Joomreeup Sooah!! Sok Sah Bye day groop K’neeah?!! Yerng Atee tahn groop k’neeah jeeah Prah teein Poh!!!! (First person to translate this gets a prize!! All you former interns should dominate this challenge!!)
Guys!!! Here is a story right off the bat from Avin that we pray will encourage and inspire you:
One of the most inspirational people I have known here in Phnom Penh, is my Khmai language teacher, Chantuen. She is 34 years old, has a husband and two children, and just recently bought her land title for her home in a small village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. She loves Jesus!! She barely makes ends meet every month but she speaks passionately about the Lord and is constantly teaching me more and more about my faith.
Chantuen has a blessed life today but this is not the way things started out for her. She was born in 1980, just after the Khmer Rouge fell. She was the youngest of four siblings, and her family was unique, they survived the years of civil war. Sadly, her mother died only months after her birth and so her father left the responsibility of raising Chantuen to her sisters. As soon as her oldest sister married, Chantuen went to live with them in the Phnom Penh where she became the household help. Her stories from these years remind me of Cinderella. She tells these stories with a smile on her face, simply thankful to anyone who gave her a roof over her head and food to eat. She wasn’t allowed to go to school and sold sweet desserts around the city from a basket on her head. She didn’t go to school until she was older and only then completed a basic version of grade six. Her stories of life through her younger years and her teens speak of life in a third world country, but one thing always stands out, Chantuen always believed there was a spiritual world beyond what she knew. She saw demon possessed people, she saw religion and rituals, but she had hope that there had to be something more.
She married in her early twenties and moved to the small village that she still lives in today. A Korean church moved into her village soon after that and she started asking questions. Through a long process Chantuen came to know the living God and developed a deep personal relationship with Jesus. Her husband soon followed her as he saw the change in her and now both of their children are learning about God on a daily basis.
She speaks with tears in her eyes of losing one of her brother-in-laws to demon possession. He was choked to death before her eyes by something she could not see. She still wishes she had known more about spiritual warfare at that time so she could have battled for his life. Chantuen knows the value of having God on your side. She tries to be a light to her community, is honest in her humble work and desires to learn more and more about God. It shines through whenever she speaks! When she gets preaching on a certain topic, she has authority and it is beautiful!
Last week I confessed to her that I was less than excited to learn Khmai without her, and to be finally in the “deep end” with no English outlets in Poipet…can I tell you her beautiful response to me? “Avin, you will do great. And for all the areas you are not sure of, it will make you trust God even more. Every time you open your mouth, you will have to trust God that he will use your words to preach the gospel, He will do what you can not.” Such sound advise from a Khmai who’s heart is sold out for the one true God!
I wish we could take Chantuen to Poipet with us, but she won’t leave her family and her own piece of land that she has worked so hard to buy…but maybe one day. For now she remains the inspiration in my life to what God can do with a willing spirit. She is no longer just my Khmai language teacher, she is also my Khmai life coach, sister in Christ and simply…my big sister. She has more daily struggles than I may ever really know, but she keeps going with a deep joy in her heart, knowing that all this is temporary, her eyes are lifted higher.
I will miss her the most when we leave Phnom Penh.
Here are some High-lights, and Low-lights from the past little while:
- We have been ‘officially’ approved to return to Poipet to continue church planting! Praise God!! We met with all our leaders here in Cambodia on February 19th and we got the green light!
- Mya had a high fever for 5 days, a severe eye infection and a cold all at once! (This was a first for us as parents!!) Our prayer life dramatically improved and she has since recovered, thank you Jesus!!
- The traffic in Phnom Penh continues to get worse and I, Joel, have to ask the Lord for forgiveness for my desire to give people a ‘love tap’ or ‘slight ramming’ on a daily basis!!
- The Hot Season is back and we are dripping once again like a faucet!!
- God has brought another young man named Victor into my life to mentor and teach the drums to.
- I had the opportunity to have a ‘revival’ meeting at a student house and the Holy Spirit showed up in power!!
Joel, Avin and Mya