Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On the weekend Soeun preached at a school a few hours out of town. He often preaches at church, and the Bible school, so usually to groups of Christians he knows. But this was to a group made up of many non Christians as well as Christians. It was hard to prepare as he didn't know them. He ended up having to change some of his illustrations as he went.
He stayed over night and preached the next day too, so he got to know them a bit. He was surprised to find they knew how to sing one of the songs he wrote, and they were surprised to find he was the songwriter.

(It turned out the students from the Bible school who work there had taught this group one of Kimsoeun's song.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Previously in side bar April in Cambodia

This month Khmer people welcome the new year angel. Each year one angel looks after the country, and Khmer New year is when they swap over happens. April 14th, 7.30am is when it will take place this year (took place). It was so surreal the first time I experienced it,

to find out more. Everyone (well, not Christians) put up a table like this with food and flowers for the angel, and each year the angel wants to eat a particular thing. I think last year it was blood, this year it is milk.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Year traffic

This photo is from
as they report about traffic at this time of year "

"In only three days over last year’s celebrations, 52 people were killed and 233 seriously injured in more than 500 accidents, the National Committee for Traffic Safety said in a statement Wednesday."

We saw an average of one accident per hour on our trip, and there were other chalk markings on the ground to show there had been accidents earlier on in the day.

(I can't seem to do links today.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy New Year

This is the hottest time of year! Actually this year it seemed to start at the end of Feb, a month early, so by now I feel like we have been hot for a long time. Lots of people (including us) find it hard to sleep so we're all hot, tired and grumpy! Some of the students have been sleeping on a wet towel on the the floor. It's even worse when the power goes off- no fan!

Anyway, also at this time if year people are playing khmer new year games and dancing. This photo is of this years decoration in the hall at school.

At the top of the side bar you should see a photo and explanation of what happens at Khmer new year.

When Soeun was young he lived in a village. All of April was one big holiday. They finished one rice cycle in March and they didn't start the next one until May. It was so hot they rested during the day and played games at night. But for city dwellers these days it is a three day public holiday.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Death in Cambodian Buddhist Culture

More hearts and other figures of speech

There is a Khmer pop song around these days with a line "two hearts", I'm told it means unfaithful. I thought that was interesting as in Hebrew "two hearts/minds" means you are telling a lie. While in English being in 2 minds about something means you haven't decided yet. And two faced in English means you are a hypocrite.

A heavy heart in Khmer means you are persevering, while a light heart means you aren't standing your ground. Maybe like a feather in the wind, it is light so it gets blown around easily, while a heavy rock will stand firm.

If a room is messy, in English we may call it a pig sty (sp?) as pigs are known for being messy. In Khmer they say a "pig's nest". Yes , nest as in what birds live in, it is not what they call pig's houses, but they think of nests as chaotic and messy. So to emphasise the point they say call a messy room a "messy dwelling of a messy animal" .

Easter Saturday

By Friday afternoon last week we were both feeling hot and exhausted, as you may guess if you've read the previous post. This time of year is so hot, so sleeping is hard, which makes everything harder. And KS had been busy with all the funeral stuff.
It was so nice on Saturday to wake up to an overcast rainy day! It turned out to be such a nice, quiet and cool relaxing day, with nothing hard to do. Most hot days I just do the minimum to get through the day, but on Saturday I had spare energy to cook hot cross buns!

In Australia I normally know Easter is coming as there are school holidays on the way and eggs and buns in the shop. In China I knew Easter was coming as the church spends heaps of time preparing for a big long Easter service. Also because it is the beginning of spring, when the grey of the last half year begins to end. The leaves and flowers start coming out, the coal dust in the air clears a bit, the birds start singing, the blobs of spit on the ground melt.......

But here I don't really notice it at all. Churches don't always celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday (they don't have Christmas on Dec 25 either). The biggest thing on the Cambodian calendar happens in mid April (New Year), so Easter tends to get a bit lost.

I did notice on Sunday people were burning things in big cans out the front of their houses. I guess it must have been a Chinese special day- I think grave sweeping is on at this time of year?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Christian funeral

Kimsoeun's friend's dad died recently after being sick since around September(the last week and half he has been waiting for this). Kimsoeun left school after lunch and spent until dark in the family's district

When KS got back last night he said he was encouraged to see that the church members had taken over the preparations. I think one of the things that happens on the first day is the washing of the body, it's a community event. Often Christians end up having a Buddhist funeral as the relatives will start all the things straight away, but sounds like the church members were there already. The family (father and siblings) are not Christians, but they didn't protest. (I guess that must be hard for them, if they have certain beliefs of what needs to happen to the body to have a good next life.)

As well as church members I think pretty much all the students went as I and a staff member were the only ones at dinner last night.

Soeun went to preach there this morning, and will go back tonight for the burning of the body. When he's back at work today he'll be getting ready for the program of Jesus's death tomorrow- lots of death this week.

The coffin says : Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

His 3rd year sts were eager to know what he was preaching from, as he has set some of them homework to prep a sermon for a funeral.

Update Sunday 4th: After the Good Friday program we found out another family in the community had a family member die. Then a few hours later we found out two more people had died. So some of the students who had been busy with funeral programs all week have to spend this weekend, not resting has they had hoped but helping people with funerals.