fredag 10. november 2017

Food glorious food

Today has been a food kind of day. We started with breakfast and since they had more choice than the standard Khmer breakfast of noodle soup or pork with rice I decided to have something different and chose pancakes.

We spent the day in the church teaching about amongst other things the discipleship square. It is a tool to encourage us to consciously train people. The four sides of the square are as follows:
I do something and you watch me.
I do it and you help me.
You do it and I help you.
You do it alone and I watch you, supporting and encouraging all the time.

These four steps can take a long or short time depending on what it is I am teaching someone to do. When we think about it, it makes sense and it is what many of us instinctively do when we for example are helping a child to learn to dress themselves. Having a process to teach someone something is good for the teacher and for the pupil as we both become more aware of what we are doing and what we are aiming to achieve.

The church we were at has a small business raising frogs and fish for sale and for food.


After we were finished in the church we went to the fruit market and bought lots and lots of fruit. We have had a fruit party this evening with different exotic Asian fruits and a few familiar ones.

torsdag 9. november 2017

Cambodia is a stunning country

As this blog heading suggests I want to say that Cambodia is a stunning country with beautiful countryside and a fantastic people.

We started the day with prayer and worship as a team before beginning the final half-day in Tboung Khmum. We then carried on in an attitude of worship with all the people that were there. It was very powerful. At one point I opened my eyes to see Dara on his knees worshiping and from the angle I was at it just looked as though he was holding all the church leaders gathered in his open arms. It struck me that it said something profound about his love for his people and at the same time his love for Jesus. This is the picture I took:

Sopheavy taught the final session brilliantly. The participating church leaders then went on to make a plan of what they are going to do in the coming 6 months in the light of what they have learnt in the last couple of days. Afterwards they presented their plans to each other and then each leader team was prayed for with the laying on of hands. We finished our time in Tboung Khmum with lunch and a debrief between us and the arrangers.

By about 1.30 we were on the road for the 6 hour journey to Kandal province. In this blog I have sometimes given a glimpse of the roads, here's another one:

We stopped a couple of times on the journey and we took some pictures of the rice paddies ripe for harvesting:

I have no idea what Steve and Tom Kenneth are discussing here, perhaps the quality of the harvest? Although they don't really look like Cambodian farmers.

Here are a couple of pictures of the team messing around. Not something you want to do much of when it is over thirty degrees celsius!

We are now safely in Kandal. If you want to know more please cut and paste the link:  
This is the final place we are holding Agenda 1 on this trip. The last two mornings I have had no choice but to have a cold shower, not outside in the tropical showers that keep coming but in the guest house bathroom. The shower tap looked promising with a red side and a blue side but the red only gave cold water like the blue. In this guest house I have already given my feet a rinse and tested the red tap, it was warm. There is hope of a warm shower tomorrow morning.

onsdag 8. november 2017

God is with us

Today was the first of two days in the east of Cambodia. We are in a boarder town called Tbung Khmum. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

This is the view from the church:

We arrived in time to pray before the session began. As we were praying two people in the team saw a picture each. One of a train traveling on a very long track. And the other of a torch burning brightly setting lots of other torches alight. The first torch was not held by anyone, it was the fire from the Holy Spirit. I felt that the train picture was telling us we are on the right track.

By the half way point in the morning it became clear that something very exciting was happening. We have been here for the full series of four two day sessions over two years. We have wondered a number of times how we can make the teaching and DNA of Agenda 1 clear and simple enough for the people her to be able to grasp it, see its implications for their own lives and their churches and then be able to apply it in their context. This area has many challenges, not least that many people have had no schooling or only very basic education. We have had a number of church leaders taking part who can neither read nor write. Today was different! Very different.

The morning began with praise and worship followed by the teaching sessions. The people grasped the teaching quickly, they were very active in all the team discussions and in the conversations in pairs which is part of Agenda 1. We finished the day on a high note. Everything was on track and there was a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and opening people's hearts and minds.

Here are some pictures from today:

Some of the participants live so far away that they will sleep over tonight in the church. When you go away to camp for a night how much "stuff" do you take with you? This is a picture of several people's camping equipment. They have a bamboo mat to sleep on and a bag with their clothes and other items. Traveling everywhere by moped, often more than one person on the moped focuses the mind on what it means to travel light!

Our team has been fantastic today, here are Peevey and Tom Kenneth taking a well-earned break.

I don't have a picture of Dara from today but here is an older one:
Dara Chhien's profile photo, Image may contain: 1 person, text

mandag 6. november 2017

All creatures great and small

It is now the end of a warm and busy day. We started at 7am when we went to a street café for breakfast. The choice is either noodle soup or marinated pork and rice. I chose the pork this morning.

After breakfast we headed off to the church where we spent the day teaching. We are running two separate courses parallel for the first time. Tom Kenneth and I are leading one with a Khmer team and Steve and C'ya are leading the other. As far as we can conclude at this early stage, it seems to be working fine.

I am glad the temperature is only 26 degrees because our group of nine churches are in a wooden framed building with a corrugated tin roof and half-walls made of bamboo or something similar as you see from the picture.

If the temperature were to be much higher it would be very difficult to teach due to the combination of humidity and heat.

It is not only Tom Kenneth and I who teach, we are at the same time training up the local Normisjon employees and some selected local church leaders. Although that is a lot of balls to be juggling at the same time, it does appear to be working. The Normisjon team also simultaneously translate when Tom Kenneth and I teach. Below is a picture of me in action with Dara translating.

Discipleship triangle

Serving out of duty or serving out of love

We love because God first loved us

               And Tom Kenneth too.

We have been treated to nature in all it's glory too. This is what I saw when I opened my curtains this morning. It is rather different to the mountain view I see as I open my curtains in Norway.

As we have an early start tomorrow some of us decided to save some time in the morning and paid for our accommodation this evening. As we were waiting and chatting a big "something which I didn't recognise" wandered across the floor by our feet. I asked what it was and C'ya said it was a cockroach. I was not sure about that because it was bigger than European ones and it had wings. It seems Cambodian ones can fly!

A Cambodian cockroach

While I was eating dinner this evening I was squashing the fleas on the table which got too close to my meal. The insects today have provided us with a new talking point this evening, not least because this is not at all unusual here.

søndag 5. november 2017

An enormous orange

Today has been a mixture of different things. We started the day at the Light of Living church in Phnom Penh. It was a lovely communion service led as usual by the students who live in Normisjon's student hostel. There weren't as many people there as usual because it has been the water festival which is a three day holiday throughout the country and lots of the students had gone home for the weekend and hadn't yet returned to the capital.

The service was followed by a shared meal in the hostel courtyard. We went then up to Lysom and Sithuon's flat which is at the top of the dormitory building. There was coffee for those who like it and tea for me. We also had time to relax while we waited for the rest of the team to arrive.

While we were waiting we were treated to the biggest orange I have ever seen. It tasted really good sitting outside on the balcony in 24 degrees.

Once the team and the minibus driver arrived we set off on a journey of a couple of hours to Chhuk. We ate dinner in a street café we have used a number of times before. Two of the key local leaders joined us and we had a working dinner.

The next two days we will be here running two Agenda 1 courses parallel. They will have some things together but the majority of the teaching will be in two big groups. This means the team will be divided into two with Tom Kenneth, Peveey, Dara and I leading one group and C'ya, Ove and Steve in the other.

I know it is only the middle of the day in Europe but here it is rather late. I am very pleased I have ear plugs with me as I have a disco party with very loud music right opposite my guest house bedroom. Now to see if I will get any sleep  zzzz.

lørdag 4. november 2017

Arrival in Phnom Penh

After a long but safe journey Tom Kenneth and I arrived this morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We have been here as a team from Norkirken Sandnes often enough to know we need to keep moving on arrival day so we checked into our guest house, left our luggage then headed out again. After a short night on the plane, sometimes with little sleep it is very tempting to crash on the bed but we know not to. If we did our body clock would take much longer to get into step with night and morning and we would spend the whole week feeling tired. Instead we went out to explore what has become for us a familiar city.

The annual river festival is on so naturally we made our way down to the riverside to see what was happening.

As you can see from the picture the Mekong river is very wide as it runs through the city center and there were hundreds and hundreds of people lining both the riverbanks  for a number of kilometers. The atmosphere was of a carnival with street traders selling toys, balloons and the usual Cambodian varieties of food and snacks. Families were out together strolling along the promenade, eating a picnic together or watching the boats.

I tried to count the number of people in each boat and think it was 75 rowing each boat. See if you agree with me from the picture below. After a while we went to buy a drink and watched the race from a café on the third floor of a riverfront building.

It is humid here but not as warm as usual, today is a very pleasant 26 degrees. Far better than the 4 degrees I left at home yesterday.

After a while we decided to treat ourselves to a massage before dinner. The massage parlour was very interesting, not least because it was run buy a number of blind people. The lady who worked on my tight and tired muscles was very nice and extremely good at speaking English and an excellent masseuse. Here is a link to their website if anyone wants to know more:

Below is a picture of the lady who worked on me.

Now it is time to settle down to do some other things before bed. Tomorrow we start work and it will be non-stop until we fly home so I better get my beauty sleep.

fredag 23. juni 2017

Rural life

These are just some of the views from the church in Chhuk. It is as I have previously mentioned, the start of the rainy season which will last from May to November. The farmers are waiting for enough rain here to plant their rice crop. I noticed however that farmers in the north east of Phnom Penh have begun to plant as the paddy fields are now wet. As you see from today's pictures these ones are dry.

We started the day with feedback about how the church leader teams have got on implementing the plans they made back in November. These plans were to have a focus on sharing the good news about Jesus.

The lady in the picture above shared that she wanted to go to a particular district and had to sell a chicken to be able to buy the petrol needed for her motorbike. She got $2,5 for the bird and off she went. A quick question, how many of us rich westerners would be willing to sell something we needed ourselves to be able to go and share about Jesus with other people?

Not the exact bird but a Cambodian chicken I saw today.
The lady went to the village and did as she had planned. On her way back she was given a gift of exactly ten times the price she got for the bird, $250! It may be a coincidence but I don't think so, I think God honoured her faithfulness and took the opportunity to bless her.

We have heard a number of good stories during the feedback and otherwise. One not so good thing that we hear again and again is the churches and local communities in general loosing their young adults to the cities or to Thailand to work in the factories. It is common to see grandparents raising their grandchildren as the parents are away or working 12-14 hour shifts in the factories. I hope the Christians in Thailand start house churches where they are rather like the Early Church did when forced to flee for fear of persecution.