It’s been a while. Honestly, I’ve needed some time to process on my own. Yet in the past few weeks, I have been having the urge to write. Word vomit everything I have been feeling.

Really, to describe what I have been feeling these past two months since arriving back to the United States is hard. I’m not sure if there is a word. Except maybe rollercoaster. Ups and downs, twists and turns. So buckle up and feel free to come along for the ride if you want (aka, this could be a long blog post, but don’t say I didn’t warn you….)

Let’s just say in the weeks leading up to my last days in Malaysia, I was not excited to come back “home.” Now, for those nearest and dearest to my heart, don’t take this the wrong way because I was beyond excited to see all of you! But I kind of had a really great thing going, and wasn’t quite ready to give it up. I was with amazing people and communities. My faith was growing. My life was focused on serving God and serving others. On being present in the here and now. And quite frankly, I was scared of coming back to a place I call “home,” not knowing what that even looked like anymore. Not knowing how I would fit in to my own culture and country.

Yet in my first month back, I found myself thinking this is too easy. I had prepared myself for the worst. Reverse culture shock was not a word I was even familiar with before YAGM. During orientation before leaving for Malaysia, when people talked about reverse culture shock being worse than initial culture shock, I thought, “yeah right!” No way possible. But as the weeks approached to leave Malaysia, I fully grasped what they meant. I got it. I really did. And so I was prepared for it to hit me full force.

Yet, I didn’t really feel like anything hit me. I was a little jet lagged for a short time, but nothing major. And it was absolutely wonderful connecting with friends and family. Dinner and coffee dates catching up on the past year. Visiting family and seeing friends for the first time in a long time. Enjoying the company of wonderful people.

So when things seemed to being going, well seamless, I started doubting. Sure I missed, and am still missing, my family and friends in Malaysia hardcore. But where was the reverse culture shock? Was I not as close to my communities as I thought? Had I not delved into the culture as much as it felt I had? All along had I been clinging onto my American values, which was why things were going so well upon my return?

I shouldn’t have feared so much because after about a month the rollercoaster high of being “home” started to fade, and the rollercoaster started to take a dip. The dinner and coffee dates ended. I started preparing and packing to move to the Los Angeles area to start advanced training in sensory integration through the University of Southern California. The fear of living in a big city where I knew no one began creeping in.

And the fear of a completely unknown future after mid-December. All those get-togethers with friends who seem to have it all together with jobs and buying homes and starting families made me wonder what the heck am I doing?? I’m a 27-year with no job, no concrete life plan starting next year, and living in my parent’s guest bedroom. Uffda!

All the questions about Malaysia and living in community and serving God stopped abruptly from those around me. And instead were greeted with the million dollar questions of, “So what are you going to DO now?” “Where are you getting a job?”

And all the things I had stepped away from when I made the decision (and the absolutely best decision ever!) to join YAGM, came crashing back. Suddenly American standards of success were smack dab in my face again. And oh man, even though, I made a decision a year and half ago not to let my life be defined by these things, it is really hard not to get sucked right back in again. Boy, is it amazing how fast it happens.

Over the past three weeks, the rollercoaster of life has been cruising at a comfortable pace. I love the training program and everything I am learning, and it is great to be back in the clinic a few times a week practicing occupational therapy again. I am living with a wonderful family who has welcomed me with open arms, including me in some family events and inviting me to share a few meals with them. I found a church I love that has an active young adults group. And much to my own surprise, I am actually liking Southern California. I mean, who doesn’t like 80+ degree weather at the end of September?

As much as I feared the unknown of my next step after YAGM, in my short-time here, I am realizing that the very things that defined my time in Malaysia, are defining my time now. Being present. Valuing my relationships with fellow students, staff at the pediatric therapy center, church members, and those that I live with. Slowly learning to trust God. And I emphasize the slowly, because this is a process.

As terrifying as the ride has been, especially terrifying in not knowing what twists and turns are up ahead in the future, the post YAGM rollercoaster ride sure beats any amusement park.


Becky : )


Below is an article from my final newsletter. For a complete copy, click on the newsletters page / link above at the top of the page.

My final two weeks in Malaysia were nothing short of a smorgasbord of food. There was the dinner of fresh fish and prawns and all kinds of seafood delicacies with Girls Brigade leaders. I was excited to have my first taste of a Malaysia steamboat dinner with volunteers and committee members from Handprints. I enjoyed Malaysia favorites, everything from satay to curry, at a pot bless dinner complete with a durian cake from cell group friends. And to end the last week at my site placements, I enjoyed a BBQ with lots of delicious food, karaoke, and dancing at Cheshire Home.

So much food. So much eating. And so much conversation filled with laughter and tears and feelings of being blessed by people who have had a profound impact on not just my time in Malaysia, but also my life.

Really, I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was how the end of my time in Malaysia was like. When I really think about it so much of my time happened around the dinner table. So many of my relationships developed as I shared a meal with someone.

There were breakfast meals at local shops with my site supervisor, Jennifer, as we caught up on life and daily happenings at Cheshire Home. Nightly dinner conversations with Mrs. S. and her two granddaughters as we shared the days happenings, teaching one another about each other’s culture and language. Friday nights at 10:00 you could be sure to find me around the dinner table with friends from cell group as we enjoyed fellowship and food after our weekly bible study.

All of this is why when I hear the word accompaniment, part of me instantly thinks of people gathered around a table. All of this is why I think of the shared meals and food and conversation that happened simply because so many people during my year extended hospitality in the form of an invitation to eat. After all, in Malaysia, sometimes it was not all that uncommon to be asked if I had eaten before I was even asked how I was doing. Food became this powerful symbol of hospitality and love and friendship.

And around a table, sharing a meal, is just where God wants us to be. Breaking bread together. In community. Receiving nourishment and grace and forgiveness that only He can provide.


Becky : )

Cheshire Community

In one of my final weeks in Kota Kinabalu (KK), a church member asked me what I had expected before I had arrived in Malaysia. And now, 11 months later, if and how these expectations had changed. What did I think of Sabah, and for that matter Malaysia as a whole, now that I had lived there for a significant portion of time. I honestly had to tell her that I really didn’t have a whole lot of expectations before arriving. (Which in hindsight was one of the best possible things.) I honestly had to tell her that 1 1/2 years ago I’m not even sure if I could have successfully located Malaysia on a world map. If I had any expectations at all, it probably was that I would be living in community and hopefully make some friends along the way.

What I never could have expected was that I would leave Malaysia with a second family. What I never could have expected is that so many places in KK became home. That was Cheshire to me. A place that felt like home. A place that I spent my days with family. Each person an important member of that family who taught me a wealth of things throughout the year.

The residents were always an endless source of smiles. For a girl with a really big bubble (e.g., I like my personal space), I gave and received more hugs from them in one day than I was used to giving and receiving in months at a time. And for a girl that has no dance moves what-so-ever and fears public embarrassment, the residents taught me not to worry so much about what other people think and just dance. And so by the end of the year, I needed a little less encouragement than usual to get out and dance when the opportunity called for it. So thanks to the residents for teaching me not to take life quite so seriously and just to have fun!

Playing cards with Uncle Joseph.

Playing cards with Uncle Joseph.

The bakery trainees brought lots of laughter and fun to Cheshire Home. We had English tutoring sessions and classes together. Physiotherapy and exercise sessions. Bakery sales at the waterfront and across town. And through it all, probably the most important lesson they taught me was patience. Patience as a teacher and a student. They were patient with me (a person without a degree as an educator) as I fine tuned lesson plans and English lessons during the year. They were patient with me as we tried new games and activities. Some hits. And some absolute failures from the get go. I learned to be patient as we repeated the same word over and over and over again. And learned to be patient with myself as I would then remember the countless times each day they asked me to repeat a Bahasa Melayu word over and over and over again. Still never quite getting it quite right and forgetting it by the next conversation when I needed to use that same exact word we had repeated over and over and over again. We truly accompanied each other during the year. All of us language teachers. All of us language students.

They were always eager teachers. Always letting me try to make the new recipes on the board for the day’s class. Egg tarts. Roti jala. Cheshire’s chocolate chip cookies. And always letting me try (aka eat) more than my far share of samples (which were delicious by the way!).

But what really captured me about the bakery trainees was their spirit. Spirit of determination and perseverance, which I witnessed as they faced their fears at OBS camp. And witnessed daily at Cheshire Home. Their spirit of kindness as teenagers and twenty somethings embraced residents by lending a helping hand or being a listening ear. Thanks to the bakery trainees for teaching me to be a better teacher AND student with more patience and perseverance.

Learning how to row before setting sail at OBS camp.

Celebrating learning how to row before setting sail at OBS camp.

The Young Voices members have played an important role in my professional growth. I may have spent 5 1/2 years getting a degree in a healthcare profession and three years working in a hospital as an occupational therapist, but I don’t know if I really got it until this year. They shared their stories about what it means to live with a disability. They shared their joys and their struggles and the injustices that are present in a not always accessible world. I went from working with people in the acute stages of their illness for a few hours a week within the safety of the hospital walls to accompanying people years after their accident or injury in the not always friendly environments of the real world, everything from public restrooms to airplane aisles.

They taught me to look at things with a new eye. Not just to think about ramps and the size of public restrooms for wheelchair users, but think bigger in terms of accessibility. From airplanes to interpreters for the hearing impaired. They taught me to think beyond just my profession to look at advocacy from a broader perspective.

More importantly, in hearing their stories, I learned about how Young Voices gave them a voice. How they gained confidence and support. How at the end of the day, it all came down to them feeling like people. Feeling like they were being treated as people. How in my future work as an occupational therapist, remembering this first and foremost.  Thanks to Young Voices members for teaching me that my “people skills” are far more important in making a difference than any professional skills or education or work experience I will ever have.

The staff became wonderful friends. Welcoming a complete stranger from the opposite side of the world who didn’t speak their language and who didn’t know anything about their culture initially, yet always making me felt like I belonged. They welcomed me around the lunch table, sharing meals together and making me a part of the conversation. Patiently waiting while I pulled out my handy dictionary to figure out a word or ask them to repeat for the billionth time something I didn’t understand as they talked what I felt was a mile a minute in perfect Bahasa. They welcomed me into their homes and their lives for everything from wedding celebrations to church services. Teaching me about their customs and culture and letting me experience a snippet of what it means to be Sabahan.

From an outsider perspective we were all very different. Different cultures. Malay to Kadazan-Dusun to a white girl from the United States. Different religions. Christian to Muslim. Different people who sometimes didn’t really feel all that different. That was the beauty of it. At the end of the day, despite our differences, we were friends. Just like any other friends. Sharing stories and laughter, sharing our lives with one another. Thanks to the staff for teaching me what it means to give and receive radical forms of hospitality from friends of all races and religions and cultures and lifestyles.

Kaamatan Festival celebrations at the Waterfront in May with staff, bakery trainees, and Young Voices members.

Kaamatan Festival celebrations at the Waterfront in May with staff, bakery trainees, and Young Voices members.

Thanks to the residents, bakery trainees, Young Voices members, staff, and the entire Cheshire community for welcoming me into your community. For making me feel at home with your never-ending hospitality and kindness. And for most importantly making me a part of your family.

Blessings from the United States,

Becky : )

Guest Blog: Returning Home

Below is a letter from the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) Mexico Country Coordinator, Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, which was written on May 20, 2009. The letter was shared with the YAGM Malaysia group recently as we prepare to return to the United States.

“An Open Letter to the Friends & Families of Returning Young Adults in Global Missions (from the Mexico Country Coordinator, Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, a former YAGM herself)”.

“My name is Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, and I’m the Country Coordinator for the Young Adults in Global Mission program in Mexico. During our second-to-last retreat this year, I asked my volunteers to write a letter to their friends and family back home. I asked them to write about how they felt, given that they only have a couple months left here. I asked them to write about how they’d changed and what they were afraid of in returning home. I asked them to write about what they had discovered about themselves, and what they were looking forward to in returning home.

I asked them to write it raw. I asked them to be as honest as they could. Sure, I told them, you can send it if you want to. You can make it part of your final newsletter or blog post. But you can always go back and edit for that later.

Write this one raw.

This might seem like a strange request, but I wish that someone had asked it of me. Reverse culture shock is nobody’s idea of a good time, and I’ve gone through it enough (including after my own YAGM year) to know that it doesn’t only affect the person returning home; it affects everyone around them.

So I wish someone had asked this of me. I wish someone had asked me how I really felt, because I only rarely admitted that to myself. I wish someone had asked me to write it down, so I could go back to it later and process it. I wish someone had asked if there were parts of it I wanted to share with friends and family before I returned; something that might have, at least in part, prepared all of us for what would be a bumpy landing.

But no one did, and so I didn’t.

Maybe I’m projecting my own needs onto my volunteers. Maybe they’re all so perfectly well-adjusted with such uber-functional families and uber-supportive friends that everyone will sail through this transition without even blinking.

Then again, maybe they won’t. Either way, I figure it can’t hurt.

The funny thing is, when I asked my volunteers to write a letter, I didn’t exactly expect to write one myself. My husband and I aren’t returning home for good for at least four years, so that transition isn’t exactly looming over my thoughts. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I know what I would’ve said had someone asked.

And so, I wrote a letter (or a list, as it may be) to you, in case your very own Young Adult in Global Mission doesn’t get around to sending theirs:

10 Suggestions for Helping your Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) Return Home

1. Don’t ask the question, “So how was it?” Your YAGM cannot function in one-word answers right now, especially ones intended to sum up their entire year’s experience, and being asked to do so may cause them to start laughing or crying uncontrollably. Ask more specific questions, like “Who was your closest friend?” or “What did you do in your free time?” or “What was the food like?” or “Tell me about your typical day.”

2. If you wish to spend time with your YAGM, let them take the lead on where to go and what to do. Recognize that seemingly mundane rituals, like grocery shopping or going to the movies, may be extremely difficult for someone who has just spent a year living without a wide array of material goods. One former YAGM, for example, faced with the daunting task of choosing a tube of toothpaste from the 70-odd kinds available, simply threw up in the middle of the drugstore.

3. Expect some feelings of jealousy and resentment, especially if your YAGM lived with a host family. Relationships that form during periods of uncertainty and vulnerability (the first few months in a foreign country, for example) form quickly and deeply. The fact that your YAGM talks non-stop about their friends and family from their country of service doesn’t mean that they don’t love you, too. It simply means that they’re mourning the loss (at least in part) of the deep, meaningful, important relationships that helped them to survive and to thrive during this last year. In this regard, treat them as you would anyone else mourning a loss.

4. You may be horrified by the way your YAGM dresses; both because their clothes are old and raggedy and because they insist on wearing the same outfit three days in a row. Upon encountering their closet at home, returning YAGMs tend to experience two different emotions: (1) jubilation at the fact that they can stop rotating the same 2 pairs of jeans and 4 shirts, and (2) dismay at the amount of clothing they own, and yet clearly lived without for an entire year. Some YAGMs may deal with this by giving away entire car loads of clothing and other items to people in need. Do not “save them from themselves” by offering to drive the items to the donation center, only to hide them away in your garage. Let your YAGM do what they need to do. Once they realize, after the fact, that you do indeed need more than 2 pairs of jeans and 4 shirts to function in professional American society, offer to take them shopping. Start with the Goodwill and the Salvation Army; your YAGM may never be able to handle Macys again.

5. Asking to see photos of your YAGM’s year in service is highly recommended, providing you have an entire day off from work. Multiply the number of photos you take during a week’s vacation, multiply that by 52, and you understand the predicament. If you have an entire day, fine. If not, take a cue from number 1 above, and ask to see specific things, like photos of your YAGM’s host family, or photos from holiday celebrations. Better yet, set up a number of “photo dates,” and delve into a different section each time. Given the high percentage of people whose eyes glaze over after the first page of someone else’s photos, and the frustration that can cause for someone bursting with stories to tell, this would be an incredible gift.

6. At least half the things that come out of your YAGM’s mouth for the first few months will begin with, “In Mexico/Slovakia/South Africa/etc…” This will undoubtedly begin to annoy the crap out of you after the first few weeks. Actually saying so, however, will prove far less effective than listening and asking interested questions. Besides, you can bet that someone else will let slip exactly what you’re thinking, letting you off the hook.

7. That said, speak up when you need to! Returning YAGMs commonly assume that almost nothing has changed in your lives since they left. (This happens, in part, because you let them, figuring that their experiences are so much more exciting than yours, and therefore not sharing your own.) Be assertive enough to create the space to share what has happened in your life during the last year.

8. Recognize that living in a very simple environment with very few material belongings changes people. Don’t take it personally if your YAGM seems horrified by certain aspects of the way you live – that you shower every day, for example, or that you buy a new radio instead of duct-taping the broken one back together. Recognize that there probably are certain things you could or should change (you don’t really need to leave the water running while you brush your teeth, do you?), but also that adjusting to what may now feel incredibly extravagant will simply take awhile. Most YAGMs make permanent changes toward a simpler lifestyle. Recognize this as a good thing.

9. Perhaps you had hopes, dreams, and aspirations for your YAGM that were interrupted by their year of service. If so, you may as well throw them out the window. A large percentage of returning YAGMs make significant changes to their long-term goals and plans. Some of them have spent a year doing something they never thought they’d enjoy, only to find themselves drawn to it as a career. Others have spent a year doing exactly what they envisioned doing for the rest of their lives, only to find that they hate it. Regardless of the direction your YAGM takes when they return…rejoice! This year hasn’t changed who they are; it has simply made them better at discerning God’s call on their lives. (Note: Some YAGMs spend their year of service teaching English, some are involved in human rights advocacy, others work with the elderly or disabled, and at least one spent his year teaching British youth to shoot with bows and arrows. The results of this phenomenon, therefore, can vary widely.)

10. Go easy on yourself, and go easy on your YAGM. Understand that reverse culture shock is not an exact science, and manifests itself differently in each person. Expect good days and bad days. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (including of the pharmaceutical variety) if necessary. Pray. Laugh. Cry. This too shall pass, and in the end, you’ll both be the richer for it.”


Last Wednesday, I spent my final evening at Handprints. And tomorrow night I will say goodbye over a farewell dinner to the people of Handprints who became an important part of my time in Sabah. Which seems appropriate as my time with Handprints really began over dinner when a family affiliated with the toy library shared about the organization at the BCCM’s 130th anniversary dinner last November.

Handprints was never an official placement site like Cheshire Home and Girls Brigade. And I didn’t even start volunteering there until January, nearing almost the half-way mark of my time in Sabah. But it has become a special part of my life in Sabah.

My whole goal of at least getting a glimpse at the toy library was to expand my knowledge on community resources not only in Kota Kinabalu, but also spark my interest in doing more research about what is available in the United States. People kept telling me how popular toy libraries are in the U.S., but I honestly have no idea as have never even heard of one in any of the U.S. communities I have lived in. So essentially, I wanted to learn more about this type of concept for a toy library. And plus I figured there was the added benefit of playing with kids : ) My goal was an “ends.”

Yes, the things I have named above have happened. I have learned more about a community resource center like a toy library. I have accompanied people in this learning process because as I learn from them, I have also had the chance to use my own gifts and talents to teach them on various therapy topics. And I have got to chase kiddos across the room. Cheer as they made it down the slide. And help them finish puzzles and lace beads.

But in the months to come, when I think of my time at Handprints, this is not what will come to mind. Instead Handprints was a “means” to build relationships with other church members in the congregation I have been a part of for the past 10 months. A means to walk alongside fellow church members who are volunteers and committee members at Handprints. Many who admit they never envisioned serving in this capacity to work with children with disabilities, but who faithfully serve and now have a heart and passion for this type of ministry.

Worldwide Day of Play at the church on May 24th.

Worldwide Day of Play at the church on May 24th.

When I started volunteering on Wednesdays, many nights not a single kid would come. But yet the time passed fast as I visited with the other volunteers and built relationships.

And through these relationships, at church on Sunday I noticed how many more church members I knew. Suddenly people became more than just a face sitting in the aisle across from me. They were individuals with stories to share. People who became friends who invited me into their homes for their children’s birthday parties or asked me to share a meal.

And even now, as over the past few months Wednesday evenings are filled with children racing around Handprints eager to get their hands on each and every toy possible, I still don’t think of my two hours a week of playing with kids as my reason for being at Handprints. It all comes back to the workers, volunteers, and committee members, the people I spent my time with. The friendships I have formed.

So thanks to all the workers, volunteers, and committee members for making me a part of your community these past six months! Thanks for your hospitality and kindness. And most importantly thank you for teaching me about the beauty and importance of being in community in God’s church and the world!

Blessings from Malaysia,

Becky : )

Sponsor for a Day

Sponsor: Brent & Vicki Z.

Date: July 9, 2013

Thank you to Brent and Vicki Z. for their continued support of the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. Happy Birthday to their granddaughter Addison Donna H. on her 4th birthday!

Small Things Done With Great Love: Girls Brigade

For most Sundays over the past year, around 4:30 you could find me gathered with the Girls Brigade. With the girls in formation and the leaders looking on, we always sang our closing song to end our time together:

Captain divine our work is now complete

And as we part we gather at Thy feet

To give our labor and ourselves to Thee

Without reserve Thy cause to serve

O captain hear us as we pledge to be

True to our creed in thought and deed

A reminder of the ultimate purpose of all that we do, both in Brigade and our daily lives – to serve God. Those words took on new meaning as Sunday marked my last Sunday with the girls. That the closing was not just a parting for the week, but a parting with a bit more finality.

So during the awards ceremony for the girls, as each girl marched forward, and I looked at them as we saluted each other, although the difficulty that comes with endings and good-byes was strongly present, I also couldn’t help but think about what a blessing each of them has been to me over the past year. What a blessing being a part of Girls Brigade has been.

We have had fun together. Baking brownies and decorating cupcakes. Taking field trips to the coco factory in town. Playing new games. Walking and running at the sports complex as the girls prepared for a race.

Making brownies!

Making brownies!

We have learned together. Learning new skills like scrapbooking. Exploring one another’s culture as I taught them about United States culture, while they shared their own culture through our experiences.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in February!

Celebrating Chinese New Year in February!

We have worshipped together. At church with some of the girls who attend the same congregation. And through bible studies during the weekly meetings.

We have had adventures together. Trekking through the jungle at adventure camp. Building campfires in the pouring rain. Rafting down rivers.

School-based GB group practicing drill at a day camp.

School-based Girls Brigade group practicing drill at a day camp.

Recognizing that all of those things I wrote above are relatively “small things.” I did nothing extraordinary with the girls except love them. Walk alongside them. Show them “Great love.” Through this, beautiful relationships have formed that I will forever treasure.

And these relationships with the girls have taught me an incredibly important lesson this year. What it means to really be “present.” Something that has and is not always the easiest for me. I am an analyzer. I like to reflect. Which can mean I tend to think about the past a lot. And on the flip side, I am also a planner. Which can mean I tend to think about the future a lot. Which when combined makes it difficult at times to be “present.”

With the girls, though, they know little about my past. Except for pointing out where I have lived on a globe and map and meeting my family when they visited, they don’t know a whole lot about my past. Most probably don’t know where I went to college. Or much about my profession.

And not many of the girls know what I will be doing when I return to the United States. Where I will be living. Where I will be studying and working.

Instead they only know me as Miss Becky. My past and future mean little to them.  And because I couldn’t rely on my past or future, I learned what it meant to really be present. The girls only saw me for what I was for the hours I spent with them at weekly meetings and camps throughout the year.

So I learned that smiles and laughter are far more important than finding the perfect game to play. And hugs and high fives take precedence over pretty much everything. I learned that even though my to-do list was always waiting at home, calling my name, staying well past closing drill and clean-up to chat with friends was one of my favorite parts of the week. I learned that truly being present with “great love” makes for beautiful friendships with absolutely sweet girls.

Thanks 2nd Kota Kinabalu Coy for welcoming me into your community. Letting me accompany you throughout the year. And most importantly for our friendship filled with “great love!”

Girls Brigade Awards Ceremony June 30, 2013.

Girls Brigade Awards Ceremony June 30, 2013.

Blessings from Malaysia,

Becky : )

** Note: Photos of Girls Brigade members published with permission.

Celebrating Culture

Below is an article from my July newsletter. For a complete copy, click on the newsletters page / link above at the top of the page.

During the discernment, interview, and placement event last year when interviewing for the YAGM program, one of the words used to describe Malaysia was cultural crossroads. And that has certainly been true. References will site Malays, Chinese, and Indians as the three main cultural groups in Malaysia. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In Sabah, there are the Kadazan-Dusun people. Murut. Runggus. Just to name a few.

Malaysia strongly promotes ‘1Malaysia.’ The slogan proudly displayed on everything from shop signs to T-shirts. A means to unite people. A crossroads of races. Religions. A nation even separated into two geographical parts by the South China Sea. Yet all are Malaysians. All are ONE.

Yet, I have also been impressed at how much each cultural group also maintains their own customs and traditions while always striving for unity. Maybe the awe of this is the fact that I primarily only identify my identity as a person from the United States. Except for a few treats my family has at Christmas gatherings, and university projects researching my family tree and heritage, I know, and for that matter practice, very few traditions from my ancestor’s countries of origin. German and Norwegian and many other cultures seem only like labels versus my way of life.

So the chance to practice customs and traditions in Malaysia from various ethnic groups has been a way to celebrate and honor their way of life. I was grateful for the weekend I got to help two friend’s / co-worker’s families plant padi, and the opportunity to try on a Kadazan-Dusun traditional outfit And despite not being very crafty, I discovered I really enjoy making rotan baskets, a popular handicraft sold in Malaysian markets, which my co-workers recently began teaching me to do. All beautiful celebrations of a nation. A cultural crossroads.

Accompanying friends and celebrating culture by learning how to plant padi.

Accompanying friends and celebrating culture by learning how to plant padi.

Traditional Kadazan-Dusun outfits.

Traditional Kadazan-Dusun outfits.

Learning how to make rotan baskets with the help of friends.

Learning how to make rotan baskets with the help of friends.

Blessings from Malaysia,

Becky : )

Sponsor for a Day

Sponsor: Nate & Shanda S.

Date: June 6, 2013

Last year, Shanda asked me and another friend to join her and her sister on a trip to Hawaii as they celebrated her sister Sherise’s high school graduation. One year ago today we visited Pearl Harbor. In remembering that trip, Shanda has requested prayers for honor today as we remember the lives lost in serving our country. “Remember standing on top of the USS Arizona and the feeling that over 70 years ago men were trapped inside struggling to find a way up to live. Remember all the names posted on that white building?” Prayers also for all those who are serving our country today.

Sponsor for a Day

Sponsor: Jim & Gina C.

Date: June 5, 2013

Thanks to Jim & Gina C. for generously sponsoring a second day! Today they are celebrating Gina’s birthday. Gina, I hope you birthday is filled with wonderful memories as you celebrate with family and friends. Prayers for a wonderful year ahead filled with blessings and good health!