Immanuel Lutheran Church has invested faithfully in us for many years, beginning way back in our days on the campus of Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta, Indonesia to our now current deployment in Cambodia. As we look back, we could easily cite many small steps that were taken at those strategic moments along the journey. God seemed to glue us together again and again, even when the boat was rocky or the road very bumpy. I guess ministry goes that way, even though we would wish otherwise. Even the early church we’ve read about we can identify some parallel moments when they too had ‘their’ moments. But God remained faithful. And so did His people.
It is not the easiest thing to live in a culture so unlike our own, more noticeable by us as the years go by. The language hasn’t been any easier to learn, and the weather hasn’t been kind either. But the unfeathered heartfelt attachment to all of this hasn’t been shaken out of us in spite of this. We can’t tell you why or how, but we know it’s there.
One of our steadfast ongoing prayers has been for people who knew us and were our partners would venture across the pond to see what God is doing thru His people here in this country. One team came from our son’s locale during our last deployment.
And then ~ Just a mere three weeks ago God sent us an energized, organized, passionate and godly fivesome to see His work here in this country. The eagle had landed, bringing to us five hearty souls from Immanuel Palatine to share Jesus with their hands and feet (and all the energy they could muster). As we gather in the final tally and regroup all of those photos and videos (7.7 GB) into a firm resting place, we can look back with sheer awe and wonder of it all. Like did we really pack that much up in those mere 14 days we were blessed to share time with them? Yup, we did. And it was beyond good! We couldn’t have been more proud of their efforts to engage Snor and Svei villages under the leadership of Pastor Samuel and four translators who stood strong with each of the team as was needed. They kept us on the move ~ that was good.
Do we, as local in country staff know the results of their time here? Nope. But our Father does. Do we, as local staff, realize the impact that could have happened in this time and this place? Absolutely. The love and encouragement were abundantly seen during all of those strenuously challenging days shared forward in the villages with each person that was sent their way, all the way from the eyeglass clinics to church services to coloring and playing games and all that in between. Somewhere along the way even we, as hosts for this team, fell in love one more time with these people. God always tugs at the heart of His people for the very souls he longs to call his own.
Immanuel, thank you for sharing your time, yourselves, and your resources with the people of this country ~ half a world away from you. We love you!
The following links are to three of the four services (all different) of the Immanuel Lutheran Church Palatine, IL short term team post interview done during church services this past Sunday. I did not do links to any of them, so please do a cut/paste to view them yourself (unless it does it magically without my help.). Each of the discussions is during the sermon time, about 25 minutes or so into the complete service format.
We are grateful beyond words for the Immanuel team fivesome who came across the big pond of water to come and see how God is working amongst His people here.
May 22 / 10:45 – Seeing More Clearly In Cambodia – Contemporary Lutheran Worship video
May 22 / 9:15 – Seeing More Clearly In Cambodia – Blended Lutheran Worship video
May 21 / 5:00 – Seeing More Clearly In Cambodia – Sat Blended Lutheran Worship video
A note in my email was simply put “We Want to Learn More” so here we are today ~ doing that.
May seems to be a busy month of holidays here in Cambodia. As I looked over their twelve month calendar of holidays, I count seven for this month. Only two other months come close to that number, five in October and four in November. Let’s see, there is the King’s birthday (current one) which huddles over a weekend no less, giving a long four day weekend. We just had that over this last weekend. May 1st is the Cambodian Labor Day, celebrating the achievements of workers in this country. We didn’t notice that since we were working in Snor Village with the Immanuel short term team doing church with Pastor Samuel and his flock.
Since that was on a Sunday this year, it rolled over to Monday with another day off. May 20th is the designated birth of Buddha. That also is on a Friday this year, making another three day weekend. The last holiday for this month is May 24th which is the start of the planting season celebration. Considering that 80% of the population live in villages and are rice farmers, this is a very important one indeed.
This month also ushers in the rainy season as well. Our Immanuel team left Cambodian soil on Thursday of last week, May 12th, and the next day, just twenty four hours later, the rains began. Since then it has rained every day, with most of that occurring during the nighttime hours thus far. The triple digit temps have plummeted during those brief moments and given a huge sigh of relief for those who have endured the harsh dryness of late. It also energized others to anticipate and consider new projects in the days ahead. “We want to learn more.”
April 27th I posted a note regarding soap making across the waters. If you’ve not had a chance to read it, perhaps backtracking to that would be a good point about this time….. Read on ~
Anyway, with the last meeting of the ‘soap gals’ we had completed two different types of soap. The first one has been found (a piece thereof) in the downstairs office bathroom for anyone to try out. It is really nice. The second one was an affirmation of what had been taught thus far, plus the addition of an essential oil fragrance. Until now, we had no digital thermometer to measure the ‘heat’ in each of the components of a soap recipe without causing undesirable results so we had to keep to a narrow window of recipes.
Then the thermometers arrived at the end of April in a suitcase from IL.
So today’s class, the last one at least for now, converged in the office this morning to learn how to use a thermometer correctly (our American Imperial system doesn’t roll over into their metric learning) and for the girls to do everything on their own. There was an obvious intense discussion for a bit about the ‘future’ of soap making in the villages and how to do it there, with some excitement in the air. But then the process began one more time, and George and I were only observers now as the three soap gals measured their container, calculated the amounts of oils and lye/water to fit into it, and finally put it all together. New items for the day included the scent of lavender and the color of turmeric. The weather has changed somewhat since our last soap date, and this time the gals used a cardboard lined box instead of a silicone loaf pan. Those are a lot of exchanges in a new learning curve. We hope they understand this curve will continue to move further out with each time they try something new in this craft, and we hope that they do try new things.
Yet as I write now, I’m think the learning curve in this craft will only continue to grow going forward. These three women are committed to not only fine tuning their skills, but to share it forward so other women can have something like this. As one of them said, “we all would prefer to have or make things that are only locally made. We like to support the local community and grow the local community.” We couldn’t agree more.
As I returned comment I said “Ladies, you will continue ‘to learn more’ each time you do this. This I am most certain of you three.”
Godspeed in your venture going forward~
Thank you also to a gracious daughter who was willing to add into her already hectic schedule the patience and time to share in the learning curve that we had no knowledge of at that time. Even if it meant a 12 hour time zone difference and an ocean between them all. They are friends now ~
“Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them ~ and a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.” (Michael W. Smith, 1967).