Monday, October 29, 2012

Tuesday Morning, October 30

This will be our last entry for this trip. We, the five of us still here in Thailand, are sitting in the beautiful lobby of our hotel here in Pattaya, with no AC since we have checked out of our rooms.  It is 11:25 am and we are waiting for our van that will take us on the road to Bangkok Airport. The trip should be under 2 hours but we are loaded up with water and snacks.

Four of our team members went to the beach this morning to pray one last time for the city. Rich is having his first real foot pain since we arrived so he stayed back to do the online check-in for our flights. It looks like everying in on time so far, but pray that the ride, check-in with luggage, passport control, layover in Taiwan, customs in the US, luggage arrival, and sleep on the planes will all go well. Thanks for all your prayers for us on this trip. We felt them and needed them.

See you on the other side. Be sure to leave Sunday after church on the 18th of November open to see the pictures and hear the stories.

Because He Lives,

CCF Cambodia/Thaland Team

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Monday Morning, October 29th

It was a weekend of good-byes and hellos.  After a traveling /border crossing day on Saturday, we have united with the Northshore Baptist group and are resettled in Pattaya, Thailand.

We left Siem Reap, Cambodia, at 7:30 am Saturday, saying good-bye to Anna and Joan.  They left later in the day for a flight to Korea and on home to Seattle.  (We miss you Joan and Anna.)  It was sad also leaving people and ministry in Cambodia where we had been so blessed by missionaries, faithful workers, home churches, guides and even drivers.  How we love the Camobdian people!

The next good-byes were with Sayha, his wife Chav and baby Lois who met us at the border and turned us over to a guide to get us through the border crossing maze.  We provided entertainment for local people waiting in the hot sun with our peculiar foreign ways: Rich's folding stool and harmonica, our hats and heights, and a musical instrument (Tro) wrapped up like a baby in Robyn's arms.  :)  Thankfully, God sent an official to open a new line and call us as his first 'customers.'  The New York taxi style driver then got us to our hotel in record breaking time.

How great to meet up with Marcia (a co-grandma of 3 of our grandsons) and her 4 co-workers we've been praying for during their trip preparation and ministry here!  During some meals and outings together we've gotten a glimpse of ways God has answered our prayers.  They've had amazing opportunities to touch lives of women caught up in sex trafficking here. 

Yesterday morning, the five of our team who remain here prayer walked at the beach for the women and men still enslaved by Satan in this very dark city.

Then early afternoon, we met a couple women who've been saved and come out of that industry.  We were privileged to buy crocheted items from one of them who is trying to support herself now in this new way. Please pray for Pooh.

Yesterday's mid-afternoon worship, sermon and fellowship with some of those women, and some called to minister to them, was fantastic.  They met in a conference room of a hotel near ours.  The Samuels family was the guest pastor, interpreter and worship team.  We were captivated by Bill's testimony, stories and perspective on John 8:1-11.  Those verses plus verse 12 were ones God had already led me to use in devotions I will lead next time.

(I will come back and finish later as we are going to go pray with Marcia's team that is now about to leave for ministry up north.)

Pastor Bill's perspective helped me focus on God's mercy to ALL of us sinners and was also an amazingly relevant message for the  Thai congregation.  None of us can boast in our own goodnes but in the fact that we can reach relationship with God only with His help.  It's by His grace we're saved and by grace we continue to live the life He calls us to.  We ALL need to speak and act the same way Jesus did to that woman in John 8.  (James 2:12-13)

After the service, we had the privilege of meeting and praying with many, including several women who are newly experiencing freedom in Christ and others who are just now hearing about it.  Pray for Wee raising 2 daughters here alone, for Tom needing a job, for Nu Deang learning to walk daily with Jesus, for Pooh following God's call to get a visa and money to share her story in America, for Pam who needs to know his creator, and for the Samuels children to have joy in leading worship.

There is little true joy here in Thailand.  Having just returned from Cambodia, we are more aware of the heavy spiritual darkness here.  In Cambodia, life is more difficult economically, but we saw the Light overcoming the darkness more vividly there.  Our main focus here is prayer.  We will leave again right now to go pray for God's light to break through this darkness.  Please join us in praying for that.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, October 26  9:37 PM

The last few days have been very full. We learned that God's hand was in the Bartel's traveling with the Lao's. They were able to share more deeply their experiences and encourage one another, along with sharing the van and having native speakers to help them cross the borders. We were glad to hear that the Bartel's arrived back home safely.

Wednesday was our tourist day, but the Spirit of God is always working. We kept our eyes open for where He wanted us to share and learn. We visited the Angkor Wat temple area. Temples over 1,000 years old helped us see the long history of this nation. We had a guide with us that day, Sopan. He is a buddhist with much knowledge to share of the history of the nation, as well as Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. He did not know much about the Christian faith. We had a great day with him learning and comparing beliefs. God opened doors for us to share with him of our Lord. Buddhism is very sad. Sopan shared how hard life is since one must work hard to do good works so they will get you into a better next life. He shared that everyone goes to hell, but if you do enough good works, your time will be shorter. How wonderful to share our Jesus, who created everything and came to earth and experienced how hard it is for us to be "good". Jesus understands our struggle and took it upon Himself to make a way. Sopan seemed to crack open a little at that, but went back to "we need to work hard to be good." Our prayers are with him. We loved him and showed our gratefulness as best we could throughout the day. God has planted a seed.

Thursday was a busy day visiting local churches. We first visited the main church here in Siem Reap. It is a beautiful complex that is the center for Evangelism Explosion in the area. Our guides for the day and following days were Phearum and his assistant, Moch. We saw their ministries of outreach in the center - sewing/tailoring classes, computer classes, English classes and tradition Khmer music classes. This is a busy and fruitful church! After that we visited two house churches in the nearby rural area. One was the home of a dear older woman. It is a very small home. She has been very sick for about 10 years with a chronic stomach ailment. She ran out of the yard to hug each one of us as we got out of the van. She is so thin, there is nothing to her - yet her hugs were strong and sincere. She was so excited that we had come. Although she does not know if she will live very long, God has given her a vision of building a church on her property. She is praying that God will let her see her vision come true before she dies. Her granddaughter had been in an accident just that morning and had been taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Medical costs can devastate a family's finances in this place. We prayed with them for the church, for their health and for provision. There is much joy in that place.  Later that night, we had the opportunity to go back to the main church and help teach children English. We had so much fun! Children are sponges for learning! There was much laughter and learning. We were also treated to a birthday party in the church yard for Phearum's daughter with cake and sparklers a beautiful and happy time. That night we enjoyed taking time in the Night Market. Rich and Anna are pros at getting the best prices.

Today, Moch and some of her workers went with us to an outlying area 1.5 hrs away. The countryside is so beautiful and idyllic, yet we see the ravages of war that remain. Out in the beautiful green fields are landmines waiting to blow. We saw many victims of their destruction. The land and people are also trying to recover from a recent flood.  We were able to visit two house churches. We look forward to telling you more of their stories. They ask that we pray for their health, that their neighbors will respond to the Gospel, and for protection. One church is in the middle of a building process. They are being severely spiritually attacked. They had stayed up praying until 2 am last night, praying together against the oppression. We had a wonderful time sharing the love of God, worshiping Him together, and attesting to the fact that our God is almighty and powerful and greater than any force that will come against them.  We ended our day with a night on the town. It was a Cambodian version of a Hawaiian luau. A wonderful buffet, tradition Khmer music, dancing and storytelling through dance. Afterward, Anna, Joan and Jim took Rich up on his offer to have a fish massage. You put your feet in a big tank of fish and they eat the dead skin. Their feet are so smooth now!

Tomorrow brings change as five of us will cross the border back to Pattaya, Thailand, and Joan and Anna begin their journey home. How grateful we are for God's protecting, providing hand!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday, Oct. 23 8:00 pm

We were awakened at 5 am this morning by the chanting of monks.  By 6 am the city was buzzing with activitity.  A van arrived to take us on a 2.5 hour ride to Siem Reap.  After lunch we looked around the local market and then met two church leaders, Phearum and Moch, who went over the plans they have for us.  We learned that we will be visiting the area's main church as well as several house churches in distant villages.  We will also share our testimonies and help teach English.  Thanks for your continued prayers!  In the next day or so we will post some photos!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Afternoon, Oct. 22nd, 2012

The CCF Thai/Cam team has had another great day of going out for Jesus!  Today was a real heart-breaker as we visited a small burb of Poipet known as Psara.  Our guide was Chhav 's husband Sayha, who feels led that God would plant a church in this place.

For those of you who may have visited the dumps of Nicaragua, envision more people, more crowding, and more trash, garbage, waste water.  Unlike the dumps of Nicaragua, there are people preparing food, selling wares, and living quite busily in homes on stilts, in shacks, and even cement floored and tiled walls, here and there.

And among this ravaged landscape, beautiful children run, laugh, greet us with, "Hello! Hello!" as they run barefoot on very dusty and dangerous paths and roads.  Rich played his harmonica, we sang hymns, and the children came.  We had about 50-60 of them gather in each of two places to watch "gospel illusions" by Rich, hear stories of Jesus' sacrifice to "pay merit" for their sins.  And while an invitation to come to Jesus was not answered, our prayers were.

Rich had prayed, and we agreed with him, for a "man of peace" to come forward, with whom Sayha could connect to begin to reach out to these lovely people.  And we actually met two candidates!  The first was a man who heard the gospel message and told Sayha he had heard of Jesus in a refugee camp, had a Bible he read occasionally, but was no longer walking with Jesus.  The second was a man who greeted us in very capable English, having studied for 7 years under his teacher, "Allen".  This second man invited us into his home to tell of his job in the local casino, his 5 children, and the flooding that recently receded.  He had taken all of his belongings, save the huge teak bed frame, to the second story, and from there would take one of his many suits to higher ground to get ready for work.

God is going to reach this little area of Psara, and we pray that this day, He has made the next steps for Jesus to become Savior to the community.

After another scrumptious lunch at S & S's home, we were dropped off by our driver (a motor bike with an attached trailer with seating on both sides) at the local market.  We did a bit of shopping, and you will get a chance to see our Cambodian sun hat/masks upon our return.  Many more lovely, warm faces responded, "Hello!" to our greetings.  We took a long afternoon to recuperate from the heat, and probably from the emotional work of seeing Psara.

Thank you all and God's blessings on you all for your prayers. We feel them constantly, and they give us strength and confidence to walk forward in Jesus' name.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday, Oct. 21 8pm

Today was quite a busy day! We rose early in the morning for a quick breakfast before heading off to a house church in a nearby village.  The house that hosted the service was nicer than most of the others that we have encountered thus far.  It was on stilts and, as with the other houses, we had to climb up a steep ladder to enter.  But unlike several of the other houses, this one had four walls in addition to the typical floor and roof combination.  Sitting on a hard floor for a long period of time takes getting used to and many of us have had to push through some discomfort.  But any pain that we suffered was well worth it! The church members were so warm and welcoming.  Rich did a gospel illusion and then gave a sermon on Jesus calming the storm after Joan shared her testimony.  It has been so great to see how God has taken care of the little details on our trip.  Every testimony that has been shared during this trip has fit perfectly with both the accompanying sermon and the specific church.

After attending the house church, we drove to the big church service, at Living Water Church, where we met two other missionaries who work here in Cambodia.  Paul, a 27 year old missionary from England, helps install water purifiers in villages around Poipet while Kate, a missionary from Australia, does social work and is very passionate about the Poipet area.  We also met a wonderful family from Portland, Oregon who were visiting relatives here in Cambodia and stopped by the Living Water Church and stayed for the service.  It was such an encouragement to talk to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Rich preformed more gospel illusions and Dave did the sermon.  We also had the privilege of hearing the testimony of one of the church leaders who talked about how blessed he was to attend the pastors and pastors' wives seminar yesterday. It is amazing how much joy there is in fellowship with other believers!

We returned to the Lao's house after lunch and said our goodbyes to not only their family, but also to Dave and Shelly as they decided to share a van to Bangkok, Thailand with the Lao's. The seven of us who now remain in Poipet went to a children's ministry center.  Rich and Marla both taught a lesson about Bartimaeus and then we had some of the kids act out the story before everyone played a couple of games.  They were all very energetic and bouncy but were very well behaved.  All of the kids loved getting their picture taken and then seeing themselves on the camera's screen and they would all crowd around anyone who pulled out their camera.  What was really a blessing to watch was how everyone on the team was able to use their individual gifts.  The kids loved Jim's humor, had fun saying the English names for little animal figures that Joan brought along, were entranced by Rich's illusions, and loved playing games with Robin, Veronica, and Anna. While their energy wore us out, it was a blessing to work with the next generation of believers and the hugs that we received at the end of our time with them was a wonderful reward for our efforts.

Tomorrow we will be having a restful day as we first do a prayer walk in a village, in which the Lao's hope to plant a house church, and then prepare for the ride to Siem Reap, Cambodia on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunday, Oct. 21, 6 am

We had a great day yesterday at a conference center near Sisophone. Dave and Shelley did an excellent job of presenting a Biblical perspective on marriage to over 50 pastor/wife and elder/wife couples from over a large area of NW Cambodia. Many traveled 2-3 hours to get there. We traveled in three pickup trucks brim full of people, for nearly two hours. There was a sense of joy and anticipation as we arrived.

There were many opportunities to chat with the men who came that spoke some English. It was interesting that we could experience a form of communication with some of the women during the seminar as they reacted by sharing their laughter and giggles with us to some of the humor in the presentation. Both Dave and Shelley did excellent jobs of laying the groundwork and then presenting a very compelling picture of how God desires submission to one another and true love in marriages of believers in every culture.

Each of us consumed an average of 5-6 bottles of water during the seminar  as we sat and prayed in the hot, humid conference room. We ate lunch with the seminar attendees and played with the many young children who came along because there was no care for them at home with both mother and father at the meetings.

After a long, hot day, we crammed into the trucks and traveled the same bumpy roads to return to the home of Soeuth and Syna. There, after many conversations with those who had ridden back with us, we had a traditional Khmer supper and returned to our hotel.

At that point most of us were ready to drop due to exhaustion, but we met to make plans for a children's program that we will be directing this afternoon. This planning time was necessary because additional details were revealed by one of the leaders who oversees this program that made us realize that we had to change our original plans. This meeting was followed by most of us just collapsing into bed for a night of rest.

Today will be another tiring day. After being picked up for breakfast at 7 am, we head out to a house church of about 15 people. Rich will preach there and Joan will share a testimony. From there we go to the "mother church" where Dave will preach and Veronica will share a testimony. Soeuth has really gotten excited about the Gospel illusions that Rich has been presenting at each of the meetings we've participated in so I'm sure those will happen in the two services this morning. The rest of our team will be interceding for the presenters and the listeners during these messages. This in an invaluable assistance in this area of darkness where satan has set up strongholds of lies and rejection of God's love for centuries.

After returning for lunch at the home of S & S, we will come back to the hotel for about an hour to rest and meditate on our presentations at the children's ministry center mentioned earlier. At 3 pm we'll be picked up by Seyha, a church elder, in two tuk tuks (small carts attached to motor scooters) for a ride to a place we haven't been to yet.  There, Marla, Jim, Robin, Veronica and Joan will present a Bible story and direct games for thirty to thirty-five  3 - 6 year olds. Anna, Dave, Shelly and Rich will do the same for a group of about fifty 7 - 13 year olds.

After a late supper at the home of S & S (who will have left for NE Thailand by this time), we'll come back to the hotel in tuk tuks for a debrief of the day, Bible meditation, and then needed sleep.

Please lift us up in your prayers. Due to the fourteen hour time difference, most of you will be sleeping during the afternoon ministry, but can pray even as we are involved for the morning services.We are excited about all of the ministry opportunities but are getting weary.  Monday afternoon will be a needed time of rest, and then Tuesday morning we leave (seven of us) for ministry and cultural experiences in Siem Reap. Dave and Shelley will be departing by tuk tuk to the border, then taxi from the border in Thailand to Bangkok. There they will connect and stay with missionary friends and fly out the next day to return home. Please pray for their travel.