A lot has happened since the last of February. This is going back a long way I know, but since a lot of the happenings have been post worthy I thought I’ll try to fill you in.
One of the last weekends in February, the family decided to go to the beach for one last vacation before Lori left for Canada. We left for Sihanoukville around 10:30 Wednesday evening, and due do the distance and some mechanical troubles on the bus we didn’t get there till 3:30 Thursday afternoon. Needless to say, we were all worn out and hungry. So after freshening up all of us except mom ,who wasn’t feeling well that evening, went to get some supper. After supper, all of us were happy to go to bed. The next morning we headed out to the beach loaded with sunscreen. After walking down the beach a while, we arrived at a part of the beach that was fairly deserted. We decided to stop there so that we could have some privacy while swimming and having fun. Sorry to say, we ignored renewing the sunscreen until it was to late, and everybody was sporting different shades of sunburns by the end of the day. After supper we hung out in the hotel room before turning in. The next day Dad went to get bus tickets, but was very much beat out that there was no tickets available to return to Seam Riep that Sunday. There was some to leave Monday night, but this didn’t work out well because two of our cousins were coming Monday night. So he took Ryan with him to the bus station in the hopes that Ryan who knows much more Khmer than the rest of us could get tickets to Phnom Penh. Then tickets from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Which he was eventually able to do. The rest of the day was pretty much a repeat of the first except that we took family pictures on the beach that morning before we went swimming, much to some of the boys displeasure. Towards the end of the day, Austin and Luke got stung by some jellyfish. This was enough to send Heather and Carissa hurrying for shore, even though these stings didn’t hurt much. The next day being Sunday we had a little service before hurriedly packing or things since we had to be out of our rooms by 12:00. We got our things packed with time to spare and since our bus didn’t leave till 5:00 we left our bags in one of the hotels conference rooms where they watched them for free. We decided that since we needed to get on the bus that afternoon we would just walk the beach in the opposite direction of what we normally went. After a few minutes walking we came to the end of the beach, but found a path that looked like it went on around the point which was very rocky. Eventually we found a nice shady spot to spent the afternoon. Some native children soon came up and after finding out that we could understand some of what they said were very eager to show us some of the sea creatures they found. After relaxing there that afternoon we got something to eat so we could start our bus ride on full stomachs. The bus ride home was pretty much uneventful and much shorter except for in changing buses Lori’s camera bag was stolen. This was a big disappointment especially as all her pics from this trip and the family pics were still on the card. The good news is is that she will get her camera back, not the same one, but that is her story to tell so I’ll let her tell it.
We got back from the beach Monday morning and that evening our cousins Jody and Jeana Byler came for a visit. We had a lot of fun taking them with us to the village to teach English. This was a priority since Jody had been asked by the mission board to come help with the english teaching program. We took them to see the sites around town, this included taking them to the silk farm, Lori taking them to be tourists in town for a day, a trip up to the mountain to see a sunset, and they also went to visit the Anchor Watt temples. As you can imagine, we really enjoyed their stay. The highlight of their visit, at least for me, was a moto trip to the Thailand border. The four oldest of us siblings, Jody and Jeana, Frank, and Ken Gingerich went on four motos. We spent most of the day on our bikes but took a 2 hr break on a cliff that looks back into Cambodia. Close to the cliff is a restaurant that has little huts with hammocks in them for visitors to relax in. So we ate there then relaxed in the hammocks before heading back home. On the way up, the clutch cable broke on the bike that I was driving, and on the way back Ryan’s bike had some electrical problem that made the bike turn off several times. So the trip wasn’t without some difficulties, but it was still a very good day. On March 8th, Jody and Jeana headed up to Thailand for a few days visit before heading back home.
In the week after Jody and Jeana left, we decided to try Ken’s well drilling rig out. We only use a machine to drill wells when the soil is to rocky to drill by hand because it costs a lot more to drill with the machine. There are a couple of areas that we know about that really need more dependable wells. In a lot of these areas it is a lot easier to drill with a machine. One of these places is were Chhom’s parents live. That Wednesday we packed everything we needed on the truck along with hammocks to spend the night in. It was fairly late by the time we got there and got everything set up and started drilling, but we decided to keep on drilling anyhow. Soon we had a big crowd of spectators. Most of them were Chhom’s family, but there was also neighbors in the mix. When it started getting dark, most of the people started going home, but since it was so much cooler, we set up some flood lights and kept on drilling. After probably an hour of drilling in the dark, we noticed that the fuel tank had a decent sized leak. It was big enough that it definitely needed to be fixed. The nice thing was that the engine used to power the drilling machine came from a big power tiller like the ones that many of the natives use. One of the guys that was watching said he had an old tank that was still good at the house. He went and got it, but it needed a little jerry-riging before it fit the newer engine. By the time we got the engine fixed, it was to late to keep drilling so we went to a neighbors well and took a khmer shower, came back and hung our hammocks for the night. The next morning we started drilling again at about six o’clock, and drilled for an hour before breakfast. After breakfast we drilled a bit, but soon the rig wouldn’t pick the drill rods up. While the boys were working on getting that fixed Dad, Lori, Austin, Forrest, and Alaina came on the mini truck. Dad needed to bring some gravel and cement out, and the others came along for the ride. Dad helped the boys work on the rig till lunch time, but after lunch he took Lori, Luke, Forrest, and Alaina home, because Lori and Luke needed to teach English. Before starting, Luke had tied up a hammock in the back of the truck to ride in on the way home, but since he needed to drive a moto home Lori rode in it instead. After driving a while, Dad hit a bump that was just a little bit to much for the hammock rope. The rope busted which dumped Lori along with Forrest and Alaina who were both sleeping onto the truck bed! Luckily Lori landed on Luke’s backpack so she wasn’t hurt, and Forrest and Alaina barely woke up before sleeping again. Meanwhile, the boys got the rig fixed, and finished drilling the well. Unfortunately the bit wasn’t big enough for the PVC so the well didn’t get finished. That night they packed everything back up and came home. So now we have one well that needs to be finished sometime.
The next week Frank and Austin were out by our school building on Frank’s land in Bakong. A few yards from the school Frank spotted a spectacled cobra. He yelled at Austin to get a big stick to catch a snake. Using the stick he pinned down the snake’s head, and then with Austin holding the stick down he caught it behind the head where it couldn’t bite him. Carefully he put it in a bag then brought it to our place to show us. Before they killed it they milked the venom into a jar, then let it loose to get some pictures. Unfortunately I wasn’t home, and those that were couldn’t figure out the correct settings on my camera so I only have a few decent pictures.
On Sunday, before Lori left for Canada, she decided she wanted to learn to drive Ryan’s FTR. The main thing that was the trouble with driving this was the hand clutch. She not wanting to be embarrassed by us watching her try to start got Ryan to take her to a road with very little traffic and started there. Little did she know that Austin and I hopped on another moto and followed to take pictures, but since we didn’t want to be seen we couldn’t get a good pic. While she didn’t stall the first time, she did stall before she was finished, but I thought she did very well. On the 18th Lori left for Canada. When we took her to the airport I think everybody was teary-eyed, and I almost forgot to take any pictures as it was only one tuned out decent. Needless to say, we all miss her very much, but we are happy that she could go.
March 21st was Alaina’s second birthday.
On March 22nd Frank and Kompheak’s baby girl, Annya, was born. As you can see from the pictures Frank is one proud Daddy.
Recently a lady named Sokchea came into our lives. Let me tell you the story as Dad told it just reworded a little. “Over the time that we lived here Lori befriended a neighbor lady named Contea. She lives just on the other side of the wall from us. Lori has visited with her and taken different food items over for her in the past year, especially when she was expecting her first son. She works for an organization that has a “safe house,” and she works as a social worker. Several weeks ago she came by our house and was wondering if a lady she was helping could come to our church? She said the lady is a Christian, because she sees her praying at times and wants to attend a church. Of course we told her that would be fine. She gave us a short run down of what was happening, and ask that we keep it to ourselves, until such a time that this lady would tell us her story herself. Here is her story. Her name is Sokchea, and was born here in Cambodia, I don’t know what happened to her parents, but she was an orphan and stayed with an Aunt. When she was seven years old, her Aunt sold her to human trafficking, and she ended up in Malaysia for seven years. A pastor from Phnom Penh found her there, rescued her, and brought her back to Cambodia. After coming back to Cambodia she became a Christian, got married, then they moved to Thailand for work. It appears that he was not a Christian, because he didn’t want a Christian name for their little girl. Sokchea has since named her daughter Rachel, who had her first birthday on February 1, (and is cute as can be!) In October Sokchea’s husband died and she was left with a baby and expecting her second one. Sometime in November or December, a wealthy couple from Thailand wanted to buy Rachel from her mother, but because of her experience, she was not going to let her daughter go down that road. One day she had someone babysitting Rachel while she worked, and these people had heard about the money the wealthy couple offered for her, and figured it would be easy money for them. They brought Rachel to Seam Reap without Sokchea knowing, called the couple, and sold Rachel to them. As I recall, mother and daughter were separated for about three weeks! This is when our neighbor lady, (Contea) got involved. I don’t know the details, but Rachel was found, and reunited with her mother. Praise the Lord! It was soon after this that Sokchea came to our church and wanted to talk with Matt and Dad. She told them a short story about her life. After she was finished with her story they were wondering if this could really be true, but Contea verified what she knew of the story, and everything lined up. Contea then wondered if our church would consider to give Sokchea housing, food, and moral support until at least two months after the baby is born, (who was due the last of April). After discussing it with the two board members who happened to be here right about that time, we agreed to help her. It has been such a blessing for us to see how she responds to the things we give. She is so thankful, and is afraid we are going too far out of our way for her. Some of the things she needed, we had to assure her that it was ok for her to have. She doesn’t have the “give me, give me” mentality which makes it a lot nicer to give stuff to her. All of us, but especially Dad, have enjoyed playing the role of Uncle/Grandpa for Rachel. :) We have had to wonder why God brought her to our door? What does God want us to do? What are we to learn from this experience? Our desire is that we can show Christ’s love above all else. The other day Lori said, “I wonder how many times Sokchea has read her Bible through.” It seems most times when we come to her room (that we rent for her), either her Bible or a song book is open and laying on her bed. It looks to us like her walk with God is strong. We pray for wisdom to lead her farther.” The latest news about her is that Easter morning she had her baby boy. She hasn’t named him yet so obviously I can’t tell you what the name is.
Not much else has happened since then…so until next time! Luke for the Helmuths