Hope you are having fun and enjoying the days of summer. I’ve heard about, hiking, kayaking, camping, backyard BBQing, and even a little international travel. Good job!
Over here you could say July has been filled with everything from rock-n-roll to literally rolling over every rock on the roads of Ratanakiri. The month started off with a boom and bang as the Young Lions held their 1st Annual Youth Conference, which was a huge success with over 600 attendees between 16 to 26 years old. Most exciting was simply being support for the 20-member youth team who coordinated everything from the set-up, food and accommodation to scheduling speakers, music, lessons, games, and comedy skits.
Everyday of the three-day event started and ended with a music and worship set that would make any musician happy, even those just passing by found themselves with a bounce in their step. Speakers and lessons taught on the freedom and strength of being in relationship with the Lord, and in turn the power of building personal relationships of trust and integrity with one another, and of giving and sharing without expectation.
Not only was the Khmer Rouge physically brutal, but their true power came from spreading rumors and gossip which undermined relationships, set an emotional trap and left a lack of trust even among family members.
So, the youth are working on what you can put into a relationship rather than what you can get out of it. The results are amazing and could easily be seen as the conference wrapped up and we rolled into preparations and work for our major medical clinic.
I was excited and lucky to be training a team of 25 determined translators, who studied like crazy to remember vocabulary that ranged from abscess and anemia to bronchitis, dysentery, encephalitis, and tonsillitis. Half later worked at registration where they translated symptoms and ailments onto slips for the visiting foreign doctors. The other half worked as direct translators for the doctors. We had eight general medical stations, an ER room, a lab, a pharmacy, a scabies/wound care station, and a dental room with one foreign and two Cambodian dentists.
Ratanakiri is in the remote northeast corner of Cambodia. The province is rolling mountains, a sea of trees, and home to twelve different hill tribes as well as some of the country’s most impoverished families. Each hill tribe has its own unique language, which of course added a very interesting twist to translation. So the language relay went from doctor to patient like this; English to Khmer, Khmer to Jarai (for example) and then back again. My prayer was always that the doctor would not bend over to look at a patient’s foot when they originally complained of an earache.
In five days we saw more than 3,200 patients, several were over a hundred years old and some had no idea how old they were. One man had broken his leg below the knee five years ago and was never able to have it set. His leg had swollen and the bones had shrunk separating by five inches or more. Jason, the ER doctor, reduced the swelling (I’ll save you the visual details) and pain, and we are checking with doctors here in Phnom Penh to see what can be done. Each day dozens of kids received a scabies bath and a new set of clothes. Some who came had teeth pulled, others had blood tests, some were bandaged, others were fitted with glasses, and many got the works. I think everyone felt loved, as well as listened to, and saw the practical workings of God.
The last day also had an interesting twist when the kids who had been performing the traditional dances and music asked me to be in their comedy skit. I think only having five minutes to prep actually made it easier and I didn’t rethink my Cambodian skills too much before hitting the stage. And, there really isn’t a better bunch of kids to go out and have some fun with. The laughs were there so we’ll call it a success.
Somewhere between all of these activities the girls have also been sewing. We completed another 50 bags to send off to our friends at One8 in California and sold a handful of handbags to our visiting medical team. Thank you Everett, WA. So, things are rocking-n-rolling in the sewing room as well. Wooo… Hoooo…..
Two weeks in Ratanakiri without Naome and Eli was a challenge, but we made it. And, I’ve come home to discover that our little girl is blowing kisses, waving bye bye (or maybe hello), she likes drinking from a straw, and she is champion at blowing raspberries (if that’s what you call them) on your arm, leg, or belly. I have no idea where she learned that! NAOME!!!? What are you teaching our little girl?
Bye for now. Love you. And thank you!