I have been working in Cambodia for well over four years now, seeking to bring together an effective partnership among committed groups and individuals that help to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people. There is no doubt that it is a wonderful thing to find a strategy that effectively addresses the needs of those whose lives you wish to impact and then to have others realize that the value of this approach and seek to join us. However, this week we are seeing firsthand the enormous challenges this creates.

It is notoriously difficult to set up appointments in advance in Cambodia. This was until just recently an overwhelmingly oral society anD emails and even text messages from foreign countries are often overlooked. So as usual I arrived on Sunday  for a two week stay, with a huge list of people we need to or want to connect with during this time and only one solid appointment.  Fortunately, $3.00 at the airport gets you a local phone card and with the use of Facebook and emails, tuk-tuks and lots of help from gracious Cambodians who will drop whatever they are doing the moment you show up at their office, it all begins to fall into place.

My co-workers Bill and Sharon are here with me and we enjoyed some time on Sunday getting caught up, debriefing on their recent trip to India and planning for the training scheduled for next week.  By Monday morning plans began to fall in to place to meet with the three key partners in the Health Project.  From there we managed to meet with three other agencies that we know are currently using the CHE strategy with a goal to reactivate a regular CHE Working Group for Cambodia. Next it will be two other organizations that we believe could be very strategic partners.

Then there are the incidental meetings or divine appointments that just happen along the way. Socheata, the wife of one of the staff from RHAC is a lecturer at a private university who saw our moral value lessons and thought that her students would benefit from them.  She has been wondering about integrating the material into her course work so invited us to come and take over her evening class. Sharon and Bill did a great job with a lesson on character development and honesty with very enthusiastic participation by the students and I am sure these young people will always remember the “big Canadian” who demonstrated servant leadership.

Sharon continues to finalize the schedule and manual for next week’s training in Siem Reap and I am frantically working on a final report that is due for funders of the initial phase of the health project. Early Sunday morning we will join up with three TWR staff for the five hour drive up to Siem Reap in the air conditioned comfort of a very fine RHAC vehicle. We will miss Su Min’s serenade with his ukelele, but he will meet us there. Steve also has just started his tenth term in Kuala Lumpur teaching ENG4U so is unable to assist this time around.

As the project continues to grow in participants and impact, it has become increasingly apparent that we need a full-time Cambodian coordinator, fluent in English and Khmer, to head up this project on a continuing basis. There are funds for such a person for at least a year, but finding someone who has all of the necessary credentials and capabilities is going to be an act of God’s grace, and nothing else. Please pray with us for this outcome. We have a made a wonderful start in our outreach to the hurting people of this country, and we very much want to see it taken to the next level.