Thank You for Horses

This has been a wonderfully wet rainy season. Our ponds are full and overflowing. We have been blessed that our afternoon HoofTrek classes haven’t often been disturbed by the rain. It hasn’t been this wet since my first rainy season here back in 2011.

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We have a new volunteer, Marissa, from Australia. She is living with Ely and I, and being a wonderful help in many areas including HoofTrek. She even brought enough donations to help us purchase our 4th and final horse, Starr, who will arrive next week , as he is currently recovering from his gelding procedure.

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Marissa, along with all our other new volunteers, Matthew, Conchis, and Kim, have all fitted right in to the programs here. The students especially are benefitting from the hard-work and love the teachers are giving. Anna is still here and still giving 110% to her classes as she always does. We are very thankful for them all.

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Gr. 8 Bible class is mine first thing every school day. They are a great bunch of students and we are going through a Righteousness by Faith study using a book by Morris Venden. One thing I have my class do every day is write down (at least) three things they are thankful for. I was reading some study somewhere about success – a topic my students are very interested in. The study said that often we think that success brings happiness or that successful people become happy people, but actually it’s not true. The truth is that happy people are successful people, and the secret to happiness is being thankful. Apparently it’s not something that comes naturally to many people. It is however possible to change our brains to a more positive, grateful way of thinking. The article suggested taking the time each morning to write down the things we have to be thankful about.

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So after explaining this to my class, they all agreed that we should use a few minutes of each Bible class to write down what we are thankful for. It hasn’t always been easy for them to always find different things to be thankful for. What were they to write on the day their classmate and friend had to leave the school permenantly, or on the day they woke up to find that one of their fellow orphans had died in his sleep? But after nearly 2 months they are getting better at it. I think if they and I can develop a happy, thankful attitude that will be a very successful outcome for this year.

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures ro all generations.” Psalm 100:1-5

There are many things I have to be thankful for. I am grateful to God for allowing me to be here doing what I am doing, being a part of His work. I am thankful for all the people who pray for me, and all other missions. I am thankful for those who support me and other missions, and especially for those who are actively involved in spreading the Word of God, this blessed Hope we have, to all around them.

What are you thankful for today?

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Prac Teachers and Plans

This time last year I was in Canada with my wonderful Canadian family. Time has really flown by!

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We have school holidays this month, with the new school year commencing on the 5th of September. Here’s what happened over the last couple months of school.

Avondale

After missing the 2014/2015 school year, prac teachers from Avondale College (MOTO Team) arrived late June for a three week prac. They took over almost all the classes. Working in pairs they not only gave us here a small reprive, but also showered our kids with much love and attention. As we were monitoring nearly all our classes, many of us KAS teachers were able to learn some new things that we could do to be more effective teachers.

We really enjoyed having them here. The KMET team cooked 3 meals a day for the 30 visitors, and their food was much appreciated. Grade 9 was also able to practice their cooking skills every Wednesday,  when for their home economics class they would take a turn preparing the meal for the prac team. They would also stay and eat with the Avondale teachers, and have a worship time afterwards.

Activity with Avondal teacher

Activity with Avondal teacher

Towards the end of their stay we could see that they were getting tired, but it didn’t dampen their enthusiasim one iota. As a gift to the teachers here at KAS they took us out to dinner at a local vegetarian restaurant. They also provided funds for the Grade 9 class to take their own trip to the same restaurant a week or so later.

The day they left was a sad one. The first class of the day was cancelled as the entire school gathered around the bus. There were many tears on both sides. My Grade 8 class was especially upset as they said goodby to Micaela and Bree, who had been their teachers for the past 3 weeks… in fact for them, the tears flowed for about a week more! I still have them coming and showing me pictures of themselves with their Avondale teachers.

I thank the Avondale teachers for the time they spent here and for loving the students here as much as I and the other staff do. We wish them God’s blessings and hope to see them again one day.

Shiyra

A high point for Ely and I during Avondale’s stay here was that we were able to take a three day trip down to Kompong Cham province and purchase our third horse for the HoofTrek program. God really guided and provided for us on that trip. You can read the story here.

Shiyra has proven to be a very gente, easy going horse that the children have become attached to very quickly. She is quite smart and is learning her lessons very quickly.

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David

For nearly two months, one of our teenage boys from grade 6, David, was in hospital. He ended up there because of a medication reaction that peeled all the skin off his body. While in hospital he picked up a drug resistant bacteria, and for a while there it was touch and go. Prayer was being held for him all over the world, and while he is not yet back to full health, I am happy to report that he is now back at WPY, staying in the Jungle House with the KMET team taking care of him. Please keep him in your prayers, asking God for not only for phsyical healing, but also that David will come to know God as his Redeemer and Friend. David is quite skinny, and having trouble eating due to some lingering intestional problems.

Graduation

On the 28th of July we had the Graduation Ceremony for Kantrok Adventist School. Littered throughout the program were musical items from some of our talented students. Our music teachers, Ely, Chiva and Niet have done a wonderful job with them. We thank God for the successful completion of another school year, and ask that He continues to bless and provide for us, that we all, students and staff, may be a light to the community.

Me with my top 3 students - Leang, Sun and Sophall

Me with my top 3 students – Leang, Sun and Sophall

What’s Next?

During these holidays I have been working with the horses, getting them ready for the HoofTrek program which will start in September when school commences. We praise God for this opportunity to use our love for horses this way, and ask you to pray that He will be glorified by the program. We will have two groups of 6 students for the first semester. They will come from our lower school special class. These students have one thing in common, and that is they aren’t doing very well academically. The reasons for this are varied, some have mental disabilities, and some have attitude problems. I am excited to see what God will do, and what He has to teach me.

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We will also be training 4 students in horsemanship after school on Mondays to Thursdays. They will learn everything that we can teach them… caring for the horses, riding the horses, training the horses, and even how to teach the HoofTrek classes.

Ely is currently in Australia. I miss her very much. I hadn’t quite realised just how much I’d miss her until I had to do everything alone…. we really do do almost everything together! She will be back at the end of August. Some of the orphans have been kind enough to help me with different jobs. Some cut grass for the horses, and Khim helps me prepare the evening meal for the horses by cutting up the banana tree.

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When I look at world events,  it seems like ti e really can’t last much longer. But there is still so much to do, and so many people and whole people groups who haven’t heard the Good News. May God send labourers into the fields. My prayer is that all God’s children will catch a glimps of the bigger picture, and be fully surrendered to God for His purpose and glory, that He may come soon and put and end to sin, suffering and death forever.

“And now Lord, look at their threats, and grant to Your servants to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch forth Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your Holy Servant, Jesus.” ~ Acts 4:29-30 ~

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This Year

This year has been amazing! In fact, the latter half of last year was pretty amazing too. Meeting the Balasingams, aka my Canadian family, in April 2015, which led to me spending summer in Canada. Where I was blessed, refreshed, and got to meet many wonderful people.

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Balasingam Family + 1

This year, I got to spend Christmas with my wonderful mother. Our first Christmas together in 5 years. My second summer for 2015. As a bonus, I got to visit Tasmania, where she had moved to the year before. I’d never been there before. It is a beautiful state, full of big-hearted, kind people. 2015 was the Year of Two Summers.

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Then I arrived back in Cambodia to a whirlwind of activity as God opened the way for Ely and I to purchase two horses. Then we had a couple of different groups of visitors who arrived bearing gifts of tack and equipment from different donors in their respective countries. Not only that, I’m still teaching full-time so with the horse duties added it makes for a very full schedule. I fall into bed exhausted each night, but constantly amazed at God’s sustaining power, His love, and leading.

I am also blessed to be able to be teaching Righteousness by Faith to my Grade 8 Bible class. It is exciting to see them start to understand and catch the first flickering of hope and love for God that I see in some of them. I’m using Morris Venden’s book 95 Theses on Righteousness by Faith, and I highly recommend it for everyone! Please keep all the students in your prayers, we long to see a Cambodia filled with young people who love Jesus and are actively sharing Him with their fellow countrymen.

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Fruit shakes with 2 Grade 8s

April is the time for Khmer New Year; also the New Year for Thailand, called Songkran there. My Canadian family was headed to the Bamboo School, in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, to build a library for the children there. Would I join them they asked? Oh Yes Please! And so I went. It was so good to be able to spend time with them again. I was very interested to see the Bamboo School, meet the children, and help out with food preparation. I can’t believe I’ve only known the Balasingams for a year, it feels like forever. It was very hard to say goodbye and leave them once again.

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Last Sunday, I put one of our donated saddles on Khzak, and rode him with tack for the first time. Today, we saddled him up again, and this time Ely rode him. Her smile matched mine. As Khzak is not quite 3, we are only riding him for 15 mins on Sundays, and only at a walk. He is proving to be a fast learner though. We are working on turning, halts, and backing-up, and he improved by more than 100% for only his second ride. We are so blessed with the horses that we have. Hopefully both boys will be gelded this month, and God-willing we will be able to purchase some bigger, older horses for the program.

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This year is not quite half way over, and yet I feel so full of blessings. God is amazing, God is awesome. God is love. I hope you can know, this year, how much God loves you.

“How great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You; You have worked for those who trust in You before the sons of men!” ~ Psalms 31:19 ~

HoofTrek in the Newswest

Back in March, Ely and I submitted an article on HoofTrek to the Newswest (an Adventist magazine for the Western Australian Conference) And yesterday, I was contacted by an old friend who told me she’d read it in the latest (May) addition, which came out on the 24th.

Here’s a link to the magazine, and the article is on page 17
HoofTrek in the Newswest

And here’s a link to the HoofTrek website

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Semester 2

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” ~ Psalms 37:25 ~

Exams are finished, and all marking is done. Semester Two has officially begun, and I’m going to do things better this semester. I’ve set up my teaching system better and have been doing actual recorded-in-a-findable-place class planning (as opposed to a jot-down-some-ideas-on-a-random-piece-of-paper class planning style). I’m liking it, and I know it will make exam time much easier… but finding I’m giving more worksheets than before (not a bad thing, but I’m also marking them.. and I have over 90 students so it takes forever!).

Today I had the opportunity to talk with one of my Gr. 8 students about the process of sanctification. It’s these moments that I teach for.

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We have had a few students from Gr. 7 and Gr. 9 leave us. Some changed schools, and others returned to their homeland. We miss them, and pray that God blesses them and continues to guide them. We also said goodbye to Claudia, who headed back to the US after spending a few months here teaching. We miss her and know that God will continue to use her to bless others wherever she goes.

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I did pick up Grade 9 English, and I am finding them a slightly distracted, but enjoyable class. I only teach them in the afternoons, when it is hot and they are tired. I am having to use all my limited creativity skills in keeping them interested and interactive. But it’s great to have a chance to teach a higher level of English, and be able to do some more critical thinking activities.

KMET (Khmer Medical Evangelism Training) began on the 2nd of March, it will last for 3 or so weeks. There are ten or so students of varying ages from all over Cambodia. We pray that the program will be a blessing to them, and they in turn will use the skills they learn to be a blessing back in their homes. The Khmer students who returned from PAFCOE and LIGHT are teaching the course. It is a big step for them, and they are doing a wonderful job. The other new project, IMET (International Medical Evangelism Training), will begin on May 1st (I think). It is a 10 month course, and we are eager to see it begin.

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Ely and I have been working on the paddocks for HoofTrek, clearing them of sticks and debris and working on getting the ground flat and grass growing – a challenge in dry season! We very much enjoy living in our little house, and I am thrilled that we’ve managed to block up all escape routes and our dogs now stay inside the fence. But being that we’re quite busy with teaching that is all going rather slowly for now, although we do praise and thank God for a recent donation from Australia towards the HoofTrek program.

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Ely will be visiting Australia in April, and will be at Easter Camp 2015 held in Perth this April. Hopefully she will be able to share with our fellow church members there about mission work in Cambodia, and hopefully encourage others to get involved.

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Here are two small, not overly huge things, that God has done in my life… (well they mean a lot to me)

Firstly, just after we moved into our new place, at school one day, I lost my keys. I looked everywhere for them: in my bags, my classrooms, the staffroom. I couldn’t find them anywhere, and I was so disappointed with myself for losing my keys. We’d have to buy all new locks for the house and gates and so on. Well Ely and I prayed about it and went to look one more time. We entered the staffroom again, and I was rummaging through the key box hoping someone had put them in there, when something prompted me to ‘look down’. So I did and there, right under the desk, hanging on the edge of an empty box was my keys. I have no idea how they got there, as if I had dropped them or they had fallen off the desk they would have hit the floor not gotten stuck on the box which was pushed under a ways. I know keys are just little things, but I am so glad that the angels put the keys there and helped me to find them.

Secondly, three or so years ago, I ‘lent’ some money to a struggling Khmer family. I say ‘lent’, but I didn’t expect to ever receive it back, and honestly I forgot completely about the event. Well, just yesterday, I was reviewing my financial situation, and stressing a little bit. I was wondering how God was going to provide when I couldn’t see a way. But that afternoon, the family approached me and started talking to me, at first I thought they wanted to borrow money, but after a bit I was made to understand that they were returning the money I had lent them. I was shocked, and ashamed of doubting God. It was like He was saying, “O ye of little faith!” to me. I remembered the quote from EGW, “Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 481. (1905) 
I immediately confessed my doubt and lack of faith to God and I give thanks and praise Him for being so gentle and merciful to me. I only hope that I can show the same grace, gentleness and mercy to my students in the different situations I face with them.

 

Making Our Mark

UPDATE

All the fence post holes have been dug, and the builders are cementing in the upright poles as I write. They started that yesterday and have almost finished doing the poles around the house and arena. Rett and his builders are doing a fantastic job.
The front windows of the house are in. We’re just waiting on the bars to get put on the windows. The electricity (lights and receptacles) should be finished today. A big thank you to Paul and Sawyer for all their hard work.

Pictures

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A Frame!

“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it;” ~ Psalm 127:1 ~

Every visit out to the HoofTrek site is filled with anticipation because each time we go, progress on the house has increased. Today’s visit resulted in finding the frame assembled and in place – occasion enough to post some photos! It’s exciting for us to watch our new home take shape so quickly.

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We were also privileged to see this owl, sitting up on one of the tall palm trees, whose top had been struck off by lightning.

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Before there were two…

…. houses, but now there are none!

Before

Before…

After Tim returned from Australia a couple of weeks ago, we were finally able to meet with him and discuss the house plans. We had two small wooden houses to work with, and Tim said we could join them together to make one.

After tossing around some different ideas, we finally found something that worked. And earlier this week Tim met with the workmen (the house father’s that work for Tim on various on-site projects) and gave them the plans.

When we took a walk up there early Thursday morning we found that both houses had been dismantled, and the cement stumps that the houses sit on, moved to the new site where they have now been arranged, ready for putting it all back together.

‘Tis all quite exciting for us as you can imagine. They plan to work full-time on our house until it is done, so we are hopeful that it will be finished in about 3 or so weeks (these little houses don’t take much to put together).

After!

After!

Another view of the new house site with our well in the foreground

Another view of the new house site with our well in the foreground