We here at Wat Preah Yesu had almost two weeks of holidays over Christmas and New Years, with school beginning again on the 2nd of January. Students and staff alike were all looking forward to the holidays. Many of my dorm girls were quite homesick and could barely wait for the last day of school to arrive.
By the first official holiday day, I was all alone in the dorm. The girls had all left and even Laura had gone off to Thailand with a few of the other volunteers. But there was no time to be lonely. There was music practices for Christmas Eve to attend, house cleaning to be done, and even some left over grading that I’d been putting off. Soon enough, Christmas Eve arrived and we were off to the hotel. I was very proud of the children and staff who participated in the program. They were a bit shy at the beginning, but did a very good job and were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. We had 20 items prepared, a mix of the children’s choir, and individuals or small groups. I was very nervous about reading the poem/story that I had to do, but it turned out to be ok. Mostly because when I looked up, I saw some of the audience looking at me with the same expression as most of my grade 7 class when they are trying really hard to understand what I’m saying (the audience was multi-national). Our American visitors later said I read well… despite my accent 😛
On Christmas Day, the Filipino volunteers left for Thailand as well. I don’t remember much of what I did – relaxed mostly I think. David and Ty were staying in the brown house. David is a great cook and for the next few days till they went on the Pathfinder Camp, cooked wonderful meals and I got to enjoy a few with them. Then, on Friday the 27th, three of my older dorm girls returned. Laura and Emily also returned that day from Thailand where they had had a wonderful time. I was rather shocked by Laura’s appearance; she was wearing at least 4 shirts, leggings under a skirt, and 2 pairs of socks! It had been rather cold in Cambodia (at least for me!) with temperatures getting down to at least 14 C, but Laura hadn’t been much affected by them. Apparently, it was a LOT colder in Thailand. She had been planning to go there for a while, and I’m glad that she was able to, that she got to feel cold for a change, and see some mountains. The reason that the girls and Emily returned was because on Sunday they would be heading off for the yearly Pathfinder Camp at Kulen Mountain. They all left on Sunday and returned on Wednesday, Jan 1st. They had a great, albeit rather cold, camping trip.
They had quite a bit of truck trouble going to and returning from the mountain. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though, because it meant that Tim and Caleb where were they needed to be when other emergencies arouse. For Caleb, because he was here and not at the mountain, he was able to quickly organize a helicopter to pick up an injured girl from the mountain, and Tim was able to be with a dying man and give physical and spiritual comfort to him and his family, as well as oversee the funeral that took place a day or so later.
The truck trouble also caused a funny incident with one of my girls. One of the trucks got a flat tire. So while most of the students managed to return on time, a few, including one of my dorm girls was missing. Thamai, wishing to make sure that we were not alarmed by the fact that Rathom was not back yet, said to us, “Rathom, she’s coming with the second coming!” Personally I’m glad that she actually came back later that night – with the second truck!
Srey Pich, Rathom, and Thamai
Our American visitors left for Thailand and India, to continue their mission trip. I know they will be as a big a blessing to those to whom they go as they have been to us here. They accomplished so much. They did electrical and maintenance work, and also managed to run a Vacation Bible School type program for the orphanage children during the holidays. Currently we have a group of high-school students here from Germany who are helping to prepare the building site for our water-treatment house. It is an exciting project and I can’t wait to see it up and running.
Some of the year 11 and 12 students from the orphanage have wanted to put into practice the health principles they have been learning. With many of them wanting to give a vegetarian diet a go. This has not been possible for them to do in their orphanage home, so with this new year we are giving a new housing arrangement for them a try. The girls will move in with Jive, the boys with Tony, and hopefully they will learn a lot about a Christian home, from chores, rules, and healthy living, to worship, and service.
School has been pretty busy since we began again. It was a bit disrupted, because we began on a Thursday, and then had a holiday the very next Tuesday (the 7th). Then, the next 10 days of prayer began last Wednesday (the 8th). Last night I was able to attend the prayer meeting. Some of our dorm girls came along as well, which I was pleased about. During the prayer meeting, we begin with some songs, and a short message, before we break into small groups for prayer. Although we break into small groups we are led through the various steps of prayer that we do here by the leader of the meeting. First we have a time of adoration, followed by a time of confession, after which comes a time of thanksgiving and supplication, then we end with a song.
I was in a group with 4 of my younger dorm girls, and they didn’t really understand the outline of the prayers and were all prayed out within the first time of adoration. As we began the time of confession, one asked me, “What do we pray now?”
So I tried to explain to them that it was time to confess our sins to God. So she dutifully prayed, “Dear Father in heaven please forgive me for all my sins, and every wrong thing I’ve done to anyone, in Jesus name, Amen.” (a rough translation)
Then she asked me again what she should pray. Quietly I tried to explain in my limited Khmer that we were confessing a little bit more specifically. She didn’t understand, so I tried to give an example. “Like if I do something mean to Soeum (another girl in the dorm), I need to ask God to forgive me for being mean to her.” I explained to her.
So once again she bows her little head, and begins to pray. “Dear Father in heaven,” she said, “Please forgive Teacher Kathleen for doing something mean to Soeum. In Jesus name, Amen.” I could barely keep from laughing! Precious souls, they were really trying to do the right thing!
We are living in exciting times and I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring. This world seems more and more corrupt, and yet God is still in control, and He is still faithful and still has a work for us to do. A big thank you to all those who have supported me during the past year. I hope you all will join me for this year. I thank God that we will see many ways that God is working in Cambodia and the world at large.
May God richly bless you to know Him more.
“The trials of life are God’s workmen, to remove the
impurities and roughness fromour character. Their hewing,
squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing,
is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to
the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared
to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no
useless material does the Master bestow such careful,
thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished
after the similitude of a palace.” ~ MoB p10 ~