Cambodia – the Second Time Around Shirley Dietz
To all Readers: Think of this travelogue as a short book, rather than a long letter. I combined the email letters that Trish Hunsader wrote with my own observations and reports which I’ve highlighted in yellow. I was tired and didn’t write every night and usually forgot what I had done by the time I got around to it. I appreciated her detail and see no reason to try to duplicate it. Maybe just read one day at a time and pretend you are re-living it with us.
My Day 1 of travel (Wednesday in U.S,) December 26, 2012
Wonderful! Our whole crazy group is successfully together In Atlanta and checked in for the long flight. We have an hour or so to wait. One of us, who looks incredibly fit, is choosing to walk around the terminal while waiting. That is probably a good idea but I’m going to sit here instead.
So far we have been incredibly blessed with the luggage situation – well, except for the wheels breaking off one of my 50 lb. rolling suitcases. It was hard plastic that had deteriorated (kind of like the heels on my dress shoes, commonly) and did the crumble thing. Fortunately the baggage check station was only yards away. They took both my checked bags without even weighing them (!) and checked them through all the way to the final destination so I don’t have to look for them again until we get there. A very good thing. There have been no crowded places or long lines. There have been no missing pieces of information or documents that weren’t correct .
So far, my travel vest has functioned well. I am wearing all my most precious things in my many pockets and can reach them all within seconds, after I remember which pocket they’re in.
Our 747 is sitting out there – not as big as the A380 we had last time but I’m told it will be nice. There will be movies.
Day 2 of travel (Thursday and Friday)
The movies were terrible – I only watched one and I’m not sure I enjoyed it. We left yesterday at noon from Atlanta for our 15 hour flight over the pole. A meal, a seven hour sleep time, another meal (plus several intervening snacks) a book nearly finished and we were still not there yet. All of a sudden, when we crossed the International Date Line, it went from being midnight on Wednesday to being noon on Thursday. It was nearly 4pm when we landed in Seoul, South Korea for an hour and a half layover. The next plane took us six hours south to Phnom Penh so it was close to the beginning of Friday before we actually finished the journey. All our luggage arrived safely too – a minor miracle. Many Asia Hope people were waiting to greet us even though it was late. Some of the older children were there. It took one whole van just to carry our luggage. We got to the guest house and went quickly to our rooms and to sleep.
This is just a quick note to let you all know we arrived safely in Cambodia with all 20 pieces of luggage. We had extremely bumpy rides most of the way, so we were all more than ready to get off the plane last night. The women are making a quick run to the market this morning to get supplies for tonight while the men meet with the leadership of the student center. We’ll spend our afternoon and evening with the kids of PE4 playing and having an American-style movie night complete with microwave popcorn!
I’ll send a more detailed email later – just wanted to let you all know that we made it!
My Day 3 now in Phnom Penh (Friday)
I am sharing a room with Pattie from Sarasota. Our air corn (as they call it) is broken but we did have a fan last night and slept pretty well. Breakfast was chicken soup Khmer style, really quite good, and carrot cake brownies, eaten outside in the courtyard. The ladies of our group all got in a tuk-tuk and went to the Central Market to shop for supplies for the day’s activities with the children.
Trish’s entry for Friday and Saturday
Here’s the latest from Cambodia. December 28th, 2012
We got to sleep around 1:30 last night, but since we don’t really yet have night and day on this side of the earth figured out, time doesn’t really matter. We woke up early, had a nice breakfast of chocolate/carrot gooey cake and chicken soup, then divided up by gender for our morning activities. The women (Shirley, Pattie, Alyssa and I) took a tuk-tuk to Central Market to buy some last minute supplies for the Olympic games tomorrow, and the men stayed at the guest house for a meeting with the student center leadership. We reconvened for lunch at our new favorite spot, Café Yejj, a tiny bistro about a five minute walk from where we’re staying.
After lunch we packed up and headed to PE4, then PE5, then back to PE4. PE4 is the first orphanage we sponsored, and Mike found out this summer that they are sensitive to any show of favoritism for PE5 over PE4. When we first arrived in June, we headed out to visit both homes, but couldn’t get anyone at PE4 by phone, so we went to PE5 first. At the end of Mike’s stay (he stayed longer than me since I went to Korea), a few of the teenage girls from PE4 cornered him asking “Why do you like PE5 better than PE4?” “Why did you go to PE5 first?” So, though everyone thought it was a bit silly to go back and forth, we had planned the whole evening with PE4, but wanted to see PE5 and had to go to PE4 first. Silly or not, we saw the kids from both homes and no one got their feelings hurt.
For our evening, we played wiffle (sp?) ball and Trouble, the girls painted nails and fixed hair, then we all ate dinner. The kids always eat in a different area, and they set us up outside under the trees. They served chicken wings, spaghetti (chopped tomato over noodles), rice, pepper steak, and fruit. The food was good, but all of the old team members ate pretty light. Last Christmas, within about 5 hours of eating at PE4, ¾ of the team was communing with the porcelain bowl, and some of those were sure they were dying.
Throughout the evening, the kids kept watch over the microwave oven popping 20 bags of popcorn for movie night. The microwave we brought was no too powerful and each bag took 6 minutes. That’s 2 hours of continuous popping. After dinner, we all gathered in the main room for Monsters Inc. We picked up speakers at the market and borrowed a projector, so we had a regular movie theatre atmosphere, minus the furniture. I think the movie went well. I heard a few laughs near the beginning, and I heard everyone clapping at the end, but I slept through the rest of it. Because we have always had chairs to sit on at PE4, we never knew that they nothing to sit on. Wayne clued us in that every time we come, they borrow chairs from the neighbors since they have none of their own. In all the times we have asked about their needs, they never mentioned chairs. Anyway, thank you to our church family for your contributions this Christmas – PE4 will now have 30 brand new plastic chairs!
December 29th, 2012 Saturday
After a much too short night, we were all up early to get to the Christmas celebration by 8:30. Breakfast was potato mush with peas. You just never know what’s going to be served for breakfast – it’s rarely anything we would consider breakfast fare, but it’s usually tasty.
In the past, Asia’s Hope gathered all of the kids together to perform for each other and share a meal. This year, the leadership decided to make the event an evangelistic outreach and invite Buddhist leaders from the police, military, etc. The celebration was held on the new grounds of the Asia’s Hope Prek Eng campus, future home of the orphan school, church hall, and five homes. It’s still rough with no running water and freshly tilled soil, and since the weather has been dry, it was seriously dusty and dirty. They had set up a stage area, brought in sound and musical equipment, and had a couple hundred chairs set up under a tent. The kids performed traditional and modern dances, and a skit of the Christmas story. Mike delivered the message and Dave D. did the readings. God provided the air conditioning with a great breeze that kept everyone comfortable. Within about 15 minutes of the end of service, they had transformed the seating area into a dining area, complete with skirted tables. The kids served ice (which we all avoided) and the meal was brought over from an outdoor cooking area, a tray at a time. The beverage was a drink called Drop in three flavors, orange, grape, and aloe, and all flavors included little bits of clear jelly worms. It’s hard to get excited about a drink filled with jelly worms, no matter how good it tastes.( Shirley – not so, I had three of them. More like pieces of tapioca than worms.) Lunch was a traditional Khmer meal with squid salad, duck, fish (whole with eyes, fins, scales…), fermented fish soup, rice and bananas. That’s the great thing about chopsticks. You can do a lot of ‘eating’ without eating very much. The rice and bananas were fine; we picked at the rest and whispered among our group about where we might stop to eat on the way home.
After lunch we held the third Christmas Olympic games. We started with a bouncy ball relay (the kind you sit on that have a handle), then moved to the rice-sack race, a dress-up relay, and finally a balloon relay. You can’t believe how excited the kids get about the prospect of winning the coveted Olympic trophy. PE3 stacked the deck a bit with a group of incredibly athletic boys, and took home the prize. The entire event was a huge success, but by this time we were all dragging pretty bad.
We stopped at KFC on the way home (the only American chain here), recharged with a short nap, then headed back to Prek Eng for a night of dancing. The kids have learned a couple of new line dances since last year, and a new Korean style of dance that I won’t even try to spell (I only know that there’s a you-tube video of the dance that has over a billion hits – someone said the most ever hits for a you-tube video). I think Stephen’s calories-burned-per-minute-dancing hit some all-time world record; the kids loved his crazy moves. We shared about 700 glow sticks, had some good massage time, then headed back to the guest house. Most everyone is already asleep and that’s where I’m headed.
Thank you for your continued prayers. The first couple of days here are always hard physically and emotionally. There’s so much work to be done in preparation for going, then there’s the long flight, the 12 hour time change, and living with many fewer conveniences than we’re accustomed. As soon as we arrive, we’re overwhelmed by trying to fill the tanks of 40 kids who need so much more love and attention than their house parents can possibly provide. It’s so worth it, but sometimes it takes a couple of days to adjust.
Our love to you all, Trish
My Saturday as summarized in an email to friends…
Again, thank you for contributing funds and goods in response to my request and the Lord’s prompting. I want to let you know how He has answered needs so that you can share in the blessing from your giving. There is a world of difference between writing a check and sending it away and actually placing those needed items in the hands of someone who has been praying for them and I want you to know how wonderful that feels.
Last Saturday Asia’s Hope held their Christmas Celebration for the community in which they reside. It was there that I found Sarom and was able to talk with her and make a plan. Her husband who is a doctor came after the noon meal and we decided to spend that afternoon going downtown Phnom Penh to a pharmacy where he had friends. Having a vendor that can be trusted is a great help.
We sat on stools at the counter and his friend started to take our order. We chose the better of two medicines for the parasite treatment – the one with fewer side effects – even though it was a bit more expensive. Each time there was a decision to be made they would look at me questioningly and it was a little disconcerting to feel like I was responsible for what we did (especially when I had no idea how much the stuff actually cost). After choosing the albendazole, the next decision was could they give it twice a year because it needed a repeat dose to be effective. Yes, I said, do that. How many people would they treat? They calculated all the children in both locations, the staff and their children, and it turned out to be around 450 people (gulp!), but I felt confident that was what the Lord wanted and since it was early in the trip I had not spent money on anything else yet. They discussed discounts and inventory in their language which I didn’t understand so I just waited and smiled until they turned to me with the final figure – $45.00
Oh my goodness, I was so relieved! And with great satisfaction I sealed the deal for two years’ worth of albendazole. It turns out what is really expensive is Tylenol and when I asked if they had further needs that is what they said would help. We got a supply of Tylenol for each of the houses. I added a box of prenatal vitamins for Sarom and we were finished there. We left them to pack up our purchase while we went in search of an ophthalmoscope. They had another friend in a medical equipment store a block away and we purchased a good quality scope for Sarom to use in examining the children.
I cannot tell you how grateful and blessed they felt and I was so honored to be able to bring your gift to them. It was such a happy day.
Sarom’s husband is an incredibly nice man, soft spoken and with a warm smile that just makes you like him instantly. As she puts it “God gave me a man who is not only a good husband, but also a good doctor.” He was an interpreter for English speaking people at the church she attends so she had heard him talking but didn’t really know him until they met on (are you ready for this?) Facebook. They were married 7 months ago. God has also helped them to get a home that is only a small distance away from the new Asia Hope property where permanent houses are going to be built for the children (they are all in rented housing now and the leases are always being finished, requiring them to move all the time). I have to say that it looks like God has constructed the perfect couple for the work He is doing with the orphans. Sarom’s baby is due in April.
I close now with a heartfelt thanks to you all for participating. If you would like to follow my trip on Facebook please look for the group “A Heart for Cambodia” and request to follow. Pictures will be posted there. I look forward to seeing you again back in the states.
Your sister in Christ, Shirley Dietz
My entry about night #3 at guest house – Saturday night
I found it hard to sleep last night. I woke up many times and each time the room was a little colder and I pulled the covers up higher. God has healed our air corn I think. The fan was also on high and making noise like an airplane. It was like sleeping outside in a blizzard. I turned the fan to low airplane speed and the air corn turned itself off, but then I could clearly hear water dripping in the bathroom. It was the toilet which seems to be broken and leaking onto the floor. There was no shutoff valve so I just shut the bathroom door so I wouldn’t hear it. Even though we have to raise the lid and pull the chain inside to flush it, we are glad to have a toilet. We can make it work. I must have slept more than I realized because I do feel pretty good this morning.
Trish’s entry – Sunday through Monday night, New Year’s Eve
Dear Ones, here’s the latest news from 12 time zones ahead.
December 30, 2012
We began our Sunday with worship at Gospel Commission Fellowship. The service is conducted in Khmer, but they include English text for most of the songs, and the pastor provided us with a copy of the message in English so we could somewhat follow along. After service, they quickly stack up all of the chairs in the room and the space doubles as a fellowship hall. We visited with many friends from our previous trips and received an invitation from Cambodia’s Surgeon General, to attend the New Year’s Eve party he is hosting tomorrow night. None of us brought clothing suitable for such an affair, so we headed to the market after lunch to do some quick shopping.
In the afternoon we headed to PE 5 for play time, dinner and movie night. The kids learned to play Twister, Jenga, and a card game called Sevens, and most of the women on the team ended up with crazy braided hairdos, complements of the girls. After dinner, we settled in for another showing of Monsters, Inc. and circulated the popcorn. Because I was busy with popcorn, I was the last one to sit down, and that put me on the last mat next to Smey. She gifted me with a long massage we affectionately refer to as ‘de-bone’ (the process of separating flesh from bone), and I am confident I will be sporting bruises tomorrow. She asks periodically “Does it hurt?”, and when you say “Yes”, she smiles, nods, and keeps at it. By the end of the movie, about half the room was asleep, kids and adults included.
As we headed home, I was mentally working my way through the team, being thankful for the gifts that each has brought here to share with these precious kids. S. D. has connected with the Asia’s Hope nurse, and brought many supplies from the U.S. that were needed. She shopped with the nurse and her doctor husband here to purchase enough worm medicine to treat all Asia’s Hope Cambodia kids and staff for two years. P. P. has a great sense of what kids like and brought things that all of the kids have enjoyed. She has really connected with a few of them already. D. D. has a heart for the leaders of Asia’s Hope and the student center, and is making it his mission to provide encouragement and share his wisdom from years of leadership in the church. A. C. is not even here (he came this past summer), but he really connected with the church school; he and his family collected about 250 pounds of homeschool materials and non-fiction books to help equip the school. S. D. is a kid-magnet. Bunrath, a PE4 boy who is so painfully shy that I have only heard him speak twice, can often be found hanging on S. D.’s shirt or leaning against him. Everyone is doing their part, in their way.
December 31, 2012
We got word late last night that one of our special friends in Bradenton, Al Wegner, a.k.a. ‘Uncle Al the Kiddie’s Pal’, surrogate Grandpa to our kids and every other kid at our old church, passed away on the 29th. He leaves behind his wife Lois, one daughter, and two grandchildren. We are grateful to Al and Lois for the example they set for so many people in our generation of love and devotion for each other, and their commitment to being incredible grandparents. Please pray for Al’s family.
Our day started early. Tyler led devotions at the student center at 6:00 a.m., so that meant we were up by 5:30. The men in the team met with the student center leaders, discussed the team’s teaching plans for the remainder of our stay and had extended prayer time for the baptismal retreat. We then rode tuk-tuks across town to Mike’s Burgers. Mike was raised in Cambodia, and went to California after the Khmer Rouge. His goal is to make American-style burgers, fries, and shakes in Cambodia – no small feat. If you don’t like the burger in the first two bites, you don’t pay. Once you take the third bite, you’re committed.
We met the PE4 kids at Central Market for our day of shopping. Many thanks to one of our festival food vendors who supplied the funds to take both houses to the market. It is a pure delight to go shopping with the kids. Our little Chantouen (John-two-ehn) is the newest girl in PE4 who arrived late spring. She selected a Barbie backpack in the first five minutes, and spent the next ten minutes jumping up and down and literally quivering with excitement. Every child was grateful for their purchase, the older ones helped the younger ones, and everyone was respectful of the budget. Though we’ve done this shopping thing many times now, I am stilled amazed by how unspoiled, well-behaved, cooperative, and positive these kids are.
We walked from the market to the mall and rode up five escalators to Company Pizza. After the meal, Wayne likened the kids to locusts. We ordered 8 large pizzas, 160 chicken wings, 8 pitchers of Coke, and 2 ice cream cakes, and there was not a crumb of food left. After five escalators down, we had the ceremonial long goodbye with one hug from each kid for each team member. It took two tuk-tuks to get our team of 10 Americans to the market, but only 2 tuk-tuks to get 22 kids and 4 adult Cambodians to the market. Go figure.
When we arrived ‘home’ we did the quick change to prepare for the General’s party. D. D., S. D., and J. H. stayed behind for Bible study and a meeting at the student center, while the rest of us went to the party. I don’t even know how to tell this next part of the story. Mike had called someone from the ministry organization we worked with to ask about the party and he was told there would likely be beer and wine served – no problem. When we were first invited, we thought the party was at the military base. I imagined all of the officers decked out in their military finery with their wives in their traditional formal dress. Sometime during the day, we heard that the party would be at the general’s house. We wondered what kind of house he lived in, what food might be served, and what ‘ball’ might drop given that the ‘ball’ we know wouldn’t drop for 12 more hours. We counted on our driver to get directions, and found out partway there that the party was at a ‘restaurant.’ When we pulled up, the place looked a little seedier than expected, and we weren’t a few feet inside the front entrance when we realized that we were in a bona-fide KTV (Karaoke TV – aka brothel). The foyer was lined with girls in really short dresses, and the stage was filled with girls singing and dancing. Tyler was in for about 3 seconds when he announced “I won’t be here long.” We were greeted by the General and his wife, Mike was seated next to the General, I was seated a few seats away, and everyone else was led to a table at the other side of the room. About 3 minutes later, Tyler and Wayne breezed by, grabbed me, and dragged me outside. They decided to leave by tuk-tuk – and I gave them my blessing. The rest of us were in a real pickle.
The general is the head of the military base here and is single-handedly responsible for giving a certain ministry group access to the base for evangelism. He is the one who required his officers to attend the Christian English language classes the last two summers and encouraged about 50 officers and wives to attend the Christian marriage retreat. Now, we’re all sitting in a brothel trying to figure out how we got into this fix and how to get out of it. Leaving before a ‘proper’ amount of time would risk offending the general and destroying years of relationship building with the military. Staying for the duration of the party was not even an option. I chose the only option I could think of, use every opportunity when the general looked away to make eye contact with Mike and burn holes through his head to communicate ‘We need to get out of this place.’ Mike talked a mile a minute and squeezed a couple hours’ worth of conversation into less than a half hour. He explained that we were all tired, and by 8:30 we were out the door.
Wow! We have heard stories about the sex industry in this country, we see all of the bright neon KTV signs all over the city, but honestly, we spend our hours here immersed in innocence. Deep down we know that more than half of our girls would be trapped in a brothel like this somewhere were it not for Asia’s Hope; but ‘knowing’ and ‘seeing with your own eyes’ are two different things. This city is Satan’s territory, and we are at war. Had we known where the party was ahead of time, we would have opted out. I won’t say I’m glad we had this experience tonight, but I know God will use it for our good and the good of those we serve.
This is our sixth team trip (Mike’s 10th) and we still don’t always anticipate what’s coming. Tonight’s party is one example, the student retreat is another. We all thought it would be good thing for the students to pay a small amount toward the retreat so they might feel a greater commitment and a sense of ownership. The leaders decided on a $5 fee. We found out today that many of the guys weren’t going because they didn’t have $5. Their monthly ‘rent’ is $10, and they were charged $7 for the church’s Christmas party. Adding another $5 this month would mean their usual monthly fees would be more than double the usual. So tonight, we scrapped the fee and an additional 16 guys signed up! Our church family has been incredibly generous this Christmas and raised enough money to fund the entire retreat. We hope it will be a time of great spiritual and relational growth for the young men and are thrilled that 43 of them, most who are brand new believers, will attend from January 3-5.
It’s late – Mike’s already asleep.
Love to you all, Trish
My New Year’s Eve perspective
The story I’m sure you’ve been waiting for… On New Year’s Eve, we were invited to a party by a military official known to Hunsaders through former visits when they taught English classes on military bases. The official had attended church here and invited them to teach. It was an important connection. We were told they were expecting us to attend and looking forward to it. All of us girls bought accessories and dresses at the market thinking it would be much more formal than our tourist attire, and even then we expected to be underdressed. I was envisioning the general’s home which I had been told was worth several million even here in Cambodia. I was wondering what kind of conversations we would have with military personnel and other invited guests because they enjoy practicing their English any time westerners are around. We were in the van, on the way to the event when it was found out that the party was to be at a restaurant instead of the general’s residence.
As we got closer to the address it became apparent that we were not in the best of districts. Still, there is such a mixture of new with old, commercial properties right next to shacks, etc… that we continued on in expectation. Pulling over at the address, which was confirmed by the persons greeting us, we were honestly not believing what we saw. The general’s wife was there to open the door and pull us out (literally) and direct us inside what they call a KTV establishment. K stands for Karaoke and you know what TV is but the Cambodian twist on this business is that it’s a brothel. Girls are lined up or sitting in rows at the entrance waiting for customers. Inside was a stage and the act at the moment was a man singing LOUDLY with a line up of girls on each side with what Mr. Hunsader described as “kind of short skirts” and Mrs. Hunsader described as “kind of, no way! they could not have been any shorter”. The place was actually like a large metal garage, bare beams inside, floors of cement and dirt in some areas, and the lighting was mostly flashy Christmas lights and spotlights on the stage. Tables full of people covered most of the main floor. All of us were wondering how short we could make this visit and still be not totally insulting to the hosts.
What I am told is that Cambodian society is such that they are able to compartmentalize their lives very distinctly. They can be Christians on Sunday, another type of person at work, and yet another type of person socially and it is all perfectly normal and acceptable. At the first marriage conference that Hunsaders did for the military, many men asked if they could bring their mistresses. Marriages are often arranged and lacking in passion and mistresses are common. The answer at the marriage conference was “no” by the way.
Mike and Trish were ushered to a large square table in the center of the room where the general and VIPs were already eating and drinking. Mike began hurriedly covering the socially necessary conversations. Trish busied herself giving him frantic “let’s get out of here” messages with her eyes whenever possible.
The rest of us were ushered up to a front row, empty table, right next to the loudspeakers, where we could see the show, I guess. Our host sent two girls up to keep us company and since they sat by me I tried to engage them in conversation. I am sure they wanted to practice their English. Soon, to my relief, four other people whom I recognized from church, were brought to our table. One was fluent in English and she told me the party was not quite what they expected either. At least I think that was what she told me. The music was so loud that I felt fairly deaf by that time. Also, by this time Tyler and Wayne, who had been sitting with us, had already had enough and left, taking a tuk tuk back home by themselves. So much for male chivalry.
The traditional Cambodian celebratory meal began to arrive, dish by dish. I recognized the rice, that was all. My English speaking friend, who was becoming more dear to me by the moment, tried to explain what the dishes were and the other Cambodians waited, looking at us, for the guests to eat first. Great, just great. We had eaten pizza at the mall with the kids, thankfully, and could truthfully say we weren’t very hungry. Nevertheless, it is polite to eat something so I put some things on my plate.
One of the dishes was chicken. I could tell by the foot, which was pretty plain, sticking out of the pile of meat. Chicken in Cambodia always is in brown chunks, always has skin and gristle attached and always has bones. If you saw their live chickens you would know why. They are skinny and tall and my guess is that they just chop them up, bones and all, because there’s not that much meat.
Another dish is probably what they call salad. It does have cabbage and carrot and crunchy noodles in it but also lots of squid. No eat squid. I picked around it and ate some vegetables. The other two dishes my friend told me straight out “you no eat”. Cambodian’s frequently and with much delight eat something called prohauk (my phonetic spelling) which is rotted fish. Did I say rotted? I meant fermented, which sounds better but is pretty much the same thing. One dish was meat-loaf-looking and the other was a soup. I hear they put prohauk as a flavoring in lots of other things too.
While I was pushing food around on my plate with my chopsticks and wishing the music would stop, Pattie and Alyssa left me to find the restroom. They were guided away from several likely looking doors where other “activities” were taking place and finally found Trish in the bathroom as well. Plans were laid. They came back to the table with Trish and Trish asked which one of them was ill. Pattie said she was ill, very ill, and needed to go home right away. Trish left to tell Mike. Meanwhile, our hostess, the general’s wife was concerned that we westerners might not be having enough fun so she came by with a bottle of champagne. It was French and she wanted me to have some (according to my interpreter) so I said yes. She took my glass which already had a soft drink in it, dumped it in a plant, and poured my champagne. It was pretty good. Everyone at the table lifted their glasses for a toast and we wished each other Happy New Year. Honestly, I was just trying to be brave and sensitive to the fact that this was an important connection for our mission team. Pattie and Alyssa were looking at me like I was crazy every time I made an attempt to be friendly. I wasn’t feeling very supported.
The hostess came back and asked me if the champagne was good. I said yes. She went for the bottle and filled my glass up again. You really have to watch what you say to these people. She asked me something else and the interpreter relayed it to me “do you dance”. She had to repeat the word dance about five times before I understood it – between the loud music, her accent and my total lack of context for the subject. I said I danced a little, sometimes. The hostess chugged right up to the stage and told the musician to play some dance tunes. She announced that dancing would begin and, by golly, she was right. People got up and started to dance. The hostess came to me and insisted that we dance and have fun. At this point getting up and leaving the table seemed, at the very least, to be a move in the right direction even if it was to dance. All three of us girls, and our church friends as well, got up and were dancing. At about the same time Mike was making excuses about the sudden illness that had come upon one of us, never mind the fact that the ill person could now be seen dancing.
I’m nearly at the end of this New Year’s Eve story. We probably danced all of 90 seconds before we saw them coming to rescue us. We left and our hosts walked us all the way out to our van. We discussed the happening all the way home, mostly laughing at our total naivete about what the evening would be like. It was a glimpse of this society that we weren’t expecting to encounter quite so closely. But perhaps our concern about victims of human trafficking needed to be quickened by a look on the “inside”.
Trish’s entry for Tuesday and Wednesday
Dear ones, here’s what we’ve been up to the for the last two days!
January 1, 2013
Today got off to an early start with boys soccer at 8:00 and girls portrait studio at 9:00. A new ‘indoor’ soccer field opened up about a 2 minute walk from the student center, and Mike planned for all of the boys from PE4 and PE5 to come into town for some ‘football’ with a few of the men from the student center. The old guys from the team jumped in a bit and the young guys had a good workout. The only casualty was Cheum (pronounced like chew-um but as one syllable) who took a nasty fall and hurt his arm. Everybody thinks it’s okay, but time will tell.
In continuing our family tradition, we took the next oldest three girls from the two houses who have not yet had a portrait session at Heng Lay Studios, Phina (Pee-nah), Sreyny (Sray-knee), and Chan Neoun (John New-ehn). The process starts with the girls looking through photo albums to select a style of dress, either Cambodia glamour or Apsara style, and a color. Next comes full makeup including eyebrow trimming with a hand-held double sided razor blade (scary to watch), heavy foundation to lighten the skin color, fake eyelashes, eye shadow, eye liner, blush, lip gloss, all applied with the same brushes, sponges, and applicators for everyone. Next comes the hairdo that is mostly about getting the natural hair out of the way and pinning on a rat’s nest assortment of fake hair. Color doesn’t matter since they’ll photo shop it all later. The glittery outfit top is put on and the bottom is fashioned from a long piece of cloth that is pleated and wrapped, fanned and twisted into an intricate skirt. Jewelry is next: earrings, necklace, bracelets and anklets. Finally, they slip their feet into a pair of much-too-big high-heeled shoes. All of the clothing items are one size fits most, with straight pins taking up slack in the back for anything that’s too big. After everyone is ready, we move into the photo studio where the photographer meticulously poses each girl’s head, neck, shoulders, torso, arms, hands, finger, hips, knees and feet. Two of the girls were great at holding everything in place until the photo was complete, but things didn’t go as well for Sreyny. First he posed the head, then the shoulders. Before he could move past the shoulders, he had to start over with the head, and round and around it went. Although the whole process seems a little strange and a lot unsanitary to Americans, it’s a big part of Cambodian culture to have your picture done like this in a studio.
The men and women of the team met back at the guest house and traveled with our host to a French restaurant to meet with the Campus Crusade for Christ Cambodia director, his wife, young daughter, and administrative assistant, all of whom are dear friends of many years. Borin, the director, continues to work to plant house churches in rural areas, along with overseeing campus ministry and military ministry in the capital. He and Mike had a chance to discuss the rather unusual New Year’s Eve party we all attended last night. He confirmed much of what we had previously understood about the challenges they face in combatting deep rooted cultural ‘habits’ that are contrary to Christian values. It is especially challenging because of the Cambodians’ tendency to ‘compartmentalize’ their lives. New believers think that they can live one way in their social life, another way in their work like, and another way in their ‘Christian’ life (hmmm, sounds like most of us). However, they are so practiced at this ‘compartmentalization’ that they can comfortably be ‘Christian’ on Sunday morning and go to the KTV brothel on Monday.
We had no activities tonight other than Bible study for the men at the student center, so almost everyone got a bit of much-needed rest.
January 2, 2013
Our morning activity was to visit the ABC 123 International School’s new facility. The school is run by the wife of the church pastor and has around 100 kids ranging in age from 2-13. The old school building was leaking like a sieve and had lots of other issues. The rent on the new building is $700 more per month, but the family is able to live on the third floor of the building and it makes for a much more convenient life. Also, there are more classrooms, it is in a better location, and the house next door fogs for mosquitoes so thoroughly, they can now forego the $80 per month treatment. It is a brighter facility and a real improvement. They were very excited by the 250 pounds of books, curriculum and supplies that one of our church families and their friends donated.
After lunch, we traveled by tuk-tuk to Central Market to wait for the kids of PE5 to arrive. They were all wearing new shirts, red ones for the girls and yellow ones for the boys, with black lace on the sleeve cuff. The girls turned theirs up to be visible, and the buys wisely left theirs down. The only one in different attire was Cheum who draped a button-down shirt over his now-diagnosed broken arm. The good thing is that there is a clinic here that treats kids under 15 for free, and it has an x-ray machine. Though his arm is broken, it is a stable fracture and should heal well. Now that the kids have done this shopping routine a few times, they all knew what they wanted in advance, so we could divide them up according to product and be a bit more strategic in shopping. In less than 90 minutes, we completed purchases for 22 kids and four adults. Time for the grand march to the mall next door.
We enjoyed 9 large pizzas, 160 wings, 10 pitchers of coke, and two ice cream cakes. After dinner we tried a new venture; we boarded four tuk-tuks with the kids and headed for the riverfront. The riverfront area is a hot-bed of young social life and Buddhist ritual. You can buy incense, flowers, holy water, and live birds (to release as atonement for sin), take in an exercise class, sell or buy drugs, or just hang out and talk. This is where we have previously seen the greatest selection of grilled and sautéed bugs, spiders, snakes, etc for sale to eat, but not tonight. Apparently because of the death of the king, the country is in mourning and there are no bug sales allowed on the riverfront for a total of three months. It’s a tough time to be in the edible bug business.
We just arrived home and after packing for tomorrow’s trip to Sihanoukville for the baptismal retreat, we’re heading to sleep. We got up at 5:30 so I’m drifting now and have nodded off several times trying to write today’s news.
The entire team is healthy, but starting to show signs of wear and tear. Please pray for the retreat, for safety for everyone, for all of the logistics to go well, and for it to be a time of spiritual strengthening for all involved.
Until next time – our love to you all,
Trish and crew
Trish’s entry for Thursday
We’re having a very special time – hope you enjoy reading of our travels. We are all healthy – thank you for your continued prayers.
January 3, 2013 We got an early start today to be dressed, packed, and at church at 8:00 for the bus departure to Sihanoukville. All of the nationals say it’s a 5 hour drive, but we have never made it in less than 6. It’s typical for Cambodians to stop often; snack stop (our 3rd stop so far) was around 10:30, lunch stop was 11:30. The lunch stop was at a place P. P. called the Cambodian Cracker Barrel. The only resemblance to the American chain is that both establishments serve travelers. I doubt Cracker Barrel has 3 mangy dogs and numerous live chickens roaming around in the open air kitchen. The student center leaders ordered for everyone and got us the least Khmer-like food available, steamed rice with fried-beyond-recognition bits of pork. We know that Cambodians will eat just about anything – water bugs, crickets, spiders, snakes, fermented fish (the national food), etc – and we also know that they never complain about their food. When asked if they enjoyed the diner food, the response we got was “I can eat.” That translates roughly to “It was nasty but I was able to get it to go down.” Most of our team ate a bit of steamed rice.
We arrived in Sihanoukville mid-afternoon, dropped the student center men off at the Gold Lion Hotel, and the rest of us at Seaside Hotel. We were supposed to all stay together, but there was a mixup with reservations and we’re at two different places. Most of us hit the restaurant right away and had a delicious light meal. The prices here are great – $2 for fried noodle with vegetables (pronounced wedge-eh-tuh-bulls) and chicken. There is a beach right across the street from our hotel, and many of our group headed over for swimming and walking. A lot of the young people had never seen the ocean before, so this was a BIG deal. The student center guys were big into hauling the Americans into the water, but thankfully they were considerate and removed wallets and phones from pockets before each of the big dunkings. About 20 of the guys got to experience a 3-man tube ride with some crazy spins and high-speed turns.
Tonight after dinner, we met at the Gold Lion for worship time and a message by D. D. from Thessalonians (he’s been teaching from this book the whole week). The guys from the student center hauled all of the musical and sound equipment here, so we had a full praise band. It was a great time of fellowship. We concluded our group time with ‘snakes’ outside the meeting room. The Cambodians work very hard to use English words around us, but some of their pronunciations are a little off. After standing, we take a ‘sheet’, we are served a lot of ‘she-food’, and instead of snacks, we have ‘snakes.’
We have somewhere around 85 people at this retreat. In the end, 54 men from the student center signed up; add to that the leaders and a young family with Mission to the World, the pastor and family, our team of ten, ten of the oldest boys from Asia’s Hope (five are high school seniors), and one set of Asia’s Hope house parents.
My Thursday entry
Up at 8 for bus trip (endless) to Sihanoukville
Our hotel is acceptable. I find myself getting weary of third world precautions. I want to drink the water and not have sand in my bed. I don’t want to carry my heavy backpack everywhere I go. I want to put on clothes that don’t smell like yesterday’s sweat. I am so spoiled.
Walking the beach and watching the group play in the water makes me wonder why in the world I did not bring a swimsuit. I cannot resist water. #Mustbuysomethingtomorrow#.
I took video of the first praise song at our meeting tonight. The student men are really into the music and have many songs memorized. They were singing on the bus on the way here too. It is inspiring to see their enthusiasm. I love it. Eleven were signed up for baptism. After tonight’s study a few more raised their hands. I think they understood what it meant in a new way.
Trish’s entry for Friday, January 4, 2013
It was another early morning with worship starting at the other hotel at 8:00. The best part about breakfast at our hotel was watching the Asia’s Hope boys travel back and forth to the buffet line. I’m not sure they have ever experienced a buffet before, and they certainly took advantage of it with 3-4 plates full of food each. We had a spirited time of praise and worship, and somebody found the projector which allowed the Americans to sing along. W. R. gave the message about baptism, and explained it in plain language (through interpretation) to be sure that those who choose to be baptized really understand what it means. As I watch W. R. preach and teach, I am amazed at God’s goodness and mercy, and grateful that He chose to rescue our dear friend from the grips of a 25-year addiction. God is now using W. R. and his testimony to bring many more to a saving faith.
After Wayne’s message, Pastor Narin asked all those who plan to be baptized to move to the front for more explanation. I couldn’t count heads from my side of the room, but it looked like the ranks had grown from last night’s 11 to around 25. They seem to be taking this seriously.
We had ‘lunch’ at the men’s hotel, and after a few minutes, W. R., Tyler, and Alyssa exited to hit the pizza place down the street. We were served spicy chicken (picture a whole scrawny chicken chopped up with a cleaver, feet and all), squid salad – also very spicy, steamed rice, soup with shrimp and some other seafoodish substance, and some very delicious watermelon for dessert. S. D. was the only one brave enough to try everything, so we agreed that she earned more than her share of watermelon. P. P. keeps saying ‘I think I’m full’; how can she always be full when she never eats? After lunch, we were back on the buses headed for Sokha beach.
Our beach time began with the baptisms. The young men formed four lines, and the men in our team along with the pastor and student center leaders formed four small groups in the water. Each young man was prayed over before being baptized, and after the immersion there were many hugs and cheers. It was an incredibly moving experience. The beach was beautiful, the water was warm, and the young men were so excited to be baptized. We had no idea in advance, but the boys from Asia’s Hope got together with a guitar and a music book before we left for the beach and selected several songs to accompany the baptisms. They stood together as a group and serenaded all of us with beautiful worship music through the entire baptism time. Here are the words to the last song they sang:
I have decided to follow Jesus (x3),
No turning back, no turning back.
The cross before me, the world behind me (x3),
No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow (x3),
No turning back, no turning back.
It doesn’t get much better than this. We talked afterwards and agreed that today is one of those rare and special days that will become an indelible mark on our memories. Today, 25 young men made a public profession of faith and joined our Christian family forever…literally forever. To put things into perspective, mere months ago, most of these young men were Buddhist and had never heard the name of Jesus. They come from Buddhist families who may reject them because they have rejected the religion of their ancestors. Today, they committed themselves to follow Jesus and imitate Him in their lives. A student center that less than a year ago was just a dream, an idea, is already making a significant difference in a country that is over 90% Buddhist and around 2% Christian. Most of these students attend the Royal University of Law and Economics; they are the future of Cambodia, and they are now believers. As I said, it doesn’t get much better than this.
After quick showers (somehow the shower knows and gives about 30 seconds of hot water to each person), we dressed for a group dinner at our hotel. The staff here are very efficient and served 85 people in mere minutes. We had rice, fried fish with wedge-eh-tuh-bulls, fish and squid soup, boiled shrimp, and fruit. Though the flavors are not our favorite, it was all well prepared.
After dinner we were bused over to the other hotel for some rousing worship time. We sang “My Redeemer Lives” and “How Great is Our God” among others. They sing in Khmer, we sing in English, and it all mixes together into something beautiful. Pastor Narin gave a message on the wine and the bran and what happens when the wine is cut off from the bran (I was tired at this point and it took me a while to remember that they exchange the ‘w’ sound for ‘v’ and they cut off the end of their words so ‘bran’ is really ‘branches’). It seems like the young men are even more exuberant than usual – there is excitement in the air. After more ‘snakes’ out back, we walked back to our hotel and are heading to sleep. Tomorrow is another long bus ride back to the capital. We are tired, but feeling blessed to have been a part of a new beginning for so many young men. To God be the glory!
Our love to you all,
Breakfast buffet at hotel: This was quite good and had some recognizable food and other unrecognizable but reportedly safe food. There were eggs cooked just right. The coffee is SOOOOO strong and the milk is not quite there. Lots of rice
Bible study (Wayne):There are 54 students here from the student center that have been attending Bible studies regularly. The number desiring baptism has risen to 19 after Wayne’s explanations of it today. The beach looked so inviting yesterday that I bought some shorts in case I got an urge to go in the water. Really, it looked good.
Lunch at hotel where students stayed: Three times this trip we have been served the favorite and traditional Cambodian feast. This is not to say that all Cambodians eat all of this, but they are all used to it and eat it sometimes. It is what you can expect to get if you have a restaurant or caterer do a meal for lots of people. I did mention it in a previous post about New Year’s Eve but now I’ve got pictures!
Whenever we’ve known that this was the meal being served we have surreptitiously planned to find pizza or hamburgers after a reasonable period of fake eating. We kind of eye each other and inspect the dishes as they come, pointing at things in them and taking pictures of the food. Most of the time the Cambodians don’t notice because they are too busy eating and they are usually seated at separate tables from us. Pastor Narin and his family and some of the other natives who know us are used to us making fun of the food and are very understanding. Occassionally I do feel bad about the way we act, us spoiled, foreign tourists.
The baptisms in the Gulf of Thailand were memorable, to say the least. In an orderly way the men lined up and went out, waist deep, to one of the four teams to be prayed with and immersed. They came up very excited and hands usually waving, big smiles. I tried to take pictures for each one but midway thru a big wave nearly knocked me over (with watch and camera) so I missed a few while finding a safer spot. The rest of the day was sun, sand, pleasant company and good conversation on the beach.
Trish’s entries – Saturday and Sunday
January 5, 2013 Saturday
Our day started with worship with all of the student center men and our team. Mike gave the message from Thessalonians about holy living and spoke of the fire of faith that is beginning to burn brightly at the student center and how the students now have the power to spread that fire all over Cambodia. At the end, Pastor Narin asked for volunteers from the student center to give their testimony. Several of them spoke of how their new faith is changing their lives. Pastor Narin also called on several of our team members to speak and though they were unprepared, each talked from the heart about their experience in Cambodia and at the baptismal retreat. The prevailing message from our team members was that although we came to serve and encourage, we all feel that we are the ones being served and encouraged.
We boarded buses for the long ride back to the capital. We again had a snack stop, followed about 20 minutes later by another snack stop, followed another 20 minutes later by a lunch stop. Many of our team did not leave the bus for lunch, and those who did, did not eat. The second snack stop was at a particularly interesting place with shelves of large jars holding various unidentifiable edibles in their juices. Our house parents purchased 3 jars of shrimp in juice, stored and sold without benefit of refrigeration. The lunch stop wasn’t much better; Pastor’s wife Quenie viewed all of the food available for purchase and recommended that the American team not eat any of it. We have learned from past visits that when someone from Cambodia advises you not to eat the food, it’s best to not eat the food (I’m specifically remembering A.W.’s experience with the fermented fish last summer).
Just as we entered the city, our bus scraped its bottom over a large speed bump and pulled over to the side of the road. We had some kind of mechanical problem. Our driver emerged from the bus with a machete, found a stick, started whittling the end to a point, and cut the stick a couple of inches from the end. He then cut a piece of cloth from a scrap of a scarf he found on the ground, wrapped it around the pointed end of the stick, and he and another man with a hatchet crawled under the bus. Apparently the speed bump made a hole in the brake’s air hose, but because our bus driver was a Cambodian version of MacGyver, we were back on the road in less than 10 minutes.
Our double-decker bus worked its way through the narrow streets and delivered us to the front gate of our guest house. We quickly unpacked and left for dinner. After dinner, Jared and Tyler packed up and boarded a tuk-tuk for their ride to the airport. They had long ago planned a ski trip to Japan and were headed there on two separate flights, leaving five minutes apart. Tyler was on China Eastern airlines with a layover in Shanghai, and Jared was on Korean Airlines with a layover in Seoul. Neither had a usable phone, and they would arrive in Japan an hour apart. The mom in me worried, but this was one of those times to let go. We heard later that they found each other without incident and traveled by 3 trains and a bus for 7 hours to reach the ski resort in Nogano.
January 6, 2013 Sunday
It’s Sunday, and the last day in Cambodia for Mike, Alyssa and me. We spent the morning at the worship service held at the Asia’s Hope school. D. D. gave the message about serving others. He talked about how we were leaving and how when people know they’re leaving, they want to share important words with those they leave behind. He shared the story of Jesus on his last night with his disciples, the night before he was betrayed, and how the lesson He taught his disciples, the lesson He demonstrated through the washing of feet, was that they were called to serve others. D. D. then washed the feet of two of the older boys. The rest of the kids were fascinated and struggled to get a good view. This was the first time I had attended a regular worship service with the kids, and it was inspiring to see these children play their many instruments, lead the singing, and present a special musical performance. Most of the songs were sung first in Khmer, then in English, and most were songs we already knew.
After church we walked to PE4 to spend a couple of hours with the kids. The women washed the girls’ hair with lice shampoo and slowly worked through their thick hair with lice combs. P. P. brought along conditioner and shampooing capes which made for an easier task for us and a drier experience for the girls than this past summer. Little Pheakkdey kept two women busy for about an hour, painstakingly combing many, many adult lice from her head. Only one or two of the girls had no lice. It’s a battle they face, and will probably never win. Even if they beat the lice problem at one house, the girls all go to school with girls from other houses who have lice. If one girl gets rid of her lice, she’ll get more from the shared brush or comb. We know our round of washing and combing won’t solve the problem, but it is a way for us to show love and affection to these girls, and to give some of them momentary relief from their itching.
Our friendly tuk-tuk drivers arrived at lunch time to take us to a nearby KFC, then we traveled to PE5 for a repeat of our activities at PE4. The lice problem was not nearly as bad, and the most we found on any head was a half dozen. We had a great time playing and visiting. All of the kids have learned so much more English this past year that it gets easier and easier to communicate with them. We said our temporary good-byes, knowing that we would see all of the kids at the airport for our send-off.
At one point during our time at PE 4 and PE 5 I brought out my computer and was showing the children pictures of my home and my two daughters – at their request. Esther’s pictures caused a flurry of comment in Khmer which I didn’t understand. It was translated to me like this “they are surprised at your daughter’s short hair. They all want long hair because short hair means you’ve had a bad case of lice and had to have it cut off. “
This was the first time I’ve ever encountered head lice (lucky me) and I can see what a job it is to keep everyone free from them. Their hair is beautiful , healthy and there is SO much of it. As we shampooed and combed I kept wondering how they felt about us doing this for them. Although it is a help to have it all done at once it must be somewhat demeaning as well. The older girls are much better at not sharing their combs and hair ornaments so they have very little problem with lice and I think Sarom’s health education that she gives helps them understand what they must do to prevent the spread. The house mother tells me that it’s an epidemic in the public schools, which some of them attend, so it is hard to ever totally eradicate it. I tried to concentrate on giving a good head massage as I shampooed, hoping my feelings of care made it down through my fingertips.
Back to Trish’s story
We arrived back at the guest house and made a quick turnaround to walk to dinner at Café Yejj. It’s a great little place to eat, but they frequently run out of things and tonight some of our crew ordered three different times. They took our first order, then came back after about 10 minutes to say they were out of Panini bread. Four people reordered something else, only to find out 5-10 minutes later that they were out of that too. Flexibility is important when eating there. We’ve also learned that the food arrives a plate here and a plate there, and waiting until everyone is served before eating just isn’t practical. The conversation was great and no one seemed to mind that dinner was about a 2-hour affair. That left us short of time for final showers and packing, but we still managed to leave the guest house on time.
My comments on Cambodian eating establishments
Café Yejj was such a refuge – we ate there several times over the two weeks we were in Cambodia. A number of restaurants have upper floors with a separate dining room which is either air conditioned or well supplied with outdoor breezes. Café Yejj’s upper room has tables and chairs but also couches and cushy chairs with low tables in front of them. You can always tell the places that cater to and welcome western visitors because they will have things on the menu that you can recognize – like breakfast burrito. You might find some surprising things in the breakfast burrito but it will be, in general, what you would hope.
We spent Monday without the Hunsaders and in addition to going to the Russian market again and touring the killing fields in the afternoon, we went to two other cafes that were a delight and close by our guest house. The first was called Daughters (as in Daughters of Cambodia). Friends Cory and Jessica fetched us by tuk tuk from the Russian Market and took us to lunch there. I had seen the website for Daughters of Cambodia and had wanted to investigate their organization while in the country but it never quite fit into the schedule with the others on our team so I didn’t push for it. I was delighted to find out that we were going there – it just seems that God had wanted me to have that connection. The employees are women who decided on their own to come out of prostitution and trafficking and learn new skills to support themselves. It was a beautiful place, all the food was great and they had a sandbox/playground for Jessica’s one year old son Noah.
The other café was Jars of Clay, which is also based on ministry to abused women. They had an extensive western menu, very comfortable dining room and a great gift shop with items made by women learning to sew, knit, and craft in various ways. I bought the remainder of my souvenirs there. There were some crocheted purses labeled BABS (Bags by Acid Burn Survivors) that caught my attention. I’m wondering whether that is a common thing to happen to abused women in that culture.
Trish’s story – the airport
We arrived at the airport at 9:00 to be greeted by 44 kids, 10 guys from the student center, house parents, helpers, cooks, and the Asia’s Hope director and his wife. It’s a painful process to say goodbye to that many people, many of whom are crying. I will never make it through the process without crying too, but have learned that I have to hold my emotions somewhat in check if I don’t want to travel for 30+ hours with a migraine. Most of the rest of our team joined us at the airport even though they will fly out one day later.
My comments on the airport night
Saying goodbye to wonderful people that you care about is always difficult. My family culture has been to run away from goodbye situations , especially the long, drawn out kind. This is why airport night is not something I look forward to. Since our team was splitting up and leaving at four different times it seemed like it would be difficult and impractical for all the children to come to the airport each time someone left. Jared and Tyler kind of sneaked off without a lot of attention. The rest of the Hunsaders were not going to be allowed to leave that easily – everybody knew their scheduled departure time. The rest of us (all except D. D.) went along to say goodbye to them and also to the children, thinking that having done that, they would not try to come the next night when we left.
It didn’t work. They came the second night anyway. I am not in any way implying that it isn’t a blessing to see all those people one more time, hug the children one more time (or two or three times as it may be). But my western thinking wants to save the money spent on travel, save the time and energy it takes to get all the children there, save the emotional stress of multiple tearing away episodes. They don’t think that way. It is all about relationships and love and respect. Things went a little more quickly the second night because only half the children came. Still there was half an hour of hugging outside the airport while waiting for check-in time to start, then they waited outside watching us while we got our boarding passes and checked our bags, another half hour and then the final waving, pressing hands against the glass, making the heart shape with fingers, and blowing kisses as we passed the window on the way to the escalator. They do this at least twice a year. It is tradition and they are faithful.
Trish’s final post
January 9, 2013
We arrived home at 3:30 Monday afternoon and four more team members arrived home yesterday. All of us had work or school on Tuesday and are struggling to get our heads back into life here after leaving so much of ourselves in Cambodia. We’re feeling blessed to have so many precious Cambodians in our lives, and though we face many challenges here, the kids there have filled our tanks with enough love to last us another six months or so. Jared and Tyler arrive late tonight, and Wayne will be back tomorrow. We had a great team for this trip and are so thankful for their sacrifice of time and finances to join us on this journey. We thank all of you in the U.S. who kept us and our needs before our heavenly Father throughout our trip. We also are grateful to all of you who donated funds to provide for the Asia’s Hope Christmas outreaches, the student center retreat, the market shopping and pizza nights, Bibles for the student center, a sewing machine for PE5, and a water pump and chairs for PE4. Your generosity has made a real difference in the lives of others.
I’m signing off until our next Cambodian adventure.
Our love to you all,
My closing thoughts
I should mention our visit to the Killing Fields memorial on our last day. Pastor Narin offered to take us on this expedition in his van since his wife Quenie had not toured it either and it was quite a ways away. It was a peaceful field out in the country, belying the horrendous deeds that once took place there. I can’t imagine the suffering the people went through. There is a large spire in the center which houses the skulls of many that have been recovered from the mass graves. The audio tour is heard via headphones as visitors walk from one section of the field to another. There are many stories told by survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime and some confessions by the perpetrators that are very moving. It gives insight into some of the things you see in Cambodia today – it was only a little over 30 years ago that all this took place, and we knew so little of it on the other side of the world. They lost a whole generation of educated professional people, and poverty and destruction and despair overtook the remaining population. They’ve actually come a long way when you consider what they have been through as a people.
If you have had the patience to read to this point I hope you will find yourself feeling a little more familiar with travel to a foreign country and also feeling a growing compassion towards people living there. We have much to share with them, and they have much to share with us. I think God smiles on the exchange.