Tag Archives: Malaysia

Delights of Sabah 沙巴 @ Kota Kinabalu 亞庇!

IMG_5032

Yes, five days in Sabah is nowhere near long enough, but hey, it’s way way better than no days at all!  And what a great place for five days ~ hot and sunny (and nowhere near as humid as Taiwan at this time of year), lots of tropical flowers, trees, birds, fruits, foods and scenery to enjoy, with much to see and do…

IMG_5092

And so it is that on my way to the UK from Taiwan, I have come to Kota Kinabalu (known as KK), the capital of Sabah, East Malaysia, to visit my good friends, Evelyn and her family.  My last visit to Sabah was in the summer of 2006, way too long ago. KK has changed a lot in that time. New buildings everywhere, new roads, hospitals, high court, university buildings, airport, new infrastructure projects.  All is new, new new!

IMG_5527

New traffic jams too, or maybe just more noticeable – just don’t go near a school when parents are collecting or delivering their children. That means from about 6:00 – 8:00 am, and 11:00 – 1:00 pm. And again about 3:00 pm. Plus the normal rush hour as people go to work and then home again. Long lines of cars and school buses ~ and some of the early-bird parents are delivering their children to school soon after 5:00 am! Traffic, traffic, traffic.  All very patient and very orderly.  Actually, as a place to visit, the fact that the traffic drives on the left is a great preparation for driving in the UK. Taiwan drives on the right, and UK on the left, plus Sabah has roundabouts, which Taiwan doesn’t – so, hey, welcome to KK!

IMG_4965

But not all is new, new, new. The old buildings in downtown KK are still well-preserved, and many recently restored. Some of the buildings are newly-painted in wonderful colours and wall murals. I love colour, and KK has Colour with a capital ‘C’.

IMG_4947

As we drive around, I’m like, “Hey, slow down, stop the car, I just gotta check out that building, that wall, that artwork, stopppp!”

IMG_5362

“Kota Kinabalu (Chinese: 亞庇 Yàbì), formerly known as Jesselton, the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia, is located on the northwest coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea, with a population of 452,058 (2010 census). In the 15th century, the area of Kota Kinabalu was under the influence of the Bruneian Empire. In the 19th century, the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) set up a settlement, and development in the area started soon after that; the place “Api-api” (the name still used by the Chinese today) was later renamed after the vice-chairman of BNBC as “Jesselton”, and officially founded in 1899.  This is the famous Jesselton Hotel, built in 1954….

IMG_5052

Jesselton became a major trading port in the area, and was connected to the North Borneo Railway, but was largely destroyed during World War II. The Japanese occupation of Jesselton provoked several local uprisings, notably the Jesselton Revolt, but they were eventually defeated by the Japanese. After the war, BNBC was unable to finance the high cost of reconstruction and the place was ceded to the British Crown Colony. The British Crown declared Jesselton as the new capital of North Borneo in 1946 and started to rebuild the town. After the formation of Malaysia, North Borneo was renamed as Sabah. In 1967, Jesselton was renamed as Kota Kinabalu, Kota being the Malay word for Fort and Kinabalu after the nearby Mount Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu was granted city status in 2000”…. (adapted from Wikipedia).

IMG_5091

So there you have it, the history of KK in 2 paragraphs. What it doesn’t say is that KK is a multilingual, multicultural city, with Chinese, English and Malay (known here as ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ meaning ‘national language’) all spoken widely and often all mixed together in one conversation, plus lots of other local languages spoken too. My friend Evelyn speaks Hakka language with most of her family, Mandarin Chinese with her grandson, English and Chinese at work and church, and Malay for everyday use in the town. Amazing! The churches are similar. Lots of services in all different languages, Hakka, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Malay, English and Filipino. There’s churches of every denomination. Very noticeable, cos many are big.  And big means spacious, with beautiful grounds. And there’s lots of mosques too. In Sabah as a whole, Muslims are 65%, Christians 26% and Buddhists 6% of the population. These are the 2 most famous mosques….

IMG_4911

IMG_5186

And a temple with a very prominent pagoda….

The Anglican Church of Sabah (part of the Province of SE Asia) was originally very much connected with the British colonial government, with English services run for the colonial government officials, and large numbers of clergy from overseas, also many schools. High Church style. By 1905, Europeans and Chinese communicants were reported as being ‘in considerable numbers.’ In 1959, the new All Saints Church was consecrated on reclaimed land in the centre of town, and in 1962, All Saints Church became a cathedral, when the Diocese of Borneo was separated into two dioceses, Kuching and Jesselton. This is the cathedral today….

In 1962, the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Borneo, Bishop James C. L. Wong (1900-1970) became the first bishop of the Diocese of Jesselton (renamed in 1963 as the Diocese of Sabah). This is significant for us in Taiwan because Bishop James C. L. Wong left Sabah in 1965 to become Bishop of Taiwan, Taiwan’s first bishop of Chinese descent. Between 1965 and his death in 1970, Bishop Wong devoted himself to establishing St. John’s University, Taipei – and after his death, he was buried under the altar in Advent Church. OUR Advent Church!  From the All Saints Cathedral book, ‘Moving Forward’….

IMG_5452

Evelyn’s daughter, Audrey and her husband, Rev. Paul Lau and their son have recently moved to Christ Church, Likas, KK and it turns out that they are now living in the very house where Bishop Wong lived during the time he was Bishop of Sabah. The building has had nobody living in it for the past 12 years and has recently been renovated. Next door is a derelict building that served as the diocesan offices from Bishop Wong’s time, awaiting a fresh vision and renovation.

The current diocesan office building is right by the cathedral, with this sign….

IMG_5337

Back in the old days, Sabah was a high church diocese, then moved ‘downwards’ and ‘outwards’, and in recent decades, Sabah has been strongly influenced by charismatic renewal. Worship is mostly lively and contemporary, and most churches have a strong focus on outreach and evangelism.  Paul and Audrey invited me to worship at Christ Church, Likas earlier today….

IMG_5606

We went to the Mandarin Chinese service at 7:30 am ~ it has to be early as it’s followed by an English service and then Malay.  Paul was preaching, and I was warmly welcomed by everyone – including the rector, Archdeacon Moses Chin (next to me in the photos below).  In the late afternoon, they were expecting the bishop for a ground-breaking service and blessing ~ to build a pavilion for outside activities, hence the balloons!

The Anglican churches in both Taiwan and Sabah run many kindergartens, and have worked together in past years to help support each other, and give training to teachers. Over the years, my good friend, Mrs. Grace Liu (wife of Rev. Michael T. H. Liu) from Taiwan has been on 6 visits to Sabah to help lead training seminars for Sabah teachers. On one memorable trip, she was the only passenger on the flight! While I was at St. James’ Church, Taichung, Evelyn and another teacher from Sabah came to St. James for 6 weeks to learn and experience St. James’ Kindergarten. That’s how we know each other. And that’s how I came to visit Sabah twice while I was at St. James. On those visits, we went to Sandakan, Ranau, Kudat, Beaufort, and with a friend from Taichung, the 2 of us climbed Mt. Kinabalu, (4,095 m /13,435 ft), Malaysia’s highest mountain – and just higher than Taiwan’s highest mountain, Yushan (3,952 m /12,966 ft). That was quite amazing, a never-to-be-forgotten adventure.  But that’s a whole other story, sorry!

IMG_4840

Evelyn is principal of Good Samaritan Kindergarten, KK, known as “Tadika Anglikan Penampang”, after that area of the city, and their priest-in-charge is Rev. Chin Pit Vun – whose brother-in-law, Rev. Joshua Ng, is ministering in the Episcopal Church in California and is known to us from his visits to Taiwan. Ah, it’s a small world! Here’s Rev. Chin and me – welcoming me to his church!

Under the previous bishop of Sabah, Bishop Albert Vun, a prayer station, ‘Kokol Prayer Summit’, was established up in the mountains outside KK, and Paul and Audrey took us up there to visit. It is built in the shape of the cross that Jesus carried on the Via Dolorosa. What a place.  Stunning location!

That area has retreat centres and churches of different denominations, as well as hotels and resorts. We visited one of them to see the sunset…

And while in Sabah, never forget the food. Tropical fruits like durians are one of the highlights – a whole durian market exists for people to enjoy the delights of durian ~ if you can stand that smell!

Then there’s tons of small restaurants and supermarkets offering everything imaginable. This was a small selection of what we enjoyed….

So, a big thank you to Evelyn and her family for their warm welcome and hospitality, plus all the meals – and trips out here and there.  It was fun!  This is Evelyn’s son in his truck…

IMG_5173

And I mustn’t forget the dogs.  Actually they belong to Evelyn’s grandson, but they are just such a bundle of high energy!

Sabah is a great place, with very lovely kind-hearted people, and so many things to see!  These are the street scenes and some of the sights…

So, as I prepare to leave KK tomorrow for London, thanks be to God for a wonderful 5 days in this beautiful country ~ let me end with these 2 photos taken last night on the beach, with all the people playing with bubbles, while they waited for the sunset!

So goodbye to Kota Kinabalu ~ and especially to Evelyn and her family. Here we all are having dinner this evening.  A big THANK YOU to you all!

received_1980429948685770_1.jpg

Advent Church Summer Camp 2017 降臨堂兒童喜樂營 ‘YES! You’re Extra-Special!’

And what a camp it was!  Two whole days of fun, laughter, games, water fights, action songs, drama, handicrafts, prayers and much more!

The theme was ‘You’re Extra-Special’ – the initials of which happen to spell ‘YES!’… and that logo was on our dark blue T-shirts too, the YES is written into the shape of Advent Church… here’s some of us in the T-shirts!

The summer camp happens every year at this time, with a large group of lovely students from our SJU Student Fellowship group who spend 2-3 days in training and preparation, followed by the actual camp, open to children aged from about 4-12. Once the children are too old to attend, then they can come along as helpers and attend the training too.  So this year we had over 30 student leaders, and 55-60 children.  The kids come from all over the local area, and some are children or relatives of our SJU faculty and staff and live further away.  Two very small children had come from Yilan with their aunt, who is our school nurse ~ she said it was their first time away from their parents, and several had even come back from overseas to visit grandparents, so it was all quite international.  Here we all are!

Until last year, the summer camp was held in Advent Church (left), but since we now have a wonderful new church centre (right), we used that ~ and just look at the weather!

The overall camp leader and organizer was our just-graduated and former chair of the student fellowship, who we call Pi-pi ~ and he did a really great job.  He is multi-talented in music (here he is on the right) and all things related to talking (ha ha!) ~ and has tons of personality, always making everyone laugh, as well as good at organizing everyone.  We’ll miss him now he’s graduated!

He was ably assisted by Hong-Wen, one of our former students, and both were under the general watchful eye of Yu-Ru, our person in charge of all the outreach and social services of Advent Church, who also happens to be married to our chaplain, Rev. Wu Shing-Shiang.  And all of the summer camp comes under Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, our rector.  The ladies of the church (plus a few men!) had an amazing ministry in providing breakfasts and dinners for the whole 5 days – they smiled and laughed continually throughout. All helpers and students were invited to a celebration thanksgiving banquet on Tuesday evening after the children had gone home.  Here’s some of the lovely ladies!

Here’s our student leaders ~ taken after singing in the Advent Church service on Sunday – in the summer camp T-shirts…. they’re all set for the off!

We had some special visitors too!  Number one VIP visitor gave us a huge and very wonderful surprise ~ Sheerah from West Malaysia!  In 2010, she and a group from the Diocese of West Malaysia (DWM) came to Advent Church to lead some training on ‘Kid’s Games’, an international program using sports and games to teach children spiritual truths and character education based around the Bible.  Sheerah oversees this program in DWM, and she happened to be in Taiwan this past week, so she came along for one afternoon.  Amazing!  She is full of life and energy and ideas of what we could do together in the future too!  Here she is….. with Rev. Lennon Chang (left) and Rev. Wu and Shu-Jing (right)….

When the DWM group came in 2010, we did not yet have any students from Malaysia, now we have lots.  In fact we had 6 students helping on the summer camp who come from Malaysia, and one had even attended Kid’s Games in her own home town, Ipoh, which happens to be Sheerah’s hometown too ~ ah, it’s a small world!  And they were all so happy to pose in a photo together!

Next set of VIP visitors were from Lao-Mei Village, Taiwan’s northern tip, and one of my favourite places, since I go to the school for English classes sometimes.  Ms. Cheng (back row, left of Rev. Lennon Chang) brought a group of very happy children, and we were delighted to see them ~ with Yu-Ru too (right)!

And so ~ a selection of randomly arranged photos of the summer camp!  We had 2 or 3 us taking photos, so the photo numbers are all mixed up.  Thousands of photos in total.  290 on our church facebook page, and you’ll be glad to know, less than 60 here!  But all mixed up just adds to the fun!

Thanks to everyone for all their hard work, and especially to Almighty God for his many blessings!

PS We had 2 sets of identical twins on the summer camp, each set dressed alike, and all girls ~ taking photos is even more of a challenge than usual, hope we got them all in ha ha!

Taiwan Episcopal Church Clergy Families Christmas Gathering 2016!

Today the clergy of the Taiwan Episcopal Church and their families gathered at St. James’ Church, Taichung to celebrate Christmas together – with a very special Thanksgiving Service led by Bishop Lai and the rector of St. James’ Church, Rev. Lily Chang, and followed by a fantastic lunch ~ joined too by the wonderful folk of St. James.  The clergy came from all corners of the country, with an early start for many.  Me too.  But it was well worth it ~ so great to see everyone again!

img_0993

It is St. Stephen’s Day, and the church was red.  Very red.  I love red!  We were honoured to welcome Rev. William Vun to preach a very lively and challenging sermon, he spoke in English and one of his colleagues translated, and at the end of the service we had time for some Q & A too.  The two of them worked as a real team, speaking and translating so smoothly together!

Pastor Vun is the senior pastor of Glory Christian Centre in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, E. Malaysia, and he and his family have come to Taiwan for a few days post-Christmas break, so Bishop Lai invited him to preach at the service.   His translator is also currently in Taiwan with his wife, so they joined us too.  30 years ago, Pastor Vun came from Sabah to spend some time in Taiwan learning Chinese and he stayed at St. James’ Church ~ and became good friends with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen.  So today was a big reunion for them and their families – here they all are!

img_1003

A few photos of the service, and with our youngest and very beautiful clergy baby!

And after the service, we had a very yummy delicious lunch at a nearby Japanese restaurant, seated on 6 tables….

A wonderful day of renewing friendships and enjoying worship, fellowship and food together ~ a blessed Christmas to you all!

Ilam, Staffordshire Peak District

wpid-img_20150116_135231.jpg

Ilam, a tiny little village in the Peak District, but oh so picturesque….

wpid-img_20150116_135022.jpg

It’s also the home of Dovedale House, the Youth Retreat Centre of the Diocese of Lichfield. The diocese has a really good companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of West Malaysia, and hosts volunteers from Malaysia under the St. Chad’s Volunteers Scheme.

wpid-img_20150116_141817_1421480471099.jpgSo off I went southeast across the country via Ilam to call in at Dovedale House and say hello to their St. Chad’s Volunteer, Christopher, whose parents led a mission to St. John’s University and Advent Church, Taiwan a few years ago, and we all became great friends ~ YES!

A great experience, smiles all round ~ welcome to the UK, Christopher!

Asia CMS is well and truly launched ~ YES YES YES!

Malaysia Truly Asia ~ YES!  Happens to be the location of our newly launched Asia CMS office and home base…. and what a great choice eh?  Blue skies, sun, sea, smiles and so much more ~ YES YES YES!

Off we all went to celebrate this long-awaited great event with a very magnificent and rather amazing Launch Dinner last Saturday in Kuala Lumpur….. (For the official and highly-recommended CMS version of what really happened at the Launch Dinner, click here…)

Then followed 4 fun days down on the coast in Port Dickson for a big CMS gathering at the beautiful new Methodist Centre….

Oh yes and mustn’t forget the few hours of sightseeing on arrival ~ to the KL Tower on Friday afternoon, and the 2 cathedrals on the Saturday morning…. So happy!

Laughed and laughed all week with /at (yep I admit it, it was mostly ‘at’!) lots of old friends, made lots of lovely new friends and drank a ton of coffee with condensed milk…

Bearing in mind that this was all happening while Malaysia and the rest of the world’s been facing the growing crisis of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH 370~ perhaps a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of the message we seek to proclaim….

And so to the big event itself ~ and in case you’re wondering, we were encouraged to wear the national dress of our home or adopted country ~ hence the wonderful outfits on display…. Just forget the boring old UK, with its total lack of national dress and imagination ha ha! Instead concentrate on the variety of beautiful outfits and even more beautiful people who were there….

Enjoy the small (well, only 8o+, out of a possible 1,000 or more!) selection of photos below, roughly in chronological order….

Smiles, smiles, smiles – lots of happy people!

Please pray, support and seek to get involved in Asia CMS ~ it’s the happening place to be!