Limited Travel

Our mission has been a very unorthodox mission. Just a few weeks after our arrival, news developed around Covid. Quickly it turned into a bit of a panic. Missionaries were called home, and alternate plans were developed. Later that year, we were returned to our mission. After several weeks, Covid began to spread here. Restriction on meetings, travel and shopping were put into place. We continue to work, we just have to carefully plan where we can go. Some areas of the country are strictly forbidden to travel to. Other areas are not so controlled.

With the completion of the well, the Trab health center will no longer have to use the pond in the background.
The Trab school is expanding due to the community involvement. We drilled a well, and a water tower will follow. The water tower will bring water to the latrines so they can flush. They will also get a hand wash. To the left is the principal and vice principal of the Trab secondary school. You can see the Trab health center in the far right of the picture. Both currently are using pond water.

We are continuing to plan new projects as our current projects near completion. Our ability to follow up on existing ones are done by zoom and pictures. Setting up new projects requires we get permission to travel to remote locations. Folks are anxious for us to come, but they often can offer no assurances that we should travel with the restrictions that are in place. We hope as we travel, that we arrive without interference from government checkpoints.

Cashews ready to pick. Note the red fruit, the cashew is located at the bottom of the fruit. When harvesting, the fruit is discarded and the single nut is kept and shelled for use.

Our week has been exciting. We traveled to Kampong Cham to review work being done there. We are pleased with the progress of the contractors. We are delighted with blessing the work is to the health centers and to the schools there.

Driving through a large rubber tree farm on our way to the schools. Acres and acres of rubber trees as far as one can see in any direction.
Acres of banana trees on the right and acres of rubber trees on the left. Bananas hang in long clusters, ripening in the tropical sun. Rubber sap is collected much like maple syrup is collected. After many years, the trees are cut down and used for firewood for cook stoves. Rubber tree wood burns very well.

When we completed our visit to the Chamkarleu Hospital, we were taken to 2 nearby schools. One school has Over 1500 students and only 5 toilet seats. Kids have to stand in line between classes, often they go find a tree rather than be late for the next class. We hope to add some toilets for them.

Schools are often in terrible disrepair. The children don’t seem to mind. A culture of happy, optimistic people who flash a quick smile when one smiles and waves at them.

The next day, we left early to visit 4 schools far from the city. Our drive to the first school was about 2 hours, about half of the drive was on a very bumpy, dusty road. Our hearts fell when we drove up to the school. 45 children in a two room school house. No latrine, no water, no hand wash. The tin roof accentuated the 99 degree weather inside the school.

A beautiful plant growing almost unnoticed in the corner of the school.

Our next stop, about another 30 minutes down the dusty road was another 2 room school house. Once again, no water, no latrine, no hand wash. We are told that there are many areas that have that type of school, the government builds a school or two each year. It may be many years before these kids get a school.

One of two small schools, no water, no latrines. If they have to pee, they go into the nearby brush. If they have to pooh, they have to walk home.
Inside the 2 room school in the far away province. Much warmer inside than the 99 degree outside. No water.

We ran out of day before we could visit the other two schools. Our trip next week will include the other two. We are anxious to return and develop a project to meet the needs of the faraway communities in Kampong Cham.

A school of 1500, much in need of latrines and hand wash. We fell in love with the slide. A ladder on both sides, you walk down the row and pick the slide to go down….
A recently completed hand wash. Located near the latrine, the children can learn to keep their hands clean and germ free. The new water tower in the background gives pressurized water to the latrine and to the hand wash. The well, (not pictured) fills the tower, the tower because of its height, delivers constant water under pressure.

Our contractors are the heroes that are making the work happen. We have wonderful people moving to each project and meeting the needs and trying to obey the Covid restrictions. We are so blessed to have their help and hard work.

Missionaries learning to sign ‘As I have Loved You’ in a district conference. This past Saturday, we celebrated Easter with them. Easter here is not well understood. It is rarely celebrated. Members have not learned the beautiful Easter hymns. We try to teach a new hymn every chance we can.

It is a warm warm time here. The sunrises and the sunsets are beautiful. We are fortunate to have air conditioning. We also realize that the majority of people do not enjoy a/c. They have no hot water, and many do not even have clean water. We hope that all of our efforts are where we should be. There is so much to do. Each week we are surprised by new needs, often more desperate than the week before.

Sunday morning sunrise in Phnom Penh

We love our family, we pray for each of you, everyday. We love our friends at home. We hope that all of you feel the love of God in your lives. He is real and He is close by.

With all of our love.

Elder & Sister Stone