We knew that Samuel was coming some time this week, but the day and time was not given to us. But this morning just after we got down the stairs into our office with the lights on and our computers firing up, the door opened and there he was, like he had not changed a bit in the 2.5 year since we last saw him. His eyes still sparkled with a defined happy smile glowing with it. I’m not so sure who was more excited at that point, whether it was him or me. He did the cordial handshake routine with George, but he shared the same warm hug that has so many times been expressed to one another, that special connection that we share as servants to our Father.
I met Samuel back in 2012 initially during a short term team encounter and then again a few more times thereafter before we returned to the US. During our first connection, he was serving at a church in Bos Pul outside of Siem Reap. He also had the commune of Snor, but that was not our first meet up. He was driving down the road in a very old tiny car and stopped to ask if I’d like to come to his church and meet the ‘ladies.’ I’m not one to hop in the car with strange persons, but he had been pointed out to me earlier in the day so I knew who he was. When we arrived at the church I distinctly recall that I had to walk on a tiny tree across the creek to the church on the other side, no handles to grab on to. While that was a bit scary (and I could have been majorly embarrassed), everything and everyone moved slowly and smoothly during that transition (and I got a lot of help and a clapping of hands from the girls.)
Fast forward to our time in Snor months later when we brought a team from Trinity Lutheran Church in Memphis to share time with the community for a week. Now that is another story already out there but in the archive compartment of this computer as I write this, and for another time of retelling that magnificent week. But you’d need to ask if you haven’t read it.
Samuel is going to be a daddy again. Obed (changed from Boaz) was not quite born when the Memphis team was in Snor in 2012, but now Obed is going to have a baby brother next March. Sophena is doing quite well in this pregnancy. She had been doing some special handbag sewing for the tourists in Siem Reap while Samuel continued to drive a tuk tuk. He said that the combined efforts over these months have provided a stable income for them to purchase food, pay the rent, and buy what they needed to have to live day to day. He is in the midst of selling his current tuk tuk and plans to buy another to continue this service in the near future.
Samuel was very willing to share the current state of the church in Snor, adding with a huge smile, that the community in itself continues to grow and so does the church family. The exciting news in the middle of all this conversation though is the fact that Samuel will be ordained as a ‘real’ pastor next March. How exciting is that!
Snor village is growing to be a very mission minded church, slow and not so much, but it’s there. Samuel indicated that this year the church body was able to donate $100 over the year just so they could sponsor their elementary school principal by 50% to take some computer classes so that the children could be taught this skill. The principal is a Christian as well.
There is still no electricity in the school, which in itself will cost $300, plus there are no computers yet, but the first thing to accomplish is to be sure the principal gets the training. George showed Samuel some computer choices that he knew about that were very inexpensive and could probably be adapted out of what is here in Cambodia. Samuel indicated that about five computers would be an asset to the children at school in the near future ~ about the same time as there is electricity installed. For those of you reading this and not knowing the layout of the village, the only road into the village is a lane next to a deep channel. During the rainy season it is not easy to navigate. It’s now the end of the rainy season and the ruts of the rainy season didn’t go away yet. He says you still bounce down the lane. How well we remember that adventure in itself.
Additionally, Samuel has been involved with the DLM (Danish Lutheran Missions) to promote the gospel and share for the benefit for the children in the area. From that has come around something called Countryside Harvest Mission, which is made up of four interdenominational men who work together to bring the gospel to two communities about 60km thru meeting up with the people and the children in discussions, teaching, and prayer. This is new.
Currently he said that about 80 children are regularly coming to Sunday School in Snor on Sunday where Sophena teaches them about Jesus. Each night of the week, Monday thru Friday, there are now late day bible studies in session in homes around the village. On Mondays he also has further involvement with certain adults during both the morning and afternoon time. Church has about 28 adults in each bible class scattered around.
Not much has changed in the daily school situation. Grades 1-4 remain in the three room school building at this time. Seven km toward town is a larger school for grades 5-12 at this time. The young adults still go to Thailand for work as before, leaving the children with elder community members to be raised. There the village is raising many of the children.
Going into 2016 the vision and the focus of ministry of the church is into the community fellowshipping and sharing the gospel. It was great to hear that this tiny congregation is already sharing their merger income and tithing to the church. There is no elder or leadership board with the church as yet, but he felt that may not be far off in the future. There are persons in training at this time to step up later on.
This is another absolutely perfect example how a single man, so dedicated and committed to sharing the gospel in the community, has held steadfast and patiently made inroads into the community in the bigger sense. He still dreams of an English teacher ‘to teach my children.’ When we first met, he asked me if I would consider doing that with him in Snor. I’m sure he understands that we are committed to the church in the bigger picture, but then again, as we are seeing time and time again. God provides thru His people for their needs. I wouldn’t be too surprised that some day that may just happen in the near future. Let’s all stay tuned, shall we.
Yup, it was a good day to see Pastor Samuel here in Phnom Penh. We really want to pop back to Snor now to see everyone there. Maybe next year.
As usual, I’m holding the camera ~