There's a bit of travelling in my world at the moment. Last week was the annual 3-day staff retreat at Sihanoukville for New Life workers. Today, I'm back from an overnighter in a wee village in Kompong Cham Province. Thursday is back out to Kompong Cham town for a two-nighter mens camp.
Chea, one of the church evangelists, invited me on the road trip to what is termed an emerging church. Sister Sitar and her hubbie head up a group that meets under their house for church. Chea travels there once a month to take discipleship studies and conduct training. These trips are great, seeing what God is up to in the hidden little villages and getting to have a bit of input too.
Decidedly my least favourite guy in the village - Mr Strutter sets his alarm clock for 4.07am, and has no turn-off knob. I hope I get to eat him on the next visit ...
Chea has the group having lots of laughs during his training. The uncle here has had a difficult dental history - four of five remaining teeth, and none of them are of any use for the local beef.
An excellent lady - Sister Sitar is also the local nurse, together with her husband. Chea tells me that, before they became Christians, her hubbie was very much the family boss. Now, it is her who has emerged to lead the 'emerging church'. She tells me that they have 48 adults and 30 children gathering now.
There are a couple of little things that I have found are really quite important on these provincial stays:
1. Eat whatever is served with a smile. I never take any of my food: I'll only eat what is served up. It is such a little thing, yet it is such a big deal to these lovely locals, that we do not dishonour them by sneaking in our private culinary supplies.
2. Sleep where they sleep. That will mean on a mat, on the floor. Sure enough, I was the first westerner to sleep in their house. Sinar says that all the foreigner like to sleep at the hotel. The hotel would be an hour away. It's hardly heroic stuff, this eating and sleeping thing - but it is important.
Chea encouraging the local economy - stopping at a roadside mango stall on the way. The young lady was hardly ripping us off - at 20c per kilo for these.