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Day Six - Jars of Clay! 10-23-13
After a day of teaching, eating lunch with the Pastors, and going to the gym. We stopped Jars of Clay for a meal before heading to Water of Life for a Bible Study. Jars of Clay is a restaurant that was a mission to get young girls out of prostitution and abusive situations and give them training in food service. After five years the missionaries who started it have it to the women they saved and now this restaurant / coffee house is supporting them all! The food is great and these young some work very hard very long hours with very big smiles knowing what a great opportunity they have been given. Most of them have come to Jesus as their Savior through the ministry. Almost every successful venture here has some sort of tie into a mission work. Foreigners with good hearts and good ideas can really make things better by providing opportunities. On the flip side this is a place where Khmer people are often used by outsiders and there are less opportunities for good than there are perils of evil here. Please pray for Jars of Clay and the other worksite it in Cambodia. Life and livelihood can and should coexist in Christianity and these works are an example of how they can.
Running out of time will write on Water office tomorrow!
Day Five - Lunch and Gym Time 10-22-13
Today's differences may seem small but they were big changes for us. For just a few dollars we cod get passes to a gym about 3 blocks from the college. Because it is so close and has showers while another pastor is teaching, if we are ready for our session, we have each been going to the gym. The exercise really helps with the he flagged feeling and has also opened up the door for me to talk to two people about Jesus while I am here. Funny what God will use when we let Him. Please pray for Tommy and Tan (pronounced Tawn) they both asked me why I was in Phnom Penh, silly men they got a lot more than they asked for.
We stayed for lunch today and ate Traditional Khmer food. Because the kitchen literally five feet for the white board we teach at, the 10:30-12:30 session is filled with smells of garlic and onions for much of the session. Then about 20 minutes before the end of that session the smell changes. That is when they add fermented fish paste to the dishes. It is the Khmer equivalent to ketchup I guess, meaning they use it in everything. I will not lie it smells pretty bad and if it is over used in a dish it is a little hard for this boy to handle. But, today's lunch was very good.
Gotta run to dinner with the guys will write more tomorrow.
Day Four - The Teaching Begins 10-21-13
Today we started our daily routine for the next two weeks. The three of us got up and met Curtis downstairs so we could walk with him to the Harmony Outreach Bible College. It took about 10 minutes or so at a pretty brisk pace. We will make this walk 2-4 times a day depending on what we do for lunch. We go past a busy Russian market and cross streets while motorcycles dart in front and behind you. Bree describes it as Controlled Chaos, Tim and I think it is kind of like a well orchestrated symphony of sorts. The idea is to always move at a consistent, steady pace. The drivers will drive around you but if you speed up, slow down, or stop (blammo!!!!) after a few crossings you sort of get used to it. I will try and post a video of the traffic sometime soon Once at the College (7:30am) we will pray for a few minutes and the. The sessions will start. The students have three classes a day; 8-10a, 10:30-12:30, and 3-5p. Because they live in the villages the college is their home while teaching is going on. Pastor Tim started off the first session teaching the second half of Matthew. I then taught before lunch teaching Ephesians, and Pastor Ivy then taught 2 Thessalonians. We teach through Adam our translator, please keep this young man in your prayers, it can be a challenge to relay certain thoughts and concepts. The sessions are long but the students are attentive and we are slowly building a trust and openness with them. Which is hard because they are not normally a very open or communicative people, especially in a teaching environment. Due to a lack of understanding of the dynamic, and of teaching materials my first teaching went very badly. Please pray they go better. We didn't stay for lunch with the pastors today (they eat at the college) but we will probably do so tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers, support, and making this trip possible. Each and every member of Calvary has a part in very soul that will be impacted in the future by the training of these pastors and their flocks.
Day Three - S21 and The Killing Fields 10-20-13
We stayed the night in Svay Reing and left early in the morning back to Phnom Penh. After a three and a half our van ride, which included a ferry ride across the Mekong River, we arrived back at the guest house for a quick stop before heading out to the two places I knew we had to see. These choices were made not because they were fun, not because they were beautiful, but because they were tragic and they were evil. After lunch we visited S-21 and it is here that the story of Pol Pot and his evil regime continues. Imagine if you can, and I Praise the Lord that you only have to imagine; imagine that one out of every four of your friends, family, classmates, co-workers, and church family members was killed violently within a five year span of your life. Millions of Khmer (pronounced Kmai) were falsely accused of crimes against Pol Pot's criminal communist regime, tortured until they confessed under that stress, and we're then taken away to one of the over 300 killing fields to be executed and thrown into massive pits! The above is the horror that the Khmer people had to endure from April 17, 1975 until mid 1979. We had the opportunity to visit one of the most notorious of the torture centers called S-21 this afternoon. It is not a tour I would recommend for the faint of heart, and to be honest with you my words could never relate completely the feelings that I experienced while walking through the interrogation rooms, the prison cells, and the torture chambers that were there. Images are emblazoned in my mind of a young boys expression of terror in his entrance photo and of an old woman who was arrested as well. After a stay at S-21 and a confession these people were taken away in trucks to any of the many killing fields, though they were told they were being taken to a new home to live in to keep them quiet and calm as they drove through the cities and villages. The killing fields were places where the greatest atrocities I have ever heard of took place. They didn't want to waste bullets so they killed the people with whatever means were available from farm implements to sugar palm branches. Taking Children from their mothers arms, they held them by their feet and beat them against a tree before throwing them in a pit. Women were more than likely raped before being killed as they were all buried unclothed. The brutality is unbelievable and even more so when you realize that these were Khmer killing Khmer and all because if they or their family would lose their lives if they did not. The rest of this and how it affects what we are doing is incredible. You see Pol Pot, destroyed the families by breaking them up into village farming Communes, men went with men, women with women, and children with children, only babies would stay with their mothers until they were old enough to go off and work elsewhere. These communes were truly work camps where many labored hard until they died at young ages. Women were turned into prostitutes, or raped and left for dead on a regular basis. Now around 35 yrs later this country is suffering from the largest breakdown of the family any country has ever seen. To rebuild the importance of family and to give this country a future, the family of God has to bring the healing that only Jesus can bring. Tomorrow I will be teaching a small group of pastors, in that group, one pastor is a former pimp, and three are former Khmer Rouge soldiers who fought along side and supported the evil work of Pol Pot out of fear and force. Imagine the guilt, the shame, and the pain in this country. A simple people who only wanted to care for their families and farm their land endured such terror. But, their sons and daughters, the survivors, and the generations to come can have a bright future as the light of Jesus is able to shine. May His love illuminate the lives of these pastors and may His grace provide for this ministry in the years to come.
The Internet is intermittent here so please accept my apologies for the delays between some messages and updates.
Day Two - Village Visit 10-19-13
After arriving late last night to the guest house (kind of like a hotel but not as fancy) that we will be staying at for the majority of our time here, we got up early in the morning to join a team from Harmony headed to a village outside Svay Reing a four hour drive away. Pastor Curtis and His wife Bre head to this village every month for a pastors conference. Local pastors come from villages nearby to be taught through the word of God in three two hour sessions over a two day period on most months. They sleep wherever they can and eat food that is prepared by the Pastor and family whose church we use. 58 people traveled to be there men and women who just want to hear the word of God. This started only three months ago with 12 people and grows every time. Conditions are harsh, but they will do whatever it takes to hear the word of God taught and learn what it says and means. To understand what village means you will have to understand a lot of what took place in this country stating at the end of the Vietnam war. The story is not pretty and it is somewhat our countries responsibility. War makes strange allies as we all know from history the US has fought common enemies beside the former soviet union in world war two, supplying Iran arms at one time, fighting alongside and training the men who would later become the Taliban to keep Russia out of Afghanistan, and in the 1970's members of our special forces and intelligence community spent a great deal of time supporting and training Cambodians who were fighting alongside us against the Viet Cong in the Vietnam war. At the same time however we were also bombing areas of the Cambodian countryside. Two things came about because of the US / Cambodian interaction of that time. First, villagers moved into the cities to escape the bombings, and secondly a man was put into power who was the embodiment of pure evil. His name was Pol Pot. We will talk more about his evil when we discuss Day Three here in Cambodia. But, to understand the villages you need to know that when Pol Pot came into power he emptied the cities within a few weeks sending everyone back to the fields who came from there and even "city folks" who never even lived in the fields were sent away to "work for the common good of the people of" under Pol Pots reign. The villages like the one we visited began to have many families and relatives living in one place and even to this day several members of the same family will live together, farm, or do cottage industries to survive modestly at best. Many of the attendees of the conference only eat meat when they go to the conferences. Their diet would usually consist of rice and vegetables. For the harsh lives they have lived, and the very little they have, these are the most giving and loving people I have encountered on a missions trip. Hungry for the word, and desiring to know Its truths, they smile through what would bring most to their knees in despair. Christians here are few but growing in number, largely uneducated but seeking to grow, and in a dark place in need of a healing that will only come from heaven's throne.