Monday, June 28, 2010

News from Cambodia

Frank Frye and Billy Tullus are in the midddle of the battle, fighting for the souls of these people. Please keep them in your prayers.

Dear Partners, Friends and Prayer Warriors,

I have had a computer restriction through Google where I have not been able to get to e-mail addresses til know. In an effort to get you some information I am sending this e-mail one of the other team members sent out Sunday. I hopefully can get you a journal out tomorrow. It is 8:30 and we are wiped out, but with great pleasure after our 1st class with the Officers.

For Now, Frank

Dear ones,

It is 4:15 in the afternoon here, 5:15 in the morning where you are, and where my sleep schedule is. We have been so wiped out these past two nights that everyone has been asleep by 9:00 (most by 8:00). Then it begins...waking up at 11:00 p.m., 2:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m....I have a feeling that I will get acclimated just in time to go home and start it all over again. Thankfully the kids adapted instantly and are sleeping all night. Then there's the food. We ate at the hotel restaurant last night, and it took us forever to order. We weren't quite sure what most of the items on the menu were, and many still didn't know after they ordered and ate. It's a real adventure in eating. Alyssa said today that she's not even hungry for food...for those of you who know her, that statement will bring a greater understanding than anything else I could say.

Yesterday, I thought the traffic patterns were mildly interesting. That perspective came from riding in the back of a van behind a lot of tall people. Today, I rode in the front seat. I'm amazed that though I don't understand the seemly imperceptible traffic rules, the system works quite well here. If the same situation existed in America, there would be wholesale fights, lots of bad language, fist shaking, etc. Here, they occasionally honk horns, but it's more to say, "here I am" than "move out of my way". I have noticed that size matters. You want to either drive something really small (motorbike) or something really big (van). The motorbikes can squeeze between everything else, and the vans get more respect than small cars. Painted lines on the roads here are more like suggestions for where you may want to consider driving than actual rules. If you choose to drive on the wrong side or down the middle because it's more convenient, that seems to be okay. There are few traffic lights, and most people ignore them anyway. I know that no matter how much time I ever spend here, I will never get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Yesterday was nothing short of an amazing day for our family. We started with attending Gospel Commission Fellowship services. Most things were spoken in Khmer, but the sermon notes were in English and the song lyrics were in both languages. The music was wonderful, and the people here really sing. The message was about Jonah and 'sleeping Christians'. It was an admonition and encouragement to us that we should obey God when he calls us to do his work. I was most struck by the prayer time. Everyone prays their own prayers, out loud, all at once. In American, there is an unwritten rule that all praying must be silent, in unison, or said by a church leader. Listening to the 'noise' of so many prayers in multiple languages, and knowing that our God is so great that He hears each individual prayer perfectly, from people all over the earth who are praying at the same time, was a humbling and awe inspiring revelation. We fellowshipped with the church members, and several missionaries after church, then headed to lunch.

After lunch, our family, along with two other Bradenton team members drove to the orphanage in Prek Eng to see 'our kids'. They prepared a beautiful umbrella dance along with several songs in English, including "The B-I-B-L-E". We all sat in a row of chairs, and each of us had a child posted behind us who rubbed, massaged, and pounded our backs (it was a real treat). After that, it was a crazy, wonderful, beautiful free-for-all of play time, ball tossing, kid tossing and swinging, hugging, and loving. I can't begin to describe how it felt to watch Jared, Zach, Tyler, and Alyssa play with and love on the kids. It was hot and humid, and everyone was dripping wet with sweat, but I think we all felt that it was one of the most special and memorable times of our lives. Our thanks to all of you who gave gifts and monies for gifts for the kids. They have so little, expect nothing, and were thrilled with everything. Their home is small, but clean. The girls sleep on blankets and mats in three small rooms, and the boys all sleep on blankets in the large middle room. Their little stacks of possessions are incredibly small. I would say that the entire sum of each child's belongings, including clothes, would fit in a single tomato box. One of the girls said to Alyssa, "I am hot, but I am happy." I think we were all struck by how happy they are and how much they want physical affection. Most of them have no personal space and enjoy being touched and held. Some of the boys are a little more reserved, but still enjoyed playing ball and frisbee. After our return to the hotel, Mike and I had to avert a mutiny as the boys ganged up on us with demands for spending more time with the kids. Our schedule is tight, but we're hoping to work in three more times together.

We started this morning with a cultural training session that was very helpful. Cambodians are very uncomfortable with public displays of affection, and mismanagement of one's feet can give offense. After training, I departed with Alyssa, Nimith (Campus Crusade administrator), and Joanne (Campus Crusade from Orlando) to the English Home school for two math workshops. The teachers were very involved and interested, and it was a good experience. Lunch was a sandwich with bologna, onions, tomato, lettuce, and eggs. Alyssa was really proud of me that I ate part of the sandwich without making any faces or throwing up. That is the first time I have eaten eggs (not baked in a cake) in probably a couple of decades. The guys all went to the Army base to teach English. We are the third team taking a two week session (we'll miss part of the second week) with the colonels. We received profiles on them written by the last team, and many were classified as either 'silent' or 'uncooperative'. That is not something we expected, so most of the men were going into today's session with a bit of anxiety.

Tomorrow, I have another math workshop with high school teachers that starts early (my body has no clue what time it is anyway, so it doesn't really matter). Then we'll be on to assist with the Army English classes.

Please continue to pray for our health, the declining condition of our intestinal tracts, and our sleep. Pray that we will not be intimidated by those who are 'uncooperative' but will persevere, love them anyway, and keep a positive attitude. Pray that we will see opportunities to share the Good News, and that the Holy Spirit will give us words that will be accepted as Truth.

Our love to you all,

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