Cambodia 2015 Blog

Date: February 10, 2015 - February 20, 2015

Cambodia 2015 Blog
The Cambodia trip is a special trip that we veiwed with great anticipation as it would be our 10th year that our church, West Layton Assembly of God, has sent a team to Cambodia. It was full of changes and challenges that required a lot of prayer. Before we even left, there were challenges dealing with health of team members, car problems, finances and for a second year in a row medical supplier problems. The great thing is to watch things come together. God is in control.  
The team this year consisted of my wife Terry (a nurse practicioner) she has gone every year - this was her 10th trip, Pat (a physical therepist), Heather (a paramedic /firefighter and the daughter of Eric and Shari, a couple that came with us last year) and Pastor Scott. We joined Gil Hoelzer who was there before we came. Gil who is also from West Layton Assembly usually spends several months each year in Cambodia and has been going there for 14 years now. To those who read this it is my hope that it will make you feel like you were there with us. Written by Jim Zacharias
The day before we left we all met at church for the Sunday service. There would be prayer for the team. When we arrived, we found out that just in the last day Pastor Scott had both of his vihicles become non functional. One was left for dead a short distance away and the other had a bad sound when it drove and the prospect of leaving his wife Joy with nothing to drive was considered an attack of the devil. Later on Sunday he had someone look it over and found that it may cost thousands to fix. It did not change the fact that the plane leaves at 7AM. The only consolation was that they were offered the use of a car until one of the cars got fixed.   Heather was recovering from a surgery which was a concern. But she did well and her doctor said that she could go and except for a weight lifting restriction – no problem. Pat came down with the worst cold that she has had in years, it started on Saturday. We were encouraged though, by answers to prayer that we received a few weeks before when we found out that our main supplier for antibiotics could no longer sell in Wisconsin. That prayer was answered in an amazing way, one of our team members from several years ago suggested that we contact a supplier that someone that she knew was familier with. To our surprise, their costs were less than half of what we had been paying for antibiotics in the past. They also had better prices on many other non prescription items that we also bring along. And they were able to get it to us on very short notice. So we believed for the best in these other new situations.
Now on to the trip, you can’t get around the fact that 27 hours on a plane or waiting for one is a long time. But good things happen, we were blessed that because we were near the end of those being boarded, most of our carry-on luggage was checked and we would not have to carry it through the airports. That was especially good because of Heathers lifting restriction. Because they were fragile, some of the things we had to carry. In Seoul we were late for our plane, mainly because of a long line at a security check. Anyway I was the first one through so Terry asked me to go on ahead and tell the plane to wait for us. We never usually split up and I was thankful that I didn’t get lost or take a wrong turn in a very big airport. At the time it seemed a little scary but we all made it through ok. When we arrived at Phnom Pehn we were met by Pastor Jonah and Gil. We were also greeted by Bunsat and Porn. Bunsat is the pastor at Tom nok Rolok and one of our main translators. Porn is a government official that Pastor Jonah has known for many years. We met him several years ago when we were looking at having ministry at Prah Vihere. Prah Vihere is near the Thailand border and in an area with many poor and needy. There is a temple complex there that has been a source of  conflict between the two countries. Our trip to Prah Vihere was cancelled because of fighting with reports of rockets being launched and troops being sent that way. Anyway, that was then and about five years ago, maybe things have gotten better. It was good to see Porn again and perhaps someday we will consider going there again.
Wednesday: After breakfast,we planned to split up with some going with Gil to the royal palace for a tour while Terry and I were going with Pastor Jonah to the market. Terry and I wanted to go to the market because Terry was so impressed by the prices of the meds from our new supplier that she bought more than we could carry. Each person on the team was asked to carry some medicine in their carry on. But in the final pack Terry and I had a lot of our clothing replaced with medications. So we needed to pick up a few more shirts. That was the plan anyway, however, because the palace was closed everyone went to the market. After lunch, we all headed to Siahanoukville. Traffic was just awful leaving the hotel. We usually stop about an hour out of Phnom Pehn for a break on this 4-5 hour drive, but this time it took at least two hours just to get to the outskirts of Phnom Pehn so we stopped at that time. Everything else went well on our drive. At the hotel, we were challanged with communications with the hotel attendant. He had to knock on someone elses door to get a translation when I told him about situation that we had with the plumbing. We ended up going to a different room. We were so blessed to get a room that they couldn’t turn off the electricity to. So we could keep the air going. All of the other rooms needed to have the key inserted to get any power. After that though, I communicated by either props or drawings and that worked well. When we needed clean towels I would bring down a towel, or for toilet paper I would bring down an empty roll. Drawings of a stopped up sink with the room number worked and when a spider came into Heather’s room the room number and a drawing of  a spider was sufficient to bring the attendant up. I had considered stepping on it or hitting it with a shoe but the unfamiliar markings on the spider made me think twice. Many bugs have been known to be faster than me and it could be poisonous. So to me Heather was totally justified standing on her bed in a staredown with a potentially poisonous spider. Anyway, when the attendant came up he stepped on it with his bare feet. I didn’t understand what he said but I think it could be translated “wimpy americans!”
Thursday – Tom nok Rolok: Months before we left for Cambodia Pat asked me if I felt that she would be able to use her skills in physical therapy in Cambodia. At that time I wasn’t sure because we never had a physical therapist come before. But on our first day of outreach the real answer came when she began doing physical therapy exercises with a couple of patients that were recovering from a stroke. What a answer, what a blessing.   We rarely see results of the medical ministry that we do. A lot of what we help with is coughs, colds, headaches and fevers. Last year before we left this village we had a special request to do a house call to a 71 year old lady who was not able to attend because of a severe leg problem. She couldn’t walk and we could only give her something for pain and pray for her. But this time was different, because there she was giving testimony that after that visit she was able to walk. She was so thankful to God and our team for coming to help her last year. We provided medical help for 41 people in this village and we were also blessed to have Racha come and translate for us. He has translated for us on most of our trips but now works in Phnom Pehn. Since we last saw him he got married and hopes to move back to the Siahanoukville area. So we look forward to seeing more of him. 
Friday - Tom nok Rolok: This is the same area but a little more inland where Pastor San has a church. This is our 3rd year visiting this church. The conditions have improved since we started coming. The first time that we came we pulled out a thermometer and it read 104 degrees on our first visit. Last year we helped to get fans and electricity installed in the church. This year we came in and the fans are turned on. We are so glad that people there have a cool place to worship. We provided medical help to 48 peple there, it was a good day. Afterward we had lunch with Pastor San, he is a leader of the Assemblies of God Church in Cambodia and represents Cambodia at missions conferences. I sat near him and he told me that there were over 40 different people groups in Cambodia. He asked me if next year we do another service at one of the other locations that he serves at. I told him that I wouldn’t forget and when we plan next year we would try to do that.
Saturday – Buffalo Village: Great improvements have been made at the LaurenceRosa School. Every year that we come we are always amazed. This year we immediately noticed that they finished the wall around the school yard. It is the best way to keep the cows out and it looked great. When we got inside we noticed that they put up a bannor to welcome us. That looked nice but we are there for the people and Buffalo Village always is full of people. The school has nearly 200 children that attend and when we come many of the parents and local dignitaries also come. It is always a full house and then some. At each location that we have gone to we sing some songs, introduce ourselves and give a short message before we hand out bread or a lunch and water. This year Pastor Scott gave this message; Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” It was a great message that was well received. Afterward we provided medical help for 56 people there. On the way home we considered making a change in the plans for next week. A couple of days ago we were made aware of a possible problem with doing ministry in Koh Kong. Sometime last year someone came to do medical work there and gave many people shots using the same needle and a lot of people picked up the AIDS virus because of that. So we were faced with the decision of whether to go and possibly not be allowed to do anything or to cancel that part of the trip and stay around Siahanoukville and set up a few more locations in this area. While concidering this I remembered Pastor San’s request to go to a second location and thought if we are staying in the area and need to schedule more places, then why not this year?  We decided to stay and Pastor Jonah started making calls right away to put together a new plan for the coming week.                                                                                                          
Sunday: The Sunday service at Pastor San’s church was delayed the better part of an hour while several people tried to start a generator to supply electricity for the church service. A generator is the standard (plan B) when when the (plan A) local utilities go down. (Plan C) is to pray and trust plan a or b will start working. After the generator started all was well and everything went smoothly. We had a great time of worship and Pastor Scott shared an excellent message for people in Cambodia. He shared about the boy who shared his lunch and Jesus used that to feed 5000 people and they had leftovers. To anyone from West Layton Assembly this may sound familiar. He had given that message sometime during the previous year and I gotta say it is a great message and it will preach anywhere. And because the people have so little, it may have had even more impact. In the afternoon we had a baptism service at the beach. About 25 people were baptised and it is always a highlight of the trip for me to pray for these new believers as they are being baptised. It is always followed by a great time of fellowship, church service and communion. It’s a celebration!
Monday - Smach Deng: Something about this location, we are always thankful when there are no major issues here. About 5 years ago for 2 years in a row at this location we saw children with diseases that were fatal. But God is turning this around, two years ago one of the team members was running a fever and after prayer it was gone. My notes mentioned that we did medical service for 49 people and Pastor Scott lost his voice. The good news was that Pat was getting over her cold, feeling better and better each day. The down side was that some of us had picked it up and were feeling worse. But throughout the trip we were able with God’s grace to be there and help at each place that we went to.      
Tuesday – Dong Do Assembly of God: This is our first time at this location, a nice looking building with tile floors in an area that was new to us. It is the place that we made arraingements with Pastor San to visit just a little more than two days ago. Pastor Sans son is the Pastor there and he helped with the translation during the introductions and the message and he did well. Pastor San was there but it was clearly meant to be his sons ministry. During the medical part of the service we requested Pastor Sans help in translating because his son struggled translating some of the things that we needed to have an understanding with patients about. We did medical for 37 people there and we were thankful to be able to serve there. Oh, healthwise, Pastor Scott’s voice was scratchy but he did get it back. Afterward we had lunch and a time of fellowship at a beautiful area near a waterfall. We learned at this place that they don’t eat cats in Cambodia. However we inquired about the meat in a stew and were told that it “was like a tiger but not a tiger its smaller.” Okay
Wednesday – Crockodile Hole: I think that we originally planned a different day to come to this place but for whatever reason the change was not given to the people. When we arrived we found more water buffalo than people. So Pastor Jonah went and found someone with a moto and went from house to house inviting people. Pastor Jonah really does a great job of making these situations work out. We have seen in the past, at times where we have been late because of issues buying bread or perhaps waiting for someone to arrive before we leave that we have been late and a lot of the adults will go back home. Anyway, Pastor Jonah is amazing at these “we’re here now, please come!” type invitations and we ended up with a turnout that was probably over half of the people that we would normally have. With no notice, that’s pretty good. We formed 3 medical teams for this outreach and I had the opportunity to be the medical provider for one of the teams. It is always great to help in that way, I always know (and we all do) that if we have a patient with medical issues beyond our experience we can consult with Terry about the situation. We learned a few years ago that it is best that she just bags meds behind the table where we are treating people. That way she can be free to help with any of the 2 or 4 teams that are seeing patients. We did medical service for 37 people.
Thursday – Bunsat’s sister in laws house: This is the second time that we have come here, last year it was referred to as Oth Village. This house is set in an area where it seems fairly busy. Across the street neighbors are outside doing things and looking over to see what‘s going on. The front area is an outside fenced patio like area that has room for around 30 to 40 people. We set up in the home’s entryway that can open about a 10 foot wide area to the outside patio. While people gather we set up the medical area, when we start we began with introductions. I began by saying “good morning!” I was a little surprised by one lady who said “good morning!” back, in perfect english, no accent. Later she came to our line and I wrote her name, Sopheap, she was 32 and she had been diagnosed with cancer. Afterward, Terry and Pastor Jonah prayed with her and spoke to her about Jesus but she does not believe. Our hope is always that everyone will believe. So we continue to pray for her. We did medical service for 54 people that day.
Friday – Reflection & Travel Day: Most everyone had their things packed before breakfast and most of the team went with Gil to the beach one last time. Terry and I are not like most people, we stayed back at SLM to relax, reflect about the trip, have another cup of coffee and of course… finish packing. We were to meet up at the beach in a couple of hours. Pastor Jonah joined us on the balcony for a brief review and some thoughts about future trips. He made one suggestion, “What Cambodia needs to see more of is devine healing.” The one thing that made this year so special was the testimony of the 71 year old lady who could not walk and was healed last year. The whole church seemed excited about what God can do. In most places that we go, the people are thankful that we come because there are medical needs everywhere. Medical service is a great door opener all across this country. But I look at what a difference one divine healing made to each person and those around them in Tomnokrolok. In the Bible, in the book of acts recorded that many miraculous things happened and people became believers daily. Pastor Jonah has a point. So we go into the next trip praying with great expectation of what can happen.