Humans are greedy beings. We always want more. No matter how much we have, we are not contented.
I went deep into the jungle to a Penan’s village in Sarawak for a mission trip just recently. It took me 4 hours on the bus, 2 hours waiting at the airport, 2 hours flight, 8 hours four-wheel drive on an extremely bumpy and uneven road and an hour boat ride just to get into the village. I started my journey at 11pm and only managed to reach it at 8pm the next day.
Before the trip, my dad and friends told me how backwards the village will be. They told me there isn’t a toilet, electricity or water and their diet consist mainly of vegetables (this is a big deal for me as I love meat). I wasn’t all that nervous and worried about getting there however, the idea of pooping without a proper toilet troubles me a little. I was so surprised when I enter the village. It wasn’t as backwards as I had imagine. Compared to what I expect, it looks like a hotel. There is free electricity which is generated by the hydro dam. There is even mobile line and you can connect your phone to your mobile data if you need access to the internet. The line is powered by solar panels.
I love it there though I hardly did anything to help. I did gave a testimony which makes me sweat bullocks and stutter. I have to give it on stage in front of the church fulled with people. It was scary and I was very anxious. On that night, I couldn’t even enjoy my dinner as all I was thinking was me standing in front of so many people presenting my not-so-interesting testimony. Apart from that, I played with the kids, went up the mountain to search for edible ferns, went up prayer hill to reflect on what has happened and help distribute the second-hand clothing that were donated.
The food there was absolutely amazing and tasty. I do not know how they cook the ferns and tapioca leaves to be that delicious but it makes me take second helpings for all the green dishes. Sometimes, we have wild boar that the villagers hunt. In the village, there is a convenience store where we get our supplies and fingerlicious supper. It is run by a Chinese uncle. We had sugar donuts, cakoi and you can even get burgers that are specially flown in by plane. Luckily, there is a toilet, not the ones we see at home, but I can make do with it. Apart from the front door, all the other parts of the house does not have a door. They just put a cloth over it. The aunty that went with me was afraid someone will peek into the bathroom as the cloth is very thin and can be easily seen through. Most of the time, she bathes without the light on.
Another wonderful thing I experienced in the jungle is their river. The life of the village. They bath and do basically everything there. At first, the water was icy cold to me but I soon got used to it and had so much fun playing with them. Letting the strong current swept us like we were sliding down the slide. Every time it got hot or when we were sticky after running around, all we had to do is jump into the river. I also managed to attend the school’s prize giving ceremony and some of the kids were so funny while they introduce themselves and perform their traditional dances. They brought us into the jungle and thought us how to make make-shift guns from the stalk of some plant (I cannot remember), they climb coconut trees with their bare hands and feet so that we can enjoy its sweet water and juicy flesh, they taught us how to aim with a blow dart and make sure we were well taken care of. They would never let us into the jungle to explore alone as they are afraid we were harmed by bears or wild boars. I also enjoyed watching their football match and it looks like the biggest event of all. Most of the villagers are gathered there to watch and cheer.
Early in the morning, I was awakened by such a beautiful melody of a children gospel song played by the pastor on the guitar. I also learned many other new songs and taught the kids to play a new game. It is hard as most of them are very afraid and reluctant to learn new stuff. While walking out of the village, you can hear Christian music blasting through the speaker. At night, we will be sitting in front of the television watching Brother Shaw’s action movies while sipping on our hot milo or chocolate. Life there was so blissful and peaceful.
I love being in the village, with the people. The share everything they have, they work together to get things done. Their doors are never lock and everyone is welcome into one another’s houses. However, they too have their own flaws and troubles to overcome. They easily give up and is too complacent with their lives. But I learned a lot from that. How to be humble and how to live a simple live. To be contented with whatever we have. To not worry because if God can feed the birds in the sky and cloth the plants with such beautiful clothing, I’m sure he will treat us well as we are His children.
Long Lamai, I thank you sincerely from the heart for all the things that you did. For opening up my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation. For reassuring me that my path in being a doctor might be the right one. I will visit you again soon.