Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baptisms in the CBI

This evening Cla came to Sokhom and asked him to baptize him. Cla only joined the team of future house church leaders about a month ago-since Sokhom returned to Cambodia from his trip to the states to attend his son's wedding. Cla is the cousin of Chanthy. Chanthy is a three year graduate of CBI who, along with his wife and son Phalika and Daniel, live here and help to run the school. They come from a village where no one is a Christian at all. Chanthy wanted his village to know the joy he had experienced in Christ. It didn't take Cla long living in the house with eighteen brothers to notice that there was something really different about the way this group of young men treat each other and those serving them. They even look at the people outside their small group with different eyes. Then he watched as others came to minister to them. He saw the doctor treating patients, not for personal gain, but to serve the community...even going long distances and donating both his services and his supplies to treat poor people who could never afford traveling to a doctor. He listened in classes as he was taught about God who planned from the beginning for his life here in Cambodia, how He had a plan all the way through the Old Testament that came into fullness with the coming of His son. True submission and total dependance on God for your very life was something he learned as he heard the testimony of Sokhom sharing over and again the multiple ways God saved him from death throughout his life to bring him to the decision to open a school and dedicate his life to teaching young men to multiply the Kingdom through their service in leading others to Christ. Cla heard a young man from Waco, Texas teach about Timothy and his mentor, Paul. Then he experienced the servanthood of that teacher as he stooped to wash Cla's feet. This young man went out with a partner and served the community around him just to reach out and make connections that might later lead to new Christians. He learned to begin sharing the story of this Jesus he heard so much about. All along he was trying to figure out just how he fit into this group. Then he begin studying the scripture himself to teach others the stories of the patriarchs. His presentations and those of his fellow classmates hit home. There was something else he needed to do to make his life right with God. He had seen it in lives around him. He had heard it in sermons. He had discussed it with teachers and with his new friends. Now he took the step to submit to baptism and to put on a new life in Christ by accepting the gift of salvation and the filling of the Holy Spirit as he rose to live a new life for Christ! Along with Cla, Naroth and Rotha also decided to be baptized. A couple years back these two boys had followed the custom of the group with whom they worshipped and had been baptized, but neither one had ever really considered what that meant to him personally. Rotha told how after his baptism he had returned to the worldly things in which he had been involved before. He knew he had not become a Christian at that time. Tonight they knew what they believe. They were certain that they needed to take the step for their own consecration to the Lord they have come to know and love. We welcomed Cla, Rotha and Naroth into the family about 8:30 Thursday evening here in the front schoolyard where earlier they were playing volleyball! Rejoicing here on earth is nothing compared to what is happening this evening in Heaven. It won't be long before these young men will be baptizing others in their home villages who will come to know the Lord they love so dearly.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cambodian Cuisine

The flavors of Cambodia are as diverse as the grasses of the fields...or of the rivers and ponds. We have been introduced to a wide variety of typical dishes here at the Cambodia Bible Institute. Srey Nang has learned to cook from her father, and Sokhom has had lots of experiences fending for himself. Some people can play the piano by ear, but I believe that Sokhom cooks by taste! If he has something anywhere in the world, he can explain the recipe and procedures to Srey Nang who can duplicate it to the T! ****Each day begins with a trip to the market to purchase the daily supplies and ingredients for the three meals. Market is about a mile down the road at the bend in the road. The local vendors begin setting up shop around 6:00 as the ladies descend on their spaces. The village officials come by daily to collect fees based on the location and size of the space needed. Most vendors are on the street itself while a few have wooden tables or even a storefront from which to dispense their wares. Bargaining is a daily process as Srey Nang and Phalika negotiate with the vendors for each portion of the recipe. Srey Nang selects what she needs and makes the deal then leaves Phalika to finish the process while she moves down the way to the next vendor. One will have the seafood items with big aluminum bowls filled with shrimp on chipped ice, squid, fish with heads still attached--some actually still swimming in the bowl to guarantee freshness. If Srey Nang selects a live fish, the vendor will prepare it while Phalika waits. Lotus roots, banana flowers, morning glory stems with leaves, anchovies, and sometimes small catfish to be fried chunks of fish to be boiled in the soup are daily staples for the school. Yesterday Srey Nang drove out to purchase June's supply of rice and 50 kilo bags or about 770 pounds of rice alone!!! The students often have a breakfast of rice left over from the day before or the equivalent of a packet of Ramen noodles. On occasion, they get a treat of a "hoagie" bun with "Eagle Brand milk" inside. Every meal begins with a large helping of rice. Normally a soup is served with at least two meals each day. The additional items on the plate depend on what is found at market, or what time of the month it is. There are occasionally fruits added to their meal...often a student will find a mango fallen from a tree or purchased green as can be to be eaten like we would eat an apple-skin and all! Life is easier for Srey Nang when there are no "guests" or visiting speakers in the school. Everyone joins the students in the back room on the floor for meals all together sharing one and all the same. While we visit, the meals are adapted for us and served at the table with Sokhom eating with us a combination of Americanized Cambodian meals and what has been served to the students. Of course, Sokhom says we are easy because we eat whatever Srey Nang serves us. Some of their guests will not even eat any form of fish and they wind up having to go out to eat often! By not leaving the school grounds, we are able to get more time with the students, children and family. Srey Nang enjoys creating typical dishes for us and trying out new ideas for us. Sometimes she will skip the rice for us and make Cambodian Chinese food with noodles as a base and a fried egg topping it off. One day she made pork chops and another sweet and sour pork ribs. Breakfast has been a wide assortment as well. We have had French toast, omelet. manioc root pudding, rice soup and We have become accustomed to eating rice twice daily, lotus root soup, morning glory stems, bokchoy, chives, whole fried fish, squid and many other items we have not had identified. I have experienced the local morning market shopping and we have shopped at the main grocery store downtown. I have been to the local "Walmart" and even visited the neighbor's stand next door where she sells mangos from her tree. Ginger root and bok choy are used to spice things up and for making into pickles. Cambodian food is delicious. It is distinguished by its variety of green leafy vegetables added to a fish based soup. Joe enjoys adding soy sauce to his rice for additional flavor. A variety of fresh local fruits have been our dessert twice daily: small ripe green bananas that are very sweet, chubby, chunky yellow bananas with a delightful flavor, rambutan, mangosteen, watermelons and mangos! Our favorite is the mango, so it is served quite often. **** Friday night we are going to introduce the students to American hamburgers and French fries. Sokhom is borrowing a grill and we are hoping seven pound of ground beef will be enough to feed our gang!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bibles and Blessings 5/18/12

This morning with the children we worked on learning about Jesus and the cross. The children constructed a cross art activity with Christian symbols and words. They learned a new verse to God is so Good singing Jesus on the cross, took away my sin. Several of the children had been asking me for a book. Today they took me to Sokhom and asked him for the book. The book they wanted was a bible like the one I had used on Sunday to teach them the stories of Baby Moses and of Jonah and the Whale. **** Back home Mary Crabtree had wanted to be a big part of our trip to Cambodia, but was unable to travel herself. She organized the Tuesday morning Women's class to collect money for Bibles to get the Word On The Street in Cambodia. Sokhom purchased Bibles with the money wired over before we traveled. Then our Bible Class on Sunday morning with Gregg & Randy collected about $624 to purchase more Bibles as well. Today Sokhom sat patiently with the faithful morning students who work through two hours of English class and seriously wanted a Bible to take home to share the good news with their families! The children were proud of their work and of their new possession. They left grinning and eager to go find the stories for themselves. Breakthroughs that have been made into the Buddhist community surrounding the CBI will provide opportunities for future contacts. Seeds have been sowed. Your dollars have changed lives 12 hours in the future even while you sleep! We serve a God who is amazing beyond the children's imagination. I believe that we have met some of the future CBI students in the morning class of English this month! I am richly blessed!

The Ship of Life

What a fun and interesting day! God blesses abundantly more than I can ever imagine each day in His service. This morning I was greeted by bright smiling young faces already singing "Jesus loves the little children" as we climbed the two flights to our "classroom" on the veranda of the third floor overlooking the Mekong River. I had scheduled a face talk visit with Mother in her room at Edgemere before she climbed in bed for the evening. The children who arrived at class early sang two songs for her before we started class. We now have a repertoire of eleven songs and six solid Bible lessons.(I need a translator to get the Bible stories across in Kmer.) We have several games down in English as well such as Hokey Pokey. They are delightful most of the time, but can be a handful when 25+ aging 2-15 all have different levels of ability and none have any real English. And I definitely do not understand Kmer! They continue to arrive about 7:00 for the 8-9 class and stay till I push them out at 10:00. The afternoon group is often standing out the door watching us finish lunch. We send them home, but they return by 2:00 for the three o'clock class! Tonight they went home at 5:00 , but came back with new friends at 5:30! They sat at my feet and sang all eleven songs while Srey Nang finished my manicure! Then they went out front to watch the students play volleyball till the sun went down.****The CBI students' English class was fun today, too. We used the Bible trivia cards to test both English and Bible knowledge. They love healthy competition! ****Our midweek outing was to visit our new friends living on the Ship of Life who had worshipped with us our first Sunday in Cambodia. The ship is a medical clinic housing both a dentist and a physician. Currently 16 people live aboard ship including four Americans...three full time and one here for a month about to return home Saturday! The visit aboard SOL included lunch which was quite delicious and a tour of the facility Debbie and Paul and their dog Reggie have made the ship home for nine months now and do a wonderful job of managing the ship. The crew and medical staff are all Cambodian with volunteers joining them from time. Linda enjoyed her first visit so much, she went home and sold everything to return as long as the Lord allows her to be of service. The ship is well stocked with equipment and supplies. We saw a young girl having dental work done, an older lady having an eye exam and being fitted with glasses and several going through initial screening procedures waiting their turns. **** Almost as exciting as the tour/visit was our ferry ride across the Mekong! The dirt path leading down the steep embankment has been eaten away by the rains causing deep crevices. Watching Sokhom back down the unknown territory and onto the small ferry was an act of faith. However, staying in the car and backing onto the ferry on the return was even more of a faith building exercise! This time we were the second car onboard! Several motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians carried baskets, boxes and bags onboard all around us. I know there are people back home praying for safety!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Children's Books & Tongue Twisters

My English classes with the students today were diverse. The first one had them reading a beginning reader ofBible stories. There are a couple of them who found this very easy, but others found it quite a challenge. The books will be good for them to use in teaching children English and Sunday school. The evening class was tongue twisters focusing especially on letters that give them difficulty... th & s, v & f. The children's classes were funny as I would have six show up early. About the time they went home another dozen or more showed up. We reviewed Sunday's lesson and learned "My God is so Great" then played a number game. ***Joe's classes were presentations of Abraham's story...Then a reworking to meet the assignment and re-presenting in the PM. *** Srey Nang made sweet and sour pork from Sokhom's description and got the recipe right on!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Smiles

Smiles from early in the morning to late in the evening can indicate great joy, total confusion or just being happy in the moment. Sunday is a time of great joy! The children come an hour early to everything around here! So it is no surprise to find them standing behind me at the table before I can even finish my breakfast. Their enthusiasm is hard to ignore. We enjoy singing, and can go through ou entire inventory of songs pretty quickly now. On Sunday I enjoy delving into the scriptures with them, because they have no background in the Word and find the stories fascinating. They sit listening as I explain the divisions of the Bible and the significance of God's plan for His people throughout the Old and New Testaments. Then I explained that the main idea of the Bible is God's personal interest in each person and His control over the things around us as He orchestrates His will in the world. We added two verses to "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"--one for Jonah and one for baby Moses. They enjoyed creating the scene in their composition books and writing a summary under each depiction.****Joe's sermon on God's calling in Gideon's life kept his audience spellbound as well. Worship is such a sweet time with the students leading throughout. Communion bread, like all our meals, is made fresh on Sunday morning. It is a form of fry bread in small squares since there is no oven nor microwave.****After a time of rest, Sokhom and Serai took us southeast of town to visit an orphanage for children whose parents have died of AIDS. it is a large complex divided now into two sections--one for teens and the other for younger children. The younger children were engrossed in a television program. There was a shelf lined with children's books in English, but none of the children could read English! We toured the grounds and visited with the manager before we headed out to see the chicken farm where his hatchlings are sold.****We decided to try the local pizza parlor for dinner tonight. The drive through town brought smiles as a toddler on the motor next to us began flirting with me. I couldn't resist his kisses blown over my way!****On the drive home, I commented to Sokhom about how amazing it was to live in a household of eighteen young men from so many backgrounds and different villages. Every young man, aged 16-33, takes part in every aspect of the family life. They treat each other, the staff and the neighborhood children with respect and love. He told us of three of the students who were originally taken into his care at the reqest of their parents to reform them. They were three of the most recent additions who would have wound up in the wrong crowds on the street as runaways. They are adorable, kind Christian leaders now. Their parents were amazed at the changes when they returned home on vacation recently. Your mission contributions-both financially and through prayer--are making a difference in the Kingdom!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Saturdays the guys get to take a day off from reading through the Bible and devotions at 5:30AM. But they were all up and ready for a day of service this Saturday by the time we left at 6:00. Six of them joined our caravan to the Women's island in the Mekong River used to house, torture and kill some 1500 prisoners during Pol Pot's reign and then as aa place to isolate women who were left on the streets after the regime's demise. With more men slaughtered than women, many men took on two wives to protect,but so many women and children were left without a place to go. In an attempt to clean up the country and its appearance to the outside world, the street people, both women and children were exiled to this island with no contact with the outside world for thirty years. When Sokhom learned about the residents of the island, he raised money to buy a boat to provide access to the world. There are currently three hundred people living there. Raphael House out of Joplin, Missouri, has established a church that averages 100 in attendance each Sunday.***Wednesday Tokla had gone to the island to make arrangements for our arrival today. He distributed 250 free clinic vouchers and determined how to lay out the team.***Today we joined a team organized by our Dr. Yinh. Six of his interns, including Tokla and Sery who help him daily here at the clinic on our campus,and one RN composed the team. Dr. Yinh has a practice in Phnom Penh as well as opening the clinic here about a month ago. He is a native of Viet Nam. He specializes in treating his patients in two ways. Trained in acupuncture, he is well aware of the 450 pressure points. Depending on the issue with which a patient is dealing, he injects B12 into one or multiple areas; often relieving the pain immediately! His other miracle cure is the inception of gold filament into the affected area.***Today we set up in three locations on the church grounds. Inside the church building three tables housed two pairs of interns and the RN who screened each patient. In the workroom at the back of the building, two interns set up the farmacy dispensing drugs prescribed in the screening process. In the outdoor arbor, Dr. Yinh and his son, Sokly, (a CBI student) set up for B12 shots. Two of our young students assisted in each area. Joe and I even learned to mix B12 and fill syringes for the doctor and Sokly! The screeners saw 287 patients. The doctor and son gave shots to approximately 130 people and injected gold into two people.****We toured the island when we first arrived since none of the team had arrived yet. We tasted fried bananas and visited with the children along the walking path. At the end of the path, Sokhom introduced us to three of the ladies who grew up on the island and make their living by making macramé bracelets and headbands. We purchased some from each of them pooling all the smaller bills we could find to pay them. Later at the clinic we would be bombarded by women and children trying to sell us more. We bought our share of their wares!****Between clinic sessions we were served a delicious meal of grilled fish, grilled chicken, fish/banana/vegetable stew, mango slaw and rice. For dessert we were given manioc root with a coconut sauce. It was all very tastey! A heavy rain interrupted my game of Noah's Ark concentration with the children. Very few patients came by after lunch, so we packed up about 3:00 and headed home where I found my English students awaiting me! Instead of a formal class this evening, we put together a butterfly kite and were granted entrance into the lot next door for kite flying and oral English practice.***The students who stayed behind today went back out into the community to serve. They accumulated several bags of trash and made new contacts inviting them to Sunday school and church tomorrow! They were all ready to relax with a big game of volleyball. I worked with a couple on Power Point skills tonight and downloaded some pictures onto their working computer for them to use.***It was a day of blessing in which God was honored.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Service Projects

What a day filled with blessings and grace!**** ***Wherever you are, there will always be those who rise above and automatically become the leaders in the group or in the class. This morning one of my young boys rose to the occasion. He came to class singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children," one of the ten songs they have learned thus far. Other children foolwed behind him trying their best to remember the words! During class I was checking the song they had copied from the board into their composition books and allowing them to choose a color of smiley face to add to the page representing the Happy in If You're Happy. I alsoput a tiny happy face next to the word face to illustrate for them-of course allowing the naming of the color by each child. He saw my procedure and grabbed the AMEN stickers to illustrate the word in the third verse...always helping. Then, as if he had overheard the conversation last night between Mike Meirhofer and myself about getting pictures of me working with the children, he picked up my camera and asked if he could take pictures for me. (Well, it was all done in Kmai and sign language, but he did get permission before fooling around with the camera.) I appreciated his help and he even came back in the afternoon to help some more! He is delightful and appears to be around ten or eleven. The boys and girls here really enjoy playing a form of jacks using plastic chain links. I amazed at the songs they remember and their eagerness to learn even more. The Word is getting down the street and into the homes of these children most of whom come from a Buddhist background.****This afternoon Srey Nang, Phalika and I took a tuktuk to town to gather supplies. We wove in and out of traffic and Phalika enjoyed pointing out to me the wiring that lit the tuktuk's overhead light. It was a loose wire hanging down by the pole near her head. The one on the other side of the tuktuk powered the jam box wired into the overhead poles for the driver's enjoyment. It was almost more than the vehicle could manage to get up the bridge and over the Mekong River into town. Slowing down for turning cars; changing lanes to avoid bicycles laden with boxes or tools or most anything you can imagine; waiting for the turn signal as the myriads of vehicles of all sizes and styles pass us by the excursion was quite an adventure! Once in the market, we wove in and out of aisles and hallways filled with everything imaginable! Three stories of stalls housing everything from electronics to houshold cleaning supplies to fine jewelry. On every corner sat a person sellig something to eat...fruits, sweets, items wrapped in banana leaves, soups, etc. Srey Nang bargained for the best price throughout the compound loading down her arms with sacks at each stall she chose. Then we came to the serious shopping for the house of twenty five people. She stopped at one last stall where she bought cooking oil, oyster sauce, cooking sauces by the bundle, and several heavier items. We then called our driver to meet us at the nearest corner and hired help to get us to the street to wait for him there. The trip home was a bit overposered by the jack fruit we had bought. It is the most pungeunt smelling fruit I have ever been near! Thank goodness we had open windows in the tuktuk!***The students amazed me this evening in their English classes as well. I ventured out to teach them a round, not knowing how it would work out. (Those of you who know my singing ability would understand that. I am one who cannot clap and sing at the same time. I also have very little ability to sing on pitch. ) We learned Love, Love, Love, Love. After singing it about six times through, I tried to get it going in a round...NO luck! After three attempts, I thnked the guys for trying and said we wwould just keep with the unison version. Two brave young men ventured out and sang the second part--and sang it well! The next time through there were two more who joined them! It really sounded pretty good!****The guys are working up lessons for Joe's classes on the various heroes of the Bible. Today they started the studies for their presentations on Abraham by round robin reading the entire story of his life! Instead of working during the afternoon session, Joe sent them out into the neighborhood to be servants. Equipped with trash bags, brooms, p lastic gloves and a willing heart, they went out two by two to introduce themselves to the neighbors. Most of the neighbors were skeptical of accepting help from them...whether from pride or mistrust...they sent them on their way. One group wound up at the Buddhist Temple where we had saught a geocache the other day. The monks were glad to accept the help of young Christian men! SEveral of my young children saw them and joined in the fun of cleaning up. One of the children enlisted the boys' help to come to his house and clean their yard. The students gladly took the opportunity to meet the parents of the child and to invite them to services on Sunday. Their reports were inspiring and often humorous as they told of the people's eyes as they asked them how much they were charging for their work and they told them it was their first venture into the life of service!****on the lighter side, Joe and Sokhom went to the grocery this morning! Joe enjoyed his Tostitos and salsa this evening and should have enough soy sauce to get him through the rest of our visit here! The guys really are enjoying Garrett's gift to them. Every spare moment it seems the strings are being picked and choruses are being lifted in praise! Several of them are quite good singers. Others are talented in sports and love to play volleyball in the afternoon break time. WE need a good night's rest to be ready for the outing tomorrow to the Women's Island!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It seems that the day was made for presentations. Both the CBI students and the morning children's class stood before the young men to demonstrate what they have learned.*****Today the students were assigned portions of the story of Noah in Genesis 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. One young man was selected as the leader by the class. That leader was given the assignment of dividing the scripture into nineteen sections so that each student presented his section as it appeared in the scripture. After an introduction of mary Margaret's youtube retelling of the story and listening to the children's song on video, the men were given two hours of study and preparation time. After lunch they came back prepared to present their study to the entire class. Each of the young men did a fantastic job! Sokhom and Joe were amazed at their understanding and depth. They related the facts with ease, but their illustrations and parallels to the New Testament and their own testimonies were so impressive that the teachers were moved to tears with excitement over their growth in the past six months of faith! ***Chanthy related the levels of the ark to the trinity. He went further to explain that Jesus is the only door into the kingdom. Only one level of the ark had a door from the outside. Once the animals had entered the ark, the door was shut behind them and their security was preserved for eternity.***Sok had wonderful presence. He stood firm and gave each of the audience his full attention with eye contact. He even used the leader at his side as part of his illustration. His section was Genesis 8:1-5. Sok was astonished at the seeming discrepancy in the scripture. God seemed to favor Noah over all of His other children. Then he looked deeper into the scripture and related the relationship of God to that of a teacher with 21 students. The teacher bought a gift for each of the 21 students for when they completed their assignments. Only one reached the goal, so the teacher's heart was broken that he could not give each of his students the gift prepared for him. God loves each of His children equally. He is broken hearted when he must deny entrance into heaven to those who do not accept his gift just as He was broken hearted to see His creation perish in the flood. Sok is an only child. He is boarding here many miles away from family and home--in a very foreign situation. His entire village is Muslim. He is so excited about returning to his people to share his faith and offer them a gift...the saving knowledge of Christ's resurrection!***Each of the nineteen stories could be recounted with ferver. The students were quite impressive.***The children also took an opportunity to present their songs to the young men. At the end of the morning class, we marched the 20+ children down from the third floor to sing for the students. They sang Heaven is a Wonderful Place and Jesus Loves the Little Children.***Early this morning I introduced Sovan and SreyNang to the hobby of geocaching. We walked down about a quarter of a mile to the Buddhist temple and cemetery where the cache Monkeys Temple is hidden. Unfortunately, the cache seems to have been muggled. We did find monks and monkeys as we strolled through the shrines.***AS we sit this evening, taking a breath between classes and awaiting our evening meal, it is so rewarding to hear the songs echoing through the halls as the students file down the stairs throughout the house for dinner. Their enthusiasm is contagious! Tomorrow they will again go into the neghboring village to share their faith. Pray for these faces as you remember us here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

There is a battle raging in this world. The combatants are too often unseen, but occasionally one takes on human flesh. Sunday Paul Pinkley taught his lesson about this very subject. Pray today for peace for those who stand against attacks of the evil one. I am living in the home of a man who could be a modern-day Job. The work he is doing for the Lord is amazing. His devotion to Christ and his steadfast self-sacrifice has brought so many to saving faith and others to a closer walk with the Lord? You cannot help but be touched by his story...,_death_and_rebirth_in_The_Killing_Fields Today join us in prayer for those who would seek to gain financially from his generosity and dedication to the Lord's will in his life and for the peace that comes after the personal hurt of betrayal.****Joe conducted an overview of the Bible today with emphasis on the triune nature of God. His studies with the students will walk through the heroes of our faith guiding the young men to choose the right and face evil eye to eye!****My children's classes continue to grow. Every time I get a small group started, the crowds press in from the sides! They arrive at 7:10 for the 8:30 class and at 12:30 for the 3:30 class! Just as the afternoon class got well started, the daily rains came in torrents along with a strong wind. We were "blown" out of our tird floor veranda classroom and into the hallway. Fifteen minutes late r the rains were gone leaving puddles in our workspace. The children multiplied with the clear sky.****The students get double doses of me each day. We have one based on scriptures or worship songs and one hour of camp songs or games. Even young adults enjoy having fun and using laughter to learn!****We are so well fed! Srey Nang makes sure our diets are well balanced and we have every delicacy imaginable. We miss Garrett, and our hearts ache to see Sokhom attacked by a former friend and coworker, but God blesses us daily through His plan for our days. We are more richly blessed than you can imagine!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good Days and Good-byes

The children came today in droves. I started out the day with ten sweet young children in the back work area where motorbikes are stored, macramé is tied, hammocks swing babies to sleep and all meal preparations are made. While the ladies went to the market for today's supplies, I taught colors and math skills along with a review of Sunday's lesson on the importance of one young child. We sang over and over about the love of Jesus for little children. The groceries arrived along with two young ladies ready to take over the room for preparing lunch for the masses. Simultaneously, fifteen more eager English students came to study/sing/play! We moved to the front driveway and continued learning more English with a review of songs and games with jump frogs and Noah's Ark. This would be the first of three groups of children's classes totaling fifty four today. The evening class includes several of the CBI students who are beginning English speakers. They enjoy these classes as much as the children do. I've begun to incorporate more children's games and songs in with the students' English classes as well. They enjoyed the lollipop song today along with "Heaven is a Wonderful Place" which made them laugh. Tonight I began looking into their computer skills. Classes filled with laughing students thrill a teacher's soul.*****Garrett finished I Timothy with the boys today and did an overview of II Timothy as well. It has been a perfect selection for the young men to study together. They have been eager to ask questions and participate in discussions. He ended thee session by washing the feet of the students. It was a moving experience as he and Sokhom knelt to honor each one. ****Garrett's departure was honored by a true Cambodian-American barbecue! We had coconut milk straight from the coconut, sticky rice, grilled vegetables and a perfectly cooked steak! For dessert we enjoyed the meat of the coconut, mangoes and Rambutan fruit. The students enjoyed jamming with Garrett and his new Cambodian guitar. When he left, he gave them his souvenir to continue the jam. This young man of God has left a deep impression on the hearts of his students. ****God bless you, each one as you continue to lift Sokhom and his work here to the throne daily. Lives are being changed. Souls are coming to the Lord. Joy is spreading throughout Cambodia. ********Saturday we will take a medical mission trip to the Women's Island. Ten local doctors have been enlisted to join us in hopes of ministering to 200-300 women and children that day!

Monday Museums, Memories, Melodies and Marvels

This morning I accompanied the ladies back to the market to gather the supplies needed for today's menus. The streets are crowded between 6:00 and 8:00 with daily visitors all in search of the specific items they desire to make the most out of their meal times. The sight is so very colorful with women dressed in bright colors seated on the ground with their fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits and gleanings or surrounded bylarge silver bowls filled with squirming fish, iced shrimp and squid. Others fan their fresh chicken pieces with strips from plastic bags attached to the end of a stick. There are sellers sitting behind a table filled with various cuts of beef or pork or lamb waiting with a cutting board to customize your order and a scale to weigh your purchase. Some walk away with everything they need in one small plastic bag, but SreyNang and Phalika find a friendly soul who will let them stash their bags behind the "counter" while they gather more than the two ladies can carry at one time. Feeding thirty mouths at each sitting is quite an overwhelming task! And knowing what it takes for each dish requires preplanning as well. ****Back at the institute, I prepared for my morning class of children and sat waiting for them to appear. As I waited, I observed the three ladies carefully preparing each item for lunch. One washed and chopped several fresh green leafy herbs and then, using mortar and pistal, she ground it to powder form. Taking her fresh herbs and a bowl full of fresh fish, she kneaded the mixture for a good thirty minutes until the fish became totally united with the herbs. One by one, she formed small "fish balls" the size of large marbles. This became the base for the soup that accompnaed our lunch. Phalika chopped vegetables, peeled garlic and pulverized the herbs for the stock of the soup. Srey Nang peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped chicken and made rice to serve the "students". Almost magically, everything is ready and on the table as the students leave class for the morning. By the time Sokhom, Joe, Garrett and I are seated and ready to eat, the students come down from cleaning up to gather on the mats and serve their bowls as well. No one at the Cambodian Bible Institute (CBI) goes without when it comes to eating three good meals each day! ****My morning classes did not show up this morning. The internet was down. Everyone was busy with various tasks, so I entertained Daniel with English classes and games. Daniel is the 18 month old son of Phalika and Jon T. They laugh that he will speak English before he actually speaks K'mai. We worked on matching pictures of animals and calling them by English terms. He was enjoying the attention and quite upset when I left to attend Garrett's teaching for the second half of the morning. He is now my little shadow whenever I will allow him to be. We had planned to eat sandwiches in the car enroute to the Genocide Museum in downtown Phnom Penh, but that really made Srey Nang mad. She insisted on frying shrimp and making soup. As soon as we could eat our delicious lunch, we jumped into the car and headed off to town. ***********Sokhom really wanted Garrett to experience the museum before he had to leave Tuesday evening, and our Sunday afternoon had just gotten too crowded. The museum is housed in the Kampuchea Democratic offices "S.21" This was a former high school building that was confiscated by Pol Pot to be used as a detention and interrogation center leading to inhumane torture and killing. The former classrooms were wwwere turned into tiny individual cells for solitary confinement where prisoners were held for months at a time without ever leaving the 3X8 inclosures. Other classrooms were used as individual torture chambers and still house the iron beds on which the victims were shackled and tortured in various manners till they "confessed" and were murdered. The attrocities of the period are way too graphic to describe here in a blog, but walking through the fields on Sunday...fields identical to those where Sokhom and sixteen of his family members were led to be slaughtered (buried alive to gasp for breaths of dirt) and now walking through a prison...a prison so similar to where he was held for four years and the very prison he was forced to give two hours a day to help clean after the liberation from Pol Pot, we were taken back to the reality of the human factor of each soul who suffered here. The video at the Killing Fields had given us the basic background of the historical period, but Sokhom walked us through the feelings he felt, the memories so vivid and the horror so very close. To say our hearts bled at the sights is such an insignificant sumation of the hour we spent growing closer in heart to this survivor of one of the world's most terrible periods. From April 17, 1975 to August 19, 1979, over 3,000,000 Cambodians were slaughtered. Their stories have been recorded...their faces posted and their sacrifice lives on, but the killing everyone in a society with an education and the losses to that can never be overcome. ****In Garrett's afternoon session on I Timothy, he had the students go out two by two to obtain first-hand experience with the training they had been rehearsing in class. Each pair was to find two different people on the streets and share with them information about Jesus. The young men left inthusiastically seeking opportunities to open doors for the first time. They returned with a variety of stories relating their adventure taking "The Word on the Street!" The boys have really enjoyed learning from Garrett, He is so close to their age. He is so mature in his faith. And he relates so well to the experiences of this generation. ****All the children who did not come to the morning class skipped their afternoon class in school to come to English classes tonight! I had 25 children all at once ranging in age from one to fourteen! They are enthusiastic and love to be first to master a phrase or song...learning quickly tospeak the English language through scriptures and stories. Children's songs from back home might seem a bit butchered, but the joy of mastering small choruses is well worth the chhoppiness. Their faces glow as they try to tangle me up with head and shoulders, knees and toes, elboes wrists, hands and fingers! It is such fun to see them repeat the stories in song as with Noah; to play concentration with animal cards memorizing English names for the pictures they have never seen before, realizing that one little boy can change the world around him as the little boy with the two fish and fives breads that he gave to Jesus.. The rewards are worth the physical exhaustion at the end of such a class. ****The students' English class was a review of many famous people in the Bible. After a review of their fame and listing them on the board and in their notebooks before playing a lively game of "I have...Who has...?" It is interesting to see the vast amounts of knowledge some have regarding the people of the Bible while others are completely confused by the unfamiliar names in English. ****The day was rewarding, refreshing and renewing even if it was laden with serious, heavy material.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Cambodia Style

This morning we were up and ready for a wonderful day of praise and worship. Little did we know what surprises lay around the corner for us! Sokhom had invited his friends, Paul & Debbie Pinckley, who manage the Ship of Hope to come worship with us. Paul taught Sunday School. I taught the Sunday school for about 20 children. Garrett preached...but not before Sokhom and Srey Nang surprised us with a Cambodian soup for breakfast. Sokhom gives Srey Nang a little break on Sundays, and we ate out at lunch with Debbie, Dian, lLinda and Paul at a fancy tourist-type restaurant downtown. The food was delicious, but we all prefer eating right here at home with Srey Nang cooking for us!Debbie came back to watch me with the children. The children are precious! Their twenty shining faces are eager to learn both English and stories from the Bible. Today we reviewed songs and colors from Friday's lesson. Then we delved into the story of how the butterfly and the frog are born again as the song declares. Srey Nang made her debut translating for my class. It reminded me of Jyoti's debut, but I found Srey Nang to not be as familiar with the stories thus adding to her stress. She did a fabulous job, I think. We talked about the butterfly effect and how one single person can change the life of so many others. I used the sotry of the little boy who had only five breads and two fishes but was wiling to give all he had to Jesus. Then we added Make a Heart for Jesus to their singing repertoir. Debbie enjoyed the sticker storyboards as we retold the story over and over for the cildren to create their own take home version. We hit it off tremendously, and I shared with her ideas that they might be able to incorporate into their programs in villages as the Ship of Hope sails up and down the Mekong River bringing medical attention and Bible sotries to the children of the villages. They usually have an audience of 100+ children for the games and Bible stories at the end of the day. The ship is staffed by Cambodian medical teams with volunteers who come from the States for a month or two at a time. Paul & Debbie sold everything, leaving his career at Pepperdine and the beautiful home they had to commit to a life of service here in Cambodia. After nine months, they are making wonderful strides in the culture and have come to love the people who share their home onboard the ship. After volunteering for a month, Linda went home and sold her belongings to return to Cambodia for an undertermined length of time as well.After lunch Sokhom took us on a very personal tour of the Killing Fields. We walked where a short time back the blood of over 8,000 innocent victims was shed. We found bones, teeth and clothing fragments still protruding from the pathways. WE stood in reverant awe at the edge of the indention which once held 100 women and children and were moved by the precious display of concern from hundreds of school children who have brought hand-made bracelets to adorn the fence surrounding it. Our hearts ached as Sokhom spoke of the experiences he had in a similar field where he too wa and kicked into a mass grave only to be "rescued" at the last minute by a supervisor who felt his youth and strength could better serve the regime in their prison. Tears filled his eyes and ours as we came face to face with the attrocities of genecide...the killing of all the educated, skilled and innocent. Over 3,000,000 Cambodians were killed by Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.From the Killing Fields Memorial we drove back into town to visit the school supply store for crayons to use with the activity books we brought for the children. WE were impressed with all the supplies available, but disappointed to find none of the products were actually made in Cambodia.A quick stop by the souvenir shops was profitable for Garrett on our way to the Cambodia Church of Christ where we worshipped with a packed ouse includingabout ten American missionaries working in various parts of the city. WE met thecousin of Faye Moore, a friend of Stuart Platte's, Julie who is supported by Terry & Cherie Creech, and good friends of Megan & Sean Miller! Imagine the small world in which we live!WE drove through town after dark in awe of teh twinkling lights adorning the trees along the boulevards. The sleepy town was lit for celebration of a wonderful day! We stopped by the supermarket to pick up sandwich supplies for tonight and tomorrow lunch and headed on home.Srey Nang had taken advantage of a day away from the stove to relax, but she snuck time in to take care of my laundry as well! I am set to go again to face a new week of excitement and joy in the Lord!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Workshop for Church Leaders

This morning we departed early, traveling in Sokhom's private car and a rented 18 passenger van. After three hours on the road including a ferry crossing of the Mekong, we arrived early for the 8:30 starting time. Sokhom walked us across the highway to his elementary school where his cousin has served as principal until her retirement last month. The school buildings have changed very little since he attended there in the early 70's! We toured the classrooms and visited with the new principal before finding his aunt in the corner of the schoolyard at her snackbar..We sampled her wares...bean-filled treats fried in lard. The children were pleased to see visitors on their campus. The first two classes jumped to attention and recited a greeting to us waiting for their teacher to dismiss them to reseat themselves. The other classes continued with business as usual when we entered their domains.From the school yard we returned to the brush arbor meeting area where 82 church leader rs registered for the full day seminar. Joe lead the group into small group discussions to search out the answers to several pertinant questions all Christians should ponder. The cooperative learning techniques were unfamiliar to the group, but they relished the oportunities to learn from each other as they delved into the Word with other leaders they may not have ever met. Questions such as Who is God? How do you know that what you know about God is true? and What does God know about you? filled the morning with active study and lively discussions. I was pleased to see the group composition was quite diverse with as many women as men and almost as many under 45 as over. Everyone participated in the small groups and a different spokesperson reported out from each of the six groups after each question. Each time Joe wrapped up his findings to bring consenses to the group. Just before the mid-morning break, Garrett shared a visual with the large group about how God's love is shared one person to another by beginning with a single piece of paper in one person's hand. By tearing and sharing, God's Word spread to nearly every hand in the room in a matter of minutes. If everyone who knows and loves the Lord simply shares His love with one other person each day, Christianity will multiply in large quantities. I couldn't help but notice the children playing around the meeting area. One little four-year-old girl whose parents took the day off from their teaching positions to attend, delighted me with her antics. At break she was given a fruit cut open by her mother. She quickly enjoyed its sweet taste and longed for more. Having seen her daddy use a long pole with a tiny hook attached to the far end to dislodge the fruit from the top branches of a tree, she set to work to help herself. (I was perched in just the right angle to watch her determined pursuit.) When the pole proved too long for her to manage, she reverted to a shorter pole and settled for the lower fruits, but she managed to maneuver the process to her advantage. Seeing her reap the benefits of her labor another preschool girl, taller and wiser?, joined her team. They returned to the slab with an armload of the fruits and delved into the rich fruits within...extracting the tasty and discarding the rinds. I couldn't help but to see the parable of these girls as it related to the lesson of today. Each time we taste of the fruits of the scripture, we develop an appetite for more study and more knowledge. We do whatever it takes to make or find the time to get more study. When our friends see the rich blessings we reap, they follow our footsteps and become students of the Word. The day was a total success as the participants boarded motorcycles, bicycles, cars and taxis to return to their respective villages to prepare fpr the day of worship tomorrow! Just as we wrapped up and headed toward the car, the afternoon rains hit. The air was refreshed and the ground renewed by the 15 minute shower. We jumped in the car and headed back to the Institue for dinner pausing only a brief few minutes to wait our turn to board the ferry across the Mekong.All along the super highway, we passed interesting sights and fascinating people. The rice fields are lush in multpile shades of green. Some were being plowed and planted today as we passed by. Some by hand-held gas plows and others by -- teams yoked together or singularly. Ttucks loaded to the brim and over with mangoes...bicycles hauling as many as four live pigs upside down and tied together to minimize the with families including helmitted toddlers standing sandwiched between father and laden with fresh coconuts sporting a straw to enjoy the fresh sweet milk within, stacks of watermelons, bananas and numerous other fresh vegetables and fruits inticing us to sample them each and every one. We were especially fascinated with what we were later told was the fruit of the lotus pods that are flat on top resembling slightly the inner section of a sunflower. Our soup last night was made from waterlily roots, and today's salad had a variety of fresh greens including the stem of the waterlily and straw grasses that grow at the water's edge. But I will save the delicables of the tables for a later post when more time presents itself...(Tonight's feast was fried eel and stirfried squid and zucchini along with sticky rice and our favorite dessert of fresh mangoes!