Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Methodist Children's Home in Miri

There are millions of orphans who need care around the globe. The first children's home in Sarawak was established in 1950 by Rev and Mrs. Pilley. And since then hundreds of children have been helped and educated with some even achieving great social status. Recently the Miri district also saw the establishmenht of a Miri Methodist Children's Home in Pujut. To date there are 12 needy children under the care of Mr and Mrs. Ling Ching Chuoi . Mr. Ling is a former student of Methdodist Sceondary school Sibu and a year my junior.

It is hoped that a new building will be soon consructed to realise the vision and mission of this Children's Home in Miri.

This van is used by Mr and Mrs. Ling to send the children to school and for tuition. On Sundays they go to church together in this van.

Ling Ching Chuoi from Methodist Secondary School

This is one of the two buildings located in Pujut 5 used as home to these 12 needy children.

Children who are taken in will have a wholesome upbringing and growth under a safe and secure environment with well equipped facilities and well trained carers.

It is indeed a great hope that all of them will become useful and God fearing citizens in our society.

The trail set blazed by the Methodists from the time of John Wesley in the UK and Rev and Mrs. Pilley in Sarawak is still strong and hopeful.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiny Kindergarten Chairs


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This is a very old photo of my Koo Poh (Madam Tiong Yuk Ging) teaching her kindergarten class in the old Methodist Kindergarten Building in Island Road. The building is long gone and my grand aunt passed away in 1997 after serving God for a long long time.

The chairs if you notice lasted a long time. I remember sitting on them when I was
5. By the time my eldest and second daughters went to this kindergarten they too sat on these actual chairs. And after many years when I returned to visit the school and kindergarten they were still there!! The carpenter who made them must have been very very good. I am wondering where these chairs are now. Are they still in the best of conditions?

The kindergarten children learned to carry their chairs quietly to the front so that they could have a very close session with their teacher (Goo Poh) and they learn their singing and listening and speaking. Then they would carry their chairs back to their tables where they would carry out their own individual work or group work. They would share the colour pencils put in the middle of the table or take out their own colours in colour their masterpieces.

I still remember the children going to the toilets and they would pretend that they were butterflies winging to the wash rooms. Boys would be in one team and the girls in another. Every one would be smiling and the teachers-in-charge beaming away.

Later they would enjoy the lovely biscuits which they would dip into their plastic cups of milo. They would so systematically return the empty cups to the rack!! Happy that they had a share in the magnificient tiffin!!

Sometimes the teachers would have the towels ready to mop any spills or dry any tearful child.

And then the beautiful angels would be singing their kindergarten songs to the accompaniment of the organ music played by a teacher like Madam Tiong Ai Lan also a grand aunt of mine.

Both these Goo Poh taught "two generations" or may be even a third generation of kindergarten children from 1950's until 1980's!! They were never transferred any where else. such was the stability of the teaching profession then. And salaries were a meagre $200.00 (They probably started with 60 or even less)

The chairs always remind me of the First Carpenter. Love of your craft must bring about long lasting work!! Today most chairs which we can buy from furniture shop last only a few months. What a pity we do not have our olden days carpenters.

Take another look at the photo.... - two boys and one girl were obviously not listening to the teacher!! They prefer talking to their own friends.

"All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten". (A very thought provoking book by Robert Fulghum)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Birthday at SOHO

In 1988 we sent our third daughter to Sri Mawar which was sited at Jalan Bintang then. Flor was her Headmistress. As parents we felt very comforted and delighted to have a very dedicated person like Flor to manage an English school.

Sri Mawar has an exceptionally good English curriculum with a built in on going reading program for both the child and the parents. I enjoyed helping my daughter read and soon enough she picked up reading very fast and could read almost every word given to her. She soon graduated into Lady Bird series and other children's books to our delight and joy. I am happy that she never lost her love for reading from then on.

In fact Flor and her team of teachers have helped a generation of Mirians to read well. And I am sure many of us mothers in Miri would like to join in and say Happy Birthday and thank you to Florence who has been in Miri for 30 years.

Very single minded and very capable she has always been there to help others
and anyone in need.I like the way she talks warmly and lovingly about each of the children who went through Sri Mawar! She has been charming towards parents who wait for their children. She was always willing to walk the second mile.

Together with her is Lesley Linggod who has also been a great teacher in Sri Mawar. Rosalind Tan another good friend and staff of Sri Mawar is also in the getogether.

Here Flor is celebrating her birthday with some us in SOHO where the service is good and the food fairly good. It was a wee bit hot that evening but we had our good time especially when we had three special visitors who joined us in the celebration. We all wish Flor the best of birthdays and many more to come.

But on the whole when good friends are together all other factors are secondary.

A slice of Tiramisu only for the Birthday Girl - on the house.

A beaming Florence Enau.

I would recommend the seafood spaghetti. The garlic bread can be improved. And I must say some of the drinks need a great deal of improvement. But the waitresses are doing well and are helpful and polite and patient to older ladies like us. On the whole the roadside restaurant is also fairly quiet and diners talk softly too. All these make us want to go there again.

Honour women! They entwine and weave heavenly roses in our earthly life. Frederick von Schiller.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Remember these musical instruments?

My uncle the late Hii Wen Hui was a good accordion player. In fact most of the Chinese teachers in Sibu and its vicinity were self trained to play this instrument. We had many evenings of fun music whenever such teachers were around.

You can see this accordion and also the organ in the Methodist Archive and History Section in the Methodist Message Office in Sibu. This particular accordion belongs to Meng Lei's father and the organ comes from one of the churches downriver.

This is a great portable pump organ popularly owned by many homes too and I also remember so many downriver Methodist churches having one. The old Methodist Theological Chapel also had one which provided beautiful accompaniment to the singing of the youthful choir led by good musicians like Mrs. Charlotte Hipkins and Miss Jackie Fries. Much later a piano was added to the inventory.

Mr. David Johnson one of my English teachers was probably the best organist Sibu had ever seen! And we really found it very amazing to have such a learned man playing such a simple instrument and making heavenly music. Later when Wesley was housed in the Sing Fu Yuan Tang Mr. Johnson was to bring great church music to the whole neighbourhood when he played on the pipe organ of the church. these days I often wonder if that pipe organ is still functioning. In those days I used to allow my teenage mind wander and allow angels to fly around Sibu when listening to his music.

Another missionary I remember who was a very good musician was the late Rev Lucius Mamora who had an organ like this in his home in Queensway. I went to school with most of his children and once in a while would visit their home. I loved to watch him play the organ and sing!! He was also a man who translated many of the hymns into Bahasa Iban. He had also written many songs himself. It was a great honour to be able to visit such a great talented man. I never knew then that later (almost 22 years later)in my life I would have the honour of having him name my third daughter with an Indonesian name.

Actually the organist had to pedal hard to "bring in wind" for the sounds to come out or "blow" the notes out. Correctly the Chinese call this "Wind piano". I loved to put my small feet on the pedals but my fingers could not produce any musical notes!! How often I wished and wished that I was musically gifted like the missionaries or had the financial resources to take up music lessons! And as the evening of my life approaches the few regrets that I have are still with me. Today I can only press buttons on DVD players to bring out the music I wish to hear.

Beautiful hymns were sung accompanied by a simple organ like this for more than 50 years!!

We must thank all the missionaries and Tze Koo (missionary teachers and wives) and later the Foochow teachers trained by the Methodist Church who brought this special organ church music to the Rejang based Foochow families.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beggars and beggaring

Sleeping Child Beggar (LIFE Magazine)

(Photo by Sarawakiana)Blind Beggar at a corner of a street in Miri. Please drop a ringgit or two into his tin.

For centuries society has struggled with poverty which rears its head in many different forms. Western societies have different arms to overcome its ugly sides. Today most countries depend on various religious bodies and semi government bodies to help out in order to reduce extreme poverty and beggaring. In a little way these efforts can help to keep beggars off the streets but the issues of real poverty and human bankruptcy cannot be eradicated so easily. On the other hand it has been proven again and again beggaring has been taken advantage of by various illegal syndicates to enrich themselves.

However by putting poverty under wraps and genuine beggars of the streets is not the only solution. Now the poverty strickened have built tent cities and tin sheds. Slums which long have been the symbol of poverty have taken a new publicity via the "Slumdog Millionaire" this year when Bollywood and Hollywood propelled Mumbai slums into world media blitz.

Begging cannot be completely abolished by law or by acts of kindnesses. And I dare say that there will be more and more forms of begging in the future.

Abject poverty is still in our neighbourhood.

And just as a reminder here is a story of the most famous beggar in the Christian world:
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's Side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell,[3] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, Father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'


Have a good day!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bailey Bridges - Piasau Bridge Miri

I have always marvelled at how the Piasau Bridge make life so convenient for my friends living in Piasau Camp as well as those who needed to travel faster to Lutong. When the Nightingale was still ferrying many of us to and from the hospital we could take a longer route just to buy nice things from Ng Siang Hap.

The Piasau bridge not only built relationships but it always provided many children wonderful memories of life on the peninsular. How many of them remember a party or two at the Piasau Boat Club. And how many of them remember going to the air strip just to fly kites or watch the fishermen come in. Crossing the bridge and having all the wooden plank noise under the tires was memorable.

But unknown to many of them the bridge has many stories built into each nut and bolt.

Who built it?

A contractor ,China-born Lee Tung ,who passed away on 25th November 2004,built it just about 50 years ago.

According to his daughter, he himself was skeptical about building the bridge!! The bridge was to be built across the Miri River at Piasau so as to provide an alternate road access to Piasau Camp, Golf club and the then Miri General Hospital. The design was a combination of two long beams spanning across and partially supported by steel wires from two towers at each end. These cables of high tension wires could support an immense weight. To allow for expansion and contraction a gap remained between the two arms that would reach out from their abutment. The gap could then be bridged by a single beam.

All the main structures were to be built using metal parts, fitted and joined together with bolts and nuts. The walking surface was laid with wooden planks placed horizontally across. The central of the bridge was to be used for motor vehicles and on both sides for pedestrian walkways. The bridge allowed for only one single lane of traffic to cross at any one time. To regulate the flow of traffic, a set of
traffic lights was installed at both end of the bridge.

He had only to supply the workers to build it. Yes he did just that. Even when the engineer in charge went away for three weeks he was able to place the last beam in place.

My thanks and tribute to a man who "built" for his fellowmen.

Source : Lee Shoon Yin - Miri 2008
Photos : Sarawakiana

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bailey Bridges - General

Photo of Merudu Bailey Bridge by Daniel Yiek (Sarikei Time Capsule)

Bailey Bridge

Malaysian Soldiers building a Bailey Bridge in Perak during a recent flood. Took them just a few hours to complete it.(Malay Mail)

I am going to have a great goal from now on ...or a personal photographic and blogging cyber-expedition - writing about as many Bailey bridges in Sarawak as possible. Today there are 366 Bailey Bridges in Sarawak. That's a worthy topic to write about.

The Bailey bridge is a portable pre-fabricated truss bridge, designed for use by military engineering units to bridge up to 60 m (200 ft) gaps. Requiring no special tools or heavy equipment for construction, the bridge elements are small enough to be carried in trucks. The bridge is so strong that it can carry tanks. Since the Second World War it has been considered a great example of military engineering.

Donald Bailey was a civil servant in the British War Office who tinkered with model bridges as a hobby. Still unimpressed his chiefs, who saw some merit in the design and had construction started at a slow rate. The bridge was taken into service by the Corps of Royal Engineers and first used in Italy in 1943. A number of bridges were available by 1944 for D-Day, when production was ramped up. The US also licensed the design and started rapid construction for their own use. Bailey was later knighted for his invention, which continues to be widely produced and used today.

The basic bridge consists of three main parts. The "floor" of the bridge consists of a number of 19 ft (5.8 m) wide transoms that run across the bridge, with 10 ft long stringers running between them on the bottom, forming a square. The bridge's strength is provided by the panels on the sides, which are 10 ft (3 m) long cross-braced rectangles. These are placed standing upright above the stringers, and clamps run from the stringers to the panels to hold them together. Ribands are placed on top of the completed structural frame, and wood planking is placed on top of the ribands to provide a roadbed. Later in the war, these wooden panels were replaced by steel, which was more resistant to the damage caused by tank treads.

Each unit constructed in this fashion creates a single 10 ft (3 m) long section of bridge, with a 12 ft (4 m) wide roadbed. After one section is complete it is typically pushed forward over rollers on the bridgehead, and another section built behind it. The two are then connected together with pins pounded into holes in the corners of the panels.

For added strength several panels (and transoms) can be bolted on either side of the bridge, up to three. Another solution is to stack the panels vertically. With three panels across and two high, the Bailey Bridge can support tanks over a 200 ft (60 m) span.

A useful feature of the Bailey bridge is its ability to be "launched" from one side of a gap. In this system the frontmost portion of the bridge is angled up with wedges into a launching nose and most of the bridge is left without the roadbed and ribands. The bridge is placed on rollers and simply pushed across the gap, using manpower or a truck or tracked vehicle, at which point the roller is removed (with the help of jacks) and the ribands and roadbed installed, along with any additional panels and transoms that might be needed.

Sources : Wikipedia®

I would be most grateful if you could send me photos of your favourite Bailey Bridge i.e. if you could spare the time via In this way we could all together pay tribute to our JKR or PWD for their endeavours in the past two generations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ling Wen Choon - 83 Autobiographical Chapters

Muriel Cadwell Pilley wrote in her book "The Hills of T'ang".....Weng Choon walked down to the main road and I thought that would be the last time I saw him. But how wrong I was!!
Indeed not too many years later the Pilleys would too leave China and arrive in Sibu. Together they founded the Methodist Chiildren's Home and spent many years together as educators (Mr.Ling was briefly principal of the Methodist School) and social change agents (they served in many different committees to help run activities and manage properties of the Church)- always trying to make other people's lives better by introducing Christ to them.

Mr. Ling was a principal and teacher as well as a "missionary". He contributed much to the welfare of the Methodist Church and community in Sibu. But more in the form of his historical records which he had left behind. Sibu with two fires and many other factors did not have a rich primary historical basis for good research to be accomplished. A lot of the history is in fact based on a strong oral tradition and one or two historians like my late cousin Lau Tze Cheng.

Here is his small but significant book which might not be publicly available.

Born in 1889 in September in Foochow China he was one of those Chinese children who took pains to change writing with his left hand to right hand at the age of five. In 1900 his mother passed away. 1902 he arrived in Sibu with the others and he started learning English in the Catholic primary school. The following year Rev Hoover came to Sibu and started the Anglo Chinese School.

He wrote in great details about his life in Sibu thus giving readers a good indepth perspective of the life at that time. He completed this memoirs in 1971 and had it published in Taiwan. Thousands of students and Children Homes' children would remember his simple Christian soldier endeavour.

The late Mr. Ling Wen Choon

Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Ling Wen Choon

Mr. and Mrs. John Pilley - beloved of many in Sibu.

Mrs. Ling conducting evening devotion - Judy Wong was chairperson for the service. She is now Principal of Methodist Pilley Institute.

Management Committee of the Methodist Children's Home

The Ling's Residence in Sibu Queensway - Now only found in the pages of history) - a new residence belonging to Mr. Ding Lian Cheong is in its place)

I will write another article on the Methodist Children's Home and how it impacted the lives of many people of Sibu and even Sarawak.

It is good to read his carefully written book which opens a window to more than 50 years of life and development in Sibu . I find it remarkable because it is from a very special perspective of a man who crossed between two lands - China and Borneo and two historical eras - the old China and the New Foochow (or Sibu).

Note : I welcome comments on this posting. If I have made mistakes they are entirely mine due to my disadvantage of not knowing enough Chinese.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Toastmasters' Farewell

All good things must come to an end.

And so my stint as a special hoteliers' English teacher must come to a sweet end.

The last Dynasty Hotel Toastmasters Club meeting was also my farewell session. It was sweet and very heartfelt. 2 years 9 months seem to have passed like a blink of the eye.

A lot can be written about the second group (tyhe first group having graduated in Nov 2007)and their efforts but I will let the smiles in the photos bear witness to a project well done! After the TM meeting they organised a very heavy almost midnight supper!! Secretly they have bought a beautiful and a too expensive pearl necklace which I cannot wear in places where I love to go, like the jungle or the poverty stricken areas of the world. However they have noticed that I love wearing necklaces for official duties and I will definitely keep this special gift dearly. How sweet and thoughtful these young people are.

Special cangkok manis beehoon - Bidayuh style - winning preparation.

Ever popular KFC

Pizza is a favourite with young people.

Last word of the evening - Farewell - written neatly on the board by Rezzeni.

Luli, Fitri and Rezzeni

Roland, Jamal, Amelia and Christine

Christine, Titus, Rita,Sureani and Adian(who was running a temperature but was a great Toastmaster of the Evening)

Rezzeni,Douglas,Hong Ai Hua, Nicole

Nicole,Hazella, Sufauni and Jin

Final group photo. They completed their ten speech assignments despite uphill challenges and time constraints. Well done!

One special phase of my life ends and another will begin. I will always hold them dear in my heart.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Own Pumpkin Soup

Cut the pumpkin up nicely.

Cook the pumpkin in just enough water. ( e.g. 1 cup pumpkin with l cup water) Or if you like steam the pumpkin

Blend the cooked pumpkin.

In the months of January and Febrary this year the floods took away a lot of home grown and tamu oriented vegetables. With fresh imported vegetables being also too pricey and more often then not - "not -really- that- fresh" discerning homemakers looked at other sources for fresh vegetables. I went further afield to buy vegetables if and when and where I could.

One wonderful source would be roadside kampong stalls. Pumpkins especially can keep for a long time. Sometimes up to one year. I have tried cooking pumpkin in many different ways and my children love them. Perhaps it is a vegetable not many urbanite might prefer but it is one vegetable they should try to eat more. Indeed my friend humourously remarked that in Australia pumpkin is a main vegetable on a plate where mum would also put a green one (capcicum or brocoli) a white one (cauliflower) and an orange one (pumpkin(. In the United States pumpkin is always made into a popular soup especially for the year end festive seasons. But in Britain pumpkin has been fed to the pigs!

I must say in my own Foochow family (for three generations in Sibu) pumpkin has always been one of our most popular vegetables and I personally call it my all time favourite. So do my children. We cook this wonderful vegetable in as many ways as possible and enjoy it to the last drop.

Making a simple thick creamy western soup is also a good and healthy way. Here is the recipe. It is really that simple!! And you can even take out the oil!

1 red or bombay onion - chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil/butter
l.5 kg pumpkin - cut and cooked with l slice of ginger then mashed slightly (or 1 cup for one person)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (from bottle)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup full cream milk

Blend the chopped onions and pumpkin.

Put the blended pumpkin into the pan. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper. Slowly add chicken broth and heat thoroughly.
Add full cream milk and cook slowly until some water has evaporated and to the consistency you like.
Serve in a soup bowl.
Makes for about 6 person.

(To make a richer soup add some cream or yoghurt before serving)

This soup can be served hot or cold.

I recommend cooking pumpkin soup when you get a really nice orange and thick fleshed pumpkin. The soup would be very rich and absolutely amazing!


Laksa and Birthdays at LCP

We had given a weeks' notice to make sure that we get our laksa today. As we arrived at about 11 a.m. (Church service was longer than usual this morning) laksa was not available to the late comers again unfortunately!! The others were so gracious about it and they ordered other dishes. Praise God we three could have our laksa.

James brought two small "token" cakes as the birthday surprises for Richard's( today) and Jennifer Yong (tomorrow). A blessed and special way to have birthdays recognised by cell group members in LCP.

This is my laksa - (one week's pre-order !)Looks good and tastes even better. You got to try!!

Three angelic Wongs leading the singing of the birthday song.

Richard - as happy as can be.

Jennifer being helped with her birthday candle. (no - she is still very young with lots of energy for praising and praise dancing)

Jennifer says with her hands "I'm going to let this little light shine".

Happy cell group - one more time - altogether S-M-I-L-E

The lady behind the laksa and the kampua....she was impressed by our group's JOY.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ah Chiong BB Officer Getting Married

Since I wrote about their the civil registration of their marriage in Sibu I might as well complete the story today!! Their wedding was at Sing Ang Tong - the first Methodist Church in Sarawak. This church was built in Sungei Merah or Sing Chuo Sang (New Pearl Mountain) in 1903 not long after the first Foochow Settlers arrived under the leadership of Wong Nai Siong.

Sing Ang Tong has been "changed" and renovated more than four times over the years from attap to the present concrete and steel structure.

The Bridal Kiss dates back to the Roman times. The Romans practised the sealing of a contract or agreement with a kiss. The kiss seals the nuptial agreement between Ah Chiong and Ei Ling. In the 60's we also had a song "Sealed with a Kiss".

Since many of you readers are from the Methodist Church Boys' Brigade and Girls' Brigade I have selected another photo for your viewing.

The bridal couple would walk out of the church under an arch of swords which represent protection from the groom's brothers and friends. This is again a very old European ceremony. But Ah Chiong being a BB Officer and Ei Ling will be protected in his marriage by his BB's!! The Boys Brigade really look good.

(By the way when I was very little I used to worship in Sing Ang Tong often accompanying my grandfather and grandmother. The pastor was Rev Ho Siew Liong who spoke Foochow with a very strong Heng Hua accent. I always thought that he looked like Jesus.)

These photos are from Steve Ling a popular reporter and former Methodist School school mate of mine.

Congratulations Ah Chiong and Ei Ling


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