Since W is teaching in Kuching, Malaysia, I speak at the international church without him. He's doing the same in Kuching this morning. That's pretty unusual for us. Once in a while we speak alone but we are usually a team. Our scripture readers are great - we appreciate the participation of various volunteers, and love this young couple.
With #Nara staff permission and their hurried swipe at an already-clean table, I'm seated in a room by myself. It's a quiet spot off the kitchen and parking lot. After browsing the menu and placing an order, I work for an hour. The staff and managers keep coming over to assure themselves that I'm okay. It's an ideal office away from the office. And the food is good. The teh poci (pot of tea) hits the spot.
It's a full day of meetings from 7 until 5. Regular Monday, then? I browse beautiful pics by micro-photographer Don Komarechka from Barrie, Ontario (Canada). What amazing work!
I have to wait for the yardman to show up at 7am. I unlock the gate and get back to work. I'm up to my elbows in flour paste, slathering the wire armatures from previous Community Dinners with sticky newspaper strips. I do some repairs on the existing ones. By the time I finish a dozen, I'm on a roll. "Please don't touch them!" I warn the helper, who normally mops the porch when she arrives. The goopy newspapers are fragile and some of the shapes are quite complex.
Before I know it, the alarm rings. It's time to open my small suitcase one more time and throw in 2 pairs of shoes. ("But your suitcase is so empty! say the helpers).
Not so for others at the airport. It always surprises me who hauls what, when every bag has to be paid for. Check-in is often amusing - and slow.
"Don't worry, we'll get you to your connection on time," says the flight attendant. (Way to get me to relax. I sleep and read.)
But as I exit the gate, an agent holds a sign: To Kuching, this way. That's me. And the news is: "Go see the transfer desk." So I do.
The bad news? "We don't want to hold the plane, so we'll pay your dinner, hotel, and breakfast in the airport. You're not leaving until 8:45 tomorrow." I have to pretend I'm on holiday, not delayed by Malindo Air. I walk laps around the airport, eat supper, and read until late. Vacation, remember?
I'm up by 4 but read a novel, eat breakfast, and watch the BBC news. I start thinking: don't I need to go through immigration? "No need. No need," said the help desk. But what if I land on Sarawak (formerly Borneo, where I have to go through a second immigration) and I'm not yet legally in Malaysia?
"No worries. second immigration is at Kuching." I'm not so sure. I wake up an attendant snoozing at the locker room in the terminal. I leave my bag in the locker.
"No worries, your flight leaves from here, not another place," said the help desk. Why should I go through security twice?
I have an hour and a half left and decide to make sure about immigration. I wait to get to the front of the immigration line. I keep my hand on my passport as I talk to the officer. Luckily, Malaysians mostly speak good English, in addition to 2-5 other languages.
He says, "Oh Kuching. You need domestic immigration. This is not the right one. Go to the other side. First, you must take the train, go down the escalator, and around the bottom ... (blah blah)..." so I do.
Before handing off my passport, I once again say, "May I ask a question before I go through? This is the immigration counter for Kuching?" Yes it is. The officers are very polite. And the flight leaves from this terminal, not the first one, as I was assured.
Oh oh. My luggage is still in the other terminal. "I'll be back. See you soon." I put my passport and boarding pass back in my purse and hop the train back to the first terminal to retrieve my luggage. I get back on the train, guzzling my big bottle of water. I go through domestic immigration for real. But I forget about my full thermos of tea and put it through the scan. No worries - I'm though with a half-hour to spare.
I'm in Kuching by noon, to be met by Nora and W. He's just been to the doc to check on his inflamed throat. He's been speaking through the Indonesian fire haze blowing across the city. The Malaysian government seeded the clouds for rain last week. The downpours clear the air before I get there. The meds help W's throat and we're happily reunited - and get a great lunch, thanks to Nora. She's lined up hosts - oh my.
More food! Every meal, someone takes us out to the most delicious places. "You're getting the best of Kuching," says one of our hosts when he finds out where we've been eating. W warned me about this the last time he came back from Kuching: "The food is amazing." Yes it is.
We eat a few versions of laksa, the noodle specialty. I love it. What's not to love about a country where you eat noodles for breakfast?!
Thursday, I find out what I can do here. Would I speak Saturday morning to 80 kindergarten teachers (who teach 600 kids)? I have 40 minutes to present a topic.
I have no focus until Friday night - so much eating! but I keep asking questions until what they want gets clearer in my mind. It takes a few hours Friday night before the talk and the PPT are ready. At 9pm, I send it and a handout sheet be printed. Nora delivers it within minutes. Awesome! W lets me borrow his USB stick to transfer the PPT.
There are many old hotels and heritage buildings. We eat one day at the foodcourt outside a historical Chinese Opera House.
W's teaching 8:30-12:30, 2-5. He walks me over to the school building first. I speak at 8am for 40 minutes - and stroll back to the flat. More writing.
W's stomach is upset so he comes across the hall at break to lie down for a few minutes. I had plain toast for breakfast, so I'm fine. (I also have a cast-iron stomach most of the time, which helps on travels.) But the food ... oh the delicious food! He's fine at 12:30 when the class breaks for ... another lunch!
W keeps talking about salted egg pumpkin, so our hosts take us to lunch at Sweet Happiness. At each meal, W asks me aloud what my favorite dish is. I keep forgetting to tell him not to ask publicly. How can I choose one taste? His best taste is pumpkin today.
Two young couples take us out for supper to a food court. Delicious. And obviously bigger appetites ... so the table is groaning with food.
We speak together. Marilyn takes use to her "Cutest-EVER!" shop, full of paper designs and bags. Then we go to lunch. Steamboat - totally yummy. I have one of these pots in my cabinet and am re-inspired to use it.
There are colonial British buildings all around town.
Downtown is filled with handcrafts - I find two little traditional handwoven baskets.
Nora takes us to the tourist shops near the riverfront for the last of our souvenirs - and drops us off for supper with a family who wraps up this week of "best-of-Kuching" eateries. I forget to take pics.
*Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 16:20
*Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:16-30 NIV
*Continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. Colossians 1:23
Moravian Prayer: Lord, help us to hold steadfast and sure to our faith and hope in your promises of salvation for each of us. Draw us ever nearer to you, so that we may never waver from our promise to follow you. Amen.