Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The jungle has a stillness that only is broken with the sounds of roosters crowing or buzzing and creaking of the many serrangah (bugs) here.  I have come to love those sounds in the early morning and late evening.  This morning as I finished packing up my little room above the Church, I stopped to look out at the jungle.  Every morning the mist sits over the hills until the sun slowly burns it off.  It is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  As I walked along the road to the internet office ducking around the bush that always seems to prick me, hopping across the marshy path after all the rain last night, and taking a last deep breath of the fragrant mango tree; that feeling of goodbye rushed over me.

I have never liked goodbyes.  I can never seem to come up with the right words to say, and always feel like I don't quite adequately convey my feelings.  Well, today is another goodbye. It's my last day here in Pagalungan and I am overcome with so many mixed emotions.  While I am excited to return back to Tenom and see my community there, it is hard to leave the people I have been with constantly the past couple weeks.  These people I have laughed with, danced with, cooked with, sang with, prayed with and even cried with.

And I think that part of my finds it a little cruel that I'm already having to face goodbyes. It's something that I don't think I considered.  I always imagined that at the end of my year, I would be facing this challenge, but not so early on.  It makes me think about how much I value the communities I have been a part of and how they have shaped me in so many ways.  I miss them.  I miss that time together with people and I miss my dear friends (badai-badai) in Pagalungan.  While there is always facebook, email, and phone; there is just something about being with people that is irreplaceable.

Please pray for the people of Pagalungan, Silungai and the surrounding area of Sepulot that have cared for me in so many ways.  Please also keep the Philippines in your prayers; while Malaysia has been blessed to not be directly affected; there is a large population here from the Philippines and so many of our communities will be affected by the losses of their loved ones their.

"Oh my English!"... "Oh my Malay!"... "Oh my Murut!"...or maybe just overwhelmed?

A few days ago we had a barbeque at the Church and I was yet again the guest of honor.  We spent the afternoon cooking.  Barbeque chicken wings, Umbus (a traditional Murut dish made with shredded greens and babi-pork), Milo crackers, rice, babi soup, and fried cakes stuffed with sweet black bean paste; it was a feast. The 'Oh my English!' Class sang a song dedicated to me and presented a cake frosted "Oh my English! We love U, Julia."  And yet again there was that feeling. That feeling of being overwhelmed by so much kindness.  It seems like a silly thing to wrestle with, but I have been struck with not knowing how to process...so much kindness.  I have been not only fed and cared for by these people, but I have also been loved by them.  At times I have been faced with not knowing how I could ever repay them in any way.  And that's I think it. It's not about "re-paying."  Maybe it's more about accepting and loving it for the beauty that it simply is.  Maybe it's about grace.  Being able to accept and receive grace in order to then share it.  I am reminded constantly of what grace is here. There is nothing I have ever done to deserve this grace, and there is nothing I can ever do to deserve it.  It's just there.  And so what I pray is that in turn I can share this gift of grace that has been poured out on me here.

Some of you might know "Grace Like Rain," it's a song that has become so dear to my heart after several summers at Rainbow.  And it's a song that my mind keeps returning to here.

"Grace Like Rain" Tod Agnew

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see so clearly

Hallelujah, Grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away
Are washed away

Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed

c/o 2
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing Your praise
Than when we first begun

So my prayer for you is that you can have grace for yourself, for others, and for this big world that we live in.