Cambodia Daily Journal
Airport - Thursday, June 7, 2007
Hello everyone! We are writing this blog post from a free wireless
internet hotspot in the Taipei, Taiwan airport during our last layover
before catching our final connection to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Lord
has blessed us with safe travels even though the rides have been bumpy.
It will probably come as no surprise to many of you that we kinda like the
roller coaster effect. The thunderstorm over Taipei caused the pilots to
make a missed approach on their first attempt - just added some extra
excitement for us. We have done lots of sleeping enroute so feel pretty
rested at this point. We pray all of you enjoy and are encouraged by our
posts. We long to bring glory to God. Please help us by your praises and
thanksgivings to Him in prayer. We will post again at the next
the hope we have, Dennis & Sharon
Day 1 - Thursday,
June 7, 2007
Sou-is dey” Y’all! That is Cambodian “hello” with a Texas twist. We are
here! By the sovereign hand of the Lord, we arrived in Phnom Penh weary
but excited. Our flight from Taipei was uneventful and with partly cloudy
skies, we enjoyed watching, first the ocean (South China Sea?) pass below,
and then the Vietnam and Cambodian countryside from six miles above. You
think you’ve had a lot of rain this spring where you live…the water is
everywhere here. And we are still in the early stages of their rainy
season which doesn’t end until around the beginning or middle of fall.
Immigrations and customs were a cinch…no worries at all. The Cambodians
are noted for their smiling faces and gracious demeanors so even the
officials are delightful. James and Tawn met us at the airport full of
sweet, sweet smiles. Brad and Siriporn, full of grins too, were with
them, having all waited for nearly four hours after their arrival from
Bangkok. Everyone enjoyed a splendid reunion, then caught a taxi to our
hotel. We had intended to stay at the Golden Star across the street from
last year’s hotel, the Golden Gate. Since they were full, we are back
where we stayed last year, the Golden Gate (#9, Rd 278). If you’re in the
neighborhood, please stop by. We’re in room 512.
After settling in and unpacking our bags, we took a stroll around the
neighborhood. Rest assured, none of us got chilly. We found the
Khmer/Thai food restaurant we ate at often last year so we enjoyed our
favorite (so far) Khmer dish - Pineapple Chicken. We all ate too much so
we needed another stroll to work some off. We ended up at the
International Book Store which is more like a university book store and a
Barnes and Noble combined with an Office Depot done 7-Eleven style. We
bought an alarm clock!
guess the folks ’round here seem to have a less than positive impression
of westerners (Americans?) because when Sharon greets them with her
disarming smile and soft words, they never fail to warm up to all of us.
One even asked where we were from in a way that made it obvious he
expected a different attitude from his experiences. We credit it to the
Spirit of Jesus living within us. We remain hopeful that by the love we
show each other and to them, they too will see that it is Jesus who makes
us different. Please pray for the success of the Lord working through
each one of us.
You are never far from us when you live in our hearts and share in our
service to the King! –
2 - Friday, June 8, 2007
fellowship is such a delight. First thing Friday morning we met with
James and Tawn Lork, the two brothers who are currently operating the
Cambodia Bible Institute (CBI). God blessed us with an opportunity to
sort through most of our activities in which we will participate for the
school and for the congregation while we are here.
objective of the missionary is to understand the people - their past,
their religion, and their culture. In an effort to better understand the
Khmer people (the ethnic group of nearly all Cambodians), James met us
after lunch for a trip to the Killing Fields at the Choeung Ek Genocidal
Center. What a horrific memory! In one tiny field, 20,000 men, women and
children were violently slaughtered by their own people. We hope to say
much more about this later on another page on the blog. We long to bring
the remnant of survivors the "Good News" story, so that Jesus might bless
them with joy of heart.
Later, we shopped in an open-air market called
"Russian Market." This place has just about anything. We enjoyed
bargaining with the vendors for items we purchased. This market is where
most Cambodians shop. The prices are rock bottom as is some of the
quality. To see this facet of their lives, any visit to Phnom Penh
must include a trip to the market.
Day 3 - Saturday, June 9, 2007
In a stark
contrast to Friday's trip to the Killing Fields and the poverty laden
Russian Market, on Saturday morning, James took us to the "Royal Palace."
This is the where the king of Cambodia entertains foreign dignitaries
(like us? LOL!). He lives in the heavily guarded rear of this compound.
There are numerous buildings in the tourist section filled with all sorts
of beautiful treasures and artifacts. As we have ventured in and among
the people, we are saddened by all the poverty. Conversely, here we were
struck by how much wealth is present yet not being used to help the poor.
It is our prayer that God opens the eyes of the government to responsibly
care for the people.
spent the remainder of the day preparing for upcoming seminars they
teach. Toward evening, Dr. Rick and Gail Northen came by to encourage
us. What a delightful couple. They have given this period of their lives
to oversee the "Ship of Life," a medical mission ministry operating on the
Mekong River. Later, Dennis and Sharon took Brad and Siriporn out to
celebrate her XXth birthday. We did manage to find a restaurant with Thai
food spicy enough for her liking. We dearly love this couple and so look
forward to many years on the mission field with them.
Day 4 - Lord's Day, June 10, 2007
the Lord's Day has arrived! Oh, what a blessing to assemble with the
We worshipped with the
Phnom Penh congregation in the morning and with the Partners In Progress
congregation for evening assembly. James taught the Bible class on
"Humility vs. Pride" and Brad preached a wonderful sermon on "What Kind of
Prayers Does God Answer?" It was amazing to get the lessons in both
English and Khmer. We so look
forward to learning the language so we can speak with the locals. The
evening lesson, presented by a local preacher, Bora, a CBI graduate, was
on "The Teachings of Jesus." Overall, it was a wonderful day fellowshipping
with our brothers and sisters!
blessed with the opportunity to enjoy lunch with some local missionaries.
Nathan and Cheryl Wheeler, have been in Cambodia for approximately three
years and their teammates, Andrew and Natalie Hayes recently made the move
form the states to join them. The time we had together was inspiring as
they told us about their ministry work and shared information that will
assist us as we prepare to move here.
Day 5 - Monday, June 11, 2007
The 1st day
of class! We arrived at the Cambodia Bible Institute to the beautiful
smiling faces of the students. We are so impressed with the young men who
attend CBI. They are so easy to love! (Watch for photos of the students
on our website in a few days.) Our seminar instruction begins with a
3-day workshop on "How to Build and Mature the Church." Dennis took the
first day to share with the students a proper prospective on Spiritual
Gifts: Then & Now. They had lots of good, relevant questions. Our lunch
with them was a more traditional Khmer meal and very tasty. We pray the
day was beneficial to all to the glory of God.
Day 6 - Tuesday, June 12, 2007
blessing of Christian community and fellowship was our class for the day.
Brad showed us what it should look like from Acts 2 & 4 and what it must
not look like from 1 Corinthians. He did a marvelous job of blessing us
all with sound teaching on building-up the church. We were also blessed
by being church together with the CBI students. Just like in Acts 2:42,
we were devoted to the apostles' teachings, we shared the unity of
fellowship in the Spirit, we broke bread together, and we prayed with and
for one another.
progressive meal was the plan for supper. Andrew and Natalie Hayes, who
just moved to Phnom Penh in April, invited the four of us over to eat. We
knew the Wheelers would be there, but we were delightfully surprised to
see the Thomases, the Allisons and Steve Lowery, all from Central church
in Huntsville, AL. After supper and a good visit, the fourteen of us
stuffed into two Camrys for the journey to the Wheelers, just like in the
college days. Nathan and Cheryl blessed us all with dessert and coffee.
We capped the evening by singing lots of hymns, all to the praise and
glory of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ….and the whole assembly
Day 7 - Wednesday, June 13, 2007
day of the first seminar was on topic of Christian love as it specifically
applies to building and maturing the church. We were reminded from the
Scriptures love is more than just a feeling. It is an activity, a
lifestyle. And when mature, it draws the lost to Christ. Monday's class
had eleven students which grew to fourteen by Wednesday. Including all
adults, we had a crowd of twenty.
Dennis spent the day teaching, Brad got the call to stand before the Phnom
Penh church for mid-week Bible study. He gave us a great lesson on OT
Scriptures: History of Mythology? He did a masterful job of proving from
the teachings of Jesus, Paul and Peter that they testified to the
reliability of the OT record. Afterwards, we took the opportunity to join
some of our missionary friends for supper at The Pizza Co (yes, there is
pizza in Phnom Penh.) Once again we enjoyed a great time of fellowship
and also some tasty pizza!!!
Day 8 - Thursday, June 14, 2007
sahp-bahy dteh? That is
Cambodian for "how are you"? And we pray that you all are doing well. We
are eager to learn the language and have been getting some tips; however,
we have a long ways to go! After three glorious days of teaching God's
word at CBI and fellowshipping with the students we were off to learn more
history and culture of the Khmer. Today we began at the National Museum
of Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts where we learned more about the
Cambodian's past, their religion,
and their culture.
went to a place called Wat Phnom, a beautiful park setting, but sadly an
area know and recognized for the worship of Buddha and other "spirits."
We were amazed as we saw so many of the locals and what appeared to be
visitors making offerings and bowing down to idols made of stone. How we
long for them to have the joy of Jesus Christ and put their hope, faith
and trust in GOD.
We were all
ready to enjoy supper after we returned, so we set out looking for a new
place to eat. After stopping and checking out the menus of several
restaurants we finally decided it was time to join the Cambodians for some
authentic Khmer food. We found a local café "Tea Poa Heng" and ate some
of the best food yet in Cambodia. We were all smiling and finding joy as
we sat among the people of Cambodia and talked about this being our future
Day 9 - Friday, June 15, 2007
were blessed with an opportunity to have Tawn Lork from CBI as our guide.
We visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and once again were filled with
emotion as we saw and read about the brutal treatment of prisoners at this
facility. As we toured this sight, we could still see the bloodstained
floors from these atrocities of their past. This place had once been a
school which was taken over by the Khmer Rouge regime. The classrooms
were converted into prison cells; the windows were enclosed by iron bars
and covered with tangled barbed wire to prevent escapes. Tortured into
making false confessions for actions not committed, this was the last
"hell" they endured before being trucked to the "Killing Fields" for
"extermination." The people here have been through so much pain and
suffering in their past.
Siriporn decided to visit the Central Market while the guys prepared
lessons. Central Market is a tourist friendly market with many foreign
visitors. The exterior and interior are filled with aisles and aisles of
trinkets and household items. The girls had fun haggling prices as they
purchase traditional souvenirs made in Cambodia. The girls noticed it was
getting dark rather early but then realized why…the rains they had been
expecting since their arrival had finally come! They soon saw venders
scurrying around as rain starting pouring into their booths. As the girls
headed toward the doors they could see the rain had already started
flooding the streets of Cambodia. After waiting a long while and not
seeing an end to the rain they decided to make their way to the Tuk-Tuk
taxi waiting on them. To their surprise, they could not find it. By this
time they were soaked and soon found themselves in thigh high water as the
streets continued to flood. Eventually they negotiated a ride back to the
hotel where they found Dennis and Brad waiting for them. To the surprise
of all, they were laughing and finding joy in this new experience, knowing
this would not be the last time they would be seeing monsoon rains in
Cambodia. As in James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever
you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your
faith develops perseverance". It is a blessing to see how Christ is
working in our lives as we experience growth opportunities like these.
Day 10 - Saturday, June 16, 2007
guys spent the day preparing lessons, Sharon and Siriporn joined the
ladies for a devotional and luncheon graciously hosted by Cheryl Wheeler
and Natalie Hayes. The ladies from Partners in Progress (a program
teaching English to the Khmer University students using the Bible) joined
in the fellowship. Natalie gave the devotional and all enjoyed a
wonderful meal and quality time getting to know each other. Afterwards,
the ladies went to a gathering at Partners in Progress where they spent
time with the Khmer students playing games and getting acquainted. Sharon
and Siriporn had a great time practicing the few Khmer words they have
Siriporn and Sharon made a 2nd trip to the Central Market. This time they
had an opportunity to walk around and see the variety of items and the
vast number of vendors. They had fun and were excited to make it home
without having to wade through water. The time the girls had together was
uplifting and they are filled with joy to have these opportunities to grow
Day 11 - Lord's Day, June 17, 2007
assembled for worship with the Phnom Penh church encouraged by a fine
sermon on building-up the church from Dr. Alfredo Panizales, a brother
from the Philippines.
evening Dennis and Sharon assembled with the saints from the Partners in
Progress congregation for singing instruction and a lesson on Colossians 2
from Bill McDonough. Bill and his wife, Marie-Claire are about to leave
Cambodia for awhile so we treasured these brief moments we had to share
We feel so
blessed to be able to share with you how encouraging it is to assemble on
the Lord's Day. The time we spend with our brothers and sisters over here
always uplifts us. As those postcards always say, "Wish you were here!"
Day 12/13 - Monday/Tuesday, June 18/19, 2007
highlight of our trip was our work at Krasang Peam (KSP) village church.
We held a 2-day seminar on "Why Is Jesus Necessary?" Sharon and Siriporn
had a wonderful time teaching the children songs and games including
"Jesus Loves Me" in sign-language. It was a wonderful experience and we
got to meet some great people. Communication was difficult at times, but
with smiles and joy in our hearts and eyes, it seemed as if the language
barrier wasn't a major issue. Their meager living arrangements (homes,
food, clothing, etc) plus a lack of electricity or running water didn't
appear to steal their joy. We all have so much and often don't realize
it, taking our many, many blessings for granted. Come bedtime, Sorn Thy,
a church leader was so kind to share his family's sleeping area with the
four of us. We unrolled a bamboo mat, strung-up our mosquito nets and
enjoyed the rain's soft patter on the metal roof. The next morning, we
awoke to crowing roosters, oinking pigs, and mooing cows. Although the
experience was hot, muggy, and tiring, these Christian brothers and
sisters encouraged us greatly. They filled our hearts with joy as they
shared their blessings with us. It is our prayer the Lord blesses them
for their faith and sweet servant spirits. We can't wait to go back!
SOOOO MANY GREAT PICTURES TO SHARE…WE WISH WE COULD SHARE THEM ALL…HERE
ARE ONLY A FEW!
Day 14 - Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Brad have had plenty to keep them busy. As they continue to prepare
lessons for CBI and the village congregations it seems as if they are
still in school. During the day they once again joyfully worked on their
upcoming seminars, sermons and Bible class lessons.
and Sharon got busted collecting grocery item prices for our survey work
and were ejected by the management. No need for a prison ministry just
yet! Later, Sharon ventured out to gather information for some of our
future trips within Cambodia.
joined together to assemble with our brothers and sisters at the Phnom
Penh church where Dennis gave a lesson on Jesus' miracles, teachings,
sinlessness, and resurrection. We always enjoy our time together with the
church and are building lasting memories as we continue to build
Day 15 - Thursday, June 21, 2007
seminar would be held about 3 hours north in the tiny village of Orang (Ou
Reung). When we arrived, the women were outside in their community
kitchen already working on lunch, children were playing everywhere and the
adults were eagerly anticipating getting into the Scriptures. The time
the guys put into preparing was evident by the lessons given on "Christian
Love: Beyond all Boundaries." The seminar ended with a question and
answer session where Brad, Dennis, and James used their biblical knowledge
as the village church members asked questions. Sharon joyfully held the
beautiful babies and spent time with the children. This village was more
poverty stricken then the previous one, however, their love of Jesus
shined brightly through their joyful smiles and generosity. We
experienced wonderful fellowship, enjoyed a great meal, and saw the rich
blessings of God as we shared in the lives of these brothers and sisters.
Day 16 - Friday, June 22, 2007
Burger sells pizza, ice cream, "foo-foo" coffee drinks…and we partook.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Friday was a welcome day of rest
and recovery. The long hours of heat, travel and training had taken its
toll on our once limber bodies. We spent most of the day in the hotel
either working on this blog, working on upcoming presentations or visiting
with our teammates…then, we all went to Lucky Burger!
uncanny the odd things that occur that cause us to think of you from
time-to-time. We continue to pray, that wherever you are, whoever you're
near knows to whom you belong as you stand firm in your faith and are
ready to share the "good news!"
Day 17 - Saturday, June 23, 2007
We knew we
would have a busy schedule this week so the guys worked on their lessons
for the final week of teaching at CBI. They also had sermons to prepare
for assembly. The girls decided to finish some shopping so they ventured
out to the Russian Market. It is such a treat to bargain with the
vendors. After about 3 hours, tired, thirsty, and ready for lunch, they
headed back to the hotel.
Day 18 - Lord's Day, June 24, 2007
We met with the
Phnom Penh congregation for Bible study and worship assembly. Then we
joined the Wheelers and Hayeses for lunch at Chiang Mai Riverfront
restaurant. Siriporn finally found Thai food as spicy as she has wanted.
Later, we joined them for evening worship at Andrew & Natalie's where
Andrew did a brief devo from Romans 5:1-5 on hope and we spent a lot of
time singing to the Lord and one another. Praise be to God our Father,
and to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!!!
Day 19 - Monday, June 25, 2007
the final Seminar at CBI, Practical Christianity and Personal Evangelism:
Making Disciples. Dennis and Brad decided to divide teaching a bit more
practically, so Dennis taught today with Brad finishing-up by teaching on
Tuesday and Wednesday. After the session, Earl Bridges picked us up for a
visit to their lovely home and a delicious home-cooked Thai lunch Judy
prepared for the occasion. What a treat to visit with this delightful
couple, so full of life and zeal for the Word. We pray the Lord blesses
their work with much fruit. Later, some of us went to visit the lovely
home of Troy and Tabitha Snowbarger. They administer the nutritional
feeding mission to village children employed by Partners in Progress.
They are a wonderfully sweet young couple working very hard to make a
difference for the Lord, for His church and for Cambodian children. We
pray God blesses their work too!
Day 20 - Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Dennis opened chapel with a devotional on Jonah rebelling against his
God-assigned mission. Brad followed with a lesson on following Jesus and
His mission of evangelism. After class they all enjoyed some fellowship
and a great home-cooked Khmer meal prepared by the students. It has been
a special blessing spending time and building relationships with these
students and seeing their love for Jesus as they grow in knowledge.
Sharon had an opportunity to join some of the local missionaries (Natalie
Hayes and Cheryl Wheeler) to visit and volunteer some time at an orphanage
filled with handicapped and AIDS-diseased children. The evening ended
with a delightful meal with the Hayeses and Snowbargers and some
Day 21 - Wednesday, June 27, 2007
wrap up the final devotional and lessons at CBI. Brad began with a
devotional using Acts 20 and discussed the power of character and the
evident qualities needed to be an evangelist. This was a powerful
lesson. After the break, Brad started the final lesson with asking some
thought provoking questions. He presented the reasons why relationships
are so powerful in personal evangelism. These seminars have been very
uplifting and inspiring, leaving the students encouraged as they take the
remainder of the summer off to go to their villages and also to prepare
for their next term at CBI. The Welchs and Becketts are looking forward
to how God will use these students to serve Him.
Day 22 - Thursday, June 28, 2007
morning, we hoped to take the "speed" boat up the Tonle Sap River across
the Tonle Sap Lake to the city of Siem Reap, witnessing river life as we
traveled, just like in Feb 2006. Because it is the hot rainy season,
tourism is down so the boat has stopped running. At the last minute, we
changed to a Camry that could get us there quicker for just over half the
cost of the boat AND with cold AirCon the whole way. Saaweeeet!
Much to our
delight, upon our arrival to Siem Reap, Chann Lork (brother to James and
Tawn from CBI) met us at the guest house. We had a nice visit and made
arrangements to meet for supper. When Chann and his wife Sopha showed up
at the hotel we realized we knew Sopha. Who would have ever guessed Chann
had married the young lady with whom we had rejoiced when she was baptized
last year at the Tumnob Thom coC. We all enjoyed fellowship and a buffet
at the Jasmine Restaurant dinner theatre while being entertained by
traditional music and dance including the ancient Angkor Apsara. This and
the following tours of the temples gave us a glimpse into the ancestry
still worshipped by the Khmer people.
Day 23/24 - Friday/Saturday, June 29/30, 2007
the ancient temples at Angkor and heard a wealth of history regarding
culture and religion. These incredible ruins are known for their
elaborate architecture and vivid history. We saw many of the monuments
like Angkor Wat, the Bayon, The Terrace of the Elephants and Ta Prohm
Temple where the movie "Tomb Raiders" was filmed. So many resources were
used to build these gigantic structures to worship idols! One wonders the
price of human suffering and spiritual corruption by these self-proclaimed
god-kings of old.
Day 25 - Lord's Day, July 1, 2007
blocks from our guest house, Christians assemble to worship each Lord's
Day. We joined them for a time of singing, prayer, fellowship, communion
and a lesson on building faith. It was a special delight to be a part of
their assembly for the day and an extra treat to meet James, Tawn, Chann
and Sokchea Lork's mother. Chann and Sopha have begun a small house
church of fifteen to twenty brethren in just on year. Praise God for
their hard work and for the help Bear Valley is providing them. We pray
God blesses their hard work with even more fruit in the coming months.
sharing a delicious traditional Khmer meal "family style" with Chann and
Sopha, we were off for the long ride back to Phnom Penh. It is always
such a comfort to know there are brothers in distant places eager to lend
a hand when asked. This couple served us beyond our needs and
expectations just like Chann's brothers in Phnom Penh. Their strong faith
overflows as Christian love. Thanks Chann and Sopha! We can't wait to
see the new baby pictures in the fall.
Day 26/27 - Monday/Tuesday, July 2/3, 2007
most of Monday to relax and recover from all the hiking and climbing
required during a trip to Angkor. In the afternoon, we hired a tuk-tuk to
take us to a book store of which we had been told. We found a surprising
selection of Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, tracts and other
Christian literature in mostly English, but also in Khmer. It is good to
see so much teaching material translated into the native language.
the girls had another opportunity to go to the local orphanage and
volunteer some time to work with the children. This orphanage is always
in need of volunteers and the children are excited when they get the
much-needed attention. Sharon and Siriporn were delighted they could
serve in this manor. Then, we all assembled at the Hayes's home for a
singing, prayers and worship with the Wheelers and Nathan's parents (Dan &
Grace) and brother (Bobby), currently teaching in a Bible School in Seoul,
South Korea. We had a memorable time worshipping together and sharing
some delicious pizza. It was hard to say goodbye - so we didn't.
Instead, we said, "see ya next summer!" And Lord willing, we will!!!
Day 28 - Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Troy and Tabitha
Snowbarger, humble servants of the "nutritional feeding" program for
Partners In Progress, invited us to join them on their visit to Thumnob
Thom (TNT) and Prey Ta Chey villages. The four of us joined Troy, Kyle (a
med student from South Africa living and training in Dublin, Ireland and
having just spent 3 weeks serving on the "Ship of Life"), Bora (a Khmer
girl who speaks fluent English) and Cham Roeun (a recent graduate of CBI
who is hoping to receive some support to start a village church, but has
just begun assisting with the feeding and teaching). It was a special
blessing for us to return to TNT and see everyone again, especially Kimsom
and his family. We look forward to working with them in the future.
Bible study at the Phnom Penh church saw some new faces. Many of James'
family had joined us for church to send off James prior to his departure
with us in the morning. It worked-out that his flight to visit a
supporting church in Georgia, coincided with our return to America - at
least to Los Angeles. We pray his trip to the States is fruitful and
encouraging. We said our farewells to everyone, promising to return in a
year, Lord willing.
church, we met Troy, Tabitha and Kyle for a farewell dinner at a local
restaurant. More sad so-longs and then off to pack for our trip. See ya