Update: May 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

The old song goes: “99 bottles of beer on the wall; 99 bottles of beer. What should we do if one of them falls? 98 bottles of beer on the wall; 98…..” Mine goes: “1623 weddings to go; 1623 weddings. What do we do when one of them’s hitched? 1622 weddings to go; ….”  Why is Pa Thom (Me) smiling? http://www.missionreports.com/j_d_wedding Clue: It’s not beer! (Nice try!) Now, it could be the eleven beautiful women? (Good guess! But, hey! I’m a missionary!) The truth is that one of our kids married our surgeon’s daughter, and the doctor paid for the wedding!  Another one bites the dust! Hallelujah! Actually, we’re on a roll! Next week Kris Warner , of our staff, marries Naomi, the fourth girl from the left. Now, all I need is another 1621 of you to show up within the next few years, and my problems will be over. You see, the groom has to “Buy” the bride in Cambodia . Now that’s good news for me. With all these beautiful daughters, I should be rich! But, alas! No respectable Cambodian Buddhist family will allow their child to marry an orphan. They consider them cursed. So, since I am the “parent” of 3000+ kids with few options other than marrying another orphan, I’m stuck with the bill on both ends of the wedding spectrum. Unless, good people like our surgeon, Dr. Chayya, and Kris, bail me out. Hint! Hint!

Honeymoons are “In season” and it’s not just for a few orphan kids that found true love. Our cows are in the mooooood! Yes, cow honeymoons are planned to match the best of our local breeds with the US bovine “Power Team” through artificial insemination. Thank you to the Foursquare Foundation for the grant for reaching ethnic groups (they love their cows!) and the Clinton , Iowa Foursquare Church. Like the preparation for the brides of King Ahasuerus (Remember Esther?) our cows are getting ready for their dream boys, sorry girls, they are arriving in plastic tubes packed in dry ice.   http://www.missionreports.com/cow_honeymoon

Easter Sunday was a big deal for us this year. We’ve always put our energy into Christmas and due to the proximity with Cambodian New Year, Easter has been largely ignored. Then Peter (our national church president) got the revelation that the reason Jesus came at Christmas was to restore relationship through Easter. We held hundreds of special Easter services around the country, and two in Phnom Penh . The evening service had to be held outside in order to handle the crowd. Hundreds decided to follow Christ. http://www.missionreports.com/easter_day_10  As a special gift we gave each new believer a set of “Comic Bibles”. That might as well have been the end of the service, as they spent the rest of the night reading.

Cambodian New Year is by far the biggest holiday of the Year. Since, it does interfere with church attendance. We have been frustrated with that aspect. It is a time of honoring and blessing your elders, and also deals with the cleansing of sin, from a Buddhist perspective, by washing with water (This has turned into one huge three day long water fight in the provinces, with thousands of people lining the roads with plastic bags filled with water and pelting all passers by. Happy new Year!), and since cleansing from sin is what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we decided that it was time for the church to be proactive and co-opt the tradition of the ritual washing for a Christian commemoration of what Christ accomplished, along with honoring our elders. I think we have a new tradition? http://www.missionreports.com/honoring_blessing  I missed it, as I was busy helping get our rice crop planted!

The New Year celebration lasts at least a week and just about destroys any functional purpose for business transactions in the month of April. Prices for travel and goods are double for a week each side of the holiday. Usually, everyone travels to their homes. Phnom Penh is deserted, the shops are all shuttered. You could do 80 km/hour down Monivong ( Main Street ) and never hit your horn. The bad news is, for the orphans, “Home” is their orphan home, which is not too exciting unless something special happens, so, we try to do something at each home to help them. We brought the Cham Chao and Prochentong kids to our house. There were maybe 130 kids and staff so, you would think, 240 large hot dogs, 70 pounds of chicken, with, chips, ice cream, and 384 cans of soda would be excessive. Nothing was left!http://www.missionreports.com/new_year_celebration

Happy New Year! A ceiling fell on my head. (Cambodian New Year was April 14th) After a long day celebrating with the kids from Cham Chao, we finished it off by trying to burn the office down. We’re not quite sure how it started in a stack of blankets that we were storing for the cool season. We’ll blame a wall mounted electric fan that was buried under the stack. “There’s nothing more dangerous than a monkey with matches!” That’s what my wife told me years ago when we lived in Laos . Back then they had the big “Farmer matches” you know, the big sticks with the two tone blue tips that lit on anything from your tooth to a brick? Well, monkeys would grab them and go play in the rafters. It was said they burned down more houses than lightning. But, I’m not blaming monkeys for our “New Year’s Surprise”. About 6:30pm Mak Mony started yelling “Run! Fire!”  Fortunately, one of the staff cut off the electric supply at the main pole. We were blessed with enough water pressure, and help left from the party, to start dowsing flames, along with some buckets from the pool. We pulled off a section of the roof and soon had the flames extinguished, but as we were pulling the smoldering stock of blankets from the store room the ceiling came crashing down. Now I know why firemen wear those funny helmets. I didn’t get hurt but it made me look like a real fire fighter. http://www.missionreports.com/office_fire  The next day we hauled in a used 40 foot shipping container and “liberated” three of our staff rooms that had been converted to storage.

We do go through significant amounts of money to keep 3000+ orphans and widows alive, but it is at least 30% less than what we would need if it were not for the food and support items we receive from donors all over the world. From beds in Switzerland to apricots in California , to clothing from Hong Kong, and recorded Bibles from China , there are hundreds of tons of goods from dozens of other donors. Your gifts are appreciated! Distribution is something we take very seriously.http://www.missionreports.com/food_distribution  Most of our supply efforts are coordinated through Warm Blankets Orphan Care, Int.  They have found that supply of necessities is a huge problem after a disaster. There are hundreds of rusting containers full of rotting goods on beaches in places like Indonesia . Not because people or organizations are corrupt, but the infrastructure to handle massive deliveries simply is not in place. Please, think about that before your heart responds to the next earthquake, tsunami, or hurricane. Find local people with “feet on the ground” and work through them. Churches and NGO’s like Warm Blankets that work through local churches are the best. We operate a fleet of about 20 trucks to keep things moving. Two five ton trucks do the heavy hauling and then dozens of smaller vehicles do the local delivery. To all of you who give! Thank you!

The lack of funds this past year has forced us to take training to a local level. It has turned into a blessing. We activated a group of former orphans that had entered ministry, deemed them the “Young Lions” and put them on the road to release churches in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Of course they often start with introducing new believers to Christ and baptizing them in water. This made the youth jealous, so they said, “We want to do that!” So, they took the name, “Young Tigers”. The Lions and Tigers are “Tearing it up!” http://www.missionreports.com/youth_anlong_veng_10  At least twice per month they are off to a new destination and they are leaving new “Chapters” of local Lions and Tigers in their wake!

The financial squeeze has forced us to take our Annual Convention to the District level. We finished off three more districts this month. http://www.missionreports.com/pastoral_training_center   The strange thing is that uninvited guests keep showing up at our local meetings and at least 200 of them have received Christ as a result.http://www.missionreports.com/district_training  What do you do when there is no pond? Find a well ring and fill it up. Almost none leave without being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We do appreciate teams! Teams came from the US , http://www.missionreports.com/borey_bo_landfill_solar   Singapore , http://www.missionreports.com/singapore_cafe_st and Hong Kong , http://www.missionreports.com/visit_phdau_pennthis month. All did significant service and are greatly appreciated. Remember, the best thing you do is not measured in physical results, or project expense, but in what it does in the heart of an orphan child that is told by their culture that they are cursed. When a foreigner comes from thousands of kilometers just to serve and be with them it does more good than anything money can buy! You all deserve a big “High Five” on a job well done. Thanks!

The rice is planted! http://www.missionreports.com/rice_planting  Whew! A friend asked me why some countries are producing 15 tons of rice per hectare when in Cambodia the average is about 1.5 tons. The answer is too long and technical to answer outside of an agronomy journal. But, let’s just start with soil that is 100 times more acid that “normal”, add to that soil nutrition that is so low it defies measurement, seeds that have married cousins for 1000 years, water that is totally unmanaged, insects, weeds, diseases, and RATS out of control, cultivation practices that have not changed much in 1000 years, and you will get a bit of the picture. We’ve worked 20 men, and at least that many machines tirelessly since last December. We are just scratching the surface, but give us about three more years and we’ll be a lot closer to decent production. Pray for timely rains, and death to all our rice pests. That will help more than anything else.  (I know that prayer will bother some of you, but would you rather have them move over to our neighbors’ field?). We did the best we could with the problem of having $16,000 worth of seed and chemicals stolen by a crook from South Africa . I found some good (I hope) varieties in Vietnam and bought them on my credit card. Anyway, the rice is growing! PTL!! We still need to spray about 100 hectares for weed control. Yes, I hate weeds, bugs, and diseases almost as much as rats, and use chemicals on them all! You won’t buy our rice in an organic food store. We may glow in the dark but, we will eat!

Hepatitis “B” has become a more widespread health concern for us than H.I.V. Many of our kids are children of prostitutes and they become infected at birth. Unlike H.I.V victims, they can live for years without showing symptoms, but this liver destroying disease can be extremely deadly, and is a serious blow to their future plans for marriage and family. Usually, “Hep B” is considered an S.T.D. but we know, through medical examination, that these kids (at least the girls) have not been sexually active. Though data is inconclusive, it appears to us, that the disease can also be transferred through unsafe drinking water. The good news is that Dr. Mike Callan, who has been to Cambodia eight times, donated enough money to purchase testing equipment to diagnose the carriers of the disease, and vaccinate the non-positive kids against the deadly virus. This is truly a life saver, and a priceless gift! Treatments can be very expensive and sometimes life can only be prolonged through liver transplant or a miracle from God. We believe for the miracle!

Too much happened this month. Sorry! Thanks to all of you who help and pray!

Blessings!

Ted (Pa Thom), Sou (Mak Sou),
And the people doing all the work!
The Cambodian Team!

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