Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday and Monday

I think it’s safe to say that this has been my busiest trip ever. So many good things are happening, but I’m about to lose my mind. I’ve already lost my voice, so what’s one more faculty?

I guess the best way to do this is to organize things chronologically:

On Sunday morning, we drove out to the Savong’s orphanage, where all of the kids and staff from our three local orphan homes gathered for church. We squeezed about 80 people into the upper floor meeting room and the adjacent balcony. The kids sang songs in English and Khmer, and I preached.

Considering I had less than a day’s notice and no time to prepare, I think it went well. I had some help – I stole the passage Jeff preached on last week at Central Vineyard. I took it a slightly different direction, but it was good to have a head start.

Strangely, on Saturday night after I agreed to teach, I found myself wondering two things: Was this the right passage? And did I even know where to find it? I picked up a Bible from the shelf and it literally fell open to the exact passage. I took it as some sort of a confirmation that God did indeed want me to preach on the rather obscure Bible story of the four lepers who delivered the good news to their nation about God’s victory over the enemy.

At the close of the service, we did a good old-fashioned Vineyard ministry time. I invited any children who had not yet fully dealt with the emotional effects of their early childhood pain to receive prayer for healing. Our team and the staff laid hands on dozens of kids. Many tears, many smiles. Very, very good.

In another of these bizarre contrasts, we spent the afternoon at a televised kickboxing match. We took a couple staff members and all of our boys older than 14. It was a heck of a good time, a real cultural experience.

After the kickboxing, our team visited Sopang’s orphan home (Prek Eng 1) and watched a couple of dance numbers the kids had prepared for us. The performance was greatly enhanced by the beautiful traditional costumes the orphanage moms had made for them. The kids really can dance very well, and they love to show their love for us while showing off a bit. Some day, I want to bring a troupe to the States. I think we could sell out a couple of venues with a good concert promoter.

I’m serious. Start praying about it!

Actually, “tough” is more like it. At the kickboxing match, I mentioned to Sopang something about eating dog meat. “You like dog?” he asked. “Sure” I said, “but I’ve only had it in soup.” He then called his wife and asked her to prepare some dog meat for us. I was relieved to hear that she would buy the meat at the market, and that there would be no canine slaughtering at the orphan home.

The meat was grilled and served with a delicious herb garnish and lemony dipping sauce. All but two of our team members partook. Again, I must say that I’m really proud of this team. They are up for absolutely everything I’ve thrown at them.

We left the orphanage and returned to the city for dinner on the balcony of Foreign Correspondent’s Club. We had pizzas – pretty good, but I was disappointed to see that the best view in Phnom Penh has been tarnished by massive construction projects on the adjacent streets and along the riverfront.

This morning, Teddy, Toby and I rose at 5am and headed out to Central Vineyard (Prek Eng 2) orphan home to conduct interviews and take footage. We focused today on two siblings, Brunh and Meerlia. We filmed them getting ready and we followed them back to the school.

We interviewed orphanage mom Sophal, who told us with tears about the first time she met Brunh and Meerlia. She brought pictures of the two at their old home. Meerlia was shabby, Brunh was naked. Their mother had recently died, and the shack they lived in with their 20 year old sister was being sold out from under them to pay for mom’s funeral debt.

Their older sister dug through the trash all day and night for recyclables to scrabble together enough money to feed them. Much of the time she failed. The two young kids huddled at night, alone and afraid, going for days at a time without a bite to eat.

We brought the children to visit their sister who now lives in a tiny rented room in a shabby Phnom Penh slum tucked away in the alleys off the main road out of town. We then returned to the orphanage to interview them at their new home.

We heard about how, at first, they cried every time they were fed; they had never tasted ‘real’ food. They cried at night out of sadness for their tragic losses, but also out of joy for having their first pillow, blanket and sleeping mat.

We then took the kids out for a fancy lunch at a fancy restaurant. It was a beautiful experience. I’ve seen some of the footage – Toby is very good at what he does – and I think this will be an amazing video. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Seeing Hands
I made an appointment for our entire team to visit the masseuses at Seeing Hands, where blind adults are trained to perform therapeutic Shiatsu and Anma massage. I asked for the “klang” or “strong” massage. And that’s exactly what I got. I am certain that Mr. Wattana could crush walnuts with his bare hands. I winced often and whimpered once or twice, but it was really very nice.

More video
Tomorrow morning we get up at 5am again to profile another child. I’m already exhausted. I have no idea how I’ll keep up this pace. Eric from Trade Justice Mission arrives tomorrow as well to kick off our jewelry co-op projects.

As I said, I’m exhausted. I need to go to bed now. I hope I get a chance to post this report on my blog pretty soon. I also hope I can put some pictures up as well.

Peace to you all.


Erica said...


Wish I were there.


Anonymous said...

Great post! What we have been praying for.

I did NOT tell Meggie you ate,you know what, she would be so upset.

Dad has surgery on his knee this Thursday.

Keep it up, we are behind you with prayer and love.