Cambodia

Christchurch Cambodian Evening

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Join Anthony and Anne McCormick for an evening celebrating all things Cambodian, complete with Khmer cuisine, entertainment and an update from folk who have recently returned from Cambodia. Saturday 5 August 6pm at St Christopher’s Church (corner Avonhead Rd and Coniston Ave). 

Tickets $25 per adult (family price available).

Tickets available from Anne (ph. 022 457 6924), the NZCMS Office or St Christopher’s (Office hours 9am-2pm Mon-Fri).

If you’re planning on coming, please respond immediately as the caterer needs to know final numbers on Thursday morning.

Seeing things up close

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Here are some further reflections by Maureen Harley from her recent time visiting Mission Partners in Cambodia. Her previous reflection can be found here.

It’s been a privilege to have an up close view of God at work in and through the lives of some Mission Partners.

Five years ago our apartment was filled with the sound of excited voices. We were in Phnom Penh and thanks to NZCMS’s subsidy we were able to offer hospitality to an ever increasing number of Mission Partners from various agencies and countries as they came into the city for respite or travelled on business. This was the first time though, that we had the chance to host a Kiwi family – their first stop as they began their Cambodia adventure.

It was an enriching experience and we were happy to repeat it a few weeks later, hosting a charming couple as they found their feet on “our side of town.”

Five years on and we were hosted by them –first by the McCormicks and then by the Sussex family, as both celebrate five years of living in Cambodia. What a grace filled time we had, seeing how God has used their time in the country to shape them and use them.

Anthony & Anne live in Battambang city in the north west of Cambodia. It’s a largely rural province and the city is small and retains a village feel to much of it. They have made a lovely home there and offer hospitality to a number of visitors, including us, with simplicity and grace.

Two years ago Anthony set out to establish a social work department at World Mate Trauma hospital. We were able to visit his team: a dedicated, professional group obviously appreciative of all “Mr Anthony” had done in training them. The value of what they can offer is slowly being recognised by medical and nursing staff – they feel they could still do more if the staff understood their role. The material Anthony has prepared has been taught to others in social work and will form part of his ongoing ministry in this field.

Anne also works at the hospital, setting up a range of activities suitable for patients (who are mostly long term) and caregivers to help occupy their otherwise hours of empty time. These include books for reading, jigsaw puzzles, games, card work for crafts, knitting. And there’s of course helping with paper-making, which provides the paper for card-making which is the major fund source for the materials and equipment with which Anne has equipped the department.

We saw for ourselves people’s faces light up with joy at being able to achieve something so simple as a jigsaw puzzle. We heard laughter from people playing a simple peg balancing game. We saw community and sharing happen as women gathered to be part of a team setting frames to dry in the final stage of paper making. And we heard of needs identified as stories were shared and how these could now be referred to a fully functioning Social Work Department.

In a hospital full of trauma victims, full of the very poor, the often uneducated rural villagers far from home, there is no doubt that the work of Anthony and Anne’s new departments working in very small humble ways is contributing richly to people’s lives.

Phil and Becky Sussex can also look back on five years in Cambodia. Next month they will pack up their home and their lives and fly back to begin the next stage of their journey in New Zealand. The impact they will leave behind in people’s lives is hard to measure. They all know so many people and have supported parents, staff and pupils through major upheavals at Hope International School.

We were unable to join Phil on some of his work experiences but seeing his photos and hearing his stories left us shuddering. We were able to imagine how it has been for him, a professional dentist who has had to cope with students with limited experience, a lack of modern equipment, primitive conditions, operating in the prison (when they were allowed in) and in villages, even in the back of churches. All this in the unrelenting heat of a Phnom Penh summer (and autumn and spring and winter!). Phil is currently polishing up his final lecture series to get it ready to hand over to the university and writing exam questions for the post grad oral surgery exam. Long after he has left this lecture series will be equipping future students.

We enjoyed looking over the new Hope School facility. We found it hard to believe we were in Cambodia – picture the two storied buildings, spacious classrooms and extensive grounds any modern school would aspire to. What is not evident in most schools is the atmosphere. Permeating every part of school life is the love of Christ – students and staff alike seek to live out the command of Christ to love God and to love one another. It is almost palpable! Becky continues to teach part time in the preschool class – a mini united nations! – shaping children, many of whom will become the next generation of missionaries, living cross culturally in the hope of seeing others know the love of Christ.

The kids on the surface are getting on with getting on with life. We remember them from five years ago, delighting in playing games with us and in hearing stories read. Now they are busy about their own grown up affairs: Bryn in creating props for the coming Wizard of Oz production at school, Toby as part of the back stage team fitting rehearsals in amongst his basketball and music, Pippa racing home to play with their cat and foster cat with whom she can do almost anything, and Molly showing great promise in learning the ukulele from big brother Toby.

Their home welcomed us as easily as did the family – the love of God shone through their relationships with each other and the way they ministered to us.

All too soon it was time for us to leave Cambodia again – but it was easier to leave somehow now that we had seen how faithful God is to the Cambodian people. He did send workers who stayed on when we left and he will continue to do so until all his children are gathered in. And you know what – it is all managed without our being there!

Cambodia four years on

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Maureen and Gerald Harley recently returned from a pastoral visit to Mission Partners working in Cambodia, a country where they themselves once served. Below are some reflections from Maureen about this visit.

“How is it to return to a place we called home for nine years?” people ask. And indeed it was a question we asked ourselves as the plane came into land in Cambodia. Would it be the same or would it all be horribly different so that we had to finally let go of our vision of ourselves as people who somehow belonged there? Would people look at us and say “Who?” and would we have become people who are forever bewildering (and boring?) people who now live there with stories of “what used to be”?

Our airport experience began differently – we actually had to queue to hand in our visa applications, and we walked along clearly defined lines to retrieve our passports after they had passed through – then, oh yes, the 5 or 6 pairs of hands, one to look, one to write, one to stamp, one, two, three to pass… but ‘normalcy’ was restored at the other end when we were all encouraged to leave our ordered queue and gather en masse around the man who finally received our visa-ed passports. Cambodians still struggle to pronounce our foreign names (as we do theirs!) and prefer to wave the passports before the gathered crowd and wait for each one to identify his/her own. This feels normal.

This mixture of ‘oh yes we recognise that’ and ‘oh that’s different’ became the norm for this visit. When we first arrived we felt everything was astonishingly familiar – crowded streets, masses of people all busy about their business, rich and poor all mixed together, shops and booths spilling their goods all over the pavements. We recognised the crazy traffic patterns with vehicles stuck like sand passing through a timer, barely trickling through any gap that appears; then suddenly there’s an opening and cars and motorbikes surge through in a flood – until the next traffic jam.

But where are all the motorbike taxis? There are private motorbikes aplenty but every street corner no longer has its gathering of men on bikes, watching, alert for a fare, or dozing in the down time after lunch, lying along the seat with feet on the handlebars. There are still tuk tuks, and so many cars, big cars, rich men’s cars, driving, parked, stuck in traffic everywhere. We wondered whether those moto drivers we once used so regularly had missed our custom and moved elsewhere, or had to fund their child’s schooling or find food for the family in labouring work or by returning to the province and the family rice fields?

And who will live in all the buildings? Everywhere, buildings completed or being built – up, up into the once clear skyline. Years ago, PM Hun Sen had returned from an Asian Summit resolved that Phnom Penh should have some skyscrapers. The first venture still sits there, unfinished, failed; but like the traffic flow a blockage seems to have been removed and the flood gates are open. Everywhere these massive concrete structures are emerging. ‘Who will live in them?’ we wondered, and were told the land had been bought by the Chinese, the buildings built by Chinese labourers and built to house the labourers and the immigrants who would follow. A Khmer man said sadly “My children won’t have their own country.”

Vast expansion is going on all around the city also – often in gated communities called “baray,” cloned structures looking a little like the retirement villages of modern NZ being built on what was previously rich rice fields. And also evident is the infrastructure to support this city as it heaves its way out of its past of civil war and desperation and into a 21st century modern-ness. Everywhere we saw overpasses and motorways, glass fronted shops selling furniture that would once have been considered a frivolous luxury and the ubiquitous chains of eating places and coffee shops – the smells of Asia are being overtaken by the smell of fried foods! The poor are still there, though we saw fewer ‘professional beggars’ – mostly they are cleared away to where they can’t be seen by tourists or the growing middle class. Slums now exist just outside the city boundaries – for now – they will be moved when it becomes inconvenient to some rich person for them to remain. We visited one still surrounded by flood waters, temporary hovels barely standing, still with no drains or water supply – just as it was four years ago.

We asked about the Church and were told it is battered after a number of the more charismatic churches were hit badly by a Ponzi scheme that swept vast numbers into its net. Many of the congregations were persuaded into it by church leadership which inevitably has left credibility issues.

Evangelism still goes on; Christianity still attracts many of the modern youth seeking to explore life outside the family as well as offering companionship for many who leave their families to come into the city looking for work. A ‘prosperity gospel’ was pushed in some quarters and has left an inevitable legacy of “rice Christianity.” Many churches remain dependent on funding from outside. Growth has slowed and while new converts join churches there remains an enormous need for quality education for pastors and good discipleship programmes.

So has Cambodia changed? Yes of course. For the better – hmmm – in some ways yes. There is a growing middle class who holds some of the wealth and power. There are credible school exams and more people are receiving education about what police can and can’t do. Orphanages are closing and children are being supported back into families. But Cambodia is still a country of extremes – and particularly extreme wealth and extreme poverty- gaining patronage from someone stronger and more powerful is vital to succeed, loyalty is bought, labour is bonded and slavery is rife. The coming elections – local this year and central next – could well be a violent clash between the young who want change and the old who want to keep the peace at all cost, between those who have money and power and those who want it… that has not changed.

But it is still Cambodia – and we loved being back!

Family Extraction Time

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Phil, Becky, Bryn, Toby, Pippa and Molly Sussex left New Zealand at the beginning of 2011 to work as NZCMS Mission Partners in Cambodia. Phil has been training dentists and providing dental care for the poor and vulnerable while Becky has been teaching at Hope International School – a Christian School which provides education for Mission families working in Cambodia.

We have hugely appreciated your support over the past 5 ½ years that we have been living here in Cambodia as NZCMS mission partners. Early in January 2017, we will be finishing our work in Phnom Penh and relocating back to New Zealand. There are a number of family reasons which have led us to the conclusion that this is God’s timing for us. We have a real sense of peace about our decision in spite of the sadness which comes in leaving behind people we love in the place which has become our second home.

Looking back over our time in Cambodia I (Phil) have created 8 different undergraduate university lecture series, all of which have now been handed over to Khmer lecturers – it’s exciting that they are now being taught across two dental schools. Over the past five years I have seen a steady improvement in the standards of oral surgery which I will continue to tutor for the rest of 2016. It’s been great to partner with local pastors who have been using the dental outreach clinics as a platform for sharing the Gospel. I plan to hand over his clinic work to the senior Christian students who are soon to graduate. The One-2-One weekly dental prison ministry is in good hands and will continue beyond my departure.

Our family has experienced first-hand the hugely important role that a mission school like Hope has in the pastoral care and education of MKs and TCKs. Over her time at Hope School, Becky has had the privilege of contributing to the lives of many children. Bryn, Toby, Pippa and Molly have had an amazing experience of Christian community and education while I have played a role in the governance of the school as a board member. We are more than ever convinced that Hope School has a vital role to play in enabling mission and we are very sad to leave that behind.

We really do value your prayers as we continue to work here for the rest of the year before heading into this next major transition. During the next few months, no doubt our heads will be straddled between two worlds. Please pray that we will stay ‘present’ here with the work we still have to do whilst at the same time, be in a space to make necessary preparations for our return to NZ.

Opportunity in Cambodia

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The New Hope School in Battambang, Cambodia, is looking for volunteers from all over the world to teach students English and Scripture as well as expose students to different teaching methods. You’ll also be helping with Sunday services. This can be either a part or full time position, and basic accommodation is available on site. The person would need to pay a small contribution towards food and utilities.

New Hope is a Christian school that provides education for underprivileged students by teaching English and Khmer languages, moral values and various vocational skills. By teaching general knowledge and vocational skills, they believe education can change people for the better and offer them a brighter future.

For more information please contact Mr Outh Sarith on outhsarith@gmail.com

 

The Hospital

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The following is a blog written by Beth Goodwin who volunteered with Anne McCormick in Cambodia for a month. Here she shares her reflections from her time with Anne. The original blog can be read here (and includes many more photos).

The World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang – this is where I’ve been for most of the last month [ending in April], helping Anne McCormick with her activities programme. It’s a lovely hospital, with restful greenery and bougainvillaea gardens. There are two big wards of about 32 beds each, one for men, one for women and children. Then an infection ward, and ICU, plus a few rooms for private patients. The main cases that come here are amputees and broken bones. Cambodia still struggles with unexploded landmines, so there are more amputees. It wasn’t too gory, mostly things were nicely bandaged up.

It’s a Japanese funded hospital (Handa Foundation) – though minimally. There are a few expat staff in there, which apparently means fewer mis-diagnoses, because their qualifications were most probably a lot more in-depth, their degrees earned not purchased. Cambodia is still suffering significantly from the Pol Pot regime, and education has a long way still to go.

Nurses didn’t seem to have much to do! Surprisingly. Same as restaurant staff. How do we find so much to do in New Zealand. Surely there are the same tasks? Nurses here were usually congregated at the end of the ward, on their phones. They blocked facebook on staff wifi for obvious reasons. But the ward was clean, wounds dressed, nobody died last month (I think). Maybe there’s less paperwork and peer pressure. They get US$1 an hour. Rent is upwards from about $50 per month as far as I can tell. I find myself thinking, well, if you’re in a DINK situation, that’s just enough for eating, maybe, you can survive. But then, all it takes is one emergency, a broken leg, a stolen motorcycle/bicycle, a funeral or wedding. What then? Not to mention kids at school, needing clothes etc. It’s tough.

Every patient at the hospital had a family member or a friend there 24/7 to help them with bathroom tasks, food etc. Its tough on the family member if they had to stop work! They sleep on the floor by the patients’ beds, but apparently they’d mostly sleep on a mat on the floor at home anyway, so its no different.

Anthony & Anne – so lovely to stay with a kiwi couple. They have been so kind, helping me with how to get around, lots of lifts, some ice-creams, and the loan of some useful items like a kettle and chilly bin to help when I moved into a guesthouse in town. Thank you both.

Anthony’s role there has been to start a Social Work department. This has had challenges, since social work isn’t really a ‘thing’ in Cambodia. It is now! I don’t know too much about what’s involved, but it’s such a helpful and necessary gap being filled! He’s been training up a fantastic team, who have benefited from all his NZ Social work training and experience. The department is practically running itself now, which is a huge achievement. It’s the funny role of most mission work – to make yourself redundant. I’ve so enjoyed Anthony’s humour, good sense, cheeky grin, and strong faith.

I’ve spent most of the time with Anne with her activities program at the hospital. I’m so impressed that she’s built it up so much over the years. There’s now a room with cupboards, heaps of books and resources, and one paid staff member to help. A few years ago, it had no walls even. I can’t imagine it with no aircon, and no cupboards to lock, trolleys to push etc. Thanks to all overseas suppliers and fundraisers of good things.

Anne is a librarian by trade, so unsurprisingly, everything works highly efficiently, and is well-categorised, numbered and labelled. She used to lend the books out for a few days at a time, but found many were going missing, hence the trolley system. It takes 1-1.5 hours to take the books round in the morning, let them choose, write down the number. They are collected after 4pm. Patients definitely perk up when the books and puzzles trolleys come round. We do games in the afternoons 1-3 times a week.

You might think it doesn’t sound like much, taking round books and puzzles. From a western perspective, maybe it seems unnecessary. But here, when there are no libraries and games are unaffordable, it’s a huge blessing to have these things to pass the time, get your thinking away from your pain, and also it helps bonding between patients and their family caregivers. It’s helping them to heal faster, I reckon. Plus, they get to know Anne and Sokhim, and often will share struggles. It’s easier talk to the ones with the books than the ones with the needles…

I would really have loved to get to know the patients more. There’s time to banter with them, ask them how the day’s going, how they enjoyed the book, what sort they’d like next, what they do for a job, how they broke their arm, the list goes on. I felt very restricted by the language barrier. I managed a few stock phrases by the end, but that’s not enough. If I do decide to stay overseas longterm, language is top priority – I didn’t realise just how vital it really is.

It was heartbreaking to see adults and children needing to be shown what a puzzle is, how you do it. They all loved them once they got going, but didn’t have the reflexes of looking for matching colours, straight edge pieces, and matching the puzzle to the picture. It’s just practice. Reminds me of me trying to play a computer game last year. My flatmates challenged me to ‘judge not’ without trying them. So I tried a few for the experience. They were fairly patient with me, but I could see the frustration – can’t she see, the score’s right there, so’s the map, so’s the treasure count or whatever, she’s going right into the danger zone! From my perspective, I found it took all my concentration to focus on one part of the screen, and try to walk and not to get eaten (which I never managed to avoid). I didn’t have the visual clues and trillions of hours of practice.

I began to wonder, all these things we take for granted like puzzles, are they all actually learning tools? Learning not only colour matching, and little pieces forming a whole picture, but even critical thinking. The thought processes of – what if I turn this round, will it fit? Critical thinking is hugely important in life (in my opinion), and I just started to wonder if it’s taught in more subtle ways than we think, like through puzzles, for instance.

Probably my favourite day was when we realised some of them were saying no to books because they couldn’t read. I am beginning to realise Anne has everything! She even has a box of pairs of cheap long-sighted glasses, which we brought out, and they were SO happy! The laughter and disbelief of suddenly being able to see clearly and read again! Their kids found it hilarious too, watching their mums suddenly sporting a pair of glasses.

My most terrifying day was the last day, when I played some viola to two of the wards. I really, really don’t enjoy playing solo to people. I’m a viola player for goodness sake, which is a group harmony instrument, gregarious even, enjoys safety in numbers. I don’t even like practicing when anyone’s in the house! I have learned to play with 4 pegs on my bridge to dampen the sound somewhat. BUT, I am here for reasons other than just what I feel like doing, and I thought it might be fun for them, you definitely don’t see violas every day here. So, I braced myself, and played some appalling renditions of Bach suites and Monti’s Czardas. Thankfully, I have no idea what they thought – language barriers have positive moments, too. Some of the kids enjoyed trying it afterwards.

We made paper! To buy more books, expand the activities for the patients, Anne has been making paper to sell, and to make into cards and books. The paper is made with a machine built by Mark Lander in Amberley, Christchurch (see http://marklander.org/hollander-beaters). It works like a dream, on paper, cloth, and natural fibres. After home attempts with substandard equipment in my childhood, I was so impressed at how Anne and Sokhim managed to easily do 50 large A3 sheets of beautiful paper in a day. Sure, the occasional one wrinkled, but by and large they were all beautiful!

Waste Not, Want Not (Issue 27)

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Sometimes I feel as if I’ve graduated from a Recycling 101 class… and with flying colours. I work in a trauma hospital in Cambodia’s second biggest city. No, I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’ve started a crafts programme to help with patients’ psychological recovery. Because of where I am, and because the project isn’t funded by the hospital, I’ve needed to find ways to make it sustainable and cost-effective. And sustainability also means it’s important that it doesn’t cause any harm to the community we live amongst. That’s one reason the Hollander Critter papermaking machine we started using in our project last year has been so valuable.

But there’s another reason this machine has proven so valuable. By using it, we’re able to make something out of nothing. I find this very satisfying, and it turns out I’ve been able to role-model this for those with whom I interact and work daily – almost without exception, the patients here struggle to find enough money to pay their hospital bills, adding considerably to the stress of being a long-term patient. By watching the project and participating as they’re able, people can discover that there are useful resources all around us – we just need to change the way we view things!

“One man’s trash…”

The world around us starts to look different when we have this change of perspective. Here’s some examples from the paper project:

Pages coloured in and thrown away by children in the hospital become the base of the fabric pulp for our paper making Pre-loved cotton that started its days as clothing, bedding, towels or tiny bits of fabric of no use for our “Days for Girls” (org) project become essential elements for the paper A tailor’s scraps of traditional Khmer silk and lace become trimmings for the cards we make Small pieces of silk fabric and offcuts of traditional Khmer scarves become a source of colour and texture for plain paper Husks discarded by the man who makes sugarcane juice are rescued from the roadside and are turned into paper as well Leftover coconut husks from a foot massage project which uses coconut oil products made by the staff become valuable for adding texture Discarded banana tree trunks can also be used to make paper of a tissue-paperlike consistency Pieces of handmade paper too small to be made into greeting cards become gift cards to complement the bigger cards we make

I’m not just involved with papermaking. Another thing I do is operate a small mobile library. This warms my librarian’s heart as I can put books into the hands of many who don’t normally have the opportunity to read. The trolley I use to distribute the books was cobbled together from old IV drip stands and other scrap metal from retired hospital equipment! I found what I needed in a shop, photographed it, showed it to the maintenance team and bingo! A week later I had my very own recycled trolley . It works a treat!

Many patients have benefitted from donations of retired reading glasses from an optometrist in Melbourne. The two most common reasons I’m given when asking patients if they want to borrow a book are “Knyom ot jeh arn” (I don’t know how to read) and “Knyom ot merl kern” (I can’t see). While we can’t help with the first problem, the donated glasses go a long way towards helping people who otherwise couldn’t read the books I offer.

And so the various aspects of my project inter-connect and I’m able to use leftovers from one part of the programme, or from another hospital department, in some other way. A smile crosses my face when I reflect on how I’m making a difference in the lives of patients who have met tragedy in their lives. That’s what I came to do. It’s doubly satisfying to know I’m also modelling good practice in reusing resources while being a responsible steward of what God has provided. God can indeed do amazing things with very little and I’m both honoured and humbled to be the vessel he’s using in this place at this time.

Anne and her husband Anthony are NZCMS Mission Partners serving patients in a Cambodian hospital.

 

For discussion

In what ways is God challenging you to ‘change the way you see’?

Is there anything from your daily life that could be recycled in a creative way rather than going into land-fill?

Melodies, Paper and Checkers

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Here’s an article by Caleb Holland from Alaska. He was part of a recent YWAM team from Honolulu who worked with Anne McCormick at the World Mate Hospital in Cambodia for five weeks.

The word ‘love’ is often misused if you ask me. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a friend of mine say “Goodness! I love iced tea,” I would be a very wealthy man. They don’t actually ‘love’ iced tea. I understand words can change meaning as time progresses and culture changes, but something about ‘love’ is to be revered. It’s a precious word; a word that should be preserved for when it has the most meaning and impact. It can restore the broken. It can bring joy. It saves and creates life.

I love this hospital. The team I travelled to Cambodia with loves this hospital. The volunteers love this hospital. And this hospital has loved us. They say if you live in a place long enough, the building or house will adopt some of your characteristics. Though I have only been here a short time, it has become very clear to me that this place has been filled with loving people. When you enter, you’re greeted with compassion, and when you depart, it sends you away with a longing to return.

Melodies

Most days, we sing. When I heard we were singing, I was giddy. Christmas carolling is one of my favourite things back home; spreading joy and all of those niceties. Little did I know that we were singing in Khmer. Learning second languages has always been especially difficult for me (singing makes it a bit easier I admit), so long story short, this wasn’t going to be anything like Christmas carolling.

We walked down to the wards for the first time and I was nervous. I didn’t want to mispronounce some words and mistakenly belt out profanities. The team all readied our voices and waited patiently for the waving hands that meant “start singing”. Suddenly, the hands began to wave, and before I could think, Khmer songs flew from my mouth. I looked at the patients/visitors and they seemed pleased. Whether they were pleased because of our mispronunciations, or because we sounded angelic, didn’t matter to me anymore; if they were pleased, we were doing something right.

Being able to make people smile is probably one of the biggest things we take for granted. Every human being has the capability of brightening someone’s day. With a song, a joke, or an encouraging word, we can make painful circumstances more bearable. You don’t know what people are going through in their heads or their hearts. Who knows, perhaps you making them smile was exactly what they needed to keep on pushing.

Paper

Being able to create things is pretty spectacular if you stop and think about it. You’re taking things that are already their own separate entities, repurposing those things, and combining those things to make a singular thing. It’s astonishing, and we got to do that here with making paper. Essentially, you take whatever paper-like substances you have, throw it into a machine, get some mushy stuff, and one tray later you’ve got paper! It doesn’t sound very exciting written down, but that’s perhaps because I haven’t told you that you can throw coconut husks and old sheets into the paper mix. Got an ugly shirt for your birthday without a return receipt? Don’t re-gift it! Turn that thing into paper. The possibilities are quite literally limitless. And there’s so much more that comes out of it than fun. There’s a lot that separates man from beast, and creativity is among that lot. For me, and I’d say most of humanity, being able to create is an essential part of being human. It can provide therapy, it can entertain, and it can create civilizations.

Games and Puzzles and Such

There’s a certain chapter of our time here at the hospital that I would consider being my favourite. All of the chapters are good, of course, but I thrive in board games and puzzles, and if I thrive in something it’s going to be my favourite. You take this cart full of an assortment of games and keep your eyes peeled for those who look in need of some competition. Once you’ve found your competitor, let the sparks fly. The best part is teaching them how to play. Warning: they’re quick learners.

I specifically recall this one time when I was playing some checkers with a thirteen year old boy. The boy had what appeared to be a broken leg, and an even worse case of “Man, I wish I could get out of this bed and play some games.” I gestured the game of checkers, and through some persistence, he agreed to do battle with me. As I taught him the rules of the game using charades, I told myself “Caleb, take it easy on the guy; he’s new and no match for your chess expertise.” As the game began to pick up speed, I noticed I was taking it a bit too easy. I stepped up my game and put on the most intense looking checkers face I could. It wasn’t enough. He was still taking out my pieces. And with every piece he’d take, his grin grew closer and closer to his ears. “Fine,” I said, “no more training wheels.” I took my foot off the brakes and put the pedal to the metal. It was then when I realized a very sad, humbling fact. I’m not good at this game, and this kid was an expert. My last piece was taken and the boy’s right eyebrow was raised, paired with a smile that said “Easy.” I was defeated, but my pride wouldn’t let me leave on that note. So I lost two more times. And though the losses haunted me, the fun and joy from the boy outweighs anything else. And that’s the attitude you get from all of the patients here; fun, joy, and that powerful word I spoke of, ‘love.’ Without love, this hospital wouldn’t exist. Without love one may argue that nothing would exist.

Thanks

The team cannot express how thankful we are for the compassion and kindness the staff and patients have shown us. Without them, none of this would be possible. They’ve taught us so much through the way they’ve acted around us. And a bit more of a specific, focused beam of thankfulness goes out to Anne McCormick. She has consistently guided us through our afternoons and has been so willing to help and talk with us. I have met very few people in my life who are willing to commit so much of their lives and time to helping others. She and her husband are astounding examples of how to be a blessing to the world. The amount of work they put into creating opportunities for patients to be entertained through their trials is inspiring, and they’ve inspired me and my team to be better people. I could not stress enough how amazing of a place this is. If you’re in Battambang, you should most certainly volunteer here. I’m saying this from personal experience. You’ll learn lessons as long lasting as gold, and far more precious.

The photo above is a picture of Anne with Caleb’s YWAM team.

Evening dental clinics

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We’re excited about a group of male dental students who responded to request to trial Saturday night church-based dental clinics east and north of Phnom Penh. Factory workers in Cambodia work long hours 6 days a week and are unable to access the care Phil has been offering during regular hours. The video is a short clip which Phil took at the new Saturday evening church clinic trial. It has been going really well so far but we would appreciate prayers for wise decisions to be made as this progresses.

The fear that his female dental students expressed about travelling at night was underlined last month when a 16 year old previous neighbour was stabbed in an attempt to take her bag from her as she rode her motorbike at 8pm only 100m from home. Her wounds were not life threatening and she is back at Hope school now. Please pray for her as she has to pass the place it happened every day and for her mother as they consider whether they should move house. Phil and Becky value your ongoing prayers for safety.

The prison work is going well each Wednesday. Please pray for Phil as he leads this team. Often there are different students each week so it takes time to train them all and get routines going. But, overall it has been very encouraging to have a good number of students who are committed to volunteering in this work and are keen to learn and gain experience. They are a mixture of Christian and non-Christian so please pray that the Christian students and dentists will have opportunities to share their faith and witness through their actions. The prisoners are very grateful for the treatment that they are receiving and the conversations that they are able to have while being treated.

The children and I are into the last 5 weeks of our school year so things are getting very busy. Please pray for us as we work our way through deadlines and towards farewells.

Lastly, but very importantly, the hot season is intense and the current drought situation is looking very serious. Drinking water is becoming very low in many areas and in some, it is simply running out. Animals and fish are dying as lakes and rivers are critically low. Here’s an interesting article which gives details of the situation: Animals die as Cambodia is gripped by worst drought in decades. Please be praying for this whole situation!