Wind and Rain

“For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” ~ Psalm 91:11 ~

We’ve had two rain-showers in a week; it’s wonderful. The trees have lost their red, dusty look, and the grass is trying to grow back. It’s the first bit of rain we’ve had in nearly six months, and last year’s wet season wasn’t very wet. I’ve even seen the bottom of a couple of our ponds – a new sight for me.

The thing about rain in this country, is that it is always preceded by a strong wind. These two rainfalls were no exception. And the thing about this strong wind is.. well it tends to break the trees. We’ve had two big broken branches down at our house, one from a while ago, and one from last night. Fortunately, no one has been hurt.

But last night, Ely and I were returning from the studio. It was dark, and the road was muddy and slippery. Our motorbike has no light (no problem – we use a flashlight), but apart from that it works fine. Well this thought came into my head that there could be trees down so I should drive slowly. I was like, no problem God, I got this, slow it is. So we headed back home, dodging all the small branches that had come down and littered the road. We reached a more open path and I tried to increase the speed a little, but for some reason the bike refused to change into 3rd gear. I was in the process of telling Ely how now we have no choice but extra slow because the gears wouldn’t change, when we rounded the corner near the school and this loomed up out of the dark at us…

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I guess God’s idea of slow and mine are a little different, but I am thankful that He kept us safe. We stopped, jumped off and the motorbike just fit under the tree. This morning, hopped on the motorbike and it changes gears no problem…

We did have one tree fall on a house last night, but the young man who lives in there wasn’t hurt, nor did he lose any of his belongings.

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 ~

All this talk about wind makes me think of the story of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, and all the amazing things that God did through His disciples. I pray that, like the strong winds here, God’s love will sweep over Cambodia and bring refreshing and new life in Him to the Khmer people.

I have some pictures from the Evangelism Team. They seem to be working hard and having a good time. Keep them in your prayers, and may many people see Jesus in them. They’ve been doing house visitation, a children’s program and night meetings I believe.

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In other news; after many years Tim and Wendy are rebuilding their house. The old wooden one they’ve lived in for 20 odd years has served them well, but finally it became evident that the termites were winning the war and the house was no longer stable. There was a concern that it might come down in some of the afore mentioned strong winds that occur a lot during rainy season. So it has gone from looking like this:

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to this

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I was told that as the builders pulled it apart, 5 of the columns simply collapsed – they’d been eaten nearly completely through by the termites. So soon work will begin on their new house, and hopefully it won’t take too long.

God bless, please keep the Khmer people, and WPY in your prayers.

Camp-Meeting

“And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Also, on the tenth of this seventh month, this is a day of atonement. It shall be a holy convocation to you. And you shall afflict your souls and offer a fire offering to Jehovah. And you shall do no work in that same day, for it is a day of atonement, in order to make an atonement for you before Jehovah your God.” ~ Leviticus 23:26-28 ~

As part of my Grade 10 Bible Class, I teach about the Day of Atonement, and one of the things that is taught as something to be done during the Day of Atonement is Holy Convocation. Holy Convocation is the gathering together of God’s people for the purpose of exhorting and encouraging one another. It is to be a time where God’s people recount God’s mercies, tell of His wonderful works, offer praise and thanksgiving and contemplate the sacrifice of Christ. Inspiration tells us that when we God’s people do these things their faith is strengthened.

I’ve been very blessed by the camp-meeting that we’ve been having this week, and I can see how much it has been a blessing to the Khmer people who have attended. I was blessed by the sermons I listened to by Pr. Sindara (from Indonesia), Mr. Griswold (USA), and a sermon about the commandments that I heard from a member of the ASAP team. The theme of the camp was “Grace”.  We were also blessed to have many other missionaries attend. It was good to share outreach ideas and pray for one another. There is so much work to be done – I must say once again; if God is calling you to give your life in service to Him as an overseas missionary, say, “Yes!” You’ll never regret saying yes to God!

An interesting aspect of this camp-meeting was the youth and children’s afternoon activities. They would break into groups of about 20 or so, and go into the town and surrounding villages and participate in different outreach activities. These activities included, picking up rubbish, handing out tracts, and going around trading fruit for cigarettes – along with explaining to them the harmful effects of smoking and the benefits of eating fruit.

It wasn’t all work though. The young people enjoyed a day at Kulen Mountain, including swimming at a beautiful waterfall, and also a trip to Baray (Baray is a large man-made lake near Siem Reap that was part of the ancient water system of the Khmers). The week finished off with a concert on Saturday night, where each province was able to perform an item or two. My favorite was the Vietnamese/Khmer group. They made everyone laugh with their hand cleaning dance and their chicken dance. After the concert they went and made many large bonfires and cooked sweet potato and corn to eat, followed by games and socializing. I left to go sleep at 11PM and they were still going strong at that time.

This morning, they had all left to return home by 8AM or so. It is very quiet here now. School begins again tomorrow and we have a week and a half to exams.

Thank you for keeping Cambodia in your prayers. May God bless you and guide you into a closer, deeper relationship with Him each day as you surrender your life to Him.

P.S see HoofTrek for the latest update on our living situation!

Unreached People Groups in Cambodia #1

Western Cham of Cambodia

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”  ~ Revelation 7:9 ~
Introduction / History

ChamThe Western Cham (or Khmer Islam) live near Cambodia’s major cities, including Phnom Penh, and along the Mekong River. They speak Western Cham, a Malayo-Polynesian language that uses an old Devanagari script-the alphabet in which many modern Indian languages are written.

Long ago, the Cham had a strong empire, called Champa, located in southern Vietnam. Although Champa was always at war, it flourished until the late 1400’s. In 1471, Champa was invaded and destroyed by the Vietnamese, and most freemen and aristocrats fled to Cambodia. Only recently has there been a revival of Cham national pride, spurred on by governmental promises of ethnic freedom.

Cambodia thrived until 1969, when civil war between the government and the Communist Khmer Rouge threw the country into turmoil. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died while the Khmer Rouge ruled (1975-1979).

What are Their Lives Like?

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime nearly destroyed Cambodia. Widespread starvation led to the deaths of over one million people. Currency was abolished, medicine was forbidden, religion was eradicated, and education was suspended. Many people were massacred-sometimes because they could read; other times simply because they wore eye glasses. This was all done in the name of “ideal rural social reform.” In 1975, more than 250,000 Muslim Cham lived in Cambodia. With the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime, however, their population was decimated.

From the beginning, the Cham were singled out as a minority group and subjected to annihilation because they practiced Islam. Captured and removed from their homes, they were forbidden to speak their native language and forced to eat pork, which is an abomination to Muslims. Thousands escaped to the forests; but they were pursued and killed. About 100,000 Cham were said to have been executed at that time, and the survivors were dispersed into small groups. The few Cham who successfully concealed their identities often died from disease or starvation.

Today, the remaining Cham survive by farming, fishing, building boats, and light commerce. Bombing, civil war, and war with the Vietnamese have brought an end to the once thriving agricultural economy. The soil is not fertile, but the plains flood every rainy season. This overflow is full of fish while it lasts, and leaves rich alluvial deposits when it recedes.

m15361_cbCham villagers are extremely poor, and their settlements convey a sense of impermanence. Homes are made of split bamboo and are elevated above the ground to protect against flooding. Their diet of fish, rice, and vegetables is adequate, but most other necessities of life are severely lacking. The typical home has few adornments and domestic utensils.

The Cham in Cambodia have preserved some of their original traits, such as the position of authority held by the maternal uncle. However, for the most part, they are entirely integrated into the Cambodian lifestyle and many now speak Khmer (Cambodian).

Cham society is matrilineal (line of descent is traced through the women). This is due to the fact that more men than women were killed between 1975 and 1979, creating a skewed sex ratio. Women now must perform the duties that once belonged to the men.

What are Their Beliefs?

At the climax of the Champa Empire, two cultural influences predominated: the Hindu culture of India and the Islamic culture of the Malay. Consequently, the Cham practice a distorted version of Shi’ite Islam. A special tradition is the burying of their dead twice. Immediately after death, the person is buried in a temporary grave. After a year has passed, his bones are removed and taken to a permanent place to be buried with his rings.

What are Their Needs?

Although mission agencies have worked among the Western Cham of Cambodia, progress has been slow. Practical help, such as the teaching of skills to enhance their life are needed.

Ministry Obstacles
This Muslim community living in Buddhist Cambodia may have become especially protective of their culture and their religion.

Outreach Ideas
Sustained prayer is needed to prepare hearts of the Cham. Gospel recordings and the Jesus film can both be useful in communicating the good news of Jesus. Medical Missionary work, language and other skill set schools would be a way to reach these people for Jesus.

Prayer Points

* Pray that missions agencies currently serving the Western Cham will be granted God’s wisdom and favor.
* Ask the Lord to call additional long-term laborers who are willing to go to Cambodia and share Christ with the Western Cham.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the few known Western Cham Christians.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will faithfully stand in the gap and intercede for these precious people.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Western Cham.
* Many Western Cham can speak Khmer, and there are many Christian resources in Khmer available, pray that Khmer Christians will reach out and share Christ with the Western Cham.

Stats

 

People Name: Cham, Western
Country: Cambodia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 237,000
World Population: 289,000
Language: Cham, Western
Primary Religion: Islam
Bible: None
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
Christ Followers: Few, less than 2%
Status: Unreached
Progress Level:
1.1

 

See the link below for the original article, and many more articles of unreached people groups.
http://joshuaproject.net/people_groups/15361/CB?utm_source=contactology&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Unreachedof%2520the%2520Day%2520-%2520Monday%2520Edition614111#resources

 

 

An Opportunity

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~

Big News!

Over the past couple of weeks, my friend and I have been praying about an idea for a project that has recently come up. We have met with Tim (our Director) to discuss and brainstorm about it

The good news is that we have the go ahead! Tim has asked Ely and I to put together a horsemanship program for Wat Preah Yesu! It will be especially targeting at-risk young people, both from WPY, and from the surrounding villages. We believe that by working with horses, children can learn more about God, themselves, building healthy relationships, boundaries, body language, and gain some self-awareness, and self-confidence.

Studies have shown the therapeutic benefits of the horse to the human. They have assisted significantly in improving the lives of many: whether emotionally hurt, physically and mentally disabled, or someone who is stressed out and in need of a break. Horses are especially impacting the lives of thousands of troubled young people around the world today.

We already have here at WPY, a number of different programs that we involve the young people in to aid them in their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth, but believe that this horsemanship program will also be beneficial in helping them grow into healthy, useful, whole citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We have put together three, 12 week courses that will run during the school terms, and during the holidays we will have horsemanship/riding camps. We hopefully will be able to work with at least 50 young people each year. We want this program to bring glory to God and lead more people into a growing relationship with Him. We have a small piece of the property in which to set up a couple of paddocks, riding areas, and a small stable. It is exiting to contemplate the possibilities of this program and all the people that will benefit from it.

So we have come up with a list of needs that we ask you to pray with us for…

  • New teachers for the new school year
  • New boys and girls dormitory deans for the new school year
  • That God will continue to provide for the needs of the orphanage and school here at WPY
  • Guidance, supplies and equipment for the horsemanship program
  • That God’s will be done in all of this, and not our own
  • That God will be glorified in our lives, here at WPY, and by this new project
  • Also please remember to pray for all the persecuted people around the world – This week I’m thinking especially of Christians in Kenya and minority ethnic Muslims in Burma.

We will meet again with Tim next week after we have done a bit more research and gathered a bit more information that we need. I will keep you updated with the progress. I must confess that I am a little bit overjoyed, because when I came to serve in Cambodia, God asked me to give up my horse for Him. It was a difficult, but worthwhile choice to make, and I was sure that I would not, on this earth, have a chance to work with horses again, let alone use them to help other people! God is so good!

Thank you for your prayers.
May God’s blessings be upon you.

Grey Filly

June 2014 – an Update

“You shall not fight in this battle. Set yourselves and stand, and see the salvation of Jehovah with you…. Do not fear nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for Jehovah will be with you.” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:17 ~

Well, what’s been happening lately?

Storm
We had a really good rainstorm with lots of thunder and lightning last week. It started during workline, which pleased my girls immensely. In fact, long before it rained heavily, while it was just spitting, the girls were already trying to stop work. These kids don’t work in the rain! The girls’ work is to collect sacks of leaves to put on the garden, and the leaves are heavy when wet.

Although they can’t work, they can PLAY in the rain. It poured down for a good 2 hours and they had all their soap and shampoo out and were running around in the rain having a grand old time. I joined them for the first hour, but then the lightning started getting closer. I was at the school with Francis and Donna, when lightning struck a tree beside the boys’ dorm, about 50m away from where I was. Thunder and lightning don’t normally scare me, but even I ducked when this one happened. The air was filled with a blue light and felt different. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Khmer are quite afraid of lightning, as many people have been killed by it – usually while working in the rice fields. As soon as it starts up they head indoors and turn off all electronic devices. If they are outside and thunder crashes overhead, you will see most of them hit the ground. Even indoors some of the students will drop to the ground and scream.

Whenever I see lightning I am reminded of the text that says, “For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.” ~ Matthew 24:27 ~

Lightning - by Francis

Lightning – photo credit – Francis

Horses
I went with the Pathfinder group to the Happy Horse Ranch one Sunday afternoon. We walked there, cutting across the rice fields. It was very hot, but oh so good to see and touch horses again. I have been to that place once before, when I went riding with Gemma a year or more ago. Well then some of our visitors decided that they wanted to go riding and invited the volunteers along. I was going to go, but at the last moment I decided that it would be good for Laura to go instead of me. So she, Thomas and Ely went with the visitors and had a wonderful time. Thomas, earlier had said to me that he wasn’t sure if he felt up to going, and I said he should because in my experience, no matter how bad I feel, I always feel better as soon as I am up on a horse. He reported back later to me that it was indeed as I said.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ~ Winston S. Churchill ~

Happy Horse Ranch and some of their horses - photo credit fb

Happy Horse Ranch and some of their horses – photo credit fb

Cambodian Horses

Cambodian Horses – photo credit fb

Storm - fb

Storm – photo credit fb

I do believe that God provided animals for us to take care of and that relationships with animals can help people in every situation that they may find themselves. I have been reading up a bit on Equine Therapy programs, along with other forms of animal therapy, and it is amazing that God has given us many natural things to help us with all problems that we may face. I know He gave my wonderful horse, Ace, to me, right at the time when I needed him the most.

I also hope that where it speaks in Revelation about Christ returning on a white horse, and all the host of heaven on white horses… that it is literal, not just figurative of victory  🙂  I’m sure God loves horses too!

Students
I had an interesting experience in my Bible class (grade 10) the other week. I was trying to review my class and wanted them to tell me a word that we’d studied the day before that started with i (intercession) and they couldn’t think of it. One of my students, Huy, a very smart, but a bit arrogant student, was sputtering, “I… I… I…” and all of a sudden he blurted out, “I love you!” The other students laughed and laughed and teased him mercilessly. I embarrassed him a bit further by saying, “It’s ok Huy, I love you too.” and then got them back on track. (Just a note, I say that to most my classes or noisy students when they are being difficult/noisy or distracting or telling me that they hate studying or cursing me in Khmer)
Well a couple of days later they were in class and Huy was picking on one of the other boys, teasing him about a certain girl. I couldn’t get Huy to stop, and the other boy was beginning to feel a bit discouraged. So I said loudly, “It’s ok, we all know who Huy loves..” It worked and Huy stopped teasing and everyone settled down to study.

Then there are the many highs – when students start to understand something that they’ve been struggling with for a few days, or when a student decides they actually want to learn and do well in class. Or when they encourage and help each other. Sometimes the smart, but rowdy grade 7 boys surprise me and settle down to help each other understand the subject I’m teaching. Sometimes they surprise me with an unusually deep spiritual understanding of something that I’m trying to teach them. Oh and I’m always pleased when I’m able to bring God into my English and Geography classes in an unmistakeably clear way.
Then there’s all the snakes they bring to class to frighten the girls. Unfortunately many of the students are very cruel to animals… all animals. I am forever rescuing snakes, big geckos, frogs, toads… from my students and setting them free. I can’t stand seeing them tortured to death. The children aren’t intentionally cruel – I think – they just don’t know any better. Animals are often only valued as a potential food source here.
My grade 8 Geography class is always a challenge to keep them interested. They are very easily distracted, sometimes by the smallest things. Here is a picture of a ball that had the misfortune of being in the grade 8 class, where it sadly perished.
Chan Saen and the expired ball

Chan Saen and the expired ball

My students teach me so much, and I know I still have so much to learn. When I stop and look at my life, where I am today and what I’m doing, I am very humbled. I am so glad that God wants to use me in this way, to serve these precious people.
This Sunday, the Avondale student teachers arrive. They will teach at our school here, taking most of our classes for the next 2 or so weeks. This year we will have the opportunity to sit in and watch them teach. I am sure I will learn something from them.

As this school year draws to a close, I can look back on the many different challenges that I have faced, some failed, some I overcame by the grace and power of God; the different situations where God has used me to help or encourage someone else. God always amazes me with what He can do if we just let Him.

It is usually at this time of year that we begin to think of new programs and expansions that we could implement to better serve the people of Cambodia in ways that will lead them to the Savior. Please join us in praying for God’s will to be done here, and that He will not only show us what He wants us to do, but will provide all the things needed to bring them to pass. Please also pray for new volunteers for this place, and if God is calling you to go somewhere as a missionary – say YES! You’ll never regret obeying!!!

 

Prayers for Preah Vihear City

“Declare His glory among the heathen; His marvellous works among all nations.” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:24 ~

Last Thursday, the 1st of May, the grade 11 and 12s along with teachers Tim, Donna, Anne, Dustin, Caitlen, and Tony, left to begin their long awaited 25 days of evangelism in Preah Vihear City (Central Northern Cambodia).

The evangelism is part of the LIGHT course that comprises the grade 11 and 12 education course. They have spent months preparing for it; including participating in medical missionary health training, and sermon/public speaking training. Now the banners are up and everything is ready to start. We praise God for this opportunity to minister to the Khmer people, and to be able to give the students a chance to put into practice the skills they have been learning.

To my knowledge, not only will they be running an evangelistic campaign, but also a health clinic and seminars, children’s programs, as well as spending time going out into the community door to door.

This is the first update that Tim has posted for us:

Our team of 31 have arrived in Preah Vihear City for 25 days of Evangelism. Today was our first full day with site preparation and a prayer walk. We are also praising God for 2 hours of radio time and 10 radio announcements per day for 1 month. Please pray with us for a great harvest for God`s kingdom.

The Local church in the city where the event is taking place.

The Local church in the city where the event is taking place.

Please keep the team in your prayers, and also pray for the precious Khmer people who will be introduced to the Truth, that the Holy Spirit will work to prepare their hearts and bring about conviction and awaken love in them for their Saviour. May God be glorified!

“Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” ~ Psalm 2:8 ~

 

Prayer and Praise

 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” ~ Matthew 6:21 ~

Exams begin on Wednesday this week, and go through till Friday, then on Monday, the new school term begins. Half-way through this year already! It seems to have gone so quick, although the weeks often seem to drag.

Yan, Khen and Laihun - Gr 12 - photo from fb

Yan, Khen and Laihun – Gr 12 – photo from fb

Many things have been happening, such as birthdays (Francis’ and Emily’s), wasp-stings, exam revision, and wedding plannings. Gemma and Hym’s wedding is next Sunday, and Jive and Pisei will tie the knot two weeks after that. We are all eagerly helping them prepare for their big days. Pray for them as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

Francis' Birthday

Francis’ Birthday

On Sabbath afternoons, a group of us volunteers, along with Teacher Wendy, and some of the students, go to the nearby village to visit with a couple of the patients that Wendy and the evangelism class have been treating. Wendy and some of the others do the treatment, while the rest of us help as needed and also sing. One of them is a man who has had a terrible, large abscess on his upper thigh for the past ten years. Wendy began treating him a while ago, and Donna and Francis joined in, bringing with them some more ideas on how to promote it’s healing. The wound is showing much improvement. It still has a way to go, and the current hot humid weather is not helping it much. We hope and pray that not only will his leg heal, but that he and his family will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Currently, when he feels able, the man comes along to church. He has been having a few Bible studies and also watching the Bridges to Life series that was recently completed by our studio. He wants his family to come along to church too, but his two children attend a government school, which includes Saturday studies, and his wife is the sole bread-winner of the family and has no wish to lose her new job. Please join us in praying for the physical and spiritual healing of this family, and that it may be a witness to their extended family and neighbours.

Village Evangelism - Bible study - Photo from FB

Village Evangelism – Bible study – Photo from FB

One of our former students, Tob, currently lives in Germany with her husband. She has been studying the German language for a time and it is nearly time for her exam. Unfortunately her exam is on Sabbath, and as she did not want to break the Sabbath, she opted to take a different exam which was not held on Sabbath. The only catch is that this exam is for a higher language class than hers. If she fails, she will have to pay to repeat the class and continue the language studies (which I believe is part of what she needs to do to become a German citizen). It would be very expensive for them. She was rather distressed by this, but believes that honouring God is the right thing to do and that He will honour her, and see her through this dilemma. Please keep Tob and Nico in your prayers. Pray that God will give her wisdom and diligence in her studies, and that He will help her pass her exam, that He may be glorified in her life to those around her.

Tob

Tob

Some of the girls that Laura and I care for come from very poor families. They often do not have some of the most basic necessities for school, such as pens, books, or uniform. So when Laura and I have funds, we try to provide these for them. A blessing I received today at the market was this. I was buying some school skirts for some of my girls who need them. I have my favourite seller that I like to buy from, so as I was buying from her, once again, she starts talking to me about why I am buying these for the students. Her mother was also there, they run the stall together. She began to thank me for helping the children, and then she pulled out three school shirts that hadn’t sold due to tiny little colour spots on them, and gave them, free of charge, to me for the students. I was very surprised that she would do that. I then went to another stall to buy toothbrushes for my girls, and the young ladies who run that stall unexpectedly promised to give to my students, their old school uniforms from when they studied. I am very blessed. My students are blessed. God always provides and sometimes from very unexpected sources.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” ~ Malachi 3:10 ~

Studio News

The studio staff have, for a while now, been hard at work on producing the “Bridge of Life” series for the Khmer people. As of yesterday evening, the project was completed; DVDs packaged, and on their way to the Mission in Phnom Penh. We pray that they will be a blessing to the Khmer people and a most useful tool for our brethren to share God’s Word with those around them.

*photos courtesy of Tim and Shannon Maddocks*

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 ~

water_festival_2006_woman-732874

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 🙂