Cambodia Missions Team 2014

Date: February 8, 2014 - February 21, 2014

Cambodia 2014 Team Blog
The Cambodia trip was full of changes and challenges that required a lot of prayer. The great thing is to watch things come together. God is in control. Before the trip started several things were different in regards to some of our suppliers of medicine. Each person that comes has always brought over 90 pounds of medicine with them. In the past, the suppliers that we have worked with have enabeled us to order early. This year, our main supplier had no supplies and one that we went with accepted the order but (though we called and e-mailed many times) waited until 8 days before departure to let us know that they would be sending our order 5 days before we were set to leave. Now we normally like to be packed by then, instead we were contemplating plan B options if the order didn’t arrive in time. It arrived in time but only 2 days before leaving.
Another change was with airlines. In the past we went Milwaukee to Chicago to the other side of the world. This year the only way was Milwaukee to Atlanta to the other side of the world. So the weather became a major prayer request and in the end it seemed like we were blessed to be in between snow or ice storms that caused airport shutdowns either in Milwaukee or Atlanta.        
The team this year consisted of my wife Terry (a nurse practicioner) this was her 9th trip, Marcia (a registered nurse who works with Terry), Eric (a guy who can fix almost anything), Eric’s wife Shari (she wanted to come last year but was being treated for cancer, she normally provides medical service to patients with 4 feet) in a veternary clinic. 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 13 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
Saturday/Sunday: From the day that we left we saw God helping us with no weather issues and to everyones surprise Eric, who is the tallest person on the team was assigned a seat with no seat in front of him for the longest portion of the trip.
Monday: After breakfast, for the first time for me we visited the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. This was a former school that was converted into the Khmer Rouge Prison S-21 in the 70’s. I had heard about this place, Terry had visited there on one of the earlier trips. I had heard of the walls filled with skulls and various torture devises there. Knowing this, for me that way there were no surprises. What was special though, was to see 2 of the survivors of that prison. There were only 7 who survived of the many who were processed at that prison and the thousands who died. They had written books about their experiences there. Shari and Terry had pictures taken with them and bought their books. After the trip I read the book about Bou Meng. To read the things that this one person endured was overwhelming and deepened my appreciation of what these people went through. We are now nearly 40 years removed from those times. The majority of the country now is under 40 years old and many are unaware of those times and tend to focus on current issues.
Afterward, we drove to Sihanoukville, this is about a 5 hour drive. During the drive Pastor Jonah and Bunsat, our main translator shared the gospel with the van driver Toro and Toro asked Jesus into his heart.      
Tuesday - Tomnokrolok: In most of the villages we go to we will have a time for introductions, sing a few songs, share a short gospel message, hand out bread and bottled water and see anyone who has any medical issues. We broke into 2 medical teams with Eric being a scribe for Shari and I was a scribe for Marcia. In the US, Marcia normally scribes for doctors, so this was a little role reversal for her. This effected me more than I expected in that the quality of detail in diagnosing each person got bumped up big time. At almost every location my medical vocabulary increased. Today we saw a 20 year old with a left eye problem it was “extra ocular”. Another one of the special people that we got to treat medically there was a 3 month old boy named Lek Lek who had a fever of 102. We are so thankful that the medicine that came 2 days before we left the US contained infant ibrophen. Before we left the village Terry, Shari and Eric went on a house call for a 71 year old who couldn’t walk. They were only able to give her something for pain as the cause was not anything that we could fix.
Wednesday – Buffalo Village School:This year there was a big change at the school. Paully, the superintendant of the school in Buffallo village had moved on. He had been there for a long time and had served with our team as a driver and translator and had been a blessing to us. We were saddened by the thought of him not being there. Before we went to the school, both Gil and Pastor Jonah talked to us about the change in leadership there. They did not speak of the past but encouraged us about the spirit and direction of the new superintendant. This is a wonderful place that is full of kids and many adults. We always have a long service there that is usually attended by village officials. It is full inside and many people are just outside of the windows and doorways listening in. New medical words tachycardia and orthostatic, thanks Marcia.
In the evening we attended a Cambodian Wedding. Gil had met the owner of an italian restaurant in Sihanoukville some time ago and was invited to his wedding. He asked if our team could come along and they were happy to have us. We were looking forward to going , I had heard about weddings in Cambodia. That they were major events where the bride would change clothes 4 or 5 times during the reception and that food would keep coming to your table course after course after course for 5 or 6 courses. This was an outdoor event with live music, We were directed to a table with a great veiw of the band and very near the speakers. It was loud there. We were wondering if this would be catered by the italian restaurant. We soon found that this was a gonna be a true cultural experience with special Cambodian food. The course that really stood out looked back at us. It was a round dish on a round table with several small roasted birds, maybe a sparrow facing each of us. Let’s just say some of the food was enjoyed mainly by our translators. Near the end of our time there they had a ceremony where guests showered the bride and groom with silly string. Everything went very well and we were impressed with the care that the photographers took with pictures. For a time near the end a couple of stray dogs wandered in and were competing for scraps. They eventually were escorted out… ‘wedding crashers’
Thursday – Tomnokrolok: It may seem like we are visiting the same place that we were at on Tuesday. This is the village where Pastor San ministers though and is located on the landward side of the road that runs near the gulf of Thailand. This is our third time ministering to this group of believers and their neighbors. But is is only our second time in this building. I remembered very well last year’s trip when we didn’t’ really notice how hot it was in the building until we needed to check someones temperture. When we turned on the thermometer it read over 100 Degrees. At this location we saw 44 people. We saw one 19 month old child who was having a bad time with diarrhea and vomiting. This had been going on for 2 days and we were concerned about dehydration.  We were able to give rehydration salts and other things to help him to recover.
One of the most interesting situations that we helped with has to do with hearing problems. We usually need to check out ears from time to time. It is sad to check ears and find the ear drum is perforated because there is nothing that we can do accept recommend that they put some cotton in their ears when they shower. When we are able to see someone with an infection we have the right antibiotic to deal with it. That for me is a happy time because I know that they could have permanent issues if it goes untreated.
Then there are situations like this one where a 6 year old boy had a problem in his ears. After checking we realized that there was just a lot of wax. What was fascinating about this was the amount and consistancy of the wax. This wad didn’t break up, when it came out it was nearly an inch long. The boys father was so wowed by it that he asked for a bag so he could take the wax wad to show mom and others.
After the medical service the plan was to work on installing electric outlets and fans in the church. Pastor San had also invited some of the locals to help. We soon realized that we had too many people for this project. Terry, Shari & Marcia went to a less busy area of the building and began to play catch with some of the kids. They didn’t have a ball to play with though and it didn’t matter. They had a great time using only what they had … empty water bottles.
About the electrical work, because the outlets came with the wires needing to be adjusted to work correctly.  Eric’s expertice in electrical things was invaluable. If fact, Eric had me connect the wires the right way because the way the connections came would have resulted in many a blown fuse. Sometime before they were put in one of the local helpers started putting the connections back to the way they started. Eric was there to make sure that it would be done right and would work well for the church. About a month later electricity was installed and everything worked well.
Friday - Oth Village: This location was a surprise because when we left SLM we thought that we were going to a location known as behind the hospital. We were told of the change on the way. Did it matter? Not much, We are here to serve, the only concern was whether we had enough medicine. Last year, when we went to the area behind the hospital we saw about 30 people. We were told to expect more people at Oth. With many places it seems like we are very close to being done with the medical service but people keep trickling in. We eventually felt that we needed to establish a cutoff point     We did medical service for 81 people that day.  
Saturday – Crocodile Hole Village: We have been going to this village for a couple of years now. This time it would be special because we were to have a joint service with a Korean team that does services there. When we arrived the Korean team had already started playing music inside of one of the Community Hall buildings there. They had sound equipment and a talented vocal leader. We joined them inside for a couple of songs and introductions. For the medical and sharing bread and water with the people there, we had to move outside.
Perhaps they are used to it, but inside is really hot and stuffy. We have always set up and held our services under a bunch of shade trees out in the schoolyard. It was more comfortable the down side was that we couldn’t use sound equipment but for the things we were doing we were not going to need it. When we started to do medical I was blessed to have a young man named Paullo assist me and the rest of the team by splitting and bagging medicine. It was good fellowship to have him work along side of me.
Sunday – Osetey Church And Baptism Service:  When we arrived at church on Sunday
Pastor San told us that there would be a girl attending that was demon possessed. She had been causing a lot of damage at her family home and Pastor San had been called to come to her house and pray for her. She was a little better but he wanted her to be prayed for again at church. When we first saw her she had a very empty, despondant look. During the worship song part of the service she made moaning sounds and before worship had ended she ran out of church. A couple of men went out to check on her and with their help she returned.
After the message, there was a time of prayer for the needs of people there. There were several people who needed prayer but there was an obvious focus on the the needs of this troubled girl. As we prayed, I felt that when God touches her we would see some expression in her face. During the time of prayer that didn’t happen. At the end of the service, the team had prepared some gifts for the church. We will normally give Pastor San a bag of medicine and some reading glasses to use at several remote villages that he works in. But we especially wanted to address a need that we noticed the year before.
Last year when we were there we noticed that the cymbals on their drum set were in a very tattered condition. We were happy to present them with a good set of cymbals and their worship team was thankful. The service was over. I stopped to talk briefly with Pastor San then looked to see what the rest of the team was doing. I was surprised to see Shari hugging the troubled girl that so many prayed for and the girl was smiling. I viewed this as an answer to prayer for the entire team because everyone was so happy to see the change in her. Also at church we met the new Assembly of God missionaries who run the A/G orphanage in Sihanoukville and before we left they wanted to have us tour the orphanage.
The orphanage was bigger than I expected. It had 5 or 6 buildings each were in pretty good shape but there are plans to paint the exteriors and make other improvements.  If there is time we are considering helping out on the next trip. After lunch we went to the beach for the baptism service. About 25 – 30 people were baptised, most are from the Buffalo Village School. Also baptised was Toro , our driver who asked Jesus into his heart just 6 days ago. He is so happy to be a christian, he surprised us by his raising his arms to celebrate. I couldn’t help but to be excited for him. We always pray for each person who is baptized, this is just the beginning for each person.
Monday – Smach Deng: As usual our last service in Siahanoukville is at Smach Deng. Before we leave, we always need to plan to pack enough meds for the remaining services and everything that we are planning to bring back home with us. We were surprised at this service because normally we will arive, take a few minutes to set up the entry area where we will be doing medical service after a time of introductions, worship songs and a message.
This time was special and different and I don’t think that it has happened before but Pastor Jonah started almost right away. He did a great job of leading worship songs and as he was singing he would stop and invite people who were attending the service to join him in front to help with motions that go with the song. Eventually, he had almost half of the audience up there with him. We finished preparing and the team stayed at the entryway and watched this special time happen. It was a very special, joyful time… Later on, we provided medical service for 50 people. Midway thru that, we stopped to pray for Shari, she was not feeling well and we found that she was running a 102 degree fever. When we checked her temperture after praying, it had dropped several degrees to 99 and she felt better.
We finished the day with a 4 hour drive to Phnom Pehn.
Tuesday – Kompong Thamo – The plan today was to travel 3 hours to Kompong Thamo, Have a service at the church there for about 3 1/2 hours and then drive another 3 hours to Seim Reap. We have seen a lot of road construction in Wisconsin lately but for the first time we got to be involved in road construction Cambodia style for most of the travel that day. Road construction will always cause travel time to be longer and I am not sure how long we were on the road but it felt like we added a couple of hours to our travel. The only other differences were Cambodia potholes are way bigger.
In the service at the church in Kompong Thamo not a lot stuck out medically. We were challenged by the translators there though. We love their willingness to help but they had a hard time translating things we were saying. We started with one young man then a second person, a young lady came to assist. It was a little better but we still needed Bunsat a couple of times to get the patients to understand. To move things along Gil and Pastor Jonah became a third medical team. Because Pastor Jonah can translate for himself, they were able to treat people quickly and ended up treating more people than the other two teams combined. Altogether we treated 121 people there.
Wednesday – Sanbour Village in Seim Reap: This is to be our last service of the trip. There is a good thriving church here and we started out with a great time of singing and fellowship. We also treated 54 people during the medical part of the service. It always feels good to know that you have just the right medicine for the situation. It is equally sad to know that the damage is done and there are things that we can not fix.  A 4 year old little girl had been too close when her mom was cooking and got burned 3 days before we came. We were able to clean it up and give her burn cream. At most every location we were at we had people with ear problems and this one was no different. It is always a sad thing for me to hear that there is a hole in the ear drum. Especially for young people like a 14 year old girl that we saw named Trinen. As soon as I hear the diagnosis I immediately reach for a bag and put some cotton balls into it. We are too late to help her hearing loss issue. All we can do is encourage them to keep water out.
We finished our time in Cambodia with some time off.
On Thursday, some toured Angkor Wat Temple complex and some were not feeling well and decided to stay back and relax.
On Friday, we took a boat ride to some shops that are located in the island village called  Tonlesap, it is only accessable by boat. There are souveneirs, food ,drinks and novelties like a crocodile pen, and big snakes that little kids put around their shoulders. It is really a beautiful day to be floating on the river, in the shade, feeling a nice breeze come off the water. We were all sitting at a table thinking about the trip next year. At this point of the trip I think that everyone is tired though and also there is the anticipation of the many hours of travel we will be doing in just a few short hours. The one thought that seems to be dominant is “let’s do less travel.”  As always, next year we plan to be ready to go to what ever area that God may lead us to go. And hopefully there will be no road construction.