On Sunday afternoon Bill kindly stayed home with Katherine so I could accompany the students to Wat Kandal. Putee had told me that it was an hour away by moto, but it only took maybe 30 minutes. He must not find it an interesting ride.
This is what the traffic was like. You can see the edge of one of the cows on the right.
And here was my ride. I only knocked Srey Roat on the back of the head with my helmet twice.
Below are the PATC students and their respective classes. The children in attendance said many of their classmates were absent because they had to help their families with the rice harvest.
This is Saveuet (there’s really not a good way to write his name in English!)
Srey Roat (pronounced “roe-ought”)
The school has five classrooms with broken windows, a thick layer of dirt on the concrete floors, and piles of dirt, broken glass and a few wrappers swept into the corners. It is located beside the river on the grounds of the village wat. I actually asked where the wat was when we arrived, because typically even in poor areas the wat is large and extravagant. But this one was a small wooden building/covered porch more in keeping with the area.
Inside are idols representing Buddha.
This is where the monks live, across the grounds from the wat:
None of Savee’s students showed, so we went to talk to the monks. He helped me ask them some questions about Buddhism. I was asking them about how they know what will happen to them when they die; how they know if they’ve done enough good to earn a favorable reincarnation. The typical answer is, “you don’t.” And I was waiting for that answer so that I could reply with a resounding, “Then, have I got good news for you!”
But I learned something new. If you do good works AND, when you are dying, think about how you led a good life, then you will have a good reincarnation. But if you focus on your bad deeds, you will have an unfortunate new life.
After some discussion about that idea, we opened the floor for them to ask questions about Christianity. In general, I don’t think I handled the let-me-listen-to-your-ideas-and-then-I-can-tell- you-about-mine approach to evangelism very well. The discussion remained genial and respectful (with the exception of the one monk who snickered the whole time), I just think it was obvious that my primary purpose was not to learn about Buddhism, and they were humoring my questions.
Nevertheless, they asked some good questions about Christianity (though they, too, were not primarily interested in learning about Christianity, but were obviously seeking to leave us unable to answer or confirm the validity of our faith). For example, “How can you say Jesus created everything when he was only born 2000 years ago?” “If everyone is born with sin, how can you say Jesus was born without sin?” And “if God loved his people, why did He curse them and the world and animals with them?” Good questions.
So for over an hour, 10 monks continued to initiate questions, receive biblical answers and hear the clear message of God’s justice and mercy from our well-prepared students of Systematic Theology. (Saveuet and Vanak had joined us after their classes were over.)
We then left Wat Kandal and went to Stung, where Sopheak’s family lives and a she and Srey Roat each teach another group of children.
And play games with them.
This is Sopheak’s mom (standing), working in the field behind their house. She was thinning their patch of diakon radishes.
She has been a strong and faithful member for a long time.