Before inviting you further along through another narrative of our adventures in Southeast Asia, here is a brief update of the project with some good news and maybe even some bad news, but I’ll leave that up for you to decide.
To begin, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all peo—wait a second!…that sounds oddly familiar…maybe I should say it another way. There’s a baby on the way!
Our beloved Kindergarten teacher, Chen, and her husband, Bunthieng, have been expecting a baby since they heard the news last September. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was busily working on my lesson plans when all of the sudden Bunthieng came marching up the stairs with his wife in his arms and a crowd of the female teachers following behind with worried faces. Curious about the situation I followed suit.
When I arrived at their room I was expecting an intensive medical procedure to be going on based on the alarm with which everyone seemed to be moving. But what I witnessed was unlike anything I had ever seen. Red streaks emerging on Chen’s arms and legs as her husband gently rubbed her with a coin.
We had been told during our training about coining and its common use among the Khmer to treat illnesses. As for its medicinal efficacy, I am not sure, but it seemed like it was working here, or at least everyone looked to be feeling more relaxed. At that point, I asked one of the teachers what was going on.
“Chen fainted”, she said.
“Fainted!? That’s not good!” I replied, “What happened? “
Long story short, Chen found out she was pregnant. As to whether or not that is why she fainted I do not know, but what I do know is that at the very moment I am writing this she is laying in a little hospital bed with her faithful husband by her side awaiting the arrival of their firstborn son, Timothy.
Now, while this is good news for everyone, it does bring some challenges to the school. Where Chen has a replacement teacher who has been in training for the past few weeks, Bunthieng does not. He will only be gone from his classes for a week, but that means someone has to step in for him.
A few months ago anyone would’ve rather found a job washing windows outside the Burj Khalifa than substitute for second grade. But times have changed.
When Anthony stepped into the classroom at the beginning of the year to teach English he did have his troubles. The class was rowdy, disrespectful, and dreadfully underperforming. But now as one enters the arena of instruction, one is suffused in an aura of utmost academic prestige. Okay, maybe it’s not that disciplined. But give it a few more months and Anthony will have those kids articulating their thesis in front of the finest scholars in all of Cambodia!
To put it another way, Anthony began implementing a new and improved method of maintaining class order and improving grades that requires the least amount of energy on the part of the teacher and the highest demand for accountability and self-discipline on the part of the class; a simple group dynamic where the behavior of one individual, be it good or bad, has an effect on their group as a whole, and that includes academic performance as well.
Now, along with Anthony’s methods, there is no one more fit to take over for Bunthieng for all but his Khmer classes which will be conducted by a Khmer teacher. Unfortunately, this means that Anthony and I will be teaching from sun up to sun down all of next week which we anticipate will be very exhausting, but any opportunity to be of service to the project is one we eagerly accept! This project can use all the teachers it can get.
In fact, we are in dire need of more teachers for next year, not only Khmer teachers but also English and music teachers as well. We are blessed to have a new member on the team all the way from the Czech Republic who is already fast at work on the new school building. But with each brick for the new school assembling faster than a Lego fanatic on a sugar-high we may not be able to hire enough teachers in time! Please pray that the school will receive enough Khmer teachers and student missionaries before the beginning of next school year.
The good news is that our Career missionary family, the Greenfields, plan to return this next month as Mr. Greenfield has been healed of cancer. Praise the Lord! However, they do still need to fundraise more before they are able to return which can take a few months depending on the willingness of our church and anyone else with a desire to help those in need.
It also sounds as though there may be one other missionary family coming to the project as well, which is a huge answer to prayer as projects do much better with two families, but they may be a long time coming due to the nature of fundraising as previously stated, which leaves me with only one more update to give.
We need you. These kids, their families, the orphans and the widows, they all are in need of hope, something better. Something that will not leave them empty like everything else in this world. And we have this hope that burns within our hearts! The hope of the coming of the Lord. And that’s the best news of all.
So, I am asking you, pleading with you, in the same way you supported me this year, support those like me, those who want to reach the unreached for Christ. Find a young person, an old person, a person who is willing to answer the call to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world. More specifically, get the word out that we need teachers here at this school; individuals to impart knowledge and virtue to hungry minds. You can make the difference. God is calling. Your mission awaits.