Due to not having internet connection when it was convenient, the last days of this time in Cambodia didn’t get posted. You got a break, now the journey continues…
Last night the hotel restaurant served Khmer food to all at dinner – a challenge for a crowd this size. We were told it would not be Western food so had eaten well at lunch. They serve a lovely dish similar to coleslaw with crumbled peanuts on top, but I have learned to look for the very tiny shrimp that they mix in. I have tried to like this but cannot. Too fishy for my palate.
We also had the first meeting with all the kids last night– songs and a speaker. The theme for this retreat is “More than Conquerors”. Both last night and this morning the children have recited Romans 8:37 -39 in Khmer and in English from memory. It is awesome to hear. The messages have been geared toward some of the problems the kids are encountering now, encouraging them not to give in to bad peer pressure and to recognize the authorities God has put in their lives. The older children are the ones leading the praise songs, praying and giving some direction. Our team members have been giving the main message. We often have children sitting with us and looking at our Bibles. They are very attentive and make sure we have bottles of water and a good place to sit.
This morning they also had all the fathers in the group stand in the front, after which the whole group came forward to hug and thank each of them. They always try to remember our holidays, especially ones of this nature. I am thinking of my own father who is not longer here, and of Jack who was also a good father to his children. I am thinking of my own husband who is spending Father’s Day alone while we are here in Cambodia. I miss them all.
Once again the children have a scheduled time at the beach and have gone in the buses, in spite of the very rainy and windy weather. I have elected to stay in my room and watch the weather out the window. The curtains on my window blow in the wind, in spite of the windows being closed, and it sounds just like the winding down stage of a hurricane.
Later: Julie and I have just finished an hour and a half session with 13 lovely girls, age 17 and older, talking about things that are on their minds. Julie told me boys would be the main subject and she was right. We went through some Biblical guidelines for being women of God for starters and then had discussion. It is somewhat difficult with the language barrier but I believe we had a good time. There was much laughter, some thoughtful questions, and good attention. They are precious women. At the end, some wanted to know how I met my husband and I told them. I am so glad to have that story to tell. Thank you Dennis (the husband). But I must say that being around all the youthfulness this weekend is making me feel very old.
Later still: Our team and all the house parents loaded ourselves onto the bus for a short trip to Kimmly Seafood Restaurant for our evening meal. Over dinner and fellowship there was a lot of talk about the problem of middle school students having to ride their bikes to the public school which is quite a distance away. The house parents would like to expand the Asia Hope school to include middle school. Savorn, Asia Hope director, is excited about this idea and that usually means it will be in operation within six months. He has figured out how to add four classrooms to the present school, how many teachers would be needed, and how to invite selected children from the neighborhood to fill the classes to reasonable size.
As we were entering the meeting room for the evening session, I was pulled aside to where a group was gathered around a young man who had gotten a ring on his finger and couldn’t get it off. He was soaking his hand in ice water hoping to shrink the finger a little. Julie had offered “mom’s trick” ring removal method and I was to apply it. Dental floss was the readily accessible material so we tried that a couple of times but it kept breaking after moving the ring a short ways. Still that was far enough for me to move it more with my fingers and it finally popped off. Lots of people had gathered around and were anxiously watching and praying so there was a big cheer and audible sigh of relief. I think from now on I will carry a better brand of dental floss, just for this kind of thing. It is a very cool trick.
The evening message was good. The singing was exuberant and impressive – no one sings quite like it in the U.S. We are always moved to video the Cambodians doing their praise and worship, especially the littlest ones.
The evening ended with Game Night. The meeting room is not large and 150 people, talking loudly and trying to organize themselves, makes for pandemonium and loud noise. The kids divided into 10 small groups for the first game which was to put two small jigsaw puzzles together. After one group won the prize by finishing their puzzles I kind of expected the game to end, as it would have if we were working with American kids. No, the game went on until all groups had their puzzles together. The same thing happened with the other games. It was a very loud, hilarious night. Exhausting is another word I would use. Everyone looked happy to be heading to their rooms.