Carol Lau, assigned journalist for the retreat
Sarawak! Here we come!
A group of 13 retired and semi-retired members plus a young ‘bakal pendeta’ packed their bags, flew 2 hours to Kuching and travelled another 45 km along meandering rural roads to Kg Jagoi Duyoh, a Bidayuh village and birthplace of Hellen Gumek, our CG member and host.
Along the way, we passed magnificent limestone mountains reminiscent of Ipoh, and a scenic, recreational lake Tasik Biru in Bau, a former gold mining town.
Hellen and Kenneth hosted us in their palatial mansion set among 2 acres of lush virgin land. Overladen banana plants, moringa trees, durian trees, bunga kantan, tapioca plants were just some of various edible and decorative plants that they cultivated here. Three ponds teeming with black tilapia, sultan fish and patin provide an inexhaustible supply of precious protein.
We came here with four objectives, carefully crafted out for our 4D/3N stay. They were:
- CG Away, bonding and retreat
- Exposure to another people group and culture (Bidayuh)
- Sowing some seeds through distribution of books by Wawasan Penabur
- Sharing spiritual insights
The schedule left room for God to move as he desires.
We arrived on a Friday. Hellen had requested that we pray for ‘heavy rain before Saturday but not on Saturday’ so that there would be water in the ponds when we go to the waterfall. Kenneth revealed that Hellen had also prayed that the flowers would bloom along the road to their house. He told her that it was not the season for flowers yet. Nevertheless, God answered her simple prayer and we did see yellow blooms on some trees. The second prayer for rain came as we were preparing for dinner on Friday night. After a sudden gust of strong wind, heavy rain poured in through the open kitchen, drenching us with divine showers. I googled the weather and climate report. July is the hottest and driest month in Sarawak. Therefore, the rain was unusual and divinely orchestrated in answer to prayer. There was no rain before we came and there was none after we left. I wonder if perhaps the blooming flowers and the heavy rain were symbolic of something fruitful and greater blessings in the days ahead, especially for Hellen.
Reaching Out to the Locals
We, CG members, enjoyed being out of our comfort zone. We learnt, practised and presented a Malay worship song – 3 times over to the churches in Kg Duyoh, Serikin and Sarosot. Kenneth, who has a great ear for rhythm and a melodious singing voice, accompanied us on his guitar, with dance-like movements. I could imagine King David’s posture of worshipping and singing in total abandonment.
We mingled with the friendly locals, purchasing their products, stimulating the local economy and making meaningful connections, especially with Hellen’s E1R1 friends, inviting them to the barbecue the following evening.
However, only 2 came and they were Carol Lau’s ex-colleague and her police friend. They were presented with the Alkitab and the newly published Wawasan Penabur devotionals as welcome gifts.
Through hiking, eating, swimming and the various activities, we engaged in deeper conversations and got to know one another better.
Kenneth expressed his surprise at seeing Edmund and Harry in person. “Oh, so this is how you look like.” Previously, it was all on Zoom, where only the heads are visible, but not the rest of the body. Edmund joked that he thought Kenneth was a lady friend of Hellen when he saw him in church. Meanwhile, Helen Lee expressed her admiration for Kenneth’s gentle and romantic manners. 😊 Everyone could let their hair down in a no-holds barred retreat!
Our third objective was fulfilled with the distribution of the Alkitab, OT and NT devotionals and Singa Yehuda to families that attended the church. Rev. Dicky had air-flown the materials a day earlier, together with Lily’s baggage allowance. All of us contributed willingly towards the cost, believing that the seed sown will grow into a harvest to the glory of God. We praise God that we had the opportunity to contribute love gifts to the churches and pastors as well. May this little gesture encourage them that they are appreciated and not forgotten.
Insight So Divine
The final objective of sharing any spiritual insight during our time in Sarawak was meaningful as it forced us to pause and reflect on what we have learnt, seen and heard during our short time here.
For me, it was not a coincidence that all three speakers of 3 different churches had the same word, that the Body of Christ, though having many members, is ONE. As in the physical, so too in the spiritual. The more prominent and able churches must care for the weaker and struggling churches.
- The Christians are Garam and Terang (Salt and Light). They are to be different from the world. They believe in One God, are saved and sanctified by One Lord and empowered by One Holy Spirit to live with One Aim – to magnify the name of Jesus (muliakan nama Yesus).
- Rev. Dicky reminded us that prayer always takes the shape of the Cross, i.e. vertically towards God and horizontally towards men. He also helped us realise that prayer need not be long but can sometimes be distilled into a single word like ‘Jesus’, ‘Abba’ , ‘ help’, ‘thanks’.
- He also reminded us that the rest of the CG members who could not come for the retreat, for whatever reasons, are still our CG members, and not to be forgotten. And they had been praying for us. (Reminded me of King David who said that those who went out to fight and those who guarded the supplies were to share equally in the bounty of war.)
- Hellen felt that through our sharing, she and Kenneth must stay more in Sarawak to continue doing the Lord’s work.
- Hellen also revealed that a historic moment was achieved that day when all the different denominations and the Ketua kampungs gathered at the church in Sarosot to witness YB Mordi presenting a cheque of RM50,000 to the church. Great favour indeed!
In conclusion , we met all the objectives of the retreat.
We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to the next one.
SEGALA PUJI SYUKUR KEPADA YESUS, KEKASIH JIWA KU.
🙌 Thank the Lord for keeping these seniors safe and healthy throughout the trip.
🙏 Pray for the faithful hands and feet that work relentlessly in the harvest field.
🪴 Are you in a community, such as CG? If you’re not in a CG, reach out to us and we’ll connect you to a suitable CG.