29 January 2008
28 January 2008
The first thing that I want to say, and may be understood by many, is the fact that the shiny, exciting veneer of being in a foreign land is... gone. That is good and that is bad... I really do love being here, but there are some things that have begun to really push my buttons... the "Wow! Cool! Look at that!" mentality has passed into, "Hey man, can you stop driving your car in the wrong direction on this main road?" and "Wow, did you know that corruption is so bad in your country that you are tied for the 162nd most corrupt country in the world out of 179? and that it is going to destroy your country?"(see article here at Transparency International)... So my attitude has to continually be reshaped by the love of Christ, and I have found myself praying for more people in a lot of different ways... the good side of this is that the real work of love can begin in my heart and through me to the people of Cambodia... there is no part of me that is just hanging around here because it seemed like a interesting thing to do... all of that to say that God is working in me as much or perhaps more than ever...
My Khmer language learning took a big step forward this month as I have learned almost all of the Khmer alphabet and am reading more and more in their language. It is SO different than English, and I am finding that a lot of the phonetic note taking that I have been doing for the last five months has to be thrown out the window if I want to understand Khmer the way that Khmer people understand it. I have come to the conclusion through some rough estimates that there are about 90-100 different sounds in the Khmer alphabet that I have to learn. There are only about 55 letters but many of the vowels (around 25-30) have two sounds for each vowel (and there are even more crazy things that I am still learning about).
It was about Christmas when I sent out my last letter, and it has been a very expensive month since then... visits to the doctor on my birthday, CT scans, a trip to Vietnam to renew my visa, a new 6 month visa in Cambodia, etc... It just added up to what seemed like a good old fashioned blood letting in the bank account... I would appreciate your prayers for the financial areas of living here in Cambodia. My yearly support letter is coming in the mail soon, so please pray for me in that regard.
Teaching at Pannassastra is going well... into my second term there. My students don't seem to be as astute as last term, but we are making headway.
I interviewed for a music teaching position at a secondary school here, but I will not find out about whether I will get the position until the end of February. Please pray for me that I will see and understand God's will if it is His desire for me to work there.
I have been able to work some things out so that I can come to the United States in March for about three weeks. It will be good to see family, friends, speak at Mansfield Christian, maybe speak at church, eat some real pizza, get the taxes done... etc before coming back to Cambodia.
There are a few more things that I could chat about, but I will finish with the BIG news... most of you know that Seda and I have been dating for the last seven months... due to some cultural considerations (as well as our own desires), we are going to be getting engaged in two weeks... in Cambodia, it is typical to have an engagement party with the families. My family can not be there, but we have some friends who are going to go and fill in during the short party/ceremony. It should be a simple, but very nice time. We appreciate your prayers. We will not be walking down the proverbial (or actual) aisle for sometime, but this is an important step for me, for her and for her family... I will of course be putting pictures on the blog for anyone to see... I will also be putting pictures of some friends of ours that got engaged in the last month... you will be able to see what some of the activities look like...
Finally, if you have not stopped by my blog in a while, I hope that you will! I have found a new way to upload a lot of pictures to my blog without too much work, and I hope that you will stop by to see some of them... the link, as always is at the bottom of this email. May God bless you all in every way... Graham
22 January 2008
The highlight of the day was Seda walking into the living room where I was connected to the IV's with a birthday cake that had a forest fire on it, singing happy birthday... she was also wearing a new dress that I had gotten for her, which did not hurt either...
Anyway, things seem to be returning to normal... I am still uncomfortable, but it is not the sharp pain that I had before... time to eat more vegetables and drink more water...
Thanks for your prayers.... G
16 January 2008
15 January 2008
14 January 2008
07 January 2008
04 January 2008
03 January 2008
02 January 2008
A book that I have been working away on for quite some time is a historical accounting of the underground tunnels that were in Vietnam during the Vietnamese War called The Tunnels of Cu Chi… part of my interest in it lies down a rabbit trail, but suffice it to say that, as many Americans, I have been intrigued by different aspects of the Vietnamese war… this book tells stories on both sides of the conflict between the United States and the Viet Cong… there are amazing stories about how the Viet Cong lived and succeeded against the most powerful war machine in the world through ingenuity, subterfuge, and a nitty-gritty desire to not lose their lands… the other side of the story is the development of the Tunnel Rats… American soldiers that went into the war for a variety of reasons, but eventually found their niche and, for many of them, their purpose in the depths of the earth… neither side has a story that is your typical story of war glory, but both of them carve out their place in history in 200 miles of underground tunnels in the area of Cu Chi… Most of the Americans only entered the tunnels with a knife, a pistol and a flashlight, but often did not leave the tunnels with their lives… the Viet Cong give accounts of children being born underground, marriages being performed, burying entire American tanks under the earth, building meeting halls and dirt 'auditoriums' for entertainment, as well as extensive hospitals… this book was written in 1985, so I am sure that more has been revealed in the last twenty years that was not know then… nevertheless, it is an amazing story that may never be repeated in any war… not a long book, and worth the read…
I really did spend part of my Christmas with Hercule Poirot! It just happens that he was in the book (Hercules Poirot’s Christmas) that I was reading on my way to and from Vietnam… I had to go and renew my visa… changing it to a business visa so that I could continue to teach in Cambodia… here is what happened…
Poirot was visiting a friend of his when he was asked to look into the gruesome murder of an elderly millionaire over the Christmas holiday. As with all of his cases, nothing came easily… to start off with, there was a tremendous amount of crashing about and a horrid scream that emanated inside the dead man's room at the time of the murder… however, when the only door to the room was opened, all of the windows were bolted shut from the inside, and no one was inside except the dead man Simeon Lee… Lee's unloving demeanor and greed gave all of his family members cause to put him away… but who actually did it? When the house staff are cleared of wrong doing, it leaves only Lee's family that could have killed him… no one feels like sharing any good wishes this holiday season, except Hercule Poirot, who always believes that truth and conviction are among the best of gifts…