Presbyterian Missions Weblog


Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #6

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 31, 2011

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The Saturday afternoon crowd at Kpbaom

It’s been a terrific Lord’s Day here. We enjoyed the worship once again at the International Theological College and Seminary, this time mostly just sitting and soaking up the Word and fellowship. I played the piano again for the congregation, and sang a song I wrote based on Psalm 63 for some special music. The message delivered by Dr. Ezra Kim was good, on Acts 4. After another nice lunch together with the students, our team divided up and went out on evangelism tours with student teams, doing mini VBS programs in about eleven villages across the countryside. They thought they were just going to go and help out, but they all ended up teaching! It was a great experience for them.

Mark and I spent the afternoon at the pastor’s retreat with Ezra, talking about the ministry there, encouraged by the account of God’s faithfulness and provision. It made me feel the tug to go out and teach in the school there as often as I can. Great opportunity is everywhere. Anyway, we sat in a cabana on stilts overlooking a beautiful winding river and a beautiful piece of open land on the bank covered with lush vegetation and palm trees. Ezra owns that land, and intends to build a school for the area in good time. Sponsored by a local congregation in California, the ministry has established 45 churches across Cambodia and Myanmar in addition to the seminary and Bible college. They were a blessing to us.

Now back at the Baldwins, we enjoyed a great dinner of chicken satay, marinated in an Indonesian marinade, and accompanied by steamed rice, sautéed onions, and a homemade peanut dipping sauce. Awesome! The team is now working on getting the crafts ready for tomorrow’s VBS, gluing picture frames together out of tongue depressors for the younger children. We’re expecting a lot of kids, so there are a lot of frames going together. It’s great to hear their happy fellowship as they work together.

Just two more days of VBS, and then a day to pack up and make our way to the airport for our trip home. It hardly seems possible that the time has gone so fast, but there is still a lot of work to do, perhaps the hardest days of work yet if we get the numbers we’re expecting. But everyone is excited, and we’re looking for good things to come.

Thanks for your prayers!

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The International Theological College and Seminary

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Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #5

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 30, 2011

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Adults and teens at Prey Pdao

We woke up to rain this morning, and wondered what would happen if it was pouring when we got out to the villages. And, it rained all the way out there as well. We were wondering how the Lord was going to answer our prayers for our Saturday ministry to carry on.

My van this morning was tasked with picking up the interpreters…which our driver forgot, and i didn’t catch until we were clearly out of town and heading south. Since the driver doesn’t speak English, I called Pastor Baldwin and had him get it straightened out. We had to turn around, of course, and the detour added another 45 minutes to the trip. But, we still arrived in time. The other van had already pulled in, and that half of the team was working with a small group of children under the house at Prey Pdao as the rain came down. It was too wet for most to come out, and yet the longer we were there, the more the kids turned out. The rain let up, too, which helped. I held my teens class in one of the vans, and had it filled to capacity. Two of the girls gave me a gift, a small sculpture made of shells and a nice note of thanks. It would be the last time we would be at Pdao this time around. These young people are attentive and patient, eager to hear the Word and converse together. They sat in the van for over an hour, and then after a short break, sat down under the house after we dismissed the little ones and listened to another message for nearly an hour more. They are a blessing. all told, we had about 70 turn out this morning, a remarkable number considering the weather.

Our translators today proved to be excellent, some of the same crew we had last Saturday and one new guy. Two of them will be helping us out next week, and it was encouraging to see what the Lord was going to provide for us. They are all very personable and conversant, eager to talk, laugh, and sing, and we had a great time in the van getting to know each other. It was awesome coming home this afternoon singing gospel songs together, united in our faith in Christ despite the differences in culture and language.

The afternoon service at Kpbaom was also affected by the rain, but not in attendance. Since there is shelter there, the kids came and came. As we drove up we could see well down the road and spotted numbers of them running down the lane towards the church. It was a great time of singing and teaching this afternoon, with around 230 piled into the building. We combined our teaching times in order to get all the lessons in that we prepared, and enjoyed teaching them a little English, a new song, and the story of David and Goliath and Jonathan in the first segment, and the parable of the hidden treasure in the second segment. Wrapping it up with a few more songs, we sent the kids on their way with a little candy and turned our attention to the adults.

The adult group is smaller, a dozen or so, and Pastor Baldwin holds a full formal service there. I spoke again, on the necessity of testing those who claim to speak for God (1 John 4:1-6). The team did some special music in English as well. It was a good time.

The drive home was long, taking the translators home through rush hour traffic (always seems to be heavier on Saturday for some reason). I thought we’d never get home. Climbing in and out of enormous, car-sized potholes, picking our way through puddles that can hide a hippo (or be nothing at all), weaving in and out of motos going every which way, cutting across four lanes of oncoming traffic with the expectation that it will just go around us, which it does; pedestrians crossing at any point, cars and motos doing u-turns with abandon — it all adds up to a pretty stressful ride. Oh, and I forgot about the children, dogs, chickens, and the occasional pig or brahma wandering the road, and it’s weave and dodge and bounce to get anywhere. I fell asleep at one point, and was awakened when the driver stood on the brakes — I opened my eyes to a windshield that was completely covered in mud and through which nothing could be seen. It was frightening there for a second, until I realized that the driver had a few streaks at least that he could see through. We ended up dousing the window with a water bottle (while we were driving) so we could clean the mud off. There’s construction everywhere, yellow and red mud puddles galore, and we’d been following a dump truck. Visibility was difficult to say the least.

Tomorrow we head back over to the seminary and Bible college for worship, and then the plan is to do some ministry with the student there, assisting them as they have been assisting us. Everybody is pretty wiped out tonight, and with our bellies full of a nice meal of noodles, the eyelids are getting pretty heavy. I’ll keep working on the new pictures. Please do keep praying for the work, and for health and safety. God be with you!

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Under the house

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In the “mobile classroom”

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We see a lot of these kind of smiles

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A picture that speaks for itself!

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #4

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 29, 2011

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On the steps leading up to the Bakan of Angkor Wat

Our first day in Kpbaom got off to a slow start…one of the vans was caught in a massive traffic jam in the city, and was delayed by about an hour. It held all of our sound equipment, our translators, and other things needful! so, the young people in our van got to work leading games and songs, and beginning to get the kids organized that were coming. By the time the second van arrived, we were in good shape, and not much behind. This being the first day here, the kids had a learning curve about what we were asking them to do, but they figured it out pretty fast.

Mr. Srong, the lay leader in this mission, did a good job in getting the word out. This morning we have close to 300 children, and I expect that we’ll have more as the VBS progresses. We can handle a few more here at a time than at Prey Pdao, since there is a building here in which we can take shelter if it rains. This morning it’s been dark and gray outside, with spitting rain. No downpours yet, though, which would severely hamper the work. I’m expecting it to unload on us this afternoon though, and I think we’ll probably wrap it up with just a morning school once again today. Monday and Tuesday should be the full days (morning and afternoon schools), unless I miss my guess.

Let me try to describe the setting: the little church building is one room of perhaps 20’x 40′, with a rough concrete floor that is breaking up in places. It’s very dusty, and the two windows on each side serve to let in light and air, though not excessive amounts of either. The metal roof above is an excellent conductor of heat, and it can be an oven in there. Today was nice, only moderately hotter than the outside, and that because we had about 140 kids in there, some sitting on a tarp on the floor, and the rest in plastic stackable chairs. It’s more or less wall-to-wall, especially during craft time. Incredibly, Mark has had as many as 400-500 children crammed in there, but that’s not for the faint of heart!

Outside, the younger children, about 160 of them, are seated in rows on tarps under the ground, taking advantage of a rustic framework draped in sun cloth to shield them from the sun (or, today, from the spitting rain). Our team members and translators teach them games and songs and Bible verses, teach Bible lessons for about 40 minutes or so, help them all with crafts that reinforce the message of the lesson and all have pertinent Bible verses on them. The the littlest ones, that take a lot of people and a lot of patience. In this village, the moms help out quite a bit, which really makes it go easier. Even our van drivers get into the action. Today’s craft is our hardest one, creating a pig hand puppet (we’re teaching all about the Prodigal Son, and today’s lesson was about the need we all have for repentance from our sins). When it’s all done, the scraps from cutting and stickers all over the ground make it look like it snowed.

At the end of the school, the kids get back in their lines to be dismissed. Each is given a wrist band to “register” when they arrive, and they turn it in at the of the day in order to receive a packet of ramen noodles, a great treat, as they go home. For some, it really is a treat: for others, it may be the only meal they get today besides a handful of rice.

I’m not feeling well today, with insides that aren’t too happy and a toothache, so am happy to have a lighter day. Come next week, I’ll be teaching a group of adults. The team is doing an excellent job, along with our translators. It’s great to be able to just sit back and let them have at it, with the confidence that they will do the job well. The translators we’ve had this week have been phenomenal…we won’t have them next week, and they will be sorely missed.

It’s trying to rain harder…I’m praying that the hard rain will hold off until we’re done. But it’s windy and fairly cool for here, which is a welcome relief. Today we will be going to enjoy the fellowship of a Christian family in another village nearby, as they have invited us all to lunch. Should be fun, and a new experience for the team.

… Back at the Baldwin bungalow, we’ve had a good afternoon of fellowship and encouragement. It never did rain hard, praise the Lord, and we had an excellent lunch with the family a couple of villages away. Roasted chicken (simply chopped into more or less bite-sized pieces with all the bone left in — just grab and chew and pick out the bones!), complete with the chicken’s head, rice, an excellent Cambodian beef (or maybe pork, it was hard to tell), and a nice black pepper and lime juice dipping sauce, with maybe a little coriander in there. We ate al fresco under the house with a nice breeze blowing through. Afterwards, we were treated to viewing the wedding pictures of one of their daughters, and then went back behind the house and admired the ducks, pigs, guinea fowl, and turkeys (surprisingly, there’s a lot of those here) before snapping a picture with everyone and heading out. We made one more stop before turning towards Phnom Penh, visiting another Christian family in a village about 6k away, a village in which three families now gather for worship together, and where some future work may be done toward another church plant. So much potential here! We’re going to need more laborers.

It was a nice drive back, listening to the team and translators chatting and laughing, and watching rice harvest take place. I was surprised to see mechanical harvesters in action today…though I’ve seen them at dealers in town, I’ve never seen them out in the fields, so much is done by hand here. Rice is at various stages of growth all over, but there’s a lot with the heads heavy with grain. It’s a comfortable sight, somehow.

The day never did get very hot, which is a real blessing. It’s breezy and pretty comfortable, and the team is down at the end of the block in a little park playing a pick-up game of volleyball with some of the locals. Volleyball is a national craze here, played everywhere. We drove by one field in a tiny little village this morning that had three courts set up in it. Pretty typical, it turns out.

It should be a quiet evening for the most part, getting ready for a long day tomorrow ministering in both villages. The young people are old pros now, and they are handling the work with ease. It’s a blast to see them working together and accomplishing so much. Please keep us in your prayers. I’m going to try to get to bed earlier than usual (we’ve been shutting down about 9-9:30 and getting up at 5:30 every morning) and feel better tomorrow.

Blessings to you. Once everyone gets back in from the game and settled in after dinner, I’ll grab some of their pictures and add them to this post.

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Inside the Kpbaom church

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Under the tarp outside

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Just a few bicycles!

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #3

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 28, 2011

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The last day of VBS at Prey Pdao

It was quiet in the van this today after we visited the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. No one spoke for the better part of half an hour, lost in their thoughts about what they had seen there. The horror of the godless Khmer Rouge regime cannot be shaken off easily. From there we went straight to the Killing Fields on the outskirts of the city, where we silently walked among the mass graves, carefully stepping over pieces of bone and cloth that remain in the ground as persistent reminders of what happens when men begin to think of themselves as gods unto themselves. [If you want to see pictures of the prison and Killing Fields, I’ll let you just Google them for yourself. Somehow, it seems improper to take pictures there, like exploiting a funeral for personal gain. Everyone felt the same way, and no one except Pastor Baldwin took any pictures.)

The day started off nicely enough…a little cooler due the rain overnight. I was up early, and Mark and I hopped on his moto while the team slept in and went off for a little breakfast and coffee at the local version of Starbucks. When we returned, we gathered up the team (who by then had gotten about of bed and cleaned the house!), and headed off for some morning tourist shopping at the Russian Market, so called because of the district of the city it lies in. The team had a great time finding and making bargains of handicrafts and fun stuff for gifts and souvenirs. We then went to a nice little Chinese pulled noodle cafe downtown. Then, the reality check of Cambodian recent history, which affects every family in this country to this day. We finally made it back to the Baldwins’ and had a nice homemade hamburger and french fry dinner.

It’s been an enormously important day off. Tomorrow we head back to the villages, this time Kpbaom, with the expectation of as many as twice the number of kids that we had in Prey Pdao showing up. The team is working on assembling the craft packets as I write. Knowing more about where the people here are coming from is essential to being all things to all men here as we present the gospel. Tonight, we’re going to debrief a little before we hit the sack, and see what we’ve learned.

Pray that our ministry in Kpbaom goes well; for safety in travel out there, for lots of kids, for continued unity, and for clarity in presenting the good news of Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you!

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The happiness in these faces is a stark contrast to the stunned expression on those whose photos are displayed at Tuol Sleng.

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Cambodian Starbucks!

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The view from the second story of Tuol Sleng prison. The barbed wire was put up to prevent prisoners from throwing themselves off the balcony to commit suicide.

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #2

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 27, 2011

Today we wrapped up the VBS ministry in Prey Pdao. Another 250 kids today! We’ve got a lot of pictures posted on Pastor Baldwin’s Facebook page, if you’d like to see some more. You’ll find a few at the end of this post.

We had lunch at our usual place in a small town near the villages, and got to know our translators a little better. At our table we enjoyed the company of Peter, a second year student at the Bible college. He has a large family, but the look in his eyes was heavy as he told us that his father had died when he was just two years old, and that his step father had died of some disease about three years ago. When I asked him what his family thought of his going to Bible school, he told us that of all his family, only he is a Christian. He is sometimes afraid of going home. He told us that he does not fit in his family anymore, that they think of him as an outsider and do not support him. His whole desire in life is to study the Bible and teach it to others, serving God. In his words, “there is nothing else that I want.” A church in California sponsors his schooling, and he loves to go out and evangelize. The translation work he is doing for us is encouraged by the school, and he absolutely loves it. He’s a good guy, and we’re happy to have him. Pray for him, if you think of it.

The weather was cooler today, with rain overnight, and then a heavy thunderstorm this afternoon. We finished all and were back in Phnom Penh before it really unleashed on us, and the thunder was enormous. This cooler weather (only in the upper 80s) is helping everyone keep going longer. We’re all hoping it will stay that way. The humidity is intense, so when we start the VBS in Kpbaom on Friday, it should be interesting. Right now most of the team is out playing in the driving rain, the next best thing to a pool! Especially since there are about 4 inches of water down the length of the street.

Tomorrow is a day off, and we’ll be taking the team to the “Russian Market” a traditional market where you can get all kinds of tourist-type stuff for not too much money. After that, we’ll have lunch at a great noodle place downtown, and then head out to the Killing Fields and the Toul Sleng genocide museum. The day will start fun, and end soberly. Seeing the graphic evidence of the incredible cruelty of human hearts that reject any notion of God is a shock to the system for sheltered, easy-going American minds. But it’s a good shock back into reality that you never forget, and will never get over.

The power went out just as was wrapping this up, so it may take a little bit to get this online. Hopefully, it won’t be out for long. A night without AC is not something I really want to contemplate…!

Thanks for your prayers.

(The power is back on!)

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100+ little ones who loved their craft for the day!

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The home we meet at in Prey Pdao. My English and Bible class is getting started under the lean-to.

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Rhaquel helping out at craft time.

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Sweet face, and a little heart that needs the good news of salvation.

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #1

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on July 26, 2011

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I guess it’s just part of getting a little older…the jet lag is harder to deal with. So, it’s taken me a few days to get my feet under me enough, and my head clear enough, to think about getting this blog going! The past week has been eventful, so I’ll do my best to summarize well.

First of all, I’ve got a terrific team. Everyone gets along, everyone pitches in, everyone is good humored and fervent about serving the Lord. Complaining is not part of our conversations, while encouragement is a regular thing all around, and that started from the first day we all gathered in Olympia, Washington, for boot camp a week ago Saturday.

The team members represent five churches: Eli Pine, Bonners Ferry, Idaho; Andy Wann, Lakeland, Florida; Rhaquel and Jacob Hughey, Olympia, Washington; Sharon and Danielle Blizzard, Cape Canaveral, Florida; and Talitha and AndraLea Mack, Vancouver, Washington, all led by yours truly. They’re all a blessing to work with and be around. Filling out our team here are our PMU missionaries, Pastor Mark Baldwin and his wife, Wiwin. Pastor Mark is overseeing the daily program we’ve worked out together, and I’m overseeing the personnel. So far, all is going great.

We started working together in Olympia as we sang, gave testimonies, and spoke in the services there the Sunday before we left. An early morning flight the next day, and 30 hours later, saw us landing in Phnom Penh late on Tuesday night to be greeted by the Baldwins. Somehow we managed to get all of our luggage and all of us into one 14 passenger van and made our way to the Baldwins’ home. It’s a fantastic arrangement here and we are all enjoying being together, serving together (everyone is signed up for housekeeping chores, for example), and fellowshipping together.

So far, we have three days of ministry in the villages under our belts, a usual Saturday ministry, with teaching and worship services in both villages, and two days of VBS in Prey Pdao, the smaller of the two villages. We had heard that parents were being pressured to keep their children home, and have been praying that the Lord would overrule this situation. We had around 80 there on Saturday, more than we thought, and then 125 yesterday and almost 250 today! Man cannot undo God’s purposes. We have one more day tomorrow there, and we’re hoping to be able to hold a second school in the afternoon. 250 is about as much as we can do at once in the space we have around the house there. This has been a good warmup, since the team is coming home wiped out with only a half day of ministry (and four plus hours of driving back and forth), as they are learning how to deal with the heat and humidity, and how to handle a lot of children efficiently. It wears you out, for sure.

Still, after a little rest and cleanup, they’re all down here in the living room this evening, visiting and enjoying one another’s company. It’s a blessing to hear their happy chatter and laughter together. Today is Wiwin Baldwin’s birthday, and we’re planning on a little surprise party for her…pizza and cake and ice cream. It should be fun.

We began our “boot camp” orientation in Olympia at the Hugheys’ house, and finished it up en route to Siem Reap, the city just outside the Angkor Wat temple site, ancient capital and religious center of the Khmer empire. The young people enjoyed the night market there, the tour of the temples, elephant rides, interesting and unusual foods, and getting some perspective on this country in which they are ministering. It was a good time.

We had a great privilege on Sunday to worship with the faculty and student body of a Reformed Bible college and seminary here in the city. I was invited to preach and play for the congregational singing, and it was a great blessing to do so. At the piano I was dripping sweat all over the keys and down the front of my shirt, and maybe a few tears of joy, too, as I listened to the students sing great hymns of the faith with all their hearts. We enjoyed a fellowship meal with them after the service, and then a nice long afternoon of quiet fellowship at the house. Three of the students are serving as interpreters for us this week, and they are gifted young men at working with children and interpretation as well.

On a personal note, I wasn’t planning on doing much else besides playing music for VBS, letting the young people do all the teaching. They are doing very well at that, indeed. Still, a good-sized group of older teens and adults have been coming the last two mornings, so I’m spending a couple of hours with them teaching English and Bible (focusing the discussion on the VBS theme of the prodigal son). They are truly engaged in the lessons, and are listening intently to the gospel. Nearly all do not yet know the Savior, so please pray for them to run to their Heavenly Father for mercy as the prodigal did to his earthly father.

Thanks to all for your prayers! Until the next time, God bless from Cambodia.

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The team at the Pra Thom temple in Angkor Wat

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Talitha teaching her Bible lesson on Saturday at Prey Pdao

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Bible lesson time on Saturday at Kpbaom

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Preaching at the Reformed Bible college and seminary in Phnom Penh