The Stories Continue …

You are SGH’s new arrival on 27th September 1990!

It seems like only yesterday –

You were a tiny little contended baby. You were the most contended baby. After the last feed at 10 pm, you would sleep through the night until 6 am the next morning. You spared me from having to join a mothers’ support group to share the horror stories of their babies treating day as night and night as day.

Thank you, Rachel!

You grew into a curious toddler. Any object that you grabbed hold of, you would put into your mouth. Nieces called you “vacuum cleaner” because no carpet left unturned with your presence. It was then I learnt to live in simplicity.

Thank you, Rachel!

You began to ask the whys, the whos, the whats, the hows the moment you opened your eyes. And you would only stop when you were too tired until you went to sleep. You began to have a mind of your own. You refused to sing the kindergarten songs because you thought some of the songs were actually laughing at the unfortunate people. To you, describing a child without mother as a grass without nobody to take care of them was actually laughing at the child. You enjoyed the bedtime stories. It was this time of bedtimes stories that laid the foundation of our bond when times become difficult as you enter into your teens.

Thank you, Rachel!

You barricaded yourself in your room, music blaring, with earphones fused to your ears. When I tried to talk to you, you rolled your eyes and exclaimed, “Mum, you just don’t understand!” There were battles and struggles everyday. As I began to despair of ever being a meaningful part of your life again, you suddenly grew out of it! I even did not know when the mother/daughter connection is once again filled with laughter, trust and love!

Thank you, Rachel!

That was last year’s birthday stories…

The stories continue….

Mothering is a mysterious task. First, I created an intimate attachment, then I spend the rest of my life learning to let you go.

You’re growing up! It has been a year of getting along with you. It’s much easier to keep our relationship thriving when at five you wrote notes and said how much you love me than when you are fifteen, rolling your eyes and sighing at every comment I made. It’s much easier when you were a little girl, you wanted me to read you bedtime stories; now you insist mummy knocks before entering your room.

But, it has been an exciting year. You would take my skirt, my T-shirt, my blouse, my shampoo, my make-up, my skin-care, it seems like moving back to the young days when you would experiment with all my make-up or skin-care.

I like the moments when you think I am ageing gracefully and comment that I even look better now than on my wedding photographs. I was truly thrilled when you told me that your best friend thought I have “taste”.

It has been a year when we begin to openly share details of our days.

And I know, such sharings are only made possible with the respect, openness and trust that are present in friendship, not in a relationship where the mother is in charge.

It has been a year of fulfilling connection – as we grow, learn and experiment.

Thank you. Rachel.

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

 

I left part of myself in Sarawak

Thanks to Winnie of The Connection for putting up a Hymn of Praise written by Rev David MacDonald that prompted me to find out this interview done by me on 13th September 2002 and published in The Borneo Post. I thought what Rev MacDonald had said enlightened me a lot even re-reading it four years after the interview.

Thanks to Rachel (my daughter) for scanning the newspaper articles to be included in her history project two years ago that allows me to have the images to be copied and uploaded here.

I have the priviledge of walking down memory lane with some very imspiring and distinguished persons for the past four months in my course of work. Life of journalist is colourful and just full of life!

If you are from Sarawak, in particular from Sibu, if you are struggling with learning of Chinese, if you want to know what’s Bishop’s Soup, if you want to know how a person could leave part of himself in Sarawak and take part of Sarawakians with him, please read on …. it’s a little of history, may be nostaligic to some, but surely all honour and glory go to God!

The engine throbs into life, and the boat vibrates…. People are still clambering up the gangplank, women carrying children and bundles of vegetables, followed by other small children sucking on ice-cream…

Highways are waterways in Sarawak. Some people ply the river in small craft powered by outboard motors, but most are content to let the public launch trundle them home from market.

Bicycles, sacks of meal, oil-drums, timber, pigs, hens, ducks, edibles and passengers all seem to constitute a legitimate load …

Sarawak children … sweet and innocent

This was how Rev David Hill MacDonald described Sarawak, in particular Sibu back in 1959.

Early Missionary Pastors

Rev MacDonald was one of the early missionary pastors from England who served in Sarawak from 1957 to 1960.

After 42 years, he is back “home” here in Sibu. During the afternoon at Ida Mamora’s house, I joined Rev MacDonald as he reminisced about life back then. He bantered on about old friends, missionary work, the youths in Sarawak, sowing seeds, and studying Chinese.

That’s life – fullness of life!

Meeting Old Friends

“Yes, I have been meeting old friends during the past few days,” Rev MacDonald said. He has been amazed by the growth of Sibu, particularly the people and the churches. He is particularly impressed by the enthusiasm of Christians and their outreach program.

“It speaks of the continuing work of God in this land,” Rev MacDonald noted with much joy and satisfaction.

Rev MacDonald was the founder and first pastor of Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu. Asked on the setting up of the Church, Rev MacDonald said prior to the founding of the Church, he and other missionary colleagues had conducted worship in the form of evening vespers.

Added he, “The worship provided missionaries, their families and colleagues, an opportunity of meeting together.”

As time progressed, they were joined by civil-service expartriates, those employed in the hospital and the business community. He recalled that the Church was formed on May 5, 1958. Appropriately, it was known as the Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu.

Serenity.. see the coconut trees “in the river”?

“A Land of Decision”

It was established at a time when Sarawak was at the crossroads. Back then, British and American churches had designated Sarawak as “A Land of Decision” in the belief that the following 25 years would witness monumental changes.

American churches were then focusing their missionary work in two areas, including Sarawak. Resources poured in to ensure its success.

The Methodist Missionary Society has long a deep appreciation of, and concern, for the Chinese community. So when invited by the American Methodist movement to jointly operate in Singapore, Sarawak and Sumatra, they readily joined in this new field of service.

Three young ministers were sent from England – Rev David MacDonald, Rev G.R. Senior and Rev J L Hodgkinson.

Rev MacDonald said the Vision has been fulfilled.

Praise be to God!

Church of the people

However, missions have had to give way to church growth especially for the church to take root. He said, “The churches here have become self-financing, self-governing and self-propagating to become truly a church of the people.”

In illustrating what he meant by “truly church of the people”, Rev MacDonald said a few months ago he read a book called “Mangoes or Bananas?” by Rev Dr Hwa Yong. There is a simple parable to remind us that whilst partnership and learning is a vital part of the pattern of the Church – each culture needs its own way of expression faith in Jesus.

Learning Chinese

Rev MacDonald is sufficiently conversant to preach in Mandarin. He showed me the text of his first sermon in Chinese. I was amazed by the neat handwriting, easy to understand presentation on the sermon topic. Besides being the pastor of the English Church, he also helped out at the Kwong Hua Chinese Church.

He said, “The newness of the work from my own point of view was exciting and challenging.”

He emphasised that the study of Chinese language helped him understand himself better.

“There are profound thoughts in the Chinese culture that have made me into a better Christian.”

The understanding of the Chinese langauge and culture has taught him to spend time in meditating on the goodness of the Lord. Moreover, it helped him allot time for meditation.

In 1989, Rev MacDonald studied Chinese in China. This, said he, was to ensure he maintained common ground with the community.

He elaborated that what Christians have in common are the Bible, the Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and fundamental beliefs. Therefore, Christians should seek the common ground and agree with the little differences.

The Chinese article that I have written published in See Hua Daily News

Youths Work

Rev MacDonald focused much attention on youths. His greatest satisfaction was being able to communicate on the same wavelength with local youths, emphathising with teens who were struggling to remain faithful.

He said it was great to be with young people, and watched them grow, There were about 50 to 70 members in the youth fellowship who met every week. About six young men went into the ministry; others become lay leaders and lay preachers.

“Together we built each other up,” he said.

He notes that youths today tend to be so different.

Observed he, “Youths today ahve access to all sorts of information that it is difficult for them to evaluate what’s wrong and what’s right.”

It’s his hope that youths will walk with the Lord and stand in the way of the gospel.

Rev MacDonald recalled his first Christmas at Sungei Aup Longhouse which he has visited during this trip back “home”.

However, the most unforgettable one was Christmas 1959 when he was hospitalised.

Today, he is still overwhelmed when recalling this experience – awakened in the middle of the night by Christmas carols on the Rejang River. It was a group of young Christians carolling in a boat!

Rev MacDonald brought along with him some magazines published by the Methodist Missionary Society in the United Kingdom in 1959. The magazines contained stories from the early missionaries here. I lifted one for your reading pleasure:

 

The market

The Bishop’s Soup

One of our missionaries visiting a Chinese family in Sibu was told an old Chinese joke. The halfway line in a Chinese Feast is marked by a change from Savoury pork to sweet lotus seeds in syrup. A bowl of warm water is therefore, placed on the table at this point for the guests to wash their spoons.

A certain Bishop, on one occasion, dipped into this washing bowl and drank from it. His host, not wishing to embarass him, said, “Guests, taste with me the Bishop’s soup,” and all drank with him.

Christian folks now call the bowl “The Bishop’s Soup”.

Sowing Seeds

“My work here was sowing the seeds. My ministry is shaped by the people. You made me what I am.”

Rev MacDonald showed me his Elder’s Credentials. He said this is a reminder that it was here in Sarawak that he was ordained.

During a dinner organised by the members of Wesley Methodist Church Sibu for him in a local restaurant, Rev David MacDonald said,

“I have never forgotten the kindness and love shown to me.

Above all, what I learnt here from you has travelled with me throughout all my years of ministry.

When I left Sarawak I left part of myself here

and took part of you with me.

For that I thank God.”

WWW

I remember when I first used internet more than a decade ago, I used to type a web address starting with www or htpp. Now, I don’t do that anymore. Yan’s Corner can be reached with only yantouch.wordpress.com.

Last week, I missed the church. I was told that Rev Dr Tie King Tai preached on the three Ws, not as World Wide Web, but as the 3 Ws of God. So, I missed the enlightening talk. This morning, I read with delight a summary of what I have missed. I am lifting this from my church Bulletin for sharing, for thoughts, or just for that three Ws!

The 3 W of God

Psoam 19 shows us the glory of God in His creation. Often we, the depraved and sinful people do not pause before God and therefore do not see His glory.

The first W – The World of God. The awesomeness of God is shown in His creation. Vs 1-6 show the general revelation of God that he is the creator. This revelation is contnual and univeral. All mankind should know. However, although God is speaking to us through His creation, men are not listening. We see only His creation, not the glory. We worship the creation, not the Creator. Even though we know the general revelation of God we might not know Him. Often times, people are forced to rest through sickness for example, to observe His glory.

The second W – The Word of God. This is the special revelation through Jesus Christ and the Bible. From Vs 7-10, “the Lord” is mentioned six times. God is personal. We can know Him personally through His Word which is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure and sure. It can revive our soul, make the wise simple, give joy to our heart and light to our eyes. It endures forever and is righteous altogether. We need to reasure His Word more than gold and taste it sweeter than honey. If the Word of God is not precious and sweet to us, we need to examine ourselves. We will only know God when we know Him personally.

The third W – The Way of God. Vs 11-14 tell us that we need to walk with God. By keeping His Word, there is great reward. Our hidden faults will be revealed and forgiven when we ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and through the constructive criticism of brothers and sisters in cell groups. We will also be kept from our willful sins and the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart will be pleasing to God.

We cannot know God’s world unless we know His Word. When we behold His gory and believe, we will want to walk with Him and enjoy His creation.

(By Jennifer Wong)

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on WWW

Felt Violated

By Christopher Lau, aged 11

I have taken the role of school prefect since July this year. I am assigned to be in charge of the canteen area.

Canteen is the place where law and order can never be the menu of the day. School mates are all hungry. They seem to be so hungry that they can eat a cow. So, they behave like tigers and lions most of the time. What are in the menu then?

On a normal day, the menu will be jumping queue, pushing one another, shouting and giggling. In a lighter mood, the menu will include some laughters.

On a not-so-good day, the menu will be monkey faces, eyes rolling to the top and scolding the poor prefects for being busybody.

Last Friday, there was one girl schoolmate who took a bowl of noodles and stood outside of the canteen eating. I invited her to go into the canteen to eat. She sneered at me and refused my kindness. Anyway, she finished her food and off she went. She left the bowl outside the canteen. I had to take the bowl inside the canteen for her.

After my duty was over, I went back to my classroom. I noticed that the girl schoolmate was walking behind me. So, I purposely walked slowly and occupied the staircase so that she could not overtake me. Suddenly, she pulled my pants.

I was treated roughly and felt violated. I kicked her leg which she shouted, “I did not pull your pants.”

Still fuming when my mother fetched me after school, I shouted in the car, “I felt violated!”

My mother was amused by my ordeal. She jokingly said, “You felt violated or being molested?”

Molest? A new menu for the coming week?

Nostalgia

Nostalgia. When did I learn of this ‘big’ word? When I have that burning yearning in me to walk into the time tunnel. When someone said if there is a time machine, he would buy one – for me. When I want to recover the irrecoverable.

Yes, that wistful dream. That sentimental journey within our mind. It’s just too brief to satisfy. Too clear to ignore. Too sentimental for words to describe. And, and, just too personal to share!

A Billy Graham Music Homecoming brings me to the memories as people and places step out of my memories the other night. I was surprised that it was Billy Graham Music Homecoming and not John Denver’s filling up my senses, or Lobo’s not knowing how to tell her, or Glen Campell’s gentleness on my mind….

Remember those hymns …Rock of ages, His eye on the sparrow, How long has it been, Just as I am, The wonder of it all, And can it be that I should gain, Tho’ Autumn’s coming on…

Yes, you remember that… my days in the Church choir, my days in the Old Folks’ Home where we sang hymns and choruses to the old folks, Christmas Eve, late at night, Standing silently beside the grave of a close, personal friend, an old letter, an old photograph ….

That’s where it all starts …

That night the nostalgia’s net tightens around me. It just holds me close within my imaginary ropes of security…

Did I meet you there on my roads of memory? Charles Swindoll says,

If we meet together on the back roads of our memory, I will be so pleased – and I promise not to tell a soul. I’m good at keeping nostalgic secrets…

I am also good at keeping nostalgic secrets – it’s just too personal to share! But I can pass on a bit of nostalgia to you, give nostalgia a green signal, and enjoy it with me!

Friendship Usually Contains Kindness

I would have put the title of this post as “F.U.C.K”, but it really just made me blush. After many times of typing and deleting, I finally settle with –

F for Friendship

U for Usually

C for Contains

K for Kindness

Chris (my 11-year-old son) started his ‘autograph session’ early. Remember? We used to write autographs only when we were in graduating class, like Primary Six, Form Three, Form Five …. Chris is in Primary Five. When I asked him the reason to start early, his rationale is that some of the classmates may be streamed to other classes next year.

Last night, Rachel (my 15 going on 16 daughter) showed me Chris’ autograph and said, “Look what the young ones are learning these days.” She sounded like a young lady. I took a look, a girl classmate has written in Chris’ autograph this –

F.U.C.K – Friendship Usually Contains Kindness

And the young lady and old woman both burst into laughers. *LOL*

The girl classmate also wrote –

RM – It’s not Ringgit Malaysia, it is Remember Me

Creative! Right?

Children are just wellspring of inspiration!

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

When tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,
And, each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too;
But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand,
That an Angel came and called my name and took me by the hand,

The Angel said my place was ready in Heaven far above,
And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away, a tear fell from my eye,
For all my life, I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible, that I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays, the good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,
I’d say good-bye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized that this could never be,
For emptiness and memories, would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you and, when I did, my heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through Heaven’s Gates, I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,

From His great golden throne, He said,
“This is eternity, And all I’ve promised you,
Today your life on earth is past, but here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last,

And since each day’s the same way, there’s no longing for the past.
You have been so faithful, so trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.
But you have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.

So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?”
So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right here, in your heart.

(Author unknown)

I have read this poem many times. Each time, it brings new meaning and understanding. The first time I read it was in the year 2000. I could remember clearly because my mother went to the Lord in 2000, the poem reached my mailbox and brought oceans of tears. Then, every year during this time, yes, September 11, this poem would arrive my mailbox. It’s like today.

I remember 911 too. I remember how I worked around the clock in the newsroom on that night leaving my two children at home, without realizing how much fear it also brought them when I left the house with TV on stationed at CNN while the two children slept in front of the TV.

I remember I was chatting on the net with a good friend and abruptly ended the chat. The good friend was the CEO of a MNC in Sing-Land with its headquarters in New York. When I told him of the news, and that I have to leave for office to make sure the next day’s paper carried comprehensive reports, he asked, “Is it safe to work at this hour in the office?” I felt the warmth of friendship and carried that good feelings while working through the night.

I remember the fears, the tears, the loss, the love, the anger, the despair of the world…

I remember how this poem has touched me many, many times…

Who said that the world has a memory of only 100 days? Do you remember? It was in 1983, the Russians shot down a Korean Airlines commercial flight that had veered off-course into Soviet airspace. All 269 on board perished. The Russains replied, when asked why, instead of answering the ‘why’, the Russians said that the world had a memory of only 100 days. The Russians predicted then that within 100 days when something else happened, everyone would turn to the latest issue.

Were the Russians right?

My 11-year son, Chris said that memories are made up of what we want to remember. It was a year ago that he said so. We were talking about my mother, his grandmother. When he was 5, my mother passed away. He could remember many things about his grandmother. When I asked how he could remember? He said, “If you choose to remember, you will remember.”

What have we chosen to remember? How long is our memory?