Soccer Field in the Upper Left Corner
Today a new team from the US arrived as the other team left yesterday. Besides hosting the kids club that goes on from 2pm to 3pm, there is a soccer camp that is being held during the morning. As well, some of the team are teaching students from the Svay Pak area guitar lessons. When I arrived this morning I went out to see some of the boys practising the soccer drills. One of the instructors is Samol who is like Pa to the girls at Newsong centre. Samol used to be a soccer coach at Christian camps and for the next couple of weeks he will be out here helping to oversee the soccer camp. The boys who attended had no shoes but they could kick the ball equally as good as their western counterparts. We see this as a key way of reaching out to the young men in Svay Pak, many of whom are either in gangs, pimping or involved in drugs. I watched for all of 5 minutes but with the morning sun beating down once again in an unbearable fashion, I quickly left and went indoors to cool off.
I am so glad this team is here as I had planned on teaching the students guitar but God is one step ahead and had already orchestrated this to happen. The team had photocopied all the guitar chords and they had purchased 7 guitars. The Sanctuary also has its own guitar so our first class had 8 students --- all of them girls, some of whom are Pastor Chantha's students and the others are from the community that we have not seen before. They were all so eager and excited to learn, although I don't think they envision that they would have to cut their nails and get blisters on their fingers. So ends the vanity for the sake of music. Sorry I didn't get a chance to take photos as I ended up helping to teach a few of the girls and Lim who I blogged about yesterday joined in as well. The class lasted about an hour and the students learned 5 guitar chords. With the team only here for one week, they will certainly give them a good head start and I will be able to continue the lessons after they leave. I am looking forward to teaching them several worship songs that I brought with me. One of Pastor Chantha's students whose name is Ravi could not attend the class so he asked if I could give him a one on one lesson at lunch time. Ravi is such a smart young man and a quick learner. He used to be part of the gangs in Svay Pak and now, he comes here daily to serve the younger kids. So after lunch, as we were surrounded by our little groupies I began to teach him 3 chords-- G, A and D and by the end of the day, he had learned to play the song God is so good! God indeed is so good. He is using the guitar training that I had way back in 1995 after I had come back from my 1 year mission trip in Singapore for such a time as this. One of the advantages of teaching Ravi the song 'God is so good' is that I also happen to know the words in Khmer so this will be an opportunity for them to play and sing their very first song in Khmer. With all these extra guitars, please join us in prayer that the Lord will raise up His own worship team here in Svay Pak that will praise Him in Khmer.
Ratanak Teaching English & Khmer
After lunch I sat in on an English/Khmer class that the youth pastor Ratanak is teaching. I have been doing that these past 2 days as discovered that I could also learn some Khmer in the process as the kids are learning a word in English and Khmer that corresponds with each letter of the alphabet. Now since I'm not a teacher I am not sure exactly how kids learn a second language in Canada, but here Ratanak has them playing games to help them learn the language. He will call up a boy and a girl to the front and the other students will call out the words either in English or Khmer that are written on the board. Who ever touches the word on the white board first get a point. This is a fierce competition as the kids really get into it and they have a lot of fun learning in the process. After a few rounds of this, he gets them to repeat several words and letters. The sound levels increase considerably and honestly, it is so loud at times I feel I am going to go deaf! This kind of sound is reverberated in all 8 classrooms---repetition is the name of the game and for whatever reason, there is no such thing as an 'inside voice' and 'outside voice' in these classes. It is simply all 'outside voices' and it is loud, very loud!
At two o'clock the lessons ends and the kids club begins. The kids usually all sit in rows with the boys on one side of the room and the girls on the other side. All the wee little ones sit in the front and some of Pastor Chantha's students stand in the back while others are sitting near by with the kids . Today I decided to sit amongst the kids and a new little friend called Mai Tieng decided to plump herself right in my lap. She maybe 8 years old but other than her chubby cheeks there is nothing big about this kid. She is the size of a 3 or 4 year old. Such is the size of many kids in this community. They look way smaller than their age and I feel like a giant among them. Despite the heat, the kids are learning to sit still for a long period of time. Their behavior now is such a far cry from when I first encountered them 2 years ago where they would just get up and start wandering around. They listen attentively to the bible stories being told and God has gifted Ratanak to perform and act in such a humorous way that the kids end up in fits of laughter.
With all the different activities and games that the overseas teams bring, there is typically a lot of mess at the end of each daily kids club. Yet, once again we see the students helping to clean up and pick up after the little ones. It truly is one big family here with everyone pitching in to serve and help in whatever way. This is just another typical day at the Sanctuary in Svay Pak - a place where the Lord is not only building His church but He is building a community of young believers whose hearts are knitted together as one! I feel blessed to be part of His family here!