Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Sunday August 24, 2008

This morning I woke up having had the best night of sleep so far. I guess my body is getting used to the time zone. We went to the Breaking of Bread for 8:00am, and arrived just as the first hymn was getting started. That was my fault because it took me a couple of extra minutes to get ready. After the Breaking of Bread I gave my first message, we had some breakfast, I answered some questions for the folks there, and then I gave my second message. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go there. They are a small church that doesn’t get many visitors, particularly visitors from overseas. I was happy to have a chance to meet with them and share from the Bible. Finally, one of the sisters (Brenda Li) gave us some of the famous Ipoh White Coffee, which I am anxious to try.

After a lunch at a Chinese restaurant, we drove back to KL, I checked into my hotel for 45 minutes, and then we took a 45 minute drive down to the Klang Assembly (Pekan Baru Gospel Hall). I gave a message there, and then we went to the Lee’s house for fellowship and food. The Lee’s have a large house and typically have the whole assembly over for a meal after the meeting. This was a very long but very good day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Saturday August 23, 2008

I slept quite well last night. I’ve divided my possessions into two suitcases. A smaller one that I have borrowed went with me to Batu Gajah, while some people from JIC took my larger suitcase back to KL for me. I finished preaching 3 messages in the morning.

We hopped in the car and drove up to Batu Gajah. It took a couple of hours. Along the way we passed Kellie’s Castle, which is an unfinished “castle” which was commissioned by a British fellow named Kellie. The workers from India were so happy with the way he treated them, that when they built their Hindu temple they included a statue of Kellie along with their gods. Batu Gajah is a small town about 27 km from the State capital of Ipoh. Some folks from the church there took us out for Chinese food. I stayed at the home of Martin and Anna. They have a lovely home and made me feel very welcome. It was a lot of fun joining a big Indian family with the kids calling me “uncle”. I was talking to Martin, but at 10:30 Anna wisely suggested that unless I went to bed I would be up all night. Martin drives the chapel van on Sunday morning to pick up the folks who need transportation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Friday August 22, 2008

Once again we had rice for breakfast, which seems to be a standard part of the diet. Good thing I like rice! But this morning we also had hash browns and scrambled eggs. Peter preached for 3 hours this morning. I assure you if it is hard to listen for 3 hours, it’s harder to preach for 3 hours. I really enjoyed Peter’s ministry. There was much encouragement for me to keep digging in the Bible for myself. Note that this encouragement was not in the form of someone telling me to dig into the Bible, but through seeing the example of someone who really has dug into the Bible for himself.

After lunch we did another forum, where Peter and I answered questions. It seemed to go alright. In the evening I preached twice. I’m going to have to do something else with my voice, because it is almost gone and I am supposed to preach tomorrow 3 times, and preach on Sunday 3 times as well. I think I’ll try preaching with less volume and let the PA system do the work for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Thursday August 21, 2008

Last night at 11:30pm there was a security guard banging on Peter’s door. It was some sort of mix-up, which required the receptionist to sort out. I found it quite unnerving, because our apartments are separated from the rest.

For breakfast we had traditional Chinese Malaysian food. This includes Nasi Lama, which means “fat rice”. It is made with coconut milk. Everyone urged me to take more but I explained that I didn’t want to end up as “Preacher Lama”. People do not seem shy about putting food on my plate!

I started off the ministry this morning with 3 back-to-back messages on Dispensationalism. There was very good interest, but I was pretty tired at the end. After lunch I went back to my apartment for a nap. It took me a while to get to sleep, but I did get some.

After the nap, we had a forum, which involved Peter and me fielding questions that had been submitted by the audience earlier in the day. I think it went OK, but frankly this was the first time I’ve done this and it's more fun being the mischievous fellow coming up with the questions than being the poor guy who has to answer! Peter is an excellent Bible teacher and I’ve learned a lot from him already. Peter has a lot of insights about the church in Asia.

After the forum, Mr and Dr Lim invited us back to their apartment for tea. They have a rented apartment here in the Highlands. We had green tea (which I am drinking plenty of, despite being offered soft drinks). They also spend time trying to convince me to try the Durian, something Peter ate with great gusto (to the extent that he didn’t want any supper that night). I didn’t try the Durian but did try a number of different fruits, including the mangostene and some sort of hairy fruit called a rambotan. People think I’m being very timid, but they don’t realize how far I am outside my comfort zone!

I was completely wiped out, so after supper I went back to my apartment for an early night. There is no way I’d have made it to the end of the ministry at 10:00pm.

Again, the people here are being extremely kind to me, giving me the very best of everything. This morning a woman whom I don’t know gave me a loaf of bread and some fruit. The food is coming in faster than I can eat it. The Malaysians seem to eat constantly (a fact that they pointed out to me) but they don’t seem to gain weight!

There is no internet here in my room, but I was able to talk to Karen this morning with the phone card. There was a little child at my table at lunch today and it reminded me how much I miss my own children.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Wednesday August 20, 2008

About noon we drove up to the Genting Highlands, and the Genting View Resort where we will be staying. It took about an hour, and it is sufficiently high that my ears were popping. The road was good but very winding, and in some places had a much steeper grade than we could have in Canada, due to the snow (i.e. 10% grade).

I am settled into a studio apartment, with a kitchen and a refrigerator (cold drinks!). There is no air conditioning, but it isn’t really needed here since the temperature is 20 to 23 degrees year round, and there are overhead fans in the rooms. However it is still quite humid.

For lunch we went to a Chinese restaurant in Gotong Jaya, a small town beside the resort. They keep threatening me with “the durian” which is said to be “the king of the fruits”. It smells like old socks, but we’ll see. We were not allowed to bring them into the hotel due to the smell! I have to get used to steps that are of different heights, and places where there is a drop off without any guard rails! We had a little rest before supper, and then the ministry started at 8:00pm. Peter ferry started a series of 7 messages on Malachi, and the ministry was excellent.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Tuesday August 19, 2008

This afternoon I went out for lunch with one of the Deacons at JIC, to a place called Tony Roma’s in “The Pavilion”. Hong Sim is a financial planner by trade, a profession that is relatively new in Malaysia. We discussed the support of Christian workers, and I learned something about the economy of Malaysia.

At supper I went out with Mr and Dr Lim. She attended medical school in the UK. They took us out to a nice restaurant which served western style food. Together with us were Keat San and Peter Ferry. Peter is one of the other speakers at the conference. He is a Scotsman who came to Malaysia as a soldier, married a local girl, and has been a missionary in Thailand for almost 50 years. He had many interesting insights on the church in Asia, particularly in Thailand, Burma, and China.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Monday August 18, 2008

Just thinking back to last night, I should also add that Malaysians are very proud of their country. They are aware of the achievements that their country has made, including economic development, hi-tech employment, and infrastructure. You can tell a lot about a country by what they put on their currency, and for example the 10 Malaysian Ringgit note has a picture of a cargo ship, a Malaysian airlines aircraft and a light rail train. The RM50 note has a picture of an offshore oil rig. There’s a lot more to Malaysia than just the Petronas Towers! The people I had supper with last night were all telling me how much they love their country, and one woman was saying that her husband was flying the biggest flag in the neighbourhood, a fact that he didn’t deny.

For lunch I went out with Keat San and Oliver to “The Ship”, which is a restaurant shaped like a ship. Keat San works as a project manager half time, which gives him more time to be involved in church work. Oliver is working in China on a contract. I had a minute steak in a satay sauce (peanut and red chillies), with cream of chicken soup, mashed potatoes, vegetables and ice cream cake for dessert. Interestingly enough, they had Diet Coke, something I have seldom seen here, even in the 7-11. Coming back we took a walk through a shopping mall. My impression is that, in this mall at least, there are a larger number of small stores that you would see in Canada, and less large chains. Individual small business owners will find it easier to get space in the malls.

I spent the afternoon practicing a sermon and having a nap. My body still isn’t fully adjusted to the time zone. For supper I went out to TGI Friday’s with Rick. It seems funny that I’ve never eaten at this restaurant chain in North America, and my first chance to try it was while in KL. Rick and I shared a number of ideas about Christian discipleship and evangelism. While going to the restaurant, we walked through the “Starhill Gallery” and the “Pavilion” mall. The Starhill is a high end mall, with stores like Gucci. In other words, it is world-class. The Pavilion is right next door, and I would say is a much better shopping mall than anything I’ve seen in Ottawa. Rising 6 stories with polished marble floors, it is very impressive! Interestingly enough I am told that the man who owns both these malls is a very fine Christian and is very outspoken about his faith when interviewed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Sunday August 17, 2008

This morning I had another excellent buffet breakfast in the hotel. The Breaking of Bread started at 8:45am. The format is familiar, with a couple of small differences. I knew most of the hymns. At 9:45 I preached on Romans 16, tying in the greetings sent by my church with those greetings sent by Paul. I got the timing off a bit, so I needed to cut some material on the fly. Then at 11:30 I spoke to the college age people on “Thinking Like a Christian”. We were in a circle, so I tried to do it more as a chit-chat than a sermon, and answered a number of good questions afterwards. Interestingly the questions seemed to have a lot to do with why we do things different than the Roman Catholics.

After that I was wiped out, so rather than going out for lunch I just went back to the hotel and got some chicken teriyaki from room service. After a nap and doing some praying and practicing, I was back at JIC for the 7:00pm Gospel Meeting. There I gave my testimony of how I became a Christian. It seemed to go well. After, one of the Elders took me and some of the other Elders out to the Royal Selangor Club for some really good Chinese food (the lemon chicken was great. I can’t believe what we put up with in Canada!). In case you are wondering, yes I am eating all this Chinese food with chop sticks, and washing it down with Green Tea. On the way home I drove past the Petronas Towers, all lit up at night. Usually you think of these towers as just being tall, but I would describe them as “majestic”.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Saturday August 16, 2008

I started this morning with an excellent buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Basically the same as we would have in Canada, just with a beef type of bacon and some local specialties. I finished preparing a handout for the Sunday morning sermon.

For lunch, EH and I went out to a Chinese restaurant, though admittedly I had a breaded chicken chop “western style”. In the afternoon I practiced my messages, and for supper went out to the “Purple Cane” restaurant, with the conference committee and one of the Elders. There we definitely had authentic Chinese food, including a variety of sweet soups for dessert. Maybe I’m not as adventurous as I should be, but I tell myself that I am looking after my stomach. Interestingly enough, there was tea in all the dishes we were served. By the way, I am enjoying green tea with most of my meals.

The people here are doing an AMAZING job looking after me. Tomorrow, I start “earning my keep”, with the first 3 sermons.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Saturday August 15, 2008 (actual)

My contact in Malaysia, EH, picked me up at the airport. We ate a quick lunch at Burger King, and then went to the Hotel. One of the churches I will visit had planned to hold a High Tea for me, but I was just too tired. We stopped by Jalan Imbi Chapel to pick up a food basket, and then on to the hotel. I cannot say enough about the hospitality I have received. The people at JIC have been so kind to me, even arranging for a phone card so I can phone my family!

It was late last night before we got the Internet working in my room. I got Yahoo Voice working for making phone calls, and I can receive emails though I can’t send. As a result I will use my Gmail account.

For supper, EH came by at about 7:30pm, and we went to a place for beef and noodles. It was quite good, though my stomach is still sorting itself out! Interestingly enough, because it is a tropical country, the kitchen is outside. Why cook inside and heat the place up? Of course that won’t work in Canada.

My health is good, though I am watching how much I eat and what I eat. I seem to have a weak stomach, and the nerves from travelling don’t help. But I would say my health has been fine.

My first impressions of Malaysia? It’s dynamic, hot, unplanned and a study in contrasts. Malaysia is a very dynamic country. Everything that is available in Canada is available here, including all the well known brands; Starbucks for coffee, Bridgestone for tires, 7-11 for convenience items and American Standard for toilets. KFC is big here, but you can also find McDonalds, Burger King and A&W. The people are really working hard towards building a modern developed nation (and in many ways they already are a modern developed nation). For example, they have a light-rail system in KL, something Ottawa is still struggling to do.

It’s also very hot. I had been warned that the heat would hit me like a wave, but the warnings couldn’t have prepared me. The temperature is only about 31-32 degrees Celsius, but the humidity is about 100%. Incredible. But my hotel room is well air conditioned.

I would also describe Malaysia as “unplanned”. Maybe that’s not the most accurate word, but I can’t think of a better one. For example, the sidewalks are uneven and of different styles in front of every building, although in truth this is less significant because people park on the sidewalks thus forcing pedestrians to fend for their lives among the cars and motor scooters. Everyone just makes their own decision, without central planning. The traffic is incredible, not so much because of the number of cars (which every city has) but because of the motor scooters. They weave in and out of the traffic, on the sidewalks, through red lights and drive on the wrong side of the road. I’m told there are relatively few fatalities because the traffic moves so slowly. At the same time, anything that they want to do well they do well. There are tons of modern buildings, including the Petronas Towers, which are world class in every way.

And Malaysia seems to be a study in contrasts. Most of the Muslim women wear a headscarf, but they also get many tourists from the Gulf and the women only show their eyes. On the other hand, many women dress as they would in any North American city (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). Islam is everywhere, but there are also huge signs advertising Carlsberg beer. A major political issue seems to be whether this country is Islamic enough, or too Islamic. Or maybe I’m not using the right expression when I say that being “too Islamic” is a political question. The role of Islam in the nation is an established fact. But the Chinese and Indian populations wonder if there is enough opportunity for their people. So maybe it’s a racial thing rather than a religious thing. Overall there does seem to be a lot of harmony. Anyway, these are my first impressions.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Malaysia Trip - Friday August 15, 2008 (sort of)

OK, I’m sitting in the Hong Kong airport, and its 6:20am. I have now cleared security three times, once for each of my flights. The first one I understand. The second was because I needed a Cathay Pacific boarding pass in Vancouver, and had to leave the secure area to do so. The third... well I don’t actually know why. I was leaving one Cathay Pacific flight and transferring to another. Oh well, there are no line ups at 5:30am.

Note to self: Vancouver to Hong Kong is a long 13 hours when the in-flight entertainment system doesn’t work for your seat, the cabin is dim, and your personal reading light is not working. On the up side, I was given a $50 voucher for the duty free shop, and the guy beside me gave me his. So on the way home, I’ll do $100 worth of shopping. I’m really zonked. I’ve got another 6 hours of wait and travel before I get to KL. There are no power plugs at this gate, and no free Wi-Fi, so no letters or phone calls to Karen.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Maybe I'm just a sap...

... but this video brought tears to my eyes.


Happy 51st Merdeka Day Malaysia.

Malaysia Trip - Wednesday August 13, 2008

As I type this, I’m at the airport, waiting for my flight to Vancouver to board. I slept in this morning, and spent a casual day with my family. I wasn’t feeling too well, but I think this was nerves. Karen and I dropped the children off at Nana’s house, and then proceeded on to the airport. We had some supper at the Swiss Chalet at the airport, and then I went through security. And now I sit and wait. At least my cold symptoms have subsided. My nose was never running very much (only in the mornings) and now I’m feeling fine.

OK, now I’m sitting in the Vancouver airport. I had to leave the security area, go to the Cathay Pacific desk for my boarding pass, and then back through security. The seats at this gate don’t have power, so my laptop is running on the battery. There is free Wi-Fi, so I sent an email to Karen. The flight to Vancouver was good, but I didn’t sleep much and now my body feels like it is 2:00am.

One other point to mention. On the way to Vancouver I was sitting next to an exit. The stewardess explained what to do in an emergency, but the girl sitting next to me WOULD NOT move her carry-on stuff under the seat. When in an emergency aisle this is very important, but the stewardess had to ask her 3 times. The first time she ignored the stewardess. The second time she moved her stuff closer to her seat. The third time, with the stewardess standing over her watching, she finally moved her stuff.