I checked my hand-watch. It was almost time to depart. I looked around, expecting to see attractive people in the waiting room. Suddenly, a young woman in MAS kebaya made an announcement to all passengers.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, you are all invited to line up for boarding pass inspection. Please present your passport and your boarding pass to our staffs. First, we would like to invite old citizens and parents with small children to embark first. Then, follow by "first class" passengers and lastly the economy class passengers.”
Parents with children, old citizens, and business class passengers rose up and went forward to make a long line next to a counter where the lady made her announcement. After all of them entered into the docking station, the economy passengers were asked to line up. Since I sat in the front seat, I got into the front line. After getting the clearance from one of the staff, I walked straight till reached the airplane door. There, I was greeted by a beautiful Chinese air-stewardess. I replied to her greeting, and she ushered me to enter the airplane. Inside the airplane, I checked my seating number on my boarding pass. It was 14F, a seat next to a window. I put my bag in the bag compartment and then sat in my seat. While waiting for the other passengers to come in, I read the MAS Going Places inflight magazine. I was occupied with my reading, till I did not realize two white couples sat next to me. From their conversation, I could guest both of them are Americans. The lady looked and smiled at me. I smiled back at her. Then she asked me a question.
“Are you going to stop in Singapore?”
“Yes, but only for three hours before flying back to the United States.”
“Very interesting! We are originally from America. What are you doing there, my dear?”
“I’m going to start my second year as a graduate student there.”
“I see. That’s good. By the way, I’m Marilyn. This is my husband, Donald.”
“I’m Dency from Kuching. It is nice to know both of you.”
Their missionary works
They were so interested to know me more. I was willing to tell about my personal background to both of them. They were delighted to know that I could perfectly speak English with them. For them, this was their first time to meet a native lady from Sarawak that is currently doing her study in their country. I got to know that they worked as missionaries in Sibu, and they flew to Singapore as they wanted to visit their friends there. I asked what kind of missionary activities they had done in Sibu. Donald answered my question.
“We went to this Iban kampong and visited few families there. Teach them about Jesus. Few of them are poor. Life is so hard for them. We helped whatever we can.”
“Do you have a hard time communicating with them?”
“At first yes as they speak Bahasa Melayu or Iban. Even our helpers talk little English. But, it’s not a problem for us as we also learn few Dayak Iban words from them.”
“Our native people in rural areas still lack many basic facilities.”
“Yes Dency. Indeed. I believe that there is a better hope for all native people in Sarawak. Probably, you as an educated native woman could change this situation.”
“Let me finish my study first. Pray for me that I will pass and then I will come back to Sarawak to help my people.”
“That’s the spirit girl. Keep it up. I’m sure you can do it. Believe in God that He will always help you.”
Three of us talked till the Captain made an announcement that we would be starting descent into Singapore Changi Airport within 15 minutes. Then, one of the female stewardesses asked all passengers to fasten their seatbelts. Soon, we would be parted and went in different directions. Donald and Marilyn wanted to keep in touch with me. We exchanged our email addresses and promised to add in each other as Facebook friends. Marilyn did invite me to visit them in Minnesota in future.
A gift of remembrance
Once the airplane landed and parked at the gate terminal, sound of seatbelts clicked could be heard within the airplane belly. Everybody was busying themselves to take out their bags from the above compartments. Donald took out their bags and my backpack. Before three of us went out, he gave me a book as a gift with his email address written on the front page. Even, he took a picture of me. Then, we walked out from the airplane belly together. At the lobby area, Donald and Marilyn reminded me to keep in touch with them. I nodded my head and promised to do so. They excused themselves and said goodbye to me. I stood looking at them walked among people until both of them disappeared from my view. I took out the book from my sling bag. I found out that they gave me “The Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. I smiled knowing that I had met lovely, nice people from a foreign country who dedicated themselves to help my native people in Sarawak.