Tuesday, August 1, 2017

End of July Update 2017

Dear praying friends and family,

Thank you for waiting. We moved into Anlongveng since July 18, right after returning from Field Forum (FF), but our new place had no internet access available, until recently. However, we are in Phnom Penh this weekend as Jonathan and I will fly out to Malaysia on July 31. And though we are in the big city now, this guesthouse has no internet access either. I am preparing this note and saving it in the outbox hoping that after I leave (tomorrow), the internet will come back so Soeuth could send it out to you. Anyway, a lot had happened since our last communication; and to get a glimpse of what took place, let’s begin in chronological order.

July 8-14: We had a great time at FF joining with the Thai mission team in Hua Hin Province, Thailand. The Cambodian mission team was a bit smaller compared to our neighboring mission field. Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time. After field forum, we stayed a few extra days in Bangkok for medical and dental check-ups for all of us. Praise God, all went well.

July 18, Tuesday was a big moving day for us. We started early in the morning, moving our storage things from the second floor of our old house to the ground floor to be loaded in our Nissan pick-up truck, a big rented truck, and a 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero. Three young men from Poipet came to help us move. The guys carried heavy and bulgy items up and down the 22 steps of cramped stair-case and it was a miracle that no one was hurt during the moving process. By the time we loaded up most things that we wanted, it was already 12:30 pm. We thought that it would only take four hours to drive and that we would have plenty of time to travel all the way to Anlongveng in one day, but things didn’t turn out the way we planned…

First of all, to avoid getting our things wet (it’s a rainy season now), we covered all our trucks with blue-green plastic tarps and tied them up tightly. As the three vehicles were leaving Poipet, however, we were stopped by border security authorities at various check points. The border officials had assumed that since all our trucks were covered up, they thought that we must had smuggled illegal goods from Thailand. So Soeuth and the drivers stopped the vehicles, walked to the check point “office”, and explained our situations to the local authorities. In some locations, the officials did not even bother to accept our explanations but went on ahead and ordered that the trucks be untied and exposed so they could “inspect” the contents, and afterward, they let us go. Altogether, we were stopped six times for the first 80 kilometers from Poipet! Secondly, when we thought we had a break from the local authorities, the Pajero was overheated!

At about every10 or 15 minutes, we had to stop and pour water onto and over the engine to let it cool down a bit before continuing on our way. At two of those stops, we were fortunate enough to be able to park the vehicles right in front of a farmer’s house, where one of our guys went to the house and asked a complete stranger for a bucket of rain or well water to feed the car. But for the remaining numerous other stops the guys, with the help of a flashlight, walkd off the main roads and collected water from rice paddies. Literally, we stopped after every 15 to 20 kilometers just to water the Pajero! In addition to that, because the rains were so heavy all the way through, we had to stop driving a few times in order to avoid an accident. As a result, it took us more than seven hours to travel from Poipet to Anlongveng. By the time we arrived into our new place it was after 10:30 pm.

Thirdly, realizing that they would encounter more problems with highway authorities, the two drivers from the big the truck decided to return to Poipet in middle of the night. That meant that we had to immediately unload everything from all three trucks. We did it. By the time we got everything unloaded, we were deadly exhausted.

And on top of that, we had to think about food! Where would we buy food in the middle of the night in this small isolated town? Fortunately, I remembered to bring along a box of instant noodles. But the challenge was to find pots, pans, and dishes among other things to feed everyone. There were thirteen of us altogether: Three guys from Poipet, two drivers from the big rented truck, three Lao family members, and a young family with three small children (This family had requested and agreed to come work and live with us in Anlongveng for the next four years).

And then finally, we needed to find bedding supplies and mosquito nets for everyone to sleep for the night. And as it is rainy season, we also had to find dry places for storing our things. Needless to say, we were tired and weary to the bone. By the time we went to bed, it was passed 2:00am, Wednesday morning. But even then, there was no rest for the weary because the next few days was a whirlwind of cleaning the house and moving heavy things into temporary locations until all our dressers, book shelves and our cabinets arrived-- at the end of August, when we will make another trip to Poipet. In between moving, the landlord and his people also dropped by many times throughout each day to continue with their repairing works.

July 21, Friday morning: We sent off the three young men back to Poipet via a taxi as Soeuth also left for Siem Reap province to pick up a visiting team of eight people: three adults and five high school youth from Detroit Lakes, MN.

Detroit Lake MN team came and help us

We were very grateful to this team. Their main purpose for coming to Cambodia was to help us move and settle into our new place in Anlongveng. For the next five days, they did just that. And what a blessing they had been to us! While we were grateful to God for finding this house, there was much work to be done before we could actually live in. And every helping hand was needed. While the team scrubbed and cleaning the ceilings and windows and put new fresh coats of pains in a few rooms, I also scrubbed and cleaned the bathrooms and floors. We are still far away from being done, but compared to what it was the house looks much better now.
Another problem we encountered these past few days was that we had too many heavy rains everyday.

July 24, Monday morning: Many parts of Anlongveng were covered with flood waters! In some locations, the flood was chest-deep even on the main road! While many houses or huts were being destroyed or completely washed away by strong currents of the flood, our place was not affected. And of the 13 houses that we had looked at from early July, only our present house was spared. Clearly, God had prepared this place for us. When talking with local people, we learned that although Anlongveng was often affected by heavy rains, this year's flood the worst one so far.

Flood at Anlongveng
In midst of house cleaning and getting the place ready while wading through floods, we made time to attend “church” on Sunday morning with Daa and Channa, (the two siblings as our new contact Christians), along with some ladies and small children from a local village. Daa, being the designated leader of this small band of believers, led the Sunday service which followed by two testimonies from the visiting team, and a sermon message through translation from the visiting pastor. In addition to the 8 visiting guests and our family, there were 30 plus people and children (villagers) who came to worship on our first Sunday in Anlongveng!

Sunday "church" at Anlongveng
At first impressions and after learning more about them a few days later, this group of believers seemed to have little or no clear concept of what it was like to be a follower of Jesus Christ. But the beautiful part of this particular group was that, even though they may not understand much about their new faith in Christ, they were willing to come and meet together to fellowship in Jesus’ Name! And that is a good enough reason for us to begin church ministry in Anlongveng.

July 27, Thursday afternoon: We took a break from house cleaning and visited a few houses in the village where we attended “church” on Sunday and went to one house after another visiting one family at a time to learn more about their lives and reasons for their belief. We also asked if they had any prayer requests and they had. After praying for their specific requests, we left each house promising the family that we would come again soon.

July 28, Early Friday morning: With another rented taxi and our Nissan pick-up truck, we loaded up the team and drove 80 kilometers to Sra Aem village in Preah Vihear Province to visit with the one-star general, Mr. Vannary and his wife Phally, along with some believers there. Through this visit, we learned much about the amazing stories and miracles of how the Good News of Jesus Christ was being introduced and spread to this particular area. But we will share this story at another time…

Visit to Sraeam Village
Immediately after we got back from Sra Aem village on that same afternoon, we loaded all the suitcases and 8 visiting team members into our truck and rented a taxi to head out to Siem Reap province. After checking into a local hotel in Siem Reap, everyone quickly headed out to explore this flourishing and bustling city full of tourists; it’s a totally different world compared to life in Anlongveng. After spending a day visiting ancient temples and visiting many sites, early Sunday morning of July 30, while the visiting team flew back to USA, our family also left Siem Reap and drove six hours to Phnom Penh. This Monday morning, I (Syna) will escort Jonathan and another missionary kid to Dalat School, where the kids will begin their fall semester on August 2. I will stay a few extra days in Penang to get uniforms and school supplies and to visit with dorm parents and teachers. If all goes well, I will head back to Phnom Penh on August 4 and will stay in the city for the Field Leadership Team meeting on August 7 & 8. After dropping us off at the airport, Soeuth will remain in Phnom Penh for a day or two to get our truck fixed and run some errands.

Well, that is enough news for now. THANK YOU so much for all your prayers and supports…

Syna and Soeuth