I arrived on the 23rd, and attended my first Christmas service on Christmas Eve. Pastor Poleak is one of my favorite pastors, and I am so glad that I was able to attend his service in Takao. The service was not in his church, but at a nearby property that was larger and could accomodate a much larger-than-usual attendance. It was my first experience celebrating Christmas away from home; it was an emotional day, but the joy of the people made me glad to be there.
What was a simple property was beautifully transformed by a colorful tent, balloons, flowers, and a large banner. Simple plastic chairs were covered with gorgeous slip covers, making them suitable for a wedding or a Christmas service.
The service -- almost four hours long -- consisted of hymns, carols, children singing, dances, a long Christmas-story skit, testimonies, and a message. It was dramatic, colorful, loud, and worth the extreme heat and time committment. Following the service, we shared a meal of spicy Cambodian curry, bread, and cokes.
I had a great time meeting and getting to know Bernie and Nan Dykhouse, visitors from N.C., and of course, being in Cambodia to celebrate Christmas with my new fiance!