Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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.

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