Saturday, May 26, 2012

Introducing The New Courtyard!

The New Courtyard
The Old Courtyard
Today as I saw the ''new'' Courtyard in Svay Pak, the verse that came to my mind was from Isaiah 43:18-20 -- “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland,to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."

God is always doing new things and how much more in places like Svay Pak. It was pure joy stepping onto this land that was once raw sewage and walking around it with Pastor Chantha. God indeed has made a way in this wasteland. 

It has taken 514 trucks of soil to fill this land which is about 3 feet above the surrounding area but we are told it will flatten down with the rainy weather. The next phase is to put some sand on it so next week 100 trucks of sand will be deposited on top of the soil. This will take about 2 or 3 days. Then, after that,
A view of the Courtyard facing the back part of The Sanctuary
another contractor will come into build a fence around it and we will install a new drainage system which we anticipate will bless the entire community that lives in this surrounding area. As we walked around the perimeter of the land, I couldn't help but hear the worship music coming out of third floor of The Sanctuary. Some of Pastor Chantha's disciples were either singing or listening to a song called ''Shout To The Lord'' as the music reverberated and echoed through the windows to the surrounding area: 

Shout to the lord, all the earth let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the king.
Mountains bow down, and the seas will roar, 
At the sound of your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands, 
Forever I'll love you, 
Forever I'll stand.
Nothing compares to the promise I have
In you.
This is our desire for the people of Svay Pak that they too will sing for joy at the works of His hands as they look at this land, may they one day proclaim that nothing compares to Him. 
Residents at the edge of The Courtyard
At the beginning of this clean up the residents around the swamp land were a bit edgy but as the days progressed and as the land was cleared, they have become excited and are more filled with joy as they see the land being transformed from a wasteland to a land of potential. Pastor Chantha has shared with them that Jesus wants to bless them through this land. So we went to visit some of them today. These are Vietnamese people who live at the edge of the Courtyard. One woman pointed to the water/sewage that was collecting next to her house. We had a nice chat with her and they were all smiles as we shared with them our desire to install a drainage system that will hopefully solve the flooding issues. For these Vietnamese women who for years have felt marginalized, they have an opportunity now to voice their opinions and be heard. But we trust that in time, they will discover the One who makes all things new, the One who wants to give them a Hope, the One who wants to bless them in ways they could never imagine! 
Next door neighbor to The Sanctuary
 But other neighbors are also doing a new thing through this process. The neighbor next door to The Sanctuary decided he would use this opportunity to build himself a new house with a more secure foundation. How symbolic is that! God is building His foundation in this place in more ways than one!

In all of this, the greatest joy for me today was seeing the kids. After spending 30 minutes meeting with the Sangkhat and village chief, I couldn't wait to go outside again to take some more pictures of the Courtyard. Kids know a good thing when they see it for before me was a picture that was surreal! Who could have imagined this view a year ago----little kids, big kids, playing and laughing as they ran around the Courtyard. As time went by, more kids came along and groups of them started forming playing their own games and chasing each other. Finally, a place for them to play, a place for them to have fun, a place for them to laugh, a place for them to be blessed, a place for them to be themselves, to just be like any normal kid any where else around the world!
One solo kid playing with the soil!

A gathering to play a game with both boys and girls

Pastor Chantha & Bunthan's son ''Joshua"(right) giving the ball to an older kid
A Soccer game begins!

Of course there were other kids nearby who preferred to just sit and watch all the actions.

And then there were those kids who wanted to get involved in the building of the ''new'' thing that God is doing on this land.

I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon but to hang around the Courtyard in Svay Pak and see the smiles on the faces of many little ones who were screaming---not in pain, but in laughter, filled with joy, grinning as they ran around the Courtyard, some resting as they observed the activities of others. This is the wonderful new thing that God is doing, bring life to dead places, shining His light in the dark places---restoring, rebuilding and redeeming! What a mighty God we serve!

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