Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soles for Souls

About a month ago (as you can see we are trying to catch you up on everything that has been going on here in Cambodia) Chris helped organize and fund raise for an event called Soles for Souls.

One of Asian Hope's outreaches is to invite the kids in the Logos neighborhood to come and get to use the school's pool, playground, and soccer field every Saturday afternoon.  This is obviously a huge blessing to these kids to get to be on this amazing campus.  Additionally, while they are at the school, our Khmer teaching staff also does a bible story or VBS type of time with them. 

Chris is the school sponsor for the Logos Student Government and his group of students wanted to help this outreach by providing shoes for all the kids.  In Cambodia most children spend the majority of their time barefoot, with no protection, they are more susceptible to injury and with little access to first aid and medical care, an infection is likely.

So the students raised money and bought or collected over 200 pairs of shoes to give to these children.  Chris' students gave away the shoes and the Khmer staff taught a lesson on following the footsteps of Jesus.

Another cool event...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Worlds Collide

A few weeks back Chris and I hosted a soccer game where our two worlds collided together.  Chris is the Logos boys soccer coach and I work in the village of Prek Pneu (which I am sure the vast majority of you already know this).  It turned out to be one the most fun events we have been a part of in our over 2 years in Cambodia.

A few months back the Khmer church contacted Chris to see if we could host a soccer game of the Logos team vs. the Prek Pneu church.  He agreed enthusiastically.  The event was actually an outreach for the Khmer church to get to know the men in the community more and be able to invite them to church.

Needless to say, the Logos team dominated, I don't know if it was that they are all 15 years old and substantially more fit, agile, and fast, or because Chris is such a good coach.  You can decide...

Chris and I even had an epic showing of a husband and wife, assist and goal combo to end the game.  The crowd went wild.  Really, I don't we have ever been cheered on that much.

We are blessed to play in games like these.  Games when teenage boys learn about their role in church growth, and games when small house churches find ways to build relationships.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pchum Ben and the death of the King.

The past three weeks have provided a lot of learning for Leanne and I as we learn more about the Buddhist holiday of Pchum Ben as well as reflect with our Cambodian coworkers about the life and times of their beloved King, Norodom Sihanouk.

First, Pchum Ben (Chum Ben) is a Buddhist holiday in Cambodia in which followers visit their local temple (wat) and give food and money offerings to their dead ancestors. These offerings are given in order to keep the spirits of their dead ancestors at peace as their spirits walk through this world. The Khmer believe in waking the dead and their spirits and hoping that as the roam the earth they will find their family's offerings and be pleased, thus blessing the living relatives that left the offering.  There is a certain darkness that is felt throughout this 15 day holiday as spirits are called, offerings are made and according to the Khmer, spirits meander the streets. There is also an interesting dynamic at play because there is little separation between the culture of Cambodia and Buddhism. In the west there is a certain distance between religion and culture, meaning people can avoid religion and still celebrate their culture. In Cambodia, that divide is much smaller with culture and religion being one in the same. This time is undoubtedly a very difficult time for our Khmer Christian friends.

We spent the days of Pchum Ben watching the Cambodian families around us dress in their white mourning clothes and travel with food to the wat. While there was a certain emptiness we felt in this time there was also a certain awe for us as we can now speak with our landlord, his family and other Cambodians about their beliefs, rituals and practices. The weeks of Pchum Ben were interesting as well as disheartening as we see the emptiness and darknes in many of these practices.

During this holiday, the nation as a whole also suffered the lost of their beloved King, Norodom Sihanouk. From my studies of this man, I am left with questions and cynicism because he led the nation during the rise and conquest of the Khmer Rouge. As an unknowing westerner, I judge him as I judge my own leaders and any failure seems to mean they let down their nation. However, Cambodians have a certain and understandable reverence for the King. He created independence for Cambodia from the French, he led the nation in its golden years of innovation and technological growth, he made Cambodia and Phnom Penh the one-time "Pearl of Asia."

Our coworkers and friends mourned his death and so many Cambodians that I love and respect have nothing but love and respect for this man and I believe that I must as well. His resume to an outsider is marred by questionable relationships with some of history's most dubious leaders but I am not Cambodian, I do not know how much he did for the people and both Leanne and I watched with great admiration as the nation mourned a national hero and a father to many Cambodians.

We have lived in Cambodia for nearly two and a half years and we are able to see and learn more about the culture, history and practices of the nation through each passing month. It has been a wonderful and blessed opportunity to learn about and contrast our own beliefs and nations with Cambodia and we both appreciate the opportunity to do so. However, we also ask you join us in prayer for this country as the need for knowing a loving and alive God is of utmost need.

If anyone has been to Cambodia, you might appreciate this video taken in Phnom Penh in 1965. It displays a nation that is far more advanced, orderly and polished than the city is today. I always find these films outrageously interesting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Good Touch Bad Touch Training

This blog is stolen from Asian Hope's blog:

For the second week of September the students in Asian Hope's 2Five2 catch-up school in Prek Pneu were trained on the topic of "Good Touch, Bad Touch." This training is to help children in this vulnerable community learn of ways to better protect themselves, their family members, and their friends. With issues like child abuse, neglect, and child trafficking running rampant in Cambodia and this community, our hope is to help these students learn how to be an agent of change and live out their God-given potential.

The curriculum was developed by Love146 and Resource Development International. The project was funded by Chab Dai, a coalition of 50 Christian organizations in Cambodia working towards ending child exploitation.

The material was presented to the children by 2Five2 Program Director, Chanrith Moung. The subject is presented in an easy to follow story using a flip chart and pictures of puppets. The children really enjoy the story and often laugh at the characters. During this training, students learn what abuse is, how to stop it, and what to do if it has happened to them or to one of their family members and/or friends. We are excited about teaching this training as we know that God has a plan for each of their lives and we want to be a part of helping them find that plan.

AND...If you are tired of reading our super long blogs on our ramblings, thoughts, and stories you can find shorter (but not as funny) ones on Asian Hope's website

Also, you can like Asian Hope on Facebook (click here) to read even smaller snippets of what is going on in Cambodia.

Happy fall!