I was away for three days and two nights at the Lutheran Mission Bungalow up in Cameron Highlands. We had lots of good food, fun and laughter which is good for pastors. Of course, we still had our times of sharing and prayer to start off our first night. It was unfortunate that 2 of our pastors had to pull out the last minute to conduct memorial services and a funeral. 3 others missed it because of prior engagements or the difficulty to work out their schedule.
Bishop Philip Lok joined us the next afternoon and facilitated a time where we could share about how does busyness affect our faith and ministry. Interesting how the conversation later evolved into how do we deal with disappointments and discouragement.
Later on the second night we had a short time to explore what does it mean for each congregation to see themselves as part of the district and brainstorm future projects together. While it’s tempting to see the “business” part of the meeting as boring but what’s important is we are forced to remind ourselves of our interdependence on each other. It’s simply too easy to go on a “lone ranger” kind of mentality these days. We ended the second night with a good two bottles of wine and lots of laughter. 🙂
I’m glad to manage to catch up with some sleep and reading during the retreat. I think overall I could get a decent balance of solitude and life in community. As always, I found the mornings especially precious .. with a beautiful sunrise each day.
The last day was simple. Off to the market for some shopping for cheaper vegetables.
Later we met up with other pastors from the Northern district at Menglembu for a good lunch and fellowship. The special bonus was the short visit to one of our Lutheran Old folks Homes before we headed back to Kuala Lumpur. Then it was a long tiring drive back.
I think this will be my last long distance drive before baby no. 3 arrives in November. It’s hard on the family when I am away. It’s always a pleasure when Gareth and Elysia welcome me home with excitement.There wasn’t a lot of time to be alone. But the little I had was precious. The additional bonuses were time spent with fellow pastors and the older folks at the home. One thing for sure, I’m not a vegetable and fruit shopping enthusiast. And I realized how inadequate I am when it comes to talking about food. I’ll smile and chip in my ignorance or shift some other focus. Learning to REALLY listen is also an art … to listen beyond the words into the heart. Watching closely what’s beneath the laughter, and hearing what’s contained in the silences is something I’m paying more attention to lately.
What’s important for me during this trip is that our fellow pastors got some rest, refreshment, and relational building opportunities … and in the midst of that some “revelation” of ourselves, our surroundings and our savior sneaks in. That would need a little”pause”, “rewind” and “reflection” to get the best of it. Another value for me is that a good dose of encouragement is shared liberally… we all need it don’t we? Clergy or laity? Ok … all humans!