September 2011

One of the key understandings of the CHE strategy is that unless the community owns a project, it will not lead to any sustained change for the community. A project owned by outsiders will almost inevitably fail once the “owners” leave the area.

Haun Kimsong is the leader of the TWR Cambodia Youth Team and he has been doing an amazing job of teaching some of the CHE lessons in villages. Here is his response to this question: Do you see how you can get more community ownership, and how communities themselves can contribute towards the developmental process?



“From my experiences, helping them to get ownership is very difficult, but from doing the CHE training we can help them to see the big picture of their own problems. We need to help them to accept what their real problems are, because many people do not understand their problems even those they are living with every day. For example, a group of youth at Sre Ampil knew that drinking alcohol is not good but they still keep on drinking, and this is a big problem for this village. We needed to train them several times until they accepted that is their own problem. Then at the next meeting they were all involved with the lesson and after the class some of them decided to stop drinking alcohol. They made their own decision to stop without pressure.
We met a 17 year old gangster in Battam Bang who came to our training. The first lesson he did not want to be involved with us; he complained and tried to disturb our class. However, after the second lesson he changed his attitude, he joined with the small group and he shared his ideas with the small group and the whole class. After our lesson about honesty he came to me and he asked me to pray for him, because he decided to accept Christ as his Saviour. He told me that he sinned against God, his parents and everyone around him. At the last day of the training we talked about forgiveness and at the end of the lesson we encouraged them to write down the names of the people that they have to forgive and this guy wrote many of his friends names. Next we asked them to write down the names of the people who they will ask for the forgiveness, and this young man also wrote many names including his brothers and sisters and his parents.
On Sunday after the training we got a call from the local pastor and she told me that some of gangsters in the village who came to the training came to the Sunday service.
To answer to your question on how we can get more community ownership: We can’t just go and meet with them and point out their problems. We have to try to help them to see the whole picture so they are able to accept that this is their real problem. If they accept that, they will involve themselves with us and begin to understand the developmental process.”

After a nearly five months absence, it is so good to be back in Cambodia. I have been coming here for four years now and with each visit I continue to be amazed by the improvements I see.

The first time we were here we enjoyed seeing the riverfront from the balcony of the Foreign Correspondence Club but you could barely walk along it because the quay consisted of uneven paths interupted by hoarding, construction and blockades.

This morning I was up early and took a walk along the wide, spacious quay, mesmerized by the life and beauty long the way.

Sisowath Quay:

Khmer Style Hotels:

Buddhist Temples:


Fishermen Getting the Day Underway:

A Family Enjoying Breakfast:


We are still smiling at all the memories of this past month.

What a joy to see Liz married to such a wonderful young man and to watch them make a commitment to each other.

We love you both and look forward to what God has in store for your lives.

Happy Birthday, Liz.

An early, initial survey of the traffic, the road system and the driving habits in KL convinced me that driving here was not going to be an option for me, but now that we actually have a vehicle, I may just revisit that decision. And, there is nothing like necessity to stretch a person.

On Friday, Steve needed to be at the school at 4 a.m to embark on a staff trip and cabs at that hour are pretty unpredictable. We decided that he would simply park the car at the school and I would figure out how to get it home later in the day either by driving it myself or by getting a friend to drive it home. Always up for a challenge, I determined to drive the thing myself! This in spite of the fact that I have never driven in Malaysia, never driven on the right hand side of the road and never driven a right hand drive vehicle.

Once the morning rush hour was over, I headed up to the school for the first challenge, that of actually finding the car. I had seen it once in our parking garage but it was sort of dark and I had not yet even sat in it. Armed with the licence plate number for verification, I located it fairly easily once I realized that it is actually green not blue. First things first: come up with a ruse to make it appear that I actually intended to get in the passenger side before going around to the driver’s door.

It feels weird to operate the gear shift with the left hand and to feel cars swooshing by on the right hand side but I can do this. The next challenge is that the car is facing in the wrong direction so I have to figure out how to turn around without going into the chaos that is the main road around the college. This means a very tight u-turn with vehicles double parked on the other side of the street, but that is routine driving here. Then a right hand turn crossing a lane of traffic which is just strange to me. I am directionally challenged, in fact I can’t tell left from right so I rely on symbols and patterns to determine direction. For example, left is the hand with my wedding ring on it and a left hand turn is one in which you cross the lane of traffic. Now I am turning right, crossing a lane of traffic which is coming at me in the wrong direction.

A few straight forward blocks until I reach the dreaded Frogger corner into SS12 where six lanes of traffic converge to continue through, turn left or merge to a right turn or the inevitable u-turn at incredible speeds, using the traffic lights as a suggestion only. I just have to cross one lane, guessing whether the on coming traffic is turning, without the benefit of turn signals, or intending on barrelling through the light and then I can complete a right hand turn from the center lane. This I have to do with the windshield wipers going, in perfectly dry weather, because the turn indicator lever is of course on the opposite side. I try the local strategy, which is: do what you intend to do, don’t deliberately drive into another vehicle and trust the other drivers not to deliberately drive into you. This usually works except for the motorcycles, they are the wild card and anything is possible with them as is reflected in the road death statistics.

Our main road is a relatively straight stretch on which the challenge is one of manoeuvering around heavy hospital and hotel traffic, parked vehicles, endless construction projects, massive speed bumps and several guard houses with sporadic security checks. Once safely into our condo compound there remains only the challenge of the eight narrow ramps up to our parking spot on the fourth floor. Here I really come to grips with the fact that the unoccupied passenger side of the car is actually on the left and seems to be totally independent of the vehicle as I know it. I verbally thank God that the car is small enough to fit through these tight spaces and I can finally tuck it away in our tiny little parking spot.

Yes, I am definitely going to be able to learn to do this.

Some thoughts on our daughter’s wedding through the eyes of our granddaughter.

Photography by Jenelle Carter

Any chance to dress up is a good thing!

She is the most beautiful bride I have ever seen!

Great opportunity to meet new friends!

An incredible amount of hugging goes on at these things!

How long do weddings go on?

Enough already!

Blessed sleep!

As wonderful as these last several months have been, it is good to be home and finally be able to step back and examine all the thoughts and feelings that come with births, accidents, visits with family and friends and weddings.

We purposefully raised our children to be strong, independent adults with an understanding that the world is wide and full of opportunity.  Each of them have followed their hearts and gifts and gone where opportunities and experiences await them.  Two have now chosen partners who share their passion and adventurous spirits as well as their commitment to each other and to their families.

In many ways it is this attitude in our children that allows us the freedom to do what we are at this point in our lives.  We know that this comes with a cost to us,
our children and grandchildren and we often talk about how we will view this decision when we are old and gray or at least older and grayer.  Even though our lives take us in many different directions, there are still some times when we just need to be together as a family.  A hotel works but it is just not the same as a home and my biggest fear is that we will miss out on these memories.

God knows our heart and has wonderously blessed our family through the gift of very dear friends, Al and  Shelley.  They have a very real understanding of our commitment and our needs because they also have walked this road.  They  have a lovely home which we have enjoyed on a number of occasions, most recently for Liz’s wedding.

Al and Shelley don’t just invite you into their home, they encourage you to be a family in it, whether it is a BBQ by the pool, a place for family and friends to drop by for a visit, a  movie in the family room, endless meals around the island in the kitchen or lots of beds to crash in.

We spent a week there with Liz,  had an Open House on Friday evening to  welcome the Epp and Wise families as they arrived in London, the girls all spent the night there, got dressed and had the initial photos done and Ros also found a place to stay with them.  On Sunday, Ros went into action and hosted a lovely lunch for many family and friends who dropped by just to say their farewells. This has now happened often enough that I think Ben and Abi are convinced that either it is our house or Shelley is somehow their extra-Grandma.

Although Al had to be away with work, Shelley remained quietly in the background  welcoming guests she had never met before, managing the caterers, cooking, cleaning, washing endless sheets,  helping the girls dress and most importantly providing a voice of experience and reason amidst times of chaos and a handkerchief for mopping up tears and sweat.  While we enjoyed all the luxuries of their home she slept at the neighbours to allow us time together as a family.

Shelley is a serious student of the Word and I and many others have often been blessed and challenged through her teaching.  I have enjoyed our walks and chats and have especially been encouraged when so often Shelley has spoken words that I have been unable to express and given me a better understanding of God and of myself. Teaching is one thing, but living everyday of your life demonstrating what it truly means to live a Christ-like life is another, and Al and Shelley are an amazing example to us of the living body of Christ.

We know that as we look back over these years we will cherish the family memories that we have built which are a precious gift from Al and Shelley.  I also know that we are not alone in this as there are many others who have been welcomed, encouraged, counseled and strengthened in their walk by the privilege of calling this dear couple their friends.

One of the highlights of Greg and Liz’s wedding was the song that they sang for their guests. They chose a Johnny Cash and June Carter duet “Long-Legged Guitar-Pickin’ Man.” It seemed like an odd choice when Liz first mentioned it, but it turned out to be surprisingly well chosen and highly enjoyable. Although the performance was pretty raw – it was the first time that they had sung together publically, and Liz has only been playing guitar for a few months – what they lacked in polish they more than made up for in sweet charm and sheer enjoyment of each other’s company. I have posted it here to Youtube, as promised at