Well a belated happy new year to all. May 2013 be the best year of your life so far! I was privileged to be asked to a wedding just before Christmas of a couple of clients of ours who had decided to re-commit their wedding vows. When I arrived I was surprised to find out that I was to be one of the stewards and given a place of honour at the front of ceremony. Not only did I get a front seat view of all that was going on but I also got to sit next to the fan! The reception was held in a Philippine restaurant and the newly weds were treated to a nights stay in a local hotel before returning to their jobs the following day. For the New Year we went to a local “resort” about five miles out of the city. It has a swimming pool and games facilities and there was over 60 of us in total from our Church. We had a wonderful time and were swimming until about 1.30 when we were asked by the management to quieten down as we were keeping the other visitors awake We had a barbecue in the evening and played games until midnight and were up for an “early” breakfast at 7.30. The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool and we eventually got home at 5.00 that evening. It was a good end to a WONDERFUL year and a good start to what will hopefully be another challenging but rewarding year.To walk on water you need to step out of the boat…you then need to take the next step knowing that it is a long way to the shore-there is much to be done out here.
Back at work there is much to be done,as expected. Just before Christmas I helped build a shelter at work for students who will be attending a vocational course on motor maintenance later this month. The shelter itself seems very basic but it is a big help to those in the province(countryside) who want to come and do the course as they now have somewhere to stay,and it is probably what they are used to in their own homes.The course itself teaches the basics of looking after and servicing a moto and will hopefully give students opportunities to start their own business.
We went to one of the big indoor markets the other day just to have a look around and were surprised to see how busy it was and the choice of products on sale. There were plenty of chickens on offer but my daughter was not too keen on having chicken for dinner that night after watching them being killed right in front of her….yukI
It has been good to get out and about on my bike during the Christmas period and explore more of Phnom Penh. It is a fascinating city and seems to be so busy all the time that it is hard to think that it only has a population of two million.As I have mentioned before the people seem so content with so little. Most seem to live from one day to the next and certainly seem not to worry about the things in life that bother a lot of us westerners…
This is another view from our balcony! so don’t look down. We recently moved house and everything went smoothly(there wasn’t a lot to move so that helped) and we now feel really at home and settled.We are in the same area which is good as we have made a lot of friends and it is quite close to the school for Edward and Lenna. Christmas here has been hot,as you would expect,but rather strange for an ex-pat as Cambodians do not celebrate Christmas and to them it is just another day and business as usual. A few shops have decorations up and you do see the occasional Christmas tree. On Christmas Day we went to church in the morning and to some friends afterwards for dinner with about ten others . It was a lovely time and we were able to enjoy turkey and get into the real Christmas spirit.
Just before the Christmas period we distributed 2000 shoe boxes filled with gifts to various churches and organisations. It was a privilege to see a lot of them being received by children who had nothing and I was surprised by how disciplined and grateful they all were. We could well have given out nearly another 1000 and our thanks go out to the church in Singapore who financed and packaged all the boxes.
At our headquarters we had a Christmas celebration and gave out over 200 boxes . As part of our celebration we did a short play and I was chosen to play King Herod. It was a non speaking part but I still managed to get all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem and its vicinity killed- I didn’t sleep easy that night.
While it is The Festive Season for some of us it is just another day for most here in CambodiaThese kids would have been out collecting rubbish just like any other day. Their days work would have got them no more than $2 in total(@£1.20) but to them it is money for the next meal and money to help pay the rent.Although they have nothing it is a pleasure to be in their company and they are just the same as kids all over the world-just a little bit more streetwise maybe.
Finally, I have just been invited to a wedding tomorrow-my first in Cambodia. A couple were having difficulties with each other and after having a period of counselling with our NGO,have decided to re-commit their marriage vows…I am looking forward to it.
Is this the coolest Santa in town? – not at 30 degrees plus,in the shade.
Well the last few days have been more of the same with a little bit extra. We are attending language lessons first thing in the morning and then going into work straight afterwards
On a Wednesday we travel out to the province to help with the kindergarten that our NGO has a link with. We also help and support the ladies sewing group that is out there and offer pastoral care to local villagers.People are very curious to see us(probably because we are white!) but at the same time very open and hospitable. The kindergarten has about twenty five to thirty children who attend from the nearby village and the plan is to one day have a primary school here as well.
It takes about an hour and a half to drive here from Phnom Penh so we start early leaving by 7.30 am and will sometimes be given lunch which is nice as the sandwiches don’t last too well at 30 degrees…
People are very open and friendly and it is not unusual to be asked into a home and given a drink or offered food.The children especially seem so happy with so little and it is a joy to be in their company.
Visiting people in the slums becomes a regular part of work as there is so much need there and so much to do. Unfortunately death is all around us.One of our clients died recently after being admitted to hospital after supposedly being knocked off her bike. She died in hospital soon after but unfortunately the real reason she was put into hospital was that she was beaten by her husband. Whether or not he will be brought to justice we will wait and see..The mother of one of our senior workers also passed away last week and our prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family. On the way home yesterday I was unfortunate enough to see my second road accident in just a few weeks. A man was laying on the side of the road after being hit by a vehicle. I am not sure if he was just unconscious or not..There was a crowd of people there,again just looking and watching.
2000 gift boxes have now been dispatched and will start to be given out to children over the next week or so.I played football on Sunday and Monday this week but have not had the chance to go cycling much lately and would be going on Saturday but for the fact that we are moving house. We don’t have a lot to move as where we are living now is fully furnished and where we are moving to is completely empty.We have borrowed a few items from work which is a big help and look forward to moving to a slightly bigger house. We will have plenty of room so if you would like to come and visit and see the work we are involved in or just fancy seeing some of Cambodia please get in touch as we would love to see you!
On Friday evening we went to watch the latest performance of You’ve Got Talent. This is the Cambodian equivalent Britain’s Got Talent and is held on the last Friday of each month at one of the big Churches here in Phnom Penh. It is organised by our good friend and next door neighbour Timothee Paton who has been a missionary out here for about thirteen years ,helping children in the slums and changing lives. A minibus was hired this time to take about fifteen of our neighbours as well as another minibus and one or two Tuk Tuks to bring other families from a nearby slum area..what a wonderful evening it was. A young girl from The Philippines won and will go through to the Grand Final next year.
On Saturday we went to visit Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary which is about one hours drive from Phnom Penh.It is a bit like Longleat but without the Health and Safety aspect. We saw crocodiles,monkeys,bears,tigers and elephants to name a few. It was quite scary how close we could get to them, especially the crocodiles..One of the baboons got a bit too close to my daughter Lenna and grabbed her hair-I think it was a good wake up call for her. We spent the morning there and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go.
In the evening we were invited to a barbecue at Tims and we enjoyed meeting other missionaries and listening to their stories of life on a wing and a prayer. After Church on Sunday I played five-a-side football to work up an appetite for lunch and then we did the weekly food shopping in the afternoon. Later on in the day some of the children who had come to You’ve Got Talent were waiting for Tim to come home. While they were waiting they asked if they could cut some of the sugar cane that was growing in our front garden(they love to chew on this stuff). They had some the other day so it was no problem for them to have a bit more-it saves me cutting it and trying to keep the garden tidy.
Looking back on this last week it has been surprising how much I have done. Not that I have done a lot, it was my first full week at work and had three days off due to the Water Festival which gave us three days public holidays.At work I was able to sort out and organise 2,ooo shoeboxes (filled with gifts) which will be distributed to various Churches and NGO’s throughout Phnom Penh who will pass them on to children at Christmas. All being well these should be collected next week. I also went to visit some clients in the nearby slums. It is so good to see that people do have hope despite their appalling. conditions and that many are not willing to give up but take what opportunities are given.
While cycling by the Royal Palace on Tuesday I stopped to watch some monkeys that were being fed some corn. Although they seemed quite tame I didn’t fancy getting too close to them.
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