Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saya Ada Banyak Untuk Bersyukur Untuk

The title of this blog comes from my attempt at translating a great song from camp, I've Got So Much to be Thankful For (maybe it's just called "So Much".... details.).
To be honest, today started a little teary on my end. When I told someone it was Thanksgiving today, I thought about the traditions I would be missing, especially my whole family being together.  I figured holidays would be tricky to navigate. But, as the day went on, I was more aware of how much I have to be thankful for today, and everyday here in KK. So, here is my list of things I experienced today, this week, and since my time arriving in Malaysia:
1. Hospitality- Countless people have welcomed me into this community. I have been invited into family gatherings, weddings, dinners, movies, and workplaces just to name a few, and have been shown around and looked after since arriving. There are so many people giving me warm and loving welcomes into this new place.
2. Patience- Today I was reminded of this one. I have started working full time at Cheshire Home now that school is on holiday. Monday-Wednesday I helped in the nursery, today I was out in the home helping residents and staff with daily activities. My Malay is still pretty rough, but today I had several conversations in Malay, with the help of repetition and hand gestures, I really felt that people wanted me to learn and wanted to be helpful in teaching me. I am so thankful for those conversations and for those who are patient enough to talk with me and teach me.
3. Support- The web of support in this year is pretty mind-blowing. I have my family and friends back at home, sending church communities, the ELCA Global Mission staff, local program support in Malaysia, site supervisors, fellow teachers and staff in my workplaces, receiving church congregations with the BCCM, and friends I've made here. Knowing that so many people are present in this year with me is so humbling and so encouraging. A lot of peace comes from knowing I'm not alone in this year.
4. People- The people in my life are pretty amazing. I have a wonderful "landlady", Mrs. Soong who goes far above and beyond that title to make me feel taken care of and cared for each day. I have wonderful teachers at school who have taken me under their wings and welcomed me in countless ways. I have my kids (who even though the school year is finished and they will move onto a new class in January, I'll still call them mine) who quickly turned me from a random white girl in their class to "Teacher Sarah".  I have the staff at Cheshire Home who teach me everything from language to how to make fried banana donuts.  I have the residents at Cheshire Home whose smiles, hugs, and conversations bring serious joy into my life. I have church communities: cell group, caroling, Sunday worship, and Girl's Brigade who have welcomed me in as a member of the same Body of Christ.
5. Grace- As wonderfully perfect as I want this year to go, I make mistakes and have regrets. Whether it's been making cultural mistakes, language mistakes, not trying as hard as I should, or just being too hard on myself, I am so thankful for the grace received from everyone in my community, acknowledging the mistake, but giving hope for a new and better next time.

Some highs just from today were:
1. Making hand turkeys with one of the girls I teach english to.
2. Learning and remembering (I often learn new words, but a few minutes later have forgotten them) several new words in malay including hair- rambut and sour-masam.
3. Having a car stop next to me on my walk home from getting a loaf of bread that was a mom of one of my kids. Having her recognize me (although I guess I do stick out a bit) and stop to talk to me and hear about her daughter meant so much!
4. Finding a free online music site since Pandora doesn't work in these parts of the world, so now I can listen to Christmas music!!

So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! To those of you in America, eat some turkey, green bean casserole, and pecan pie for me! To all of you, there's never a bad day for being thankful, or a bad day for eating turkey, for that matter. So get on both of those!  But really, Happy Thanksgiving! Love from Malaysia.

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