Dear Friends and Family,
Second chances? We serve a God of second, third, fourthů and infinite chances. Our problem is, we stop seeking them; “tuck our tail and run”! So, how often don’t we receive them (I mean second chances)? We give up, quit asking, are embarrassed, discouraged, tired, but where in the Bible does Jesus tell us to give in to despair? I may not feel this way, but we are blessed! We’ve gotten quite a few hits this month, but how we react to them is the challenge. Last month our rice crop was dying. We plowed it under and re-planted. ( see photos) I’m glad Jesus told us “Do not worry!” and the flip side of the same coin, “Be of good cheer!” Because this month our new seed is lying in crusted ground and the crop we irrigated, and are trying to save, is out of water.
Late note: As of July 8 evening a heavy rain shower was received. The rice we were trying to save has been plowed under and we have gone to Vietnam for more seed. The 435 acres that have been re-planted should emerge now. The 70 acres will be planted as soon as we can get on the fields.
I am greatly humbled! We planted two, $75,000 rice crops this year. Watched one die, and praying we don’t see the one we just planted snuffed out before it emerges!
“A friend in need is a friend indeed!” We’ve gotten one rain, and we were hopeful, but now the ground in crusting over and a lot of the seed is not emerged. Please pray, I don’t see how we can do this again! There is no more seed to be purchased in Cambodia. But, we won’t quit! You guys came through! With donations from $15,000US to $5.00US, you paid for most of this crop. But, even the thought of investing another $75,000, before we build the reservoirs that can solve the problem, is risky. We need to start on the reservoir construction this fall, and we did receive a $5,000 donation to begin a reservoir construction fund. But, now, we need to trust that God will see us through with timely rains.
As Lincoln said, “It hurts too much to laugh and I’m to big to cry.” I can only hope to give you a chuckle with this story:
The retired rice farmer went into the market every morning and bought all the round nosed spades for $5.00 each. He then proceeded out to the sidewalk and set up a portable table with a sign; “Shovels for sale $4.00 each”. He stayed there until all the shovels were sold, and came back and did the same thing every day for two weeks. Finally the seller of shovels in the market was so curious, he had to ask, “Why do you come in here every day and buy all my shovels for $5.00 and then go out on the sidewalk and sell them for $4.00?” The old farmer took a deep breath and said, “Well son, it sure beats rice farming!”
Doyle Pleasant Billington, or as we knew him here in Cambodia, “Pops,” was a retired farmer, and he started over in Cambodia at age 80, and raised cattle for almost 14 years. I conducted his funeral service this past month and we buried him at our Phdau Penh Church Home. He was the last surviving WWII vet in Cambodia, but a farmer at heart. Fifteen years ago his wife died of cancer and he was ready to give up on a hard life. He went from a poor, depression era, farm family, into the military, to a series of jobs that saw him retire as a machinist, as he worked his small farm. He walked away from it all, came to Cambodia in 1999, with his son Steve, and started raising cattle. He went from being stingy and angry, to gentle and generous. He ended well, and asked that I look like a farmer when I buried him. I cheated and wore slacks. ( see photos)
“Pops” was a Catholic, and now you’ll know why I love the Catholics! This ad, produced in 2012 and scheduled to be re-run in fall 2014, has gone viral but, it may give America another chance! It really should be sponsored by all believers in Christ. ( see video)
Somehow, the local Thai police began shaking down Cambodian workers who did not have legal papers. The acting, “Martial Law”, Thai government claims it did not order this crackdown, but the 250,000 refugees that crossed at Poipet, Cambodia, all claimed they were told they had until June 27th to “Get out!” Most had their property confiscated, and many had received no food for days. With two church/orphan homes in the city, FCOP went up to help. A lot of the funding came from Samaritan’s Purse, and we were more than happy to lend a hand. ( see photos) These people need a new start. It seems that whatever caused the mass exodus was a big blow to the Thai economy. Jobs are hard to find in Cambodia and many are talking of returning to Thailand for work, and a ‘second chance’. Thailand needs the workers back. Now the government is offering transportation back to Thailand and proper work papers with an official passport for $42.00US. That sounds like a second chance. We pray it works out!
New home groups are starting every month and we need trained leaders! ( see photos) We took in a lot of young orphans during our early years and they are growing up. This year we will see several hundred finish their secondary education and move into the work force. We are praying for a new batch of pastors to come from their ranks. Many will be seeking opportunities for further education, while others are thinking of joining the throng of returning refugees to Thailand. Who knows? We may become a missionary sending country.
Training new pastors is one of FCOP’s first priorities. “We can get all kinds of people born again, but then what?” ask many of our church leaders. We have been searching for years for a very simple, basic curriculum, devoid of religious “fluff”, that is easily translated into Cambodian. God worked it out for a couple from Thailand to dump one in our laps, for free, already translated. One week later, Mak Sou started our first training session. ( see photos)
Giving a 12 year old Church Home and broken fence a second chance is what the Living Waters Church Team was all about. They rebuilt the church home at Basedth. It means a lot to give hope to these kids who often think that the world doesn’t care about them. They also performed some needed dental work. Having an aching tooth repaired is definitely a very welcome ‘second chance’. ( see photos)
We’ve done more to promote Cambodian culture than about any organization in the country. But this is the first time we’ve introduced a new cultural blessing: The violin. The point is not that there have never been orchestras in the Cambodian past, but teaching the violin in the remote village of Steung Treng is unheard of. ( see photos)
When it comes to the sexually trafficked, I’ve been telling you for years that most of these women are the victims of poverty. They have lost a husband, they may have a serious illness in the family, or the family farm is in danger of being re-possessed, they may have several kids to support, and no education to get them a decent job. We take them in, teach them a trade, and help them regain their dignity, without showcasing them. That’s definitely a ‘second chance’, but it doesn’t raise big money. The “Big Money” comes from glitz, flash, and pure male bovine fertilizer.
( see photo) The whole “House of cards came tumbling down.” The New York Times and CNN got caught with major egg on their faces. It turned out the cornerstone of all their ‘anti-slavery’, ‘sexual trafficking’ claims was built on multiple fabrications. Dozens of NGO’s, which I refer to as the “Rescue Rangers” are scrambling to explain their deceptions. A credible researcher, Laura Agustin, writes: “The trafficking hoo-hah is not “myth,” but a terrible misnomer and misframingů. To focus on accountability implies that one accepts that there is a verifiable phenomenon to be accountable about, to espouse the fundamental propositions about human trafficking promoted by government, moral entrepreneurs, and the media, which cry that trafficking, especially the kind where women sell sex, is the great scourge of our time. To focus on accountability assumes that the dominant narrative is based on reality, and all we have to do is quibble about individual ethics and demand high standards. This is all wrong.” What more can I say? I’ve been telling you this was mostly “baloney” for years!
Too much information! I’ve been told these “Updates” are just too long! Maybe I should write them twice a month and make them shorter? I don’t have the time or energy for that, so, just give me “another chance”! Thanks!
Be greatly blessed, and please, pray for rain on our rice fields in Balang, Cambodia!
Ted (Pa Thom) and Sou (Mak Sou) Olbrich
And those doing all the work,