August 9, 2005
Dear Family and Friends,
We arrived safely in Cambodia Friday, July 29 after a long 35 hour trip. As we eagerly looked down from the plane over Cambodia we were surprised to see how brown, barren, and unpopulated most areas were. Flying over Phnom Penh, the capital city, enabled us to see how small and underdeveloped the city is. It’s a strange feeling to match the pictures we’ve seen with actual reality! After arriving at the airport we completed paperwork for our visas and then went on to claim our luggage. Since we changed planes so many times we were a bit apprehensive about our luggage making it to Cambodia. All of our suitcases made it except our most important one—a large box of books we had carefully packed for weeks! We were so disappointed—not only is it a loss of money but also of scarce resources. So far the airlines have not been able to locate it but we are praying that it will arrive.
Steve Fisk, the director of Asian Hope, and his daughter, Marena, met us at the airport and took us to our new home. We slowly maneuvered down the dirt roads that were lined with garbage, filth, broken down houses, and people everywhere. Although we expected poverty, it was still overwhelming to witness the reality and extent of it. We arrived at our new home—a two-story white house with orange brick pillars. One of our housemates, Kevin Lee from Hawaii, had already moved in. Kevin will be teaching Science at Logos International School and coaching basketball. The kitchen is downstairs and is shared with Kevin and Dan Hein, a history teacher from British Columbia.
Darryl, Sophie and I have an apartment upstairs with three bedrooms and a beautiful, breezy veranda. The landlords live behind the house in another home. They keep an eye on the grounds, open and close the locked gate, and keep up the gardens. We are very happy with our house although we do have to give it a major scrubbing and furnish it. We do have a few creatures that co-habit with us. Some we don’t mind…others we do! Harmless green little geckos run on the walls and ceilings eating bugs—they are welcome guests. However, we haven’t taken too fondly to the rat that snuck in or the occasional cockroach that scurries across the floor. Darryl valiantly defeated both intruders; however we are just waiting for more of their family members to appear. Our neighbors across the street have heaps of garbage and filth in front of their house (this is also where they cook food which they sell) and rats have made a nice little community there. We discovered them last night we sat out on the veranda enjoying the breeze. Darryl said “Look, a rat!” We watched the rat scurry under the gate, and then the whole rat community seemed to wake up, they were everywhere! On the roofs, gates, chairs, you name it, they were there. We’re hoping they stick to that side of the street.
We’ve been worshipping with a small Reformed Baptist group here in Phnom Penh. Rev. Daren Beck, a graduate from Master’s seminary, is the pastor. Rev. Beck is also involved in a ministry team, Action Cambodia, which works closely with Asian Hope. It was good to be in church—Rev. Beck is doing a series on Hebrews 11. This past Sunday he preached about Moses who chose to suffer reproach with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season. The group is made up of Korean missionaries, local Cambodians, Western missionaries, teachers, and the Fisk family (all 40 of them!). We are grateful for the church and plan on worshipping there regularly.
Logos International School is a beehive of activity as teachers arrive and start to prepare for classes which begin August 22. We’ve become familiar with the office staff which is made up of local Cambodians. The facilities are beautiful and the school seems to run very efficiently. Summer school is currently in session and renovations are being completed in many areas of the building. Darryl is teaching Bible and a World Issues class to grades 8-10—they’ve also recruited him as the soccer coach. This is the first year Logos has a certified or trained Bible teacher. Up to this point there hasn’t been a Bible curriculum, so Darryl, Steve Fisk, and Rev. Beck are planning the Bible curriculum which will begin this year. Darryl is excited about forming the curriculum but also aware of how much work it’s going to be creating and teaching it—everything is coming from scratch. This year Darryl will teach a core class (Old Testament and New Testament Survey) to all of the high school grades. The four-year program will include OT/NT Survey, Church History, Systematic Theology, Catechism, Apologetics, and an interim course called Men and Women’s Issues. Please pray the Lord will give Darryl wisdom and strength for this large task.
Naturally, we’ve had our ups and downs since we arrived. It always takes time to adjust and acclimate to a different culture, but we are starting to feel at home. The community at Logos is warm and welcoming and the local Cambodians are very friendly. Steve Fisk has taken exceptional care of us, ensuring that we have everything we need, that we’re adjusting well, etc. His wife, Jill, is pregnant with their fifth biological child and is residing in Colorado until the baby is born in September. We are excited to be here and anxious to get to work! Darryl is busy getting lessons together and I’m beginning to dig into the library at Logos. It looks like we will have a very busy year ahead. We pray God will bless our work.
Many thanks for your support and prayers. Thanks too for the encouraging emails! We still don’t have an internet connection so we’ve been unable to reply, but we hope to be connected in a week or two.