Friday, January 19, 2007

Christmas is such a special time of year, a chance to spend time with family and friends, to laugh, and most importantly to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It really is a season of joy. Our Christmas began with the Christmas party for our students at the WBI, and as you can see in this picture, there was a great amount of laughter and fun. It was hard being away from home, but moments of Joy like this are blessings from the Lord to make the separation tolerable.

We had all of the students and the staff at the WBI over to our house after the last day of classes before Christmas break. We had a special service for the students, times of giving of gifts, and great games and fellowship. It was an amazing night spent with our new family here in Cambodia.

We served fried chicken, chicken adobo, and spaghetti with meat sauce, a particular favorite of the Cambodians. Here you are seeing some of our students and staff with Tim in the kitchen as they fill their plates for a second time after everyone had finished dinner.

Pastor Poleak, the pastor of the church which is located on the third floor of the Bible School campus, asked us to be involved in his Christmas celebration this year. We were in charge of the games after the meal, which fit right in with our talents as teachers. We played many different holiday games, but the one that they enjoyed most was the ever popular game of musical chairs. Here you are seeing a large contingent of the players still circling the chairs, awaiting the music to stop so that they could push, pull, fight and sit victoriously.

Another game that we played required the contestants to draw a Christmas tree. Sounds easy, right? The only requirement was that they do the drawing with the paper placed on their heads. It was great fun to see them all patiently, and some not so patiently, drawing their trees with their papers held tight to their skulls. Here you are seeing the winner of the contest, whose tree was actually better than some of the ones that I draw when the paper in front of me.

Here you are seeing Pastor Kim Sua, his wife Eim, and his beautiful daughter Hannah. Kim Sua is on staff at the Bible School as a teacher and a translator, and he and his family have grown very close to our hearts as we serve together at the Bible School.

On Christmas Eve, we were sent to encourage the believers in Kampong Cham. Tim was asked to preach the Christmas message, a scary thought indeed, and we went to visit and grow closer to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. After preaching a message entitled, “Are we celebrating Christmas or Christ?” God provided an opportunity for us to put into effect the principles that we had espoused during the message. On our way home from Kampong Cham, our car broke down, stranding us in the middle of a very dark, and very lonely Christmas Eve. We were able to contact the pastor of the church, and he towed us back into town, but we were forced to stay in Kampong Cham for the night, a modern day Christmas story, though in this one, God provided an inn for the night.

One of the hardest parts of being stranded in Kampong Cham was that the car breaking down did not just affect us. We had two of our close friends with us who were also forced to spend Christmas Eve away from home. Channa and Chaney, the eldest daughters of our national superintendent, did not complain, but accepted the events with resolution, a mark of the fact that they were celebrating Christ in their hearts, not just the Christmas holiday.

When we finally arrived back in Phnom Penh, we rested for a few hours, and then we opened our gifts. It was a nice time to spend by ourselves, enjoying the gifts, a Christmas breakfast, and watching the holiday classic “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. It was really hard being away from family on Christmas, but we have learned that God always provides for our needs, and by having this special time together, we were able to really enjoy His blessings on that Christmas Day.

Christmas night was spent with the mission team and several of the national leaders at the home of Greg and Resie. This is a picture of Greg as he opened his gift from us, cleaners and polishes for his car, something in which he takes great pride. It was so pleasant to spend Christmas night with our friends and fellow workers here in Cambodia.

This is a picture of Resie, Greg’s wife, who cooked all day to give us a very special party. She had prepared traditional Filipino foods such as her famous chicken adobo, spring rolls, noodles, and rice. It was a great meal, and due to Resie’s amazing ability to cook, all of the foods were absolutely delicious.

The final member of the Fernandez family is their daughter Aleeyah, who is a constant joy to us. We have loved watching her grow and develop over these past six months, and seeing her open her Christmas gifts brought great smiles to our faces.

Finally, because it was my birthday, Resie had baked a cake in celebration. If you can’t read the sign on the cake, it says “Happy Birthday Titu Tim” which is the Filipino word for uncle and a huge honor for me. It was a great birthday, spent with great friends, where we enjoyed great food, and were able to celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world (not my birthday of course, but the birth of our Savior).


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