We get an early start this morning to meet up at Heng Lay Studios with some lovelies from the PE4 and PE5 homes. Team member Shirley arrived late last night and we are happy to catch up with her over breakfast. Over the years we have taken each of the girls to the photo studio for the cultural experience of having professional portraits done, and because we haven’t gone in a couple of years, there are now 8 girls from the two homes who are 13 or older and have not gone before. It’s quite an experience that starts with full makeup (including false eyelashes), fancy hairdos, and being dressed and adorned in Cambodian style from a selection of about 50 very fancy tops with coordinating folded and pinned traditional skirts. The process takes about 2 1/2 hours, and the end result will be 3 8×10 photos for each girl. The shop also does wedding planning and rental of wedding attire. The owner talks to one of the house moms about hiring some of the kids to learn hair, makeup, and photo editing – a possible option for some kids who do not opt for the university.
After the morning fun we head to the Aeon Mall to choose a movie for tomorrow night and reserve 57 seats. The cinema here is ultra modern with both 3D and 4D (3D + moving seats and special eﬀects such as wind, mist, bubbles, etc) options. We choose Wonder Woman, hopefully safe with a G rating, and in 3D. The one western restaurant we visited in the mall before is closed and all options are eastern. We end up with ‘flat rice’ dinners, some chicken and some beef. Emma has been ordering seafood for most lunches and dinners and today is no exception with fried squid.
We enjoy exploring the produce section of the market in the mall with some budget items (dragon fruit $0.25/100 ml) and some really expensive blueberries ($6.50 a half pint) and fancy apples ($3.50 each).
Today is our last relatively quiet day since only four of 10 team members have arrived. Dave comes in late tonight, and the remaining five will be here by lunch tomorrow. We invite midwife friend Bora for dinner and wrap up our night early.
June 7, 2017
Breakfast this morning finds Dave safely here and ready to get to work. We use the time to meet with Pastor Narin and Bunsam, the dorm leader, to make plans for our time with the dorm kids. Bunsam explains their new 3-step evangelism model: outreach, recall, and 1:1. It starts with a fun outreach event at the dorm that usually involves games and dinner and includes a personal testimony. Students invite their friends, knowing that it is a low-pressure environment. Those friends who indicate on a visitor’s card that they want to know more or say that they have prayed to receive Christ are invite again to a smaller ‘Recall’ event that is an informal opportunity for fellowship and Q&A. It allows students who have heard something of Christianity but don’t understand what it’s about to ask questions. The third step involves one on one follow up. Their goal is to work through all three steps every month, and their dedication is bearing fruit. Sunday morning worship includes over 100 people, most of whom are university students! The dorm houses 37 students, with plans to add another 25 this next year. Most of the current students are from Asia’s Hope, and 10 of the new ones to be added with also be from Asia’s Hope. The dorm has provided a safe place for the kids to live as they pursue a university education, and the discipleship they receive supports their transition into adult life.
The time between breakfast and lunch is used to welcome remaining team members and fetch one of them from the airport. The bag count comes up one short – not too bad considering the size of the team and the total number of bags involved.
Lunch is a rare opportunity to have individual time with Asia’s Hope Cambodia director Savorn Ou and wife Sony. They are excited to welcome 40 new kids into the Asia’s Hope family in the last month with the completion of BB12 and BB13 homes in Battambang. UNICEF continues to fight to end orphanages in Cambodia in favor of keeping children in their home villages. In a ideal and completely honest world, it might be a good plan, but given the myriad layers of bureaucracy and corruption involved, the result would not be good care for the children. Asia’s Hope has found favor with the government, and has been allowed to continue to expand. Savorn believes that is largely due to the organization’s success stories and the fact that all Asia’s Hope Cambodia staﬀ are Cambodians.
We leave the hotel at 3:30 to head to our rendezvous with the PE4 and PE5 Asia’s Hope homes for dinner and a movie. Burger King is right outside the theatre and they do a great job of serving everyone quickly with tasty burgers. It’s pretty amazing that we can run 57 people through the checkout, have everyone place their own order, and everybody ends up getting what they ordered.
The movie Wonder Woman is fun, but we’re all shocked at what passes for a G rating here. The movie’s messages will provide some good opportunities for discussing good vs. evil and how the world’s version of ‘good’ is not the same as God’s – good possibilities for continuing the conversation with the kids during our retreat this weekend.
The best part of the evening is just getting to spend time with all of the kids – it’s hard to converse because the mall is really loud (the theatre and Burger King are next to the video arcade), but the team is great at giving hugs, sharing smiles, and enjoying being with the kids. All of the university students were able to join us too, arriving after class on their motos.
Thank you to those who continue to pray for the team, our health and safety, and our work here. Please ask God to give us open eyes, open ears, and teachable spirits. Please also pray for our family members back home, some of whom are facing some pretty big challenges.
All for now….with love to all of you.
Trish, on behalf of the team