First impressions: Malaysia

I first observed the skyline of Penang, Malaysia, through sleepy eyes as we crossed a gigantic bridge over the ocean and drove toward the seemingly endless expanse of glittering lights that marked the beginning of this huge island city.

I marveled at it…this is definitely the biggest city we’ve been in yet. As we parked next to an Indian restaurant and stared blatantly through glass tinted windows, we saw women adorned in their head coverings and families sitting and eating with only their right hands. I realized that we had just entered a completely different world.

We settled into our apartment and gasped in gratefulness at the blessings we’ve been given this month: a kitchen and huge bathroom, bunk beds (we each have our OWN bed!), fans that keep our rooms cool, and air conditioning that we get to turn on at 9pm each night, which is WONDERFUL.

We again have a beautiful rooftop to enjoy. Last night we experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life so far. Absolutely stunning.



Throughout the past week, we’ve explored Penang and discovered that we’re living in the middle of Little India. Because of this, and the fact that the food here is very cheap (which is good for a tight budget), I have uncovered a love for Indian food that I didn’t expect!

I’ve eaten chicken curry, masala, and naan of all kinds with only my right hand.
I’ve eaten off of banana leaves.
I’ve enjoyed so many mango lassies, it’s kind of hilarious.

There seem to be a million coffee shops here in Penang, as well. This has begun to rekindle a desire to possibly open up my own someday. Plus, no matter where I go, I have been endlessly delighted with the beautiful use of latte art. It’s fabulous.


The one thing I’ve realized about our time here in Malaysia is that it is a GIFT. The Lord has been speaking to me and my teammates a lot about this. We are blessed this month to work with a coffee shop ministry, a homeless ministry, and a hospital ministry. SO COOL.

We also get to attend prayer and worship nights at PenHop, which is affiliated with IHOP. Those of you who know what that is can only imagine my excitement in getting to experience it!

It’s a month of blessing, yet a month with SO MUCH going on.
If I’m honest with you, it’s actually turning out to be a bit of a challenge in a few ways.
There is a huge spirit of consumerism on this country, and we are feeling it.

It’s the expensive, deluxe coffee shops. It’s the gigantic malls within walking distance, complete with Starbucks, movie theatres, and clothes up the wazoo. It’s the incredible unique items for sale on every street that scream at us, “You won’t find this anywhere else so you’d better buy it now while you have the chance before you head to Africa!” (Seriously, it’s true.)

We are also very separated this month, with our team splitting up into pairs to make sure each of the 3 ministries is covered. This means we usually don’t see each other until the end of each day, and by then we’re all worn out. It’s hard on our team dynamic.

We would appreciate prayer for extra strength, especially for awareness of the spiritual battles that are going on all around us, but are so muted by the loudness of the culture surrounding us and everything going on in the big city.

Please also pray that our team bonds closer together than we ever have before, because we long to go deeper with each other and the Lord. 

He is GOOD and He is at work here in Penang. This month is such a gift, truly. To be here for Christmas is incredible, and to get to spend it here with my girls from Team Joy’l is absolutely amazing.

Here’s a few photos from a photobooth we had a bit o’ fun at today ;-).

From jesseischens.theworldrace.orgFrom

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