International Ministries

August Journal Entry

September 22, 2002 Journal

We have now been back in Cambodia one month now.It's been rough going.It took a few weeks to adjust to a living situation without electricity, running water, plumbing, indoor toilets, and screens on the window.The abundance of ants, bugs, centipedes, and lizards in the house were a nuisance, especially during two evening meals Deb, Micah, and Jesse were all hit by lizard turds falling from the sky (our roof), one of which landed on Micah's plate and he accidently ate.He didn't like it, in case you're wondering.Deb was also disconcerted to find that most towels, dishcloths, sheets, and some of our clothing were mildewed or ruined.

We've been often discouraged about other matters.One thing that has been much more difficult has been to find that many of the problems in Cambodia are still as before.It is still a broken country.On our first attempt to return to our rural home in Mesang, we had to give up the effort.We had use of a pickup to take our things out to our house, but came to a standstill before a bridge on the main highway that was closed for repairs. A short bypass road had been temporarily built.The bypass was wide enough for two lanes but no traffic was getting through because vehicles from both directions had all decided to go at once in all lanes.With three lanes of cars facing each other head to head, no one could go forward or backwards.

Meanwhile the Mekong River was beginning to flood the bypass.There were police and govt VIPs in some of the cars, but they were all doing the same thing - go first.The problem would have been easily resolved had cars on each side of the bridge left one lane clear and waited for one side to go first, then the other.We stayed at the back of the line, and after two hours of waiting, went back to the city and stayed another night.God was good, though.The next morning we left at 4:30 am and got to the bridge early at first light before there was any traffic.The river was flooding higher over the bypass, but the bridge itself was temporarily re-opened!I drove straight across.

But such is the situation in Cambodia.It's a broken country, and it's often every man for himself.

On another day I went for a walk in Phnom Penh (the capital) down the national promenade in front of the national independence monument.On my 30 minute a walk, I encountered nearly a hundred poor country folk squatting on the side of the road looking for day work because they had no more rice in their homes back in the country.Many were from our area.Despite the river flooding 10 miles away, our area is experiencing drought.Some canals have been built, but there is no management of them at all.It's every man for himself.In the same walk I came upon a man hitting his wife (in the head) in front of the national monument.His wife collapsed on the ground in a pile of sobs.I stopped and told him he didn't need to do that anymore and waited around until she stopped crying and got up and walked away with her husband.On the same walk at the end of the promenade I came to a large plot of ground that used to be home to hundreds of families who have since been evicted.In its place was a large modern 5-story gambling casino being built by some foreign company, only minutes from the national monument.

Then on the return walk, as I passed the monument, a monk accidentally knocked over a pole holding up the chain that encircled the national monument as he walked by.He looked back but did not bother to stop and set it up again.

Few seem to care about their country and people.

But the real source of discouragement to us has been the situation with the church in our village.It is very serious and very sensitive.There has been a split in the church.The pastor is feeling very threatened and defensive.Most seem to be terrified of him, and are distancing themselves from him.More in the next journal entry....

But please pray that we will be wise in what our role should be.It is not at all clear to me yet, and I believe the Lord is clearly showing me to wait.

By His Grace,

John Coats