Saturday, March 8, 2014

Impressions: A Malaysian YAGM’s Parents Visit Their Daughter in ‘The Land Below the Wind’


It was a long-anticipated day-and-a-half of enduring several, very long flights and fast, sometimes confusing transfers through several countries’ security checkpoints, before we finally arrived in Kota Kinabalu [‘KK’], Malaysia.  Departing from Charlotte, NC, early New Year’s Eve morning, it was one o’clock in the morning, January 2, when we exited the last of three planes needed for the journey.  After going through customs and immigration, we were greeted by our broadly smiling, wet-eyed daughter, Sarah, who we hadn’t seen since she departed for Kota Kinabalu in August, 2013.

Sarah’s decision to participate in a year-long experience “somewhere on the globe” was a little shocking for us.  Admittedly, when she was assigned to Malaysia, we were a bit down.  It was so far away.  Truth is, we had to get the globe out and find out exactly how far away. When we finally found it, we were even more nervous: it was half-way around the world!  Could she go any further from home?  We didn’t think so. And, in the dark of night, after getting off a third plane from twenty-two hours of flying, we were certain, she couldn’t be farther from home; and neither could we.

First impressions are powerful ones. After meeting so many supportive friends that our daughter has made in KK, our parental anxieties completely vanished. The Lord has provided her so many wonderful support resources in those she lives and works with, as well as worships with weekly and fellowships regularly.  This was repeatedly affirmed by all who helped her host us and introduce us to Malaysian cultures and cuisines. What truly impressed us were people’s  multilingual proficiency and their patience with our ability to only speak English.
Regardless of who we were talking or dining with, we were truly greeted by all with great respect, affection, and hospitality.  

Our two weeks’ adventures enjoyed many Malaysian city sights, sounds, and tastes as well as those experienced in a piece of Malaysia’s famous jungle area on the Katabatanagan River. It is a truly amazing country and people which daily made us so thankful our daughter was led by the Lord to embrace this great faith challenge.  The carefully designed YAGM program has helped not only Sarah grow deeper in her faith, but ours as well.   We were so proud to watch her interact with such confidence with those at her Kindergarten site and her Cheshire Home afternoon assignment working with mentally and physically disabled adults.  Seeing her speak Malay to transact purchases, to order strange but delicious food, to navigate varieties of transportation and her thriving with such self-confidence so far from home made us glad she came to us last year with the crazy notion of spending a year with YAGM performing Christian service somewhere on God’s earth!