Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A week of solidarity

The week before last was pretty taxing. I thought it would have been a break away from work, but it was even tiring than expected. Even so, good times were spent and relationships were built. It was a good time but a tragic time as well.

Well, we had church camp last week. The Annual CLGC (Christian Life Gospel Centre) family camp.I took a day off work on Friday. It wasn't such packed week and no Court dates, so I felt less guilty taking the day off.

Church Camp was held in the Grand Kampar Hotel. We had camp at the same venue last year. Between ping pong games, really emotional sermons (they played Misty Edwards in the midst of reflection and prayer)and a wonderful costumed night as the finale, I thought the next camp would be equally good as well. Well, it was. But in a different and equally wonderful way as well.

Well, we started the trip on Friday. We decided to embark on a 'makan trip' or eating trip in Ipoh before heading back south towards Kampar, which is about 45 minutes from Ipoh. Well, I thought I would be able to drop by home to just peek on my mom and dad, but as time was limited, I decided not to tell them that I was in Ipoh anyway, without looking them up. Haha. Oh dear. The ungrateful son yes.
But anyway, Colin and I took the gang (the ones who were gung ho for the makan trip idea) to the famous 'Tai Shui Keok' for some 'liu' or assorted fried finger food. And noodles. And then it was off to Funny Mountain for some Tau Fu Fah, Greentown for some Indian rojak, Ipoh Garden East for some kickass roast pork and chilly, and finally for some Ipoh White Coffee. Crap. I feel hungry writing this post. Well, proud to be an Ipoh native anyhow!

So we left Ipoh at about 3 and reached Kampar at about 4++. I thought i would take a nap. Or maybe play some ping pong like last year. But as I got outta the shower, I was told by Colin that our Speaker, Pastor Steve Hyde's van broke down in Behrang. Well, initially Des was driving and Colin was pillion, but then Des had not set up the AV systems for camp, so I volunteered myself to be pillion.

Back on the road again! Now, mind you Kampar to Behrang takes about 1.2 hours. With much optimism I thought we would reach there in 1 hour. Oh, naive me.
Anyway, though it was a long drive, I had quite a good chat with Colin about life, the vision of the church and where it was heading and perhaps, answers to difficult questions about Christianity. It was good to have talks like these where questions asked, may not sometimes be answered, but yet, we were assured that we will know the answers one day. Anyway, we managed to pick up Steve Hyde and wife and Aunty Lei Wah but See Lian (who was hosting the Speaker and Wife) had to stay back until his mechanic from KL came for the van, well, to bring it back to have it fixed. The van was losing water and heated up a lot along the way, so it was only a matter of time before it stalled.

Anyway, we reached just in time for the first session to begin. At 8pm. I had my dinner which was thankfully reserved, but Colin was facilitating the first session, so he didn't have the luxury of eating dinner like me at that point. Well, back to the session, I think i was pretty much tired and dozing off a bit. Ok. A lot. But I figured that I caught the essence of Pastor Steve's sermon. We had some really good food after that at the hotel room, the lot of us. Siew Yuk, siew yuk and lots of siew yuk (roast pork). Prior to that we were told that we were not allowed to bring Non-Halal food into the rooms during service. The guilty suspects gave glancing looks and snickers at that point in time. But anyway, amidst supper, we jammed and also played Monopoly Deal and Cluedo (first time playing Cluedo and we got hooked to it immediately).

And then Colin and I got the sms-es at around 2-3 am. From Fai, asking us if we were asleep. I didn't pick it up at first because I couldn't. I only picked up the phone when i received the 2nd sms by Colin, informing me that the father our a good friend of ours, Daren, had passed away that evening. It was tragic news. And I called Fai for further details. He told me that he would fill me in the details of what's to happen in the morning. I got Daren's sms in the morning informing me of the same. And I called for further details...

The funeral was to be held on Saturday itself, as it was a Punjabi custom. The funeral was to start at 11.00 am for prayers and by 3.00 pm, the cremation.
Colin and I made plans to attend the funeral and we left after breakfast. And there we were on the road again, Colin, Joo Na and I.

This was surely something that I knew, I needed to attend, that we knew, we needed to attend. I knew Daren's father, as our parents were acquaintances. We were friends since primary school, which looking down memory lane, is a really long one. You can say that I know him my whole life. And I knew his dad. To hear of this really saddens me. It saddens us.

We reached KL once again at around 12.20pm. A little longer than we expected. Most of the gang was already there paying their last respects. The mood was solemn.
The priest came and started the prayers not long after. We bowed our heads in silence and in solidarity. That is perhaps the least we can do for Daren. Solidarity.

Then we headed off to the Nirwarna Memorial Centre in Shah Alam for the rites and the cremation. The whole event didn't take too long. I knew Daren tried to hold back the tears, but in the end, it was better to let his emotions get the better. After all, the loss of someone close, a member of the family, a father, is always heavy. He was a good son. Ever filial and we know he loved his father dearly, though he sometimes tries to act the tough guy. We hoped that we could do more for him at that moment. Once again, we hoped that solidarity, even in silence would help.

We went back to camp after the cremation and short lunch. We were just in time for dinner and for the final session. A fun session where we had games, and charades. Hilarious really and whatever I write here, will never do justice to that night of fun. I guess, it really bonded the church members as well that night. Though camp crowd wasn't as big, it was really more personal and I think many of us, became more comfortable and trusting with each other. Bonds built through solidarity once more.

The next day and last session, we were once again taught of the values of relationships with one another. And somehow, the imbalance of the values taught in the first night, about foundations and systems, were balanced with the need to build relationships with one another. And once again, perhaps the key was solidarity.

We left camp after lunch and we were headed back to KL once more. Though the traffic jam killed most of us, haha, we got back KL safe and sound. And some of us, though we may have missed dinner, managed to catch X Men First Class, which was , top class indeed.

Upon a post mortem of the week, I suppose Colin and I realized we spent most of the weekend, on the highway instead.

But all in all if i were to sum it up I would say that it has been a week of cheer and sadness, and a week of friendship, togetherness and ultimately, Solidarity.

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