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….