a weekend off the beaten track

church sanctuary of BCCM Sapulut

church sanctuary of BCCM Sapulut

One long weekend, 3 days 2 nights, 5 hours plus each way on the road, simple living, close to nature and my first mission trip!

A trip that has touched me in more ways than I could have imagined. I came back feeling refreshed (the unpolluted country air is another contributor), renewed, stimulated and that little bit more humane; it truly was a humbling experience!

It was a medical outreach organised by our church Basel Christian Church Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu (English), simply known as BCCM KK (E) (we were told it was the first short mission trip in more than 2 years) to a little town called Sapulut in the interior of Sabah to provide basic medical care to the villagers who live nearby BCCM Sapulut where we were going to attach to throughout our trip as well as to do some painting for the multipurpose hall of the parish.

There were 33 of us in our team with 2 medical doctors, 2 dentists, 2 pharmacists, few nurses and the rest were made up of us from all walks of life but with one common purpose, which was simply to help out in whatever way we could.

With a slight delay of half an hour we departed KK at 8:00am on 4 October 2014 and arrived at BCCM Sapulut at 2:00pm after a lunch break in Keningau. Throughout the whole trip there were moments that evoked various emotions and I dare say it was all these moments that made an unforgettable trip!

It started with the hair-raising moments when our car engine overheated while going uphill along the Crocker Range and we had to make an emergency pit stop and on the way back the heavy mist that had reduced visibility to only 50m; the bewildered-at-first-and-only-laughed-afterward moment when the 2 leading cars in front of us split and took 2 separate directions; the felt-blessed-and-didn’t-feel-like-on-a-mission-trip moments when we were fed with sumptuous meals throughout the trip prepared by the team of selfless ladies who sweated in the kitchen most of the time and when we realised there were flushing toilets, proper bathrooms and comfortable mattresses although most of us had brought our sleeping bags; the test-our-courage moments when we the city folks had to take very cold showers with water from the mountain stream; the “traumatised” or as our dentist Michael put it the “fear-desensitised exercise” moments when we witnessed the villagers getting 2 -3 of their teeth extracted at one time or the young children screaming, struggling or crying inconsolably on the dental chair; the fun and connecting moments when the team had time to chit-chat and get to know each other better or to strengthen old friendships; the warm and fuzzy moments when we were immersed in team spirit and served together in joy; the touching and humbling moments when the church of BCCM Sapulut sang during Sunday service all the worship songs from memory without a single song sheet or an LCD projector, or even sound system but accompanied by only a guitar, and although we did not know how to sing the songs in Malay, we still felt that we were all connected in one spirit and in Christ; the enlightening moments when we truly felt that our blessings to others have had us in return being blessed in so many ways… how could these moments not make this trip a memorable one?

This trip was a first for about one third of us and we know it would not be our last for almost all of us. During the early morning devotion on Sunday Pr. Sharon said that this trip was one of the examples of us getting out of our comfort zone and into something unfamiliar and uncomfortable with us giving up our now-considered luxurious lifestyle after seeing how the villagers live and our modern gadgets and going back to basic with no hot water, no air-conditioning and with extremely slow internet to name a few, it was definitely a stretch and a challenge for us but then with challenges come improvements and growth! We certainly have gained much from seeing how the local people lead a simple life, giving ourselves the opportunity to get close to nature and away from the stresses of city life and seeing how different races and age groups in our team come together and serve in unity, and let love prevail.

At the end of the trip, I am sure all have been enriched by the whole experience in one way or the other and as Elder William reminded us during the devotion on the last morning that we did this all out of love for God, and for His glory. May His name be lifted high!

getting there

from Kota Kinabalu to interior Sapulut via little town Keningau

from Kota Kinabalu to interior Sapulut via little town Keningau

pit stop at highest point of Kimanis-Keningau Highway steep gradients ranging from 10% to 20%

pit stop at highest point of Kimanis-Keningau Highway
steep gradients ranging from 10% to 20%

Pr. Sharon and our driver Clement enjoying the cool air...

Pr. Sharon and our driver Clement enjoying the cool air…

the last part of the bumpy ride to BCCM Sapulut after we got off the main road

the last part of the bumpy ride to BCCM Sapulut after we got off the main road

registration and waiting
The free medical consultation and tooth extraction services were provided for the villagers staying around the area and we found out that some of them had to walk at least half to one hour to get there

medical outreach - medical service

medical outreach – medical service

medical outreach - medical service

medical outreach – medical service

dental service

pulling in the mobile dental chair

pulling in the mobile dental chair

setting up

setting up

the scary looking tools!

the scary looking tools!

the mother was told to sit on the chair and hold the child to pacify her...

the mother was told to sit on the chair and hold the child to pacify her…

both dentists hard at work

both dentists hard at work

Dr. Michael Heng said if circumstances permit for the next trip he would like to do some restoration and conservation dental treatments for the villagers instead of only immediate pain relief measure, i.e. teeth extraction like what he and Kelvin did for this trip.

medical consultation

the funny Dr. Tan Yew Eng showing a serious side of her

the funny Dr. Tan Yew Eng showing a serious side of her

she was very detailed with the case notes!

she was very detailed with the case notes!

Dr. Michael Teng in action

Dr. Michael Teng in action

continued with the dedicated work on the second day

continued with the dedicated work on the second day

nurse taking blood pressure

nurse taking blood pressure

the two young pharmacists - Chun Wai and Siva

the two young pharmacists – Chun Wai and Siva

Dr. Michael Teng giving medical talk after church service

Dr. Michael Teng giving medical talk after church service

Number of patients:
4 October 2014
Medical – 42, Dental – 62

5 October 2014
Medical – 57, Dental – 28

the paint job

the gear and tools travelled the distance too

the gear and tools travelled the distance too

the capable and dedicated painting coordinator brother Joseph unloading with brother Clement

the capable and dedicated painting coordinator brother Joseph unloading with brother Clement

painting for the office

painting for the office

cleaning the cross in the multipurpose hall

cleaning the cross in the multipurpose hall

one side of the wall

one side of the wall

the other side of the wall

the other side of the wall

painted the exterior wall too

painted the exterior wall too

handing over of the leftover paint to the church workers

handing over of the leftover paint to the church workers

Sunday church service

Dr. Michael Teng reading the scripture in Malay, wonderfully done!John 5:1-18 / Yohanes 5:1-18

Dr. Michael Teng reading the scripture in Malay, wonderfully done!
John 5:1-18 / Yohanes 5:1-18

sermon in English by Pr. Sharon Lai and interpreted to Malay by Dr. Michael Teng we could see there truly is joy in serving the Lord!

sermon in English by Pr. Sharon Lai and interpreted to Malay by Dr. Michael Teng
we could see there truly is joy in serving the Lord!

there were mainly womenfolk with some youths and many young children found out that the men, young and old are away working in surrounding areas or plantations to make a living

there were mainly womenfolk with some youths and many young children
found out that the men, young and old are away working in surrounding areas or plantations to make a living

getting ready for our song presentation we wanted to sing a Murut song but realised later that our song is actually in Dusun, but we enjoyed learning and singing it all the same! "mamarayou oku kinorohingan" meaning saya mahu memuji Tuhan/I want to praise God

getting ready for our song presentation
we wanted to sing a Murut song but realised later that our song is actually in Dusun, but we enjoyed learning and singing it all the same!
“mamarayou oku kinorohingan” meaning saya mahu memuji Tuhan/I want to praise God

ministry time - prayers for the local folks better brush up our Malay for the next mission trip so that we can be part of this!

ministry time – prayers for the local folks
better brush up our Malay for the next mission trip so that we can be part of this!

kitchen crew
The ladies who made sure we would not go hungry

the Executive Chef sister Catherine

the Executive Chef sister Catherine

her team of assistants

her team of assistants

how our meal time looked like - this was breakfast on Sunday morning before church service

how our meal time looked like – this was breakfast on Sunday morning before church service

the environment

misty in the morning and the air is crisp

misty in the morning and the air is crisp

after the mist was cleared

after the mist was cleared

ground floor is the multipurpose hall and upstairs are the bedrooms

ground floor is the multipurpose hall and upstairs are the bedrooms

the team

getting ready for the group photo photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Heng

getting ready for the group photo
photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Heng

detours
1st detour – When all was done, we headed to the waterfall nearby before leaving Sapulut (still it took us about half an hour on unpaved bumpy road to get there, it was really off-road expedition!)

water fall in Sapulut

"stream of living water"

“stream of living water”

2nd detour – we went to Nabawan and paid a short visit to BCCM Nabawan

BCCM Nabawan

BCCM Nabawan

footprints to sapulut

Ps. Ishak Junius of BCCM Nabawan shared with us that in this little 30-year-old building on stilts with a tight space of about 600 square metres there is a flock of 200 worshipers comprised mainly of youths from the further interior who go to school in Nabawan. In plain view we could see that the stilts have started to give way and although the church has plan to build a new church nearby with bigger compound, the local authority has yet to grant its approval despite of the plan being submitted 10 years ago in 1995!

praying for God's intervention, blessings and favour be upon BCCM Nabawan

praying for God’s intervention, blessings and favour be upon BCCM Nabawan

Elder William Ho handing over stationery packs for the students to Ps. Ishak

Elder William Ho handing over stationery packs for the students to Ps. Ishak

a little blessing from us to BCCM Nabawan - just found out as I blogged that the love gift would come in handy to renew the insurance and road tax for the van that Ps. Ishak drives!

a little blessing from us to BCCM Nabawan – just found out as I blogged that the love gift would come in handy to renew the insurance and road tax for the van that Ps. Ishak drives!

Last but not least… how could I leave out the flowers!
Here are the selected flowers taken in the compound of BCCM Sapulut which are aptly named…

star of bethlehem Hippobroma Longiflora

star of bethlehem
Hippobroma Longiflora

crown of thorns, Christ plant, Christ thorn Euphorbia Milii

crown of thorns, Christ plant, Christ thorn
Euphorbia Milii

euphorbia milii, crown of thorns, christ plant, christ thorn

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

One thought on “a weekend off the beaten track

  1. Pingback: I followed His voice – short mission trip (part 2 of 2) | Colourful Threads of Life

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