Thursday, June 29, 2006

My favourite song

Do you have a favourite song? Why do you like it?

This is my favourite. I like the smoothing and serene rhythm, love the lyrics even more. It's a song of love, faith and hope. Told you, I am an oldie person.

What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

Updates on missionary recruitment

Two days ago I wrote on cash and cars for missionaries. Felt that it's not right to use Ah Chai and Ramasamy's tax moneys for that purpose. SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission agrees too. Some excerpts...

It is wrong to use state funds as a marriage reward, said Suhakam economic, social and cultural rights working committee chairman Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria in a statement.

"The utilisation of state resources as a motivation for preachers to convert orang asli women by marriage is an abuse of power and violation of the basic right, especially the freedom of thought, conscience and religion by monetary inducement," he said.

"Inducement or reward for conversion, especially of very vulnerable and marginalised women in Malaysian society, is unethical and unacceptable even from any religious perspectives," added Dr Denison.

Click HERE to read the full article in Bernama. Any comments?

In becoming a Christian, we are reminded to 'carry the cross', 'count the cost', 'there will be troubles', 'do not love the world'. Incentives ah, got plenty stored up in heaven for the faithful ones.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

India Night

As mentioned in my earlier blog entry, my loupo and I went to SIB Likas (English) in Kota Kinabalu for their India Night.

A group of youths (mostly teens) from SIB Likas went for a mission trip to India recently, and that night they took turns to share about their 13-day experience, backed by powerpoint presentation with photos and movies. They had their fair share of unexpected adventures, missed schedules, tummy aches, not unfamiliar in any mission trip. But they have proudly transcended the hurdles and each had their lives enriched from their India experience. They had concert in a shopping mall, visited churches to preach and teach, prayed for people, went to orphanage and HIV/AIDS center, travelled in terrorist areas... Err. if you can read the language on this photo, please help translate.

Here are some exact (well, almost...) words from the young missionaries, and
the SIB senior pastor:

"I have learned that prayer really works. I always read about it... but in India, I am fully convinced that it really works!"
"The trip has opened my eyes to the real world outside..."
"I learned to appreciate the things I have at home. Looking at how destitute people in that part of India are, I have realise that it's so silly to complain about petty things in my life..."
"I learned to appreciate my parents even more..."
"We should encourage our youths to go for mission trips. Let us as a church make it an aim to send our youths out, every year... what they learn in the field is something they can never learn at home..."
"Parents, your children are a wonderful lot, and they have grown so much matured through the two weeks of India mission trip..."
"Pastor Bobby... Pastor Susan..." is that prophesy or what?
"I am glad that the mission trip didn't go smoothly. That's how Christian mission really is. And in difficulties we learn to lean on God
, and see Him take charge."

Told you we went dressed to kill. Appeared that I was the ONLY guy in Indian costume. Felt so silly. Of course, the girls were more sporting hehehe, came in colourful sarees. We had to rush back to Keningau after the presentation. So didn't manage to try out their roti canai and chapattis.

Click HERE for more photos. Vanakam and Namaste!

NECF visit

Last Friday night, staffs of the NECF came to Keningau and had a little session with the local churches. A night service was held in SIB Kg Ria. Speaker was Rev Wong Kim Kong, the NECF Sec Gen. The team was given a traditional welcome, which included bamboo dances and sumpit ballon session.

Thought he would be talking on updates in Christianity in Malaysia. But no la, he only touched on 3 main topics.

Firstly, he stressed that the spiritual warfare now is on the thoughts of mankind. People these days are having a blunted mind, and have lost the sensitivity to differentiate right from wrong. How else would you explain people who could crash a plane into sky-scrappers and killing thousands in the USA, without feeling the slightest guilt, dead sure that they are pleasing God?

Secondly, the implications of converting to Islam. If one truly believes in the God in Islam, then he has made the choice to his faith, as his right under the Consititution. However, if one converts for the benefits e.g. getting a Muslim spouse, for business or career opportunities, then one better rethink many times again. The implications, Rev Wong said, include (hope I got it right)...
... if a spouse converts and the other spouse doesn't, then the marriage is by law automatically nullified i.e. automatic divorce after 3 months.

... if a spouse converts, the children under age 18 will automatically be Muslims. Rev Wong calls it, the wages of sin is passed on to the generations.
... if a spouse converts to Muslim and dies, his properties will be taken by the Islamic Council, and the non-Muslim family will get nothing. Remember the tussle-over-a-dead-body in Malaysia not too long ago?
... the High Court has decided that it will not intefere with Syariah Court decisions. That means, one is bound by Syariah law and has no recourse from other civil law.
... once you enter, you cannot get out (hmmm sounds like Hotel California lyric).

Thirdly, he came to promote the 40-days Prayer for the Nation. Our nation is in dire need of prayer. From the leaders, to the economy, social welfare, transparency, justice, religious freedom, peace and security... there are so many things to pray about. Instead of complaining about the Prime Minister's incompetency, or the corrupt ministers, or rising crimes, or escalating costs of living... getting all stressed up to no benefit... better put to prayer and move the hand of God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cash and car for misionaries

I dunno about you, but really, my jaw almost dropped when I read this...

Kelantan State Assembly: Cash and car among incentives for missionaries

The offer: free housing, monthly allowance of RM 1000, 4WD vehicle.
The deal: marry Orang Asli women and settle down in the village to preach.

Gosh! Since when have wives become a winning lottery ticket to cash and car (or did I missed out something). I wonder whether one can claim for 4 cars (hmm... a Range Rover, Ford Everest, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Fortuner... wow!) if one gets his quota filled accordingly.

Then again, I am not a believer of the religion, can't comment too much. Just wonder, whose money are they using to do those things. Are tax moneys of Ah Chai and Ramasamy used to sponsor such activities as well? Do they have a say on that?

In Christianity, marriage is a one-time thing that is meant to last to the grave... so you better pray hard and look hard and make good of that one choice you have; rather than thinking of little 'bonuses' like the cash and the car. Of course some people will say: marry a rich girl and save a few years of your labour.

Anyway, it would be nice to drive a 4WD.

40-days Prayer for the Nation... let's do our part.

Friday, June 23, 2006

This weekend

Today I am post-call. Thankfully, the night before has been quiet. However, the ward is packed and overflowed.

Will be going to SIB Kampung Ria tonight. Some representatives from NECF are coming to share some updates on current issues pertaining to Christianity... Mykad, conversion, Da Vinci Code maybe etc. My pastor asked for some company. I am curious too what they want to tell.

Tomorrow morning, will be going to KK with my loupo. It's a 3-hour drive from Tenom to KK. My Vee is due for its 5000 km servicing at 2 pm. If only there's a service center in Keningau, save me the trouble of going so far. Anyway, probably will do some window or real shopping in town. If in time, want to send some photos for developing at the Investline camera shop opposite Center Point plaze. Haven't found a photo shop in Keningau that develops photos to my liking. Only Investline has been giving me pretty consistent and satisfactory results.

At night ah, that will be interesting. So co-incidental that there's something going on in SIB Likas. A group of passionate young people went for a two-week mission trip to India, and they have returned to share their experiences. Powerhouse, the youth group of SIB Likas (English) have organised this India Night event for friends and families to come and listen to the mission trip done in Chennai and Raicur districts. I heard they have lots of uplifting stories and miracles to share, definitely exotic and extra spicy. Participants are encouraged to come in any Indian costume... and... Auntie Liz offered to help get my loupo a saree, and my Indian colleague has lent me a set of guy costume with dhoti and shawl (they're about 20 years old, when her husband was about my body size). So, we will be there, dressed to kill. Hahahaha... Really hope those young fellas did learn to cook some authentic Indian food while they're there, and are sharing the food of their skills tonight too. Check out the SIB Powerhouse link on the right column.

Gotta come back to Keningau, either tomorrow night or early Sunday morning. Would prefer to go home, rather than sleeping in a hotel. Nicer pillows ma. Am given the task to share a message for the Sunday service. Coz this week the pastor decided to sit back and let a member take the pulpit. Hai ya. Cubalah sedaya upaya.

Today I am handing in my application for transfer to Likas Women and Children Hospital, Kota Kinabalu. Have done a pretty long service in interior Sabah already (becoming chronic MO liao), and it's time to move on. Gonna be challenging, the transfer and all the arrangements to do. Actually since university days, I have been moving house (everything can fit into a car) every year. The longest I have stayed is in my current house in Keningau - 2 years. But now, stuffs have grown to more than a car can fit, and 2 people involved liao. Pray for us please.

Looks like a hectic weekend ahead.

Monday, June 19, 2006

An oldie concert

Last Friday, I went for a concert in Keningau Library with my loupo and my neighbours.

The 'star' that night was Miss Pan XiuQiong, a well known singer from the 1960's and 1970's. Her rich and melodious voice brought her much fame and earned her the title 'Queen of Alto'. Her name is among the Hall of Fame in Mandarin oldies, alongside with Zhou Xuan (the Golden Voice of Old Shanghai), Yao Li (the Singer of the Era), Li Xiang Lan (the Queen of Soprano), Wu Ying Yin (the Queen of Nasal Singing). To people who lived that era, she is definitely no stranger. Well, err... I was born around that era, u know. My sister said "so 'uncle' kind of concert you also go ah?".

Actually, I love oldies. Maybe becos, I am an oldie. Hahaha. Seriously, songs back then were more solid and many remain as evergreens. In those days, television was rare, and people only had the radio, or the big black disc (what they call it hah) for their listening pleasure. So, singers really need to have a great voice and great songs to earn their worth. Much unlike these days, people can use their good looks, dancing skills, a bit of charisma, or X-factor of some
sort to compensate for their lousy voices. Don't believe me? Look at the AF winner last season.

Back to Pan XiuQiong. She is an elegant old lady now, despite the wrinkles and grey hair. Her smile, her warmth and sincerity quickly had the audience yearning for more. I think such grace made her looked much more beautiful than the heavily touched-up photos on her album covers. She told us she was born in Macau, had her education in Malaysia, then found her fame in HongKong and Taiwan. Now she lives in Singapore, and is actively involved with charity works and singing gospel songs. Many did not know, she had a long battle with brain cancer, and had undergone craniotomy (buka kepala punya operation) and the whole package of cancer treatment. After the ordeal, she picked up the shattered pieces of her life, this time emerging a stronger person than before. Having stared death right in the face, she found hope in the Christian faith. She has been actively participating in charities involving cancer patients, cheering them on and entertaining them with her songs; and also sharing the Christian faith with her gift - her voice.

Miss Pan brought us a couple of favourite oldies, much to the delight of many senior citizens present. She shared her life story, and gave words of encouragement to the crowd. Then she sang a few more Christian hymms and songs. Towards the end, she obliged a fan by singing a request song, without music. She told us, can you believe it: this sixty- something lady is doing a tour of ten such concerts in various places!

I think, most people at this age, are no longer impressed by the tempt of money and wealth. Especially so when one has battled with deadly illness and understood the fragility of life, and learn to appreciate the truely worthwhile things in life. Not money, not wealth, not fame. Miss Pan has found her calling in encouraging other cancer patients, helping needy people, singing gospel songs, and giving thanks for every living day. True joy, she discovered, comes not in getting things we want, but in giving ourselves to people who need. Pity, many people go through life and pursuing the rat race, never realising the purpose of life even to their death bed.

To me, it seems, she has found the great enlightenment.

I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal.
John 12:24,25

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My blog is back, I am back

If you have tried visiting this blog sometime last week, I believe the URL opened to a blank page. Emailed to the admin staffs in Blogger about this problem, and am glad that they solved it. Mike'Station is now back online.

I was away over the last weekend.

Flew over to Tawau on Friday 5th June with my loupo and her dad. Irene's brother, Ian who is working as an Assistant Oilpalm Estate Manager near Semporna, will be transferred to Tawau soon. A company vehicle will be provided. So he wanted to send his car back to Tenom for the parents to use... and we wanted to go somewhere for a short holiday. So that's how the trip came about.

Landed in Tawau airport after 45-minute flight. The airport wasn't actually in Tawau, but about half an hour away. Ian received us there. We did some brief shopping for stuffs, then went to his estate, which is 90 km away from Tawau, and 40 km before Semporna.

Ian, a bachelor, was occupying a huge wooden stilt-house provided by the company. His place is about a kilometer away from the main road, reached via a stretch of gravel estate tracks. Atop a little hill overseeing the oil palm estate, the house had pretty nice and peaceful surroundings. We bought stuffs enough for a week, coz the nearest place for supplies is half an hour away. Ah, spent the rest of the day watching preliminary World Cup matches.

Woke up the next morning to chirping birds and chuckling hens. It was drizzling. Took my camera to spot interesting subjects from the verandah. They watched football while waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't. After lunch, we drove to Semporna to check out the little town. Semporna is where tourist come to head for the diving sites in Mabul, Kapalai and Sipadan; and where Philippine immigrants and Abu Sayyaf members enter to visit Malaysia. Found the little town dirty and disorganised, and the roads muddy after it rained all day. Had some drinks at a nice restaurant on the jetty, bought some seafood, and went back. In the evening, we went for jogging and motobike ride around the estate. Had seafood tom-yum-goong for dinner. Football, again, at night. I occupied myself with another book by Dan Brown entitled Deception Point. Pretty interesting read.

On Monday morning, we left early to Tawau. Ian sent his car to Proton for its regular maintenance service. Loupo and I walked around Tawau town. I revisited the Belmont Marco Polo Hotel, one of the more posh hotels in Tawau. Stayed there in 1993 during my first trip to Sabah, when I was still a fresh Form Four student. I was an exchange student then, and my foster family had brought me on a trans-Sabah trip during the brief two-week exchange programme, and we stayed in this hotel. The grand wood-carving of Marco Polo having tea with Kublai Khan (I think) is still there at the reception, leaving an impression to all who pass it doors. Ah, enjoyed that moment of nostalgia. Never thought back then, that a decade later I will be back to serve in Sabah, and getting stuck for a couple more years. By noon it got horribly hot. We had a quick lunch and left Tawau.

We left Ian's place on Tuesday morning. Had a long long looooong drive that day... a journey across Sabah. From Ian's place we went to Kunak then Lahad Datu, the road was pretty fine, with vast oilpalm estates all the way. From Lahad Datu to Ranau, the drive was nightmare: lots of potholes, bumpy stretches, winding roads... a sedan car won't survive long. Reached Ranau around 2.30 pm for lunch. Had a stopover in Kundasang Perkasa Hotel (were we took wedding photos last time) for some cool breeze and fresh air before descending down to Kota Kinabalu. It was dusk when we arrived. Had a simple dinner, found a hotel, and zzzzz...

Spent time around Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday. Walked around the fish market in the morning... wow there was such a wonderful variety of seafood, and those large tiger prawns looked really tempting. Too bad we didn't have an ice box to buy some for home. Had laksa and ngauchap in Gaya Street for breakfast. Watched Da Vinci Code and X-men 3 in a row (hahaha...). Frankly speaking, the DVC book is much better than the movie. The movie is only good to visualise the scenes in the story; other than that, many interesting twists were omitted, the story altered, and Tom Hanks was wood. Drove back to Keningau after dinner.

All in all, it was a pretty nice trip we had.