There is a lot happening around us in Cambodia, especially in regard to religious and political life. October started off with the Celebration of the Dead festival. Nearly all of Cambodia thronged to pagodas (Buddhist temples) to bring their offerings of bananas and other types of food to appease their ancestors. The city nearly became a ghost town during this holiday as everybody traveled out to the province to be with their families in order to worship their ancestors together. This is a particularly difficult time for Cambodian Christians who have Buddhist families. The people believe that if the entire family does not go to worship the ancestor will be angry and could cause sickness or even death to come upon the family; this puts a lot of pressure on Christians to worship at the pagodas. The religion here is called Buddhism but really it is a mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism.
Work at Logos International School is going well for both of us. I (Darryl) am just winding up the Pentateuch in Bible class. By the middle of January I need to begin NT Survey so I’m going to have to speed up the pace of the course in order to get through the OT by then. We’ve spent a good amount of time in Genesis and Exodus—the kids are interested in knowing more about the Bible and will be disappointed that we have to move more quickly through the rest of the Old Testament. Teaching Bible has been a wonderful and edifying experience; the class discussions show the students’ thirst and hunger for the Word and the truths we are studying challenge and exhort us daily. The Lord is helping me in teaching and I pray that He will use it for the salvation and personal growth of the students. Chendamony is an 8th grade Cambodian girl who always comes to class filled with questions about the Bible and the Lord. She asks questions like: “Why did God do this? Why did God choose Jacob instead of Esau? Why did God allow the earthquakes in Pakistan? Did God cause them, or did he just allow Satan to do them? How come Jesus doesn’t save everyone? Romans 9:13-16 and II Peter 3:9 contradict each other, could you please explain them to me?” It is a joy to have her in my class, and to see the students thinking about and searching for the truth.
Last week was the end of the first quarter of the school year. We spent two days in Parent/Teacher conferences which were helpful and encouraging. Several parents of Cambodian children expressed their gratitude for the Bible education their children are receiving. I was humbled to see the desire among several Khmer parents that their children learn more and more about the Bible. One Khmer mother deeply expressed her thankfulness that her daughters were learning more about Jesus Christ, and her desire that they would continue to know more about the Savior. Even though we spoke through a translator and were cultures apart, the bond of fellowship in Christ was never stronger. I was also encouraged by the amount of support and gratitude the parents expressed - it gives me extra strength to continue. Logos is the only Christian school in Phnom Penh and offers very low tuition rates in order to bring in Khmer children.
The World Issues classes are going well. In 10th grade World Issues we are studying different worldviews and comparing them to the Christian worldview. This class promotes students to think biblically in all areas of their life. They are encouraged to use the Bible as a lens through which they view the world. Next semester I will be dropping 9th and 10th grade World Issues. The students will be taking Khmer instead. This is being done because many of the students are losing touch with their own language. They may know how to speak it, but very few know how to write it. Most, if not all of these students will be remaining in Cambodia, so it’s important that they can use their own language well. I will begin teaching an elective course – Biblical Greek. I need to brush up on my own Greek considering I have hardly looked at it for several years. I’ll be teaching them the basics of Greek and showing them how to use the tools to translate.
The Lord has been so faithful to our family—we are healthy, well, content, and learning more every day. Sophie is even learning to speak Khmer! She can only say “Sok sebpai” which means “I’m fine”, but it’s a start. We’ve been busy working on our newsletter which will be mailed out the end of the month. Hopefully it will give you a good picture of our work and life here in Cambodia. Thanks again for your prayers and support.