THEY’RE HERE!!! After over four months of great anticipation, we are so excited that this long looked-forward-to event is finally here! Charles and Donna Wagler and their family arrived late Sunday night. We’ve already had so much fun catching up on eachothers lives. They’re all still struggling with jet lag, so we’ve mostly been here at home “relaxing” and catching up on sleep, but hopefully soon that problem will be remedied and they can sleep ’til 7 instead of 3 am and go to sleep at 11 rather than 8.
And oh, what fun we’ve had going through the treasures they brought with them from our wonderful friends at home. Meat and cheese…Cream cheese…Books!…Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces!…Toys for the children…just to name a few. Thank you…so much! It’s almost overwhelming to see what all people sent…it made me think of another time someone came over and had some things for us. Carissa said, “I guess we’re special after all!” Your support means so much. Hopefully soon we can get more personal thanks to those of you who sent stuff, but for now, “thank you” is all we can say. (One piece of luggage got lost en route, so if you think of it, breathe a prayer that it will find it’s way here. But even without the lost bag, we have so much to be thankful for.)
I think in the next few weeks there will definitely be some blog-worthy happenings, but for now here is a post I wrote last week.
The Water Festival
The Water Festival is a big, yearly holiday in Cambodia, celebrating the end of the monsoon season. The past few years they haven’t celebrated it in Siem Reap. Back in 2010, a horrible accident happened during the festival in Phnom Penh. According to Wikipedia, 347 people were killed and another 755 were injured in a stampede on a bridge. Witnesses said too many people were on the bridge, with people on both ends pushing. This caused sudden panic, and the people in the middle fell over and got trampled. In the mayhem, electric wires got pulled down as well, which caused electrocution.
The next year, it was decided that no festival would be held. Then the king died and so they didn’t observe the festival the next year. Anyways, this year was the first year since 2010 that Siem Reap had its water festival. All the Khmer people that work with us took a three day vacation, and the schools we teach at were on break as well, so we had a break too. Thursday evening a week ago, after the children came home from school and the men came back from the village, our family ventured out into the crowds around the Tonle Sap river to watch the boat races. There were scores and scores of people lining the banks. I noticed though, that the bridges were carefully blocked and guarded. I’ll let the pictures tell you about the races.
My personal favorite was the ladies’ teams. There were only a few, and my, what shrieks came from the boats. The crowd seemed to enjoy them too, because the applaud was much louder when they came along.
Once we got tired of watching the races, Dad gave each of the little people 2000 Riel (50 cents) to spend, and we wandered along the streets looking at the things the various shops and vendors had to offer. Cotton candy seemed to be the favorite among the younger children, although I think even the big children were robbing poor, oblivious Alaina of her supply. I got one of my favorite Khmer treats…rice and beans cooked in bamboo.
At one of the places the children were buying something, I was standing there waiting, and a dear old Khmer lady walked up to me. She took my wrist, and wanted to tie a piece of red yarn around it in exchange for money. It’s a Buddhist thing…I’m not sure about all the details, but it’s a ‘good luck charm’ that I really want nothing to do with. I told her in my limited Khmer that I believe in Jesus. She nodded vigorously, but still wanted money. I gave her a little, and she walked away. Thinking about her though, and how many people fall for the ‘luck’ the charm might bring, and seeing the shrines with fruit and incense for Buddha…walking among the hoards of people…it’s just a sad, helpless feeling that comes over me when I think about all of those people that have never heard of the love of Jesus. Who am I? One person among millions. Where can I even begin?
The other day Forrest said something that is a great answer to those thoughts…I was talking with my friend Contea about the problem of drug abuse in here in Cambodia. Forrest saw us looking at some pictures of side effects of drug addictions and asked what that was. I told him, ”Some people think if they take medicine it will make them happy…but it doesn’t. The only thing that will make them really happy is if they worship God.”
”Well why don’t they just?” he asked.
”Maybe no one told them about God.”
”Well, we should just tell them, then they could tell more people, then those people could tell more people, and more and more!”
Wise words from a four year old I think…a challenge for all of us. Let’s do our part in telling people about the wonderful God we serve!
Just warmed me all over to hear about the way you enjoyed the festival, seeing the pictures of your family and the races and the story behind it. Love the way you write. That rice and beans in bamboo is tantalizing. It was like being there again!