Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Holiday Activities and Events

The Christmas holidays have come and gone and its back to school and work for all of us here in Cambodia.   Nonetheless, we just wanted to update you all on some of the recent festivities that remind us again of God's goodness.
Courtyard Christmas Party
On December 23rd, our partners in Svay Pak had a huge outreach Christmas Party with well over 600 people attending from the Svay Pak area. The Courtyard which is located at the back of the Sanctuary building was transformed into one big tent city as people from the community joined into what would be a 5 hour Christmas program which included all sorts of drama performances, Khmer dancing, singing by both the youth and elders within the Svay Pak church and a powerful message about the birth of Christ by Pastor Chantha. This land which just a year ago was one big sewage dump was now a place where Christ name was being exalted and preached.
Svay Pak residents taking in all the Christmas events

Story of Mary and Joseph being performed by the disciples in Svay  Pak
As I walked around, there were people young and old watching all the drama skits, listening with curiosity as scripture was read about the birth of Christ. The entire Courtyard was full of tables of people but that did not stop onlookers from around the neighborhood who were determined to not only get a glimpse of the activities but to listen in on all that was happening.
Svay Pak Residents outside of the Courtyard checking out the activities

Kids outside of the Courtyard looking on at the festivities
These people sitting on the fences or peering reminded me of the story of Zaccheaus the chief tax collector who climbed up a tree so that he could get the best view of Jesus. It was that very day that salvation came to the house of Zaccheaus and he felt convicted not only to stop oppressing the poor but he responded with restitution. Perhaps in that crowd on December 23rd, there were some Zaccheaus types---chief brothel owners, chief traffickers, chief Mamasans....we don't know but what we do know is that God's word will not return void or empty to Him but will achieve its purpose and so as it was preached through song, drama and a message of Christ's birthday by  Pastor Chantha and his team of young people, we hope and pray that that day and in the days to come, salvation will come to those who for years have oppressed the vulnerable and exploited the weak in this community and that they will have the opportunity to testify that once they were lost but now they are found by the One who came to give them a new life free from sin and a new life full of hope of a future that is beyond their wildest imaginations.
Svay Pak Youth group performing a Xmas skit

Pastor Chantha preaching about the Jesus our Savior
Pastor Chantha mentioned that he and his team of youth had fasted before this Christmas party. In all of this we believe that seeds are being planted. May the Lord plant them in good soil that will one day grow and bear fruit for His kingdom in this place!
View at Kirirom
On New Years day, our young women at RAP had a holiday so we took this opportunity to take them on an outing to Kirirom which is a mountainous region that is about 150 kms outside of Phnom Penh. It was quite the drive but once we arrived on what was a cool crisp morning, the scenes were breathtaking.  I actually thought I was somewhere in British Columbia with the mountain ranges and the surrounding greenery.
Nary (RAP Operations Manager) and Sokunthy (Home Advisor)
 With the cooler temperatures (25 degrees celsius--okay ''cool'' is all relative) the young women were dressed with sweaters and scarves. One would think we were some where in Canada. Teenage girls are very fascinating to soon as our vehicles stopped, the young women didn't waste any time jumping out of the van snapping photos left and right, posing like models with each other, giggling and laughing as they sought different venues to take photos of each other.

Some of the young women checking out the picnic site
Thirty minutes of photo taking and we were off to our picnic site in another wooded area of the Kirirom region. The young women had gotten up early at around 5am with the home advisors to cook and prepare all the food that we would be taking with that day. It always amazes me how teenagers can get up early if they are excited to go somewhere they want to go. This day was no different, they had helped fried the fish and chicken dishes and cut up the vegetables and fruits.
A view from our picnic spot
Lunch time
Many other families had come up to this area to swim and here in Cambodia, everyone swims with their clothes on because no one wants to get dark. The young women at RAP are no different, off they went after lunch in full clothing with our home advisors as they waded into the water all for the sake of a photo shot. Others were quite contented to lie in the hammock and nap, while others just wanted to read a book. Nonetheless, it was another fun time for them to relax and enjoy the fresh air as they were surrounded by God's creation.

At 2:15pm it was time to pack up and head back to the city. One of the joys of being around Cambodian youth is that everyone pitches in to clean up and help. No whining or complaining, after a fun filled day, just a ''happy tired'' as we packed up within 20 minutes with everyone carrying something back to the van and car.

We praise God for such opportunities to just rest and relax. Events such as these serves to strengthen the bonding between the young women and also with our staff and to create space for a sabbath rest from all the stresses and strains of daily living.

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