Dear Friends and Family,
“The vodka was great but the meat is rotten.” That, believe it or not, is a direct translation of a Bible verse spewed forth from a billion dollar Cray Super Computer programmed by the Pentagon to translate English into Russian during the “Cold War” days of the late 1980’s. The verse? “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) So, now you know why we have problems with relaying complex concepts from one language to another. The whole point of Christmas was being missed. The most basic concept of the Christian faith, “Salvation” has eluded Cambodian translators for years. We’ve decided to just go with “New Birth.” And, in the provinces, it was a big hit! ( See photos) Why? Because, the Cambodian translation of salvation is “Sacrifice.” The result is a sense of earning your acceptance through performing self-sacrifice, not receiving God’s free gift for us – new life in Christ. With that bit of “Good News” even Buddhist monks were responding to the Christ Child.
This Christmas we went to great efforts to make sure that everyone who came to Christ realized that they had nothing to do in earning their relationship with God, but that it was a free gift given to them through faith. Thanks to the generosity of Home of English, 90,000 full color, Christmas books were distributed. The results are still being tabulated. In fact some churches will be celebrating Christmas for another week, but we already know of more than 20,000 Cambodians being born again this Christmas. At Chom Chao alone, nearly 3000 came to Christ. ( See photos)
Personally, I think the “Vodka was missing and the food was good,” at least at the party we threw for the neighborhood kids at our home. There were over 300 neighborhood kids that showed up at our house for a Christmas afternoon party and about 80 of them received Christ. For the first time since 1998, our entire family was together for Christmas. Last March I managed to buy some cheap tickets and it was sure worth it. We really enjoyed the family and some of our grandchildren saw Cambodia for the first time. ( See photos)
If you’ve ever gone on a long, extremely difficult, dangerous and exhausting slog, (almost like fighting a war) and felt the exhilaration upon achievement of the goal, you’ll understand our emotions as the Ministry of Social Concerns hosted a recognition reception for the delivery of our Memorandum of Understanding. We were fighting for our existence. ( See photos) It was six months of painful and often contentious preparation, compromise and negotiation, but the kind words of encouragement spoken at the reception made us look like true heroes. We were held up as the largest and best model, Non-Government-Organization (NGO) for care of orphans in Cambodia. It made front-page news in several Cambodian newspapers and national Television. Thank God it is over for three years!
Happy New Year! 2011 was very fruitful, but one of the most painful in our thirteen year history. I am glad it is gone! One of the most difficult struggles was our rice production. The last of the harvest was put into our storage bins in late December. We faced two months of drought, followed by near record floods. ( See photos) We are grateful for the 400 tons of rice harvested, but will still be about150 tons short of being able to feed everyone.
We are so grateful for all our donors, ( See photos and video) and want you to know we pray for you every day. It is said so often, but is so true: “We couldn’t do it without you!” We owe special thanks to: Gleanings for the Hungry, Reach Now International, Feed My Starving Children, Butte County Rice Producers, Far West Rice, and Lou Binninger. You guys keep us alive!
Wishing you all the most fruitful, blessed, healthy and prosperous year of your lives!
Ted (Pa Thom) Sou (Mak Sou) Olbrich
And those who really deserve the credit, Our Staff