When I last wrote we had just started teaching English again (six weeks ago:). That has been a bit of a roller coaster. In the morning classes we started out with two classes I had all the students who didn’t know very much and Micheal had the same students that he had before vacation. Some of which know quite a bit. It started out that I had four little girls in my class. This was a small class but I was having fun with them. I could easily teach them the alphabet, some conversation, and still have time to play some games before the hour was up. As the next couple weeks passed however, I slowly kept getting more students till I was consistently having 10 students. So I told them that anybody above the ten that I had could come, but they wouldn’t get a book unless one of the others didn’t come. This was working pretty good until we told them that we were going to have a Christmas Party. Soon after we told them this, I had up to 25 students. It was to the point I couldn’t really teach them much of anything, but now that the party is over with the students are dwindling down to more manageable numbers.
In the afternoon class I had the opposite happen. When we started I had 20 students so we narrowed them out by grades. When we said that those in third grade or less couldn’t come I had 10-12 students, which is about the right amount. So I was teaching those, but of the 12 I could tell there was only 3-4 that really wanted to learn. The rest just came for the fun. Over the next two months the less dedicated dropped out till now I am down to a consistent class size of 4 with 1-2 others that come occasionally. Some of these really weren’t even trying to learn till I really started giving them a hard time. I showed them the attendance sheet and told them see, the two that have come the most are the ones that have learned. I asked the others if they really wanted to learn or only came for the fun. They all sheepishly looked at each other and said they wanted to learn. I must admit, since then, they have been putting a lot more effort into learning.
Some of the board (James Mullet, and Delbert Kline), and Chandra (school teacher for American staff) arrived here on the tenth. We had decided that Chandra would be living with Eltons so she moved in with them right away and started getting settled there.
We enjoyed having the board around even though this meant a lot of meetings. We especially enjoyed the Friday evening when they made supper for everybody. This included the Khmer staff and families. After a delicious American supper, they, the board, had some early Christmas gifts for everybody:) Then we watched the CAM Open House Slides. It was interesting watching the Khmer people realize that there are places that are far poorer than here.
One day while the board was still here, I planted a bunch of pepper seeds to add to my collection of vegetables. This time they came up. So far I have tomatoes and peppers, but I have plans to plant some corn and okra too.
On Monday the 19th the board started back to US. Then on Tuesday, we moved all of the school desks and books from our house over to the school house and tried to help Chandra set up desks ect. in the classroom. The next day they started school at the school house. For the first couple days Jody went over to help Chandra out, but since things are getting into a routine over there, she hasn’t been. I was especially glad that we finally had a school teacher because now I don’t need to teach English then try to come home and answer questions and grade yet.
That brings us up to the 23rd, two days before Christmas. Things still didn’t slow down since we had a Christmas party to get ready for. So Friday, Michael and I went and got a set of speakers for the party (last year one of the complaints was that they couldn’t hear). While we were doing that, Dad was buying soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and candy to put in bags as a small gift to give to whoever wanted it. Friday evening everybody got together for homemade ice-cream. After eating everybody pitched in to help put together the little gift bags. It took close to an hour and a half to put together 350 of the gifts. These would be handed out to everybody along with the 25 Bible Stories and the Torch of Truth magazines that we have translated into Khmer.
On Saturday everybody in our family, worked on getting things ready for the party. Washing bowls, buying ingredients for chili soup, grinding up 20 kg of chicken was only a small part of what happened.
Then came the big day…Christmas morning was busy loading up trucks to get everything needed out to Bakong. Around lunch time we got out there and started getting set up. While some people worked on chili soup, others worked on getting tables and chairs set up. Soon some Khmer friends showed up and helped out. We also had 600 loaves of bread to cut, with everybody pitching in everything got done in time.
As we were doing this, people were slowly dribbling in. Not everybody expected was there at three thirty. So we put off starting till around four o’clock. We had a few special songs, then Michael and I did a flannel graph of Jesus’ Birth with Sen translating. The most important part of the program was Elton preaching, since the reason that we have the party is so that we can share the gospel. After the program was over everybody got to eat some chili soup and bread. I was blessed with how all the Khmer people pitched in to help whenever there was a need. While the Christmas Party was a lot of work, we had a lot of fun too. Altogether we had around 385 people that were there that evening.
On Monday our family was sitting around the supper table talking about the gift exchange that we were planning to do that evening. Carissa and Forrest were saying that Alaina had told them whose name Mom had. When Mom looked over at Alaina she piped up, “But I’m not going to tell Heather,” which was who Mom had…:)
Well, I should run the last English class before a two week break awaits me.
Until next time.
Luke For the Helmuths