Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007

It is with great joy that we tell you that Jennifer is pregnant, confirmed Saturday morning via ultrasound.
She had been having some weird feelings inside so I told her to take a pregnancy test, which came back positive. We then made an appointment with a doctor at the SOS clinic to confirm. She is 5 weeks 6 days along as of today.

A word of encouragement... We had wondered why she had not gotten pregnant before and we had the thought that maybe God was waiting for us to get to Cambodia first so that nothing would be in the way of our starting to work there. She must have gotten pregnant about a week after we arrived. Thank the Lord for his goodness. Please pray for God's continued blessings to be upon us and for Jennifer and the baby to be healthy. and that I would be a good dad.

Also, please pray for our work in Cambodia, that the Lord would establish the work of our hands.


Psalms 90:17
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

February 17, 2007

Today is the first time I've ridden into Phnom Penh on the back of the motorbike. I'm getting used to this mode of travel; I no longer keep wads of Bill's shirt clenched so tightly in my fists! On the way one will see marshy ponds thick with water lilies and trash, bare-bottomed boys wielding bamboo swords with all the vigor of King Arthur, pool tables under palm-leaf shades, and illustrated billboards indicating that one ought not fish in certain areas nor beat one's wife.

As we drive through dusty markets and past gates, trees and tarped "front porches," all with the same dirt coating; naked children; houses with big cement water jars rather than plumbing; farmers with oxen rather than tractors... I wonder if social and technological advancement really matters. Does it honor God, I mean. Would God be glorified if they had grass rather than dirt yards, and if they had carpet and air conditioning, and if they dug ditches with back hoes rather than shovels, and if they had trash pick-up rather than throwing it, well, everywhere?

It seems that "Christian" societies historically have progressed technologically, taken a deep breath of religious reform and fervor, then continued to "progress" from self-righteousness based on tradition, to an idolotrous perversion of Christianity which conforms to the adherant's taste, until religion is viewed as a superstition for the uneducated. Would improving the quality and ease of life in Cambodia improve its spiritual condition? It doesn't seem to be helping the US.

So while I am inclined to concern myself with physical needs (like Martha?) I am reminded that only one thing is necessary. These Cambodians have a place to lay their heads, which is more than Jesus had. But when they lead their oxen into the fields at dawn, they should rejoice that God's mercies are new every morning. When they take a cool bath from jars of rain water, they should worship Christ who refreshes our souls with living water springing up unto eternal life.

When Bill and some students spoke with our neighbor about offering sacrifices to their ancestors, she said she doesn't know if it's good or bad, she just blindly follows the traditions of her parents. Please pray that God would give them eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that understand; that they will turn and He will heal them. Please also pray that we won't be destracted by the busy-ness of life; that we will rejoice that God's mercies are new every morning, and we will worship Christ who refreshes our souls with living water springing up unto eternal life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 14, 2007

view from our upstairs balcony.

The neighbors from “Home Depot” continue to go out of their way to be kind and hospitable. Their little girl (maybe 12 yrs?) who speaks a little English has been coming over to talk to me, watch me cook and tell me how to say things. She’s even more animated, marker in hand, in front of our white board. And I am beginning to enjoy and appreciate her more. At first, to be honest, when I heard her cheerful “Hello!!” echoing in the house to announce her presence (there is no knocking in Cambodia), I would groan a little inside. I didn’t have much endurance for struggling to understand and be understood. And it takes a certain mindset to happily stop whatever I'm in the middle of to visit with those who drop by. But how can I resist her friendliness when she--and her older sisters--will patiently repeat the same thing, word by word, at least five times, letting me look up words in the dictionary until I finally understand? And she looks so pleased when I finally do!

Her family is always telling us to come and visit with them even though we can hardly understand one another. And when we do, they always bring out some food for us to try. A few days ago the dad sent over a tray of ban chow, sort of like crepes with pork and bean sprouts inside, from a noodle stand in the market. The mom went to the market with me this morning so I could buy all the ingredients for a certain soup (she sent me home with a big bowl of it the day before), then she came over and spent the morning showing me how to make it. They even brought over some bread for us to eat with it.

Today I helped one of the women sew beads and sequins on a lace shawl. They drape the lace over a frame (maybe 18” X 36”) on short legs with little nails sticking up around the top that poke through the lace to hold it on. Then they sew on the beads and sequins for a few weeks; usually a few friends will help. It’s the Khmer equivalent of a quilting bee. Whoever brought it to them will pay them $5 for their work. I don’t know how much that person then sells it for. While we were sewing she gave me what seemed to be a bean pop cycle (not as bad as it sounds) from a vender who came by, and a soft boiled duck egg from a different traveling vender. The egg came with seasoning folded up in a little square of used note paper. It was quite good.

Monday, February 12, 2007

February 11, 2007

This morning we had a good time of worship. The members sang heartily as usual and Jenn & I were able to follow along slowly in the Khmer hymnal with the help of To-La. Yesterday, we were successfully able to renew our visas for one year - due to expire Feb. 13, 2008. We are so grateful to the Lord for his overwelming love and help in taking care of all the details. The weather has taken a turn for the worse as far as we are concerned. The unseasonably cool weather has been replaced by the normal hot temperatures. The balmy weather makes outside work in the afternoon difficult.

The Lord allowed me another opportuntiy to share the word with the local English class students. We discussed Mark 4:1-20. Afterward two students and I had an in depth conversation about what makes Christianity different than the other religions. The crux was basically... almost all religions recognize the need to atone for sin. And they try the best thing they think will please/appease the gods. They bring the best sacrifice they can afford. Bananas, beef, gold, silver, prayers, and their so called "good" works.

The problem is that we all, all of humanity, owe a debt to God because of sin. And the payment is death. Our feeble attempts to reconcile with God are useless. It's all just rotten fruit, spoiled meat, metal filled with dross. We need a perfect sacrifice, one unspoiled by sin. One tested in all ways and yet without fault. Thanks be to the Father for his great love for us (Romans 5:6). In Christ alone is there reconciliation and forgiveness of sin (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).


Thursday, February 1, 2007

January 24, 2007

I have a backlog of journal entries, so to get my curious friends up to speed this post will have to be in the form of a digest.

Sunday January 14
We arrived safely yesterday around noon with luggage present and intact. My blood pressure was slightly elevated as we drove from Phnom Penh to Prek Ambel. It seemed we would collect motorbike drivers on the windshield like one collects bugs on a drive through the country.

Our house is nice, but isn't ready to move in. The landlady still has belongings to remove. The village is celebrating a wedding (a long orange awning covers half the street through the market) so the shops are closed and our landlady is too busy to deal with the house.

We woke up this morning to the sounds of roosters (which have no respect for time nor for those still sleeping before dawn) and Sophorn's geese, whose cries resemble the moving parts of old metal playground equipment. It was nice.

Church was a blessing. Kayleen translated for me when some ladies gathered around us. I need to make church member flashcards to learn their names. It was sweet to hear them sing to the Lord, filling the room and my heart with robust praise.

Three groups sang songs for the congregation. Some looked cleaned up, well fed and relatively well dressed, but others are so thin, wearing pajama pants and worn shirts. I remembered in a book I read, possibly Stepping Heavenward, someone asked the mother which child she loved most. She replied, "The one who needs me most." Meaning, the one who is sick or hurt or hungry at the moment. I wondered if perhaps the Lord is a bit that way Himself. How precious these children of God are to their Father.

Monday January 15
We moved into the house today. There is running water, and water in a tank in the bathroom and in a huge jar by the kitchen sink. I was trying to use up the tank water because it has been stagnant for so long; I wanted to get rid of it. But after the landlady, Bong Srey Muey, told us the running water is from the river, stagnant rain water didn't seem so bad. We went to the market to buy some household items today. A flock of children followed us, but when we tried to talk to them, they ran away! We wandered around looking for a bed sheet until we came to Bong Srey Muey's shop. She walked around with us and helped us find the remaining items on the list. When I unpacked the tea kettle is when it really struck me that we aren't just visiting.

Tuesday January 16
We had our first dinner tonight that Sopeak didn't deliver. When I went back to the counter to wash dishes, I found it densely populated by bugs that had fallen from the openings above. I was significantly dismayed, but decided an interminable supply of bugs is something I am going to have to accept.

Thursday January 18
I went to the market by myself this morning. Though one of Chheng's nieces saw me and helped me find what I wanted. I'm getting a little bit used to being a novel item of interest as I wander around. I try not to be too entertaining by acting as naturally as possible when fish jump out of shallow bowls as I walk past. I hand washed and hung out some clothes today, and cooked some vegetables I can't pronounce. The Lord's kindness and care has been very evident to me in even the "small" ways he provides friendly faces to help me do my shopping.

Sunday January 21
We are doing our part to keep the village ants well fed. I was aggitated to discover them in the rice bucket and bag of garlic this evening. Not to mention the wooden cutting stump had sprouted an impressive specimine of mold since last night. Scooping ants out of a bucket of rice is surprisingly cathartic.

Monday January 22
I was trying to put away my purchases this morning when my typical audience of about 5 children appeared outside the kitchen door shouting, "Hello! Hello! Hello!" Every activity was met with a high-pitched chorus stating--in Khmer--what I was doing, and I was expected to repeat. They are very patient teachers. And very persistent. The Lord is reminding me to keep my sense of humor.

Tuesday January 23

Lunch. What else can I say?

I gave the English students written and spoken evaluations today. It's fun to be back in my element. Please pray I will do a good job and honor the Lord with a wise balance of language teaching, learning, and housekeeping.