Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our first few weeks in Cambodia

Have you ever been startled awake in the middle of the night by a noise and sat up in fear of the creatures of the night? We had just such an adventure a couple weeks ago as we were staying at a Cambodian orphanage located in the countryside about an hour outside of Battambang.

Mosquito nets are a must at night. Those guys are out for blood.
Our bed was a thin blanket on a hard tile floor and a couple travel pillows covered with a mosquito net. It was our first night and earlier that day the pastor had just showed us where the cobras used to frequent before they cleared the bamboo field near the river. We had been sleeping well for about two hours when I was startled by a rustling noise next to my head. I sat straight up in bed and woke Chris up. He said that it was nothing and to go back to bed, until he felt something move across his legs!

We couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces, and there is no electricity at night there, so we quickly felt around for our headlamp. We started shining it around and didn't see anything at first, but eventually our visitor revealed itself as it tried to climb up the net to escape. We were trapped inside the mosquito net with a mouse! Chris helped it out by lifting up the net and allowing it to scamper away. Quite the fright which was quickly followed by the discovery of a large tarantula type spider trying to get in the net. Chris picked up my Bible and applied the Sword of the Spirit directly to our adversary quickly extinguishing it.

After these 2 episodes we were hesitant to turn off the headlamp, not knowing what else was out there wanting to get in bed with us.  We sat there frozen for a few minutes trying to decide what to do when we noticed my pants I had worn earlier that day beginning to move!  I told Chris to please take them outside and dispose of whatever was causing them move around.  He managed to get them outside the mosquito net, but alas, another mouse escaped before he was able to unlock the door to take it out.  He finally got the door open but neither mouse could be persuaded to leave the premises, and had soon found new hiding places.

We quickly applied God's Word directly to the problem at hand.
At this point there was not going to be any sleep because I was never going to turn off the light. But Chris came up with the bright idea of using the duct tape we had brought to seal the mosquito net to the tile floor, creating a visible and hopefully impenetrable barrier to any more neighborhood critters. The 'bedroom' was sealed, and all materials within thoroughly inspected and shaken out. We finally had some security in our sleep space and were able to sleep well the rest of the night.

We soon became accustomed to the limited electricity, hand pumped well and rain water (complete with fish and crabs to keep the basins clean), and duct taping the bedroom tight at night.

Doing my part to replenish the water supply
Once we got the in the swing of things we were able to enjoy getting to know the kids and playing with them. We also had classes during the day with them, teaching English, Korean, violin, guitar, and hip hop. We would gather in the evenings for a time of worship and prayer. When it came time to pray they were not politely taking turns, but rather they burst out at the same time praying aloud to God. It was really shocking at first. Most of the time when kids pray, you see them say a few sentences about blessing mom and dad. These guys prayed for several minutes before the volume began to drop. They prayed passionately and with great fervor to the God that provides for all their needs on a daily basis. We may have taught them English, but they taught us how to pray.

After spending a wonderful week there we said our tearful good-byes and headed back to Battambang.

Here in the city we are working with several different ministries. Shalom is teaching English in a low income (meaning shanty town) neighborhood. Knowing English enables students to attain higher paying jobs that will support their families and help them get out of poverty. Chris is teaching students at the YWAM Youth Center how to use computers. As most of them do not own computers, he has created some usb sticks with Khmer (the language of Cambodia) versions of the software they need which can be used on any computer they come across. They work particularly well at the plentiful internet cafes in the area.

We are also working with Anna, a woman who is opening up a cafe next month to reach out to the community and provide jobs for Cambodians. We have done a lot of painting, cleaning and artistic woodworking in the past week and are really looking forward to opening day. It is centrally located with a view of the river and will be the first cafe in Battambang with internet, good food AND air-conditioning. Anna is also educating her employees about hygienic food preparation, something that is virtually unknown here.

We are so thankful for all of your prayers and encouraging emails. Please keep them coming.

Prayer Requests:

  • Our team has been battling a lot of sickness, especially sore throats and colds.  This is probably at least partially due to only having cold water to wash dishes, etc.  Please pray for total health for each of our team members.
  • Our classmates on the Haiti team are currently living in Tent City where there has been a breakout which they suspect to be cholera.  Sadly, many people have died in the last 48 hours.  The people on the Haiti team are all healthy, but we need to pray for their continued protection.
  • Please pray for opportunities to share God's love with our students and others that we come into contact with here.  It is against the law to go door-to-door and witness, but we are able to have short devotionals in our classes and reach people in that way.

We have a few pictures up from the village orphanage for your perusal.


  1. i love the story of your sleeping arrangement and how you slayed the spider with the Word! haha that is hilarious!! :)
    im so glad you guys are learning and growing, and sharing the joy, love, and gifts the Lord has given you both to encourage, teach, and serve others. you guys inspire me!
    team herbert loves you! elijah says hi! :)

  2. Whoa craziness with the bugs and mice haha! So sweet Chris is using his computer skillz :)