This is a continuation of my trip to Sabah and Sarawak in April.
The 12-hour bus ride was actually alright. Except for the occasional bumps, it was a pretty smooth ride. I think whenever you have to travel long, it’s a good idea to travel at night and arrive in the morning – that way, you’ll sleep most of the time.
Miri was absolutely a great treat for us! The day before, I spoke with the pastor’s wife and apparently, there was another…wait for it…MIScommunication. We thought that we were going to do two performances at two different places in Miri. “Eh, but we only have one church. You’re only doing one program, on Tuesday night. We’ve informed the members already.” Nonetheless, I took this as a good thing BECAUSE it meant that
a) we were able to catch up on our sleep/rest more (we were still exhausted from our recent events)
b) have more time to practice, prepare and refine our program
We’ve been performing every night since we landed, and having the night “off” would really helped the dynamics of our group.
Our alumni Pastor Joggery and his family lives right next to the church (we girls stayed at the Primary class, the boys in the Cradle Roll class). They took care of us so well – accommodating us with food, more food, extension cords, always asking us “Is there anything else you need?” We were also able to do some laundry too.
Just when I thought I was humbled enough by my experience, God decided to do more.
Pastor Joggery and Aunty Nancy, a really awesome-hip-and-friendly church member, brought all of us out for a Miri sight-seeing in the evening. Similar like Kuching, I did not suggest anything at all — I really thought we were just going to stay at the church compound, practice and play UNO. Because really, we wouldn’t have complain.
But they brought us out. To this place WHICH I FORGOT THE NAME – but it’s a park with this really loonnnggg and modern suspension bridge and I was just jumping up and down, running through and through like a little kid on the bridge. It rained a little then a little bit more…but we couldn’t care less. After the park, they brought us out to Boulevard, a nearby mall for an hour. Some of us got to buy some stuff, make some name stickers and ate waffles. I had waffles. 🙂 We returned home (yes, HOME :)), had dinner prepared by Aunty Dorothy, and then it was bed time. Finally I was able to sleep properly for the first time since we traveled. It felt good.
The next day presented me a cultural issue that some members were facing even during the beginning of the trip, so I decided to address it. There were a few occasion when someone requested/mentioned something in front of our host and I was internally embarrassed.
For example, let’s say…if someone said, “So are we going out to a mall today?” right in front of me and the host. In Malaysian culture, you wouldn’t want to do that because you don’t want to impose the host. Let’s say, what if the host has different plans, like bringing you for a nature walk on a local national park or something. Now the host have to make changes to his/her plan to accommodate you. This is especially not ideal when the host is the one making plans to bring you out (as in, you are not paying for the trip).
There’s also this culture of ‘losing face’ – the host wouldn’t want to ‘lose face’ because he/she is not able to bring you out to the place you want to go…and also doesn’t want you to ‘lose face’ because you’re embarrassed that your request was declined.
But anyway, during the address moment, I learned that I jumped into conclusions way too fast. When someone suggests something, say, “Are we going to have lunch now?”, I concluded that they want to eat like RIGHT NOW and this frustrates me, especially if this is said in front of a host. HOWEVER I was told that that’s not what they meant – actually, they’re just asking a question and that’s that. No lunch, no problemo. Just asking. I’m glad for that realization because it really opened my mind and how I need to “chill”.
* Don’t jump into conclusions. Clarify whenever possible.
Anyway, our hosts so far have been so nice and hospitable when that ‘occasions’ happen. Maybe this whole imposing thing is no longer a Malaysian culture (I blame my absence of 7 years away from Malaysia made me stuck into a time-warp). It was good to address this, and it was decided that I must inform them directly (don’t beat around the bush) whenever that happens. OKAY.
Our place of stay was so convenient – the piano and stage is within a few steps away. We were able to get used to the stage, practice our songs and discuss our program schedule. We also took the time to make a mock praise and worship song list IN CASE we were going to come across a church without a piano. We were more confident of our program that night and for our future programs. We were more organized than ever! 🙂
We planned on staying at the church compound the whole day. But Pastor Joggery then said “Okay, we’re bringing you out at 2 pm”. Whoa, what? I almost wanted to say Pastor, are you sure you want to take us out? Aren’t we bothering you enough? Oh wow, this is really too much goodness I can handle!
Pastor Joggery and Aunty Nancy’s husband brought us to Canada Hill. Absolutely a place to visit whenever you’re in MIRI. A gorgeous view of Miri and the ocean can be seen from Canada Hill. This place also houses the Petroleum Museum (interactive, fun and colorful museum), so you get historical information on how petroleum was first discovered at Miri and all that.
They also brought us to City Fan (Taman Kipas).
Such a beautiful park (why don’t we have this in KK!?!?!). Anyway. There’s one section of the park that took our interest – the healing stones. Apparently, it was the first time for the group to see this, so they really took a kick of walking all over the stones, lying on them and even had a small race.
By this time, everyone has tried the healing stones…except me (because I know it’s painful!). Jun (in picture) really wanted me to try the stones. “C’mon Deanna…it’s a little painful at first but you’ll feel really good after you get off the stones. It’ll help you to be less stressed!” Hahahahaha.
Jun’s right – it does feel good to walk or lie (I prefer this!) on the stones.
We got back to the church in the evening and we saw a beautiful rays of light coming out from a sun setting.
I forgot how beautiful the views you get from the church. The sky was changing colors every minute. It was a nice way to end the day…or before we start our program!
Since we began our trip, our program at Miri was the best. We sounded good, we mingled with the students, and they were interested to know more about our degree programs. The fellowship was fantastic too – although it’s a small church, but the church members really make you feel welcome. We even celebrated one of young teenagers’ birthday. Imagine before the potluck started, the pastor said:
“Okay everyone. We have some rules and regulations. First of all, we start from this side (left) of the table and then right through this other side (right). Second, DON’T MEDITATE UPON THE FOOD. Take and then move on okay. Third, visitors first!”
I know it doesn’t make much impact from reading this, but I tell ya – everyone was laughing so hard, especially when it came to the meditate part. One of the youngsters I spoke with said that they have a really cool pastor. This is a church where everyone feels homey. And we feel the same way too.
In Miri, I was again given the privilege to experience people’s genuine hospitality. It made me hope again in human kindness and I’m glad to find it in Miri :).
Next top, SABAH woohoo! (PART III)
Queen Elizabeth Hospital – the place where I was born at.