29 January 2008

Engagement Party for Veasna and Channan



Here are some pictures of our friends Veasna (boy) and Channan (girl) getting engaged at her parents home in Kompong Chhnang... I was not able to go, but I sent my camera with Seda

28 January 2008

Shiny Veneers, CT Scans and some big news...

It has been a long time since I have written to everybody, so I hope that this email isn't too long... if it is, feel free to skim it... I will put it in bite size chunks...

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

What a birthday...

Well, thank you to all of you for sending me birthday greetings... I will give you the highlights (or the lowlights as in this case)... a few days ago I started getting pain on my front left side... at first I thought that I just needed to eat some more raisins and drink some Mylanta, but after that didn't work, and the pain was getting worse, I called Dr. John in the States and he told me to visit our friend Dr. Modich... Modich did a variety of tests, only to say that 'well, it could be diverticulitis'.... huh?... whatever... all I knew was that I was in a lot of pain... he wanted to put me in the hospital, but we were able to work around that... the next thing I know he is sending his nurse, Socheat, to the house with me to hook me up to IV's with antibiotics and normal IV solution... about 15 hours later, they unhooked me (I could not eat anything) and then they took me to a clinic for a abdominal CT scan... so, $250 later, they can not tell what the problem is, the CT scan is 'normal', and I was still in some discomfort... today (Tuesday) I am doing better but still uncomfortable... I took two days off from teaching, and will be back tomorrow...

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

Plugging the Planet Into the Word

Here is a good article on how technology is helping people in Cambodia to read and to read about Jesus... read it here

Asia's Hope Article

Here is a good introduction to Asia's Hope and the work that they are doing in Cambodia... read it here

15 January 2008

Phnom Penh Skyscapes

Some pictures that I though were cool...
from the top floor of Sorya Mall...

Seda and the Turtle

Somehow a turtle turned up at Transform Cambodia the other day, and Seda brought it home... we took it out to the Tonle Sap River and tossed him back into an environment that he will enjoy much more... but not before she carved our names into his back! OUCH!





A visit from our friend Amy

Our friend Amy had to move back to her home town in PreyVeng to get a job with the bank, but she came and visited us back around the new year, and I am just putting the pictures up...
Seda and Amy

Amy, Sineth and Sana

Amy and Sineth

Sana

Amy, Sana and Sineth

Amy

Seda and Amy

14 January 2008

Saturday morning in PrekEng, Part 2

We spent some more time at the second Asia's Hope Orphanage... same things that we did at the other orphanage, but this time we took a different purple fruit that I had never seen before...

Saturday morning in PrekEng, Part 1

Here are some new pictures from this past Saturday at the original PrekEng orphanage... I had a nice time with the children... I played my clarinet for them, we played around a bit, I stammered through some of my Khmer learning, I taught a Bible Study to them on the meaning of the three wise men that came to Jesus, and then they had some banannas that Savorn and I had brought ... hope that you like them... Also you can see the pictures of the new swingset... the kids really love it...

04 January 2008

Chickens and Ducks

Along with some other pics from Vietnam, here are some chickens and ducks on their way to a dinner near you...

Christmas Dinner with Seda's Family

Christmas at Transform Cambodia's 'Hope House'

Here are some pictures of the children at Transform Cambodia, putting on their Christmas Program... Seda, the teachers and the volunteers did a great job!

Ben and Chelsea

My friend Ben met up with Chelsea Clinton at a rally...

A few pics from the Vietnam/Cambodia Border

Here are a few pics from the border... I had to go to Ho Chi Minh City after Christmas to renew my visa... I know only the first pic is good, but I had to get back on the bus...



Another sign that makes me laugh

I have seen these signs in Phnom Penh several times, and I finally got a picture of one... it is actually for a driving school (which in and of itself is funny, if you have ever been in traffic here... but I salute his attempt)... but anyway, it makes me laugh because of the obvious rip off of KFC and Colonel Sanders...


02 January 2008

The Tunnels of Cu Chi

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…

Christmas at Asia's Hope Christian School

Hercules Poirot’s Christmas

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…