NOTE: I didn’t have a good internet connection in Siem Reap, where I finally finished this post, so I am publishing this, and the next BLOG post a few days late.
Greetings from the classroom of the Harvest Bible College in beautifully humid Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is Thursday at 10:57 local Cambodian time, and pastor Jeff Johnson is teaching right now. (No, not that one, the one from Calvary Mountain Church in So Cal, who is actually Curtis’ dad).
The pastor’s are listening intently and learning about Matthew chapter 5 and the freedom that we have in Jesus. Matthew, Galatians and 1 Thessalonians are overlapping and it’s great. They are learning three different books of the Bible, but the same message. Awesome!
Pastor Jeff came to town late Tuesday night with his son, Curtis’ brother, Casey who is turning 17, October 27th. Jeff taught Matthew yesterday and will continue until chapter 13, I believe. After the first two sessions Wednesday, we all went to Jars Of Clay to eat. It is a restaurant that has fantastic food, but that is not all. They see their restaurant as a ministry to the community, helping women who were in the sex or labor trade. Read the menu attached to this BLOG to see more.
Curtis ordered his favorite, the Chicken Parmagiana and, of course, I ordered a… milkshake. I wasn’t really all that hungry. Curtis encouraged me. It’s his fault! He said the shakes were really good. He was’t lying. It was awesome. One of the best I have had in a long time. Jeff and Casey jumped in a Tuk-Tuk and went to visit the Killing Fields. Curtis and I talked for a while about the new ministry they have, which is a boys home. He was on his way to get things ready for the home. Bre was getting the house ready and also registering the boys for college and Curtis went to help. It is a lot of work, but a blessing that these boys will not only get a secular education, but also learn about Jesus. Please keep them in your prayers.
Curtis went one way on his Moto and I walked the other toward the Long Thaily Guest House. When I got to the room, I opened my iPad and listened to pastor Chuck Smith’s last Sunday morning Bible Study. What an awesome message. He would go to be with Jesus just three days later, and yet he taught three services on Sunday morning! Wow! What dedication. If you have not seen the sermon, click on this link and listen. It is worth it. <a href=”http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1UOH2SSe7MI&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D1UOH2SSe7MI”>Pastor Chuck’s Last Message</a>
After listening to pastor Chuck and studying a little for the afternoon class, I walked from the Guest House to the Bible College once again. I arrived a little early and was able to set up the chairs a little different than before. As it got closer to class time, the Khmer pastors began filling the chairs. We went through 1 Thessalonians 3. It was a great time in God’s word with a lot of discussion. We talked about persecution and difficulties that the Christian will endure. I wanted to write “sometimes” as a qualifier, but it would not be honest. Truth be told, all Christians who desire to live in a godly way will go through difficulty. It was a long, but fulfilling day. Curtis gave me a ride to the Guest House on the Moto and before long, I was up in my room. I listened to Chuck Jr.’s message from this past Sunday at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. It was also very good.
After I listened to the message, I laid down on the bed and fell asleep. The next thing I knew, something was ringing and it seemed like it was the iPhone or the iPad. I did everything to make the noise stop, clicking buttons and putting in codes. But actually, it was that thing on the little end table, a phone. I missed the call. A few minutes later, Curtis was knocking on my door. It was time for dinner. Downstairs, Jeff, Casey, and Bre were waiting for us. I never know where we are going for food. It can be all over the place. This time it was down by the river. The Mekong River, to be exact. I had no idea that the Mekong River flowed through Phnom Penh. Wow. The Tuk-Tuk ride to the river was as exciting as ever.
Tuk-Tuk drivers are always an encouragement to pray. You get in a Tuk-Tuk and pray that you will survive to get to the destination. The roads are crazy here. They get even worse near the river where it is crowded. Cars, Tuk-Tuks, and Motos all weave in and out in an orchestrated chaos.
We ate at a restaurant across from the river called, The Riverside Bistro. It was good. Real good. Curtis had a Pizza. So, I had a Pizza as well. It was awesome. Really good. And really filling. That is one thing that I have noticed being here. The food is given in small portions, but is very filling. After dinner, we boarded the Tuk-Tuk and headed back to the Guest House. We parted company, Curtis, Bre, Jeff and Casey walked toward home, and I went upstairs for bed. It was a tiring day, but a good day.
Thursday was more of the same. Jeff and I taught our sessions. The pastors had a great time discussing the scriptures with us. We went to lunch and then went to the Russian market, Jeff needed some sunglasses. RayBans for only $3.00! Well, they might be RayBans. Okay, they’re not RayBans, but they say RayBan on them. They fit well and block the sun, which is always good. You can get tons of name brand items here extremely inexpensive. They are, of course, not the actual brands, just names put on them. I tried to haggle with one of the clothes shops ladies, but they know foreigners too well. They want high prices from those of us from America. But Curtis assures me that if I haggle with them enough, I’ll get a good price. Got some great shorts that, at Wal-Mart would have been about $20, for only $6. Going to try to get another pair for $5. A dollar is a lot of money here, and perhaps the savings can get me four bottle of water! By the way, we can not drink the water out of the tap here. But bottled water is available everywhere for $0.25. However, the awesome Long Thaily Guest House provides 2 bottles of room temperature water for free each day. The water taste pretty good as well.
I headed back to the HBC. No nap today. The power went out a half-hour after I began to study for the afternoon class. It was out for a while, perhaps 20 minutes or so, but then came back on. The Khmer pastors didn’t seem to care one way or the other. I am told that Cambodians get their power from Vietnam. Every now and then, the power draw is too great and it overloads the circuits.
When the power finally came back on, the pastors began filling their seats once again. We began by reviewing for the test the next day. I think they are going to do great in Galatians, but 1 Thessalonians seems a little tough for them. We studied through the end of chapter 3 and the first 12 verses of chapter 4. It was a fruitful time. After class, I went back to the Guest House and took a little nap and we went to dinner afterwards to the Japanese place we went to before. Instead of the spring-rolls, I tried what Bre had ordered, the noodle salad. It was awesome! It is kind of hard to describe what it is like. It is salad meets noodles, meets ground pork, meets dressing. Me meets good food. Yum!
Please pray for the Khmer pastors that God will open their hearts and they will retain what they are learning. Pray that the message of God’s word goes throughout the kingdom of Cambodia. God bless.