Malaysia sent a contingent of about 100 delegates to the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) in Indonesia and 50 were sent to the Archdiocese of Palembang (KAPAL) for the Days in the Diocese (DID) from 30th July until 1st August. I was one of them.

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Malaysia delegates arrived at Palembang airport for Days in diocese

The moment we arrived at the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport in Palembang, I could tell the AYD committee and parishes in Palembang were so happy to receive us. Our first stop was at St Peter’s Church where all the delegates were gathered. We arrived before noon and was there until the Opening Mass and Opening Ceremony in the evening. It was only that night that we were brought to our respective live-in parishes and handed over to our foster family.

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My family

I was assigned to the family of Bpk Andreas Sutarman from St Stefanus Parish, together with another delegate from the Diocese of Sibolga. We now had parents and 2 siblings (a sister and a brother) in Palembang and another sister in Jogjakarta as their elder daughter was studying there.

While in Palembang, I had the opportunity to interact with the local communities within my host family, host parish and the community at large. My fondest memories is how caring my foster parents were. I just wish I had more time to spend with them. We would arrive home late every day, after a long day full of activities, so I would be very tired and sleepy but my foster dad would already be waiting to take us home and my foster mom would prepare hot water for shower and hot tea before I go to bed. And in the morning, my foster mom would prepare a lovely breakfast before sending us to the neighbour’s house so we can carpool with 2 other delegates (from Medan and India) to our parish.

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Romo Tugiyo & Pastor Alex

I also loved having daily mass and prayers at and meeting the priests and seminarian of St Stefanus, especially Romo Tugiyo. It was also a blessing to meet Pastor Alex from Medan, who was also having his Days in Diocese in the same parish. What truly inspired me was the youth, the OMK of St Stefanus, who really did their best to take care of us during the whole program. A special thank you my dear brother, Andreas Jona Situmorang, for being our personal driver during the Days in Diocese.

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Outside of St Stefanus parish, I really enjoyed the exposures to the Catholic Church’s presence especially in healthcare and education, specifically the Charitas Hospital and the minor seminaries, schools and universities which were run by the Church. I was so impressed that Charitas Hospital have their own dance crew (see videos at the bottom of this post) – but what was more inspiring was how the Charitas Hospital was formed and how they contribute to the church mission in caring for the sick, regardless of religion.

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At St Paul Minor Seminary; seminarians in blue jacket

I also really enjoyed the visit to St Paul Minor Seminary. It was my first time to visit a Minor Seminary so it was really interesting to meet these young men who are already answering the call to the priesthood by being in a seminary. I loved talking to them and listening to their stories of how they decided to enter the seminary and what seminary life was like for them. I pray that these fine young men all become priests and will visit the church in Malaysia one day.

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AYD delegates learning to make “pempek”

Finally, I also acquired the taste for Palembang’s “Pempek” (or “empek-empek”) and “Tekwan” among others. Honestly, if it had not been for AYD, I probably would have never have gone to Palembang and would miss out on the lovely food, the rich culture and especially the warmth of the people there.

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Some of the committee members for DIDKAPAL2017 (only those from my parish in this one)

And so, my deepest appreciation to all of the committee for DIDKAPAL2017 for making our stay in Palembang memorable and we hope to one day return the favour should you visit us in Malaysia.

God bless!

Note: The above was a testimony I wrote for the DIDKAPAL2017 organisers.

And for those who have not been to Palembang, do consider visiting it in 2018 when they co-host the 18th Asian Games alongside Jakarta!

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And…as promised above, the Charitas Dance Crew!!! Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

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