Missionaries George and Shary Frahm – Serving in Cambodia

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Open a Door

A young but wise 5 year old a few weeks ago makes a statement that travels Facebook and now could be tagged as a ministry platform to ‘grow the church.’

“Why does Oma and Opa have to go half way around the world to share Jesus when all they had to do is open their front door?”

So, that being said, a question posed to us Saturday was “how do we grow the church here in Cambodia?” by a young pastor.

I remember a song by Christian singer Pony Baldwin who hails from the MI area and a church we attended during our VISA ministry days. The song was titled “Open a Door.” From that song comes “We’ll tell the world how great you are” sits in my brain. ~ “That we plea and pray to our Father for wisdom, to help us to know, to whom we should speak, and where we should. go.”

So this is what we said in the course of conversation to him. That it’s our prayer and our plea to open our hearts and let Him in and share that heart around and to show those who stand with us how to ‘open a door’ ~ heart ~ as well.

Proverbs 4:23/Matthew 15:18 says it all (but I had to find this afterward as I’m not a walking Bible yet.)

This also brings out a long plethora of emotions for both of us being half way around the world btw. Some days are like that.

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Meeting an Old Friend at the Door

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 siIMG_4061nce 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.)

IMG_0131_2Fast 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 villIMG_4060age. 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 ~

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God is Always in the Details

On May 23, 2013 we traveled to Kampot Province to visit the community of Pastor Sopheap. Sothea Then was with us at that point and we were visiting various church communities to discuss the upcoming Angel Dormitory, which was in the final stages of preparation.

It comes to mind for me without even looking at the old contact report some very specifics that happened that day while we were there, looking back to the photo attached from then.

First off, it was during that initial visit that I noticed a large number of children in presence. They appeared to be engaged in any outside activity that could occupy their daytime hours. Mingling around were many senior community members which we gathered were probably their caregivers and family. Not apparent during this day were younger adults whom we may have surmised were their parents and extended family. Sothea investigated for me and was told that most of the young adults from this village will go to Thailand or a larger area to work because there is very little source of income for them in the village. They do not take their children but leave them in the care of the group of people we saw mingling about today. It takes a village here to raise a child.

Since George was off with Pastor Sopheap at the time of this discussion, I asked some further questions thru Sothea (with his cultural permission). You see, there were a fair few babies in the mix and probably these children were not from the older adults present either. Apparently the parents go together to work and from that more babies arrive on the doorstep to be raised.

Note in the background of the photo below. There is a small building that Pastor Sopheap had financial assistance given to build so that these children would have a place to go to school. There was no school in this village at that time. Pastor Sopheap’s wife is the lovely lady next to the lady in the purple top. She had taken on the leadership to teach these children in this little building with the help of some older assistants who are also there.

kids

Fast forward to November 10, 2015 and we again visited this community again, this time with a group of American Christians who have come alongside the ELCC in partnership to provide a Garuna school to these children.

Pastor Sopheap’s wife recognizes me and comes running to greet me. After the Khmer bow she embraces me with her arms and gently takes me to the front of her home and asks me to sit down on a bench under the tree. We cannot verbally communicate but her expression and gratitude are very apparent. She knows why we had come. Honestly, until just before driving up in the van, I didn’t know this is where we were going. But it didn’t take us long to recall our previous visit either.

This community now has a school and teachers. It is a Garuna school financed by a group of generous people who are passionate about improving the village communities, and this is one of them. Thus far through scholarship commitments, there are 35 students in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. These students are being nurtured in the word of God along with their basic subjects to carry them out into the world. (We missed the students since they were home for lunch and it was locked up.)

Also noted here is that there are some beginning steps to provide agricultural initiatives to the folks in the village. This same group of people have brought forth some of those ideas as well and we were there to see those results first hand. Time will show if these efforts will pay off, but at this time it was only a first pilot project for them to increase the yield on their rice crop. I’m leaving that information to the experts at this point.

school

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A Farm and A Church Combined

In 2013, we had a chance to meet Pastor Hai when we traveled to Kampong Chhnang with Pastor Vannarith. Pastor Hai is a Christian pastor who supports himself by farming, so he is not located in a town, but out in the country, down a dirt road. His farm is not even on the road itself, but to get to it, you must walk through the fields to reach his house. This time the fields were growing rice, so they they were still filled with water and the green grass like rice plants. In 2013, the fields were filled with watermelons, and we arrived right after the melons had been harvested. This year, there was not enough rainfall until about the last week, so Pastor Hai is not going to have the amount of rice that he would like because he uses the sale of his crops to support his church. In 2013, there was too much rain and the watermelons were rotting before they could be sent to market.

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But, Pastor Hai grows more than rice and watermelons. When you walk in the main gate, there is a very large building straight ahead of you. The building has only two walls and a roof over a large cement and tile slab. This is Pastor Hai’s church, right in the middle of his farm. He invites all of his neighbors to come to his farm to hear about Jesus Christ. As you walk towards the church from the gate, on your right side will be the farrowing house for the pigs that was built by Samaritan’s purse. You can just make out the words in the blue sign on the side of the farrowing pen. It was empty on this last visit, but has helped support the church in the past. Pastor Hai’s house is between the church and the farrowing pen and the covered area outside the house is used for entertaining guests and visitors such as ourselves.

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On the left, coming in the gate is the poultry pen. On this visit, there were about a half dozen big turkeys which will be butchered between now now end of November. These are bought by American expatriates (expats) who want to celebrate the American Thanksgiving. Each of these turkeys will sell for about $30 a bird. There were a few chickens running loose in the ben, but the largest population were the ducks. While the ducks will not sell for as much as the turkeys, they will also contribute significantly to the farm’s income because the Khmer view them as a special dish just like the expats love turkey.

Beyond the poultry pen, is the fish farm and reservoir. Pastor uses the water from this reservoir to water his orchard and garden underneath the trees. The garden and the reservoir are both carefully fenced off from everything else to protect the young plants, especially during the dry season coming up.

After the baptism we attended in the church, I looked out the only window in the church (actually, it is just a hole in the wall that can be closed) and saw Pastor’s papaya tree. It was loaded with fruit and should begin to ripen shortly. Then it will be served by local restaurants as an end to a meal similar to the one we just came from. If you have never seen a papaya tree and how it bears fruit, here is a photo of one. It is a strange tree that has no branches and the fruit grows along the trunk, but so closely that it looks like a bunch of fruit rather than individual fruits.

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Thanks for taking a tour of Pastor Hai’s farm with me, and please pray that God will bless him with bountiful harvests to support him, his family, and his church.

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KK December 2015

KK December 2015

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4 Wheels, 8 Feet x 3 Days

This week we have spent hours/days in a van going to and from Vietnam to get our yearly visas. While we waited for the work to be completed on our last jaunt this is a photo Daniel took of himself, realizing later that we were in the background doing the same thing. LOL !

Our newsletter will be out in a few days sharing more of that adventure (and learning curve). (See article 4 wheels, 8 feet x3 days there).

Selfie photo x2 at Vietnam border
Please pray for our travels next week as the gospel and the Christmas story are shared and bibles are handed out at a military base in the northern province and then we move on to church villages to the north and east celebrating Christmas with them.

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