Monday, July 4, 2011

Chom Reap Suo, I made it to Cambodia

       It's Tuesday, July 5th, and I'm currently sitting in an air conditoned cafe with wireless internet in Battambang enjoying iced coffee and spring rolls. Does this sound like outreach to you? It doesn't to me either, but it's quite nice.
bread and jam breakfast in Phnom Penh
      Our team landed safely in Phnom Penh last Monday evening after about 24 hours of travel time. (Korean Airlines is amazing) Our plans were to stay at the YWAM base in Phnom Penh before heading here to Battambang. Our contact who picked us up from the airport informed us the base was full and dropped us off at a hotel. At first, we were a bit worried as we were now on our own in a city none of us were at all familiar with, but it ended up being a huge blessing. We quickly immersed ourselves in the culture of the country. We were flagging down tuk tuks, shopping at the market, finding banks and bus stations, and exploring the city. Learning how to barter in the market is fun, I feel like I'm getting it down pretty well. Immediately I felt welcomed by the people here. Cambodian people are very relational and welcoming. If you smile, one is almost always returned. The hotel we stayed at seemed to be in a pretty modern and westernized part of the city. There was a mall within walking distance where we found some good food and ice cream and western shopping for the essentials.

my new friend Kusal
        Our team spent a day going to the genocide museums. In the late 1970s, there was a mass genocide of Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge, a government organization. The goal was to kill off all the older and intelligent people in order to raise up a generation according to their ways and rules. Though the killings lasted several years, they were not successful in their intentions. It is very sad, and it was so recent. It is easy to look around and see the effects of what happened in the 70s. The majority of the population is under 30 years old. If someone is over 30, they were most certainly directly affected by the killings. I met a man named Kusal as I was waiting for a tuk tuk outside of the market one day. He asked if I had been to the museums and informed me his father was killed by the Khmer Rouge. I wasn't sure how to respond, but it brought forth such a realization of just how recent this tragedy occurred.

       After spending a couple of days in chaotic Phnom Penh, the team was excited to head to Battambang. We took a 5 1/2 hour bus ride and got here late Thursday afternoon. We got to get settled in at the YWAM base. Our room is cozy with 5 bunk beds in a row and a few shelves to be shared between 10 girls. I'm thankful to have a western style toilet, and the cold showers are a blessing after spending our days in the heat of this city. Battambang is bigger than I expected, but it is much calmer than Phnom Penh. Our whole group bought bicycles to use as our main source of transportation. It has been quite the adventure learning how to maneuver through the streets here, dodging motos, cars, buses, and tuk tuks. 
our group purchasing bicycles in Battambang

       We are all getting anxious to start full time ministry. We feel like we've pretty much just been on vacation, but it has actually been a really great transition time. I am slowly picking up on the cultural differences here and trying my best to be respectful. I have enjoyed just sitting and observing the people around me. I am excited to begin teaching. Each afternoon Monday through Friday we will be helping teach classes at the youth center run by the YWAM base here. I have two classes; English and hip hop dance. The mornings will be spent in various different ministries. Those will be starting this week. I'm ready to dive in and start building relationships with the amazing Cambodian people.
       I do have several prayer requests. The spiritual atmosphere here is very heavy due to all the idol worship. There are monks walking around and chanting everywhere, Buddhist temples, and strange statues. The spirit of fear and is quite prevalent here. Also, there appear to be many addictions. The poverty is evident everywhere I look. Please pray for the Cambodian people to be open to God's love for them, and open to the teaching we may bring to them. Please pray against spiritual attacks our team may come under. As always, thank you for taking the team to catch up with me on this journey and support me and my team and the work we are doing.

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