Battambang Ceremonies

What a busy week! Early Monday we left for Battambang, one of the largest cities in Cambodia. It is the capital of Battambang Province. It is here that we traveled in February to inspect 31 wells that had been finished. It was the conclusion of an 18 month effort by two previous couples. Because of Covid, and flooding, we were delayed in conducting an official handoff ceremony.

A view from the mountain, looking toward Battambang, if you zoom in, you can see much of what is beautiful. This picture is shot from a platform with no guard rails. 8 year old boys are playing and jostling on the platform, just off the edge is a 20 foot drop off, and a very steep slope to the valley floor.
Mountain cave where hundreds of victims were disposed of during the Khmer Rouge. This mass grave is located at the top of a mountain near Battambang.

We arrived mid afternoon and immediately met with the local government leader in arranging the weeks schedule of meetings. We started off on Tuesday with two ceremonies to hand off emergency supplies to flood victims. Battambang is at the base of a group of mountains that border Thailand. It sits in a lowland and was heavily flooded during the recent rainy season. We shared food on Tuesday and Wednesday with over 500 families who were poor and had been affected by the water.

A rare Mountain View in Cambodia, just steps away from the caves.

In a handover ceremony, we are escorted by Provincial and local leaders. We were thrilled when the Provincial Director of Cults and Religions, spent two days with us. He, the District Governor and the District Vice Governor spoke to the people, they also expect us to say a few words. The Director, who is Buddhist, spoke of our Church, and how he was greatful for Jesus Christ. He spoke about it several times in each of three ceremonies. We work hard to develop trust and confidence with the government. We were delighted with the friendship we developed over the few days.

Cooling off on a warm afternoon. We met these kids on our way to visit with a needy family.
One of the wells from our project, the family is greatful not to have to use pond water. The owner is in the white shirt in the background.

Wednesday we met with the staff of a primary school that we had worked with in the past, and did an official ceremony with them as well. Sister Stone traded information with the 2nd grade teacher, they also developed a friendly relationship. Before the end of the day, we visited with a high school physics teacher who is hoping to build his science lab with some experiments to use to teach his kids. There are 2000 students at the school. He is young and anxious to make a difference in the education. We have submitted a project for approval that would bring experiments into the class rooms. We pray it will be approved.

400 people assembled to receive Rice, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Canned fish, Noodles, and fresh water. One of 3 groups we met with this week. One woman in a wheelchair, could barely move, her eyes of gratitude told us all we needed to know.
Our handoff ceremony, Sister Stone receiving a plaque from the 2nd grade teacher. To my left is the Director of Cults and Religion. A true friend to the church, To his left is the District President of the Church in Battambang. He was asked to pray by the Director in front of 400 people later that day. It scared him to death, but he did a marvelous job. The new latrine, water tank and hand wash sink in the background.
Lunch in the Province. We were guests of the local commune chief. Fresh local fish, rice, mango salad, soup. Wonderful flavors, wonderful day. Right above the table is a shade tree, 3 little kids climbed and watched us eat as they chattered away. The hosts were sweet and kind. The food was wonderful.
A quick stop at the Thai border. Closed since march due to Covid.

Thursday, we traveled to the Phnom Preak community on the Thailand border, and visited families that need water. They get the water they need from a dirty pond, that drys up in a few months during the dry season. We hope to return soon to help solve their problem. While we were there, we met with the District Governor and officially handed over the 31 wells. Each of the small communities were so delighted to get the wells. The District Governor then asked for 197 more wells. With the resources we have, we can only accommodate a small portion of those. We hope to be back soon. There is so much need out in the provinces.

The hose in the picture brings the water out of the pond into buckets for home use. In a few months the ponds will be dry.
These folks currently only have access to water in the pond above. Mothers, children…not a great formula for good health.

Every night we return home exhausted, and we start every day early, rarely is there insomnia on a mission. We loaded up Friday morning and started back, but with an extra passenger. It was transfer day and we took a young sister missionary with us as she transferred to Phnom Penh. Our week complete, we were glad to unload and to start our pile of laundry.

Sister missionaries waiting to greet the new companion as we arrive home.

Saturday, we met with one of contractors as we finish putting bids together for another project we are working on. As Sunday dawned we were expecting to go to two baptisms and early church. Covid intervened, and Church was cancelled again. So a day of true rest. We love the experiences. We see the hand of the Lord in what we are doing. We love being amongst the people. We pray for our family and we pray for our friends at home. The Covid, the news and the changes it brings is a challenge. We know that there is much disruption. We know that it can take a toll on finances, emotions, and relationships. Know that we miss and love you.

More to come…


Elder and Sister Stone