From Kanowit, the next destination is Church By The River, Dalat.
I had visited Datlat 17 years ago. Fr. Masang, a Redemptorist, was then the Parish Priest . He was posted there to serve the Melanau community.
He produced his first album titled “Church by the river” to raise fund for development projects of St. Bernard Church.
With 2 more albums followed, he managed to raise more than RM1.5 million and in the process, through concert and promotion tours, making famous St. Bernard Church as The Church By The River.
It was an arduous five to six hours by the bumpy and potholes-filled un-tarred road from Sibu to Dalat in 1997.
On Friday 24/10/2014, Philip Kong, Hee Tong and I boarded a speed boat in Sibu for the 2 hours tiring ride to Dalat.
Hee Tong is a Legionary assigned to teach Catechism to Dalat Chinese-speaking children on weekly basis. A team of six rotates to go there two by two.
It was a small boat supposed to seat 12 passengers but was always over-crowded. There were about 15 of us on board that day, and along the way, more were picked up. Passengers had to sit upright throughout the journey with no stretching room.
I admired the legionaries who made frequent trips to Dalat.
After more than 2 hours tiring ride, we finally arrived at the Church at about 4:40 pm.
Fr. Simon Lau, a young priest ordained 3 years ago, is the Parish Priest and welcomed us to stay at the parochial house.
The church changed not much from 16 years ago but with more beautiful landscaping of matured trees and plants. However, the cafe by the river bank (Relax Corner) has been improved tremendously.
In the evening, we had Mass and a fellowship gathering with the small Mandarin-speaking community in Dalat.
The next day, Hii Tong and Philip conducted classes for children from standard one to six at a Chinese school nearby.
They are mostly Iban children with a few of mixed parentage of Iban and Chinese.
We bid farewell to Fr. Simon after classes. He too has to go to outstation Iban longhouses for Mass.
Hii Tong was driving on the return leg from Dalat to Sibu. (Car belongs to Fr. Simon's parent)
En route, we traveled an hour to Mukah to visit an enterprising young man who runs an IT center, a café and a capsule-room hotel which is believed to be first in East Malaysia.
From Mukah, we made another stopover at St. Charles Church in Selangau to visit Fr. Mathews. We met Bishop Joseph Hi who was there to administer Sacrament of Confirmation to more than 100 youngster during the morning Mass earlier on.
Fr. Mathews from Kenya is also a Mill Hill Missionary priest serving in Sarawak. We met Fr. Rex, a missionary priest from The Philippines who arrived here 3 months ago.
In Sarawak, the state government allowed foreign missionary priests to serve in the state on special permit.
Fr. Mathews treated us to a light meal at a nearby coffee shop with dishes of …… wild boar, zzzz and xxxx ( not to be disclosed).
From Selangau, it took another hour and half to reach Sibu, thus concluded a wonderful journey to Dalat and the Church By The River.
24/10/2014 星期五，昌春、希通和我三人，在下午两点 ，乘搭了快艇，前往达剌。