Marie with some of the volunteers at Place of Rescue
Today Marie Ens invited me up to Place of Rescue for dinner to join three other Canadians who are teaching English at Rescue for 3 months. My other Canadian friend Anne (center bottom of photo) is also here in Rescue as their resident nurse for the past 2 years. It was just after 5:30pm when we got to Place of Rescue and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets. This is the view that Marie sees each day from her veranda when she wakes up and when she goes to sleep. On a clear night, one can also see the stars but as we have been having lots of rain, the clouds were all around us.
Rescue is one of my favorite places to come and visit during the day as you can sense the presence and peace of God as soon as you step onto the property. Tonight though we had a different agenda. Marie's birthday is actually this coming Saturday and and she is turning the ripe young age of 77! We had a delicious meal prepared by her helper Throng Koon (Morning glory) and then for dessert I surprised Marie with a cake ordered from Bloom cafe where the girls at Newsong work. The cake is made of pure butter icing and while extremely tasty, added a few calories to each of our waistlines.
After dinner the 3 Canadians headed out to an evening class that they were involved in and Anne and I stayed back with Marie to spend some time praying with each other. I really value these moments with Marie as I learn snippets here and there from her about the Cambodian culture. We hope to have more regular visits and prayer times once she is back from a 2 week stint in Canada with the dance troupe from Rescue. Having been in Cambodian since 1961, Marie has many pearls of wisdom and observations to share and for someone like myself who is just starting out to live and work here, she is a gift from the Lord. I am grateful that she is willing to walk along side me. I don't think I could have asked for any better teacher other than Christ himself!
Well at 8pm it was time to head back home. Over here 'missionary midnight' the term coined by my friends here, is 9pm which means that at 9pm we should all be home for safety reasons. So I headed back to Phnom Penh courtesy of her driver Nyok. For about 15 minutes of our 1 hour drive back to the city I was able to practice my Khmer as Nyok does not speak English so that was fun but as our conversation ended, I turned my focus on the surrounding areas that we drove pass. I always find it interesting to see what is going on at night time in Cambodia. The main highway we took is pitch black as there is no street lights until you are in the city. But in this rural area where there are factories and different villages along the main road, even here one can see red neon lights and a closer glance you will spot young women sitting around in the open area. So even outside the city, pockets of brothels dot the landscape. It doesn't matter where you go, they are like local 'convenience stores' that seem to be around the corner.
Yet in spite of their presence, I am reminded to not dwell on the visible reality. For we live by faith and not by sight. Marie's ministry at Place of Rescue is a demonstration of what it is like to live by faith in the midst of an environment that is constantly surrounded with the indulgences of the flesh.