Presbyterian Missions Weblog

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #9 (Final)

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on August 7, 2011

We had a great trip home, with a nice break in the middle with a day long stopover in Seoul. We had thought about putting together a tour package, but it was too expensive, so we decided to launch out on our own. With carry-ons in hand, we headed for the airport railroad, which made the 53 minute journey into downtown. It was a nice ride, most of us slept (after not sleeping much in the plane during the overnight flight from Phnom Penh) while a few of us stayed more or less awake and watched the foggy, rain-drenched scenery go speeding by. The cost for a one-way fare was only about $3.70US, and it was cheap entertainment. Once at the Seoul Station, we hunted around for some breakfast that we could recognize, and were delighted to find a Dunkin Donuts where we purchased breakfast sandwiches, donuts, and coffee to get our batteries going. We then hunted around a bit to figure where to go next. Our target was the Insadong district, and old area of town that has been preserved and turned into an area of cafes and handicraft shops…it’s the place to go for traditional Korean stuff. It took a little effort and some help from a friendly passerby, but we figured out the ticket system quickly enough and were on our way through the subway system. Seems like Insadong was a lot more expensive than the last time I was here, maybe ten years ago. But it was fun, even with the rain. We ended up buying some umbrellas, and enjoyed the time together. From there we tried to find a restored temple nearby, but my internal compass had decided to stop working and we headed south instead of west. We ended up at a restored palace, which was even better, and then I finally figured out which direction to go to find some lunch. By that time, we were all pretty hungry.

Sharon was a life saver…or at least, a shoulder saver. My carry-on had conspired to completely inflame my shoulder, which has been a problem for awhile, so she wrestled it away from me and insisted on carrying it. She wouldn’t let me have it back until we got back to the airport. After some serious Advil and essential oil therapy (thanks to Talitha), the shoulder was starting to feel normal again by the time we got back on the plane. Thank the Lord for the two of them!

Anyway, back to lunch. Everyone wanted some traditional Korean food. The little restaurants and cafes were everywhere in the Chongno district (about halfway between Insadong and the Seoul Station). Of course, most everything is in Korean, and all the pictures of the dishes on the doors and windows all look alike. All of them were busy, and so we kept looking until we found one around the back of a big office and shopping building, tucked away among some trees. Couldn’t tell what the food was here, either, but by that time we didn’t care and just went in to see what would happen. This was definitely a locals place. All the patrons and the staff were startled to see us come in, and the staff almost got giddy they were so excited. One lady in particular, a delightful little Korean grandmother, took us under her wing, shooed us to a set of tables, rattling away a mile a minute trying to communicate through our vacant stares. I finally just asked for a menu, and she brightened considerably, and ran to get one. Apparently, the only one. It was a tattered, laminated sheet of white A4 paper with only four items on it. Surprisingly, they were also listed in English. The items were: Spicy octopus,  Clam soup, Spicy pork and potato, and an Octopus and green onion pancake. You should have seen everybody’s faces. But they were game, and we went for it. The lady tried to get me to order three of everything, but we kept it simpler. I wasn’t sure how much octopus we would be able to get down, and I skipped the clam soup. There was no rice, strangely enough, but bean sprouts to use for the accompaniment along with some pickled turnips of some kind.

The spicy octopus came out first. Evidently we looked perplexed about just how to eat all this, so Grandmother proceeded to take a pair of chopsticks (the other patrons were loving this), pick up a nice long tentacle or two, slap it onto the bean sprouts, pick up the whole mess and without hesitation began to feed Talitha, who has the misfortune of being at the far end of the table) like she was three years old. Naturally, we all fell apart with laughter. Talitha was trying to choke it down and be polite, bless her, and the lady kept shoving it as fast as Talitha could chew and swallow, until she was sure that we knew how to eat it. It wasn’t until we all picked up chopsticks and began to eat that Talitha had a break. It was great.

Then, the pork came out. Stewed on the bone with potato in a fiery red sauce that started your eyes watering when you smelled it, the dish was one of the hottest I’ve eaten in a long while. Even Eli found it hot. The team’s eyes were watering, faces were red, lips were burning…but it was tender and delicious nonetheless. You eat all of this with the sprouts and turnips, which helped to cool the heat down a good bit. Here again, the lady demonstrated the eating technique on Talitha, who patiently endured it to our delight (and undoubtedly Grandmother’s delight as well).

Finally, the pancake, which was not spicy, but only full of onion flavor from the scallions, and chewy from the boiled pieces of octopus fried into an eggy pancake. Grandmother showed how to cut it up with the chopsticks and dip it in soy sauce, and then employed Talitha’s services again. What a blast. The team did a good job putting a big dent in all the food…even though I hadn’t ordered as much as I was urged, it was still a lot of food. We went out of there full, with a happy memory (at Talitha’s expense!) and burning lips and eyes. Traditional Korean, indeed.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We made our way back to Seoul Station, passing by a wonderful little river walk in the middle of downtown that has been opened up and preserved for green space, found the train back to the airport, cleaned up a bit there and hopped on our plane for Seattle. The whole excursion through downtown Seoul had only cost us about $17 a person! All the bags arrived safely, and we were met by Hugheys and Macks and Friends. It was a great homecoming. Back at the Hugheys’ we enjoyed a salad (can’t eat much in the way of fresh green leafy veggies in Cambodia, so it was perfect). The Macks headed home, I headed for my resting place for the night, and the Blizzard girls and Eli joined the Hugheys on a wonderful ride up to Bremerton where they caught a ferry across the Sound over to Seattle. It was a beautiful night, Mt Rainier was in full view over the city, and it was a real treat.

The next morning I took the Blizzards to the airport, and Eli and I headed home. It was good to be back. I would have written about this yesterday, but came down with a cold, probably picked up on the airplane, so was pretty out of it between that and the jet lag. It’s a little better tonight. When I get some pictures from this last segment of the trip from the team, I’ll attach some.

Thanks for your prayers for us on this trip. It was a good one. We pray that the Lord will magnify our efforts for His glory.


Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #8

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on August 2, 2011

Sharon, one of our “crafty” ladies, doing an awesome job with the children

We woke up to a wet and windy morning, with steady rain beating on the windows and promising to make our day a wet one in the villages. By the time we arrived around 9 am, though, the rain had stopped, and it was dry all morning. Still no electricity, but we made do. Today was much better as far as the kids were concerned, a real answer to prayer. They were as attentive as 185 young children can be, interested in the lesson, working hard on their verses, and much more open with the team. I had another nice long session with the adults, about an hour and half of Bible study and discussion “Finding Jesus”, from Luke 2:41-51. Our translators really did a good job this week, and we praise God for them. After another nice lunch at the Srongs’ place (rice, fried fish, BBQ pork, chicken and vegetable stew, and ginger chicken, and then dragon fruit and bananas for dessert) got us ready for the afternoon school. By then the thunder was rumbling, the skies were darkening up, and after a little while we were all driven indoors by a soaking rain. We had 30 new kids in the afternoon with a total of over 200 in the afternoon. It was a good day.

Tonight we’ve begun to get things in order to leave in about 24 hours. All the leftover craft supplies are staying here, so have been organized for the Baldwins to use at their leisure. Tomorrow morning will be packing and cleaning, and then a relaxing trip around town in the afternoon to see a few things and pick up a few last items the young people would like to take home. We’ll head to the airport about 9 p.m.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to blog again…perhaps in the Seoul airport after our day excursion there on the way home. It’s been a great trip in every respect. Thanks for your prayers for us…now, pray us home!

Team Timothy Cambodia 2011 #7

Posted in Cambodia,Team Timothy by lenpine on August 1, 2011

The group at Kpbaom

On our next to last day of VBS here, the weather cooperated all day, with only a passing shower in the early afternoon that sent all the kids running into the building but didn’t prevent us from going back outside for games and crafts a short time later. It was a light day, with only about 140 in attendance in the morning, and about 70 or so in the afternoon. I’m not sure what the reason was for the lighter attendance, though we heard a few offered. In any case, it made for a long day but a good one. The crafts went great, and the smaller number made it easier for the teachers to connect with the kids. But I’m listening to the team talk as I write, and we all feel like this village is tougher to work in…seems like the kids are not as interested in spiritual things. Greater poverty is a factor, perhaps. There is definitely some spiritual warfare going on. In any case, the work is a challenge here. Adding to the mix was the lack of electricity today, which meant no sound system, which really helps with crowd control. Again, the smaller numbers made this problem a minor one.

We had new translators today, one quite good, one average, and one fairly new. I took the new one for my adult lesson before lunch, and she did quite well. She told me that she had just graduated from high school, and that this was the first time that she had ever translated for a pastor. With a little help, she did fine and we made it through. Eli’s translator starting ad libbing on him…turned out it was what Eli was going to say in a moment anyway, so no harm done! All of these young people work hard for us, and we appreciate what they do. Without them, we’d be dead in the water.

It’s been great to see our team members grow in their abilities and confidence in teaching and ministering through the past couple of weeks. The change has been unmistakable and a great blessing. After all, discipleship is really the ultimate purpose of these teams.

We all eventually made it home about 6 p.m., and after freshening up a little had a terrific adventure for dinner. We rounded up a pair of tuk-tuks (moto-powered taxis) and headed for Mike’s Burgers, a California-style burger joint with authentic American burgers and fries. The traffic was heavy, and the ride in the cooler evening air weaving in and out of the cars and trucks that moved around us (and the swarm of motos) was a lot of fun with a group of people who had never experienced anything like that. The burgers were incredible, and so were the fries. We had a great time. There was another mission group there for dinner at the same, from a church in California, and we all had fun comparing notes. Mike, the owner (a Cambodian who spent a good deal of time in California) took our picture and is going to print up some business cards with our picture on them for souvenirs, which we’ll pick up on Wednesday Then, a repeat of the ride home, singing, laughing, teasing the drivers into trying to beat the other tuk-tuk…the kids took lots of pictures and will keep a very fun memory in their hearts for a very long time. It was a nice way to end the day.

Now everyone is unwinding a bit before bed, talking on the computer with family, and getting ready for our last day tomorrow. Pray with us tomorrow that we’d have a great turnout to wrap up, and that the kids would be given a calm spirit and a desire for the Lord’s truth. Everyone is getting pretty tired, and eager to come home, and yet feeling a little sadness that it has to come to an end, too.

Thanks for your prayers!