Selamat Gawai

My colleague, journalist Andy Sabang wishes all Dayaks a happy Gawai Dayak 2006. He said,

“Selamat Ari Gawai, Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Lantang Senang Nguan Menoa.”
It means “Happy Gawai, may everyone be healthy and live a prosperiously long life on this planet.”

Yes, Sarawak is going to have a long Gawai break starting tomorrow (1st June) till 4th June.

For many, it will be time of “ai-pengayu”. Well, it would not be Gawai without ai pengayu. t is tuak, a rice wine drunk by every celebrant at the stroke of midnight on May 31 each year as they wish “for longevity, good health and propsperity:.

“Ai” is liquid and “pengayu” is an adjective from the words “gayu guru”- longevity.

My town, Sibu has been crowded since last weekend when the Gawai Dayak “balik Kampung” started picking up. Here is a photo of the Express Boat Terminal packed with people clambering onto the sleek passenger express boats.

It was not only the Dayaks who are caught up in this rush. There are non-Dayaks who took the opportunity of the long festive holidays to go back home or celebrating the festival with Dayak friends.

Such is the beauty of Sibu during festive seasons!

Yeah! A solid four days of rest ahead for Yan….


Let Your Life Speak

I first ran into Parker Palmer’s work when I was finishing my MBA final project. It has nothing to do with my project paper. It is just this little parable from his own life that has inspired me when I was quite exhausted of will to carry on the project.

Parker related this little parable this way –

I was in my early forties. I decided to go on that amazing program called Outward Bound. I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis at this time – one of those times when the violence and terror within us start to come up. (Mine was a mid-life crisis that begin when I was about seventeen and persists to this day – and I’m now 51!)

Parker described in the middle of that Outward Bound course he faced the challenge that he most feared. He said,

They backed me up to the edge of a cliff that was 110 feet off the ground. They tied a very thin rope to my waist, a frayed and stretchy rope, and then told me to back down that cliff.

Parker said when he was half way down and lowered his eyes –

I froze. I have never been so paralyzed in my life, so full of physical fear. I knew I could do it if I could still keep going straight, but I could change directions. I just froze in sheer terror.

Parker said he was hang there for what seemed like a very long time and the teacher said it’s time that I learnt the motto of the Outward Bound School.

But then she yelled up to me words that I will never forget, words that have been genuinely empowering for me ever since. She said, “The motto of the Outward Bound Hurricane School is ‘IF YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF IT, GET INTO IT.’

From that experience, Parker wrote –

There is no way out of our inner lives, so we’d better get into them. In the downward, inward journey, the only way is in and through.

Recently, I was introduced to Parker’s little book titled, Let Your Life Speaks by my former Pastor, Rev Lau HM. This little book starts off with this poem, Ask Me –

Some time when the rive is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt; ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made. I will listen to what you say,
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
– William Stafford, “ASK ME”

Parker says of this poem,

“Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” For some, those words will be nonsense, nothing more than a poet’s loose way with language and logic. Of course what I have done is my life! To what am I supposed to compare it? But for others, and I am one, the poet’s words will be precise, piercing, and disquieting. They remind me of moments when it is clear – if I have eyes to see – that the life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me. In those moments I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice. And in the spirit of the poet, I wonder: What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to be?

“Let Your Life Speaks” is a book to be enjoyed in the warmth of the hot coffee cup, in the fragrant scent of roses, in the quietness of the starry night if you life seems to be just passing by. Get a copy and indulge in the wisdom of Parker as you turn the pages …..




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The Golden Time

I attended a very heartwarming thanksgiving and birthday dinner of my cousin, Chih Yong on Sunday night. Heartwarming because it was filled with warmth of family and friendship. Heartwarming because I had the oportunity to sit with my other brothers and sisters at the same table. Heartwarming because it was filled with the grace and love of God. My cousin, Chih Yong, has just recovered from a major operation. He gave thanks to God for His love, grace and mercy… He has a story to tell of God's love.

Heartwarming because my cousin and his family members know where they are going …

Last night, as I was preparing for my talk tomorrow to near to 100 girls in a Girls' Brigade camp, I came across two stories….

Story No. 1 – A few years ago, Billy Graham attended a luncheon in his honor. Graham, of course, is elderly and not well.

People said nice things about him, and then it was his turn.Graham began by telling a story. He said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his other pocket. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He couldn't find it. The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' Einstein nodded appreciatively.

"The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. You don't need a ticket.'

Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.' "

Then Billy Graham said, "See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I'm going."

Knowing where we are going is one thing. Knowing who we are and living life to its fullest while we still have it is another one thing. Here is story number 2 –

Alan Alda in his autobiography, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, tells about falling terribly ill. Alda, of course, is the star of the long-running television series, M*A*S*H. He fell terribly ill while visiting Chile in South America. Friends took him to a small hospital where he learned that he needed emergency surgery. The doctor told him that he could have the operation there or he could fly to a larger hospital in Santiago.

But the airport was fogged in and the doctor said, "You could try to fly to Santiago. But if you wait for the fog to lift, you may not make it."

Meaning, "You might die." That settled the issue for Alda.

He chose to have the surgery right away, and everything turned out right. What caught me was a comment that Alda made later. He first noted that, after a motion picture crew has worked twelve hours, they start getting overtime pay — two hours pay for each hour worked. They call it "golden time." Alda says that he is now on golden time. He could have died in Chile, but didn't. Now everything he does is something he couldn't have done had he died. Every day is golden time — extra time — time to be alive — time to enjoy life.

Hearing It Loud and Clear

Thanks, Rach, for the bright and sunny Header of the Blog. You are wonderful. Bloom where God plants you…

Thanks, Chris, for the inspiring piece "Bloom Where You Are Planted". You are wonderful, too. Bloom where you are planted ..

Rach, Chris, Hear it Lord and Clear?

I am sorry, I have side-tracked!

The Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) suffered its worst ever defeat in the just concluded (May 20) State Election. It lost 8 out of 10 seats contested.

First, the Party President George Chan said he did not know why the Party lost. Yesterday, it was reported that he "acknowledged the message from the voters. It was loud and clear."

Yes, with the hastening pace of living comes higher levels of noises and sounds. We can't hear clearly. Noises from the construction sites – the building of airports, bridges, all geared towards to be ready before election. Noises from the ceremonial events – opening of airports, opening of bridges, schools, regatta, the singing, the concert, receiving the VVIPs…

Such were the hustle and bustle of the days …

That made inner noises inaudible to our ears difficult to handle.

When I saw Daniel Ngieng in my Church on Sunday morning (the morning after he lost his Bukit Asset Seat), when I saw Vincent Goh's sad face in the newspaper on Sunday morning (even when Vincent won), I knew my two dear friends had heard it loud and clear from God Himself!

God speaks gently and softly. Unless we quieten ourselves we would not be able to hear Him in the hustle and bustle of our days!

Today, away from Sarawak, looking from the "West" into "East" where my home is, the Lord speaks to me in His usual gentle and soft voice that I know I can't keep it for myself.

John 12:24 – "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

The Lord says, one minus one equals much!

Matthew 12:25 – “…Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

The Lord says, one divides by two equals zero!

Psalm 40:1-3 – “..He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise ot my God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

The Lord says, when we hit rock bottom, He is there, He is the Rock of all ages, waiting to hold us up safely and renew us!

Bloom Where You Are Planted

By Christopher Lau, aged 10 going on 11 in August

My Jie-jie, Rachel designed the Header of the Blog for mummy today. Mummy has wanted a rainbow, but Jie-jie does not like rainbow. So, here you are, a sunny bright day. Sunny day is Jie-jie, Qing-Qing. Bright day is me, Liang-Liang. Qing means sunny day, Liang means bright.I always wonder if mummy is going to have another baby, will she call the baby rainy day? Probably not! Most probably, Rainbow!
Mummy asked me this morning a question. It goes like this – If you lose in a competition, do you know why you lose?

I was quick to answer, yes, I know why. Because the winner is better than me. Just like I can never beat Richard no matter how hard I try.

Mummy laughed and said, “Bloom where God plants you.” And from her magic bag, she gave me this card!

Bloom Where God Plants You

Mummy seems to find something to say about everything. She seems to have a magic bag that carries everything that can be given to us at any circumstance. She also seems to know every trick that I have. She even knows how to score well in my Chinese paper! This time I follow her magic, and I got an A!

When I asked mummy her magic, she gave me the same answer –

I bloom where I am planted!

Bloom where you are planted – where has God planted me?

Tomorrow when you wake up ….

The title of this post is “borrowed” from an open letter of Vincent Goh dated 19th May. Vincent Goh is BN-SUPP candidate for Pelawan. He has just been re-elected by the people. He ended this letter with …

It has been an eventful five years since 2001 and I must say the journey, though sweet and bitter at times was made very meaningful with you by my side. For that, I am truly grateful. Till we meet again, I’ll still be WITH YOU, EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. Thank you…

Yes, tomorrow when you wake up, it’s Sunday. For many, it’s another day – a family day, going to Church together, having breakfast at the favourite coffee shop, going to wet market ….

For many, the world seems to have changed. They have a new elected representative. Hopes, fears, frustrations, expectations, happiness, uncertainties… whatever it is, there are changes.

There are many unpredictable changes in life. Yet what warms my heart is to know that, in the midst of all this flux and change, one thing remains absolutely unchangeable – and that is the word of the Living God!

Yes, the message of the Bible never changes. It is always up-to-date, and always speaks to the issues of our time. The Bible is like a solid rock in the midst of a desert of shifting sand.

I remember the story of a man who went to see his friend who was an old music teacher. When he knocked on the door his old friend opened the door and greeted him. And the man, in his almost exagerated voice said, “Well good morning! What’s the good news for today?”

The old music teacher didn’t say a word. He just went back into the room, picked up a little rubber hammer, and struck a tuning fork that was hanging there. As the note sounded throughout the room he said, “That is ‘A‘. Now, that was ‘A‘ five thousand years ago and that will be ‘A‘ five thousand years in the future. The soprano across the hall sings off-key. The piano downstairs is out of tune. The baritone upstairs flats his high notes. But,” he said, striking the tuning fork again, “that is ‘A‘, and that, my friend, is the good news for today!”

Ah, yes, when you wake up tomorrow, many things may have changed. But you know the nature of God never changes. Basic family relationships, fathers with children, brothers with sisters, never change…

In every change, His faithfulness remains –

Be Still, My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, be leaving, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.


How Should We Live, then?

My cousin, Ching Yong told me two days ago that whenever he drives pass Selangan Road he thinks of my mother and wants to drive in to visit her. Ching Yong is my first cousin, or we are from the same grandparents. Selangan Road was the place where my late mother stayed with my second brother, and where I stayed before I was married.

Ching Yong said this feeling was especially intense during election time when he and his “boss” visited the residents of the constituency. Ching Yong is the “spokesman” for the BN candidate of Dudong constituency.

“I feel 4th auntie is still alive.” Ching Yong added.

This morning, I performed my “citizen duty” by casting my vote. For many terms, I did it together with my mother. My mother, who had never been to school, knew her duty. She took this duty as sacred and solemn. We had never shared “who-do-you-vote”. She had never asked “whom-should-I-vote”. It was usually a journey of silence from house to the polling centre and from polling centre back to home.

For the memories of my mother, I had not thought of changing my address to my present home. She still lives in my heart.

My mother lives in the heart of many. She leaves footprints in many hearts because of her principles in life –

Live supportively with regard to loved ones and neighbours
Live generously with regard to the needs of those around her
Live thoughtfully by the teachings of the Scripture

This is how we should live, right?