in cambodia 2006 – iv

Somehow we find the bus on the Cambodian side taking us to Phnom Penh, and here another little miracle occurs.  For some reason, the seat next to me is the last one empty. (didn’t i wash a bit just yesterday?!)  A large man seats next to me, but then a small lady gets up near the front, and they exchange seats.  We don’t talk for around the first half of the trip, but then strike up a conversation, and i show her pics from the Philippines (her country), and after she says she is Christian (RCC), i show her the GC anime.  She remarks that it is very nice, and she wants to go to heaven too.  She gladly accepts the English GC book i offer her, and reads the 1st chapter right there.  Praise God!  Of all the 40 riders on that bus, God put probably the only one interested in the truth right next to me.  She didn’t crinkle her nose either, and in fact, asked me why i didn’t have a companion, so i guess my body odor was not the reason for the empty seat – haha.

The guide is a rarity – a Cambodian who can speak pretty good English and is a bit funny to boot.  He rejects my request to let me off at the Japanese embassy, but the Filipino next to me encourages me to ask again, and explaining i have all my luggage with me already, he consents, saving me probably 3,000khr (75cents) and 20 minutes or more.  Thank you!!!  I walk straight to the internet cafe for a quick 30minuter.  No going out at nite, so have to do it now – 5:10pm.  8 1/2 hours from Saigon, probably doable in 4 hours by car if they were quick about working at the border.   It was interesting how things were quite green in Vietnam, and so brown and dried up in Cambodia.  Hope they can make it until the monsoons in July!

Somebody saw me get off the bus, so there is no big deal when i walk up to the Pastor’s house except for the kid next door who is really happy 🙂  I help a few minutes with English teaching, and am surprised that the English i taught them 2 weeks ago is still input in their heads – good!  Probably it is there to stay.  I’m sad to see that their regular English class studies are so low, no wonder few learn to speak it.  In the first 40 minutes, all they did today was write the date, and then fill in the missing letter in 5 words.  Oh well.  I’m very happy to see them all again, and they seem to really enjoy the 10 minutes i review what we learned last time, especially when i ask “Are you a girl?”, and one 15y.o. boy says “yes”.  He did it twice making me think he was fishing for a laugh, but guess is just a bit slow as after the others laughingly explained in Khmer, he answered correctly.  I put up a mosquito net for the first time in my life all by myself.  One string to the electric meter box, one to the Bible poster picture roll-screw, one to the motorcycle handlebar and one to the bicycle carrying rack. Wonder why it’s only around 3/4 as tall as when they do it – huh? 🙂

The first quiet nite in 10 nites – zzzz.  Even the hard tile floor under the folded up curtain and rice mat doesn’t faze me too much, altho my bones tell me it’s there.  2 weeks ago i didn’t need a fan after around 2am, but now i do…must be getting hotter.  Breakfast includes an orange which has gone partly sour, rice, raisins, and pnut-butter.  They still have a bit of the jar of pnut butter i left 2 weeks ago.

At 2pm some of the English kids come inside.  They had been loitering around outsie thehouse since around 1:30 and i had figured that they were just hanging out.  I’m told these 4 are intending to be baptized this coming Sabbath!!!  Wow!  Perhaps i had just a tiny part played in that?  I’d like to think so, but know i’m fantasizing.  Actually, the pastor here did say that the kids really liked my English lessons 2 weeks ago, and seem to show more interest in coming – yea!   They study creation, and i lend my little felt creation set.  In the afternoon i go out to the internet cafe when the power goes off at home.  Silly me, the internet cafe of course is powerless too!  I take off my shoes and sweat around 15 minutes before it returns, and i can connect with the outside world for 30 minutes.  I really want to help teach English, as this will be last time.

Going home i see some partly shriveled green peppers at one place.  I show a 1,000khr note and ask how much 1kilo is.  I guess “kilo” is not understandable here, altho i’ve had no problem in every other country i’ve been to.  I pick up 4 of the little guys, and show my note, and nothing happens.  Finally i give up half laughing, and walk away leaving behind a gaggle of women in howls of laughter.  I meet a church planter coming to pastor’s house. and he proceeds to purchase 2 very nice ones at a different shop.

I feel sorry for the English students – one hour and they only have a few words to write down in dictation-pronounciation-spelling practice. The good ones waste around half the class time for lack of instruction.  At 6:15 i’m given the remaining 15 minutes, and after reviewing a couple of things like “Are you Cambodian?” and “Do you like English?” i get out the computer for the songs, and split the kids into 5 groups to be the sounds for chicks, cows, ducks, pigs, and dogs.  E I E I O.  We finish off with a Head & Shoulders banger.  Haven’t seen this many kids laughing and having so much fun since, well, since 2 weeks ago! ha!  The fresh green pepper for supper is really yummy too 🙂

Friday the 24th finds me with a uneasy stomach.  I go out and buy bananas, and when the old lady at the shop recognizes me, she gets quick and pulls out some really nice ones.  I give her 1,500khr like i did the time before, and return to eat bananas with partly cold and partly hot rice, raisins, and just a slight smear of pnut-butter.  If anything can sit well with my tummy, this should – except the cold rice part.  Oh well, everything can’t go exactly like you would wish all the time can it?!

The pastor and a couple others go out to the church to clean the baptismal pool tomorrow.  I help with the water and my speciality – picking up garbage.  The pastor is right in with me, in fact, leading me on this one..  We go into town to a famous wat (temple) that has monkeys and an elephant.  I remember it from 9 years ago.  Then we do some more sightseeing, basically just seeing the riverside, palace, and parks from the back of the motorbike.  It brought back lots of old memories, because this is the main part of town i remember from 9 years ago.  But my stomach is getting really roiling, and i wish to buy a $1 watch, and get home quickly.  The pastor forgets about the watch until we are almost home, but graciously turns the bike around to go downtown.  Most of the watch shops are for people who wish to flash something, but i find one in the big, hot market where you can get a kids’ watch for $1.  Even the pastor paid $1 for his kid’s watch, so i know i’m not being soaked.

After running the gauntlet of motorbike drivers wishing to carry my skin and bones somewhere in exchange for a slip(s) of paper, i find the pastor and he takes me home where i promptly throw up.  This is twice in one week.  Definitely not good.  I have worst-case scenarios of a repeat of last week where i’m down for one day.  So i’ll miss the baptism  –  oh no!!!!!!

But fortunately, this time is different, and i can even eat some supper.  Strange thing is, usually when it comes up, you know exactly from the taste what caused the stomach to reject it.  No taste this time.  Making me think,,,,,maybe it was the water?  Maybe i didn’t clean the green pepper properly last nite?  Actually, the water here is bot in a 20L jug, and then put in a filter from Korea that most every family seems to have.  I think the filter here is not working well, but don’t say anything, as i really don’t know.  Anyway, happy turnout this time.

Sabbath morning finds us in a mini-bus caravan to the church.  They cannot legally have the baptism at a river like they wanted, so we are all going to the church.  33 people accept Jesus publicly, and have their names written in the Book of Life – oh happy day!!!!!  It’s really a high to see some of the English students give their lives to Jesus.  Please keep them in the palm of your hand Lord, and save them in your kingdom!

After church finishes at 10;30, we all pile into the buses to go to a park around 1 hour away.  Our bus had air-con this morning, and when the driver starts the engine, i expect to hear the pleasant “whoosh” coming from above.  Not coming.  I wait about 1 minute getting broiled, and when the sweat starts running down the front of my shirt i yell out “air con”.  Wait around 15 seconds, nothing happens.  I yell it louder, around 4 times i yell it out before standing up and yelling it.  No doubt everyone thinks i’m crazy.  Hey, if we hadn’t had it this morning, i wouldn’t be like this.  But i know this vehicle has it, just not being used now.  The church planter who bot my green peppers the other nite (really nice man) says in English something about “no”, and i sit down in a huff.  Maybe i’m a bit like Jonah here……I get reasonably happy again after around 10 minutes of rolling down the road with the curtains flying.  Did i give a bad witness for Jesus?  Maybe so.  My flesh is weak sometimes, especially when i know something can be done to relieve a situation, and is purposely not done.

This park is very hot, and very dry.  We spread out under several different trees.  I’m aghast to see crab in one plastic container on one rice mat.  I ask if everyone there is SDA, and the reply is “yes”.  I mention that crab is unclean, like eating pork.  I don’t know if it is understood, but someone helps explain in Khmer.  The person really doesn’t know, it seems.  The pastor’s wife makes excuses for the people, but that isn’t good.  We should be instructing the people better, not making up reasons for sinful actions.  But the worst part is when the pastor’s family brings out their cooked meat.  This is a terrible witness.  We should be instructing our members to get away from meat, as those who eat meat with blood are sinning, and even if you drain all the blood first, you will not be translated to heaven if you are eating meat.  There is very little or none used at home, so why bring it out in this special occasion?  We need to get poor again perhaps so we will learn to stay away from harmful things that give a witness leading others to think God’s requirements are not very high.

Food should be simply prepared, something those in rich countries consistently ignore.  So while it is good to see simple food here – lightly stir-fried tomatos, cucumbers, mushrooms, and carrots to put over rice, it isn’t very nutritious when done literally every meal.  You have a fish with root soup which increases the nutritive value a lot, but still, there should be much more variety – beans, nuts, fresh things etc.  Yes, i know some things are expensive, and i’m not saying we must use our whole salary to purchase one can of almonds, but there are many ways, if a little planning is done, where the nutritional needs could be better met.

I walk around the zoo for over one hour.  Why did i forget to put on the sunscreen?  Because i’m stupid i guess.  My red face for the next few days will be a painful reminder.  The zoo is in pitiful condition as you may imagine.  It is really nice to see some bears, tigers (they’re BIG!) monkeys etc.  Most everything is sleeping except the monkeys which grab the people’s hands as they give them food and poke them and tease them, probably same things that people in western countries did to animals in zoos 150 years ago.  The one-legged, one-armed church planter/English teacher invites me to climb to the top of a nearby boulder.  It sounds hot, but what a great view, and pleasant breeze to enjoy at the same time 🙂

My last nite at pastor’s home is very nice, and i will really miss these people.  I can tell the reason for my travelling here has not been communicated well enough, as i’m asked when i can get a “vacation” again.  I know it’s hard to explain what i’m doing.  The kids and i talk and play around a bit.  They say they hope i come back again soon too.  It would be nice if the Lord works it out that way – everyone stay strong in the Lord!  I hope i was a good witness, and do know that the number of rings on the kids hands has decreased, and the TV problem has been addressed 🙂  Keep close to Jesus!

Sunday morning comes too early.  The bus leaves at 6:30, so i’d like to leave at 6:10 to get there at 6:20, but we leave at 6:00.  i sure do appreciate it pastor, you getting up early, and not getting a good nite’s rest thinking about waking up in time in the morning.  I’m the first one on the bus, which leaves at 6:35.  The lady said Friday that this $15 ticket should get me into Bangkok in around 12 hours.   As i write this, it has been over 13 hours, and there is still at least 2 hours left.  But i skip ahead – the bus to the Thai border was as expected, they stopped about every hour to eat or urinate against the wall (one stop had facilities for ladies too), and it was dusty the last 40km, and we got thru immigration without much hassle. 

Thank you Cambodia.  Your people are some of the most gentle i’ve seen anywhere, but the knowledge/education level is extremely low.  May many of you come to Jesus, and may you be a source of upliftment for your communities.  I hope to get you the Khmer original The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and His Angels printed up and into your hands perhaps as early as this April, Lord willing.

NOTE: Post written February 26, 2006

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