Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July Update 2017

Dear praying friends and family,

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand! We hope this newsletter finds you well.

Lots of things happened these past few weeks that we wanted to share with you. But with constantly traveling from one place to the next, with a limited internet access, we kept on delaying our communication to you. So, here is a chronological order of events that took place these few weeks…

Friday June 23rd, as soon as Jonathan got out of school, a friend Nyack drove us to the Newark International airport where our flight was to depart for Minneapolis at 8:00 pm. However, due to severe rainstorms that evening, we were delayed three hours. By the time we arrived into Minneapolis to our host family at Maple Grove, MN, it was after 1:30 am of the next day. On Saturday evening June 24th, we were warmly welcomed by church members from Crossroad Alliance of Brooklyn Park, MN, with a cook-out meal and a great fellowship with former visiting teams to Poipet (these friends had visited us in Poipet in 2015-2016). Following it was a rich time of prayers over us as our church family commissioned us back to Cambodia. We felt so richly blessed by their love and prayer supports. Early Sunday morning, we met and fellowshipped with friends who drove three and a half hours from Rochester, MN, just to have a time of fellowship of meal with us! At Sunday morning church service, we spoke and shared about Cambodian ministries at Crossroad Alliance Church, our last speaking engagement of the year.

Monday afternoon, June 26th, we drove to meet our new host family at Ramsey, MN, where this family kindly let us use their entire house including the kitchen for some Cambodian food preparation for Justin and Katie’s rehearsal dinner. Though we had never met before this day, after a week of fellowship and a lot of laughter, we actually left their house saying goodbye to our new friends.

Saturday July 1was a big day of celebration for us as very proud parents. We welcomed a brand new daughter-in-law, Katherine Jane Lao, into the family. Altogether about 220 close friends and family attended! And God blessed the newly wedded couple with a beautiful gorgeous sunny day. Sadly, due to a few family crises only Syna’s mother and older sister were able to attend the wedding from the Lao side of the family. But a number of our Cambodian mission families came to show their love and support for the young couple. We rejoiced at the godly ceremony and union of our children, Justin and Katie, but it was also a bitter-sweet moment for us because it was also the last time we were going to see them for a while. That Saturday evening when we sent Justin and Katie off to their honeymoon, we also began our departure for Cambodia.

At 4:30 am of Monday (July 3rd) we were standing in front of the check-in counter at Minneapolis airport and shockingly discovered that there were problems with our connecting flights to Cambodia. Panic and confusion began to kick in. Since we could not call anyone for help at this early time of the day. In addition, to avoid missing our 7:00 am flight we had to pay a large sum of unplanned luggage fees. Praise God after arriving into LAX airport, we were able to get through to the travel agent where she was able to smooth out the process of delivering our suitcases all the way through. After 28 hours of traveling, we arrived into Siem Reap International airport at 11:00 pm of July 4th and with all our bags!

As we exited the airport building, we were excitedly greeted by two church leaders from Siem Reap province and two others from Poipet, who came to welcome us back with our pick-up truck. As we began to load up the suitcases into the truck, summer rains also began to pour. Sadly, our friends forgot to bring along a plastic tarp/sheet for the covering. Fortunately, experience taught us to line up all our suitcases with plastic bags when packing, which saved the contents of our bags from being soaking wet. By the time we checked in to the Freedom Hotel, it was 1:30 am of Wednesday July 5th.

Daniel holding the snake he killed on the time of our arrival
Wednesday morning after breakfast with our four national friends at the noodle shop, we drove three hours to Poipet, dropped off our suitcases, and repacked smaller bags for Anlongveng trip. Shortly after we arrived into our old place in Poipet, however, we were surprisingly welcomed by a familiar yet unwanted creature, a 2.3meter-long snake in front of the house! Fortunately, friends assured us that it was not a poisonous one. Immediately after all the excitements of seeing old friends (church family) and an old enemy (snake) again, we had to quickly made a four hour road trip to Anlongveng, before jet-lag began to kick in. Strong coffees and lively conversations kept us awake all the way through to our new location. After we checked ourselves into a local guesthouse at Anlongveng, we had dinner at a local restaurant with two Cambodian siblings, Daa and Channa, our first Christian contact people in this new place. And after a brief meeting, we arranged to meet again the next day for a house hunting adventure.

Syna, Daa and Channa
We started our long search for houses on July 6th, a Thursday, at 6:30 am. We literally drove around on every street/path and to every corner of Anlongveng, knocking on every door, standing in front of every gate of any potential houses asking the owners if they were interested in renting us their house, or if they knew of a house where we could rent.

Street in Anlongveng
Our desire was to find a Khmer-style wooden house to live in. After looking at 13 places, however, none of the houses we looked at had any indoor plumbing! So, we kept on searching. Finally, we found one that was a stone/cement house. Out of all those houses we looked at, this was the only one with indoor plumbing. It had four bedrooms with three bathrooms!

Our new house
The landlord is one of the prominent government leaders of the area who seemed very generous and favorable to our requests; and he was even willing to drop the renting price to our budget! Finally, at 5:30 pm of the same day, we were thrilled to officially sign a one-year contract with our new landlord and were looking forward to live in this new location for the next four years, Lord willing…

As we drove around searching for a house, we also learned new discoveries about the community and nature of Anlongveng. It appeared that there were a few other Christian groups that had recently established in the areas. As we drove around town, we saw houses with locked doors with posting signs of mostly independent Christian groups.

Because we were still struggling with jet-lag, (waking up at 1:00am or 2:00am every day), we decided to leave Anlongveng on 5:00 am of Friday, July 7th, and drove four hours back to Poipet. But as soon as the church leaders learned of our arrival back into Poipet, they persistently pleaded with us to have fellowship through a “welcome-home” meal with church families from Alliance churches in Poipet. We said yes. That Friday evening, 58 people came to greet and welcome us back. Happy tears began to fall down as we warmly received love from our friends. Despite our absence for an entire year from missions, their love for God, devotion and commitment remained faithful to the one true God. We give thanks to God for protecting His flock.

Soeuth sharing at the Living Water Church
At 6:30 am, Saturday, July 8th, we met with other 13 missionary team mates at the Poipet border as we began the long process of crossing the border to Thailand to attend the annual Field Forum with the Thai mission field. Around 10:30am, when we stopped for a bathroom break where Soeuth had turned on his phone to check emails we received the shocking news from my family back in the United States that my little brother, “Phaly passed away on 7/7/17." Even while we were still in Minnesota preparing for Justin and Katie’s wedding, we learned that Phaly was already admitted into a hospice. But we never thought that his homecoming would be this soon. Please pray for my aging mother as she is prepared to bury another son. Pray for my sister-law, Rebecka, with her five children, 2 girls (ages 18 and 19) and 3 boys (ages 4,6 and 8) as the grieve the loss of their beloved husband and father. This is a very dark time for me and for my extended family back home. We appreciate your prayers.

Lastly, from July 9 -14, we traveled from Bangkok to Hua Hin, Thailand, to begin our Field Forum in Spring Field resort, about three hour bus ride away.

As always, we are grateful to God for your prayers and support.

Soeuth & Syna