Tea & Tigers in the Highlands of Malaysia…

Hi, lovely to have you drop by…as many enjoyed my last reflection on the Leprosy community in Thailand… I thought I would share another inspiring adventure from the same time period. An adventure that I still find astonishing in its timing & encouraging in its preparation…

green treesTo set the mood, I thought I would brew some black tea & accompany it with a delicious bowl of sweet & crispy coconut rolls for our theme…

The tea is a mellow blend, smooth on the tongue & the coconut rolls are so delicious that you can’t stop at just one! Mmmm…morish!

While working at Dalat School in Malaysia I had the privilege of meeting many visitors from all over the world, on one particular occasion I met an English family  living & working in the Cameron Highlands at the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) school there, he was the principal & she a teacher. I invited them over for dinner that night & we had a lovely time of fellowship together, their children were a little older than ours but all got on famously. On leaving they invited us to visit & share in their work in the Highlands.

So the next school break, we packed the car, took the car ferry from Penang across the Straits of Malacca to the mainland & headed for the Cameron Highlands…it was a picturesque trip through towns, passing Malay Kampongs (villages), Buddhist & Hindu temples, Mosques, farmland with water buffaloes, rice paddies, pigs, ducks & other animals.

We finally reached the foot of the mountains to start the ascent. The area was so interesting…with tea plantations blanketing the steep slopes of the mountainside. Tea pickers in their colorful Saris balancing baskets full of fresh green leaves from their heads scattered throughout the rows of tea bushes. And little roadside stalls beckoning us to stop every so often, selling fresh produce & handmade curios. The air became noticeably crisper & colder the higher we climbed, which was such a welcomed change after living in the humidity of the tropics…

We finally arrived at our destination which was a quaint old School Masters building from colonial days, complete with a wood heater in the living room & surrounded by the most beautiful English garden. That night we enjoyed a lovely home cooked meal with our new friends & made plans to meet up a few days later for afternoon tea. We were given a warning to be very careful & watchful after dark, as Tigers roamed the surrounding forests!

tiger through green leaves during dayThe next morning as we explored the area & its attractions, while driving I was sure I glimpsed a tiger amongst the bushes enjoying the sunshine! Later that day we heard that a tea worker had been attacked by a Tiger the previous night, not far from the compound where we were staying (the worker had survived)! This news was rather sobering & a little unnerving!

It came time forthe afternoon tea with our friends…while sitting around their cosy & warm fireplace, enjoying Devonshire tea together, my new friend started sharing their experience of the loss of their eldest child, who had died at birth…& retrieved a photo album from the shelf to share the photos of their child’s funeral. I’m a bit of a softy so I found this incredibly sad & a little overwhelming at the time (this was before I was clinically counseling). I felt incredibly privileged that they were comfortable to share this heart wrenching & deeply personal experience.

When the time came to say our farewells, my friend handed me a book called Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers, saying she thought I would find it comforting. I thought this a very strange statement at the time but pushed it to one side thinking it had obviously been a comfort to them in their grief & that was what she had meant…

“He comes alongside us when we have hard times, & before you know it,  He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. “ Refer

I didn’t get to see these new friends again & sadly we lost contact over time but I can say without a doubt…that this meeting was definitely God ordained! It was a meeting over tea & treats that was a time of preparation for the coming events in my life…ten months later… my daughter Candy was born sleeping (stillborn) & then ten months after that my son Benjamin was also born sleeping (stillborn) shared in Eternity. I did indeed find comfort in my friend’s shared experience & Dale’s story in the book, to know others had been through the death of their child & found strength in God’s comfort was very comforting!

When you look back over your life…can you see definitive moments ordained by God? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below…(or click on the title of this reflection which will take you to its page, where you will find the comment section at the end)…until next time…dear friend…

Jennifer

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Leprosy community in Thailand…

Today we are going to travel back in time to share an encouraging & inspirational adventure that I feel very privileged to have experienced & I know you will find very inspiring…

agriculture asia countryside cropland

I have brewed an interesting tea blend for the occasion; Apple, green & black tea combination with a freshly baked Gf Date loaf (still warm) with lashings of butter. The tea is very different, not sure of the success of this combination with the first sip but it becomes tastier with each ensuing mouthful. The date loaf is ridiculously delicious!

Shall we travel to our reflective destination now…

When I was living & working in Penang, Pearl of the Orient  & while on the archeological quest of Digging for treasure… I was invited to travel to Khon Kaen in Thailand to share in the work amongst those living with the effects of leprosy.

This trip was of immense interest to me….since I was a small child & had first heard the stories of those suffering from Leprosy in ancient biblical texts, my heart had ached for those who were excluded & isolated from their families, friends & communities because of the stigma & fear that this disease incites in communities. Naively, I hadn’t realized back in 1980 that it was still causing havoc in peoples lives to this day!

I traveled on a fascinating train journey, passing farmers working in rice fields with water buffalo, through exotic villages & towns sprinkled with the glorious colors of a tropical country side….from Butterworth, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand.

agriculture carabao clouds countryside

Then continuing the journey from Bangkok arriving in Khon Kaen to stay with my friend who had given the invitation. The next day we took a drive out to the Leprosy community, which was quite a distance from the city into the county side. The community were very excited to have a new visitor & had prepared a delicious Thai meal to share with us. Afterwards I was given a tour of the compound. It was very impressive in its self sufficiency & ecological sustainability.

Asian vegetables, tropical fruit trees, chickens, fish, goats & pigs were all being farmed & used by the inhabitants of the compound, as well as, the excess being sold to local markets for other provisional needs. I was so impressed with this work & excited that it was now directed & sustained by the community itself!

But the most humbling moment for me…was when it came time for our departure to return to the city. A little lady, with the marks that herald leprosy, walked up to me smiling & carrying a huge basket overflowing with fresh tropical fruit & vegetables, meat & eggs as a gift for me! This was in appreciation for visiting them…She had given me her full week’s food for simply coming to visit…

However my friend informed me, that it wasn’t just a simple visit for this community…it was so much more…it was total acceptance & not rejection, it was the display of love & not recoiling in fear, it was inclusion & not exclusion in socializing over a meal & it was the gift of dignity that the visitation displayed, that had touched the hearts of the whole community…at the time I had not realized the impact that a simple visit to this community would have!

This became a defining moment in my life!

When I returned to Australia…I became an educator for The Leprosy Mission, in between family & work commitments. The Leprosy Mission is a global Christian organization that brings awareness & medical facilitation, dignity & empowerment, social integration, research & resource mobilization with compassion. And they reach half a billion people in the world annually who suffer from this disease!

Bringing awareness to their work, especially here in Australia, became my passion…which led to other amazing adventures that will be shared in future reflections…

This passion has lasted to this day…though I can no longer travel to far off places (reasons shared in Vanilla Rooibos Tea )…I can continue to support this important ministry through prayer & in sharing my own resources.  Over time I have seen Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) become an effective treatment & cure for halting the progression of the disease in the body with research continuing to hopefully one day create a preventative vaccine.

Did you know that there is a diagnosis of Leprosy made every two minutes & that there are over 220,000 new registered cases each year…50% of these cases are children Refer. Some are from the poorest countries in the world but others are in our own countries! So much food for thought…

This lady’s generosity continues to impact my life to this day…let us be mindful of the lasting effects that a simple gesture can have…a visit, a gift of love & the sharing of a meal…until next time dear friend…

Jennifer

Please note; I do not get any type of professional or personal financial reward for sharing this experience. 

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When we have nothing left to give…

Have you ever arrived at a place in your life where you are so worn out that you have literally nothing left to give…it doesn’t matter how hard you try….no…there’s just no energy left…

woman holding gray ceramic mug

Today I have arrived at that destination, so I am going to be very wise & kind to myself by savoring a lovely hot cup of caramelized orange tea with some fruit chips & put my feet up to rest, refresh & restore….while you have fun…click or tap on any of the following colored titles to be transported to a place where you can join me in a delightful time of tea & reflection…

You see when we come to that place of complete exhaustion whether physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally…or may be all four at once…it is very important to realize that we need to take care, to rest, refresh & restore…this especially allows God to…

Be our shepherd, supply for us, giving us a sweet place to lie our weary bodies & a calm peaceful place to restore our souls…to guide us forward into what He has for us, in His will for our lives, to give Him glory…Refer

Well I hope you enjoyed being transported to our time of reflection today, it was so lovely to have you drop by…Until next time dear friend…

Jennifer

Copyright: teawithjennifer.blog All rights reserved. Photo by Pexels.

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