This week’s Missionary Monday is a guest post, an excerpt of some correspondence that my friend Jennifer McPhail, ministering in Cambodia, has had recently with her mother and sisters. They enjoyed reading together One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. Each person read the assigned chapter and then sent an email to the others with their thoughts so that they could discuss its contents with one another as they have time. Jennifer was supposed to send her contribution but instead chose to express her heart to them about what God had been speaking to her about going to Ta Lo.
“I have read the chapter, but now I have the beginnings of one of my "Ta Lo headaches" (We often return from Ta Lo with a terrible headache), so I do not promise to do well on book discussion. Let me add that I am very thankful to have been to Ta Lo today. In fact, I wanted to share about my day as it relates to Allison's talk about dwelling on worst-case scenarios.
I too have the curse of an over-active imagination. Yesterday evening when Forrest called Poh about going out there for services today, Forrest was planning to go alone. We've just recently had all this flooding, and along with the water comes increased snake activity on the remaining dry land. Peht just recently killed a cobra that was after one of his small children. So I was glad I wasn't going. But then Poh's wife asked if I was coming this time, and Forrest asked me if I would. Both of us have been sick, and with his trip to Phnom Penh (this past week) and the Carlyles coming in tomorrow (returning from furlough), I asked if we could take the truck in, if he thought it would make it. He did, and so I made plans to take the whole family to Ta Lo. I know now I must have had some trepidation last night, because I woke up with fear this morning.
My fears were of a number of dangers, but mainly snakes. And I had unreasonable fear about Sierra and the water or the snakes. I tried to think how I could stay home or leave them here, but I knew they needed to be with mom and dad on this day and not home alone. I wrestled and prayed desperately, "Lord, I know this fear is not from you. I can't control it, and I am going to read my Bible now, but I don't know how it is going to help, since I am reading in Job, Ezekiel, and Revelation!" I am in the middle of all of these books, so I kind of know the themes, and I couldn't think how God could speak to my need through this. I started with Revelation 13, since I usually start in the NT. Verse 10 says,
If anyone is to be taken captive, into captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
I was bowled over! This passage is in reference to the saints that will be conquered and martyred by the Beast and the False Prophet, but it sounds like it is an encouragement of a sort that if God plans for one of them to be imprisoned or die a certain way, they shouldn't try to escape it. Instead, endure and have faith!
It is so obscure and bizarre, but God used this to help me today, and I wanted to share! The day was not easy, but there were many answers to prayer. I had to go to the market at 6:45, which is way earlier than a lot of things are usually available, but they had just the things I needed for a noodle stir-fry to take to Ta Lo. The road was bad, but it was passable, and our 4-wheel drive worked great. We had lots of family time in the car, and the kids were really into pointing out things to one another and being pleasant (for the most part).
When we got to the part I was dreading, where we leave the car and walk in through the small lake, the water was lower than I was expecting, about three inches above my knee. Forrest carried Sierra, and I carried our books and the food bag. The other kids were troopers, and they just love that walk. Sierra and I are always trailing way behind, but she loves to skip and stop to look at things. I tried to look hard at the path but not fret about the tall grasses and rice beyond that. We didn't meet any snakes, and all six of us got in and out without any leeches, either.
I did, however, have a number of adventures. First, it was great that I had brought food, since they didn't have any at home, and hadn't seen any of the itinerant sellers that go out to the "main" road where our car was. They did kill a chicken, but it obviously wasn't truly ready for butchering and made for a scant soup made with green papaya. So I used the skills I had learned over the weeks watching Teem and Panna cook for our in-between service meal. I washed my spinach and made sure I poured the water from that washing into the dish pan. I chopped my veggies and garlic and disposed of the scraps in the right place. I used the right knife for the vegetable and the machete for the meat. And then I went and washed the wok in the dishpan with my used veggie-wash water and a piece of mosquito net for a rag. I set it on the three stones used for a fire pit, and Teem helped arrange the fire under it. It was already started from the rice and then the soup cooking. I got some oil from the "counter" made from the wood planks they are stockpiling to build a better house at some point. And I cooked my part of the meal over the open fire, squatted down on my heels. I got to talk to __ about her husband and his church discipline that started today. He has been such a trial for her! I told her about Granny (Jennifer’s grandmother was a godly woman who had suffered much from marital difficulties), and I also explained how church discipline helps a sinning believer and puts it all in God's hands and not ours, after we have fulfilled our part of trying to dissuade a brother from sinning.
Then I noticed that three of my children were in the watering hole out behind the house! They were so muddy, and they were having a blast! I had to get more water to clean them off enough for the meal, and I felt bad about that. Panna was feeling sick, and her baby was ill too, so I asked her what to do, and she had me serve the kids first. One Khmer platform bed is under the lean-to of their one-room house, and the other is under the thatched kitchen roof. The adults eat "in the kitchen," and the kids eat and have Sunday school on the bed by the house. There are not enough dishes for everyone, so we eat in shifts, kids and then adults. There are usually three glasses to drink out of, but today there were just two, so I am afraid one must have broken. There are piglets and chickens and dogs and a cat all running around too. It is a beautiful chaos!
After we ate, I skipped out on clean-up to go teach Sunday school. Forrest had already taught one session mainly to Poh before we ate, and they would start the worship service whenever clean-up was done, regardless of whether our class was done yet. Poh had the book since before the flooding, but he expects me to teach when I come out. That is a little difficult, since I can't prepare the lessons. So he told me what he taught last time, and I was to go on with Cain and Abel. I was thinking hard and fast, and so it took me a minute to register when the adorable little guy to my left looked at me with big eyes and said, "Teacher, that's a scorpion on your arm!" I scrambled around so fast I lost track of the little critter for a minute, and then when I tried to swat it with the lesson book, it went in between two of the planks of the bed platform, and I couldn't get it out. I was VERY AWARE of my surroundings after that. Thankfully, I did not get bitten, nor did anyone else. The six little children out there are so precious, and my four mixed very well with them today. They played the rest of the time after the lesson, while I went and joined the adults. There were a couple unsaved people there today, and so much opportunity on every side.”