Friday, January 30, 2009

Volunteer opportunity to make kits

It is a blessing for me to have the opportunity to work in Cambodia. There are so many compassionate folks who are interested in helping with the work here. We are sustained by the prayers of many people around the world. And the financial support is what allows us to continue to serve folks. I have also come to appreciate the provocative questions that folks ask me. Especially when they challenge the approach we take. This kind of dialogue really helps me to analyze how we engage in this ministry and how we could do better.

Lots of folks have asked how they can be in partnership with us here. There are lots of ways, especially the prayers, financial support, and questions. However, sometimes folks would like a project they can do in their home congregation. Projects are great because they can be used as an activity to engage a group of folks in your congregation and serve as a learning experience for how and why we are in mission. For this reason, my colleagues and I here in Cambodia have started thinking about some different kinds of projects that could be carried out in US local churches that would both be beneficial to Cambodians and also be helpful to US congregations as a tool for learning about mission.

What we are thinking about basically is making "kits." There are significant limitations to these projects. The cost of shipping things from the US to Cambodia is prohibitively expensive. Therefore, while there are certain kinds of kits that we can use and things that you can put together, you need to take into consideration shipping costs of whatever you have put together. We have a variety of mission volunteer teams that come to Cambodia. Therefore, it is only cost effective if you can coordinate with someone coming over to use some of their airline allowance to bring the items. Please consider packaging the items in containers (e.g., suitcases) of not more than 50 lbs that are ready for checking on the airline. Please do not begin a kit-making project until you have a plan of how your kits will get here. In addition, my colleagues and I here would be happy at an opportunity to discuss with you in advance a kit-making project -- so that anything undertaken would be the most useful.

We can't always use a great quantity of these things, but these are items that have been requested by our pastors and partners as things they could use:

Cell phones

(Used) clothing for resale business startup

Kits for prison ministry

Refurbished laptop computers

Digital cameras

Credit and savings group record keeping kits

Reading glasses

Home health kits for volunteers at medical mission or for pastors

Friday, January 16, 2009

News from Cambodia

Some exciting news! The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the MOH (Ministry of Health) for CHAD (Community Health and Agricultural Development) was finally signed this week. This is great news as it will allow us to accept volunteer medical teams to come and work in Cambodia with much less hassle than before. Irene (our community health nurse/missionary from Zimbabwe) has done all of the hard work getting this through, and I have learned a lot about government relations watching her work. You can support our health-care ministry
with a financial contribution.

In the Cambodia Daily this morning was a reprint of a New York Times opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof called Where Sweatshops are a Dream. If you didn't catch this or some of his earlier pieces on sex-trafficking in Cambodia, I highly recommend them. One of my fellow missionaries, Clara from Bangladesh, is working to help provide enrichment programing at an orphanage that is working with the population that Kristof writes about. You can contribute to that ministry.

It was great to connect with old friends and meet many new faces last month when I was traveling in the US. I am back in Phnom Penh now, trying to get on top of the backlog of work. I've posted two quick stories at http://chad-cambodia.blogspot.com Thanks for reading and
your continued support!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new school

Sam Oeurn, assistant pastor from Spien Church, stopped by our office today to share about his new business. He has just purchased a school he named LTS (Language and Technology School). He wanted to know if we would come and participate in the ceremony to welcome students for the new semester.

It was a novel request for me, but as Oeurn shared more about his vision for his church and for Cambodia it became clear. Oeurn's dream is three fold: 1) that folks will have the knowledge for a better life, 2) that folks will have the resources to accomplish their dreams, and 3) that the church will have good leadership.

It is big investment for Oeurn, a young man in his 30s, to buy and run this 10-teacher school with 250 students. (There have been 50 new students in the last month since he took over operations!) I know that he prayed a lot before taking this step. But I understand that his vision is big and that he doesn't see this as running just another school in Cambodia. He sees it as a way that he is living out his faith. We are all involved in building a better world (in religious terms: The Kingdom of God), and Oeurn sees his part in this as providing education for kids in his community.

I think it is exciting to see a young Cambodian take his faith seriously and listen to how it influences major life choices. And I applaud him for being able to articulate how this step is helping him to live an authentic life true to his vision and calling.