Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas and Cambodia

Well, it's that time of year again when the world descends into its annual orgy of silliness and material excesses.

The church attempted to 'Christian-ise' what had been essentially a pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice (see last year's post : '
So why on earth do we celebrate Christmas???), but each year the festival bumps and grinds inexorably back towards its pagan roots. Jesus never taught us to celebrate his birthday, and it is almost certain he was not born on Christmas day. And there is no evidence whatsoever, that the early church celebrated Christmas. So I don't have the same kind of romantic notions and spiritual sensitiveness that many Christians have about Christmas. I certainly reject all the extraneous associations with wintery scenes, fireplaces, yule logs, turkey and ham (shades of our colonial past!)

If we are to remember, let us instead remember that the King of Kings chose to be born in a stable - not the over-romanticized sweetly smiling child surrounded by adoring farm animals - but probably crying, cold and hungry, in a dirty, smelly, fly infested environment.

Mary was reported to have sung these famous words when she discovered her pregnancy (Luke 1):

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Let us remember Jesus came to bring salvation, justice and hope. Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.

If nothing else this year, let us pray that for that one night, when we supposedly commemorate the arrival of the Christ-child, that no child in this world will go to bed hungry, crying or abused.
May God grant us this one wish.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Ping and e.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preah Yesu's birthday

the Yesu people came

they say Preah Yesu
was born many years ago
in a place
where they keep cows

i do not understand
why Preah Yesu
was born like that

my mother said
i was born like that

the cows were smelly
and there were flies
and mosquitos
and she had no food to eat

I cried a lot
because she had no milk for me

Preah Yesu,
can you see me now?
can you see me from where you are?

i want to give you something
for your birthday
but i have nothing to give

Preah Yesu
can you see me?
will you love me even if
I have nothing to give you?

they say one day

you will come
and bring me
to where you are

Preah Yesu, come

come soon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Build-a School Project : 2008/2009


We need to raise funds this coming year to support the following:

a] The construction of a 3 classroom school at
Leav/Char village. This will support about 200 Grade 1-3 students from about 500 families. As with the other schools previously built, we will put in the benches and desks, as well as toilets and a bore-well in the school compound.

b] School resources: exercise books, writing materials, pens, chalks and various educational materials. Health / educational aids and any kind of educational games will be very much appreciated. School uniforms are luxuries, but also very much valued.

c] A simple weekly or bi-weekly nutritional aid programme. Perhaps just a boiled egg per student.

I realize this is a difficult time to raise funds but we've got to try. It's always a difficult time for these kids, and they don't really have many options.

Please contact
me if you wish to contribute in any way. You can use the email link below to send this appeal to your friends as well. We have been involved in Cambodia for about 10 years, and since 2005, have built 3 schools in remote villages, Chhom Trach, Ta Peuv and O Ta Saeng (average one per year). For more information on these schools please see here.

100% of all monies raised will go to the construction of the school, or directly to the kids. All associated costs, administrative, travel etc are borne personally.

Please make any cheques payable to "Mt Carmel BP Church Ltd" and indicate on the back of the cheque or with a covering letter, that this is intended for the "Cambodia School Building Project".

God bless.


Phum Leav

Earlier this year, in August, we visited a village not too far from Ta Peuv. At least as the crow flies, it is not very far. In truth, it lies on another track north of the one leading to Ta Peuv. At the main junction at Krava, instead of turning East, if you continue northwards and loop around about 10kms, you will come to a rather dispersed cluster of villages. The main one is the one we visited. It's called Phum Leav (Laos village). Apparently the name is derived from the fact that there were Laotians living there before.

There are about 300+ families living in Leav. Just proximal to it, lie a smaller village of about 100+ families called Char. We are contemplating building a school there for the village (Leav). Perhaps a 3 classroom school like the one in O Ta Saeng, that can serve both Leav and Char. It's badly needed as the roads there are very bad and accessibility to schools are extremely difficult.

The pastors with the Leav village headman (blue shirt,white cap)surveying the land for the school

The pastors have been working hard to establish their gospel inroads there. Currently, one of Savann's men has established a cell group there. We hope that that will take root and grow. If we can find a church to partner, and who will adopt that village, it will be even better. But we recognize that fund raising will very very tough this time given the current economic climate. But we proceed in faith. And in your prayers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Church@OTa Saeng

One of the preconditions we had when we entered into the school building project was that this had to be in association with some sort of gospel mission. In the villages we worked with, there was invariably some cell group or house church already in the community.

At O Ta Saeng, we were very fortunate that even as
we were partnering Alor Star Wesley Methodist Church in building the school, the ASWMC was already planning to build their church at O Ta Saeng.

During the previous trip, at the commissioning of the school, the foundations of the church was just beginning to be laid. Now we were overjoyed to see the church take shape. The building is almost complete.

Praise God.

Project L.O.V.E.

We had a great time with the 22 students from NTU (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Leadership Development Programme). Great bunch of kids, with great attitude, and a high threshold for hard work. I will post more about their exploits later. Although it was largely a secular social works project (Project L.O.V.E.), we had a very enjoyable and fruitful time sharing with them various aspects of the ministry and the social needs of Baray.

Edible spiders - Haplopelma

As you travel up to Baray from Phnom Penh, there is a town called Skoun where a turn off will lead you eastwards into Kampong Chham. There the specialty is a kind of edible tarantula. Apparently this spider is quite known through SE Asia as the 'edible spider', Haplopelma albostriatum.

They seem quite harmless alive, and not venomous.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It was beautiful in the fields of Baray. The padi was ripe and ready for harvest. Although the fields were generally shimmering with grain, I was told that the harvest was poor this year. Apparently the rains had come late. Earlier in the season, the dry spells had badly affected the quality of crops, and the yield poor.

Still, it was quite educational for us, watching the harvest and processing of the padi.

More about Cambodia rice here:

School resources

The kids are generally very keen about school. The parents sometimes need persuading especially during harvest time when they prefer the kids to be working. Sadly many do not place a premium on education yet. Fortunately the kids are coming to school, and learning.

The difficulties the students face also relate to the inadequacy of resources in the school. The students don't have money for school uniforms. Some have used uniforms but they are often dirty and torn. They have text books which have been issued by the government. These seem adequate. But they do not have exercise books and writing materials. They make use of a chalkboard to practice writing, but they do not have any chalk!!

We have been thinking of ways to resource the classrooms and the students. On top of books and writing materials, the kids need school bags. We reckon we can start a collection for ballpoint pens and discarded conference bags. But I think for the long haul we need to find some way fund the school.

A rough estimate would be approximately USD5-10 per student per year. Based on the 7 classes x 2 sessions we have started in the 3 villages, we will need to raise about USD3-5K per year just to sponsor these students.


O Ta Saeng School

We had a great opportunity to visit the school at O Ta Saeng. Since the commissioning of the school in August, the school has already started 4 classes - 2 x Grade 1 classes in the afternoon, and 1 x Grade 2 and 1 x Grade 3 in the morning. Each class takes about 35 students at the moment. It is expected that by the same time next year, the school will be full.

Two teachers were taking classes that morning. The Dy Principle of the school, Lene has been teaching for 0ver 10 years. She has Grade 9 + 1 year of teacher training. She lives about 5 km from school and rides a motorbike in daily. She shared that she was quite content biking the distance in to school, as there were now more students in school. Apparently last year, before the school was built, 2 children had fallen into the river on the way to school and drowned.

The other teacher Bomary, is younger, b
ut with similar qualifications. She lives only about a km away. Both appear quite happy and well adjusted.

One of the difficulties they face is the shortage of resources. The children have textbooks issued by the government, but no exercise books and writing material. More about this later.

Monday, December 1, 2008

NTU Student project

Students meeting at our home

On 6 December, Ping and I will leave for Baray. We will meet up with a group of 22 NTU students from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Leadership Development Programme. They will spend a week in Baray working with Esther's team on a number of village projects. I have to say we are both really looking forward to this trip.

Their Project L.O.V.E. brief itinerary is as follows:

Day1 Sunday
Arrival -packing of hygiene packs, food rations

Day 2 Monday
Making the roads
The whole group is involved in the project for today

Day 3 Tuesday
Making 3 wells and pavements concurrently
3 gps of students at 3 different places.

Day 4 Wednesday
Repairing roofs of a small house of 4m by 5m with zinc roof.
This is one of the most important project to give shelter to the
elderly and the poorest ones.

Day 5 Thursday
Teaching hygiene in school but taking on 6 classes.
Each group to teach in 2 classes taking about an hour in one class

Day6 Friday
Visit village homes and distribute clothes and food rations

Day7 Saturday
Leave for Siem Reap.

O Ta Saeng School commissioning

My apologies for being so slow in posting my updates. Things just kinda snowballed after we got back from Cambodia.

So the exams are over now and I've finished marking the exam I have a bit more breathing space now. Also looking forward to our next trip to Baray.

The school at O Ta Saeng was completed on schedule. We had a bit of an opening ceremony. It was also good meeting up with Ps Lee Peng Chiat from Alor Star methodist Church. I felt especially satisfied that we were able to build this school in collaboration with Alor Star despite our not having known each other before...and having done so in faith and trust.

In the end the inflation bumped up the cost of the school almost 50%, but by God's grace we had just about enough funds to pay for everything.