The first four days the team from the US helped the young people from the church in Kilometer 13 village with a Vacation Bible school in Sasada. 40 excited kiddos greeted us every day to learn about the fruit of the Spirit, the stories of Creation, Abraham, Joseph and Moses, as well as carpentry and sewing.
~ The girls worked during the four days to sew a 9-patch pillow. The girls in my group had sewed before and were quite good. One girl in particular had the most beautiful stitches and was fast at sewing. She was very quiet though, preferring to work rather than chat with the other girls. The girls in my group gave her a hard time about being shy, which I can identify with since I can remember plenty of times when I was teased too for the same reason. I tried to encourage her whenever I could from that point on. The last day we were trying to get as far as we could but many of the girls had a ways to go. When this girl got to the fourth side of the pillow her excitement was evident, and her grin was wide when I told her she was the first one to get that far! She couldn’t stop smiling as she stuffed the pillow, watched as I showed her the kind of stitch to close up the pillow and made it to the end! She was so proud of her work and I was proud of her as well.
~ I realized on this trip how little Khmer I really know. I have a long ways to go in learning! But God was faithful in sending two little boys to be my language helpers this week. 🙂 The first was a boy that I met two years ago when we did VBS in Kilometer 13 village. He hung around in the afternoons this year when we were at the ministry center and once he learned I understood and spoke some Khmer he asked all kinds of questions about my life in Phnom Penh, in America, and about the others on the team. We talked about favorite colors and fruit and lots of things that were definitely more on my language level. The last day we were all getting on motos to go back to the guesthouse. He was very concerned that I would get left behind and kept frantically pulling on my hand until I was safely on the back of one of the motos. His sweet, caring heart was a blessing to me.
When Kristin and I arrived back in Phnom Penh after the 8 hour bus ride on Sunday we were exhausted and just wanted to go home. I was overwhelmed by the busy bus station and being unable to hear to tell our tuk–tuk driver where to find us. A teenage boy had followed us when we were trying to make the phone call and he started asking us questions. He was shocked when he learned we had only been in Cambodia 3 months and went and told all the others waiting. He got chairs for us and continued his questioning. After the tough week it was amazing to be able to understand him and talk with him! By the end of our waiting time several others had crowded around us to ask us questions and meet these foreigners who spoke their language. It was encouraging to know I AM making progress.
~ Friday and Saturday we had a special time with the young people of the church (teens and 20-30 somethings) to talk about holiness in our lives and how we need to be diligent about not letting sin take root in our lives but allowing God’s forgiveness to make us clean. After our time we all went to the hospital to pray for a woman from the church. She was struggling to know God’s forgiveness. After we all gathered around to pray for her, two of the young people knelt beside her and spoke words of Truth from the lessons we had just finished talking about. On Saturday as we continued our discussion with the youth we read Hosea 14:4: “I will heal you of your faithlessness, my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever”. I felt like this woman needed to hear these words, and so even though I couldn’t explain the depth of what was in my heart, I pulled one of the young ladies aside and shared how I felt this verse was for this woman. She promised to share the verse with the woman and even if I couldn’t say all I wanted to, she understood my heart.
Oh the craziness of language learning! Once again I can soooo relate to you. On one hand I feel I have learned all my brain can absorb- surely I must be fluent in Nepali by now- and then I try to have a simple conversation with someone and realize I don't know even half the words they are speaking or that I need to communicate what I want to say to them. Luckily, as you experienced, the people here are so excited that I know even the small amount I have learned, praising me that I know so much after only a few months. It is amazing what a difference that excitement and encouragement makes.
And I am so glad you related with the little girl who was sewing and not chatting with the others. She sounds amazing.