2019 - Off to the Races
When it comes to blog posts there is very little chance I’ll ever be called an “over sharer.” How can it have already been a couple of months since we gave an update? Time goes by too fast! We hope this finds each of you well and loving life. Here’s what has been filling our days. Actually, about ten hours of every day is spent at school, so let me rephrase that: Here’s what has been filling our time outside of the regular school days. ;)
First off, thank you to everyone who contributed toward helping our neighbors following their house fire. Just over $700 was donated and with that we were able to get them a gift card to a local Home Depot type store, plus a few things for their little girl and baby on the way. Seven hundred dollars is more than month salary here so that donation was significant - thank you! In the second picture (above) you can see our house on the left and theirs on the right - close! When I became aware that there was a fire next door, the flames were already shooting out their front window - one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen (and heard - the sound was eerie). There’s not much of an emergency response system here and no fire hydrants so you are really on your own in a case like this. Also (and this is still hard to understand) smoke detectors aren’t a thing here. When we asked our neighbor if they’d had them he had no idea what we were talking about - had never heard of such a thing. Thankfully no one was hurt in the fire, and it was very encouraging to see all of the neighbors pulling together to help get the fire out. Scary but encouraging! Just in case you are wondering, our house has smoke detectors. The people we rent from are Chinese-American and they brought some smoke detectors from the states a few years back.
My (Kirsten) work with the old generation is continuing, and is bringing me so much joy. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to meet these people, build relationships, and to hear their stories - and they are interesting stories to say the least! This is actually taking on a ministry life all its own too. I now have two translators, one young man and one young woman, who take turns going out with me. We always pray about who we’ll meet that day and the Lord never ceases to reveal his divine appointments. On a couple of occasions we’ve been able to meet practical needs, on some occasions we are sharing hope and encouragement, and other times we are just getting to know each other. We are often invited to come back, and have started do that as well. Just like in the States, it seems like many of these people are lonely and just enjoy having the company. I’m not sure what form the pictures from this project will eventually take but maybe a book of some kind or, ideally, a gallery show like was done with Alina’s pictures. There is so much we can learn from these dear people and their life stories.
A few of the finished portraits from the project: KhengSong (84), Pich (85), SreyNher (67), and Varum (76)
Asian Hope’s Village Development Project (VDP) opened a new campus right around the first of the year. We joined the all Cambodian staff and a couple of local pastors in praying over the new building and community. There are currently around 45 students attending but they anticipate that enrollment will increase significantly in the months ahead. The school can hold approximately 180 students. Typically there is some trepidation as a new campus opens in these communities. Families are unsure of what the school and organization is about and sometimes they fear that evil spirits will bother them if they let Jesus into their community and lives. Pray for them. We’ve been involved with VDP for quite a few years now and we are always so inspired by the love these teachers and community workers pour into the school and surrounding neighborhood.
And finally, we had a three day weekend from school at the beginning of the month and used the time to take a trip to Mondulkiri Province, about six hours drive north east of Phnom Penh. Despite the scary roads, it’s always so good to get out of the big city! While we were there we spent one day at Mondulkiri Project, an elephant sanctuary that has five amazing elephants that have been rescued from various hard circumstances. We were impressed with this totally Cambodian run NGO because while they are doing great work for elephants, their real goal is to be able to help the tribal people who live in these remote areas. It’s a win-win. The elephants are protected and offer a one of kind tourist activity, and a good portion of the income generated helps the local people - love it! Personally it was a very . . . well, like I said, ‘one of a kind’ activity. This is not a zoo. The elephants roam around freely, but they have a way of sniffing out who has bananas and when called for, they come trotting out of the jungle and will eat the bananas right out of your hand - or your backpack and pocket if you aren’t paying attention!
Thanks so much for joining us in the journey! As always, if you want to come see Cambodia for yourself, let us know! We have no doubt that the Lord will put you to work for any length of time you are willing to be here. Just ask Brady, we’ve got plenty of space for guests and there is plenty to be done! If you’d like to contribute financially to our work you can do so by clicking here: https://www.fromthebackofthetuktuk.com/donate
Much love from Cambodia!