Giving of Thanks

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~

Phil 4:6So by living with Americans I have become more keenly aware of many of their holidays. Most of them I knew by name, but not their dates. Some of them are worth keeping and others not so relevant. But Thanksgiving Day, I think, is a good one and I wish Australia had a traditional Thanksgiving Day.

“Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name: the upright shall dwell in Thy presence.” ~ Psalms 140:13 ~

Giving thanks is something we should do each day. It helps to refocus us, opens our eyes to all our blessings and privileges, and helps us to have a better attitude about life in general.

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” ~ Hebrews 13:15 ~

I know that sometimes I can get so caught up in the bad things that are happening that I forget that the fact that I am alive is a gift from God; I forget that the fact that I have a body part that can be in pain is a gift – some people would give anything to have an arm or leg that could have pain sensors. I think about all the work I have to do and yet some people don’t have a job.

Thanksgiving Quote“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” ~ Colossians 3:17 ~

So today, on this Thanksgiving Day I want to give thanks to God, for the following:

  • Jesus – my Lord and Savior, merciful and just, who gave up heaven and came to this sinful earth to take my place, my punishment, my death – and rose again! – so that I could live with Him forever.
  • The Holy Bible – The most amazing book I’ve ever read. It is God’s letter to humanity. It answers all of life’s questions. It changes lives, it reveals God’s true character, and the future of this world.
  • Life – It is a precious thing that is so easily wasted or lost. Each day God wakes me up to spend time with Him so that I can, by His grace, give glory to Him through my life. Then He gives me the strength and wisdom to do the tasks I have for each day. He gives me an abundant life.
  • Purpose – If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing today, I would not have said that I would be in Cambodia serving as a missionary. I didn’t really have any definite goals or plans. I was just living each day for myself – selfish and unsatisfied.
  • Family and Friends – God knows whom I’ve needed in my life at the right times. I thank God for those who love and support me, and I thank those people for their love and care. I especially thank Him for my co-missionaries, past and especially present, whose dedication and love for the Lord and His work inspire and challenge me. I thank Him for their friendship and love.
  • Trials and Challenges, Heartaches and Shortcomings – As difficult as life gets sometimes, I recognize that God is molding and shaping me by all the experiences that He allows in my life – As gold and silver refined in the fire!
  • Tim and Wendy Maddocks – who have granted me the privilege of serving here at Wat Preah Yesu for the past 3 years. I admire them both greatly. I have learnt so much about service and faith from them. I love them both so much.
  • My Students – They are all so special, so different from each other, and they teach me so much!
  • Prayer Meetings – I wonder how I ever lived without them!
  • Provision – God is faithful and is providing all my needs
  • Viathar – my dog who is right now barking up a storm and generally being a little bit annoying – but I’ve learned to appreciate his barking after nearly losing him to a mystery disease a month or so ago.

There’s obviously so much that we have to be thankful for. So today, take the time to stop and thank God for all He’s done for you, and also take the time to thank the people around you for who they are or what they do.

Sophall and SreinakMarly and MeDSCN0887 copy

Cry to Jesus

There’s a true story told by missionary to Cambodia, Don Cormack, that I think illustrates the way we should be praying to God, especially for the salvation of others. This story is set in one of the refugee camps on the Thai/Cambodian border towards the end of the Khmer Rouges control. Here is the story in his own words.

“One day, as I stood interpreting for one of the only two doctors at a place called Klong Wah where thousands needed their immediate attention, a little lad of about eight came up to me calling, ‘Uncle, uncle, please come and help me carry my older brother over here where he can be given medicine.’ The boy explained his brother, about 12, was lying a good two kilometers away in the bush, unconscious in a malaria coma. But I couldn’t just walk away from my responsibilities as interpreter and the enormous task I already had on my hands helping to care for hundreds of dying people right there. Only a few yards into the forest there were more. How could I justify going so far and using up so much valuable time for just one? I told the boy I couldn’t go with him, but that he should get one or two to help carry his brother in. Of course I knew even as I spoke that it was unlikely anyone was going to expend their own limited energy on a dying boy. His bad karma, his fate, had brought him to this sorry state, they would be reckoning subconsciously. Who can or should alter that?
The boy however would not be put off. He persisted in crying out after me, till I finally steeled myself and ignored him. After about an hour of whimpering and pleading, he fell silent, deep in thought. He knew that I was the only lifeline there was to save his brother’s life. Next thing, I felt a pair of sinewy arms grip me round the legs, and a pair of ankles lock around mine. And there he clung like a leech. Now it was my turn to protest. But his lips were sealed. He clearly wasn’t going to let go his vice-like grip on my legs till they followed him to that place where his brother lay dying. I was thus compelled to go with him in order to be rid of him! His dogged importunity had gained him the victory. And I reflected as I pursued him through the trees that this was surely what serious believing Christian prayer was all about. It entailed a crucial element of ‘violence’. It involved patiently holding on to the knees of God, even in the face of apparent silence and lack of movement. The older brother’s life was saved.”

God is true, His promises are sure. If only we would take hold of God, our only Hope, the way the boy in this story did to his only hope.

“And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, … all those who did oppress you; and ye cried to Me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto Thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” ~ Judges 10:11-16 ~

Cambodian Boy Cries“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” ~ Luke 18:7 ~

Take My Hand

When I was much younger I went with my family to visit Giants Cave. It is an impressive cave but all I remember are the steps.

“Why?” You may ask… Well as we began walking down the entry steps, I decided that I could do it on my own and I refused to hold my father’s hand. Literally just a couple of steps later I found myself falling head over heals down those stairs. My parents freaked out and were sure that I would hit the big stones at the bottom of the stairs and end up quite hurt.

A meter or so before the bottom of the steps I suddenly found myself holding one of the steps. I wasn’t hurt – I do believe my guardian angel kept me on the stairs and made me grab that step.

I’m finding I’m still falling down stairs today.. not literal ones. But we’re all on an upward journey back into a face to face relationship with God. And every time I think I can do it myself and I let go of God’s hand I fall down again. I’m glad that God can still forgive me, help me back to my feet, take my hand and lead me on again.

I pray that each day we will all remember to hold tight to the hand of God.

“Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” ~ Isaiah 41:10 ~

Giant's Cave's Steps

Goodbyes

I really dislike saying goodbye.

Today, Ravy, my grade 10 student and long-time friend, has decided that it was time to leave school and step out into the big world on his own. Ravy is one of our older dorm students, around 23 or 24 years of age, so I understand his restlessness. I have been encouraged this year by the spiritual growth that we have seen in him, and I believe that God will continue to use Ravy wherever he goes.

Ravy

Ravy has been here for 5 or so years. He was one of the first students that I met the first time I came to Wat Preah Yesu. I have always had a good relationship with him and he was always supportive during hard times. I will miss him greatly, but I pray that he will allow God to use him back in his village to be a witness to his family and all those around him. He has taken with him much literature to give away – his own idea, as this is something he does quite frequently. His homeland is not too far away, and he will be back in Siem Reap on occasion, so I’m glad that he isn’t gone for good like most of the other students who have left. I’m also glad that he took the time to say goodbye, because as hard as that is, it is better than just disappearing.

Ravy standing at the back with some of the choir from last year

Ravy standing at the back with some of the choir from last year

I’m glad that although people become separated from God, that He is always with us no matter where we go, and that even if we seem to be all alone, He is still here with us.

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” ~ Psalm 139:7-14 ~

Please pray for Ravy, for his family, and that he will continue to walk in the truth that he has found. He told me that he hopes to start a church in his village, as there is no church there. I know that things in this life always change and that change is necessary for growth but that doesn’t mean it is always pleasant. I find peace knowing that my God is big enough to take care of all those who leave here and that He will always love them and work in their hearts. I look forward to the day that we will never have to say goodbye ever again.

Ravy - photo courtesy of Till

Ravy – photo courtesy of Till

Kite flying is the “in” thing here at the moment. All my spare plastic bags were commandeered and used to make varying sized kites. The students spend ages running back and forth to make the kites fly. Some of the older kids made bigger kites and they have the skills to get the kites up in the air. This afternoon, Van, from grade 11, put a kite up above the school. He anchored the string to one of the sprinklers and as far as I’m aware the kite is still flying up there. It’s barely visible it’s so high. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kite that small fly that high. Here’s the pictures, the same picture, but in the second I have circled where the kite is in the picture.

KiteKiteWell, life goes on and it’s time for work-line. May God bless you all, and remember to tell those whom you care about that you love and appreciate them – while they are still with you.

Bon Om Touk – Water Festival

The Water Festival here in Cambodia is a three day festival held in November that marks the end of the rainy season, the beginning of harvest and the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. It includes special ceremonies and the major attraction – boat racing.

Phnom Penh Water Festival

The remarkable Tonle Sap River normally flows south to Phnom Penh where is flows into the mighty Mekong River, but each year in the wet season, because of the amount of water coming down the Mekong River, the Tonle Sap River backs up to form a huge lake in Siem Reap Province. At the end of the wet season, when the flow of the Mekong subsides, the Tonle Sap River once again flows down towards Phnom Penh and the massive lake shrinks. The yearly flooding of the lake area provides water, and sediment for much needed rice growing and perfect breeding grounds for many kinds of fish – a staple part of the average Khmer diet. Fishing in the Tonle Sap is actually illegal during the wet season, but when the river reverses, it’s open season on the fish.

“This celebration also goes by the name: Water and Moon Festival, and was established to mark the reversal of the Tonlé Sap and open the fishing season. The festival lasts three days and begins on the last day of the full moon. However, because of the variation of the monsoon seasons, the reversal of the river does not always coincide exactly with the festival. In the simplest form, the celebration is a series of canoe races, including some 375 teams, and victory brings good fortune for the coming fishing season for the entire village. In addition, these water celebrations are a tribute to one of the Buddhist teeth that Naga, whose daughter married an Indian prince to establish the kingdom of Cambodia, lost in the depths. According to legend, when he was cremated, his tooth fell into the river down to the seven-headed snakes kingdom.

In pagodas along the river, men prepare for the festival by either restoring sacred canoes that have existed for hundreds of years or building new canoes when the old ones are beyond repair. Canoes are made from one piece of a trunk of a coki tree, which is essential because the material is resistant from rotting. Additionally, each canoe is personalized with painted patterns and eyes that symbolize the guardian goddess, often the spirit of a young village girl. This is a modification from the superstitious tradition of sacrifice of nailing actually eyes to the boat, dating back before Buddhism. The morning after completion and after three sacred shouts by the crew, the canoes are pushed into the river and head for the capital at full moon. Some crews must row for hours, and others will row for several days. Being chosen as a member of the crew is one of a man’s highest honors, and members must practice to perfect team coordination. Only the best crews will get to the finals in the capital.

After two days of racing, all of the canoes come together to encourage Naga to spit out the swelling waters of the Tonlé Sap towards the sea. Firecrackers light the water, the royal palace, and the sky. This moment lets the legendary snake master of water know to return to the depths of the Tonlé Sap and leave the power to the sun gods. This also marks the end of the rainy season.” ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonle_Sap_River ~

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This year is actually the third year in a row that the water festival festivities have been cancelled in the capital city of Phnom Penh. This year the reason is to be able to direct funds to relief and aid efforts for those affected by the flooding this year. But all over the country “festivals are allowed to be held that are in line with the traditions and the ability of the people.” ~ http://www.cambodiadaily.com ~

There has been boat races held here in Siem Reap – actually at a part of the Tonle Sap ‘Lake’. This year, Sarah and Emily went to those races along with Andrew and Khen. I personally, have never attended any races. Instead I usually spend the day catching up on marking and grading – which is what I have done today.

Most of my girls went home to spend time with their families. A lot of the younger ones have been rather homesick lately. It’s a good thing that the two-week Christmas holiday is coming up in just over a month. Time flies when I’m so busy. I don’t know where the past two and a half months have gone! Once again, in my grade seven classes I’m having trouble keeping on schedule because of the language barrier. but hopefully I will be able to catch up as they begin to improve.

Please keep the Philippines in your prayers. Many places still do not have the things they need. I even read that doctors where having to amputate in certain cases because they had no blood to give the patients, and that some had to pump air by hand for their sick and weak babies because there is no electricity yet. We praise God that our girls, Chhorvy, Savorny, and Teav, at LIGHT school – and the whole school – are safe and well. I also pray for all those that are assisting in the relief efforts and that the love of God will be shown through them to a grieving people.

Today while I graded, I was listening to sermons by Chester Clarke about the Sanctuary, and one thing he said really struck me. Talking about the sanctuary services, forgiveness and salvation he said, “The only thing the sinner could take credit for was for killing the lamb.”

john1-29

It was a reminder to me that nothing I can do can save me – I killed the Lamb, the Son of God. Yes he was a willing sacrifice but my actions caused His death to be necessary. Even my best actions are selfish and sinful. I’m so thankful that God in His wisdom and mercy had a plan from the beginning, and that He didn’t hide it from us but gave us the sanctuary and its services to show us the Way back to the Father.

* All photo credits go to google search engine 🙂

A Dedicated Life

This is Sarah, a volunteer here in Cambodia that I am privileged to serve with. This is a short video about her, how she ended up in Cambodia, about some of her experiences here and some of the needs.

This video was produced by MissionTV, and much thanks goes to Daniel Hill.
http://www.lifeinmission.com
http://www.mission.tv

Baskets, Frog-leap, and a Typhoon

The afternoon is sunny. There is no sign of the expected rain from the super typhoon Haiyan that has wrought so much death and terrible destruction in the Philippines, and at the moment is said to be headed towards Vietnam.

My girls have surprised Laura and I by showing us their basket making skills. Srey Tem comes from a family that makes part of their income from basket making. Last Thursday we had pulled up a lot of long grass from in front of the dorm as it was rather unsightly. It has partially dried over the weekend and today the girls collected it all and Srey Tem has been teaching them to make baskets ever since work-line ended this morning. I think they have even gone and pulled up more grass – a bonus for the front of the dorm. Here are some pictures of their baskets

Srey Tem and her wonderful basket.

Srey Tem and her wonderful basket.

Sokreah and her basket

Sokreah and her basket

A smaller basket made for Laura by Sokreah

Sokreah gave her basket to Laura as a gift

Some of the younger girls are playing a version of leap frog that I’ve never seen before, but it looks like fun. It involves four girls holding each other around the waist and bending over and then as many more girls as can fit leaping on top of those girls. The game ends when they all fall over in a giggling pile

Leap Frog

Leaping Girls!

Game over, start again!

Game over, start again!

Wendy and Caleb stopped by. They were talking with Wendy’s parents on skype and were giving them a tour of the dorm gardens. I had opportunity to talk with them. It was good to meet them again after so many years.

The gardens are doing well. Tim and the students have embarked on a large-scale vegetable planting. I’ll have to try and get a picture of it. There’s tomatoes, and many kinds of cabbage so far. I think he’ll try for corn, eggplant and some sweet potato varieties that Laura’s dad is sending. There is also sugar cane and cassava already growing along with dragon fruit, coconuts, papaya and a herb section.

I was reading on the news about the typhoon and how many communities it had fully destroyed. Then, sadly, I read this;

“Aquino said on Saturday night it appeared some communities had not heeded the warnings.

“I hesitate to say this, but it seems that Tacloban was not that prepared, shall we say, compared with other areas,” he told reporters in Manila.” ~ MSN News ~

I was reading the book “They Had A World To Win” by Adriel D. Chilson, which is about the founding members of my Seventh Day Adventist Church. They all lived through the time period of The Great Disappointment. William Miller and many other Advent preachers were preaching a message of warning; “Get ready, because the time of judgment has come.” They believed that this meant that Jesus would return in 1844. Many people heeded the warning and came into a true relationship with Christ that withstood the disappointment.

Today there is the same warning – Jesus is going to return soon. And this time we who wait will not be disappointed. This warning is for those all – Christians and non-Christians. But I want to focus on Christians – or more precisely, me. Christ is soon to return. Are we ready? Are our banners clear? Are we doing the work that we have been called to do? Or will we be caught unprepared like those in the Tacloban area when the typhoon hit? Let us heed the warning and set our sights on Christ and home. Let us remember the bigger picture, our higher calling, and the purpose of our lives – To give glory to God.

Let us come into close relationship with Christ. A relationship so close that it will stand the dangers and hardships of these last days. So that we can stand before Christ on the sea of glass and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

“For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” ~ Hebrews 10:37 ~

I Want to be Blind

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5,6 ~

Ace ¿One afternoon, not long before I left Australia to come to Cambodia, I went out to spend some time with Ace, my beautiful horse. I was riding around having a good time when I decided to try something different, and see how Ace would respond.

I took my jacket and tied it over his eyes, effectively blinding him. I let him consider this development for a minute and then I climbed back on his back and asked him to walk forward. He hesitated and I wondered if he was going to refuse and just stand there, or if he would explode or something. But then he began to walk forward.

I walked him around and turned him in circles and he went willingly. So then I asked him to trot. And trot he did. So then I asked him to canter. He was unsure but he went for it and we cantered. He would go where I told him to go and do what I asked him to do.

I was rather surprised. Ace couldn’t see a thing, and yet he was walking, trotting and cantering and not with me leading him, but with me riding him! I felt so honored by his trust in me.

AceLater on I read about horses that go blind and how for many of them it signals then end of much of their movement. They are afraid to walk forward because, obviously, they can’t see. Sometimes they will walk around, but they are only comfortable if they stay in one place that they know where everything is. Often their days of running and being useful are over. I then learned about some blind horses that are still being ridden. Because of the trust they have in their riders, they get their wings back, they can run again.

I think I’d like to be like a blind horse that has implicit trust in its rider.

What do I mean?

When I rode Ace normally, often he would try to anticipate what I would ask him to do and where I wanted him to go, and many times he was wrong.

AceI’m the same, I try to guess what God wants me to do and where He wants me to go and I charge off, full steam ahead only to get pulled up short as I make one blunder after another.

If I could be “blind” and trust God to guide me down the right path, then I could go forward without fear. I would listen more to God and do what He asks when He asks it and keep doing that until He asked for something more. And one day when He asks me to run forward and I would be able to do so confidently.

God is trustworthy. He will always lead us right.

I want to stop depending on myself and what I can see and feel, which are so often misleading, and depend only on my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” ~ Psalm 18:2 ~

AceAce

* Pic spam of Ace because he is gorgeous and I love him 🙂 *

Praise and Thanksgiving

As we begin November, we leave the rainy season behind us and enjoy  a couple of cooler months before it all begins to heat up again in January. School is in full swing and busy as ever as we suddenly realize we’ve been teaching for two months and we may or may not be at the point in the textbook where we hoped to be.

There’s plenty of leaves for the girls to rake up in the afternoons and it’s not too hot to make working uncomfortable. These few months, from August to the end of December, is my favourite time of the year. Sunny days, everything is green, cooler temperatures, and loads of puppies being born.

We’ve all been participating in the international week of prayer, which began last Sabbath. Ages 13 and up go to the church and the younger children to the floodlights under the orphanage. Laura takes the older girls and I go with the younger girls to the orphanage. There they participate in Scripture memorizing – one verse for each day – singing songs, listening to Teacher Tim tell a story and learning how to pray. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I can understand most of what Tim and Wendy say as they speak to the children in Khmer. I like feeling like I am starting to get somewhere with the language as I was quite slow to get started.

I have so much to be thankful for. God is always so good to me – through the good things and the bad things. He is merciful and forgiving and always helps me get back up when I have fallen down.

Good things that have happened recently, there’s so much, but I’ll just mention a few.

  • Participating in this week of prayer
  • My dog was quite sick and didn’t eat or drink for over a week, but he has now recovered. I am so glad, I didn’t want to lose him. He’s a good mate.
  • A package arrived for Laura from her parents. It’s always exciting to have one arrive. A big thank you to Laura’s parents for their continual support and care.
  • The many different ways that God provides for this place and the things He uses to teach us.
  • Nobody failed my geography test in my grade 8 class – hmm, maybe I made it too easy. I find it a little hard to get that right balance.
  • Celebrating Hym’s birthday and some other special times over the past couple of weeks – including avocado fruit shakes! – a rare treat.
Fruit shakes with wonderful friends

Fruit shakes with wonderful friends

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14 ~

Thanks for reading

May God bless you all