Penang church camp
Its church camp season again. Malaysian hotels lay out the red carpets to Singapore churches and rake in the Singapore dollar. This time round our church camp was held in Bayview Hotel at Batu Ferringhi in Penang. When they proposed Penang it seemed an organizational jungle and obstacle course. That was a year ago, now it’s past tense and the organizing team did a great job of delivering one of our best camps ever.
Pastor Vincent Lun was the camp speaker and together with his wife Jenny they brought to us an appreciation of what it takes to be church that welcomes sinners the way Jesus did. They have left what could have been a comfortable pastorate at Riverlife Church and have pioneered a unique missional outpost that reaches the outcasts and rejects and despised of society. They share what it meant to do ministry among such precious but forgotten people. We were blessed by their open sharing of their lives and ministry.
We keep our church camp sessions light. Those were the days decades back when 6-8 sessions is the norm. Now together with revised goals we have a revised program with four preaching sessions, two light sessions of icebreakers and games, and one session of holy communion and group sharing. We introduced an interesting idea: we got 4 young preachers to preach sermonettes of 10 minutes each. One thing we small churches can choose to excel in is to handcraft and develop emerging leadership.
Of chendol and durians
There was time for us to go tour Penang and shop twice. The memorable one for me was when we were dropped off at Komtar Shopping Mall and from there four of us went in search of the Penang durian and chendol. We found the famous chendol stall and there was a constant crowd. The sun was beating us down and the humidity was worse than in Singapore. I was not that impressed with the taste. I prefer my chendol with thicker coconut milk- a stronger punchy gula malacca in it. Beware the other store just opposite which has more signs to claim they are “the real thing”. Where there is genuine, there is the counterfeit seeking space. This happens in the spiritual as well as in the natural.
Searching for the durian was quite a task as we had to ask locals for direction and it was after 45 minutes of walking that we determined Singaporeans finally found the stall opposite some UMNO building. The first durian he sold us was more sweet than bitter, something we could have found in Singapore. Then he tempted us with a red marked durian. It looked a pale yellow. But when we put it into our mouth it was smooth, creamy and not mushy nor dry but of perfect constitution. The taste was a perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and a hint of wine. I have stumbled upon an unforgettable durian experience. I couldn’t figure out his Hokkien accent and though we asked him to repeat a few times the name of the durian variety we had just tasted, the closest it sounded to my ears was “Capri”. Durian has gone upmarket and Italian.