25 June 2007

There are no words

A busy week in Thailand has seen the team doing 'well child' checks on numerous orphans, a trip to a village outside of Chiang Mai for similar reasons, the ever popular snake show, teaching English at a Christian School, and going to a youth retreat for Christian orphans about 30 minutes outside of Doi Saket. I was able to speak to the students (via translator) on Jesus first miracle (turning water into wine) and what it means for our lives. I got to take pictures of the Hill tribe orphans (about 70 plus) for sponsorship pictures as well. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING compares to what happened in church.

Due to the near impossibility of transporting 70 orphans and the staff anywhere at one time, the children have church at the orphanage. Pastor Mike (from Virginia) is a long time missionary to the Thai people and is serving as pastor of this very young congregation.

Father's Day in Thailand is on the King's birthday which is December 5. However, when the children and the staff realized that the American Father's Day was last week, they wanted to do something special. Frankly the service was going a bit long... it was hot, many of us were tired and really wanting to move on to what was next in our day. But then it happened... completely unknown to all of us, four of the girls began to get up and wash the feet of Pastor Dave, Pastor Mike and two other American men. My attention was instantly upon the four girls, but (as if this demonstration did not hold enough power) then every single girl and staff woman (including the orphanage director) who had long hair began to dry the feet of the men with their hair. Unbelievable... the Americans were all sitting in stunned silence... the children on the other hand began to cry... not all, but most of them...

During this entire part of the service, the children had begun to sing a song for fathers. Many of these children have lost their fathers to very violent deaths... some by police shootings and others through accidents and disease. After the foot washing/drying every single orphan went up and gave these men a rose and a hug... again, many of them with tears. I honestly have never seen anything like it... after the service several of the children were truly wailing. They were releasing years of pain of losing a father, or never having one that cared anything for them. It was unbelievable to hold some of these children while they cried and cried and cried... it was amazing. There are no words that can faithfully represent all of our feelings and 'heart crys' in those moments.

As amazing and as loving as the Asia's Hope Orphans home is, there is still so much pain in these children's' world. It is only the grace of God that has brought these 70 or so children here to grieve, to love, to grow and to know the God who is for them in a way they hardly conceive yet.

Thank you for your prayers, and may God bless all of you in every way. Graham

22 June 2007

a variety of faces

As I had mentioned in a previous email, internet access has not been as easy as in previous years, so my updates have been a little less frequent... here's a short one for you all...

Since I last wrote, we have done an evangelistic outreach at a state run orphange as well as with Gospel Fellowship Church. Both were interesting and rewarding experiences in their own right.

I was able to visit at a church that I will probably be helping with music from time to time. Their music is SO much different from what I am used to that it is hard to see what kind of use I could be, so that is something I need to commit to prayer.

I did recently post some pictures on my blog (http://www.grahamgeisler.blogspot.com/) so you can see a variety of faces.

Last Monday we held a teacher training session at Asia's Hope Christian School to work with teachers on areas of classroom discipline, integrating our faith into our teaching as well as developing effective lesson plans. The sessions were taught by the Superintendant and Assistant Superintendant from Worthington Christian School as well as myself and a kindergarten teacher.

The man who is serving as the interim-principal of Asia's Hope Christian School has asked me to work on working on some computers and simple typing programs so that the students may begin to develop some computer and typing skills (please don't spell check this email!). My health has been doing much better than in previous summers with the exception of one (gratefully short) time. But I do ask for your prayers there.

Currently we are in Thailand, and we will be here through next Wednesday. Most people will fly home, but I will go back to Cambodia. I will be taking the first two days to sleep and get some sort of real rest, and then get back into some other projects.

I recently learned that I will be helping to lead a group of Americans that will be here at the end of July, which will be another new endeavor.

It has been a real blessing to see the college students in Cambodia again and begin to interact with them. It is a real joy to teach them and to see them become faithful followers of Christ.

Tonight we will be going to a student retreat for Thai teenagers, and I may end up speaking there. May God bless you all and thank you for your prayers!

Graham

Great Smiles!






Other faces that I can not forget...

Never underestimate the power of balloons, cake and birthday parties in the lives of children...





Faces that I can't forget

These are a few of the 17,000 people who were killed in the Khmer Rouge regime. Nearly 2 million people were killed. These were photographed prior to torture and murder.
This is at least the 3rd time (if not 4th) that I have been here,
and the following faces always jump out to me...




17 June 2007

Birthdays, Cake and Water Parks

Our new guest house is not as close to a reliable internet store, so I have not been able to write as regularly as I have, but since I got a chance today, I will send out a few thoughts...

Other things that are going on... three hours in water park with about 40+ orphans... most of which had never gone swimming, much less conceived of such a place... it went quickly, and I even wore sunscreen... there is a certain joy in children when they just get to play in water and have fun that can not be equaled by too many things... it cost $3 per person... and on an average policeman's salary of $30 per month, this is like going to Disney World... a nearly once in a lifetime experience...

Most of the children have no real clue what their actual birth date is. Many of them guess, or were never told, so for a little MORE excitement, we have had birthday parties at four different orphanages for all of the children, no matter when their birthday is. Complete with cake, balloons and streamers... now if you thought that children could get wound up with a water park, you should see the joy and fun that comes when the word 'cake' is mentioned.

Some of the children had never even had a piece of cake before. Not that this is a main goal of the summer, but the look on a child's face when they eat cake (and either rarely have had it, or have never had it)... it is a pretty fun sight to see. I am sure that you can all imagine.

Today we attended a church that has been started by our friend Narin. He has asked me to help them with their music a bit. But today, I just was able to share a testimony at both services about some things that God has been teaching me through the Scriptures. The summary version is that God is there, He hears us and He is willing to take our fears.

Tomorrow (Monday) I will be resuming my avocation as school photographer in order to get sponsorship photos for all of the children.

More to come! Thank you for your prayers!
Graham

15 June 2007

In short, A LOT is going on...

I am sorry that it has taken so long to get an email out to everyone... things are going well and we swung into action early on the first full day that we were here.

It absolutely baffles me to think of all the things that have transpired in the last 5 or 6 weeks... graduating from Akron, 2 band concerts, a weeklong Senior class trip, packing up all of my belongings and putting it into a storage unit, saying goodbye to numerous people and students, flying halfway around the world, adjusting to a culture that I have not seen in about 50 weeks, traveled back and forth from Battambang on a hot bus, etc., etc...

Things have not been much slower here. We have already been to 4 different orphanges, the Christian school, spent time with the college students, done some planning for changes at the Christian school, done "Well-Child Checks" with 19 new orphans, took pictures of all of the children for sponsorship, and the list continues to grow.

I am excited about the new opportunites that lie ahead of me here in Cambodia. Many are out of my comfort zone, but that is okay. I am relying on God's strength to sustain me. Tomorrow we take many of the children swimming for the very first time! Fun, sun and lots of hacking up water...

We will spend time with the teachers at the school doing teacher training on Monday and then have an outreach with Great Commission Fellowship on Monday night. Next Thursday we leave for Chiang Mai, Thailand to see all of the work that is being done there, minister to the orphans and spend time at the brand new college student center....

In short, A LOT is going on...

Prayer often seems like a strange excerise... but God has ordained it for use in our hearts and has His purposes for it... please keep praying for me and the others who are here. The three girls from Mansfield Christian are doing great, and excited about what they can do.

May God bless you in every way.
Graham