June 2007


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Ben is growing up so quickly and we are sure longing to hold him.  We are so grateful for the technology that allows us to see and hear him and to watch him on video.  We are also so proud of his mom and dad and the decisions they have made in parenting him. 

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Our early arrival here has been such a wonderful opportunity to settle in and do a bit of sight seeing before school starts.  We often found ourselves commenting on the fact that the other nine new Ontario teacher’s were not going to have this luxury.  Two young men, Les and Easton arrived last week and Mark and Erin arrived yesterday, all of them bright, energetic and fresh out of school.

Two more couples will arrive on the 3rd and a single guy on the 7th.  With orientation scheduled for the 5th and school starting on the 9th, it will be a real challenge for them to overcome jetlag, decide on a place to live,  get all the paperwork started and teach.

We didn’t get to meet any of them prior to coming due to our early arrival but did have email contact and were able to help some with their planning. We have had a great time meeting the newcomers at the airport and trying to help them quickly move through things that took us hours because we had no idea where to start.

The Orchids Gardens in Kuala Lumpur are definitely right up there on our list of the most beautiful things we have ever seen.   God could have created one pink orchid and that would have been beautiful, but He didn’t stop there.  Instead, He went on to create literally hundreds of different colours and shapes and sizes of orchids which are wonderously displayed in this lovely garden in the center of the city.

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We miss our friends at home and of course our kids. We also miss our colleagues (yes, you!) and the kids we have taught. We are grateful for those who remember us in their prayers and in their comments on our weblog. But we also rejoice in the new friends we have met in Malaysia, not only through Taylor’s College (more on them in a later post), but also through church.

We have much in common with Jack and Lalita, who have been very sweet to us since our arrival. They are about our age with two fine college age boys that are both involved in the worship team; one plays guitar and the other drums. (If you think that didn’t require some forebearance as parents keep in mind that there are no basements in Malaysia!)

We also share a love of Indian food and they have taken us to some really excellent places to eat where the ambience was charming and the food was outstanding. But Jack has this habit of grabbing the check – apparently this is some kind of national pastime – and not letting me pay. From what I have read you have to wait until the other guy is distracted or in the washroom, then you go up and pay before he can. Now I know this, I will be better prepared next time, Jack! Okay-lah?

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Malaysia, with more than 2 million hectares of plantations is one of the world’s principle producers of palm oil.  Large areas of rain forest have been cleared to allow for the cultivation of these large plantations.

The oil palm is planted in groves and bears fruit within three years.  Malaysia’s ideal climate allows for a harvest every two months.  The fruit is the size of a plum and grows in clusters much like grapes.  Each tree produces two clusters containing up to 2000 individual fruits per harvest.

Malaysia produces nearly 50% of the world’s oil palm , 85% of which is exported.  The large scale plantations are mostly aimed at the production of oil but it is also used to make foodstuff, medicines, woven material and wines.

We are rapidly approaching July 5th, the official start of school so decided we should get away for a few days while we still can.  We headed to Melaka (formally called Malacca) which is on the west coast about 150 km from KL,  a port on the Straits of Malacca.

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In the early fifteenth century it was already a famous marketing town on a major trading route for spices and textiles.  Over the years the Malay people were taken over  by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British all of whom have left their mark on the city.  Some of it is a little cheesy, like the fake windmill in the Dutch Square but other aspects are quite amazing.

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We spent most of a day wandering around the ruins of an old fort and St Paul’s church on top of the hill.  It was built around 1600 and there are several graves of people who were buried as early as 1650.

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At the base of the hill is Christ Church which was  built in 1753 to commemorate the 100th year of the Dutch occupation of Melacca. There is still a service held every Sunday in this beautiful church which has a very simple white washed interior with 200 year old,  hand carved pews and heavy timber beams,  each cut from a single tree.

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“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father”

Lydia M Child

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