29 July 2008

Taking your life in your hands

I have been driving a moto in Cambodia for almost a year now, and that is enough time to see and understand some of the 'rules of the road' here... and unfortunately, there are not many... and the ones that do exist are not obeyed very much...

I can only think of 3 speed limit signs that I have seen in a city of 2 million people, and they are never obeyed... most people probably do not even know what they are. So last night, I am driving my moto, and I have Seda, her nephew Ro, and her niece Chanthou on my bike (I am getting better at driving with multiple passengers), and out of nowhere come two motorbikes that were racing at at least 60 miles an hour (you have to understand that most traffic goes around 20-30 mph)... they were so close to hitting us dead on... If I had been driving just a little faster we would have had a colossal crash, and I would not be writing this post right now... yikes... the yahoo's just kept on flying through town... I don't know how they can do it without being killed... the reality is that many do fine, but many others do get hurt seriously by this kind of driving...

Anyway, all four of us, held our breath, I hit the brakes, and they sped (flew?) by... it is one of those incidents, where if you really thought about what happened at that moment, you would fall off the bike by yourself...

The Pelican Brief...

Okay, so I know this book was written in 1992 and I am just getting around to reading it, but I enjoyed reading John Grisham's third novel (what is he up to now, 30?)... anyway it was a good, and as always, intriguing read... two Supreme Court Justices are assassinated, and there is no trail for the FBI to follow... however, a law student at Tulane does some research and makes a lucky guess at who could be funding the assassinations... it is a lucky guess that costs the lives of numerous people and has a paper trail leading all the way to the White House...

On a funny note with this, when I was finishing the book, I thought, I'll just go down and see if they have a copy of the movie at the DVD shop... no luck, but the Cambodian seller looked at me and said, oh, the one with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington? I looked at him with a bit of disbelief, and said, "uh, yeah, that one"... how some guy in Cambodia knows the names of actors from a lesser known movie that is probably 20 years old is beyond me...

21 July 2008

Church Service in Battambang...

I went up to Battambang this past weekend to spend some time with the children at the orphanage, as well as to play some music for them and share God's word during the church service...

Dr. John visiting Seda's Family

Dr. John and Seda have been friends for a long time, so it was nice for him to have some time to visit when he was in Cambodia...


Building project in Battambang...

The building progect in Battambang is going ahead well... apparently, this is only about 35 days work, and they expect to be done in a few months...

My new favorite pic of Seda...

Picnic with the kids...

John McCollum's team from Central Vineyard Church is here in Cambodia right now, and they had a picnic with all of the PrekEng orphanages...

Transform Cambodia dinner

Seda's organization had a dinner with some of their Australian friends and sponsors...




Seda and the red flowers...

Seda thought that these flowers were beautiful...



Seda and her sister Chantha...

As Seda and I were going out on our date night, we came across her sister selling food...





The orphanage directors, Savorn and me...

From left to right... Sophang, G, Narun, Savong, and Savorn...

Date Night...

Seda and I had a date night last week... here are a few pics...

Fun with Riatry...

We had a lot fun laughing with Riatry (Seda's nephew) one night about a week ago... what a card...

14 July 2008

29 things I am grateful for in Cambodia

Here is a potpourri of things that have made me grateful lately... I hope that you enjoy it...

- All of the Asia's Hope teams have had a great time here this summer!
- I actually have had a few conversations that were completely in Khmer...
- I am feeling more confident that I can speak this language and that people will understand me, but some of the grammar is killing me!
- The love that orphans show...
- My moto has been working great, and I have not had a significant spill since March
- Seda and I have had our ups and downs, but we keep working to make our relationship better...
- I have never eaten anything here that makes me wish that I was dead
- I have gotten to do a few little guitar duets (I just play the chords) with a student who can play melodies very nicely on this old beat up classical guitar here...
- Teaching the Bible at the orphanages for church services...
- Being able to help people with my computer skills...
- Being able to help the teacher's at the Christian school understand a Christian school Science text book... we are learning all kinds of new words!
- Somehow, Seda has moments where she thinks that I am handsome...
- Every once in a while when I need some American food, I can go to LUCKY BURGER!
- Even though payday is only once a month, it still comes!
- The National Election for Prime Minister is this month, so I get to see a little of the Cambodian political process at work... (Hun Sen has never lost in almost 20 years)... just one more thing to understand (or maybe misunderstand) about this culture...
- I am not in the United States to listen to all of the political mumbo jumbo about the presidential election...
- I am not in the United States to mourn the debacle that is the Cleveland Indians...
- I received a job description from Asia's Hope that excites me...
- I get email from people all the time encouraging me in what I am doing here
- Matt Redman's song "Nothing But the Blood"
- My Khmer teacher, Nara
- All of the Asia's Hope staff here in Cambodia
- talking with my brother and his girlfriend on the phone on his birthday
- a really kind and gracious letter from my father
- The Fernando Ortega album "The Shadow of Your Wings"
- My new apartment... the shower is only cold water, but I am getting used to it... it is actually more like cool pool water...
- Shane Claiborne's book "The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical"
- two new pictures of my nephews that my sister sent to me
- (and this may sound corny), Facebook! It has been really cool to connect with some people that I have not talked to in YEARS!

11 July 2008

Hamlet

I read Hamlet again for the umpteenth time this past month... I love that book/drama/play... there are so many places that I connect with him on an emotional level... not that I would act in the same way, but I sure can understand his motivations... my favorite fiction story, without a doubt... this time I listened to the different acts and scenes of the play via a recording I have of Kenneth Branagh and the Royal Renaissance Theater Company as I read along... fantastic...

06 July 2008

An email that made me laugh...

Here is part of an email from Dr. John... it made me laugh...
---------

Greetings, All!

I realize it's been about a week since my last communication, and therefore time for an update. Here's the scoop, here's my dilemma.

How does one write an exciting letter, making it easy and fascinating to read, that describes sitting in meetings followed by sitting at the computer typing up notes of the meetings? For that's what I've been doing. Actually, not just sitting in meetings.

It might be more apt to say trying to survive sitting in meetings. We've all been to meetings that we call, "deadly". Well, I am here to tell you a stateside deadly meeting doesn't hold a candle to a meeting in Southeast Asia . For these meetings are truly life-threatening. Picture this...

Set the environment -- ambient temperature is 100 to 110° on a good day, and of course there's little or no air movement. Sometimes your hosts will provide a fan. Being an oscillating fan it serves the purpose of giving a brief "taste" of a cool wiff, but moves on to for you a chance to truly appreciate it. Then it comes again making your hopes, only to have it fade away. Oh, by the way, is it passes through it blows your papers all over the place, so you have to be sure that everything is pinned down for the "coming of the breeze".

Even those of us who don't consider ourselves particularly sensitive to somatic input, can feel each one of the body's 13 gazillion sweat glands open up and start pouring forth their product. Those little trips turn into frank rivers and although Westerners start to squirm in their seats while they scratch the tickle, or try to sop up the river.

"Oh, yes sir, I am paying attention." Yeah, right. Between scratches, you must be ever vigilant for aerial attack. For at any moment, from any direction you may be attacked by a black fly. Oh, we're used to flies, you say. Yes that's true, these flies are differ in that their wingspan is just short of that of a B-52. Why, if one hits your forehead, you are out cold. (Maybe cold is good? At least the meetings over for you.)

And then there is the ever present wicker. Furniture, that is. It's a popular furnishing in this area. Ever sit on a wicker chair for any length of time? While I am endowed with moderately liberal padding, which I take with me to every meeting, I tell you it's not enough. No indeed, the wicker will prevail. The padding seems to have elaborated and you can just feel the creases and indentations, the imprint of "The Wicker" being created on a certain part of your anatomy.

After a while, it begins to get uncomfortable. So logically you shift your position. Well, it's not that easy. For those little grooves beginning to form in your posterior surfaces are behaving like tongue and groove carpentry -- they have locked onto, mated with their counterpart on the surface of the chair.

If you succeed in extricating yourself from the above situation, you shift and place your weight back down on the chair, right? Yeah, of course. Unfortunately, you find that in order to be comfortable, you must find another place where the tongue and groove's exactly match. For if you try to make new tongue and grooves over old tongue and groove's, I am here to tell you that is uncomfortable. So, you end up returning to your original position and just suffering the discomfort. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, at a meeting.

Now that you have a feel for the environment be reminded that half of the meeting, at least, is conducted by gentlemen, or ladies, speaking in an animated dynamic fashion in words that are totally incomprehensible to you. They will politely glance at you, making eye contact, seeming to assume that you understand what they're saying. Desiring not to offend, you return the eye contact, smiling like a moron apparently indicating that you understand everything. So they proceed to talk some more.

Oh, and you're supposed to be taking notes. So that is a meeting in Southeast Asia .

03 July 2008

Friends

Here are some pictures of me with some good friends here in Cambodia...




Don and Pat

Don and Pat are some dear Australian friends of ours. They are both volunteers here with Transform Cambodia... unfortunately, due to his health, they needed to make a quick return to Australia last week. We had breakfast with them before they left. Don and I only knew each other for a few months, but we had a great friendship that forged quickly.






More pics from the church service

Here are some additional pictures that Sophang took at the church service this past Sunday... Savorn and I were supposed to go to Battambang this weekend to do another service, but some scheduling problems came up, so we are going the following weekend...









01 July 2008

one of my classes hard at work...


nature is beautiful and can be so calming...

Some pics that I took at the Church service...




Election posters

Here are few pictures of the reigning political party... the Cambodian People's Party... highly criticized, they have been in power, essentially since the UN left in the 1990's... some people view Prime Minister Hun Sen (located in the middle of the three men) as a dictator, some as the genius of a booming economy... he will probably win again, and even if he doesn't get the right number of votes, he may win anyway...



Election kick off...

The other morning I was awakened to incredibly loud noises... at first I thought that it was a wedding (always loud) or a funeral (usually loud)... but it turned out that the election that takes place every five years was officially kicked off... since most people in Cambodia do not have any idea what the internet does, the most effective way of promoting yourself is screaming through megaphones... here are a few pics from my balcony... I am not sure, but I think that none of the political parties are not allowed to do anything official to run for election until a few weeks before the election... that might not be a bad idea for the States...

Church Service at Prek Eng 1 June 29 08

The monthly church service in Prek Eng happened again this weekend, but with a new twist... the college students ran the service...there are some pictures missing here which I will try to fix at a later date (the college students prepared a version of 'God will make a way', and I shared from God's Word... I talked about the rich young ruler... have a great week... love you all. G