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Musings from the World of Jewel Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prayer for Pastors

Please keep the Cambodian pastors in your prayers. There are presently 35 pastors -- both male and female -- in the Wesleyan Church of Cambodia.

Pastors cannot win the battle alone; they need committed intercessors to lift them up in fervent, specific prayer. I believe that the power of God will be released when we begin to faithfully pray for our pastors. Pastors are human—they face the same challenges that their people do, with some additional ones! They grow tired in ministry, are tempted to sin, and may find it difficult to balance their many roles and responsibilities.

Here are just a few ways to pray for the pastors in Cambodia:
  • An intimate knowledge of God
  • Faithfulness to spend time reading God's Word daily, and for insight into Scripture and an understanding of how it applies to Cambodians today
  • That he would preach with clarity, power and boldness, and that his preaching would be anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit
  • Protection from the work of Satan and victory over temptation
  • To keep a soft heart in the face of abrasive and abusive people; Buddhist families often deny relatives (even children and siblings) when they become Christians, especially pastors.
  • A successful ministry - however God defines it in his life - and that people would be won to the Lord through his life, ministry, and preaching
  • Boldness to speak the truth, and grace to speak it will humility
  • That he would persevere through whatever trial he is facing
  • That his children will grow up with a positive impression of church ministry
  • That he would remain pure and that his love for his wife would increase daily
  • Physical and mental strength, and opportunities to relax
  • To live according to God's direction and worthy of his calling as a shepherd of God's people

Pastor Titus and Pastor Greg

Pastor Paroath and Pastor Poleak

Pastor Sopheak and Pastor Sithat

Pastor Kieth, and Pastora Socheata and Pastor Rotha

Pastor Sothkan and Rev. Kimsan, and Pastor Banyen

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sinking Realization...

I'll be in Cambodia for Christmas.
And while I am so so so excited to finally be back and visit my cherished friends there, and teach the children and see all their smiles, and encourage the pastors, who somehow always end up giving me more than I could even offer them, I'm sad to leave.

I'll miss baby Mal's first Christmas.
I'll miss Christmas Eve with Dad's side of the family.
I'll miss staying up all night to play games with my friends at church on New Years.
I'll miss those 3 cherished weeks at home with my family.
I'll miss seeing everyone open their presents on Christmas morning, and reading the Christmas story, and eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast while I open my stocking with Jessie, and having peppermint ice cream, and playing Scrabble.

And that's just Christmas. Will it even feel like Christmas?
But, like I said, I'm so so so excited to return. This trip is significant for many reasons, and I can't wait to see everyone.

Love love love, Jewel

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Real Countdown Has Begun!

The real countdown has begun. I'll be in Cambodia in 25 days! With the stockings hung on the mantle, the trees lit, and Christmas music excitedly playing in the background, I can hardly believe all that is happening.

With the friends who took me to the airport for my departure - June 2009

25 days. I am leaving on the morning of December 21st; and will be arriving on December 23rd in the afternoon. I will be in Cambodia for one day short of three weeks, and will spend my time with friends, visiting churches, encouraging pastors, playing with children, etc. I will be talking, listening, eating, laughing, praying, singing, and learning. I will be graduating from IWU on April 30th, and I plan on moving to Cambodia within one year after graduation. I still have much to learn, and I hope that while I am in Cambodia this Christmas, I will gain some direction on how to better prepare myself -- financially and otherwise -- before I make the big move.

Vandy, Titus, Tess, and myself

I have no tentative itinerary for my three weeks in Cambodia, and no idea what I'll be doing on Christmas. My plans will primarily be established by what Titus and my hosts (Vandy and Tess, and filipino missionaries Greg and Resie Fernandez) are doing.

A few people have mentioned to me already that they read my blog, and I am so happy that you are. My friends and family -- although you are staying and I am going -- are a significant part in my journey to and ministry in Cambodia. Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement!

Love love love, Jewel

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mourning and Thanksgiving

Declared by Prime Minister Hun Sen, today is the official day of mourning in Cambodia for the tragedy of the 375 lives lost during the stampede at Monday's Water Festival activities. Ironically, today is also Thanksgiving in North America. I'm not torn between the two -- between mourning and being thankful -- because I know that we can be thankful in all things. However, my heart is heavy today for those who died without knowing their Savior.

I'm thankful for friends.
Left: Pastor Poleak and family; Right: Ladies from the WBI
[Some of the best friends I could ever ask for.]

I'm thankful for family.
Left: Greg, Resie, Aleeyah, and Esher Fernandez; Right: Vandy and Tess

I'm thankful for passionate and dedicated missionary partners.
Tim, Tiffany, and Katie Gallant

I'm especially thankful for the incredible man and partner in ministry that God has blessed me with.

God, thank You for calling me to Your people in Cambodia. Thank You for the joy that comes from knowing and serving You. Thank You for entrusting me to Your work, and for empowering me to do Your work. Thank You for showing me love, that I may share it with others. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.

Isaiah 42:6,7 --
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."

Love love love, Jewel

Monday, November 22, 2010

"It was chaos"

Monday night during the traditional water festival in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh, a stampede killed 339 people and injured 329.

The scene shows hundreds of shoes, clothing and other personal items littering the streets, the bridge and the underlying water near where the festival took place.

According to CNN, the stampede, which began around 10 p.m., likely occurred because a suspension bridge packed with people began to sway, creating panic. Reports cite people jumping from the bridge into the river below. Police then began firing a water cannon onto a bridge in an effort to get them to continue moving across the bridge; that caused utter panic. A number of people lost consciousness and fell into the water; some may have been electrocuted, as the bridge was festooned with electric lights.

I cannot even begin to imagine the hospitals shortly following the incident, and my first prayer was for the doctors and medical staff that would be attending to the injured. According to CNN, "Dozens of people could be seen laying on what appeared to be the waiting-room floor of a hospital. They were attached to intravenous lines connected to bags strung along wires suspended in the air."

The three-day festival, which began Saturday, is held annually to honor a 12th century victory by Cambodian naval forces. During the festival, which includes boat races, participants pray for a good rice harvest and sufficient rain, and to celebrate the full moon.

This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime, during which an estimated 21% of the population died in waves of murder, torture, and starvation. My heart is breaking; though I am thankful to have already heard from friends that report they were not in attendance. Please keep Cambodia in your prayers. The prime minister has declared Thursday as an official day of mourning.

Love love love, Jewel

Friday, November 19, 2010

A foreign celebration

In May 2009, I attended the wedding of the sister of one of my best friends. In addition to baby Joãquim's funeral in Mozambique (May 2010,) the wedding was the most intercultural experience that I have ever had. I loved it! I can't wait for my next khmer wedding. =) I wonder if my sisters will be willing to wear THIS in my wedding.

Cambodian weddings are long and intricate affairs that consist of multiple ceremonies. It is a grand affair, full of color and festivity, as well as steeped in tradition. Musicians play throughout the day on traditional instruments, and the couple is dressed like royalty. The bridal party may change their outfits and hair several times in one day; and if the wedding were a weeklong affair, a color of dress would be established each day and the guests would be expected to dress only in that color. It can last from as short as one morning to as long as three days and nights, depending on the financial situation and social status of the bride and groom’s families. The wedding I attended was only a one-day affair, but it was an entire day as we were fed 3 meals.

Nary and Srey Leak were so kind to help me try on traditional khmer dresses. Every woman will wear a similar dress to Khmer weddings. Also, woman always change between morning and evening ceremonies [to fancy things up,] but I found only 1 dress, so I remained in this lavender dress.

Here you see Tess and I participating in the traditional hair cutting ceremony. To prepare the bride and groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife. The parents, relatives, and friends take turns to symbolically cut the bride and groom's hair and give blessings and well-wishes.

Now Tess and I have had our hair and makeup professionally done at the neighbors house! I wish I had gotten pictures of this process! The bride's family hired an entire beauty salon to set up shop in the neighbor's home, and every [female] guest is traditionally expected to be professionally done up quite extravagently. I got a lot of attention for being the only "whitey" at the wedding, especially while getting my make-up done.

Srey Mum and I on our way to the hotel to change clothes after being "done up" and then to return to the wedding. Isn't she gorgeous??

Resie, Tess, and I during dinner. [Resie was my host at the Bible College in Phnom Penh, and I also lived for 2 weeks with Tess in Kratie.] Dinner was rather extravagent with 9 courses. I had much fun at the table with seven of my favorite Cambodian people, all complimenting me on looking "Srey Khmer" (Cambodian woman) and trying to teach me how to eat the many different foods.

You may be able to tell from this picture that the ceremony was held outdoors in a tent, in the bride's front lawn. It was a beautiful transformation.
Cheata, Tess, Srey Roath, and myself at the end of the night. I had met Srey Roath a week before, but she was completely different between the church/classroom atmosphere, and the wedding celebration. She convinced me to join her in just one traditional dance, but I had so much fun that we all danced for three more hours!

Love love love, Jewel

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Unreached People of Cambodia

The estimated 2010 population of Cambodia is 15,050,000. There are 42 people groups in Cambodia; 30 groups remain unreached, at 71.4% of the population. A people group is defined as "A significantly large sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity with one another," whether it be language, ethnicity, or impairment such as deafness, etc.

In many parts of the world lack of understandability serves as the main barrier to evangelism; however, in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia, acceptance is a greater barrier than understandability. 85.1% of Cambodians claim to be Buddhist; however, similar to Christianity in the States, many Buddhists are nominal (one who claims to be Buddhist but is non-practicing) or are "holiday Buddhists" (ie. attend the wats on Buddha Day and other major Buddhist holidays.) 7.8% follow ethnic religions, 2.1% are Islamic, 1.3% claim Christianity (of which .5% are Evangelistic), .2% are Hindus, and the remaining percentage is other, non-religious, or unknown.

Click HERE to read more statistics and information about the unreached people groups of Cambodia.

Love love love, Jewel

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaching English

If I spent my entire life teaching English, I would be happy. I enjoy it so much. My students across Cambodia and in Mozambique have always been so eager to learn.

I am by no means well-trained in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages,) but I am well-experienced and I have found a variety of techniques that are very fun and effective! Last summer I collected a large variety of small toys that I used to teach colors, animals, foods, etc. My bff Loren made awesome alphabet cards and my students really enjoyed moving around to arrange themselves in order, and especially enjoyed the foam alphabet puzzles that I found at the Dollar Store.

I equally enjoy especially enjoy teaching the more advanced students. I have taught a variety of grammar concepts, and vocabulary. I have even used children's stories and other stories to practice comprehension. Stories are also a good way to introduce Scripture and Biblical teaching. When I read stories with my students at the World Hope school in Kratie last summer, one student always asked: "What does this teach us about how to behave?" and that would lead into Biblical teaching.

Anything that you would learn in Spanish or French or German class, we employ in TESOL. When I have available free time, I Google ideas, techniques, and resources. I enjoy teaching English very much, and it really is an effective ministry opportunity because relationships can be built easily in the classroom, especially when students are so eager to learn. In fact, many churches and ministry centers are planted in Cambodia (and in other countries) through establishing English classes, which is why the WBI and Bible College of Xai Xai require students to study English.

Love love love, Jewel

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bound for the States!

I received this message yesterday from my good friend Channy Rasmussen, daughter of Rev. Kung Kimsan, formerly the Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church in Cambodia. Jeff and Channy were married in Phnom Penh on December 12, 2009, with Jeff's parents and brother in attendance.

Thank you so much for your praying for me very hard. I really thank the Lord He is faithful to me and He so good for His children. I knew that He dwelled in my mouth so when the Us embassy asked me some questions and i have ability answered to him quickly and no afraid, I thought he going to speak Khmer to me but not, and he is Indian American, it's not American do interview me. It was very surprised and i was thinking how can i listen to him but i knew that God never leave me alone He always with me. Thanks God! I was very excited in the end of the interview he said you can come back and get your passport back (get visa for visit) it's made me very happy and i asked him again can i get visa? yes, and he said last time and asked me so you go with your husband and come back with your husband right? i said yes... Thanks again for put me in your concerning. God bless you guy. Love you lots.

Channy Rasmussen.

I'm so excited for Channy and I am proud of her for excelling in her interview! I am even more excited for Jeff, because I understand how anxious he is to introduce Channy to his family and friends, and to his country. I am already dreaming about the day that Titus will come to America, and dreaming about the day that my cherished family and friends will visit me in Cambodia.

Love love love, Jewel

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Genocide in Cambodia

Warning: This is sad and could be considered disturbing.

The Khmer Rouge - the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which was the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot (Prime Minister.) The Khmer Rouge subjected Cambodia to a radical social reform process that was aimed at creating a purely agrarian-based Communist society. The urban-dwellers were deported to the countryside, where they were combined with the local population and subjected to forced labor. About 2 million Cambodians (or 21% of the population) are estimated to have died in waves of murder, torture, and starvation, aimed particularly at the educated and intellectual elite.

The Khmer Rouge wanted to eliminate anyone suspected of "involvement in free-market activities." Suspected capitalists encompassed professionals and almost everyone with an education, many urban dwellers, and people with connections to foreign governments. In addition, the Khmer Rouge believed parents were tainted with capitalism. Consequently, children were separated from parents and brainwashed to socialism as well as taught torture methods with animals. Children were a "dictatorial instrument of the party" and were given leadership in torture and executions.

One of their mottoes, in reference to urban-dwellers, was:
"To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."
Understandably, Cambodia has had a rough recovery after losing the large majority of the educated population.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: The buildings at Tuol Sleng have remained preserved as they were when the Khmer Rouge were driven out in 1979; in fact, the museum opened in 1980 "as is."
The site is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge communist regime from 1975 to 1979. Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees." The buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes. At any one time, the prison held between 1,000–1,500 prisoners.

Chum Mey is one of only twelve known survivors of the Khmer Rouge imprisonment in the S-21 Tuol Sleng camp, where between 17,000 and 20,000 Cambodians were sent for execution. He survived two years of torture and his life was only spared because of his high level of competence in machine repair for Pol Pot's soldiers. I was humbled to meet him in 2009. In the picture above, he is pointing to a picture of himself alongside other prisoners. This year Bong Chum Mey will be 80-years-old.

Security Regulations
When prisoners were first brought to Tuol Sleng, they were made aware of ten rules that they were to follow during their incarceration. What follows is what is posted today at the Tuol Sleng Museum; the imperfect grammar is a result of faulty translation from the original Khmer:
  • 1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
  • 2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
  • 3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
  • 4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
  • 5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
  • 6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
  • 7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
  • 8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
  • 9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.
  • 10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

Left: Inside the small cell there are shackles for the hands and feet; a bowl for food, and a box for relieving oneself. The prisoners received four small spoonfuls of rice porridge and watery soup of leaves twice a day, and were hosed off once every four days.
Right: Sign reads: "Killing tree against which executioners beat children." In a pile at the base of the tree are bones.

Upon arrival at the prison, prisoners were photographed. Several rooms of the museum are now lined, floor to ceiling, with black and white photographs of some of the estimated 20,000 prisoners who passed through the prison.

By December 1978, because of several years of border conflict and the flood of refugees fleeing Cambodia, relations between Cambodia and Vietnam collapsed. Pol Pot, fearing a Vietnamese attack, ordered a pre-emptive invasion of Vietnam. His Cambodian forces crossed the border and looted nearby villages. These Cambodian forces were repulsed by the Vietnamese.
Then, alongside many dissatisfied former Khmer Rouge members, the Vietnamese armed forces invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979. Despite a traditional Cambodian fear of Vietnamese domination, defecting Khmer Rouge activists assisted the Vietnamese, and, with Vietnam's approval, became the core of the new People's Republic of Kampuchea, quickly dismissed by the Khmer Rouge and China as a "puppet government".

In 1985 Vietnam declared that it would complete the withdrawal of its forces from Cambodia by 1990 and did so in 1989, having allowed the government that it had instated there to consolidate and gain sufficient military strength.

Since 1990 Cambodia has gradually recovered, demographically and economically, from the Khmer Rouge regime, although the psychological scars affect many Cambodian families and émigré communities. It is noteworthy that Cambodia has a very young population and by 2003 three-quarters of Cambodians were too young to remember the Khmer Rouge era.

Members of this younger generation may know of the Khmer Rouge only through word of mouth from parents and elders. In part, this is because the government does not require that educators teach children about Khmer Rouge atrocities in the schools.

Click: HERE for more information about Toul Sleng,
HERE for more information about the Khmer Rouge,
and HERE for more information about Pol Pot.

Love love love, Jewel