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Until recently, I would describe myself as in “call waiting” mode for church-related mission trips.

“Call waiting” is a feature available on most phone networks. This useful feature shows the calling party’s ID while the called party is already on the line with someone else. Often it is up to the called party to decide whether he or she wants to respond to the caller.

For years, my Pastor has prompted me to go to “the ends of the earth” but his encouragement seemed to have fallen on the deaf ears of a disobedient Christian.

As a Small Group leader, I had never gone to any missions-related trips and I would justify my non-participation by saying that it is sufficient that I am serving the other needs of the church.

I’ve never prayed to God to use me in the missions ministry; perhaps it’s because I’ve never felt the need to go in that direction or maybe I was reluctant to depart from the comfort zone of urban dwelling.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

But I didn’t expect God to send a match that would change my course.

Towards the end of last December my Small Group members Richard and his wife Joyce resolved to serve in the Short Term Missions (STM) for the whole of this year.

This type of commitment calls for a trip every quarterly.

Though Richard and Joyce were new members in my church, I was amazed by their bold decision.

When Richard first invited me to join the first trip in last March, I politely declined him in an incoherent manner. My wife Roseline was not pleased by my response, and chided me for being insensitive to our own Small Group member.

The month of June came recently and Richard again extended the invitation of the second trip. This time I accepted without hesitation. On hindsight my wife also played a large role in influencing me to participate.

Twenty-one of us left on June 12, 2010 in a convoy of five cars. Our destination Longhouse Rumah Tatom, is 320 km away from Miri. Three other participants drove from Sibu to join us at Stapang, Oya.

Our initial journey was all but smooth.

We met with the first obstacle after driving for about an hour. A sister-in-Christ in my car received a nasty bump on her head as we were cruising along the uneven road at Bekenu. After applying first aid, we decided to stop by Bintulu General Hospital so she could receive further aid.

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The second obstacle was more dramatic – our car engine stalled as we were nearing Bintulu. However we did not waver knowing He would not forsake us for doing His work. We called for help and a replacement car arrived and we were on our way again within the hour!

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We arrived safely at the 38-door longhouse Rumah Tatom around 3:30 pm, welcomed by our host Mr. Tading Ak Rumpang and Pastor Jonathan Nora of the Selangau Iban Methodist Church.

Since our schedule had been set back by an hour’s delay due to the car breakdown and detour to the Bintulu General Hospital, we quickly proceeded to carry out what had been tasked – Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry and Women’s Ministry.

Having the gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. – Romans 12:6

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work.

As a novice in missions trips, I was amazed to see the different gifts applied for the purpose of ministry from each team member.

Husband and wife team San Lin and Cynthia were much appreciated by the children in the Sunday School activities.

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Chiew Moi’s exceptional storytelling skill was manifested when she narrated the story of The Prodigal Son in Bahasa Malaysia.

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The unseen hands in the kitchen were a great blessing to us. Though assigned as photographer, I was unexpectedly called to help in the F & B category. Remembering that one needed to be flexible under such circumstances, I happily obliged. My first experience of using wood for cooking was enjoyable despite the scorching heat.

We praise and thank God for answering our prayers in Rumah Tatom.

There was the tale of a drunkard man turned sober – he married and settled down, much to the relief and joy of his family. His mother subsequently requested Pastor Jonathan to remove the charm ornaments in her home. Testimonies from youths (in written and oral form) on how they were transformed after accepting Christ inordinately warmed our hearts. Showing unprecedented action of faith, a sister-in-Christ Madam Jelawa, even stepped forward and agreed to be our coordinator in Rumah Tatom!

When you feel impelled to help fill a need, when you are inwardly driven to serve – listen to those thoughts. You don’t want to miss God’s call. – Cindy Hess Kasper

We drove home to Miri the following day. Though the trip was short, I knew we had done our best to sow and plant the seed of God’s love.

Near or far, everyone should at least go once on a mission trip in his or her lifetime – not only to impact others, but also to allow others to impact us.

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Because in the process of recognizing our own smallness, we’ll be embraced by God’s greatness.

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On Christmas eve, my family and I were in Sibu to attend a cantata by the famous Wesley Methodist Church choir. The last time we attended a similar event was two years ago.

It’s indeed a great blessing to attend such a wonderful event. I applaud the Wesley choir led by conductor Cheng Hua Kong. Thanks for a great evening!

Here are some of the snaps I like. Enjoy, :p.

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A short clip uploaded at YouTube is here:

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Playing to a packed Sanctuary of 1500 people, she remained composed and flawless during the opening session of the 9th Methodist Convention.

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Nostalgia swept over us as my wife and I recently patronized this old Liang Yew coffeeshop which is situated opposite Masland Methodist Church Sibu. The last time we were there for their famous kolo mee was in the 80s. Nothing much has changed; except the boss and I have aged, :).

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The most import activity we did in Sibu during the recent trip was celebrating my mom-in-law’s 72nd birthday. We had a family dinner at Sheraton Restaurant on the night of June 2nd.

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Mom-in-law beaming with husband and loved ones at her side during dinner. Though she did not express her joy verbally, I could see how pleased mom-in-law was that her children (plus daughter-in-law and son-in-law) and grandchildren returned from outstation to be with her on her birthday.

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In fulfilling her duty as the eldest daughter in the Lee family, my wife initiated and planned the dinner with her siblings a few months ago.

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My cheerful niece and nephew!

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The first dish was of course chicken soup with fried mee suah. Personally I prefer the traditional mee suah with chicken soup.

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The hot dish was delicious though the prawn was tiny.

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Seafood in pineapple with sweet and sour pork cutlets. Not bad.

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This one was new to me. The dumplings were filled with minced pork and deep fried. I found it to be too oily so Roseline used a servette to sponge off the oil.

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Glutinous rice in herbal duck – I found the rice a bit too soggy but the duck tasted good.

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This freshwater fish was the best dish of all! I think it was Ikan Semah.

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After dinner we had the birthday cake at home.

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Ah, the blowing of candles.

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My church member William Law helped to take this family photo.

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This is the last of the Sibu Praise Dance series I’ll be posting.

About seven hundred people attended the dinner and dance on the night of June 1st. The occasion was graced by Sibu Mayor Datuk Tiong Thai King and wife Datin Mrs Tiong. Also present were SCAC President Rev. Dr. Su Chii Ann and wife, SCAC Lay Leader Mr Hii Ching Chiong and wife and Pastor Rev. Wong Kai Ho.

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Praise Dance Founder Ng Mei Yun adjusting the hat for the ladies from Miri before their presentation. I was touched by her gesture of motherly love, :).

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The team from Miri!

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Seeing my wife happy really made my day!

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Happy 4th Anniversary to Praise Dance in Sarawak! It was first introduced in Miri in 2005.

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The Sibu Praise Dancers were absolutely awesome!

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Even President Rev. Dr. Su Chii Ann could not resist photographing the Sibu dancers, haha!

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Datin Mrs Tiong presenting the Tupperware hamper to the first prize winning table. Instead of an individual winning a prize, all the prizes drawn were according to the table numbers. Nice change, :).

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These kids kicked up a storm when they performed – they almost stole the show for the night! Well done children and the teacher (pic-far right) did a fantastic job!

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Ng Mei Yun gave a beautiful and sincere thank you speech.

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Sibu Mayor Datuk Tiong Thai King presenting the appreciation gift to Ng Mei Yun.

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The closing song and dance – it was very emotional as everyone participated.

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Wah, this was a nice surprising performance from the men!

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This photo is special! The three ladies Wendy, Jenny and Roseline from our church Grace Methodist Miri taking a group photo with Rev. Dr. Su and wife, and the Taiwanese.

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Kudos to the Sibu team – they have done a brilliant job! Looking forward to the next big Praise Dance in the future.

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The Praise Dance training continued on the following morning from 8:00 am to noon (June 1st) at Xin Fu Yuan Methodist Church. I was impressed that the church has such a well-equipped Multi-Purpose hall covering three badminton courts, :).

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Teacher Ng Mei Yun wasted no time in sharing her expertise. At her age, she has more energy than me. Sigh.

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Teacher and Assistant Teacher on stage.

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See the joy on their faces! Need I say more?

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I was amazed how these dancers could remember all the steps and movements! Certainly I couldn’t, haha!

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Yes, that’s the right way, the Assistant Teacher from Taiwan encouraged.

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See how I do it, the Assistant Teacher from Taiwan reminded the participants.

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Can you see the beads of sweat on her forehead?

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Photographing them for three sessions has made me appreciate Praise Dance even more. On the surface it may appear like a form of exercise that is beneficial to health. But deeper than that, I would say the strong bond and fellowship cultivated among the Praise Dancers are truly borderless and priceless. Don’t just take my word for it – just join one group and tell us about your experience a year later, :).

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