It has been two years since I last went to the OMF Bungalow. This cool place in the Cameron Highlands has been a place where God had often spoken into my life and strengthened me. It had been both a “broom tree” place and a “cave” place for me – which speaks to me of physical as well as a spiritual rejuvenation respectively. Remember Elijah?
This time it was with a reservation that I embarked on this retreat to OMF Bungalow with Koh Seng Chor, former pastor of Evangel Christian Church. We would have wanted to stay six days but only four days and three nights were available. That’s a bit short for a retreat and not worth the long journey up. Nevertheless we took it. After all OMF was quite booked and my application was late and things are seldom ideal when you feel the need for extended time to rest and pray. The length turned out to be just right.
Seng Chor lived in the East Coast and I in Jurong East. He picked me at 6.30 am in the morning and we breezed through the second link and were bantering all the way up the North South highway. Pleasant company makes long drives sweet. We had a late Indian lunch at the edge of Ipoh before turning into the old road that led to Brinchang. We passed by Ringlet town, Tanah Rata and finally passed Bringchang and up the winding road past Strawberry Park Hotel and into the OMF Bungalow at 3.10 pm. We were warmly welcomed my Mrs Chye.
It’s like time stood still and the exterior of the building remained unchanged this past decade that I have been there on and off- which I like. Inside however renovations had gone on – an ensuite bathroom had been added to the room opposite mine. And they were making an additional bathroom at the upper floor of the TV and play room.
I love and hate the cool of Cameron. When it gets too cold at night as it did on Tuesday, I had to wear two layers of woollen. However the morning cool is what I love the most: crisp and fresh and rejuvenating. The afternoon cool comes with sometimes blue skies, which I love, and sometimes a dismal grey, which I dislike.
A friend Rev Dr P J John gave me Psalm 139 on my Facebook post, so I spent my prayer periods meditating and drawing nectar from a few verses in that passage. The verses reassured me that God is always with me to lead and to hold me – always and unconditionally. They reassured me that I am awesome, for I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Seng Chor and me shared what we reflected upon and what touched us during tea and we co-discerned for each other.
The afternoons were great for excursions and with a car that was made easy. We went down to Ringlet to explore, to Tanah Rata for Starbucks (actually more for the wireless than the coffee), to Brinchang to buy tea and other provisions, and to Kea Farm to buy farm products like cherry tomatoes, Cameron oranges, and whatever is cheap and will make our wives happy – which means buy everything. We also had a look at the Lutheran Missions House – another nearby bungalow.
One of the delights this round was fellowship over meals with other pastors who were there. We got to know two lady pastors from Penang Christian Centre and Yee Siew Meng, soon to be appointed pastor of a City Discipleship Presbyterian Church in Kuala Lumpur. Such conversations expanded our understanding of what is happening in other places and churches and what God is doing in other people’s lives. In this case we heard that the Chinese church membership in Malaysia is in ascendancy with the new generation of Chinese schooled in their vernacular and who are more comfortable with Mandarin than English. The churches today are also more politically active and united.
I had always wondered what the OMF man who replied my applications was like . I finally got to meet Alex Lee, a pleasant and committed Christian in person. He is the guy who processes all the applications for rooms in OMF Bungalow. I asked and he told me the annual average occupancy of the OMF Bungalow is 60%. They want more pastors and missionaries from Malaysia and Singapore to use this place of quiet for prayer, and for planning too. I learned that one of the busiest periods were Decembers which is surprising to me since that is the rainy season! The off peak months are March, April, July, and August. They have rooms for just over 20 people. What I do is to ask for the dates I want and also ask that if these dates are already taken to please give me other dates available before or after. They have different fees for lay people than for Christian full time workers, and for non-Malaysians than for Malaysians. Only Christians need apply. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your email for both enquiries and reservations using subject “OMF Cameron Bungalow Reservation”.