Sunday, October 7, 2018

Graduates Meeting and Trash Pick Up Day

We had Graduate Meeting on Sept 24th and 25th.  To remind you, Graduate Meetings are a time we invite our graduates to come back for study, fellowship, and prayer.

The Theme for this meeting was "Because God Is on the Throne". 

Veasna, Rich's coworker, started off with Biblical examples of people who truly believed that God was on the throne and their responses to that belief with their lives.  Some of the examples were:  Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Sampson, Ruth, Esther, Job, Jeremiah, David, Daniel, Jesus, Stephen, Paul.
Then the application to us - do we really believe that God is on the throne and live accordingly.

Serevuth taught on "Because God is on the Throne, we must live Christian Lives".

Khemrin taught on "Because God is on the Throne, we must be His Servant".

(This picture is of Kimsroeun leading some songs)

Choeurn taught on "Because God is on the Throne,  our spiritual work and our physical work should be what".

Kimrun taught on "Because God is on the Throne, In Times of Trouble, we should be Faithful"

And Sokun taught on "Because God is on the Throne, we must Love Our Neighbors".

Thanks to so many of you, these men were able to come and study God's Word and are able now to go out and teach others.  Their lessons were well done.  I enjoyed getting to hear them preach again.


(This picture is Veasna as he is teaching). 

On the first day, Monday, Navy had a holiday from work, so she prepared the meals.  On Tuesday, I prepared lunch.  A friend and brother in Thailand sent me some wonderful marinade/BBQ sauce, and so we enjoyed sharing his gift by fixing ribs and chicken.   Tuesday night, we had Bunco night and Pizza. 
 The University congregation had another trash pickup day.  As we split into different groups, I can only get pictures of the ones around me.


 Unfortunately, one man told Khemrin that it was good that the foreigners (me!) lead them to do good things for Cambodia.  Khemrin told him that this was their idea and that this is the church cleaning up the trash.  So, probably for the next few times, us foreigners won't go out with them, so that it is the church that is getting noticed in the neighborhood instead of us.

Here we are wrapping it up.



All out of trash bags!  We picked up trash in the area for about 2 hours.
 Now for "random picture time".  These are lotus flowers.  They take the closed bulbs and turn down the outside petals to make the flowers look like this.
 Rich and I were talking in front of our neighborhood temple yesterday and I saw this cart.  Are any of you up for

deep fried frogs (not just legs, but the whole thing)

or
deed fried chicken feet.

Many of the Khmers (Cambodians) love to chew on the chicken feet.  I have told a few of them that there is no meat, but they said they just like to gnaw on them. 

Today starts the beginning of the Pchum Benh Holiday.  It is one of their biggest holidays - probably comparable to our Christmas.  Most Khmers go home to their villages.  It is a time for the Buddhists of ancestor worship, as well as family get-together time. Phnom Penh is pretty well deserted and shut down for a week. 

Please remember in your prayers:
 - the CBI school - that we will get new students that are excited about studying the gospel.
 - the churches
         - that the Christians can stand strong and their                  faith will grow. 
         - that our outreach will be effective to bring                           souls to the Lord.
 - for us - to have wisdom to serve God in this place.

Much love,
Ronda

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This past week

 Just bits of this past week.

One day, on our walk to CBI from our house, we passed this lady.  We see this a lot but I usually either forget to take pictures or it is too busy.

I told Rich that I think I would have to train my neck to carry that many brooms on my head. 
 This is our Lowe's.  This shop is in near our neighbor temple and it has everything!  It is probably 10 feet wide but it totally packed.  I have bought plumbing fittings, chain, lightbulbs, rugs, brooms, nuts, bolts, hose, etc.


 Doris Morrison left Cambodia for the United States on Thursday night.  She has worked here for the better part of 15 years.  Before she left, there was a Going Away party at her house/school. 
  Rich and I hopped on the motorcycle to head out there.  I am really sorry you can't get the full effect, but this is the front of the light.  Since we weave in and out of the cars, it is all motorcycles at the front of the lights.
  It took us 40-45 minutes to get there.  The friends that drove their pickup took over 1 1/2 hours.  Motorcycles are the way to go!
 This is us with Doris.  She is headed back to Lubbock, TX.  We pray that she adjusts well to being back in the United States and finds a work that she can be involved in.
 Sunday morning, Rich taught Bible class at the Phnom Penh congregation on Ephesians 5:1-2. 

In the afternoon, with the University congregation, Virak preached.  Virak lives in the Pursat province.  He is supported by the University congregation.  He taught on the examples of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 
This is another sight that we see a lot. 
A man is driving the motorcycle with the lady on the back of the motocycle holding the handles of the cart; and the kids are in the cart.  Usually the cart has recyclables or trash in it.  But this is one way to get all your family home without all being on the motorcycle, which is the normal way to do it. This is on one of the main streets in the city. 

Tomorrow will start our 2 day Graduate Meetings.  I'll tell you about it in the next blog.

Much love,
Ronda

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Women's NIght and Battambang

On Monday, September 10th, we had a Women's night.  I made tortillas and they had their first taste of chicken fajitas.  Well, you can't win them all...so about 4pm it started raining and rained until after 6m.  Since most of the women come on motorcycles, that puts a big dent in attendance.  So instead of having about 25-30 ladies, we only had 15.  That is to be expected at times when you live in a tropical country and it is rainy season.  

Our emphasis this time was on prayer.  We used different colors of index cards to remind the ladies to remember to praise God, confess to God, thank God and make request to God when you pray.
On Friday afternoon, Rich and I along with 8 others in our car made the trip to Battambang.  There was also a van from the BEST Center that went as well.  Phanat and Chakriya have recently moved from Siem Reap to start a work in Battambang.  Battambang is a large city to the NW of Phnom Penh.  
Phanat had arranged a seminar this weekend with topics from questions that he has been asked in the past.




 These are just pictures of the countryside.  I think the rice is such a pretty color of green.
Vannat, a graduate from the school of preaching in Siem Reap, was the first speaker.  He and his wife work with the church in Siem Reap.  They have 3 boys.

Vannat spoke on "How Do We Know God Exists?"
 We were all sitting on the floor, so it was difficult to get pictures, but there ended up being about 75-80 people there.  About 30 of those were from the community, so that was great!

Chakriya did a great job of planning the food and having meals for us all.
 One of the things that everyone really enjoys when several congregations get together is the singing.  Since our congregations are small, it is very uplifting to hear so many voices together.
 Veasna, Rich's coworker and a graduate of our school, was the next speaker. 

He spoke on "Why Do Christians say that Jesus is God and the Buddhists say that our parents are God?"
 I forgot to keep count of all the different song leaders that we had.  They all did a great job.

Most of the people were from Battambang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. 
 Rich spoke next. His topic was "How is Christianity Different from Other Religions?"
 This is Phanat.  I failed to get a picture of him when he was teaching or a picture of Chakriya, his wife.

Pray for their new work in Battambang. 

I also didn't get a picture of Darat when he was teaching.  Darat is a graduate from the school in Siem Reap and now is one of the instructors there.

Darat spoke on "Who is God?"



 Richard and Linda Benskin from Austin, TX were there visiting.  Richard ended up teaching on "How Do We Know the Bible is From God?"


 Khemrin, one of our graduates, and an intern at the University Congregation in Phnom Penh spoke on "Can Someone be a Christian and a Buddhist at the Same Time?"



These were during the day on Saturday.  Then on Saturday evening after supper, Phanat taught on "Why I Believe in Jesus."  He also had 3 other of the men tell their stories.
 Piset taught during the class time Sunday morning.  He is a graduate of the Siem Reap school and works there now.

He talked about why we need to teach, that we need to teach truth, and apply that truth to our lives so that others can see our example.

During Assembly time, Rich spoke again.  He preached on "The Benefits we Receive Now as Chistians."

 After the meeting was over, we said our good-byes and headed back to Phnom Penh.

This is just a picture of sellers beside the road.  They sell all kinds of foods - fruit, vegetables, fish, dried meat, etc.  They also sell gourds, drinks, and about anything else you can think of.
We stopped in Pursat to eat lunch.  This is a picture of our group in the front and the group from the BEST Center in the back. 

We had a great plate of fried shrimp!  Most of the kids got fried rice of some sort.

We had a great weekend! 

Please keep the Christians here in your prayers.  That they might grow in their faith and stand strong.

Much love,
Ronda

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Trash day!

 Saturday morning was our first trash pick-up day.

The University congregation is trying to be a presence in the community and reach out to our neighbors, make some new friends and relationship, and show our neighbors that the church is here to help them, serve them, and teach them about Jesus.

One of the ways that was decided to do this was trash pick up.  The Khmers (Cambodians) have not been raised the commercials about "Keep America Clean" , "Don't Mess with Texas" and other slogans
that we have.  So, they follow by example and what they see is to throw your trash in the street whenever you are done with it.

We spent about 2 hours walking around in the neighborhood picking up trash and just being visible.

We did have some people ask what we were doing and why and that gave us an opportunity to talk to them about us and who we serve as Christians. 
 These kids were excited about doing this and making a difference - even if it is a small one. 

We haven't decided yet on how often we will be doing this but it was a great start.

In fact, one woman was so impressed that she got everyone bottled water and send her teenage son to go with us and help.

(If you are wondering if it was cold due to the long sleeves and jacket here, it was absolutely not!  It was probably in the mid 90s.  The Khmers do not want to get any sun on them and believe that the more layers between their skin and the sun, the cooler they are.  I have NOT bought into this theory.)


 We ran out of trash bags before we ran out of trash.  So, we are some of us as we are heading back. 

 
 I thought you might enjoy this.  Friday morning, Rich and I headed out on the motorcycle to the Department of Transportation.  They now require everyone to go to one place that is in the far north part of the city. 

While we were stopped in traffic, I took this picture of this guy getting his hair cut.  As you can see this is just a tin shed that they put on the side of the road.  It isn't a great picture because I didn't want them to know I was taking it.
Next door is a nice sidewalk cafe.  So when you get done with your haircut, you can just move over one stall and eat.

As for our drivers licenses, we were told we needed:  our expired Cambodian licenses, 3 passport pictures, passports, work permits, copies of our visa,  our house lease to prove residence and of course, copies of all of this.
 
We get there (thankfully we didn't have a big line to wait in), bring all our stuff to the first window, and she says "Where is your US driver licenses? You have to have a current US license or you have to take the tests."  It took us over 40 minutes to get there on the motorcycle, which is the fastest form of transportation since you get to weave in and out and not sit in the lines.  Rich had to go all the way back to the house, get our US licenses, and drive all the way back.  Of course, she didn't even look at our work permits or house lease.  Ha!

While we were waiting, there was a group of 8 European men who came in trying to get drivers licenses so that they could get insurance on the motorcycles that they were renting.  But since they aren't residence, they couldn't get licenses and therefore, no insurance.  I'm quite confident that they were going to go on without it.  One of these guys evidently had done this in 2016 and now brought his friends.  The laws change here all the time.  It's sometimes hard to keep up.

Rich is giving his final in Ezekiel tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, he will start teaching Ephesians  Veasna is wrapping up Wisdom Literature and then will teach the Humanity of Jesus.

Keep us and the Christians here in your prayers. 
Much love,
Ronda

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Just random things

 I thought you might enjoy the sign outside of a new place to eat.  And, no, Rich and I haven't eaten there.  When you come, we can take you to try it out.

I forgot in the last blog to tell you how our trip started off.  A mess of mistakes and miscommunication.
  First, our ride to the airport was to pick us up at 2:15p.m.  Rich had to go to the school and give a quiz first, (started at 1:30pm), so he knew he was going to be in a hurry.  He got home at 2pm...and our ride pulled up 15 minutes early.  So, Rich's suitcase was downstairs so he gathered up a couple things and we were off.
  We get to the airport, Piset (our ride) let us off and he was gone.  Rich felt his pocket...no passport.  We tried to call Piset back quickly but someone else had his phone.  We ended up calling my sister, Julie, and asked her to run to our house, get the passport and then bring it to us at the airport.  She was leaving for the US the next day, so had tons to do, but she quickly got the passport to us.

  The next thing, when we arrived in Thailand, we had been told that someone would be "outside waiting for us".  OK.  We waited and waited.  I went back inside so I could use their Wifi and sent a message to Patinya, the preacher at the Watcharaporn congregation who was our contact.  I got no message back after awhile, so went back out to wait.  Finally, after we had been waiting outside for an hour, Patinya answers and says it was his fault because he meant 'outside the baggage claim' - but inside the building. So the sweet man and his daughter that was picking us up had also been waiting an hour.
  Then, Tuli, the man that picked us up told Rich "Patinya wants you to call him as soon as you get here about the schedule."  Uh-oh.  The schedule showed Rich teaching everyone 4 times; and I was teaching the women twice and listed the name of my interpreter and the name of a Thai man for the men, who we assumed was teaching the men.  But, no.  He was to be Rich's interpreter for the 2 classes.  But since Rich's name wasn't listed, Rich didn't know he was teaching those.  So, Rich got to work on those late that night.  But of course, he did a great job.
             This is a picture outside of one of the high schools.  Then they have their final tests, police come to every high school and guard the school.  This is less than half of the motorcycles for this school; the other half was on a side road.  It is quite an ordeal that goes for 3 days.
Another story of how things are done differently here. 
 I went to a computer store to get printer ink.  They  have different items on each floor (gaming computer on one floor, Dell computers on another floor, other brands on different floors).  The printer cartridge and printers are on the 5th floor. 
 After I talked to the salesman and found what I needed, he asked me to have a seat while he got that ready for me.  He came back a few minutes later with the bag.  I reached out to get it and asked how much.  He pulled the bag back and told me that he would escort me down to the ground floor where you pay. 
  Once we got back down there, he asked me to have a seat again and he took the bag to the girls at the end of the room.  They printed off a receipt, which he brought back to me.  I gave him the money which he brought back to the girls.  Then they gave him the change which he brought back to me with the receipt and the bag.  Not exactly efficient.  Thankfully, I wasn't in a hurry.  He was very kind and we had a nice visit going down the stairs.  He did ask me when I came up the stairs why I didn't take the elevator.  I told him for the exercise.  He, without complaint, walked 5 floors down the stairs with me! 
                               This is Sokun.  He works with the church in his village in Battambang with Soklee and they do a great job.  He was asked to speak to the University Church of Christ congregation this afternoon. He preached on Showing the Love of God.

Rich taught the class at the Phnom Penh congregation in the morning on Fellowship.  He had a great lesson on what that meant, such as meeting together, encouraging each other, listening to each other, helping and serving each other.  His base verse came from Acts 2:42 where it tells the different things that the 1st century church did.  He has taught on some of the other things listed in that verse before. 

We are excited that the University Church's men met together to discuss ways to serve the community.  On Saturday, Sept 1st, we are going to go around and pick up trash in this area and talk to the people we meet along the way about why we are doing this and who we are.  The plan is to do this repeatedly so that our neighbors are aware that we are here and get to know us.

Please keep these sweet Christians in your prayers as they grow in their father and strive to reach this country.

Much love,
Ronda

Friday, August 17, 2018

Family Retreat in Thailand

Rich and I were invited to teach at a family retreat in Thailand organized by the Watcharaporn church in Bangkok.

This pictures is some of the people that attended.  We didn't take the picture until the last day and some people had already left.  But there was probably 30-40 couples. 
 The place we went to was Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  It is the location of the Bridge over the River Kwai, that was famous during WWII, and the story that the movie by the same name was based on.

I thought you might enjoy some of the town's light pole decorations.  Besides these 2 different versions of fish, I also noticed that one some of the small poles, there was just one fish.

 This is the view from the dining area off the river.



Rich taught 4 times to all the adults.
He taught on:
  - the importance of strong marriages
  - 6 things that strong families have in common
  - 5 main things that children need from their parents
  - having a balance between family time and church time
  - communication
  - the 12 things that kill communication
  - how to teach your families to serve spiritually

As we do not speak Thai, we had translators.  There were 3 different men that translated for Rich and 2 ladies that translated for me. They all did a great job!

There were 2 classes that were split between the men and the women. 

My classes were on marriage and families; primarily areas that the Bible is in conflict with our cultures and the world.  And then the practical applications to those in our lives.

Rich's classes were also on the practical application to God's Word in our lives.  He talked a bit about 'His Needs Her Needs' book and how those ideas fit into our daily lives.

Everyone was so sweet and gracious to us.  We thoroughly enjoyed the time we got to spend with them both during our study times and leisure times.
 On day, we took a barge down the river for a few hours.  This boat pulled up to the barge as we were going down the river, hooked on,  and started selling all kinds of food and drinks.  Her husband is in the back of the boat, but I wanted a close enough picture that you can see what she is selling.  She has dried squid in her hands - which is very good.
These are barges in front of us.  I didn't get a picture of our barge but you can see these.  This is actually 3 barges together (one in the front that you can't see) and they are pulled by a boat.  Unlike the back, the sides and front are open.  It was really enjoyable just to sit and feel the breeze and enjoy God's creation down the river and great company.
This is the boat that pulled our barge.




















As the place that we got on and off the barges were just downriver from the bridge, several of us decided to go on to see the bridge.  My family went there once; I think the 2nd year that we lived in Thailand, which would have been 1974.  I don't remember there being tons of people there then, like there was this time.  However, this was a holiday weekend in Thailand, as it was the Queen's birthday and Thai Mother's Day.
This is totally off the point of this blog but I thought it was funny. 

In the airport in Thailand, this is the sign after you go through customs and then the scanning machines.  As much as Rich has to unload and take off (wallet, keys, belt, shoes, etc.), I guess this sign is applicable.

Again, we had a wonderful trip.  We hope all we did was to God's glory.  We can look forward to heaven when we can all meet the brothers and sisters in the Lord that we might not have opportunity to meet on this earth.  The Thai Christians are wonderful people and I can't wait for you all to meet them one day.

Now, back to work in Phnom Penh.  Pray for us to have wisdom to know the paths that God wants us to take to do His work in this place.

Much love,
Ronda

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Asia Mission Forum

Rich and I were able to attend the Asia Mission Forum last week in Bangkok, Thailand.  The Asia Mission Forum is a few days each year that missionaries, as well as some locals, get together for encouragement, prayer, study God's Word, singing, fellowship.  We are grateful to those of you who give us the funds to be able to attend.

This year, Larry Henderson and Kelly Davidson were the keynote speakers.  Both of these men I have know for years as they grew up in Thailand and then returned to Thailand as missionaries with their families.  I was thrilled to be able to visit with them and catch up a bit.

This year, much of the time was concentrated on prayer; particularly, prayer for the cities. 
It is always nice to see old friends and make new friends and worship our God together.

This Friday, Rich and I will go back to Thailand for the weekend.  The Watcharaporn congregation puts on a Family Retreat that we will be teaching at.  Rich will teach 4 lessons and then I have 2 ladies classes as well.  Please keep us in your prayers that we might have God's wisdom and teach the things that He would have us teach.

At the school here in Phnom Penh, Rich is currently teaching Ezekiel. 

Hopefully I will remember to take a few pictures at the Family Retreat.

Much love,
Ronda