Missionaries George and Shary Frahm – Serving in Cambodia

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A Simple Box and A Year Later

Being a part of a group so close to home in Operation Christmas Child came around this year in a different light for me, a more personal one that, as I look at the photo here, realize had been tucked away in my ‘file’ from the last year until now.

It was about a year ago when we were in Cambodia and had started to plan our schedule to visit churches all over Cambodia to share a Christmas celebration with each of them. As it went, our travels were divided up into sections of the country so we could make better use of travel time. Roads are not very good in most of the country, and since this is the end of the rainy season as I write this, the roads are probably at their worst, full of huge holes and muddy, slippery and at times scary, slowing down and making travel at a snail’s pace at best. Some areas had no roads at all, and we had to make our own. No, George and I never drove during these months, and we will remain in that stand. So we rode along.

It was mid December up in Pailin, a small municipality in the western edge of Cambodia very close to Thailand and at the base of the Cardamon Mountains. It is also unfortunately famous for the Khmer Rouge leaders who came from and retreated to the area from that era. It was as far west as we could go and not leave the country.

We had traveled two very long days to get to the church we were destined for. I soon figured out no one in the area had ever seen foreigners either in their village, or so we were told later. The locals, as usual, took very good care of us, making sure we were well shaded from the sun, and had safe drinking water. We had arrived early for the church celebration so we waited with everyone else from the van for the locals to finish their preparations, which included a meal of curry and rice noodles over a wood fire vat before the service.

As is my custom though, I always do some walking after a long ride. I certainly can’t get lost since everyone is alerted when I’m on my feet. At some point one of the elderly women invited me to come sit with her under her home next to the kitchen. That was easy, and I enjoyed seeing the world from their viewpoint. She pointed and talked quietly as we shared time together. I followed her hand gestures and sorted out their language as she talked. All of a sudden, here on the kitchen stand, is the obvious ‘Christmas Child box.’ I spotted it. It was all by itself on a bare piece of wood. It had a place of honor so to speak.

She also realized what I was looking at, which erupted in a fast expose of words and hand gestures and such (hands together in gratitude). The box was newish. The ‘girl’ sticker was still on it. Gone were the girl items, but evidently it now was used in the kitchen as a closed bin for whatever was not meant for the general bug population. I went over and touched it and realized an emotional connection of how this simple box had been packed and brought to this family, half a world away.

This also occurred three weeks later deep in the jungle where the Jarai people group reside in Ratanakiri Province. Same story almost to the details above, one more time. I had the same emotional gulp.

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So as I helped at Immanuel Palatine as their American Heritage Gals and Trail Life Guys packed and I watched these boxes fill up on this side of the pond, I can easily say here and now that these simple boxes do make a huge difference half a world away. At least from where I stood last year in Pailin and Ratanakiri Province, they did. Humbled again ~ Thank you Father.

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Missions Beyond Our Walls

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By now most of us realize that missions beyond our walls come in different flavors and seasons. That is good because the variety tends to capture the hearts of those we may miss along the way.

What happens though when it is a friend, or you yourself, that need a ‘mission’ moment or two in the crazy world of serving, especially when it’s two women who have served together half a world away. By the way, it’s ok to get weary in service, but it’s when you reach that point and realize you need to ‘check’ out for a bit, it’s time to do so.

That’s where I was with a friend who had come to visit. We had dug deep into the Cambodian platform and were exhausted. She was to leave for home in a few days too. She needed to get out and walk, and maybe I did too. So we did something neither of us does much anymore here in the US. (Probably as a result of dealing with such on a local daily basis in the market overseas). The novelty of shopping just wasn’t there. But we still went.

Someone was looking for jars for a project with limited available time. We got it and went searching. Operation Christmas Child was out there as well. Our feet got in motion, and our minds and God sorted out the ruffles.

That basically is how the nativity scenes were found, 24 to a package, with crayons to add to them, 3 to a package. Just walking thru the store with nothing in mind and stumbling across each on its own. Easy peasy.

We just started to ribbon each set as she was about to leave. No problem. They traveled around for a while and many helping hands accomplished this end task in short form. How wonderful, in simple form, to share about the babe Jesus, to someone who perhaps doesn’t know Him yet.

It was indeed time to let a God be God and as usual He sorted it out while we moved around and closed up shop on conversations we had started. We were better.

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I’m Never Too Old to Learn a New ‘Thing’ or Two

I’m never to old to learn!

In January of this year one of the new projects was to engage the local community in learning to sew to provide skills for them to obtain jobs to support themselves and their families. In a country of some 5,000 garment factories I really thought everyone knew how to sew. Not so.

I really thought I knew how to sew already too so the idea that I would provide the spiritual aspect for this long project was appealing to me. I would also be engaging the participants in English as well, which proved somewhat successful.

First though, the teachers needed to learn how to teach. What better way to do this than to make clothes for one another or myself. It was about this time that the president’s  mom came for a long visit. She was an accomplished and well sought after seamstress. For me with very minimal Khmer language skills that became a concern. I couldn’t ask for special consideration, but how was I to know ‘what was going on.’

In the end it proved to be no problem at all. Girls have a wonderful way of sorting so much out in those kind of moments. You know what the bigger issue was in the end ? I had to continually remember that these women used metric and I had not. Big, huge, bad, errors possible. They kept on me, each, every, time.

Repetition and example go a long way. So does a lot of laughter and smiles and even more patience in the end.

So here and now I have thrown so many of my ‘old’ sewing habits into a basket in lieu of some Asian concepts that make them such impressive seamstresses and why so many of our clothes are made there. So I so wanted to try something on this side of the pond on my own. No it wasn’t a fitted design but I concentrated more on the fact of getting the pattern sized correctly the first time. Wait, their was no pattern actually. Previously, in my old ways, I’d have to cut off the ‘extra.’ Not this time. I measured three times and set out to sew. I’m happy with the results.

As I look back at all of those meetings and teaching, I’m so grateful that God placed me there and then. I so learned how my humble spirit needed more shaping and molding because these women sought me and pulled me in to ‘share back’ something I obviously had more to learn about. So often I think that we think we have all the answers and go into the field with that mindset.

I made a lot of mistakes. They lovingly corrected me. We laughed a lot at those ‘ugh’ moments. Everyone had them. But the point I truly learned even more is that we need one another in God’s work. We aren’t meant to do it alone. Thank you Father.

Oh, here’s the result of my efforts. Just the way she wanted it to be. 

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October-November 2016 Khmer Khronicle

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Kids of the Kingdom

This wonderful group of young people of Kids of the Kingdom at Immanuel Lutheran School in Crystal Lake have known of us and God’s ministry in Cambodia for nearly four years. They have raised up a strong base of growing prayer warriors and partners with Snor half a world away. Today as they all made Christmas trees and angels for Operation Christmas Child boxes, we were able to renew that friendship and give each one of them woven bracelets made by local moms and kids. They were so excited and surprised to get them.
These were some of the responses about Cambodia that they shared back to us:
1-people in the villages live in houses built on stilts.
2- not everyone has good water to drink.
3-people get a lot of rain.
5-they don’t know about Jesus, not all of them, just like us.
6-we love them even if we don’t know them.
7-we pray for them.
8-thank you for the bracelet.
Thank you for embracing us and sharing this ministry with us, both here and in Cambodia.

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