. Practitioners of this ancient craft believe in the principle that each foot contains over 7,000 nerve endings. Pardi uses a learned-technique that walks his thumbs and fingers over a person’s feet manipulating these endings. For some of the more difficult to reach nerves the skilled use of rounded and pointed wooden awls and lotion is required.

These nerve endings, it is believed, are connected to every part and every organ of the human body. When they are correctly triggered they send messages to the brain which in return releases endorphins. These endorphins regulate pain, modify appetite, and result in a sense of euphoria.

Through reflexology, the farmer’s son says, he has helped conquer more than 160 differing ailments. Some of the most common disorders he faces are prostate troubles, high cholesterol, headaches, digestive difficulties, and asthma.

The Yogyakarta native considers himself to be particularly skilled at treating the latter. “Asthma is traditionally thought to be a lifelong condition,” he said in Indonesian. “However, I have been fortunate enough to have successfully cured 100 percent of the more than 200 asthma sufferers who have come to me. I have even cured two medical doctors.”

Pardi never works alone. A practicing Catholic, he silently prays as he works bent over the suffering and gives credit to God for the health that they have together sown, “I am simply a tool. I leave it to God.”

Even with God’s helping hands, Pardi realizes everyone cannot be helped with reflexology. He always recommends to those with third-stage cancer or heart or kidney disease to immediately consult medical professionals.

The grandfather of two came to this healing work late in life after retiring at the age of 60 from Atmajaya Catholic University in Jakarta. Not wishing to stop working completely he enrolled in a 24-hour reflexology course offered through his church. He then started to see patients in a small room at the side of his South Jakarta house’s car port.

Word of this unassuming man’s work spread and he soon had 30 patients a day, seven days a week. At nearly 25 minutes per session his hands were at work close to thirteen hours a day. It was an unsustainable pace. “I had to cut back,” he said with his youthful face smiling at the memory. “Now I won’t schedule more than 12 patients a day. My hands cannot handle more than that.”

A meticulous professional, Pardi maintains color-coded records of the 2,915 patients he has treated since he started seven years ago.

The rainbow of the record cards is stored in tight rows behind the patient’s chair in the same room in which he first started his practice. At the foot of the chair is Pardi’s low leather stool and a worn wooden box containing six dark wooden awls of varying thicknesses along with a small jar of white lotion that he purchases at the local bookstore. To the right, as one enters the 8’ x 15’ room, sits a glass display case holding Indonesian, Chinese, and other Asian health supplements. A stand-up fan moves back and forth in a 120 degree arc uselessly stirring the room’s humid air.

Pardi believes that one of the keys to his success is within these records. “The diagnosis, though difficult, is very important to what I do,” he explained while leaning back on his stool, his back resting against the wall. “If a person complains of an upset stomach I must ascertain what the root cause is. Stress, diet, or more serious matters could all be behind it and they all must be treated differently.”

For 60 percent of his current clientele, his reflexology ability takes a back seat to his counseling and listening skills. “Many people these days are too tied up in minor worries,” he clarified. “It’s difficult to make a living and people often just need someone to talk to.”

Pardi enjoys helping others. He always has. Earlier in life he taught sociology at elementary, junior high, and high schools in Solo, central Java, and Malang, East Java.

He later began his work for Atmajaya University. There he trained Catholics from all over the nation on how to establish and operate social and economic projects that would help the local people. After a year of training the students returned to their home cities and villages and used this training to make differences at the local rice-root level.

Currently running two nonprofit nursing homes and one meditation center on Jakarta’s outskirts, Pardi has not stopped working to improve the lives of others. In fact, at the age of 67 he has no plans to slow down. Spreading his potent non-descriptive hands wide before him, Pardi promised, “As long as God gives me the power, my work will continue.”

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