December 3, 2010

Margaret Hodgkinson - Bringing Tulai Memories to life!!

Would you follow your husband to the ends of the world?  Would you pack a small back pack and sail on a steam ship for three months across oceans and rock and roll in the stormy seas with your stomach churning at all hours of the day? And would you keep your promise to love him eternally?

Here is one such love story....and part of the love story took place in Tulai a little further away from Bintangor.

In 1958 Rev Hodgkinson brought his young bride to Sarawak and later to Binatang (now Bintangor) to a very very remote outpost called Tulai. Both of them learned Chinese in Srawak although John Hodgkinson had already started to learn Chinese when he was serving in the British Armed Forces in Hong Kong. It was in Tulai where  Margaret Hodgkinson found what it was really like to love God's people. Her husband's faith and love held her heart captive and she was touched to become her husband's right hand woman and help meet like all the Biblical women characters. She never regretted leaving her homeland Britain to serve God in Borneo.

Her love for her late husband and her good memory of her life in Sarawak continue to strengthen her  today. Even though Rev Hodgkinson had been gone for seven years already she can still remember every minute detail about him and about her life with him.

In Cornwall recently she spoke to me of her past and brought so many stories to life for me. It was almost impossible for me to leave her and her stories. But I have to come home and put  a few of her stories here for you. She has enriched my life with her stories no many can understand.

And for her I travelled to Tulai to see for myself what her beloved Tulai is really like today.
Here Margaret and her husband John at the Tulai school or Tung Hua Secondary School started by the Methodist Church. This is a black and white photo which is still hanging on the wall of the Headmaster's office in SK Tung Hua (Mr. Wong Choon Soon).
This is the new church building - Tung Ang Methodist Church in Tulai.
One of the first batches of students of  Tung Hua School which will soon celebrate its 89th Anniversary.
This is the kindergarten of Tung Ang Church.  Still almost in its original structure it could have been an earlier parsonage.
This is a photo of the old Tung Ang Church and is still proudly displayed in the office. Water suypply came from a spring not far from the church. Students and teachers would also go to the small river to carry water to the school for cleaning and cooking.
Marageret at the Cornwall reunion. She is reaching her 80th year now.
Margaret warmly recounts her life in Tulai where toilets had to be shared with other pastors and teachers. Students were given simple food as there was not much to share. And she remembers a teacher's wife collecting  free flour bags to be made into clothes for the students. Water had to be carried in tins from the small river to the school. However the spring near the school also helped to provide some really good water for the students and teachers to cook with. The river boat would bring food stuff to the school and a motor bike would  help bring the stuff to the school . There was a small cement path for motor bikes. On low tide days passengers had to take off their shoes upon disembarking from the boat and walk on the soft mud. The legs would sink two feet or more into the mud.  In the photo above Margaret sharing her stories with me after our visit to Wesley Cottage - we shared stories at Rev Tomlinson's house in St. Dominick..
A more formal photo of Margaret in the Tamar Methodist Church - our  third day together in Cornwall. The next day we went our separate ways - she went back to Derby and I back  to Sarawak. Margaret is still working for the Chinese Church in Derby. Her experiences in Sarawak help her understand the needs of the Chinese congregation in England. She said she will never forget the love the people of Sarawak showed for her and her husband as they evangelised in the rural areas. She continues to dedicate her life to work for the God who provided so much for her in her life.
Margaret lives and works in Derby in the UK *you can google for Derby++ and continues to work amongst the Chinese people there. May God continue to bless her.


Ann said...

CY, not many people have such big hearts.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Indeed. So many people sacrificed themselves and even their families for God but we are unaware...

Methodist Reunion 69 said...

The Tulai house look like my grand father in law house

Dylsee said...

I like to keep in touch with Margaret. We had worked before in Sheffield. Can anyone provide me with a link to keep contact with her?

Anonymous said...

I was born in Sg Tulai and lived near the church. Our family moved to the town when I was a young boy. So, I remember the name of the church is Lai Ang Tong or Lai Ang Methodist Church.
I followed a lead from the search results provided by the for this church and visited your blog. Precious photos and info on Hodgkinsons whom I had seen before in town but did not know them personally - for I was not a Christian them. God bless.

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