Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | March 24, 2014

First Visa Run

I finally joined the ranks of those who make visa runs – and now I understand why my friends refer to them as “evil.”  Over thirty hours of travel one way isn’t particularly relaxing or fun.  Fortunately, despite multiple visa processing delays which has stretched one week into two, my visa run isn’t as evil as some people’s since I can return to my Cambodian home and visit friends and former students.  God has made this trip especially worthwhile.  Here are a few highlights:

– While sitting at the Mae Sot station waiting for my bus to Bangkok, I discovered a fantastic way to make friends.  I pulled out my Karen language materials and spent most of my six hours on the wooden bench studying.  Two different groups of Burmese also waiting mistook all the circles, swirls, and squiggles for Burmese and tried their very best to carry on rather lengthy conversations.  You’d be surprised how well you can communicate when your entire shared vocabulary consists of ၁, ၂, ၃, ၄ (1, 2, 3, 4).

– Overnight busses stop at midnight so passengers can use real (Asian) toilets and hopefully purchase a meal and some snacks for the road.  My stomach never wants to eat at midnight, but I like purchasing something decent for breakfast the next morning.  This trip I sat across from some foreigners who reminded me of a certain group of customers who frequent shops like Mother’s Market (a health food store and deli in my hometown); it seems most foreigners I meet over here easily could be part of that group back in the US.  As we reboarded the bus they asked what I was doing and where I was going.  A two-hour conversation followed about why in the world a single young person like me would volunteer long-term in places like Thailand and Cambodia.  Although they did not understand the spiritual motivation, they were intrigued with our visions for these schools, and I pray a favorable impression was made for a kind of Christianity they’ve not encountered before.

Checking in with Ely and my Grade 6 piano students in Cambodia was a delight.  Left to right: Rothana, Seyha, Sarah, Sophall, and Patary.

Checking in with Ely and my Grade 6 piano students in Cambodia was a delight. Left to right: Rothana, Seyha, Sarah, Sophall, and Patary.

– Watching videos and looking at pictures from Gemma and Hym’s wedding didn’t make up for not being able to attend; but it was the next best thing to actually being there.  I wish I had one to share with you!

– One morning Lin, a current Grade 12 student came bouncing up to me, smile beaming and face glowing.  I knew something special must have happened for my usually quiet girl to be so excited she couldn’t stand still.  “Teacher!  You know what?  Teacher Tim says he wants to help me get my passport so I can go to L.I.G.H.T. school in the Philippines.  God answered my prayer.  I know He has a plan for my life.  Before when I came to school, I heard people say we should pray to God, but I never wanted to pray.  I did not believe He would help me.  But now I prayed and He answered my prayer!  Now I know He will provide all I need to go to L.I.G.H.T. school and for my life.”  Needless to say, my smile matched hers to hear such a precious statement of faith in God’s promises!

Pisei and Jive’s wedding took up the central focus of the first half of my visit.

Pisei and Jive’s wedding took up the central focus of the first half of my visit.

– An impromptu guitar lesson with Francis delighted many of us as we went from complete or near complete ignorance to learning all major, minor, and seven chords and playing picked accompaniments in just over an hour.  It’s a good thing Jason has a guitar so I can keep practicing out in the jungle!  Although I enjoy the keyboard (I’ve left my violin in Cambodia for the rest of this year for the students who are using it for lessons), in such a remote location guitar does make more sense than either piano or violin.

–  The second half of my visit has revolved around Khen’s mom, Chem.  Just prior to my visa run, Ming (auntie) Chem was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and probable cancer of the liver.  The hospitals rejected her.  Khen’s Grade 12 class, along with Donna, began implementing their medical missionary skills and plans were made to move her to WPY for ease of care – until some relatives convinced Ming Chem to call the monks and traditional Khmer healer (witch doctor).  They came and quickly “discovered” that Khen was to blame for her mother’s sickness and banished her from helping or even touching her mom while the monks proceeded with their ceremony.  The witch doctor told Ming Chem that she would be dead within two months if she went to WPY.  So Khen’s relatives sold two of Ming Chem’s buffalo and some choice farm land to pay for the monks’ and witch doctor’s services.  After chanting day and night for several days, the ceremony was concluded, but the monks and witch doctor continued treatments.  During these visits the witch doctor became possessed; the most obvious manifestation a change of voice.  He took burning incense sticks and jabbed Khen’s monks with them; when she cried out in pain, he commanded the evils spirits to leave.  Then one morning early last week, Tim and Wendy went to personally invite Ming Chem to come to WPY.  After enduring one more day of the witch doctor’s treatments, she accepted the invitation saying, “If God heals me, I will never go back to Buddhism.”  Tim helped Andrew move her to WPY where the moms and witch doctor will no longer visit.  But the devil certainly doesn’t want Ming Chem or any of Khen’s other relatives to see the true character of God.  Please pray that God will be exalted and glorified through these trials and that many in Kantrok Village will believe and give their lives to Him – especially Ming Chem and Khen’s other siblings.  Pray that Andrew, Khen, and Khone (who is away studying at L.I.G.H.T. in the Philippines) will have peace, and that all those helping with medical care will have wisdom from heaven concerting the best treatments.

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