Malaysia Recap

Once again, apologies are in order for some quiet days on the blog.  Internet connectivity has been spotty at best since I left Malaysia.  I will try hard over the next few days to catch up.

IMG_2238While I only spent five or six days in Kuala Lumpur, they were pretty efficient in terms of the number experiences I had and the number things I was able to see.  I must say that this efficiency was due mostly to my most excellent host, Sivin Kit, and the schedule he put together for me.  Here’s a quick run-down of my time:

–       Late evening arrival on New Year’s Eve.  It was late, but not so late  that I wasn’t able to have dinner with my Sivin, get checked into my guest lodging, and see three different fireworks displays from my window at the strike of midnight.

–  Walked the streets of KL city with a new friend, Gregory, casually checking out the street markets, art galleries, and food stalls.  Gregory made sure I had a solid sampling of the local food . . . and it did not disappoint.

– The Dream Center – Megachurch Malaysian style.  Actually, it was basically megachurch, megachurch style – professional quality worship band, splashy stage lighting, worship dancers with ribbons and flags, practical sermon sponsored by the letter “W” (as in, all the sermon points began with this magical letter).  One bonus – Holy Communion . . . not something I’ve gotten to participate in much along the way.

– Bangsar Lutheran Church – How different was this than the Dream Center?  Well, the first worship song was “40” by U2 . . . that says something, right?  The sermon was based on lectionary readings.    The hang-out time prior to worship was noisy with conversation and laughter – always a good sign that people like each other.  There are a number of younger folks – married and single – who are in a very similar space of thought about church that I’m familiar with in the States.

– Political Party Banquet – Sivin got an invitation to the Malaysia Chinese Assocition Christmas/New Years party, and brought me along.  It was directly aimed at courting the Christian community’s support for the party’s activity . . . for someone so ambivalent about USAmerican politics, it was a lovely irony for me to be there!  I may have some more blog-thoughts on this later.

–  Seminari Theoloji of Malaysia – this is a likely partner seminary with George Fox Evangelical Seminary, for the new Doctor of Ministry program.  I got to meet with the principal, academic dean, and a couple other professors.  This was pretty encouraging – definitely exciting in terms of the future partnership, but also in terms of the quality of thought on the part of the faculty.

–  Other tourist stuff –  the Petronas Twin Towers (formerly the tallest building(s) in the world, the Islamic Arts museum, the caves at Batu, the historical city of Malacca.

–  Buddhist wake.  Unfortunately, Sivin got one of those hard phone calls that pastors get – a church member’s mother had had a sudden heart attack and died.  This brother’s family is Buddhist, so I went with Sivin and Gregory to the wake – my first of any variety.  There were actually going to be two wakes – the Buddhist one, and the next day, a Taoist one.  Buddhist nuns were there, doing chants with the family, and there were several rituals involved throughout the night.

– Malaysian cinema.  I saw exactly two films in theaters in the U.S. in 2009.  It took me less than a week into 2010 to see my first film in a theater.  Gregory and I went to see a film called Muallaf, by the late Malaysian director, Yasmin Ahmad.  It was good – a terrific conversation film on issues of religion and faith and life meaning.  Very glad we saw that, rather than the other choices we had – Avatar (I know, I know, I’m supposed to see that) and Sherlock Holmes.

No surprise here, but my favorite parts of my brief time in Kuala Lumpur, were my conversations with people.  The richness of this trip expands with each new friend, and each new story, and each new viewpoint of the world and the future.

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