We leave for Thailand today. We have visited the Philippines and are now about to say good bye to Malaysia. Time is going by so fast, there is so much to take in -it’s cultural overload. The focus of this blog will be about the people I have encountered and what I am learning from them.
Filipinos are very warm and happy people. As soon as we landed in Manila and got on the bus to Laoag, everyone was constantly staring,waving and smiling at us. They have lots of joy, and it’s contagious. Yet, as a people group, they have had their challenges. For one, they don’t really have a sense of national identity – the effects of Spanish and American colonization- Their government is the 2nd most corrupt in South East Asia. And many of them live in extreme poverty (70-75%). Yet joy is something that remains a part of their lives. One Filipino teacher mentioned that it’s because of their faith in God (Christian) and their willingness to choose to be joyful. I find myself very attracted to joy and hope to have more of it in my own life.
In Malaysia, we landed in Kota Kinabalu on the Island of Borneo. The day after arrival, we were off for a 2 night stay in a Kampung (Muslim village-approx 1,400 people). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Though I have spent time with Muslims before, it wasn’t in SE Asia and I had never lived with them. Yet I was excited to see what the outcome would be . Upon arrival, they had a welcoming banner ready for us as well as a band of drummers playing away on their instruments. I think we all felt very welcomed. Our first meal was eating inside of a fan cooled room, as the locals and hosts ate outside in the hot, mid-day’s air. They’re very hospitable and humble people.
Ali was our homestay dad’s name (Lucas, Alex, Dan and myself). We got to spend a lot of time with him. He was a very humble man, even though he spoke fairly good English he constantly apologized for bad pronunciation, and wouldn’t accept our assurances that he spoke our language quite well. Ali was also very tender hearted, when we asked him questions about his culture he would just sit there and answer them to the best of his ability; wow, he was a great listener.
He also showed us around the city of Keningau (5 minute drive, approx 30 thousand people) and pointed out the churches that we passed by. In Malaysia, Muslims and Christians get along well together. It’s encouraging to know that the two faiths can exist in peace here in Malaysia. In Kampung I saw the hospitality and humility apparent in the village and in my home stay dad and mom. I admire them for these qualities and hope that they become more evident in my life as well.