On my daily morning route to Svay Pak, my tuk-tuk takes me through one of the most beautiful parts of Phnom Penh. It is near the waterfront along Sisowath Quay where the Royal Palace and National Museum is situated. The drive along the wide boulevards and colonial buildings is remniscient of of the French influence --after all, Cambodia was once known as the Paris of Asia.
Each morning, I see Buddhist monks who are either heading to or coming from the temples. Their bright saffron color robes provides a beautiful backdrop to the scenery. Of course, one never knows what they might see along this famous boulevard, such was the case when an elephant appeared to be hanging out at one of the restaurants. What do you expect---this is
Elephant Checking Out a Restaurant
Soccer Camp at 'Ratanak' park
Today the soccer camp was in full progress at 'Ratanak Park'---no its not named after the Ratanak foundation but the youth pastor Ratanak whose name seems to be quite popular over here. Everyone has now started calling the soccer field 'Ratanak park'! The soccer camp runs from 9 to 10am and then again from 4 to 5pm. The numbers have grown and I am in awe of the young boys who brave the morning heat. They give new meaning to the phrase having fun in the sun! Pray that the Lord will use this outreach during these summer months to bring the young men into His sanctuary.
Guitar lessons in full session
In the late morning I spent time again helping out at the guitar classes. It looks like we will be offering guitar classes twice a day as the numbers have grown over night. All of Pastor Chantha's students are keen to learn and this morning we spent time teaching them 4 different chords in G. Some of them are naturally talented and pick up the chords quite easily while others are persevering. Today it was the boys that I was telling to cut their nails...for some reason Asian men and boys have long finger nails like the girls. Am not sure why but perhaps that is a question I will have to ask them.
Brothel Owner in Pink Hat sitting on a Tuk Tuk
In the afternoon, a van pulled up in front of the Sanctuary and out came a brother and sister. I recognized their faces from last year. Their mother 'P' is a former prostitute who comes to church but she has not been able to find a steady job and sadly sold both her oldest son and daughter a while back. Her youngest daughter lives here in Svay Pak with her and continues to be at risk given the mother's unstable lifestyle. Thankfully, the older two siblings are now with Hagar, another Ratanak partner. The two had come home for 5 days as their grandmother had passed away. They were both very polite as they came by to greet me with a traditional Cambodian greeting. 'P's son who is now 10 years old was so badly abused by some foreign pedophiles that the doctors needed 6 hours to stitch him up. Today, he was overjoyed to see his mother. His sister who is 8 years old was sold like many of the kids here. I mentioned them as just outside the Sanctuary where they were playing was a well known brothel owner who was sitting in a nearby tuk-tuk while Pastor Chantha was like the 'Shepherd' sitting outside looking at His sheep. She happens to be friends with the children's mother. If you were to see her, you would think she is someone's grandmother chatting with the kids. She looks non-threatening but don't be fooled by her appearance. Her presence is a reminder that the darkness is always close by, how easily it seeks to encroach, encircle and consume the light. As the bible tells us, Satan is like a roaring lion looking to steal, kill and destroy. My reaction to her presence was to walk nearby and pray against all that she represents for the battle for the preservation of innocent young lives in this community is not against the flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.