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Malaysia
Event and Street Photographer who leads by the Spirit of God and loves to capture the moment in life either in door or on the street.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Journey home for Christmas 2

Now our journey start again as we left Sarikei for Sibu at 5.25pm on December 22nd. Tony Ngieng sent us to Sibu in his Toyota Hilux. The journey is very bumpy as if we are in a wavy sea. The road quality is good but the road is not level due to the swampy ground on which the road was constructed.

The roads from Sarikei to Sibu are well tarred as compare to Sibu to Dalat road which are mainly going through oil palm plantation. Actually these roads from Sibu to Mukah are plantation road which are used by the plantation workers to transport their crops to the processing factory. I agreed with Pak Uban, our beloved Chief Minister that these plantation speed up the link road from Sibu to Mukah. The people of Mukah, Oya, Dalat, Sg. Kut and Kebuwau appreciate that move by the government. No to be demanding but I think it's about time we upgrade the rough terrain to a proper road.

My sister Monica had a bad experience last month when her old Iswara got stuck in one of the hole on the road in upper Mukah area which damaged her front bumper. Maybe she is not careful enough but the point is, these rough terrain road are not fit for small vehicle unless you drive a 4 Wheel Drive like Toyata Hilux or Ford Ranger or Honda CRV.

People may say that I am comparing West Malaysia road with Sarawak Road as I am more familiar with NKVE, Puncak Alam Expressway, Plus or Jalan Universiti. Yes, I am comparing but not with these good road highways. I know apple has to be compared with apple and Sarawak Pineapple with Sarawak Pineapple. Someone did plant Sarawak Pineapple in West Malaysia and yet the one from Sarawak taste better. I am comparing with road like the road to Janda Baik, Road in Kampong Kok, Perak, road that goes through the rich paddy field in Kedah. I take away the Janda Baik road because the road was constructed around a mountain terrain. How about the road in Kedah that goes through the paddy field. Both are swampy area and have different quality of road. Why?

Are West Malaysia's engineers better than those in Sarawak? This cannot be as both have learned the same technique of road building as to what material to used, combination of material, how to tackle rough terrain, how to tackle soft ground or swampy area or sinking ground and yet we have the different product.

No one is to blame but we, beloved Sarawakian and Malaysian as a whole need to find a way to solve this problem once and for all. It's not about politics, it's not about race, it's not about complain, it's about the common good for the benefit of all. If we can find a way to solve the wavy road in Sarawak, then we can use the same techniques to solve the entire wavy road throughout the whole Malaysia.

I trust in DS Najib Tun Razak's voice of 1Malaysia and I believe it can be done if we work as a team of true Malaysia in heart. Not a slogan but our true self 1Malaysia.

Though Papa Chedet is no longer our Prime Minister but we can still hear the echo of his voice shouting at the top of his voice urging us to strive forward with the vision 2020 and be a developed nation by 2020.

At 11.30am on December 23rd, we took a 600horsepower speedboat to Dalat which takes around 2hours. The boat was full of people, young and old, kids and adults. All of them are going home for Christmas though not all are Christian as some are Muslims and others are Buddist. The kids are having good times shouting and laughing while most of the adults are taking a nap including my wife. The wind is rushing from the front opening of the boat which gives us good cool air.

As our speedboat glide over the water along Igan River, I glanced outside the boat and saw the water in the river is low tide which will affect our journey to Dalat. In order to get to Dalat, we have to go through Kut River which connects to Oya River and Dalat is on the bank of Oya River.

We stopped at one of passenger's house but our engine just stop. Agnes ask me what is happening and I just shake my head and keep on typing in my blog. The engine won't start and we are floating down the Igan River. Babies are crying due to the hot weather and the ladies look worried. Agnes looks uneasy. I keep my cool and keep on writing.

At 12.21pm, the engines gave back the smiles on everyone faces as they can hear the roaring sound of the engine blasted to top speed. Fresh air rushing on our faces and the babies stop crying as the cool air comfort their warm little body. The adults smile at each other as a sign of relieve and gratitude.

Then at 12.51pm, we stop at Bungan village and drop a few passengers which include a young man with a young child who told me to be working in a hotel in Jalan Ampang area in Kuala Lumpur. And off we go again. Strong wind brushes my face and my thin hair and I love it. It's really like home with water, wave, strong wind and fresh air. I really missed this experience when I am working in an air-condition office in Petaling Jaya. This is real fresh and free.

At exactly 1.00pm, we reach Sg. Kut Muara. Then we take a van to Mother's house at Sg. Kut Tengah. My sister Monica also arrive at Mother's house at the same time and we get the house key from our neighbor.

We are safe home at last.

Thanks God for our safe journey and may all within us bless His Holy Name.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


 

 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pray for the Soul of the Dead


Let us continue my journey from my earlier blog entitled Going Home for Christmas 2010.

I did mention in my earlier blog that I am going for a prayer for the soul of the dead on December 22rd but we decided to change it to early December 21st. 

Today is the day and we will be going to the cemetery to offer incense and prayer to Agnes’ beloved one who had gone to her rest. The morning is wet and it’s drizzling since the rain started at around 1.00 AM. 

Today I will miss my morning mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church as we plan to out early. We are ready to go at 7.00AM but the rain has not stopped completely.

My father-in law handed me his favorite coat and his hat and Agnes smile at me.  He said this will protect me from the cold weather. I wonder how about his own daughter, is she alright to get wet?  Then he gives Agnes a few small pin which he believes these pin will protect his daughter from the bad spirit at the cemetery later. Agnes looks at me and I shake my head to indicate to her that I do not need the pin.

At 7.20AM, Agnes brother, Tony comes to fetch us and we have our breakfast at a nearby coffee shop then we head for his home cum factory. There we take the other apparatus for offering and bought a bouquet of flower to be placed at his mother’s tomb. We change the car from his Black Perudua MyVy to his new Toyota Hilux as we have to go through rough terrain.

At 8.10AM, we head for the Sarikei Christian Cemetery which takes around 30m minutes drive. Along the way, I see a few new building without windows and one is about six stories high. Tony explained to us that these building are the house for birds to build their nest. [Rose, maybe you know the name of this bird, ‘manok kepisan’ or silver swift]. Beside Sarawak Pineapple and green Orange, Bird nest is one of Sarikei main product. In my mind I thought, “These people really mean business.” It’s good that they build these building outside the town and residential area as the birds can be very noisy when they came home to sleep. And they throw their drops everywhere.

When we arrive at the cemetery, the rain has stopped and a few people were already at the cemetery. Tony parked his Toyota Hilux at the roadside not far far from the main path.

We take two umbrellas in case of raining again. Tony carries a big box which contains paper money, incense and candle. His wife carries a big container of water, cloths, a bit of newspapers and a broom. I carry a bouquet of flower. I look around and I see that all the tombs were marked with a cross .  Then we walk on the slippery path with care until we reach the tomb of Agnes’ mother.

Tony put the big box which he carried on his broad shoulder at one side of the tomb and start to clean the tomb with paper while his wife opens a container of water and ask him to pour the water on the tomb instead. Thus he pours the water on the tomb and warp with a dry cloth. His son and I pull out a few weeds around the tomb.

Once the tomb cleaned, Tony light up two candles and put on a coke tin as the floor is still wet and light up three incenses which Agnes explained to me of what Tony is doing,  as an offering to ask for permission to open the door of prayer to the dead. I cover his candles and incense with my umbrella as the few drops of rain fall.

Then Tony arranges the bouquet of flower in a vase on the tomb and start to light the incense of offering. He gives each one of us three stick of incenses each and I am the last to do the offering.
I offer up my prayer to God for her soul asking for mercy, forgiveness of sin and everlasting rest, one Hail Mary and three incenses stick. 

I keep praying to God, hoping to get some sign of presence. But I receive nothing, not even a stirring in my heart.  It’s just peace.That is good enough for me.

Then comes the time for burn offering of paper money with their believe that the soul of the dead will not be poor with this offering. As for me, I am burning these papers as part of the ritual and pray to God that the sin of the soul be forgiven and have eternal rest.

Most of Agnes’ cousins wonder why I am doing prayer for the soul of the dead. Most of Agnes’ cousins are Methodist and they do not offer incense and prayer for the soul of the dead. Their argument is that this practice is not in the Holy Bible. Therefore it is not Christian practice. 

True it’s not in the Protestant Bible but before 1517, it’s in the Holy Bible. This tradition had been taken out of their version of the Bible as this tradition was found in the 2nd book Maccabees. The Book of Maccabees is one of the four books taken out of the Protestant Bible.

This practice can be found in 2nd Maccabees 12 verse 39 to verse 45 on the Prayers for those killed in Battle.

42 and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of sin of those who had fallen.
43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this, he acted very well and honorably taking account of the resurrection.
44 For if he was not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fallen asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.
2Maccabees 12:42-45 (NRSV)

This is the reading which Catholic Church reads on the All Souls Day which falls on November 2nd every year.

My mind recalled my experience of praying for the dead.
Years back, I read of a Book called Soul in Purgatory and the  Saints’ experience of praying for the soul in purgatory. And I said to myself, “if Saints can do it, I also can with God will.” 

So when Agnes having her 3rd miscarriage, I start to pray for the soul of the three miscarriages, my grandparents, my uncles, my aunties, my friends  even those I read in the newspapers. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months and nothing happen. I said, “Cannot be!”

On the eight month at my normal time of morning pray that is at 3.00AM, I heard many voices as I walk down the stairs in my house. It’s as if our house is full of people but I could not see. They are very joyful and they are waiting for someone.

Then someone shout, “He is coming already! He is coming already!”

They are waiting for me!!!

The hair at the back of my neck rise and ghost bum covered my body.  I am afraid of the thing I cannot see.  I am scared to my bone. 

In my fright, I pray, “Jesus, help me!” 

And I rush back to my room and grab my Bible and hold it tight to my chest. Pull my blanket and wait for the morning to come. 

I told my wife about this experience and she said, “Don’t play, you know. It’s dangerous.”

Since that day, I never pray for the soul of the dead until recently when I met Father Ignatius Huan during my retreat at Maranatha, Janda Baik, Pahang last October. During my personal meeting with him, I shared this experience with him and  he told me that I am growing in my spiritual life. 

And I learn very important lesson, the soul of the dead is longing for our prayer and the Saints’ experiences were REAL. 

With this I would like to urge, those who read this sharing, PLEASE PRAY for the soul of the dead especially your love ones. They are longing for your prayer and your prayers will bring comfort and joy for their soul.

You prayer can be as simple as, “God, Have mercy on XX. Grant her a good rest or give her comfort.” Or “ O Jesus, have mercy on YY, Forgive his sin.”

Believe me this is a good deed because my heart is stirring as I write this blog.

Mercy to All and Peace to the world.

Merry Christmas and may the peace of Christ be always within us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Going Home for Christmas 2010


Wow!!! Christmas time is coming!!!
It’s 12.30am Sunday morning December 19th and yet I am still playing with my friends on the Facebook game, Kingdom of Camelot. Agnes’s cousin, William Ngieng will send us to KLIA LCCT at around 4.00AM. Our flight to Sibu, Sarawak will be at 7.00AM which takes around 1hour 50minutes.

Back at the Kingdoms of Camelot in Caval250 Kingdom in our alliance Sarmatian Knights, my friends are actively chatting.
Lord Norse and Lady SnowAngel always ready with their attacking strategy and they are really having fun. On the other hand, I am just clicking the help and look for those in need of help.
Lord Norse types in, “JohnCross, when are you going back for Christmas?”
Lady RuththeGreat added, “JC  is going back to his village.”
Then I type in, “Tomorrow morning and have to wake up around 3.00 AM.”
Lord FranktheWise added, “You should be sleeping, sir.”

I bid good bye to everyone and head for late shower. The water is cold and I have to add hot water to make the shower bearable and refreshing.

 As I come out of the shower room, my wife said in a commanding voice, “Set your alarm at 3.00AM.”
“Tonight, don’t have!” I test the water. She just turned around and pulled her blanket and said, “Switch off the light, Sleep early.”
And I respond with a joyful heart, “I love you.”

I switch off the light and go to my side of the bed.
After a while my eyes become familiar with the dark except for the little light from the street light outside, I glance at the image of Devine Mercy next to my bed. An image of Lord Jesus with his hand stretches out in a blessing posture as if He is blessing our sleep.

“Lord, I am coming home for your Birthday. Grant us peace and joy during this celebration. Keep us safe during our journey.”

My heart is stirring and a sense of joy filled my soul. My mind flows back on this Devine Mercy image and our personal experience with this image over the years.
 I bought this image of Devine Mercy from Brother Paul of St. Ignatius Church, Taman Plaza, Kelana Jaya. The image was blessed by our Parish Priest Father Philip Tan on a Devine Mercy Sunday.
Once I wake up in the middle of the night, when I see our bedroom was filled with bright light which comes from the Devine Mercy image. My heart rejoices but I kept this experience to myself as I am scared my wife Agnes will say I am going crazy of Devine Mercy. This experience repeated many times and I am longing for this Bright Light to be there every night.
During this time, I am deeply devoted to the Devine Mercy prayer.
I used to do the Devine Mercy prayer, one in the morning, one during lunch (I used to skip lunch and walk at the back of the office just to do the Devine Mercy prayer), 3 o’clock prayer and one evening.
The prayer that I used to recite during my work time or walking around just to keep my mind on God and acknowledge my sinful self is this:
“Heavenly Father, we offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus in atonement of our sin and those of the whole world.”
And end with, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
God grants me graces upon graces and I live in His Holy Presence. I live in joy and peace in my inner-self and yet I live in real world of chaos and full of unpleasant noise.
Then a day of confirmation of these experience came when my wife Agnes share her abnormal experience.
That time, we were driving back from work one evening and my wife start,
 “Do you realize this or not, there is a bright light coming from the Devine Mercy picture which filled our bedroom. I scared to tell you. I have seen it many times already.”
And I respond, “Praise be to God. He also revealed the Bright Light to you.” And I added, “I have seen the bright light also and I always see it during the night but I also scared to tell you.”
Agnes ask, “Funny loh! Why like that? Why got light and I could not sleep because the light is too bright?”
I just smile at her and said nothing but my heart is stirring with joy and gladness giving thanks to God for His goodness and mercy.
As I recalled this experience, my eyes became heavy and off I doze.
At exactly 3.00 AM, our alarm goes off with the song, “Jesus, lover of my soul.”
We have a fast morning hot shower and do the last packing. I lighted up three tea candles, one in my prayer room, on at the Nativity with Mother Mary and one at the Statue of St. Anthony of Padua.

As I light these candles, I pray, “O God, Have mercy on us. Keep our home safe. Keep your cats safe. Keep our neighbor safe. Keep our family safe. Keep my wife safe. Keep my friends safe. As for me, grant me the grace to be always in your presence. In Jesus precious, I ask. Amen.”

Then I go to my private prayer room and do my daily personal prayer which is quite long but most of the time, I pray in tongues which help a lot in getting myself in the prayer mode. (I will write on my daily personal prayer at a later stage, if He will.) Normally it takes 5minutes to 20minutes. Today it’s only around 6minutes.

God is good and generous.
The result is the same. It’s not the quantity of the time but the quality of the time when you immerse yourself in God’s presence, complete surrender and full of gratitude like a little child in his father loving arms. There no places like His rest and if I can, I want to be in His loving arms forever.
I heard my wife steps coming downstairs and she said, “Today we only light up tea candle! No oiled lights.”
I respond, “I know.” 

I open the door and at the door, I am greeted by Ms Grace the cat. I tell her that I am going back to my hometown and ask her to look after our house. She just meow at me and I think she understand. Mr. Joy the cat and Ms Panda the cat are not around. They are my good friends who keep away the snakes, lizard and even other cats.
We locked our house. 

“O God, protect our house.”
And we carry out our three bags and wait for William Ngieng at our gate.

At 4.00 o’clock, William came in his Kia 4-wheel drive with his two young sons. We pack our bags in the boot of his car and drive off to KLIA LCCT. When we arrive at LCCT, we take down our bags and we thanks William for generosity to fetch us to the airport and we bid him and his kids goodbye and Christmas greeting as he and his family are not going home for Christmas. The two kids wave at us as we push our trolley to the check in area.
The departure areas are crowded with passengers and our counter for check-in headed for Sibu is R45. It’s a long queue but worth waiting. We check in and our two bags weight 38.6KG. Wow! That’s heavy. Actual our limit is 40KG as Agnes had bought another extra 10KG, in case our bags overweight. She made a right choice.
As I sit at the waiting area, Agnes is busy window shopping. Normal thing for the ladies everywhere is good for shopping. 
Alas!!
I take out my Asus EeePC Netbook and connect to LCCT wireless network. This is good. The connection is excellent.  I log on to Facebook and I am back in Kingdoms of Camelot. I see my friends are busy chatting with building all around. 

I am still on the Facebook when the call for boarding time announce. Real bad timing!! I log off the network and off my netbook but the queue is already very long. I lift up my two luggage and walk to the back of the queue and I am greet with a long face from my wife. I shrug my shoulder and smile saying, “I am sorry, sayang.”
We board the plane and what a luck we place a the back row of the plane seat no. 30B
I smile to myself as I help a young female passenger to life up her heavy luggage into the compartment above her seat with this in mind, ‘Is this what Jesus said, “Those who are first will be last and those who are last will be first.” This is good’

The plane takes off a few minutes later and the weather is a bit bumpy as we hit the top speed.
This weather condition does not deter me to take my Asus EeePC Netbook and start to write a blog entitled Going Home for Christmas 2010

We touch down at Sibu Airport at 9.50AM. At the airport there is another long queue and I heard a few passenger speaking in Melanau language. I tell myself, “That’s sound familiar, my own mother tongue.”
We collect our bags and greet by Agnes sister, her husband and their two young smart boys. We pack our bags in his Toyata Prado and headed for his home. 

On the way, I send three SMS saying, ‘Eagle has landed at Sibu Airport. John Ragai.’
When we arrive at Agnes sister house, we repack again and headed for a plate of Kampua Mee at Chinese Coffee Shop. I really missed this Sarawak Noodle. Then we start our journey down to Sarikei which takes around 30 to 45 minutes. I take pictures along the way.

When we arrive in Sarikei, Agnes father greet us and he looks healthier than the last time. As we bring up our bags I can smell nice food and there on the table are ready foods for lunch. As I look closer, I see one big plate of fried prawn, one big plate of crabs, taufo soup in mussel meat and friend long green bean. I am full after a big bowl of kampua mee in Sibu but the food looks delicious and smells good. Further my father-in law looks at me as if he wants to eat together with us.

Now I am in Sarikei and on Tuesday they are having a special prayer for the dead. I will be going home to my own parent house on Wednesday and celebrate the Christmas there with a Sunday Mass in St. Bernard Church, Dalat. 

May God bless us and keep us safe all the time.

Wish you and your family a Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spiritual Life vs Facebook Game

Dear Beloved,

Facebook is one of the most access social network on the internet and we all thanks to the Lord of the Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg for this wonderful tool. Facebook attract human in many ways and game is one of the attraction which also catch me.

Some can not live without the Facebook and some are addicted to games on the Facebook. Some start their day with the facebook and end their day with the Facebook.
They are all hooked and at the mercy of the Facebook.

Is it good? Depends!!!

I have tried my best to avoid the games which will corrupt the soul and yet I put myself to a test.
What will happen to the soul? It's only a game.

I started the test in September 2009 and the game i choose is Mafia Wars. Actually in the beginning, I want to use Barnbuddy but I want something more bloody...like killing or frozen.

My first quest, stealing and robbing. My heart became reckless and my mood changed. I continued doing the quest and my heart just not nice. It's wrong. My heart corrupted abit and my grace decrease.

Then comes the mugging, the extortion, then killing. My heart boils like crazy and I know this is real bad but I keep telling myself this is only a game. The Spirit within me groaming and said, "STOP!"

I did stop after six month when my grace is almost zero and my longing for God become unbearable.

Now I can tell you Facebook games can corrupt the soul.

Choose your game wisely  if you want to live in the Presence of God and always in His rest.

Amen.

Merry Christmas and may you be able to be in His Rest.

St John of the Cross

Greeting, my Beloved.

St John of the Cross is one of my Hero and most of my Avatar in Facebook games is called JohnCross.
He is one of the Saint JOHN (St. John of the Cross, St John the Baptise, St. John the Apostle, St. John of God) who moved me to take up the name John as my confirmation name.

All of them live in the presence of God and lead by His spirit which I want to imitate and learn from them how it can be done.

December 13th is the Solemnity of St. John of the Cross and i would like to share his Spiritual Canticle.

This is a quote from The Spiritual Canticle


Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
You fled like the stag
After wounding me;
I went out calling You, and You were gone.

O Word, my Spouse, show me where You are hidden.
The hiding place of the Word of God is as St. John asserts [Jn. 1:18], the bosom of the Father, that is the divine essence.
The Son is the only delight of the Father, Who rests nowhere else, nor is present in any other than in His beloved son. The Word, the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, is hidden by His essence and His presence in the innermost being of the soul. There the good contemplative must seek Him with love.

Oh, then, soul most beautiful among all the creatures, so anxious to know the dwelling place of your Beloved that you may go in quest of Him and be united with Him, now we are telling you that you yourself are His dwelling and His secret chamber and hiding place.

Merry Christmas and Peace to All.

Friday, December 17, 2010

11th Years Wedding Anniversary

First I would like to thanks God, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God Jacob for the wonderful 11 years journey of marriage life with my wonderful and great partner, Agnes Ngieng.

It takes me ten years to convince her parent that she will be my perfect life partner.
God is generous enough to grant us to be husband and wife on December 17th, 1999.
God is good.
Then God moved her and to bring me to a Catholic Church, St Ignatius Church in 2002 eventhough she is a methodist. I still wonder why not to a Methodist Church as she is a Methodist.

God has His own plan and let His will be done.

Marriage life being great with less and less disagreement by the year and this year 2010 is wonderful with only two minor disagreement. WOW!!! Praise the Lord.

We have almost everything we need and yet we are still waiting for the 'baby cry' in our home. I believe in God, the Father of All and I believe He will answer our heart desire in His time.

On this special day, what we are going to do?

Go to church and get a Priest blessing or having a good dinner at our favourite restaurant.

We choose the second one and we go for Dinner at Shogun Japanese Restaurant, OneU.
I like it and my wife just take and take for me to eat.

Yet my heart is not a peace. Something is missing. We went home full and satisfied. We eat what we pay.

As we arrive home, i go straight to my favourite room in our house, my private room with the Lord.
I am full and tired.
I drop to my knees and pray.
"O God, here I am. I am full and tired. Let me rest in your presence."
I do not know what is going on but I feel I am going some where peace and serene. Am I dreaming?
When I wake up, I reallize I am on my stomach and I ask myself,
"Where have I been? Is it morning?"
I feel so refresh and full of energy. I am renew again, my energy is restored.

Then I go to the bedroom where my wife is and ask her,
"How long have i pray?"
And she said, "for awhile only, sayang!"

I look at her and said in my heart, "Thank you, my Lord. Bless my wife also."

Before we sleep, we share the goodness of love and share the wonderful moment we have during the year and greet each other with,

"HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, DEAR. I LOVE YOU."

In my heart, I pray,

"I love you, God. I love you, Jesus. I love you, Holy Spirit. I love you, Mother Mary. I love you, Guidance Angel. I love you, Saints of God."

"I thank you, God. I thank you, Jesus. I thank you, Holy Spirit......."

I doze off with tears of joy roll down my face.

Amen.

Merry Christmas and may peace be always within you.