Dear Friends and Family,
Are you one of those grouches that think Elvis is dead? If so, you probably don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, and poor Santa has been sent straight to hell. That’s alright, I still love you religious people! You just really do need to come to Cambodia. The truth is that I’m a little ticked off at Elvis myself. He almost broke up my marriage. We are supposed to love our wives, right? I mean, they are supposed to be our best friends, correct? I was convinced I was “spot-on” in both categories. Now, I have about 2000 Facebook friends, but I confess I am a lousy “facebook-er”. I’m lucky if I open it once per week. My wife has close to a thousand Facebook friends, she checks her’s a little more often than I. It just so happened when I posted Elvis’s picture, I asked her, “Did you get it?” We discovered that neither one of us were “friends” with each other on Facebook. ( see photos) Oh! The pain of the sin of omission!
It’s called “Elvis’s Lost Song.” I know some of you don’t believe Elvis sang it. That’s OK! I still love you too. We had our “Elvis” translate the words and present it at our big Easter Service at Cham Chao, so many people were born again that we hardly had room for them. It was a great service, and it is a good song, in English, as well as Cambodian: YouTube Link
Easter was a week late for us in Cambodia. It happened that Easter fell on the end of Cambodian New Year, which is the biggest holiday of the Cambodian year. We were not about to compete with that, so we became “Greek Orthodox” and gave ourselves a different date. It worked, and, as usual, the passion put into the preparations by a group of Cambodians who survived the Khmer Rouge holocaust was emotionally wrenching. You see they don’t just do a resurrection celebration, they show the whole bloody, and glorious, story from Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday. They want the whole picture, and for a country where most people don’t connect the dots concerning the meaning of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, it makes sense. ( see photos) At the end of the service everyone broke into spontaneous dancing, young and “old” alike.
El Sim, our little 4 foot six inch apostle, has few Biblical miracles that cannot be attributed to her ministry. As far as I know, no one has seen her walk on water yet, although she does seem to make it. There are few wells on her island of 100,000 souls. The geology of the sub-soil is like a block of cheese, there is no lateral movement of subterranean water. God told her to dig a well on her property. She asked, “Where?” and the Lord responded, “Anywhere on your property. Dig it eight meters deep and you’ll have water.” So, El Sim called some laborers, bought some concrete rings and told them to dig. They protested, “We don’t want to take your money! There is no water here!” “Never mind!” insisted El Sim, “I’ll pay no matter what happens.” They not only got water, but enough water for the entire village. The town elders bought an electric pump and put in a plastic piping system to the community. When the water level goes down she prays, and it comes back up. ( see photos)
Just so that you know she is human, I have to tell this story. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets important things. A boy in El Sim’s community, the son of a shaman, born without hands and feet, came down with spinal meningitis, he was paralyzed from the neck down. El Sim called for the churches to pray for him. We prayed, we had the church/homes in the entire country praying for two weeks, and there was no improvement. Finally Mak Sou called El Sim and asked, “Have you anointed him with oil, and laid hands on him and prayed?” It was quiet for a second and El Sim gasped, “Why no, I forgot!” She went and prayed, and he was healed. He is fine now. ( see photos) El Sim can neither read nor write. She gets her Bible through a “Proclaimer”, an audible, dramatized, solar powered device. But she does hear God. It is amazing what we can just forget or overlook!
Morgan Jackson, Senior Vice President of Faith Comes by Hearing, the designers and distributors of the “Proclaimer,” a dramatized, audio, solar powered, Bible, brought a group of supporters to look around Cambodia. No other single device has improved our evangelistic capacity since we introduced the comic Bibles about ten years ago. Morgan’s organization is the most successful Christian grant recipient in the USA. He really wants to help us. We visited his headquarters last year and learned a number of things we are dong wrong. We didn’t have a 501(c)3 number that matched our name (We are an LLC under Covenant Frontline International). Our name, FCOP is too closely aligned with a denomination (Foursquare) to receive grants. Our literature was not succinct enough. So, we started changing, but our 501(c)3 number is still pending, our name is still FCOP Int’l, but under discussion, and our literature is being refined. Worst of all, Morgan told me that there were bad reports being circulated about us. “What can I do to counter that?” I asked. He answered, “Nothing, the more you protest the worse it will get.” “What can we do?” I asked. Morgan said, “That’s why I’m here. I’m going to see the truth, and I’ll straighten them out.” Circumstances evolved so that I was only able to be with them for one of the five days that they were here; Sam Tolle showed them around. Go Morgan Go! ( see photos)
“They are nuts! They put rocks on their fields, they knock down perfectly good paddy dikes, and only plant their rice two centimeters deep in little rows!” The neighbors are scratching their heads watching our rice planting. The rocks they are referring to are ground up limestone, the dikes are being destroyed by our chain scraper to make much larger and more efficient fields. We’ve spent a small fortune putting in culverts, digging ditches, leveling land, building dikes, liming and fertilizing soil, planting certified and foundation seed, with the hope for a big payback, not only in yield, but in value. The rice price is so low right now it does not pay to plant. This is due to the Thai government lifting the rice subsidy paid to Thai farmers and releasing the huge surplus on the world market. I’ve farmed long enough to know that when everyone else gives up, it is time to plant. We’re doing it with a vengeance, Maybe I am nuts? ( see photos)
Our largest Asian donor in 2013 was Union Church in Hong Kong. They painted and refurbished two church/homes in Khampong Speu Province. They also brought enough backpacks for three homes. It is interesting that the oldest church in Hong Kong is the most vibrant for us. I believe they were founded in 1845, and with the promises of God concerning orphans and widows they should be around a great deal longer (Deut. 24:19). Thanks Union Church! ( see photos)
This month started as a marathon for me. The longest continuous air-trip I ever took was from Oslo, Norway to Phnom Penh, Cambodia via Los Angeles. It was just over 63 hours that I spent in a plane, or waiting for one. Why would anyone do that? Well, write it off to stupidity on my part. I double booked myself. I found that I was to speak at the “Next Conference” in Anaheim, CA, USA, and with “AsiaLink Norway”, both at the end of March and beginning of April. I had to beg Erik Jensen, of Asia Link, Norway, to cut three days from my itinerary. I flew to Los Angeles to do the “Next Conference”, and then went straight from Cornerstone Church where I spoke onSunday, March 30th, to Oslo Norway, where I hit the ground running! Erik crammed 15 meetings in 14 days, and none of them were in close proximity. We did a lot of windshield time. I like to stay busy, and Erik took me for my word. It was good all the way around! ( see photos)
If you read this long tome to this point, I assume you are interested in what’s happening here. So, here’s the deal. Below is a link to a 30 page printed booklet we do once per year. It is called our “Overview”. If you click on this drop-box link you can receive it, but is is five megabytes long, so, if you’re on a phone line web link, or have a slow server, you may just want to forget it, and hope we send you a copy. It’s worth reading, as it includes financial data, and pictures worth thousands of words. That’s too much information. Sorry! But be blessed anyway! We are planning on it! ( Download Overview)
Much love to you all!
Ted (Pa Thom) and Sou (Mak Sou) Olbrich,
And those who do all the work,