Dear Friends and Family,
“There’s a sucker born every minute!” That statement has been attributed to P.T. Barnum, the ‘American Circus Tycoon’ of the 19th century. Barnum would put, what people of that day referred to as “Freaks”, on display for money. Some were genuine quirks and misfortunes of nature, like two headed animals, and some fabricated, or embellished, like the “Mermaid”, which was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in paper-māché. ( See photo)
The children pictured above are abused Cambodian children, and we cannot do anything about it. They have parents that purposely keep them this way to beg for money at a border crossing where rich foreigners come to gamble at the casinos. It breaks your heart, and it makes the unscrupulous parents, and the corrupt officials who protect their parental rights, rich. The more you help, the deeper you entrench the problem. We’ve heard valid reports of children being deliberately disfigured to enhance their begging ability. I hope it makes you sick. It does me. It needs to stop, and that’s going to take good governance.
First we need changed hearts. This woman is a real hero. ( See photo) We need local daycare centers for women like this. But this is not a “sexy” story. It’s a whole lot better for ratings, and fundraising, if you talk about raiding brothels. The problem is some charities, and the news media, are not much better than P.T. Barnum, they prey off the sensational to make money. And in a nation without the rule-of-law, like Cambodia, it is easy for the scammers. We do it right, and God has special concerns regarding orphans, widows, and His church. How do an underfunded bunch of orphans compete with the big money scams? We often feel flatter than a guy run over by a go-cart. But, we keep chugging along. Seriously though, we do need some help.
Back on the Illinois farm I grew up on we had a mangy German-Shepherd-Cross dog, “Tippy”, that was good at two things, one was marking car tires, the other was chasing his tail. I am convinced that when he met his demise, at about age ten, by scarfing down too many post-Thanksgiving turkey bones, he had more scar tissue than skin on his tail. The dog was crazy, but amusing.
In my more tormented moments I wonder if “Tippy” and I have a lot in common. Mind me! I don’t go around marking car tires! But, there are days when I wonder if I’m chasing my tail. And more importantly, do you feel that way? It seems like we’ve been raising around 3000 orphans forever. You must get tired of hearing about that? The same-old, same-old, appeal year after year? It sounds like textbook dependency. And, it would be, except for one important fact: The kids keep changing! We keep raising them up, and they learn how to work. We’ve now gone through about 15,000 kids, and they go on to change their nation. Often with skills they learned at the National Training Center. ( See photos)
Bishop Julius Mbgaya, of Kenya, and his son Don were here. ( See photos) Julius feels that it will take Cambodia fifteen years to re-build the systems of good governance. There is no way an orphan is going to be self-supporting no matter how long it takes. That’s why we need your help! I understand that if you are constantly putting money into buying converts, that is the dependency we all oppose. But our pastors, in the 6000 home churches get paid nothing. We visited some of them and we were all encouraged.
People call me, “A man of faith”. The truth is I have a tiger by the tail and I can’t let loose, kind of like my dog, I just don’t keep biting it. I guess the fact that somehow, I do believe God will come to the rescue is “faith”. Honestly, I feel more like the beneficiary of a great deal of grace. I had a dream about grace the other night. I dreamed I was a child lost in a large crowd in a perverse carnival, I could find no one familiar and everything looked foreboding and hostile. I was scared and felt doomed. Then this large gentle hand hoisted me up on a powerful shoulder and I could see above the crowd. I knew I was safe. That’s grace. And, that’s God! Sometimes, He even sends beat up old messengers like Sonny Weimer. He has been a great encouragement to us this month, but he’s no angel. Pure grace! ( See photos)
The teams that come help us with our up-keep. Every one of them leaves us feeling encouraged. One group had some extra money for paint, so we gave the ‘Training Center” a new coat of paint. Twenty-two Singaporean high school kids worked their hearts out in 100-degree heat, building a new wall around our church home in Khampong Channang. ( See photos)
Mak Sou tried something new by bringing together about 35 key women leaders from the community surrounding Phnom Penh. These were not all Christians when they came, but they were when they left. Several had radical deliverance from their involvement with the occult. There were witnesses who saw smoke come out from one woman as she was delivered, and another, who had metal objects inserted into her body by a shaman were dissolved. Weird? Yes, none-the-less, true. ( See photos)
We suffered a setback with Errol Faulkes suffering a stroke. We prayed and though he was getting better decided he needed to return to Canada for more professional therapy and treatment. Errol was to head up our training and that is a hole we still need to fill. Brenda, his wife, was helping out at the office. They are missed, please pray for a quick and complete recovery. ( See photo)
The local farmers think I’m “Crazy” for running a chain scraper over our rice land, removing six inches of soil, hauling it half a mile and putting it on the other end, tearing down nine perfectly good paddy dikes to do it. We have to find a way to make rice farming profitable. The only way I know of is to get people to pool their assets and work together, cooperatively. Someone has to show them how. It takes a lot of time, money, and work. ( See video)
When I was farming I was talking to a friend about a local scoundrel who’d bilked dozens of farmers out of their life’s savings. “What’s the worst thing you could hope for a guy like that?” I asked. “Slow death!” came his reply. ( See photo)
The problem is the small guys are doing the dying with their three to ten acre rice operations. The “fat cat” land grabbers are getting bloated. Small farmers are losing their land every year, some, sell their daughters to make ends meet. This has to stop, and Cambodia needs a way to feed their orphans. That’s why we are trying to develop the “Cambodian Rice Production Enterprise”.
A key component for us is the production of good quality rice seed, This Spring, we launched the “Harvest of Gold”, certified rice seed, brand. I’m convinced it is the best seed in the country. The farmers need it, but the question remains; “Will they buy it?” ( See video)
Blessings to you!
Ted & Sou Olbrich, (Mak Sou and Pa Thom)
And the people who get no credit but do all the work, “Our Staff”