June 2017 Update

The 2016-2017 school year draws rapidly to a close. Only one month left. This has been quite an amazing year!

  • It’s been the first year HoofTrek classes have been run. We’ve learned so much – mostly about what not to do! We are continually jotting down new/different ideas for next year. It has been very educational and I have enjoyed watching the students learn to interact safely with the horses. I have been told by some of them that they have learned patience and how to be confident learning new things.
  • It’s been a wetter year we’ve had rain nearly all year – even during April. This has kept the grass alive for which our horses are thankful.
  • Living by faith – may times this year we have come to the end of our financial resources. But we serve the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He has never let us or the horses go without. And God has not only provided for HoofTrek, but also for Wat Preah Yesu. He is ever teaching us to come to Him on our knees and proving over and over again that this is His work. His grace towards me is amazing, I don’t deserve any of it. I have and am having some real relational challenges this year, soem have been overcome, some still to be overcome, but God is faithful and if I can get out of the way He will do what He needs to do in me
  • Ely, Matthew and I have been learning to read and write Khmer on Wednesday afternoons with Rathom, one of our Gr. 10 students. She is a good teacher and I am amazed at how much I have learned and that I can actually read a bit (not perfectly, but better than before 🙂 )

Rathom is at the front

We have had some truly wonderful volunteers this school year. Matthew, from the USA, has been here since last September and Christel, from Denmark, has been here for a bit over 4 months. They have been great friends and teachers. Matthew will leave at the end of July and Christel leaves next week 😦 I appreciate them and all they have done for us here at WPY; I’m sure the students will miss them too.


For the last month we’ve had 4 ladies from California. They arrived just when we were short of teachers. Their love for God and for the students was very evident in their behavior and we made many good memories before they left yesterday. One of them, Rebecca, led us through a 10 days of prayer for Revival and Reformation. I learned a lot and am glad we had this opportunity. God is so good, and there is ALWAYS something to learn.

Students
Just after the April holidays we had a mini exodus of a few students who decided to go study elsewhere or work. This happens every year, and we pray that they will remember the things they learned here.
My Grade 7B English class I picked up after Anna left early February. I have enjoyed teaching them. They are energetic and friendly and have been doing really well.Over this last month they have been getting restless and noisy. This too tends to happen as exams get closer. God has been teaching me patience and love as sometimes the students have staged mini rebellions (trying to convince me of something and refusing to do what I wanted until I would give them what they wanted etc)

Gr 7B – pc Matthew

Tim has held a few staff meetings this year mostly discussing how we can implement True Education here at KAS. Please pray for Tim and all of us staff here as we look at making some big changes.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. May God bless you and continue to guide you into His perfect will..

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.

Wind and Rain

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.” ~ Isaiah 54:10 ~

Last Saturday evening, the evangelism meeting for that night was canceled due to very bad weather. In the morning they woke up to more collapsed meeting tents.

1376508_545271718914834_6264355160648649001_n 10291043_545271748914831_7707753241691639924_n 10383482_10202080724921823_5798440068572512122_nThe damage is so bad that they can no longer use the tents and will, weather permitting, hold the meetings in the open, or, weather not permitting, hold the meetings in the church. Last night the weather was good and the meeting was help out in the open.

10367810_10204015645170946_5711554856624476663_nI thank all who have been praying for Preah Vihear City and the Evangelism team. We can only do any of this with God’s help and blessing. This has been a big learning experience for all involved. I have spoken with a couple of the students who are up there and they have been relating to me the changes that God has been making in their own hearts during this time. One even apologized to me for feelings she’d had that I didn’t even know about! It is so exciting to see what God can do when we give Him a chance to work in our lives.

10314014_537705836340864_432505414910003295_n10338312_10202080725721843_98925960057245662_nToday they have been putting up a road-side cooking class.

Streetside vegetarian cooking classes with free sampling across from Preah Vihear City Bus Station.
Goals:
1. Make friends
2. Demonstrate healthy Khmer cooking that tastes great.
3. Invite people to other events
4. Give the Seventh-day Adventist Church a visible present in Preah Vihear City.
5. Sow seeds for the future.

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In more personal news, I had been struggling with teaching some all of my classes. Somehow I’d gotten depressed with how I was teaching them, and how they were learning. Basically I was just looking at all the bad instead of focusing on God and the good things that are in my classes… such a basic mistake… anyway… I was discouraged and trying to solve the problem, and I caught myself putting most the blame on others (mainly the students). But God finally got through to me in a couple of ways and as I began to focus more on Him, He was able to give me some promises and teach me some lessons through things I was studying in my private devotions, and talks I had with some wise counselors.

It really isn’t ever good to think that you can do something that doesn’t glorify God just once or twice because it, “isn’t really that bad”. It just leads to turning away from Him. I’m so thankful that God used my classes to get my attention.

Are my classes better now?… Yes!! Has anything changed in my classes/students?… not really – What changed was me! If there are changes in the classes now I believe it will be because of what God changed in me. Oh I have so much still to learn!

“As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His people from henceforth even for ever.” ~ Psalms 125:2 ~

 

 

Showers of Blessing

It’s been raining and raining and raining some more for the past week or so. Our ponds and canals are full and the driveway and road to town has officially flooded – well the rice fields have flooded over the road. October is one of the wettest months here.

The blessing is that with all this rain I have had more time to do school work because we haven’t had to work in the dorm gardens in the afternoons. Laura and I work with the dorm girls. Their job is to collect leaves to put on the garden as mulch. It is not hard work but at this time of year there is less leaves and everything is always wet and heavy and the girls are not the most willing of workers under these conditions. So when it rains we are not required to go and collect leaves. I’ve been feeling quite tired so I was glad that we didn’t have to work.

I’m told the rain is coming from a tropical storm that is over Vietnam and has caused some damage and flooding in Vietnam. There has also been flooding in some of Cambodia’s southern provinces. We are quite blessed in this location. We will get a lot of rain and some lighting and thunder, but we don’t normally get the destructive winds that go along with most tropical storms.

Today's view from my front door

Today’s view from my front door

Teacher Tim briefing the boy dorm on that afternoon's taks

Teacher Tim briefing the boy dorm on that afternoon’s tasks

Today is the one of the days of the Khmer  ‘Festival of the Dead’ holiday. Which corresponds to Halloween in western countries. The Khmer name is Pchum Ben.

The following is from an article from the Phnom Penh Post and can be found here: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/background-history-pchum-ben

WHAT does Pchum Ben Festival mean in Buddhism? In the Khmer language, Pchum or Brochum means “a meeting or gathering”. Ben means “a ball of something”, such as rice or meat. The Pchum Ben festival originated in the Angkorian era when people followed animism, before Brahma or Buddhism.

Both Buddhism and animism reflect Khmer respect and remembrance for their ancestors.
Pchum Ben is also a convenient way for Buddhist monks to receive food during the heaviest part of the rainy season while they stay in the pagodas to follow their moral principles.

Celebrations
The first 14 days of the Khmer month Pheakta Bot are called Kan Ben (“observed celebration”). The 15th day is called Brochum Ben or Pchum Ben Day. During Kan Ben, people give Buddhist monks gifts of food and candles. At night Buddhist monks recite a protective prayer. Cambodian artists play traditional music such as yike and lakhon basac. Pchum Ben Day is the biggest celebration. Villagers come from all around to prepare the pagoda of their village the night before the celebration. Pchum Ben is when the villagers gather to celebrate in their villages.

Scriptures
The scriptures relating to the festival are complex, but the first scripture involves the five Buddhas negotiating with hungry ghosts. In the second scripture, from Pet Vuto (Monks’ Governor), the King’s servants and soldiers were commanded to make war. On the ship at night, they met ghosts who were hungry. The servants and soldiers asked: “How can we get food to you?” The ghosts said: “You can offer the food to the person among you who has the five moral conducts or eight moral conducts, and invoke our names.” The third and fourth scriptures say that in the first 15 days of Pheakta Both, the heaviest rainy period, the devil releases the ghosts to find their relatives to receive food.

Ghosts
There are four kinds of ghosts: those eating pus and blood, burning ghosts who are always hot, hungery ghosts and the Pakrakteaktopak Chivi, who can receive food through the monks. The others cannot receive food from their relatives until their sins are reduced to the level of Pakrakteaktopak Chivi.

What is bay ben?

Bay ben (balls of rice) are offered to ghosts at dawn. People believe ghosts with heavy sins cannot receive food during the day. Bay ben is made from sticky rice and sesame. Sometimes people add coconut cream to make it more delicious. Buddhist Institute consultant Miech Ponn said he thinks bay ben should be put on a plate. “Getting rice to the poor, people also can get more merit than only giving it to ants,” Miech Ponn said.

We have been hearing the music from the pagoda’s (Buddhist temple’s) for the past couple of weeks. On the actual day of Pchum Ben they often play songs that talk about the ghosts coming to haunt their relatives until they are fed. Many of my students here are made afraid by the songs and music.

Apart from all the spiritual aspects of the holiday, it is a time when they all stop work and spend time with their families. They make a special kind of sticky-rice cake and share it with all their neighbors and relatives. I have 15 girls out of 28 left here at the school. The rest have gone home. Most of the girls that have remained are from Oddar Meanchey (one of the northern provinces near Thailand). It is too expensive for them to travel home.

Laura, my co-dean, has been given the task this year of teaching Grade 9 and 10 History classes. So all of her spare time has been filled with watching countless historical documentaries.She takes the documentaries and cuts the bits she needs to show to her classes. I have learnt so much about history in the past 4 weeks. Seeing as today is a holiday it meant extra time for her to gather more bits and pieces. This morning was Aztecs and Incas and this afternoon was American colonization history. A couple of the girls wandered in, a bit bored because the rain prevents them from playing outside, and spent the afternoon learning about American history and the American Revolution.

Thamai and Rathom (sitting) fascinated by American history

Thamai and Rathom (sitting) fascinated by American history

I pray that each day as we work here in Cambodia that we can be showers of blessing to the Cambodian people, that they may be freed from fear and darkness to walk in the light of God’s wonderful truths.

Some of my students modeling traditional Khmer clothing.

Some of my students modeling traditional Khmer clothing.