Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2013 comes to a close and the year of the golden horse begins!

SELAMAT TAHUN BARU! (Happy New Year!  I still can say this because we are just starting to celebrate Chinese New Year here)

I know I have not posted much over the holiday season.  This is mostly due to the fact that Malaysia's largest school holiday is from mid-november until January 2!  That's about a month and a half I spent out of my regular routine and not so much around spaces with great wifi.  So how do I go about summarizing a month and a half of life full of new experiences?  I don't think I can.  New friendships were made, new experiences were had, I went jalan-jalan (traveling around), and continued living my life here in Malaysia.  However I would like to share some of my favorite stories and some of the observations I have been making recently.

Some of my favorite times over the holidays were spent caroling with my friends in their kampung (village) or in Kota Kinabalu with BCCM KK  (E).  In the kampung this familiar tradition sounded a little different with some new songs, most of which were in Bahasa Malaysia or in Dusun but it was truly lovely walking from house to house under palm trees and starry skies.  As we crossed over grassy paths by candlelight my friends and I enjoyed simple conversation.  They taught me the Bahasa Malaysia word for star was "bintang" and I cannot remember what it's name is in Murut but I learned it that night.  It still amazes me the way people here can so gracefully make use of several different languages at any given moment.  True to Malaysia's passion for food, we were given treats along the way and at the last house we enjoyed a feast.

The Kampung Lapasan Caroling Team

Over Christmas I spent precious time visiting my friend Lilian.  As much as Grace Center is a wonderful home for me in Malaysia, it was really great to be able to go "home for the holidays" with someone.  I spent time taking rehat (rest), eating my friend's fabulous cooking, and playing with her many animals (including the cutest puppies!).  Lilian took me with her to family celebrations, which meant great company, fun games, and more delicious food.  Teacher Ebeth's sister was getting married while I was in town so I got to help prepare for the day and attend the event too!  I was not a whole lot of help because I sliced my finger open pretty good cutting onions.  However, I did get to learn how to play a few of the traditional wedding gongs (more about that in a future post.)  Of course over the holiday time I missed my family (We did get to skype on Christmas though!  And my family did an awesome flat Delia project which let me know just how present I still was at home despite the distance).  However the second best to being with my own family was being able to spend it with such a good friend's family.

Family Christmas Photo- Skype was truly a Christmas miracle this year

School began again in early January and I was overjoyed to see my students again and begin classes.  It was also rejuvenating to be able to start at the beginning of the semester instead of jumping in somewhere in the middle of the end of one.  Recently the teachers took a retreat up to the mountains where we had important professional development and prayer time.  Discussions about upcoming changes at Grace Center left me feeling challenged in knowing my role because truthfully I will only be here six more months.  My greatest hope is that while I am still here I can have a positive presence and help ease transitions as big changes come our way.  We also had a YAGM retreat with Rev. Heidi Torgerson-Martinez (Program Director of YAGM) and Franklin Ishida (Area Program Director for Asia and the Pacific for the ELCA) in KK.  While it was energizing time for the YAGM Malaysia team to be reunited there was also a lot of processing with the many transitions our program has faced this year.  We stayed in a hotel tucked away in the midst of a bridal shop, ate steamboat, and had lots of meaningful conversation together.

Grace Center Teachers enjoying morning tea in front of Mt. Kinabalu

Up and coming is a visit from my parents...they are literally on a plane as I write this!  I am so thrilled for them to meet my Grace Center family and at least get a glimpse into my life here.  Right after that YAGM Malaysia will be headed to Hong Kong so you can expect more pictures, stories, and blogs coming your way!

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