Friday, June 1, 2012
An American in Phnom Penh
Joe's classes concluded today with the students' final presentations from the book of Genesis. Their poise and command of the Scripture knowledge has certainly advanced. **** Tonight the men took over the hot fires to prepare dinner for twenty five hungry souls. No rice was served. Joe and Sokhom treated the students and staff to a good old fashioned American staple...hamburgers and french fries! Only four of the 22 had ever eaten a hamburger, so Srey Nang, Phalika and I put them together and served their plates for them. They were excited at the idea...a little surprised at the sight of the product...totally unsure about the process for eating such a concoction! As soon as they sat down to eat, the layers began coming apart and one item at a time tasted. Soon it was apparent that directions for eating a hamburger were in order. Facial expressions conveyed their amazement for the burgers were good quarter pounders intended to fill young men. The ketchup was another perplexing item on the table, but none was left at the end...nor were any of the heaping pile of French fries...nor extra tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles--oh, yeah, there were pickles--not their favorite item on the plate. It was fun to see Sokhom take over Srey Nang's apron and stance at the charcoal pit for the three-hour tour in the kitchen. (The men now see what the three women do with their time all day!)(I let Srey Nang choose another apron to replace the one that now belongs to Sokhom!)****Later we wanted to show a movie and serve Fritos and onion dip, but the only movie we could come up with that they hadn't seen recently was a children's DVD I had brought. At least it was a recap of the book of genesis they have just finished studying with Joe. And at least it had subtitles of the spoken English so they could try to read along. And at least it had some of the songs I had taught the children and had introduced to the students. They liked the Fritos and dip.****Earlier as I had gathered with the students for our noon English lesson, the intern who assists Dr. Linh came in to say one of my children had had "a tragedy" and was in the clinic. I went out with him to see what had happened and found my fourteen year old Chorni with a two inch gash in the back of her head. They had cut a four inch diameter circle of her beautiful long black hair to expose the gash. Of course she had another eight of the children standing around her as she sat in the chair waiting for whatever was going to happen to her next. I stood next to her holding her hand and entertained the children with songs while the intern sterilized his instruments and prepared the tray of materials for suturing the wound. Chorni grabbed hold of me with both hands as the syringe came off the tray. in Tola's hand. Tears flowed as she squeezed the life out of my arm and sniffled to hide her pain and insecurity. After tugging and pulling, snipping and cutting, Tola settled for two stitches carefully placed to hold the gash together. Next came the question of how to keep it covered with no razor for a clean shave. They wound up winding an elastic bandage around her head and sending her off with antibiotics and Ibuprofen to last a couple days. She insisted on staying for English classes to start an hour later. Chorni had cooked lunch for her family today and had given her three younger siblings more than their share of rice. When her father came in to eat, there was not as much rice left as he wanted, so he had shoved her causing her to fall into the corner of a wall. Later from the third floor veranda where we were having class, she saw her youngest brother sitting in the drive of the school. She went down and brought him upstairs with her. Soon she heard her other young brother downstairs and also went down after him. This provided a perfect opportunity for our youngest regular member of the class to step up and be a leader. Four year old Yancu took the Memory cards of Noah's Ark animals and carefully set them out in a four by eight array, carefully pronouncing the name of each animal to the best of his ability and waiting till his two new pupils repeated the names! I was very impressed. After class, Choni returned home with her siblings to fix dinner. Another connection was made to the hands and heart of Jesus. "Jesus Loves the Little Children"