I realised I did not post any New Year’s greeting in January.
I guess that’s fine considering it wasn’t a very “happy” year so far? Worldwide.
Some have even called for the year to be “reset” because there is a virus:
While a reset is not possible, I guess July can be considered a delayed “start” for the year 2020 – at least for us here in Malaysia and neighbouring countries who have none to little new COVID-19 cases daily. Let’s keep it that way! As for countries that are still registering 3 digit or more cases daily, I truly hope it will get better for you soon…
A week into the New Half Year, and I cannot contain how GRATEFUL I am that our Churches have begun to reopen on a parish by parish basis.
The parish I belong to reopened with a Carpark Sunset Mass last Saturday, 4 July:
A Carpark Mass is where the parishioners remained in their parked cars and attended mass from within their vehicles. The Altar was set up at the entrance of the Church, facing the parking lot of cars. Only the priest and those on duty (lector, commentator, extraordinary ministers, sacristans and wardens) are not in vehicles.
The Church was reopened for Mass on Sunday, 5 July, with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
We have to queue first to “check-in” and get our temperature checked before we can enter the Church.
And then, the wardens will direct us where to sit – with spacing in between each parishioner indicated by a Saint on the left and right of us.
2020 is half way over as we enter the month of July.
If you feel like you’ve spent most of the year so far under lock down (full or partial), you are definitely not alone as almost everyone in the world was/is still going through it too…
No body could ever have thought that 2020 would be the year where we mostly “stayed home”. Condolences to those who had many great and wonderful plans for the first half of the year – no doubt, most of those had to be thrown out the window, or at the very least postponed to a date in the not-so-forseeable future at the moment.
“Do you feel different, since no travelling allowed?”, a friend of mine recently asked me.
I had to pause a while to reflect on that question:
Movement Control Order (MCO)
Phase 1: 18 March – 31 March *Lent Phase 2: 1 April – 14 April *Holy Week Phase 3: 15 April – 28 April *Easter Phase 4: 29 April – 12 May *Birthday Under Partial Lockdown Phase 5 (Conditional Phase): 13 May – 9 June *Gawai Raya Festivities under new normals Phase 6 (Recovery Phase): 10 June – 31 August *No more Work From Home (WFH)
The Stages of the Movement Control Order and it’s personal *impact on me
I did find it difficult at the beginning, especially the first time it was extended, but within Phase 2 & 3, I did not even leave the house for a whole month (27 March – 29 April)! This was when I realised that after social distancing from people for so long, one could come to actually prefer one’s own company… I guess that was why at the end of Phase 4, being alone on my birthday this year didn’t feel too depressing, but it was really nice to actually have people around that day even if only briefly. I do wished I had a proper birthday cake on that day though, although I did make a simple muffin cake for myself…
Maybe that’s why I am having this huge interest in cake right now – be it baking/eating/selling it!
Phase 5 was like a re-introduction into society for me. While I was still working from home, most businesses were open and I had to, on occassion, leave the safety of home for errands. However, the only real social interaction I had since the MCO began happened during this Phase with the Gawai festivities. Of course, being still in the thick of it, there was no open housing or visiting allowed so I spent that Gawai weekend confined to the home of a “second family” of mine here. It was a much needed boost of social morale.
And we are now in Phase 6 – and we still have 2 more months to go. The feeling of “normalcy” has mostly returned since its back to the office to work after 3 months. The main difference is that now, most people wear masks and we have our temperatures checked everywhere we go. We also have to physically “check-in” into places (by leaving our name and contact number) manually or using Government-issued apps to allow for contact tracing, in the event it would be required.
So, to answer my friend’s question,
In general, yes, life feels different 2020 A.C. (After COVID19) but not in particularly because I cannot travel? Or maybe that’s just because I had already travelled to the Philippines in January, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Malaysia and our neighbouring countries. While domestic travel within the country is now allowed, international borders are still closed and international travels restricted. It would be nice to be able to travel again internationally without restrictions, but I am in no rush to go anywhere at the moment.
Till my next post, remember to maintain social distance & avoid crowded places / confined spaces! Keep safe peoples ~~
As of yesterday, 10 June 2020, Malaysia entered into the Recovery Phase of the RMO (Restricted Movement Order), 85 days after the RMO started on 18 March.
This Recovery phase, with end date 31 August 2020, means MOST businesses can operate as usual – but with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that constitute part of the “new normals” in 2020 A.C. (After Covid-19) in place.
The most welcome change in this phase is that domestic travel within Malaysia is now allowed and no longer restricted like in the previous stages. That also means tourism within the country can re-start and the tourism industry can start on the long road to recovering, being the industry worst-hit by the pandemic that forced travel restrictions worldwide.
How does this translates to our daily lives?
Well, it definitely spells the end of the work from home (WFH) period for most people, self-included. (Though it would be nice if more business start moving towards that and make working remotely easier.) And travelling within Malaysia for work is more convenient without the need for official authorisation letters and police permits.
However, international travel is still not allowed and our borders are still closed. That means Malaysians are still not allowed to leave the country and foreigners are not allowed in. Malaysians can return from other countries/overseas BUT will be placed under 14-days mandatory quarantine at quarantine centres (most are hotels) upon arrival, with a swab-test on day 10.
In general, Malaysians have so far been obedient in following the rules set by the government since the RMO began. SOPs have been followed and restrictions abided by. So when domestic travel was allowed, it was not a surprise that some popular travel destination saw up to a thousand of hotel bookings in less than an hour! No, actually that turned out to be fake news, but heck did it sound legit! Hehehe…
Legit news: AirAsia was quick to offer a RM399 “AirAsia Unlimited Pass” (for purchase for 3 days only starting today) that allows pass-holder to redeem unlimited point-to-point flights within Malaysia from 25 June 2020 till 31 March 2021. The gist of it, it will allow pass-holder to purchase “zero-fare” flight tickets by paying only the taxes and service charges etc during the travel period. Worth it or not? Perhaps if you are going to be travelling often during the period… In any case, read the terms and conditions and FAQs before you purchase the pass and make an informed decision. Don’t anybody got time for regrets y’all.
2020 been an eventful year and we’re not even halfway through!
Let me leave you with this “recap” of what has happened so far:
Being physically distant from others and not being able to gather together in big groups for the things we used to be able to do like prayer/worship and choir, it helps that we can still come together to worship and sing together in new ways:
This was FIAT Bintulu’s second Worship video project (the first was mentioned in a previous post) with a cover of the song titled “Kemenangan Terjadi Di Sini” (Victory Happens Here). The Choir Version and Lyrics with English translation are at end of this post.
A special Virtual Choir Project was also organised to coincide with the annual Harvest Festival that happen in Borneo during this time. Kaamatan takes place in Sabah on 30 & 31 May and Gawai takes place on 1 & 2 June in Sarawak. Normally, the local church would have special masses for the community, but this year, it was not possible. However, it was truly a blessing to join this project and lend our voices to glorify Him all the same:
This Kaamatan Gawai Medley was sung by 84 combined choir members from several parishes in Sabah & Sarawak doing a medley of “Apai Peda Kami Ditu”, a song in Iban, and “Ounsikou Ginawoku”, a song in Dusun. (Lyrics and English translations below.)
APAI PEDA KAMI DITU (FATHER LOOK AT US HERE)
1. Apai peda kami ditu (Father look at us here)
Deka muji nyembah Nuan (Praising and worshipping You)
Laban ti gaga samoa leman (Because you have created
Nuan pengaga O Tuhan, O Tuhan (You are Creator O Lord, O Lord)
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
2. Kami ukai datai ngapa (We do not simply come)
Ukai muji nyembah aja (Not just praising and worshipping)
Tang ka madah ati gaga (But proclaiming our joyful hearts)
Madah pengaga O Tuhan, O Tuhan, (Proclaiming joy O Lord,
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
3. Kami ditu balat richah (We here are excited)
Jari kaki ati nyembah (Hands, feet, hearts worshipping)
Malas budi Nuan manah (Reciprocating your goodness)
Malas pemanah O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Responding to your
goodness O Lord, O Lord)
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
4. Kabuah kami patut pia (Why we should do so)
Laban nuan udah nempa (Because You have formed)
Utai ka guna nyawa mensia (Everything for our lives)
Utai ka guna O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Everything for us O Lord,
O Dinga ka kami , O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
5. Nuan Tuhan udu kuasa (You Lord are most powerful)
Tau ngampun samoa dosa (Can forgive all sins)
Dalam pikir, jako kerja (In thoughts, words, actions)
Kasih ka kami O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Have mercy on us O Lord,
Today was certainly a birthday unlike any other I ever had.
Waking up and still under Restricted Movement Order (RMO), to differentiate today from the previous 55 days of RMO, I put on a dress – instead of the usual T-shirt and shorts (which has been my work-from-home (WFH) outfit all this while. Don’t judge now. LOL!)
During morning prayer upon waking, I was moved to sing thanksgiving and give praise to God for another year of life. Thus, this came to be created:
This was the first time I ever made a cover song by myself (choir/collaborations I’ve done a few). I know my voice is not perfect, but praise and worship had always been something I am passionate about. And today in particular, celebrating the gift of life in self-isolation away from family and friends, this is a song that really expressed how I felt. (If you’re not farmiliar with the lyrics, you can see it at the end of this post.)
And God continued to show me His love through family (especially my youngest brother who kept calling me all day “to keep me company on my birthday” he said – Aaaaww isn’t he the sweetest!) and friends who wished me well on social media and messages and a particular couple who out-of-the-blue decided to pop by the house:
When I thought there would be no one to sing me “Happy Birthday” in person this year, they showed up!
When they arrived, they noticed I had a flat tyre (it was fine the last time I went out last week) so they offered to change my tyre too! Thanks lots guys. Indeed, you guys brightened my day.
It’s not a birthday without cake! Well, not for me at least as I had always had one for my birthday, even if it was just a slice. And so this year, I certainly would have my own cake and eat it too!
And so, as the calender soon changes to a new day and my birthday would have passed, it was certainly one I would never forget!
Thank You Lord – Don Moen
I come before You today And there’s just one thing that I want to say Thank You Lord Thank You Lord
For all You’ve given to me For all the blessings that I cannot see Thank You Lord Thank You Lord
Chorus: With a greatful heart With a song of praise With an outstreched arm I will bless Your name
Thank You Lord I just wanna thank You Lord Thank You Lord I just wanna thank You Lord Thank You Lord
For all You’ve done in my life You took my darkness and gave me Your light Thank You Lord Thank You Lord
You took my sin and my shame You took my sickness and healed all my pain Thank You Lord Thank You Lord