Monday, September 29, 2014

First Full Day in Malaysia

We woke up early and dealt with the stinky bathroom situation again -- glad we are being moved today! The staff is very apologetic as there were no empty rooms to move us to last night, but there will be tonight. Whew -- neither of us slept well, so we are looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight.

We went down to the Bread of Life Cafe in the building and had a delicious breakfast -- with delicious local coffee (with milk and sugar -- so good!). The staff is very friendly.

While we waited for William and Tim to pick us up, I went into the Chapel on the first floor to pray. There were two prayer stations set up -- both for the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines flights. I took pictures of these two prayer stations -- it was so moving, so sad, to be in those areas of the chapel.

The Chapel, as the Center, is ecumenical. We met the Methodist representative who lead a Taize Service in the Chapel last night. The Chapel itself is beautiful, warm, peaceful.

William and Tim (Tim is Fred and Yoke Fong David's son) picked us up about 10:00 (heavy traffic) and we headed to Melaka. William is a wealth of knowledge about Malaysia -- rubber and palm oil trees were imported and planted in Malaysia due to the rich soil and climate. Malaysia is the largest producer of palm oil in the world. Along the road to Melaka there were rows and rows of Palm oil trees. There was also, as we travelled father south, new developments in process.

In terms of religion, Islam is predominant, with Taoists and Hindus also. Christianity is a minority here. Every state has a State Mosque and there is a National Mosque. The Mosque in Melaka is heavily influenced in design from Indonesia and India.

A Sumatran Prince founded Melaka -- Melaka is named for the melaka tree. The Portuguese conquered this area, and there is still a Portuguese settlement here. When the Portuguese took Melaka, they built a fortress around it. They ruled Melaka for about 150 years. Here is a picture of the last remaining part of the fortress. It was close to the water. It surrounded the compound, and within the compound was referred to as "Formosa".

Melaka was famous because of the spice trade -- selling and buying spices started in Melaka in the 14th century.

The Dutch captured Melaka from the Portuguese in 1642 -- and ruled for about 150 years. In 1742 they began construction on the church (Dutch Reformed) which was finished in 1753. It is the oldest functioning Protestant Church in Southeast Asia. It is now called Christ Church, and it is Anglican. It is Dutch architecture -- no pillars -- it is the beams (17) in ceiling and the walls that hold up the structure. Each of the beams were made out of single trees.

The pulpit and the pulpit stand are original -- from the 1700s. When the British took over the building they moved the pulpit to the side and made the altar the focal point of the building.

The tops of the windows have a design that looks like a clam shell -- but in reality the design is suppose to represent the burning bush.

The pews and other items are all original!

It was in Melaka that Milne and Morrison worked on part of the translation of the Bible into Chinese. There is a plaque to that effect on the wall of the Church. Morrison Chapel in Macau was started by the same Morrison.

The building is 80 feet in length, 40 feet wide and 40 feet high. The bricks are imported from Holland.

We met with Bishop Jason, Assistant (Suffragan) who serves in the Southern part of the Diocese. His wife Daphne joined us for lunch -- she is a High School English teacher is working on her PhD in Linguistics. We ate alongside the river, sitting outside enjoying the atmosphere. I had a chicken curry with rice and a cup of tea -- delicious!

We spoke about mission and ministry. There are about 45 congregations here that Bishop Jason is responsible for in this part of the Diocese (just like me!). He was consecrated 3 years ago and moved down from the northern part of the diocese. There is a great deal of work here, and his territory is big.

We exchanged our challenges and joys in this work. On Sundays there are services in Tamil, English, Mandarin and B. Malaysia. It is very multicultural community.

The Diocese here will be consecrating a second Assistant (Suffragan) Bishop this Friday for the Northern part of the Diocese. This Diocese, just like Los Angeles, is HUGE in territory, and the Bishop Diocesan needs the help to meet the needs of the people and continue to grow the church.

Bishop Jason shared with me that when this part of the country was established in terms of Christianity, from a Protestant perspective it was heavily Presbyterian. Yet, the Anglican Church survives and is growing.

After lunch we headed to the ruins of St. Paul's Church, which was the first Roman Catholic Church (started by the Portuguese). Amos, who was our guide when we first got to Christ Church, took us on this part of our journey

Under the Portuguese, St. Francis Xavier came to Melaka as a missionary. He was not as successful as he was in other parts of the world. When he died on his way back to Macau, his remains were laid to rest at St. Paul's here in Melaka until they were sent to Goa (in India) where they remain. I was able to take a picture looking out to what would be the front of St. Paul's. The

The ruins of St. Paul's are beautiful -- St. Paul's was really a chapel, and part of the fortress. On the side of the fortress the canons were housed to protect the fortress -- you can look out and see the ocean. The walls are over two meters thick, and it was markedly cooler when we were in there than when we were outside!

Inside St. Paul's are also interesting burial markers (very large! Life sized!) from the 1600s and beyond.

In recent years land was created where the Ocean is -- so that where the oceanfront used to be is much farther out now.

I enjoyed seeing the fortress and St. Paul's -- it was humbling to be in a place where St. Francis Xavier was laid to rest, if only for a little while. It was humbling to walk around the ruins of the oldest Roman Catholic Chapel. It was also humbling to be (earlier) in the oldest Protestant Church in South East Asia -- and to know the connection from the Morrison Chapel we visited just a few days ago and the work he did here. It filled me with awe at what our ancestors did to try to spread the gospel in the language of the people.

Here is a picture of Joshua with our friend from the Cathedral Amos. It is taken in front of some more of the burial plaques in St. Paul's (those have smaller, marble attachments to them translating the text on the burial plaques.

Hot and tired, we all headed back to the car, where our able driver Tim and our guide extraordinaire William took us on some of the back streets in Melaka to show us the original part of the town. The streets were very narrow, and the houses thin in width but deep in length. It was good to get in the car with the air conditioning blasting! It is HOT and humid. Having said that, it is also incredibly beautiful here.

One of the highlights on a silly level was seeing the cycle rickshaws all decorated out, including boom boxes. In my Facebook post when I mentioned we were going there, Devika my daughter-in-law commented that she loved Melaka. Her Mom Kalpana commented and asked Devika if she remembered the rickshaws with the boom boxes. So, these photos are for them.

We then headed back to Kuala Lumpur -- another long journey. We had a great talk in the car about ministry, education, more history of Kuala Lumpur and this area. William shared, as we passed by a very fancy hotel, that there used to be the largest tin mine in the world on that spot. The mine was filled, a lake put in, and the hotel built. A large part of the area was dedicated to tin mining, but that is gone now.

Tim dropped us off in the Little India section of KL -- we had heard a lot of good things about visiting there, so we decided to give it a go and head there for dinner. William told us too that where Little India is now used to be brickfields. I saw a planter that read, "Little India Brickfields" and realized that part of the identity of this place is still intact!

We asked Tim where we should eat dinner -- he told us to go to Paandi restaurant on the other side of the street -- he goes there, and there are lots of people. He told us not to eat on the side of the street where he dropped us off because it was too expensive. It was pouring raining, so we got under the overhang and walked the street. We walked until we came to the restaurant that Tim recommended. We also had stopped earlier at a sweet shop (well, Joshua and Ada stopped) and Joshua picked up some sweets. We asked at the sweet shop for places they eat -- the owner told us he has lunch there every day, so we thought we'd go for it.

It reminded me of being back in India -- lots of people working in the restaurant. Condiments in big containers. Hot tins of food in a huge warming tray. Dosas being cooked on the round grill. Ada, Steve and I ate masala dosas, Steve got Roti as well, and Joshua ordered a vegetarian mixed plate with pickle served on a banana leaf -- we all had tea. The total price in US equivalent was less than $7.00 FOR ALL FOUR OF US and it was good!

We walked a bit more. The stores there are partly on the street and in a store front. As it was raining, the "on the street" sections were covered with thick clear plastic. There were lots of dresses and suits, and the vegetable stands were amazing! Even in the rain there were people out shopping.

At one point we went into a grocery store in Little India where Steve spotted a rather interestingly named bottle of gin. No, we didn't buy it, but he asked me to take a picture of it. Here it is.

We finally decided to head back so Steve and I could switch to our new room. We decided to take a cab, and the cab driver was very honest, kind and helpful. We made arrangements for him to take us to Chinatown tomorrow night, and to the airport on Wednesday. His name is Andy.

I leave you with various other pictures of our adventures today.

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