Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Malaysia: Feeding the Hungry, Again

It's been quite some time since my last Malaysia missions trip post. I think it's about time for another update! On our third day of actual ministry, after moving from the hotel to a house on the missionaries' campus, we returned to the same soup kitchen we worked at previously. I first accompanied one of the volunteers with some other team members to go pick up donated bread to serve for breakfast. Then, just like last time, I was assigned to the kitchen to help prepare the day's lunch (a type of scrambled eggs with rice and veggies on the side). And once again, I completed my task and found myself at a loose end. So, again, I wandered out into the main area and found myself almost immediately flagged down by a local to chat.

This time, it was a volunteer who wanted to talk. He asked me, without any prompting, if he could tell me his story. I agreed, and sat down to listen. He is a man who loves Jesus and is trying to follow Him. However, this individual is burdened with a lustful interest in a woman who is not his wife. Apparently his marriage was one of necessity, and not based on love or respect. Although both partners know Jesus, the relationship is rocky, for some obvious and not so obvious reasons. Interestingly, the man not only is aware of his lust for this other woman and how inappropriate it is, but he also desires to be free from it. And so, once again, I offered the only thing I knew how -- prayer. Just like the last time, I felt sort of silly offering, but the man was so eager and grateful that I knew as soon as I asked that it was the right thing to do. So we prayed -- for freedom from his misplaced desires, for a new business venture, for increased responsibility in ministry, for his marriage, and for his relationship with God. And this time, unlike after praying with Kosnan, I walked away believing that God had heard and would not be idle in responding. How cool is that? It was at this point in the trip that I first began to wonder more about my prayer life and if God is calling me into intercessory ministry.

When lunchtime arrived, the soup kitchen was packed. We had exactly enough food for the poor and homeless who arrived to eat, thankfully. That meant that we had to go out to purchase our own lunches, and we bought lunch for a pair of brothers who also volunteer at the feeding. We asked them to pick our lunch spot, and we ended up sharing a couple of plates of chicken and rice, which is exactly what it sounds like. My favorite part of the meal was looking at the whole chickens that had only been plucked before roasting and still sported heads. You would never see that sort of visage hanging in the front window of any American restaurant! It didn't bother me in the least, but rather made me chuckle a little.

After our ministry work was done for the day, we had the chance to explore the nearby downtown a little more. Because it was so hot, we all stopped at a street juice stand for refreshment. Besides amazing foods from many cultures, Malaysia boasts the best juice I have ever tasted. They take fresh fruit, throw it in a juicer, add a little sugar (unless you request otherwise), then serve the juice in a plastic baggie with ice and a little string you can tie around your wrist for security in transportation. Simple, but so delicious! And the variety of flavors is just as impressive: pineapple, mango, carrot, starfruit, dragonfruit, watermelon, plum, and so on! My favorite by far, though, might surprise you a little. Apple juice. That's right, apple. But not just any apple juice -- Malaysian apple juice is made with Granny Smith apples. Tangy, sweet, and, as I've already said, the best juice I've ever had. I might have to invest in a juicer so I can make my own green apple juice. Yum!

Juices in hand, we trooped over to Little India. Just like the title suggests, Little India is a few blocks in the midst of the downtown that is completely Indian -- the steady march of food, music, clothing, groceries, and jewelry shops are unbroken by Chinese or Malay enterprises. Little India ended up being one of my favorite places to visit in the city. The streets were decorated with special lighting, and numerous music stores blared Hindi music that thrilled me to the core. I also had the opportunity to try on and then purchase a punjabi sari as well as a couple of other Indian clothing items that were perfect for the Malaysian heat.

For dinner I met up with the rest of our team at a recommended restaurant, where I ordered a garlic naan bread set. A naan set comes with a naan of your choice, some sauces and perhaps some daal, and a main protein. This particular dinner's set came with tandori chicken, which is a marinated chicken that is then baked and is utterly delicious, especially when dipped in a mint sauce. Double the deliciousness when it's paired with my by-then-favorite Malaysian food, garlic naan! Needless to say, I went back to our new home-away-from-home that night full of wonderful ministry memories and delectable Indian dinner. Here are some more photos from my Little India adventures. Enjoy!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King