We were located at the YMCA in downtown Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia in the midst of what was recently named “Little India”. This meant that we were surrounded by loud Indian Techno music, very busy traffic, Indian market stands, and crowds of people. We called it the city that never sleeps (although that could be applied to most places we have been). “Little India” was preparing for the Hindu celebration of Deepavali (“Festival of Lights”) which celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It involved a lot of selling of goods and wares from saris to fireworks/crackers at all hours of the night, concerts, and almost eardrum bursting music. Staying together at the YMCA definitely made for a different experience from the Philippines, but it was nice to be together as a group. Highlights of our time spent in KL would include many visits to the Central Market, the exquisite architecture and the city tourist sites (Twin Towers, China Town, Large Malls, and Museums including the Islamic Arts Museum). The eight lectures from some of the leading academics in Malaysia, all from the University of Malaya, were excellent.
On one of our day trips, we went to the city of Malacca where we walked through museums and learned about the significance of Malacca to Malaysia and the rest of the trading world. Some of our group explored the ancient city via a Trishaw ride where they were bicycled around the town to see different Mosques, Chinese Temples and shops.
We were also blessed to be reunited with Clarice, a former student of SSU, originally from Malaysia and afterher time at SSU moved to KL. Clarice was a big part of organizing our time in Malaysia alongside John. We were able to celebrate her 30th birthday with her as well as enjoy some of the sites of KL from her perspective. Clarice was a good source for any questions about life in Malaysia and we are very grateful to have had this time with her.
One aspect of the trip that we feel played a significant role in the student’s perspectives while journeying through SE Asia were the devotional times. Debbie and April led a Celtic service that focused on communion and students read passages from the bible as well as quotes from Joel Mason’s booklet “People on the Move”. During these devotional times, students were reminded of the difference between being on a pilgrimage versus being a tourist. This was an encouragement to all, especially because we were in a very tourist city. Later on that week, Debbie and April took the time to have a discussion about group dynamics which seemed to bring a more cohesive feel to the group. Overall, we have learnt a lot while being in Malaysia.
We are now currently in Thailand adapting to another new culture and are being exposed to Buddhism, Buddhist temples, Thai food, and markets galore!! Also, Walter Thiessen, an SSU professor has joined us for the later half of the trip. It has been great having him here.
The Asia Leadership Team