Hey Guys! It has been quite some time since we’ve caught up. This last month has been insanely busy and so much fun. The last time we spoke Curtis and I were relying on the Lord to fill the 15 empty seats at Harvest Bible College and the Lord made our cup overflow. Just a week for before the first semester started the Lord blessed us with 20 students from all over Cambodia, living and studying the bible in Phnom Penh! It is definitely crowded in the HBC house but no one seems to mind. They are just hungry for more Jesus and so are we! Our pastors/students are also farmers in the village so it is important they are not away for too long. This being the case, the college schedule is 1 month of school then 2 months “off”. During this month of school 2 sets of US pastors come to teach for 2 weeks at a time. Our first set of pastors were Jimmy and Joe from Calvary Rancho Cucamonga and John Thomas from Calvary Fredericktown, Pensilvania. They were such a gift! They came ready to teach and even more importantly they arrived openminded and willing to learn. They got the college off to a great start. The Khmer pastors were vigorously taking notes and had plenty of good questions by the end of their 2 week stay. This last 2 weeks of the semester is being taught by 2 pastors, Josh Schmitz who lives right here in Cambodia and John Begin from Church of Christ in Costa Mesa. John has been a blast! He has a great sense of humor and is doing his best to teach the Khmer people how to have a good laugh. John has a lot of experience starting and running schools so his insights have been a huge blessing. Josh has been a great addition to the pastors team. He has lived in Cambodia for 2 years now and is currently in the process of adopting a Khmer baby so he knows the culture very well and even knows a few of these pastors from close by villages. Josh is one busy guy working full-time for Water of Life ministries, but he has made time to patiently teach these pastors the book of Mark. Curtis and I are overwhelmed by how much God has blessed this first semester. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way but that was to be expected since we are the ultimate rookies
One of the funnest parts about US pastors coming over is that we get to show them Cambodia. Curtis and I love this culture and we love introducing it to people. Showing them the insane, irrational yet functioning traffic is the biggest attraction. It is like an organized chaos that everyone is ok with, but it is hard to get used to at first. You constantly feel like you are going to die at any moment. We have fun taking the pastors to eat at these hole the wall places. These places without a doubt look sketchy and could possibly be life threatening but they have the best food! Nothing is more scary than the village food though. Holy moly. Since this is a bible college for village pastors, all they want to eat is village food and the smells are of nothing you’ve ever smelt before. Just a few examples are fermented fish paste, red ant soup that usually has dog meat in it (yes, people,they eat dog here with no shame), pig spine, whole salted fish that has been grilled- skin, guts, bones, the whole nine yards. There is better Khmer food in the city, but not much better haha. We convince the US pastors to eat least one meal with them for bonding purposes and it’s always fun to watch. Haha! Curtis and I are kind of used to the food. We pick out specific foods we’ve had before and isn’t bad.
We also take the US pastors to the infamous Killing Fields and S-21 (a high school that was turned into a interrogation/torture center during Pol Pot’s reign). Though the experience is always humbling and they’re not exactly “fun” attractions, we feel it is very important for the pastors to know what their students have been through. Pol Pot’s reign was only 30 years ago so most of our Khmer pastor students either fought with Pol Pot or fought against him. Every person in this country has a unique story of how the Khmer Rouge impacted their life. Pol Pot killed every single educated person including anyone who wore glasses or had soft hands. Those attributes symbolized wealth and intelligence. Since that is the case, these khmer pastors are educated at an elementary level and the people in their villages are even more uneducated. In fact, some people in the villages still believe the earth is flat. US pastors are quickly reminded of why they have come here to teach. These students are hungry to learn.They want to be part of their countries rebound so someone like Pol Pot will never gain power again. The younger generation is unstoppable here. They want to know everything possible. They know english, technology, architecture, politics, etc. This older generation wants to be part of that. Our goal is to equip them to go back to their villages and be leaders and educators.
We have gotten to know so many amazing people these last couple of months. The US pastors have been a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to talk to people from home. Curtis and I make them describe all of their favorite foods from home so we can live vicariously through them. Haha! The Khmer pastors are so fun. It has been fun trying to communicate back and forth with them even though we don’t understand each other. I have adopted a Khmer grandpa. His name is Sarin. He is a pastor from the Svey Reang province. He fought along side Pol Pot at a young age and has over 6 bullets still in his legs and arms from the war. He just recently got one removed from his knee that has been there for 35 years. This man has seen evil and worked on the “dark side” but now he is consumed by the Lord. He is the happiest man ever. After just hearing brief stories just like Sarin’s throughout the bible college, it just shows me the power of the Lord. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God but He is merciful, graceful and mighty to save.
We can’t wait for next semester. We miss you all from home. Please continue to pray for us out here especially because the hot season come in April. We are already melting here so we can only imagine what April brings! Keep your eyes open because I will be blogging a lot more than I have been! We are finally about to settle in
Thank you for your continual support and encouragement. We love you. God Bless.
Curtis and Bre