So, I will give you a recap of some highlights, memorable people and noteworthy tidbits:
*** Exploring Mt. Kinabalu Provincial Park: Of course, one of my favorite parts is anything that involves being outside or - even better - in the mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed the escape from the heat, as we relished (and needed) the use of hot showers for the first time since arriving in Sabah (the state KK is in). We climbed a bit, ate a bit and relaxed a lot as we sat down for readings and conversation about Malaysia, its customs, people, religions and more while staying at the "J Residence."
*** Manukan Island: So, you know those pictures you see in travel magazines of tropical islands that simply look photo-shopped? Yeah, we went there. Malaysia is beautiful.
|"Trouble in paradise" when Sarah cut her foot on some coral, but she was meticulously cared for and is OK!|
***National Mosque: This is one of the only mosques in the country that allows non-Muslims, inside. It was a beautiful and serene place located in the heart of the capital city. As a sign of respect and to follow the customs, the women wore purple robes to cover their skin and hair if they were not wearing appropriate attire (clothing plus a hijab). We also took off our shoes, which is a common practice in many places of worship.
|At the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur.|
|Temple within the Batu Caves, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.|
*** Carrie and Gary: We met these two while at dinner with the Bishop of the BCCM (Basel Christian Church of Malaysia) in Sabah. Carrie worked at a Lutheran camp in Michigan this summer and Gary lived in Minneapolis once upon a time when his parents were students at Luther Seminary, where I am a student! Both also help with a youth group in KK and we exchanged numbers so I can get involved during my year in Malaysia! I can't wait!! :)
*** Maria: A Japanese woman I met with two other women from the group while we were running some trails at Mount Kinabalu Provincial Park. She was there alone and getting ready to hike Mt. Kinabalu the next day with a group. She thought we were "so cool" for running the trails; we thought we were huffing and puffing like dogs.
|After our trail run, we "ran" into Maria again at the base of Mt. Kinabalu.|
*** Audrey and Suresh, Margaret and Eric and Beatrice: Friends I made during fellowship lunch after attending church at "Luther House" in KL. I was the lone member of the group that didn't fit in any of the other vehicles that were driving to lunch, so Eric and Margaret offered to take me. Beatrice is their adorable baby (who fell asleep holding onto me - nbd) and Audrey is her godmother. Audrey and I had a great conversation about traditional Chinese weddings and through that conversation, she offered to take some of us shopping for saris/sarees with her husband, Suresh! It was extremely overwhelming, but thoroughly enjoyable. We're Facebook friends. :)
|Sari shopping with Audrey (not pictured) and Suresh. He was a trooper for shopping with a bunch of ladies and a major asset as our barter guru (which actually means "teacher" in Malay).|
---Little Things... ---
*** American food: It has been rather interesting seeing, tasting and experiencing what classifies as "Western food" over here. Example: the "Western set" breakfast at the YMCA (where we're staying) is comprised of an egg (over-easy), baked beans, toast and a chicken hot dog. The ketchup... well, let me just say the first ingredient is sugar, not tomatoes. The pizza is good - and bad - depending on where you go (Pizza Hut makes the "bad" list). McDonald's - I've heard - tastes like McDonalds. Oh - and the Colonel (the KFC Colonel) is EVERYWHERE. I mean - - - EVERYWHERE.
*** The Porcelain Throne: I will talk a bit more about this later, but the toilet situation is certainly one we have had to figure out. On a similar note, bowel movements have become a greatly momentous occasion among the group. When your diet and virtually everything you know has changed, the plumbing doesn't always work as it normally would. So, yay for poops!
|Another mysterious toilet contraption.|
|My new Bavarian friends, Sophie and Paula (missing Hannah)!|
I promised myself I wouldn't write long blog posts, but as I said earlier, there is so much to tell! I thought everything that happened over the past two weeks warranted a longer story and I thank you if you were able to stay with me!
6 of us (plus country coordinator Peter) are heading back to East Malaysia, to the island of Borneo, the state of Sabah and the city of Kota Kinabalu on Friday. We continue to learn Bahasa Malaysia (the native tongue) and venture out into the grand city of KL for a few more days. Until then, keep an eye on my Facebook for picture posts - which I am much better at doing than blog posts. :P
Love from KL! PB&J,
As we prepare to disperse to our various site placements, please pray for smooth transitions, as well as open hearts and open minds. May the communities we enter be blessed by our presence, as I am sure we will be blessed by theirs. Also, please pray for our safe travels as we take trains, buses, cars and planes to get where we're going. Thank you and please let me know if you have prayer requests! <3