How is all at home? I’ve heard word of travel from some and home renovation from others. You know ‘out with the old and in with the new’, well… over here it seems like ‘on with the old and in with the new.’
Cambodia is an interesting blend of old and new, traditional and contemporary, Angkor Wat and now ‘Angry Birds’ are everywhere. Temples and traditions date back thousands of years and the best thing is seeing that they are not being forgotten or ignored. You can still see stone hand sculpted, fish traps intricately woven from bamboo, and at any wedding or celebration you’ll find everyone join in a traditional ‘brobainai’ dance followed by or mixed with a little hip-hop number. More than 50% of Cambodia’s population is under 21 years old, and our Phnom Penh Training Center has enjoyed three new babies in the last three months from different staff members. The youth here are a fun and eager group; the prayer is that work and education opportunities will grow and match their enthusiasm, providing a chance for them to celebrate traditions and take on the future.
Our annual FCOP conference was held two weeks ago and the youth arrived in force. More that 70% the 2,000 plus attendees were in their twenties or younger. And, they rocked the house. They studied, shared, and fully absorbed the message of being filled with the Holy Spirit and power. They, together with everyone, danced, sang, prayed, ate, and played for the four full days of the conference. A little boy, maybe 7 years old, who had never heard or spoken in his life, began to make his first sounds and form his first words. It was amazing to see his smile.
Spirits and the spirit world are also a big thing here. Many wear ‘spirit belts, bracelets, or necklaces’, with tiny hand written prayers wrapped or tied to them. Each prayer is for protection from a specific injury, ailment, or curse however the ongoing worry is that they are missing a prayer, and that problem is just around the corner. The other stress for those with very little money is that the individual prayers, received at local temples, require a fee. So, one more amazing sight at the conference this year was the smile and look of relief from each person who decided to cut off their belt or bracelet, and simply put their faith in God, who sovereignly covers all worries.
EVT Program – Update
The conference also gave me a chance to deliver a new sewing machine. Svah Vanah, one of the caregivers in a church orphan home in Siem Reap has ten girls and a couple boys between twelve to seventeen years old who are excited to learn sewing. So, this little machine is going to get a good work out, while it brings some fun, practical, and potentially future income producing skills to the kids in the home there.
The Sewing Room has also been crazy busy with so many teams coming and going. We’ve had teams from the US, Singapore, Guam, and Hong Kong who have done great work at our homes, and a great job of cleaning out our sewing room shelves. It’s been awesome. Thank you.
We are also getting started on a big order for Foursquare Missions Press who will be taking bags to the International Conference in May. So, we are working on creating two new bags styles. I showed pictures to the girls of the new designs and they said, “Sure, we can do that.” They really are getting that good. I love it!
A few days back, Naome, Eli and I hosted a pasta party for the Young Fishermen, part of our FCOP youth group. The music was booming, cards were flying, songs were sung, and spaghetti was slung, sipped and slurped. I see them everyday, but it was great for us to have this time to just hang out on the balcony together.
By the way, Eli can now sit, although she is a little like an egg teetering on one end. She is also crawling, and much like a small tank she plows through or goes up and over every obstacle (pillow) we place in her path. She has now enjoyed her first spoon-fulls of creamed this or smashed that. She’s a big fan of rice and fish. No surprise there! And, she likes the mango, although by her quick pucker and squint I think the sour caught her off guard at first. I’m sure she really would just like to take control of the spoon though; mom and dad don’t scoop fast enough.
Anyway, whether you are doing something with the old and new, remodeling, traveling, or fighting off Angry Birds, I hope you are having fun. Thank you for your prayers, and support.