Dear Family and Friends,
It’s hard to believe that September is already well on it’s way and October is fast approaching. We hope and pray that you are well and living close to the Lord Jesus. You are in our prayers and thoughts daily---your encouraging emails, prayer and support have spurred us on and encouraged us, thank you for your care for us. We are truly making a home here and we are so thankful that God has given us such peace, contentment, and joy to be here. Now that some of the culture shock has worn off we are finding ourselves drawn to the Cambodian people. This week we begin language lessons and we are so excited! Darryl keeps on wanting to go over to our neighbors (yes, the ones with the ratsJ) with cookies or something, however we’d like to be able to say at least a few sentences to them. So far we just wave at our gate and smile and they just all wave and smile back. There are about 30 people living in one house which has many shanties off the side of it. In most countries people at least understand “hello”, but not here. We have a ways to go before we can communicate to them, in the meantime we will just continue to communicate through our actions and our demeanor. There are also several families that live in our compound and we’ve started to establish a good relationship with them as well, we are grateful to be living in such a nice place with kind people! Our landlords are Buddhists; please pray that we will have an opportunity to speak with them and that our lives will be a witness to them.
Tonight Darryl and I drove across town in the pouring rain. At a stop light three beautiful children came up to our window just dripping from the rain. They were carrying their little bags that they use to gather plastic or other items to earn a few riel. The children pressed their noses and hands against the glass and begged for money. Sophie started talking to them and patting her hands on the glass. It really pulls at your heart—we wanted to take them home with us! The best way to reach these children is to give to organizations that help kids get off the streets. If you give money to them it usually goes to their parents for their own purposes. The parents do not let the kids accept food because they want them to be undernourished—undernourished children make more when they are begging. It’s also painful to see pregnant women begging. We need discernment and wisdom—you feel callous if you ignore them, however you don’t want to be part of the system that keeps them where they are. We hope that once we know the language we will be able to integrate more with the local community. These people need to hear the gospel, they are a hurting and lost people and without Christ it will never change. Although we are involved at Logos, we’d also like to be involved with evangelism and humanitarian work with the poor, orphans, and widows. Hopefully by next year we will be able to start doing that sort of work. The other day I was at a coffee shop that employs underprivileged women; when I was leaving I had about 5 little boys valiantly trying to help me back out my car. Here I am on a dirt road with nothing around that I could possibly hit and they are feverishly directing me this way and that. To be honest, the only challenge was trying to avoid hitting them! I wanted to talk with them but again the language barrier prevented that.
There are also frustrating parts to this culture. We are so used to the right to fairness and justice—here that means nothing. If the police wants to pull you over and make you give him money, you do just that. Even though you know and he knows that you did nothing wrong (do you sense the personal angst here? J). So far I’ve had three tickets, for what I’m not sure but the key to getting a cheaper ticket is just to do a lot of smiling and laughing. The whole culture revolves around the theme “If it works, do it”, and this applies to driving as well. The people have a fatalistic mindset; there is injustice in every part of this society and they accept it.
Logos International School started classes August 22. There are about 300 students this year from the 3-year-old class to 10th grade—next year they plan to add 11th grade and the following year 12th grade. Darryl is busy grading papers at the moment—all of his students in his World Issues class wrote papers on Mormonism and his 8th – 10th graders in Bible class wrote diaries on the life of Abraham and Sarah. It’s a challenge for the students to be creative; their forte is memorization and regurgitating facts. Since this is the first year that the school has had a Bible curriculum Darryl is teaching a core OT and NT Survey class to all of the high school grades, the levels of difficulty depending on the grade. The plan is to give a basic understanding of the Bible and then build from there. Next year he will teach OT and NT Survey to the 8th grade and the other grades will begin a Church History course. Each year a new class will be added until the four year curriculum is complete. Most of Darryl’s students have some knowledge of the Bible; however there are some who have never been exposed to it. The work in the library is also going well. Today I handed out library cards—I was surprised how excited everyone was to get their first library card. Bede, a young boy from Nigeria was fascinated that the scanner could pull up his name. I let him scan his book while checking out; he had a smile from ear to ear. The simple pleasures of life! The software has been upgraded and soon I hope to be putting the library into the Dewey Decimal System. As an amateur librarian I’ve been doing all the research I can on library organization.
Outside of school we’ve been spending time at Asian Hope (the orphanage) and with other teachers and missionaries. Steve and Jill Fisk, the parents of Asian Hope, are currently in the US awaiting the birth of their fifth biological child. Rev. and Mrs. Daren Beck have moved into Asian Hope with their four children to be the house parents while Steve and Jill are gone. We feel very at home at Asian Hope—there is never a dull moment with 39 kids around! Everything seems to run very orderly though. Each child has certain responsibilities and they do them without question. Every evening they gather in the living room and have a prayer meeting, singing, and instruction from the Word. After family worship the older children get the younger ones ready for bed and everyone gets settled in for the night. Sophie fits right in with the crowd—Jonathan and David (twin brothers in 5th grade) carry her around everywhere and have adopted her as their little sister. Every other Saturday evening we have a prayer meeting with Western and Cambodian teachers on the roof of our house. It’s on the third story and gives you quite a view over our village. We bring up our bamboo mat, flashlights, and Bibles and spend the evening singing, praying, and reading the Word. It’s one of the highlights of our week and proves to be a strengthening and encouraging time for all of us. It’s also been a blessing that we can dial-in to our church service in Grand Rapids on Sunday evening to catch the Sunday morning service. Thank you to all of you who worked on making that happen, we appreciate it! It still amazes us that we can be on the other side of the world listening to the service in real-time. This also keeps us current on the needs of the members in our church so we can pray for them over here.