Posted by: Laura | March 28, 2014

Why?

Why does A2 + B2 = C2?  Why do you need to do the same thing to every part of an equation when multiply or dividing another part? Why were the French people so opposed to God during the French Revolution? Why is it important for there to be separation between church and state?  Why was Jesus upset by the things he saw happening in the temple?  Why is God’s universal law of self-sacrificing love the only way to true freedom and happiness?

As some of you know, I love questions, especially the why ones.  But ever since I have come to Cambodia I have had a problem.  Cambodians hate why questions.  Sometimes a few students will try to answer the what questions, and a few will even make a go at the how questions.  But invariably I always followed up all those questions with the dreaded why question.  That is when everything becomes quiet and they just look at you blankly.  It has been quiet frustrating really.  From my point of view, you aren’t learning much if you don’t know the why.  My students would be happy and quick to memorize anything I write down, but as soon as you ask them why it works that way, they get all confused and can’t seem think it though.

Over the past few months, I am actually beginning to understand more of what this problem entails.  Cambodian culture in general doesn’t really care about why.  It may be partially a result of their tumultuous history in recent times. I don’t know.  But most Cambodians are farmers.  The farmer cares about growing his rice.  He cares about learning how to grow the rice.  He wants to know what to put on the rice fields to make it grow.  But he doesn’t care about why the rice grows or why the fertilizer makes the rice grow better.  It just does.  The what and how are important to sustaining day to life, but why is superfluous because it appears to have no immediate effect on present life.  At least this is what I have gathered from what I have heard some Cambodians say. This makes things very difficult for me and my students.  I am not only battling with the occasional students who are lazy thinkers, but I also struggling with the average Cambodian who doesn’t understand why “why” is so important.

Why.  Is it really important?   Some culture aspects should be embraced, some adapted, and some I think need to be relearned.   I think Cambodians must rediscover why.  I believe it is key to their development as productive Cambodian citizens as well as citizens of Heaven.  In history class, I think it is very important that they understand the whys of events so that they will not repeat the whats and the hows in their future history.  If you don’t understand the why of the past you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  And if my students don’t understand why Satan and God are fighting for my students minds and hearts, they will never understand the Great Controversy between good and evil.  If my students don’t understand why God can only transform our selfish hearts to be like His perfect one if we surrender everything to God, they will never be victorious in battle against Satan.

So I ask for your prayers.  I need wisdom and patience to teach and my students need a specific way of thinking to be restored to them.   I believe Satan has caused most of them to lose this important step in thinking about problems to keep them from thinking deeply and understanding.  But even us western thinkers can forget the importance of why.  I was reminded of Jesus warning to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2 that had the what and the how but had forgotten the why.

My Home Room Class - Bible, Math and History

My Home Room Class – Bible, Math and History

My Grade 8 Math Class

My Grade 8 Math Class

My Grade 10 History Class

My Grade 10 History Class

 

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.

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | March 22, 2014

First Month in Thailand

I though you might like a little update on life in the jungle.  Adjusting was quick and easy – to the point I find it difficult to know what to write about!  But here’s a little something.

Since we only had three students this month, we were able to focus on brainstorming for curriculum.  We also wrote, tested, rewrote, and retested our hot season schedule.  Our days currently run as follows:

                    5:00 – Cook  (small groups on rotation so everyone participates)

                    6:20 – Manual Training (begins when it’s light outside)

                    8:15 – Clean-up

                    8:30 – Family Worship

                    9:00 – Breakfast

                    10:00 – Classes

                    2:00 – Laundry, Bath Time, and Recreation in the River

                    3:00 – Cook (again, small groups on rotation)

                    4:00 – Dinner

                    5:00 – Manual Training

                    6:15 – Clean-up

                    6:30 – Family Worship & Story Time

                    7:30 – Supervised Study Time

                    9:00 – Lights Out

Our vision is to train our students to be self-supporting missionaries; therefore we won’t accept just anyone and we will keep our number of students small.  We want them to learn how to walk with God in their daily lives, hence the homeschool, family-style program.  Classes will include Bible, English (aiming for proficiency for translation purposes), medical missionary skills, music, and manual training (agriculture, construction, mechanics, cooking and baking, weaving, sewing, basic teaching skills, and probably some areas I’m forgetting; once again, these will all be on a rotational basis, focused on whatever areas currently need most attention).

Besides lots of planning and teaching a few classes, I’ve enjoyed working with several wonderful Karen teachers (several because they’re usually too shy to teach me alone).  The language is quite simple compared to Khmer, and I was stunned when I learned to read within a month’s time.  Not that I understand what I read – that will still take a while!  But I see this as just one more evidence that God has led me to this place for this time.

Now for some pictures!  Nothing like pictures to make a dry post interesting.

This is the central post in our living room, and it is very dry.  When I mentioned that I thought this blog post was boring and I didn’t have any pictures to make it interesting, Jason suggested I take a picture of our post since it was also boring.  Af first I insisted I was trying to make the blog post more interesting, but then decided to follow his suggestion as it would give you a tiny glimpse into our daily lives in more ways than one.  So yes, this is our living room.  The roof is still unfinished, but before too much longer we should have enough leaf panels to cover the bamboo poles.  Then the girls will no longer be able to use them as monkey bars...

This is the central post in our living room, and it is very dry. When I mentioned that I thought this blog post was boring and I didn’t have any pictures to make it interesting, Jason suggested I take a picture of our post since it was also boring. Af first I insisted I was trying to make the blog post more interesting, but then decided to follow his suggestion as it would give you a tiny glimpse into our daily lives in more ways than one. So yes, this is our living room. The roof is still unfinished, but before too much longer we should have enough leaf panels to cover the bamboo poles. Then the girls will no longer be able to use them as monkey bars…

Four of my Karen teachers getting ready to go gather leaves in the jungle.  I was headed back to continue planning and preparing for future classes...

Four of my Karen teachers getting ready to go gather leaves in the jungle. I was headed back to continue planning and preparing for future classes…

Jason with his home-made leaf-gathering basket.  We gather the leaves early in the morning when they are flexible, wash and flatten them, then sew them into panels for roofing.

Jason with his home-made leaf-gathering basket. We gather the leaves early in the morning when they are flexible, wash and flatten them, then sew them into panels for roofing.

This group photo was taken the morning I left for my visa run.  From left to right: Lah Say Wah (Karen teacher, English student) holding Destiny, Jason, Memewah and Hannah, Meme, Sarah, Thuh Gunya Paw (Karen teacher, English student), Saw Jayn (long-term student), and our doggy friend, Twee Nee.

This group photo was taken the morning I left for my visa run. From left to right: Lah Say Wah (Karen teacher, English student) holding Destiny, Jason, Memewah and Hannah, Meme, Sarah, Thuh Gunya Paw (Karen teacher, English student), Saw Jayn (long-term student), and our doggy friend, Twee Nee.

Heading upriver to take my teachers home and drop me off to catch the songtow to Mae Sot.

Heading upriver to take my teachers home and drop me off to catch the songtow to Mae Sot.

Before concluding, I want to tell you about one of our translation projects.  We have several things on our eventual translation list: books, Bible study lessons, music, and DVD sermon presentations, to name a few.  If a script is already written, we can begin translation immediately.  DVD presentations are rewarding, as our young people will be able to take the translated materials and create their own contextualized versions of the materials; they are also much more challenging as we must first transcribe each presentation prior to translation.  This process takes time.  We started a couple different series which God has impressed us as crucial to spiritual growth, then God gave us a brilliant idea.

We know many of you desire to be more directly involved in God’s work overseas, but for various reasons you cannot come yourselves.  But transcribing these sermons doesn’t have to happen way out in the jungle.  Anyone with the ability to listen and type could help accelerate this project from your very own home.  Once each sermon has been transcribed, then translation can begin for multiple languages, and even closed captioning made for deaf audiences.  Please ask God if this is something He would like you to help with, either a little or a lot, and let us know if you’re willing.  The more who help, the faster we can proceed with spreading the truth that will bring Jesus back to take us home with Him for eternity.

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | February 5, 2014

My Heart’s Plea

We’d just returned from our holiday adventures in Thailand.  I settled back into school, teaching my four piano lessons per week.  Emily moved into another house, and, for the first time in my life, I lived alone.  In the silence I asked God the question that had begun niggling in my heart, “What is Your purpose for me?”

Every so often God leads me back to this question.  In this way He reminds me that I must depend on Him for everything.  The work belongs to Him, the glory belongs to Him – I am merely His tool to use when and where and how He chooses.

Soon after I began pondering this question, I read the following post on the Sharons’ blog: Our Greatest Need.  The plea pierced my heart.  I’d just come from visiting their family; I’d seen some of their needs – and I know they’ve been searching for help for years.  I asked myself, “What am I doing here when the needs are so great elsewhere?”

Don’t misunderstand.  I love the people at Wat Preah Yesu more than I can say.  The needs in Cambodia are greater than I can imagine.  My heart burns for so much work still to be accomplished in this country.  But right now God has blessed us with enough volunteers so that I am not needed to carry on the work at WPY.  And though I desperately tried to learn Khmer since my return to Cambodia over five months ago, every attempt failed.  What am I doing here?

My Jesus gently answered.  “You have said you will go anywhere for Me.  What if I send you somewhere different than you thought?”

The battle of decisions raged through January.  One day I decided Cambodia.  The next an email urged me to “Please, please pray about” joining the work in Thailand.  I agonized in prayer.  I sought advice.  I received wise counsel.  When I spoke with Tim, though he shared that he could finally arrange for me to go to a village, he prayed with me and encouraged me to let God choose where I should go, as both options were equally worthy.

I bowed before God’s throne, awaiting His command.  “Only You see the future clear enough to know which is the better choice.”  I began sorting and packing my belongings, not knowing where He would send me – just that He would send me.

“Those who decided to do nothing in any way that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue.  And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength.  Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised.”  The Desire of Ages, p. 668.  God didn’t send me some miraculous sign to indicate which place I should choose.  Instead, as I laid the needs and my burdens before Him, He gently directed with His still, small voice.  I long to please Him.  I have claimed His promises to guide, and He has been faithful: at this time I believe He is leading me to serve His people in Thailand with the Sharon family.  He has filled my heart with the peace that comes only from knowing I’m in the center of His will.  Someday He may lead me back to Cambodia, or He might lead me somewhere else.  I only know where He is calling me today.  But He holds “someday” in His hands, and as I follow Him now, I trust that whatever happens in the future, He will not leave me alone and perplexed over His will.

I do not love my Cambodians any less – this decision only intensifies that love.  I wish I were two people.  Then I would send one of me to the village in Cambodia and the other to Thailand.  Why must a missionary ever be forced to choose between two places that both need missionaries?  Please, please pray about coming overseas!  We need your help.  The people need your help.  God needs your help.

“But when [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”  Matthew 9:36.  “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? ...”  Isaiah 6:8.

“But when [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.  Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” Matthew 9:36 & 37. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? …” Isaiah 6:8.

Here am I, Lord.  Send me.

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