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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sout Yon

Mr Sout Yon, 57 years old, is from Phum Ley. H e was once in the British Army and lost his leg when he stepped on a landmine. Now he volunteers his services teaching the pre-school children.

He's really doing such a wonderful job.

Esther's group gives him a love gift of US$5 every month for his efforts. A generous sister has committed to give him an additional US$15 every month.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Support for Chhom Trach

Miza distributing exercise books and pens to the kids

Chhom Trach is by far one of the most remote and poor village we have worked with. It was also the first village school we built.

Each time we visit the village, we see the change that the school and the well has effected in the lives of the village. But the effects are fast fading as the poverty continues to wreak its depressing effects on the village. Isolated, the village is also not blessed with much arable land.

We decided on this trip that we would try and do a number of things for the kids to try and support the village:

a] A food supplement programme. This will take the form of a weekly cooked meal of eggs and rice. We intend to let the village Christians manage the programme.

US$300 one time set up cost (kitchen and utensils)
US$0.25 per child per meal. Annual budget of US$1700
Total: US$2000 for the first year, and US1700 per year thereafter.

b] Teacher incentivization programme. This provides for an incentive bonus of US15 per month for each the two teachers at the school.

US$360 per year.

Once again we were very blessed by the commitment of a sister to sponsor these programmes at Chhom Trach for a period of 3 years.

Our hearts are just so filled with joy and thanksgiving at His wonderful mercy and love.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Phum Ley Village

Headman Croch Leng, second from right

One of the highlights of our recent trip was a visit to a remote village called Phum Ley (not to be confused with the previous village Phum Leav).

This is a medium sized village of 192 families in the middle of what seems like nowhere. The headman was Croch Leng, a very pleasant 62 year old man with heart disease. He explained that he had a plot of land which he would donate for a school if we could build one for the village. (They have since found a larger piece of land for the school, approx 43 x 26m...)

As we walked around the village, we came across children who were bright and alert, coming back from a 'pre-school'.

Sout Yon, and the preschool in the shack just behind me

We learnt that a 57 year old man, Sout Yon, was voluntarily gathering the young children and teaching them at pre-school level. Because of this very early introduction to school, the kids in the village were very enthusiastic about schooling.

What really humbled us and touched our hearts when a brother (who has requested to remain unnamed) among us offered to donate the costs for the construction of a 3 classroom school at Phum Ley, complete with toilets, and a well. This was something we never expected, and we really praise God for this unexpected shower of blessing.

The kids are also pretty innovative, and we were quite impressed by their engineering skills in constructing a push around toy made out of a plastic water bottle and 2 palm fruits as wheels.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Huge Losses as a Result of a Lack of Sanitation in Cambodia

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 611

“An announcement about a clean water and sanitation program of the World Bank yesterday read, ‘In Cambodia, less than one person among four, that is actually 22% of the total population, is satisfied to have a toilet built at their home – among them about 16% are in rural areas and about 56% are in more densely populated areas. That means that nearly three fourth, that is 70% of the Cambodian population (more than 10 million), still do not discharge feces in toilets.

“According to a study of the World Bank, it is assessed that the economic loss derived from a lack of sanitation in Cambodia is about US$450 million per year, which is around 7% of the GDP in 2005. That means that on average, each person loses approximately US$30 because of a lack of sanitation.

“It went on to say that the economic loss from the impact on health, resulting from the lack of sanitation, is approximately US$190 million of the total loss. The loss caused by dirty water is approximately US$150 million. The loss in the area of tourism is approximately US$75 million. And the loss because of the waste of time resulting from a lack of sanitation is approximately US$40 million.

“The announcement added that many diseases result from infection through human feces and low sanitation, which result in diarrhea, insects in the intestine, and eye and skin diseases. The infection for some diseases are transmitted through dirty hands, flies, contaminated water, and food. Many diseases occur among undernourished children. About 30% of Cambodian children are malnourished, and this reduces the possibilities for their normal daily activities.

“Per year, there are at least ten million cases of disease caused by a lack of sanitation in Cambodia, leading to about 10,000 deaths. Children under the age of 5 suffer on average at least four cases of diarrhea each year, from water for domestic use that is not clean.

“Diseases lead to many expenses, especially when parents do not seek proper treatment from doctors or buy medicines prepared by unqualified sellers of medicine.

“The poor lack money, or even have to borrow money from other people, to cover the expenses for treatments. Also, diseases make children to be away from normal everyday activities and from school. The wasted expenses related to health care caused by a lack of sanitation amount to approximately US$20 million. Cambodia has achieved a reduction of the death rate of children in recent years, but the rate is still the highest in Asia. Deaths at an early age because of a lack of sanitation cause families great loss, and about 10,000 people die before a normal age, leading to a loss of income of about US170 million per year.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #177, 6.5.2009

Phum Leav - Our God works miracles!

Here is Ps Samreth and Ps Sauvan by the drilled well at Phum Leav. How do you measure joy?

The drillers after the first failed attempt down to 64m, had reluctantly agreed to attempt a second drill. And they only did so because there was no other option. An application to the police to use explosives to blast the surface rock so as to enable construction of an open well was not approved. The drillers gave us only a 1% chance of success. In their experience, the characteristics of the soil encountered when they drilled the first time was indicative that there was no water there. But they agreed to proceed on the assurance we would pay them US$300 even if they failed.

But God's plans often defy human wisdom.

They struck water at 40m.

Just a couple of weeks earlier, Ps Kheng Hai had preached on Luke 5 :1-11 (I had shared this in an earlier post). Jesus, at Lake Genasseret, had asked a tired defeated Simon to cast his net one more time. Simon though having had a night of fruitless effort, did as he was told, and was rewarded with a bumper harvest of fishes. Yep, God has a habit of defying human wisdom.

On this trip, we were not only rewarded with a well, where there should have been none, but an extra school at a village called Phum Ley. I will tell you more about Phum Ley later, but for now we rejoice at God's blessings.

The night before we departed Phnom Penh, I shared this account with some youths, and a particular insight into Simon's unexpected catch. I reminded them that while it was natural for us to recognize God's blessing when they occur, and to give praise and thanks to Him, it was important to recognize that Simon's response was quite extraordinary. This was because he saw a truth beyond the blessings. That truth was the divinity of Jesus, and correspondingly he recognized his own wretchedness. It was recorded that his first words were "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!".

So should it be with us. God's blessings all have a meaning deeper than the transient joy and pleasure His blessings bring. His blessings should have the effect of revealing Himself to us.

Let it be our prayer, that even as He blesses the villages, that they will not just see the blessings, but will come to recognize the divinity of the One behind these blessings and come to trust in Him.

We are also living in the shadow of His wings

Sorry for the long silence since we returned from Cambodia. It seems like we've all lived a lifetime since then.

We were actually on the way back from Baray on 25th April, when we got the news that Kheng, Ping's sister, was in hospital. Apparently what had started as a simple abdominal pain, turned out to be cancer of the ovaries. Stage 3C, in fact.

By God's grace, she has since endured surgery and now recovering at home.

Sometimes, it is difficult to comprehend, but we live in the shadow of His wings and continue to trust in His wonderful grace.

Do pray for us during this difficult time.