Seeds of Truth

One of my favorite days while the IGO team was here was the day we went out to Chhom’s homeland village. Several weeks prior, a huge shipment of the Khmer “25 Favorite Bible Stories” that we had translated and printed finally came in. Like I mentioned in my last post, the people in Chhom’s village had been asking us for clothes, and we were excited for the opportunity to pass out some of the Bible story books as well. When our first plans for the trip didn’t work out due to some vehicle issues, we had to wait to go until after Charles’s family left. We were disappointed they couldn’t go along, but were still excited when we set out Thursday morning. The well truck was loaded…big trash bags full of cloths stuffed under the wooden seats, and people piled on the seats. The mini truck was full too.

It was about a two hour drive out to the village. It always amazes me how much the scenery changes in those drives…first the relatively affluental houses in Siem Reap, then the midrange neighborhoods on the outskirts, and by the time we get to the village it’s down to poverty levels. But the people are happy with what they have. What an excited group of people awaited us at Chhom’s relatives’ home. First we passed out balloons to the children, and spent some time playing with them.

And then we handed out the clothes. At first it was an organized operation…we’d each help one child at a time find the ‘perfect’ outfit. Gradually it became more and more unorganized, and suddenly there were people everywhere digging through the piles. It was fun though, seeing the mothers sort through the clothes, a happy look on their faces.

And then was my favorite part of the day – handing out the Bible story books. It was so good to see the smiles on the faces of the children when they were handed a book. To see them poring over each page. To think how they and their parents could hear stories of Bible times. Stories of Jesus, and how He loved little children just like them.

It was a bunch of happy children that walked back down the dusty road to their homes.

Chhum’s family served us a (mostly) yummy meal then. Forrest and Alaina weren’t so excited about the food…they had found a cute little puppy to hold and chase around. Before we knew what was happening, Alaina was feeding the little thing her sucker – and then back into Alaina’s mouth it went!

And here are some favorite shots of the day that just didn’t find a spot in the categories up there….but I didn’t want to leave them out!

It was a tired bunch that headed home soon after our late lunch. But as soon as we got home, the IGO team and a few of us “home folks” headed out to the village to teach our evening English class. We had decided to have our first official Bible class that night. (This is the class that we started at the beginning of this year, and wanted to gain the parents trust before we ‘scared them off’ with Bible teaching…we taught them a few songs, but that’s it.) I think more children showed up that night than had ever attended at once before. They sang the songs we had taught them at the tops of their lungs. My heart just about burst with happiness at the glorious sound of 70+ beautiful children singing praises to the King of kings.

Then the IGO team did a skit about Jonah and the whale. The children (and the adults that had gathered around) watched with rapt attention, as Jonah ran away from God. They giggled uproariously when Jonah was thrown from the ship and “swam” around til the blanket fish swallowed him up. When the fish spit Jonah out (Loren did a wonderful job of being a projectile…I can imagine he was sore the next day) one of the ladies that was watching just about lost it. She bent over and just laughed and laughed. The combination of seeing Jonah flying through the air and watching Aunt Euw laugh had me in stitches. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

And then we handed out the Bible story books to all the children. The adults were eager for their own copies. As I watched the books being handed out, my eyes might have been slightly misty and my heart swelled with…it’s hard to describe what all filled it. Happiness and Sadness and Hope, I guess. Happiness to witness the first time the children had ever heard a Bible story, to see these seeds of truth being planted in the lives of these precious children. Sadness for the many who have never heard, or who have shut their ears to the truth of the Gospel. Hope that these children would recognize these stories as truth, and that someday I can live in heaven with all of my dear students. Pray with us that the seeds would take root in the hearts of the children and their parents and grow until it produces fruit to the glory of God.

A sidenote: That English class had been getting unmanageably large…60+ children for three teachers. Brain-boggling. We thought that maybe once we started the Bible class some of the parents would stop sending their children, but it has seemed to have the opposite effect, and more children are coming regularly. Usually 70+ per night! That leaves us a little understaffed and breathless at times, but we’re excited at how well the teaching has been received.

Have a wonderful weekend y’all! Until next time….

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The Visit

I still haven’t written about one of the main highlights of our first year in Cambodia. You know that we had some amazing visitors, but you haven’t heard much about it yet, at least not from our perspective. It’s been on the back burner long enough now, and it’s about to burn. I should do a poll…is old news too boring to bother posting, or do you like to hear it, even if it is a month (or three) late?

Anyways…Here it is, boring or not.

Finally, Amber walked around the corner with the rest of the family soon following. And the fun began! With them came luggage. Lots of luggage. Filled with goodies from lots of friends. We are so blessed by you. I requested prayer in an earlier post for some lost luggage…well, it came through the next day, PTL!

A Trip to Srey YOung

One morning a few days after Charles’s got here, we all piled onto motos and the well-truck-turned-caravan with its makeshift 2X6 woodens seats, and set off for a tour of the country. Srey Young is a village about two hours from here where the guys have drilled some wells, and we also helped them build a much needed bridge. The country between here and there is quite varied, so it makes for an interesting drive. (At least for the first hour. =/ ) We took along some candy and balloons Donna had brought along to hand out to children, and had fun throwing them out to the children along the road. I’ll let pictures tell you about our day.

The day got stretched out a little extra long when one of the motos had some trouble. (After we fed it some ‘go-juice’ it worked just fine.) We were all very tired and dusty when we arrived home, but it was a good day.

Phnom Kraom (Under Mountain)

One evening we packed a picnic and drove up a little mountain/big hill nearby – in Khmer it’s called Phnom Kraom, which means “the mountain underneath”. I think it’s called that because it’s located under Siem Reap. We got started a little late, so it was dark and the mosquitos were out full force by the time our supper was ready, but the sunset was breathtaking.

Thanksgiving Day

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving more lovely folks moved in. An IGO (Institute for Global Opportunities) team of five people came from Thailand to help out for the next ten days. We loved having them here! Deanne and Geneva stayed at Matt’s house, Crissy stayed with Gale and I, and Loren and Darrell stayed here with the boys. The guys especially had close quarters, but I didn’t hear too many complaints. The more the merrier I guess!

It was lots of fun to have so many people around here for Thanksgiving Day. Dad had bought a pig for a good price out in the village several weeks prior with Thanksgiving meal in mind. We fattened him up with our delicious scraps, and Thanksgiving day found Dad and Charles hard at work grilling him to perfection. In the afternoon people started gathering at our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the regular church attendees came, along with Charles’ family, the IGO team, Matt’s family, and our family. It was quite the crowd. And quite the delicious food too. Not the traditional Thanksgiving spread for sure, but it sure was worth giving thanks for!

We really enjoyed the crowd after dinner when we all gathered around and sang together for awhile. It’s amazing how much life a few extra voices can add to a song!

Charles’s oldest son, Gordon, arrived late that night. He is in voluntary service at Hillcrest Home and wasn’t able to come for the entire time that the rest of the family was here. We were sad he couldn’t be here the whole time, but excited to have him around for at least a few days.

Floating Village & Angkor Wat

Saturday we took Charles’s family to a nearby floating village. The IGO team joined us as well, then went on to tour Angkor Wat for the rest of the day. Charles’s family along with the children from our family also went to Angkor Wat that evening, trying to get in after 5 so we wouldn’t have to pay the $20 per person fee. We didn’t get to see too much, but we did find some monkeys, which was a big priority for Amber. They weren’t too happy to see us, though, so we didn’t stick around for very long.

It was again good to have so many people around for church on Sunday. The IGO girls took care of the children’s Sunday school, and Darrell taught the adults. We had to chuckle at the size difference between Sen and Darrell. Dad was pretty sick, so Loren took his place teaching the Sunday school in Bakong.

Work…

Work?! Oh yes! Don’t let all the pictures of the fun days fool you. We didn’t just have fun. We worked too! (And had fun while we did it. =) The guys spent several days out in Bakong building a new shelter where we are planning to have English class, as well as SALT meetings and Sunday school. The IGO team took over the English teaching while they were here. (I plan to write another post about the IGO team’s activities.) Donna and her girls and the IGO ladies helped so much with the housework, and Donna even did some sewing! With more people around, housework just seems to multiply. Somehow, though, I don’t seem to have very many pictures of work happening. The ones I do have are mostly phone pictures and the quality lacks a lot. Oh well, better include them just so you know we did work!

Tuesday we had planned a trip to a village in Chhom’s homeland. They had been asking us for clothes, and we wanted to pass out some of the Khmer “25 Favorite Bible Stories” that we had recently gotten printed. The well truck had a small problem though, so Ryan took it in to quickly get it fixed before we needed to leave. We sat around waiting, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Long story short, the truck had some BIG problems that surfaced after the little problem was fixed, and in the end the trip was postponed until later that week. Instead, the youth headed over to Matt’s house to sort the humongous pile of clothes we had gotten in a clothing bale from one of the local markets. Poor Lightning stood in as Frank’s mannequin.

The goodbyes started that night. After being treated to a delicious supper by Charles and Donna, we took Gordon to the airport. Charles’s family started packing the next morning and late that night we said our sad goodbyes. I guess those are the times we have to remind ourselves, “Don’t cry because it’s over…smile because it happened.” And we do! It’s hard to put into words how GOOD it was so have them here. I described most of the big events, but I think my favorite times were the times I didn’t write about…the little moments. Shopping at the markets. Piling four people on a moto and going to town. Blossom Cafe. Playing games in the evening. Swimming with the girls. Snow Yogurt. Just talking to our hearts’ content.

Thank you all sooo much for coming!! You blessed us so much, and we thank God for you! We trust that despite the heat and too much rice (I heard a rumor that someone thinks we had rice way too often =) ) you had as lovely a time as we did. Come back soon!

Now.

Yup. Now. Our visitors left, but last minute plans had our dear Granddad flying over a week after Charles’s left. We’re thoroughly enjoying having him around here. The kids in the village love him! It was especially nice having him here for Christmas. Seeing him walk out of the airport without Grandmom at his side was hard. It makes it so much more real that she’s not here anymore. But it has been good. He was sick for almost a week with an upset stomach. At first we thought it was just a flu, but finally Dad called our family doctor and he thinks it’s some sort of intestinal infection. He prescribed some antibiotics, and that snapped Granddad right out of his ailment. We’re so happy he’s feeling better!

Luke flew to South Carolina last Saturday. He’s spending some time with family and friends, and then this weekend he’s leaving for two three-week terms at Calvary Bible School. He seems to be having fun so far, but we miss him! I’m sure he’d love to hear from you while he’s there, so if you need an address, just let me know and I’ll be happy to give it to you. Please note. *You’re also welcome to send any extra Christmas letters or pictures you had to that address, and he will bring them back so that we can proudly display you on our wall. =)*

Well…it’s definitely bed time over here. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015 of learning to better know our Father.

‘Til next time…

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