Well, now that I’ve scoured and scrubbed the grime that comes with a day of cement laying, English teaching, and soccer playing, I have the privilege of updating you on our day’s activities. Today, our group continued in the pattern set yesterday– one-on-one sessions at the children’s center in English, piano, violin, and guitar; laying cement at Bamboo House throughout the day; large group English classes in the morning and evening; and playing with the children afterwards (a huge highlight for all of us). We also delved deeper in our explanation of Cambodian cuisine tonight by trying balut. Balut is a fertilized duck’s egg, hard boiled and eaten with lime juice and pepper. Not exactly appetizing at first thought, but eventually most of our group succeeding in at least trying the balut. A few even professed to like the taste, although a considerable number have also admitting to feeling rather nauseous tonight. Balut is just one of the plethora of new foods we have encountered over the past few days. It has been a full day, but a good one. We continue to be blessed by our brothers and sisters here in Cambodia.
We have been taking advantage of the state holiday (the King’s Birthday merits four days of no school- despite the fact that no one seems to be able to recall his name) to hold English classes for the high school and middle school students at the center. I, along with Rebekah, have had the joy and challenge of teaching the class of high school students in the afternoons. Many of the students are older than we are, in fact the oldest with an intimidating 24 years to his credit, so we weren’t quite certain what to expect. I am happy to report that we have an eager and engaged group of students. The students have consumed the word lists we have presented to them and show evident delight in their new vocabulary. The students take English class at the local high school, but it seems rare for them to have the opportunity to converse with native English speakers such as ourselves. Topics we have covered include several professions, types of food, national holidays, weather, animals, parts of the body, and words relating to sports. Speaking of sports, I feel that I would be justified to include that we (the men of the trip) successfully redeemed ourselves on the basketball court today after yesterday’s debacle on the volleyball court. (Sorry, that’s my attempt to give you fair and balanced coverage that may have been lacking in yesterday’s post.)
One thing that has struck me over the past several days is the true universality of the church. It’s easy to talk about these things at home in Lookout Mountain, and I certainly wouldn’t have limited God’s power to my narrow experience before this trip. But almost a week of living, eating, working, learning, playing, and praying alongside my Cambodian brothers and sisters has lent me a new love for the global church. Tomorrow, we will be worshiping together with in three house churches spread throughout the surrounding area. We would appreciate your prayer as we continue to build relationships with local believers.
Today at lunch, President Nielson told me a wonderful story he heard from Dan (one of the adults at the center.) The father of four of the children at the center had been an officer in the Khmer Rouge, and had burned several nearby villages as part of his duties. This man later became a Christian, and is largely responsible for evangelizing much of the local area (including several rebuilt villages whose burning he had led!). He died several years ago in a dengue fever and malaria outbreak.
One of the older boys in my afternoon English class found himself digging for an American name without success during our introductions yesterday. I suggested the name of my younger brother, Jess. Since that time, “Jess” and I have had spent time getting to know each other, both through playing volleyball and through laying concrete. He is very intelligent and enjoyable to be around. I believe he is 18 or 19 years old.
This afternoon, I had an epiphany: “Jess” was the eldest son of the Khmer Rouge officer whom President Nielson had described to me earlier that day. This was followed by another wonderful thought- Jess, the orphaned son of an officer in the infamous Khmer Rouge, is just as much my eternal brother as Jess, the son of a businessman in Hagerstown, Maryland is. God is truly glorified by the diversity in his global church.
Your prayers are much appreciated. Pray that we would be fitting ambassadors of the church in our attitudes and actions. Pray that we would continue to support and love each other in the days to come, as we will be living and working in close quarters. And finally, pray that God’s Kingdom would be strengthened though all that we do here in Cambodia.