Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amazing Stories from Kompong Thom

Just a short update from the bowels of Cambodia… I have been in my glory eating Cambodia food which I have missed so much. Wow, it is so good. The soup seasoned with Ganja is especially tasty. I’ve finally come home. The language is back, jack. I’m the man again.

Along with Pastor Ralph and a few young adults, I am leading a group of Junior High School students from Westminster Chapel in Bellevue and here we are, way up country, ministering to students in dorms who come from far away in the provinces. We had a great time playing games and doing tie dye t-shirt with them. We also participated in a Diamond Program class here in Kompong Thom (I helped launch this program). After church today we head back to PP where will minister with the EFC KEY and Andong Village.

I can’t say how impressed I am with some of these junior high school kids. Only 15 or 16, these teenagers are grappling with some difficult issues and concepts, ones that we adults suppress all our lives in order not to the abuse and suffering of the impoverished in this world. We work and hoard, and pile up material processions so high we cannot see a hurting world around us. In the last few days, after seeing the Diamond Program students and spending time with the teens of group, I feel hopeful. If we aren’t willing to get it, a remnant of the church will somehow. These teens are at a point where they can choose not become hoarders, consumers and good capitalists who market to know no end. They are not yet trapped in the system.
Last night Pastor Ralph led a debriefing in our room and we listened to what impressed the teens. One teen was impressed how the Diamond Project students (19 of them) were so serious about learning how to become good Christian leaders. No one had to be enticed to come and learn with promises of entertainment- they actually paid to enroll. Another teen girl who had to use the outhouse was sort of shocked that the sink was an open concrete/ tile box with murky water in it. It hit her just how our western reality is really a social construct which doesn’t reflect or include the reality of the rest of the world. Yet another teen saw how Cambodian young people really knew how to have fun and no one stood around trying to be cool. All the Cambodian dorm students participated in the games and activities, no one was excluded. One of our teens commented how awesome the Diamond Program was as they listed to DP students talk about time they spent with their mentors and all the creative field work they were doing. She sort of wished they had such a program back home. Most of them realized that by agreeing to go on this trip, they would be faced with a choice; either to build a life-long ethical response to the poor or to begin building life-long defense mechanisms enabling them to live in denial of a true Christian ethical response while they purse self-actualization, and the building of economic safety nets, maybe even in ways that oppress the poor. I have great hope for the majority of this group. I am glad too, that there will be some adults who can follow up with these young people and help them to continue to process all that emerges from the very unique situation God has placed them in. Pray for them.

Stories from Kompong Thom

Thamor Kohl District Church in Kompong Thom hosted our group today. Chumno, an EFC KEY staff of Kompong Thom translated the announcements. "Please pray that we can find the funding to rebuild our chicken. Our chicken burned down a few months ago." I was aware their kitchen burned down, but no one told me about the chicken burning down. Shouldn't be too hard to raise some funding to buy a new chicken but why aren't they worrying about the kitchen? Doesn't make much sense.

The Westminster teens taught the dorm students in Kompong Thom how to tie-dye t-shirts. It was interesting. I jokingly said to a Cambodian student, when you're finished with that, why don't you tie dye that white dog over there? A few minutes later the Westminster young people were calling me to stop the Cambodian boys from tie-dying the dog. "Brian, why didn't you stop them?" I said, "Well, their pastor was right there, I didn't want to over-ride his authority." Now Thamor Kohl has a white dog with a green racing stripe and few patches of blue. They blame me. What's up with that? By the way, they all wore their tie dyed shirts to church the next day and they looked great! I saw the white dog slinking about the church grounds and he fit right in.

The other night, Nick, one the adult leaders took the “Fertilized Duck Egg Challenge.” This consists of eating a fertilized duck egg which has developed almost into a baby duck in the shell. Has soft bones, a beak, wings, feathers, etc, inside the shell. You open the top of the egg, put a mixture of pepper and lime juice, and then eat the embryo out of the shell with a little spoon. Nick popped a big piece into his month and set there contemplating swallowing it. Pretty soon he began to look a little pale and spewed the contents of his mouth onto his plate. This just delighted those knuckled headed junior high students who were laughing themselves silly we attracted quite a crowd-with them being the noisy Americans they are.

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