in malaysia 2006

Happy New Year 2006
I had expected to greet the new year in Thailand, and had been telling people that, but this is where i am – Melaka, Malaysia.  God has a great gift in store for me today!!

Around 4 in the afternoon the young literature evangelist i’m sharing this room with takes me over in the old Portugese area of town.  They have intermarried over so many years, that there seem to be no Portugese speakers really left now, but some of the customs and houses are a bit different.  We go to an apartment area.  The doors all have crescent moon symbols over them.  Not a good sign.  It is illegal to proselytize a Muslim in this country.  OK, we’ll move on.  The next apartment building holds much better promise, as nearly every door has a cross, pic of Mary, or a Christmas decoration over it.  He starts his talk by promoting the health benefits to be found at Aenon Health Farms.  He sure does have a lot of courage, as English is not even his native tongue, but he does his best, and i admire him greatly. 

Then i notice a 40-something man standing near the front of the building.  We go over to him and give the promotion, and he is quite receptive.  Mr. A tells us he is visiting from Kuala Lumpur, where he is a teacher in a Roman Catholic church.  Yes Lord!  Then the current, large Great Controversy is presented to him.  He takes a look at it and says: “What is the controversy”?  Exactly my thots on the matter, but to see a real person have the same thots as me on the matter, it helped immensely in verifying my thinking.  I pull out the original Great Controversy printed just 2 weeks earlier.  He looked at the title, and nodded, “It’s between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels is it”?  Being a Christian, he knows this much already, so we didn’t have to explain who Jesus Christ and Satan are.  After a few seconds of flipping thru the book, he asked how much it was.  I told him 5 ringgit (around 1.30usd).  The young LE who took me said he would sell his big book for 5 ringgit also.  The man didn’t hesitate.  He said he would rather have the small, easy to carry book over the big one that looked so imposing.  Another verification of my thinking.  This 40 minute interaction with this Catholic leader (who later asked if i was a healer, because he likes to go to “healings”) was the perfect gift from God to start my new year (^-^).

After giving away one big GC to a group of young men who looked drunk, but my friend assured me they were playing a game of bringing up ghosts with dice etc., we went back to the campus where the ladies had each fixed a dish representing their country.  The Korean was best, but they all had too much garlic, which almost made me lose it all the next day.  I sure do appreciate Pepto-Bismal pink tablets!

The following day is mostly wasted as far as my intentions of studying the Great Controversy book with one student, T, and i cannot go out with the literature evangelist either.  The day is spent converting recorded Japanese Revelation from wav to mp3 format.  But in the late evening T comes to ask if i would like to give a talk to everyone in the morning (of course), and W and i have a deep talk about spiritual things 🙂

The people here have really been nice to me, and the treasurer assures me that my little bit of help in the kitchen on Friday covers all my eating fees – thank you!!  I have freedom in speaking in the morning to the 10 or so assembled, and cover the hilites of chapters 29-32 in the 1858 Great Controversy.  Even tho i didn’t mention anything about money, two students willingly help me out – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

W and i talk a bit at the bus terminal before departing.  He would like to go to Oauchita Hills to get more training.  May God be with you W-san!  I take the bus to Seremban, change to the train, and go to KL.  I like to take trains, and also thot this would be the cheapest way, but it took 3:20, while the direct bus probably would be only around 2:30.  Then a shock as i get into KL, and ask at the counter when the next train to Penang would be — 8:30pm, almost 5 hours later!  I’ve lived so long in Japan, that i expect everywhere to have trains running every 10 or 15 minutes or so – ouch!

I head over to the bus terminal dragging my big suitcase up and down flights of stairs, and get on an unmarked bus that leaves as scheduled – 5pm.  Most everything here in Malaysia seems to run on time 🙂  There are only 4 of us riding this icebox, and i wonder if the driver might not just decide to cancel this trip, but he goes.  At a long stop just around 30 minutes after starting, i turn the knob on the airconditioner from 21 to 22.  Anything under 26 is too cold for this lizard, but by using my computer on my lap to warm up that part of my body, and putting on all the cloth material i have in my backpack, including my towel wrapped tightly around my neck, i make it to a large rest stop where we get off to fog our glasses up.  This is one of the nicest rest stops i’ve seen anywhere in the world, with fruit sellers etc. in abundance.  The expressways here must have been designed by Americans, as everything looks exactly the same as an American interstate except for the left-way driving.

After a 30 minute rest stop break which amazingly puts us into Penang 30 minutes behind schedule (duh), we arrive at 11:10pm.  I call the doctor who was recommended to me back in Melaka, and he, with a navigator, very kindly come to pick me up at this late hour.  He lives on the 19th floor of a condominium across the street from Penang Adventist Hospital.  Why does he offer his bed?  I don’t know, but after a short protest, accept it humbly.  I find out later that he has been in India getting training for 6 years, and is used to the concept of sharing which many people in this day and age have forgotten.

The next day i have breakfast at PAH.  What a surprise to see S-san again!  And he treats me again.  What a big heart – thank you!  In the evening we go to the botanical gardens to jog and stretch and see the interesting variety of plants.  Looks like the whole population is out here!  Penang is an island off the coast of Malaysia, and is quite different from the mainland.  The Chinese influence is very strong here, probably stronger than the Malay influence, accounting for the higher prosperity and education levels.  There are quite a few high-rise buildings, which leaves a large part of even the city area with greenery.  There is a large shopping mall near us, and many little places to eat, with a vegetarian one just a 5 minute walk away.  You can fill up your plate buffet style there, and the cost is only a tad over 1usd!  I don’t know how they do it, but it’s more expensive than the little push-cart food sellers who ply their trade during the lunch hours.  A decent meal of rice with a side of vegetables is only 50cents.

In the evening around 10 people gather at the condo to study Revelation, more specifically, the 7 churches in Rev. 2&3.  I’m given 15 minutes, and find that most everyone knows the history of the SDA church quite well 🙂  What i find here tho, is true of my travels everywhere; as a general rule, the more theological training one has, the less interest is shown in this original Great Controversy book.  So except for the doctor who shows an interest, i cannot introduce much of this book to the people in this place.   And this book could help them tremendously in their spiritual walk, clearing up some mistakes, such as the cutting off of the Jews at Stephen’s death etc…..  Just knowing this one thing would also keep them from making the mistake of putting nearly all of Revelation in the past too.  I approach the teacher of the group at the end of the last meeting, and ask him if he has considered the 1,260 days in Revelation might have a literal application at the end of time.  He answers something about history, so i guess he hasn’t.

A Korean family who has been helped by the doctor sees us walking together in the mall, and rush to us putting expensive liquors in the doctor’s hands.  He returns them, and they put coffee in them.  He declines graciously, and finally accepts their ginseng tea.  At home i find something written in Korean about caffeine, and hand it to them.  I pray it will be of value to them.  In the afternoon we play badminton and sweat a bit, then go home where i desperately try to use my international phone card.  I’m nearing the end of my stay in Malaysia, and still have not succeeded even once in using this card.  Someone mentions that i should call the help desk, which tells me that to call overseas i have to add a “00” in front of the country code.  That is really lame.  They took the trouble to print up a very nice booklet about how to use the card, and included it with the card when i bot it, and didn’t cover something so basic as how to dial out.  Very poor planning.  But i’m soooooooo happy to call 3 dear friends in Japan!!!!!  In 55 minutes, my card has been all used up, and nothing is left except memories.   After calling, i feel a huge let-down, like my purpose of leaving Japan has been fulfilled, and “now what?”

In the evening i’m taken to an icebox room where a doctor is covering the Sabbath School lesson with around 6 people, including a half-naked American lady next to me.  The doctor makes a crude joke, and sensing absolutely no Holy Spirit, and being frozen, i make my exit.  After they are finished i show them my book, and one local lady is interested, but the doctor and American show no interest.

Then, what can only be described as a miracle occured.  I was taken to the “Sabah SDA Church”, which is made up of Malay-speaking people from the Borneo state of Sabah where i was for 6 weeks.  I explain this book to the pastor, expecting a similar reaction as the above-mentioned doctor, but instead, am greeted with the words: “I have known for a while about the revisions and editing done to the current Great Controversy book, and have been looking for an original one.”  Goose bumps break out all over me, not for the cold either.  Here is the man God wanted me to meet!  Thanking and praising God, i cheerfully give him one book.  Please God, use that book to work on the pastor’s heart, and may he lead his flock to a closer walk with you.

A doctor i had contacted earlier said i may be able to give a talk at the big Penang English SDA church, but he never contacted back, so i guess the church is wary of new people talking in front.  It is good to be cautious i guess, but in going to the church, i see there is precious little in the way of the Holy Spirit there.  Very big, beautiful, and devoid of the Holy Spirit.  This is the nicest church i’ve seen since leaving Japan.  I’m introduced to the Malaysia Mission President, and pass him a GC book intending to show it to him, but he says “thank you”, and then tucks it away in his briefcase.  Even when we spent 30 minutes in the same room in the afternoon, me reading, and he resting, he never mentioned the book again.  Anyway, i hope he reads it and is blessed.  I go to the Burmese service in a small room connected to the church, and who is the speaker but the same doctor who talked last nite!  I’m terribly disappointed and make a quick exit.

The man in charge of vespers in Sabbath evening said i may be able to speak there, so i await his message, but finally i’m shut out.  Instead, i go with a Sunshine band to the hospital and sing with them and pray with the patients etc.  It is a really peaceful, blessed time, and i really enjoy carrying out pure and undefiled religion.

After sundown worship at the botanical gardens we go to a vegetarian Indian restaurant.  This is the real thing, and i’m happy to see idly on a menu again:)  All 13 of us eat for around 27usd.  One thing i notice again about Indian food, is that there is very little fresh food.  It is mostly some kind of liquidy curry with some type of wheat-based cooked thing.  I ate too much of a good thing, and the curry taste keeps me awake a bit at nite….FIRE!

The 8th of January is my last day in Malaysia.  It has been a mostly very nice journey, and many things, including printing 2,000 English GCs and finding a Malay translator, have been accomplished.  I pray out brothers and sisters there will grow stronger and stronger in the Lord.

I leave a bit earlier than planned, as the head of an Indian hospital has come head-hunting for this doctor.  The ferry to Butterworth is free, and the view and breeze make for a pleasant 10 minute ride.  I arrive at the train station exactly 3 hours before 14:20 departure time, so look for a plug-in for my computer.  The station master graciously lets me in his office where all of the 4 workers (loungers?) gather around.  I quickly close what i’m writing in Notepad, and show them the Great Controversy anime, and then pics of Japan etc., especially remembering to include the train videos.  They all seem to enjoy it.  After they go back to their desks to lounge some more, they ask a few questions regarding who is a Protestant, and seem most interested in knowing what Mormons are.  Evidently one of them saw something on TV about the Mormons, and is curious.  I hope my explanation was understood, that Mormons are not Christians.

The 95 ringgit to Bangkok (upper berth) train is right on time, and i listen to the recently mp3ed Japanese Revelation.  What a shame that i accidently hit the Record button once, erasing around one verse in chapter 12 🙁  I’ll have to reload from my computer to my SD card/camera again.  Rubber tree plantations stretch for miles and miles.  Around 5:30 we stop and get out to go thru immigration.  The officer says “Oh my —” when he looks for a blank page to stamp in my passport – haha.  After returning, i start talking to the man sitting opposite of me.  He is an American, travelling with his 1 1/2 y.o. boy.  Seems he was a gymnastics instructor in Indiana, moved to the Philippines to start a nurse immigration service, married a Filipina, got sick of the Philippines, and is now just travelling around S.E. Asia.  Very pleasant until we start to talk about God.  He is quite angry at God, and is absolutely positive that no one can possibly know the truth.  His illogicness of being absolutely sure that no one can be absolutely sure regarding God is odd.  His remarks about the Philippines match my short experience perfectly – “They just don’t care about anything”.  Granted, this doesn’t refer to all Filipinos, but as a country characteristic, this does explain them perfectly.

Across the aisle one berth back of us is a young man and woman, not travelling together.  I talk to the young man, and find he is from the Philippines, and while a Christian, does not make Christ the most important thing in his life.  I loan him a GC book which he reads a couple of chapters of, and returns it saying it is a good book.  When sitting down next to him, the girl sitting opposite suddenly asks me a question in Japanese.  I’m caught way off guard to hear perfect Japanese from this white lady.  She says her Finnish parents were missionaries in Hirakata, the city just next to where i lived the last 7 years!!  She was born there, and lived in Japan until age 15.  Now she works with the street children in Pnom Penh.  I show them both the GC anime, and since she is interested, i give her a GC book.  I pray the Lord will send his angels to be with her, and the Holy Spirit to guide her into all truth 🙂

This is why i like to take long land journeys.  Sure, the airplane is much faster, and probably safer too, but you are just up and down, and it is very difficult to talk to anyone.  But when you are confined to the same vehicle for many hours, it is much easier to get to know someone, and share Jesus with them.  On top of that, it is usually a bit cheaper than airplanes – yea!  This particular train is clean, nice, and quiet, if very slow.  It took all of 22 hours to go from Butterworth to Bangkok.

Thank you very much Malaysia for your hospitality!  I pray that your country will one day come to know the true God – Jesus Christ.

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