What a whirlwind the last few days have been! After our wonderful concert with the Sabah Theological Seminar Chorale on Tuesday night, we woke up bright and early on Wednesday for our trip into the “interior.” This journey involved a six-hour car ride up, down, and around the mountains of Malaysia including long stretches of unpaved roads. On our way, we were provided a very generous lunch by several members of a local church. After driving through the jungle in four-wheel drive trucks, we finished our trip with a thirty-minute boat ride down the Pagalungan river to a village of the Murut people. We met several of the village leaders, including the pastor, and had our first daily ritual of “bathing” in the river. “Bathing” in Pagalungan involves taking a boat a little ways down the river while using soap and shampoo in the water while in our bathing suits. It is a life-changing experience. On Thursday we had a full day of teaching and interacting with our hosts as we taught workshops on keyboard, guitar, voice, worship leading, and gongs, a traditional instrument of village. Most of the participants were children and youth who did not speak English, so we worked with translators to teach them and learn several local songs together. The workshops culminated in an evening concert which involved all of the participants as they demonstrated what they had learned throughout the day. It was an amazing time of worship and fellowship as we all shared our gifts of music and songs. On Friday we made the return journey back to Kota Kinabalu, retracing our steps back the windy roads. We were surprised by another generous lunch by the same church as Wednesday, as they graciously offered us a special delicacy: wild boar.
After we arrived back in Kota Kinabalu, we had the great privilege to visit St. Simon’s Catholic Church. There we met with the local parish priest, the bishop, and several members of the music ministry of the church. We were again overwhelmed by their generous provision of dinner and enjoyed great conversations as we exchanged stories and shared different perspectives. We all crashed early Friday night as we were exhausted by traveling of the last few days. Now it is another beautiful Saturday morning here at Sabah Theological Seminary as we hold a day of workshops for church musicians from around the area.