Presbyterian Missions Weblog

Day 6 Cambodia-Myanmar 09

Posted in Cambodia,Myanmar by lenpine on November 16, 2009

A Long Hot Day

When we walked out the door early on Monday morning, we were met with a blast of hot, moist air…hotter and moister than any of the previous days. We were coming to the end of the relatively cooler rainy season, and it was beginning to show pretty dramatically. The day was supposed to be a hot one, in the 90s, and it lived up to its billing.

On our way out, we stopped again at a village to pick up fruit from our usual vendor, and Karen and I took a stroll through the rest of the market while Mark dickered for the fruit he was after. We met a boy in the market who had a stall from which he sold purses. He was excited and wanted to practice his English, which was understandable…certainly better than my Khmer! I don’t think the folks at that market were used to Westerners coming through, as we were stared at everywhere. When we smiled at folks, some weren’t quite sure what to do, but most smiled back and seemed glad to see us (not to mention sensing a chance to sell something to us!).

Pbaom Brunch

Ready for lunch

We enjoyed our fellowship and meal with the lay leader and his family again. Fish today, grilled beef, some chicken soup, a delicious mango dipping sauce for the meat, and rice, of course. Once again, the chickens and dogs were happy to see us, as the bones and gristle were tossed to the floor as usual. We also took the opportunity to buy some of the special silk cloth that the family weaves as a gift for our family members back home. The cloth is used in special occasions like weddings and funerals, and is quite heavy (for silk), and of beautiful patterns. Each weaver has his or her own pattern, and the process is quite time consuming and tedious. The results, though, are spectacular. We picked up a 4 meter piece.

Our hosts

Group shot with the lay leader's family

We had the same VBS schedule that we ran on Saturday. The program went from 12-4, more or less, to accommodate the kids from Prey Pdao, who had to be picked up as before and whose school schedule was a little different that the Pbaom kids’. Mark taught the red page, on the crucifixion of Christ and his atonement, and Miriam taught the white page, on resurrection and purity from sin. The kids had no trouble remembering the meaning of the various colors, and really enjoyed the lessons. Their attitude in general is excellent and eager. They come ready with their Bible memory work everyday, and we can see and hear them working on the verses before and after VBS, as well as on break times, all on their own initiative. There are prizes for the memory work: nothing big, just some stickers, puzzles, and small games that the kids really like. They work hard for them.

Snack Time

Getting the bread ready was a major operation

This was a huge day in terms of numbers: 213 did the crafts, which were simple scratch hearts and crosses, and home-made tambourines. They loved those, and made a lot of noise with them. Again, the adults had fun making their own as well. We played Cat and Mouse, which was chaotic in the small space inside, and a game where everyone makes a circle and has to sit at the same time on the knees of the person behind them without falling over. Very fun to do and watch! Builds trust, too. We went through 150 loaves of bread today for the snack, and I don’t know how many cans of sweetened condensed milk. The ants had a field day, though. That stuff gets everywhere.

It was a great day…but with over 200 children, in 90+ degree heat, we were worn out, soggy, and dusty as we climbed back in the van for the ride back to Phnom Penh. We cleaned up a little and then went to our little, low-key Khmer place for a light supper before getting back to the hotel. I should say, too, that the Goldiana Hotel has a great swimming pool that Miriam took advantage

VBS Crowd

What an awesome blessing to have this many children to teach about God's love!

of every night, I think, and Karen and I enjoyed a few nights as well. Really refreshing way to end the day, as the water was surprisingly cool for an open-air pool. And you could stretch out on the deck and relax without worrying about mosquitoes. Never saw one in Phnom Penh, though there were a few in the country.


The Goldiana Hotel pool on the third floor open to the sky!


Day 5 Cambodia-Myanmar 09

Posted in Cambodia,Myanmar by lenpine on November 5, 2009

The Lord’s Day in the Cambodian Countryside

An early start on a warm day greeted us, and we piled into the van with our water bottles and other paraphernalia that we needed to do our tasks for the day. We stopped at Prey Pdao first, where Mark holds services at the home of a Christian family. Attendance has been down here after persecution and intimidation on the part of a local man, an alcoholic with a nasty temper, aimed at keeping people away. How sad that the very faith that could free him of his bondage is what he most wants to avoid, and  also that he wants to keep others from the same freedom. Well, we enjoyed a very nice meal with the family, who waited for us to finish our meal before they ate (the usual custom). Mark had also thoughtfully brought along a thermos or two of iced café mocha, which we made short work of. We then held a Sunday School for the children, of which there were about 20. Many of the kids had attended the first

Prey Pdao Sunday School

Karen's SS class under the house

day of VBS over in Prey Pbaom the day before, and had told their friends, so it was a good group. Around 8 or 9 adults also sat in on the lesson (the story of Noah – Karen led the class). The rest of us helped get the craft going with the kids, again blessing the ladies of Grand Island BPC for preparing everything so that all we had to do was just hand everything out in order. More kids and adults showed up after Sunday School, and we held a simple worship service: song, prayer requests/prayer, sermon, song, prayer. All of this under the house in the shade…still quite warm, but the breeze and the shade made it comfortable enough.

During the service there, a funeral was also going on in the village. Blaring chants and the traditional droning music, the funerals are designed to “guide” the lost spirit of the deceased to the right path of eternity. Needless to say, preaching about god delivering the lost (Psa 107:4-9) contradicted that idea rather directly. At one point it felt like a war going on – the music and chants kept getting louder, especially when the Scriptures were being read. At one point, as Socheat, our translator, read the text, I prayed in my heart for silence, so that the Word could be heard without distraction. Moments later, all was quiet, and remained that way until we finished. (We heard it fire up again as we left the village.)

Socheat Translating

Worship Service at Pdao

Then, in the middle of my sermon, the alcoholic walked up! He slipped in quietly, made no trouble, and listened intently. I didn’t know who he was until afterwards…but when he showed up I was dealing with freedom from bondage (Psa 107:10-16), and using alcoholism as an example. God’s providence is perfect. We’re praying that the Lord will use his Word to change this man’s heart and give him true freedom in Christ. The powers of darkness are definitely there, but God’s power is greater.

From there we traveled on to Prey Pbaom, and repeated the service schedule. About 80 children and a dozen adults greeted us there, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship with them. Far off in the distance we could hear another funeral fire up, but this one caused no disturbance to us. The presence of God’s testimony is stronger in this village, since there are many believers here. There has been no oppression from the neighbors. Mark seemed very encouraged by our work there, and we headed back on the long ride, anticipating further fellowship as a team together that evening. Mark is a good cook, and we all enjoyed his Cambodian

Sunday at Prey Pbaom

The Pbaom Sunday crowd

curry (sweeter and milder than Indian curries) at his house. I confess that I fell asleep in the living room while Mark was cooking, and I think Miriam did, too. When I woke up, she was nowhere in sight, and I heard movement behind the wicker sofa…she had lain down on the tile floor to take advantage of a little coolness there and conked out. Anyway, the brief rest helped our conversation to be more coherent around the dinner table – I hope! We caught a tuk tuk back to the hotel and enjoyed a blissful night’s sleep.