At that hour of the day, it was quite cool...yes I think I am adjusting to the weather here as I am starting to wear long sleeves in the evening. Its interesting being up at such an hour and observing what is going on in the streets at that time. While most places were closed, we passed a few 'open' stores and I asked why would they be open at such a time. The response was they are open 24 hours and as I took a closer look, I realized what I was actually steering at were brothels. Sex for sale here is truly a commodity just like pumping gas at a 24 hour gas station.
Anyway we arrived after our 4 hour trip and I took off with Bunthan and a couple of the other disciples to the local market. We were in the hunt for our lunch which consisted of crab, shrimp and squid with steam rice. All the seafood is purchased fresh and then taken to another area of the market where the food is cooked on the spot. This is a seafood lover's delight as the crab and shrimp are steamed and the squid/calamari is sauteed.
Following lunch it was back to swimming. Because the temperatures are a bit cooler --- probably around the 24 degree mark and the skies were overcast, many of Chantha's disciples were feeling quite cold. I love watching what the Khmer wear to swim. A couple of the girls had their fleece hoodies on as they were swimming. Its a new type of bathing suit attire although am not sure how that helps in keeping one warm if you are being soaked all over. But its just neat to observe different cultural norms.
Some of Pastor Chantha's disciples
One of the joys of hanging out in this casual setting is just the chance to have some one on one conversations with whoever is around. One of the youngest disciples is Kunthea (not her real name). She is only 14 years old but looks like 9 years old. I first met Kunthea three years ago when a group of us did a VBS in Svay Pak. She is small but has such depth in her relationship with Christ. When I think of Kunthea, I am reminded of Gideon in the bible when the Lord called him 'a mighty warrior.' Kunthea loves the scriptures and she refuses to eat any food that has been given as an offering to idols in the Buddhist temples or in her own home. Moreover,she refuses to go to the temple with her mother. This is quite remarkable considering that she is Vietnamese and lives in an environment in which kids often feel pressured or obligated to their parents. She is one of the few stories of hope that I see in this community who seems to have been speared from any abuse that is so prevalent in this brothel village. God is clearly setting her apart for His purposes and as small as she is, she is not intimidated by anyone! She is standing firm in what she believes in.
One of the other joys today was watching 'Theary' (see blog posting on Sept. 23) and Rebecca who is the 6 year old adopted daughter of Pastor Chantha and Bunthan. It was a joy watching Theary be a big sister to Rebecca helping her and playing with her in the swimming pool. Here they are, two former outcasts, unwanted and displaced by their families, but here in this family of God, they are not only welcomed but they are part of the redeemed, discovering God's love through His community and displaying His love and affection towards each other. Indeed the Lord is rebuilding and repaying the years the locusts have eaten from their lives one day at a time!
Tomorrow we will do the baptisms in the late morning. So as you think of the 6 young people who are literally entering into the waters of baptism, pray that the Spirit of God will fall upon them in such a way that their lives will bear and manifest the fruit of the Spirit at all times.