Cambodia 2016 Blog

Date: February 13, 2016 - February 26, 2016

This year we had an exciting time that involved a lot of stretching in regards to what is normal. For myself it is my 8th trip and I was involved deeper than I ever was before. We served at several new locations including a village that was really new. It was so new that its first Christian witness happened less than 2 months before we came. The team this year consisted of my wife, Terry (a nurse practitioner) this was her 11th trip. Stanley Kimer came along for a second time, Stan reached out to me nearly 40 years ago with the message of God’s love and it changed my life. For Tiffany it is her first trip, she loves the Lord and wants to be a blessing to others. It is always great to have people come for the first time. 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 15 years now. We all work together with Pastor Jonah Amer who runs an organization called Samaritan Love Mission. 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
Feb. 13 – 15 Travel: For me the long trip was better than in the past. I usually arrive quite sore but I improvised a little this time making the seat on the plane more comfortable. After we arrived it was around midnight so we got some sleep. We planned to meet at the restaurant at 8:00 for breakfast. Then have a time of sightseeing – a tour of the royal palace, have lunch then head out to Siahanoukville, around a 4 hour drive. When we arrived in Siahanoukville we dropped off the bags at Samaritan Love Mission. After that we picked up a few things we needed from the store and then got settled in our guest house.       
Feb. 16 Tomnok Rolok – One thing that happened here that I really liked was we were a little early and a few of us took the opportunity to walk a little further into the village. Not real far because we were not sure how much time we had, maybe 30 feet. In this village that is built over the water homes are pretty close together and are open to the walkway. There also was an open area where you could see boats. We took a few pictures and headed back to the church for the service. At every village we will sing a few songs, introduce ourselves – each team member will talk a little and what they say will be translated. Pastor Jonah will give a message. The team will then distribute bread and water. After that is done we set up for and begin the medical service. We treated 37 people in this village including an 11 year old boy named Srang who had an ear infection. To catch these situations in time is always been special to me because over the years we have seen several who were not treated. We saw the result was a blown out ear drum, they will not hear again from that ear. 
Feb. 17 Tomnok Rolok – This is Pastor San’s church, located near where we were yesterday except a little more inland. It is always great to see people grow and sites that we go to improve. We will always be thankful for fans and electricity. This is the second trip we have been on since fans and electricity were installed but I will never forget being there 2 years before that and pulling out a digital thermometer tuning it on and getting a 104 degree reading. We had a nice service there followed by the medical service, where we treated 50 people. I have list of issues that people had; worms, bug bites, rashes, arthritis pain. One 35 year old lady told us that she had blood in her stool for over a year. Everywhere we go it seems like there are a lot of needs and no doctor.    
Feb. 17 Chamka Kasor – This is Pastor San’s son Naroom’s church. We had a busy schedule this year to make it work we had to do the service after lunch. Oh lunch, we wanted to limit our time at lunch so Pastor Jonah planned to order our food ahead. When I heard the description of the place we were going to I knew what I wanted - fish with Singapore sauce. It has been one of my favorite meals in Cambodia and so Pastor Jonah ordered it for everyone he added chicken with Singapore sauce also. Before the meal Stan was not feeling well and he did not make service and missed out on a great meal. At the service we served 69 people medically. One was a little 3 year old girl who was itchy all over and vomiting another was a 40 year old lady that was experiencing pain while breast feeding.
Feb. 18 Preak Pau Village – This is a new village for us and more often than not when we go to a new place we see a lot more people medically. We usually will add an extra treatment team so that we can work with 3 or 4 people at a time and Gil was a great help by taking blood pressure readings, Gil did this in many of the villages. We treated 107 people in this village. Another thing that happens in new villages is that we see people with neglected issues like Khaoun, a 42 year old lady with a skin problem for over a year. Another lady had difficulty breathing because her clothes were tight, you might guess what we recommended.
Feb. 19 Preak Ranch Village, wedding – This is village with all of the brand new believers that we had heard about. Sometime around the beginning of the year Pastor Jonah was contacted while at Buffalo Village by 2 Bible college graduates. They told him that they were the only 2 believers in this village and that it is a big village of around 600 people. They asked Pastor Jonah if he could help. Jonah referred to this as a Macedonian call and believed that God meant for him to help. Since then he has started working with them in developing a church there that meets on Sundays and starting an English school classes in the evenings. This has been very well received with attendance over 100 people. It was a big surprise to find out that over 30 new believers from here were going to be baptized at our baptism service on Sunday. WOW! Afterward I got the news that I would be the person baptizing all of these people. It will be a new experience for me. New places like this seem to always start from humble beginnings. When Pastor Jonah first came here they met and had a service under a tree. They progressed to an overhang off of someone’s home. It was a good sized area that could seat 100 people easy. But it was a little low for anyone over five and a half feet tall. Many of us got pretty good at ducking, Gil did not duck once and got a little gash on his forehead. We were blessed by the accommodations out of the hot sun and look forward to the progress of this village. The service was a little different, one of the songs that Gil often does ‘the hello song’ didn’t go to well. Most likely, it wasn’t translated well because people usually will participate in the actions of the song. Instead most just gave Gil an odd look, Gil finished by saying “rough crowd.”  The medical service went well we had 98 patients. Memorable for me was a 3 month old baby and his mom. They got launched a few weeks ago when their moto hit a pot hole in the road. They both had facial scars that were getting infected. I was glad that we were able to help with some amoxicillin. Another baby, 2 months old had a burn on his leg. Another child had been diagnosed with a hole in his heart. Before we left they fed us lunch. We look forward to doing more with this village.  In the evening, we went to a wedding. Pastor Jonah knows the groom pretty well and we were all invited to come. This is the second wedding that I have gone to and it is a great cultural experience. Once we arrived and we were seated at a table course after course after course of food come. Some things are delicacies and we have a bit of just about everything but there is usually one thing like maybe fried bat that Pastor Jonah and our driver and interpreters can have extra portions of. After the meal Terry got dragged out to dance, I decided to stay at the table a while longer. Stan was a dancing machine out there, he has great energy for his age. We all had a nice time      
Feb. 20 Buffalo Village School – We always have a great time at this place. We always have a large room full of people and more than that there are many who stand outside the windows to hear what we have to say. The children there also participate with a few songs and one of the teachers shared some thoughts with everyone. I was asked to give a message for that service. And shared about the people that God impacted my life with so that I could be with them. But ultimately I wanted to give God the glory for this wonderful fellowship of brothers and sisters that he has blessed me with. I am so thankful for these people.  We are also so thankful for what God has done over time to make this place a really nice place for children to learn. Gil has made a great effort to add many nice touches to the school, every year there is some sort of improvement. This year we made an extra stop along the way to pick up some nice decorative bushes to go in the school yard. They were a good size about 4 to 5 feet high. And when we left that day Gil had the plants set in place and advised the superintendent of the school to make sure that the gate was closed tight so that the cows would not come and eat them. It was sad to hear later that day that that cows had somehow made their way in and made their lunch out of them. But Gil is determined, he went to get more plants. Whatever it takes it’s going to look good. We had 77 people that we did medical service that day. The most memorable for me were a 50 year old man that had joint pain from a moto accident and an 11 month old child whose parents told us that they had seen worms in his stool.  
Feb. 21 Oceuty Church / Baptism at the beach: After a great time with Pastor San at his church in the morning, we had lunch and headed to the beach for the baptism service. For me it was a bit of an adventure. In the past trips I had assisted with the baptisms in various ways but I have never before actually baptized anyone before. What an honor! Sure, I was nervous but I was blessed to do it Afterward, I was asked to lead people in a communion service. Another first for me and another blessing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve. 
Feb. 22 Smach Deng / Travel to Phnom Penh: We had medical service for 34 people here. Mie Tach is a 52 year old lady with many serious problems. She has seen a doctor before we came for a kidney problem, swollen legs and numbness. We advised her to avoid salt, sleep with her feet above her heart and prayer. She also had an eye problem that we gave antibiotic eye drops for. Our trip to Phnom Penh was normal in that when we got into this city of 1.2 million people around 5 pm there is going be a lot of traffic, a virtual sea of motorcycles. But our driver is used to it and we arrived safely.
Feb. 23 Kompong Thumao / Travel to Seim Reap: This will always be a special place to me. The first time that we came here about 6 years ago we had a service in a very rough place. It got torched by arsons a few months after we left and was replaced by a beautiful church. Of all the people we have seen there one has stood out because of a sickness that we could only pray for. A young woman named Sithorn had brain cancer that developed and spread quickly. When we met her on our 2nd trip to the village her head had grown out on one side. She loved the Lord and was an inspiration to many but succumbed to the illness a short time later. The reason that I went into past in writing this is because Pastor Kynaro informed us that Sithorn’s home is now a home church for more than 30 people and that her father is the pastor there. It brought a smile to my face to hear that God is using these people after a major tragedy to share hope with those who need it. We served 86 people medically, another person that I remember from our past visits is a 62 year old lady named Um Mach. She speaks English well enough to say that she is 62 years old, in fact she informed me of that at least 3 times. She was is a moto accident recently and her arm and hand were swollen but not broken. We gave her voltaran gel, ibrophen, and vitamins. We added a 3rd medical provider (Pastor Jonah) to help us reach all of the people quickly. It’s a 3 hour drive to get there from Phnom Pehn and a 3 hour drive from the church to Siem Reap. A long day.  
Feb. 24 Seim Reap: Our 1st day here we usually split the team and Gil takes the new people in the team to tour Ankor Wat to tour the temple complex. Pastor Jonah, Terry and myself had a medical service at a school. The school was a ministry of an Indian family that Pastor Jonah knows, their names are Mang, Marcy and Hannah. We served 41 people at our medical service. Sholy is a 3 year old who had a burn on his head from a cooking accident. We were able to provide antibiotics as the wound had become infected. We also treated a 9 year old that had cut his hand. Afterward, we had lunch with Mang and his family. Terry suggested that we eat Indian food and Mang and Marcy were so blessed. They haven’t eaten Indian food since they left India because they considered it too expensive in Cambodia. It was a joy for us to bless them this way and we even ordered more so they could take some home. 
Feb. 25 Seim Reap / Pastor Timothy’s Church: We had medical service for 41 people here. Tiffany and I missed some of it because of illness. When we had mentioned that we were not feeling well Pastor Timothy brought us over to his office that had air conditioning. While we were there we noticed his calendar on the wall. Pastor Timothy is a very busy person. He is also involved in radio broadcasting of gospel messages. In another room of the house they had a man who was hurting from somehow being electrocuted. Our team prayed for him, and gave some voltaran gel. We heard later that he was doing better.
Feb. 26 Travel to Phnom Penh: Before we left we had one issue. Most everywhere that we go we serve people bread and water. Ministry was over and we had several loaves of bread left. So while we were driving Pastor Jonah noticed some children on the side of the road so he had the driver pull over so he could start handing out the bread. In a place with so much need great effort is spent so that nothing is wasted here.