This past week was full of new sights and new foods and new opportunities. Monday we made a trip to the DMV here to get a Cambodian driver license. What a process! Now we were set to drive in these crowded crazy streets! It isn’t so bad though, there are very few rules of the road, and the people are very patient with cutting in and driving against traffic. The thing that takes out a lot of the risk is that traffic rarely moves faster than 30 mph. Sooo, Tuesday, we made a trip to the province of Svay Rieng and inspected a project that had completed and was waiting for the final payment. A primary school far away, deep in the country. School was out for the day, but we met with the administrator and the school teachers. A new well, two new latrines, and 2 wash stations. The children’s play ground was worn and partly in disrepair. I wish I had a length of chain to repair the swing set…
A new well at the School
New wash station at the school
Thursday and Friday we were off to Ta Keo Province to assist the Medical Doctors in a project to deliver basic equipment to 15 health clinics. The clinics handle only very basic first aid assistance and they deliver babies. They received equipment to monitor the baby in delivery, a delivery table, a small autoclave, a lamp to give better light during delivery and some assorted surgical instruments. The clinics are almost always next to a dusty, well traveled road, no doors, no window coverings. No protection from dust, and insects during procedures or recovery. One clinic pulls their water from a retention pond nearby. They have no access to clean water, so they strain it and boil it. And babies survive. Each clinic has several midwives which are young women who appear to be in their mid 20s. The recent use of midwives has dropped infant mortality by 80%.
Water in a catch basin, water is strained and boiled for the health clinic. We hope to provide a well to improve their supply.
Saturday we went to Cambodia’s first Pathways graduation. It was exciting to see 21 adults graduate and prepare to start a college degree. Sunday, we spent the day in the Phnom Penh North stake, where we will worship and serve for the next two years. We met wonderful people, heard testimonies from humble and wonderful members. A blind fellow was helped to the podium, another Sister wept as she thanked the ward for the support they showed for her failing mother, another was fasting for the people in Australia who were in the midst of the brush fires there. The Spirit today was so wonderful and tender. On our way home, it was dark, the streets were crowded, and we came upon a little 6 or 7 year old boy in the middle of the road, tapping on windows for money. As traffic started to move, he went to the concrete divider in the middle of the road and sat down with his back against it, waiting for traffic to stop again. With the rush of motos and tuk tuks, and cars and trucks, he was in harms way in the dark. He was unmoved by his exposure to danger as vehicles rushed by him just inches away.
A quick stop to meet our driver Sereth’s family. Sareth, his sister, his 82 year old mother.
Sereth’s boyhood home.
A quick stop on one of our trips, we met our driver’s family. A typical Cambodian home, built with room for hammocks underneath. A guava tree in the front yard. His parents came across a baby discarded in the garbage, they rescued him, and he now lives in this home, totally disabled, with a debilitating disease. He cannot speak and he lays on the floor, unable to move himself. He is now in his 30s and lives because of the love and kindness of this family. Sareth was 5 when the Khamir Rouge arrived in town. They killed his father and older brothers and left him, his mom and his sister. Together they figured out how to survive and to move on. Sareth is the only member in his family, he was one of the first to join the church in Cambodia. He is a quiet and humble man now living with his wife and has raised 3 children in Phnom Penh.
We are in a country of harsh realities. Of heartbreaks and of beauty and of hope for the future. We love the opportunity to serve. We love the people. The country is beautiful. We look at the month ahead and have much to do. Thank you for your prayers, and your love. We pray for you! We love you! The Lord bless you!
Elder and Sister Stone