Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May Update 2016

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Greetings from Poipet, Cambodia! We trust that all is well with you. With all that is going on, this is probably the last newsletter from Poipet as we are wrapping up the ministries and packing up the house to be ready for our trip to America on June 12! After spending a week with Syna’s family in Washington (June 13-20), we look forward to see some of you again really soon, especially those of you who are from the east coast! Meanwhile, after a very long season of extreme heat and humidity and dusty, we are thrilled to welcome the first few rains of the year!!! Though the average daily temperature is still between 92-94 degrees the rains help to cool things down.
Below are updates of what took place since our last newsletter…

April 30-May 18: A teammate and I (Syna) left Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for a leadership conference at Colorado Springs (May 1-6) and for visiting friends and family in Minnesota (May 6-18). The day we’d left Cambodia, it was 106 degrees hot and humid only to be landed, 35 hours later, into Colorado Springs at 32 degrees, with heavy rains, icy roads, and about 6 inches of snow already on the ground! With a 12-hour different in time change and a totally different climate, it was quite a challenge to adjust to the change!!!!

After the conference, I was thankful for a chance to reconnect with friends from Crossroad Alliance of Brooklyn Park, MN! These friends had come to Poipet for short term mission trips during the past few years. Because our son Justin was in the middle of final exams at Crown College at Saint Bonifacius, MN, the plan was that I would go and spend a few days with him during the later part of my visit. Instead, I was surprisingly presented with an early Mother’s Day gift!!! A church family there made secret arrangements by bringing Justin to spend a night with me (May 7) at Maple Gove, MN, and after church service on Mother’s Day they drove Justin back to school so he could finish his final exams! Thank you dear friends! Your loving actions brought tears of joy to this mother’s longing heart…

May 13-15: Many of you have been praying for the northwest regional KEC youth motorbike mission trip and this is the results of your prayers…  Although God was at work and was quietly woven stories behind the sense, the Devil was also working overtime as well… Just days before the trip, almost all of the participants were experiencing many different kinds of attack from the enemy! The night before the trip, a number of team members called in to report that they were experiencing some unusual and unexplained sicknesses, but we’d urged to keep on praying and trusting God for healing. And He did! Some of the youth encountered strong oppositions and lack of support from family members. A few others, due to lack of finance and among other personal reasons, had questions of doubts and concerns of whether or not this trip was worth it.  Still a few others said that they were battling with nightmares and even had seen visions of scary images during the night before the trip reporting that these demonic figures/ images had repeatedly warned them of potential dangers IF they (the youth) chose to go on this trip! Nevertheless, despite of threats and obstacles, however, very early morning on the appointed day, 43 people showed up and were ready and willing to embark on this long awaited, most anticipating mission trip!

After brief orientation, loading and tiding up sleeping supplies, the exciting participants quickly hopped onto 16 motorbikes and two pick-up trucks to begin the adventure of a life time, driving over 450 kilometers distant toward Preah-vihear province! But problems followed them throughout the long journey…  Problem #1: As the team passed through Odar Mean Province (about 1/3 of way), the team leaders got two phone calls, back to back, from the home churches that two KEC church members went HOME to be with Jesus that morning, and immediate funeral arrangements must be done! As the result, one leader had to return to Siem Reap Province for one funeral, while the other funeral was left to the cares of other stay-at home church leaders! Problem #2:  Two other young men from Soriyaa Village all were geared up and ready for the mission trip!  But for whatever the reasons, these two got lost completely from the rest of the group!  Sadly after spending hours of unsuccessful searching and calling, they had to return home! Problem #3: The original plan was that the team would visit and spend a night at a Kui village church  (one of the minor tribal ethnics of the region), but with just two days before the trip, the team leaders learned about some political problems related to land issues that cause significant conflicts  in that village. As the result, the leaders redirected plans to visiting another village church called Abundant Life Church, also located in Preah-vihear Province!

Abundant Life Church
Of course, only God knew this ahead of time!  You see the believers in this remote village have been enduring a long period of loneliness, isolation, and feeling “left out” because of their distant location from any other KEC groups of that province.  There were many young people from this village, but none of them had ever been to the KEC annual youth camps or to any of the regional quarterly rallies!  In fact, this was the first encounter that these village youth had the chance to meet and fellowship with other youngsters of their peers! And because of this, these few new believers had been quietly nursing seeds of doubts concerning their decisions of becoming followers of Jesus Christ.  But the surprisingly changed plans of the visiting team brought much encouragement to the Christians in this village! With the local believers’ persistent pleas, the visiting team ended up staying overnight where two joyful worship services were held for both Friday night and Saturday morning! Although the Abundant life House Church held regular services and fellowshipped every week, and for whatever the reasons, the people there had never been taught about nor practiced giving tithes and offerings! So at the suggestion of the visiting team leaders, they had their first offering, and a total of $140.00 was collected! That is about a month salary for the average local income!!! As the total money was presented to that house church leaders, the visiting team leaders took time to carefully explain the biblical reasons on how God’s money is to be used.

Immediately after the Saturday morning service, the visiting team headed to yet another remote location at Sraa Aem Village! Unlike any other villages, Sraa Aem is a very newly established village for the military families! Because of on-going political tensions over border issues, the Cambodian governments had recently assigned about 300 soldiers (and their families) to settle in this newly remote village along the Thailand-Cambodia border.

Children service at Sraa Aem village

Another beautiful story behind this unique place is that, about 6 months prior to this particular mission trip, some Cambodians from the USA became friends with the one of prominent military leaders of the areas!  This leader, “Mr. V”, is the 1-Star General overseeing some 300 soldiers in that region!

In the course of times, these US friends had made a few trips to the region and as relationship established and trust built, Mr. V. along with his wife became believers and committed followers of Jesus Christ!!!  And in this past March, during one of our across-country ministry related trips, we’d stopped by to visit Mr. V. at Sraa Aem!!!  When he and the family learned about our mission trip, they’d pleaded with us repeatedly that “You must bring the entire group to spend a night here!” And so we did…
Visiting members worshiping at Sraa-aem village
By the time they’d arrived into Sraa Aem Village it was toward the evening hours. With weariness and bone-tired and exhausted from a very long road trip, the team leaders gave the visiting group sometimes of rest but urged them to be ready and on time for the morning service. Early on Sunday morning, as the worship service was about to begin, about 300 plus people from that village came for the service!
Soldiers and families worship at Sraa Aem village
Group worship at Sraa Aem village
All who came excitedly exclaimed, “This is the first time that we ever had seen so many people in one worship service!”

Soeuth’d prepared and preached a message based on Luke 7:1-10 about The Faith of the Centurion.  How fitting was the message that seemed to apply to the faith and life of this military leader… After church service, lunch was generously prepared and provided by Mr. V’s wife feeding over 300 villagers plus 43 visitors!  “What an amazing woman!” was a common response from everyone who attended that service.  After enjoying a hearty, delicious and satisfying full meal, the visiting team headed back to Bontey Meanchey Province, the point where this journey began three days earlier…

By the time the group arrived into Bontey Meanchey Province, it was already around 7 pm!  But not in a hurry to come home, the group met to share about their adventurous experiences at a local KEC church in Svey Sisophon!  It was at this debrief meeting that the entire visiting team clearly understood the FULL capacity of how the POWER of GOD was at work but also how much the Enemy had tried with his many schemes and tactics in order to stop this mission trip! You see, in addition to the problems and obstacles described above, during the ride home from Sraa Aem Village, the entire visiting team was surprisingly met by a vicious violent rainstorm and thunderstorm!  The fury violent windstorm was so strong that big trees were being uprooted and felt down to the left and the right of the weary travelers!  One motorbike driver with his young wife, in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, stopped in hope to find shelter under a big tree, only to be discovered that just a matter of seconds after they decided to leave the “shelter” that this huge tree suddenly fell onto the main road! Soeuth’s truck full of young people was swerved dangerously and finally came to a completely stop when another giant tree felt right in front of the truck!  One person had counted and reported that a total of 8 huge trees felt on the main road in that storm! And the stories went on and on, one after another, all testified as to how GOD had miraculously delivered them all from the harm!  At the end of that debrief meeting, there was not a dry eye to be seen in that room!!!

A young woman moved by the testimonies
All gave praises to GOD! As the result, one of participants, Pheap, gave his life to Jesus!  When that mission trip started out three days earlier, Pheap was the only unbeliever among the group. But by the time it ended, Pheap came home with a joyful heart safe and SAVED!!!! Over all, a total of 43 people riding on 16 motorbikes and in 2 pick-up trucks embarking on this adventurous mission trip traveling across four provinces covering over 900 kilometers in distant, but not even a single minor accident took place, and not even a tiny flat tire! Amazing!  All praises to JESUS!!!!!
Oh, we got much more to share but that is enough for now…

Soeuth & Syna