Vision Tour to Cambodia Updates

July 4, 2002 - Another exciting year for Vision tour has begun.  God has shown us once again that everything is in His control from the very beginning.   Before the team left for tour, one of the team members sent out an email that she had gotten so sick overnight.  She wasn't even sure if she could go on tour.  The team spent time praying for her and within two days, she felt much better.  Praise God for His healing.  Today, the team met up at the airport early to prepare for long lines, and tight security.  Little did we expect to have drama on the day we leave.  As the team was checking in at the Thai airline counter, we heard several loud bangs, followed by several seconds of silence, and then several loud bangs again.  Everyone in the airport was confused.  We all believed they were gun shots.  We didn't know what to do.  Next thing we know, some people began to run out of the airport while some policemen and security guards told us to stay down.  We were then evacuated from the airport and waited outside.  People began to cry.  Some ran to their car and drove off.  Helicopters were hovering over the airport.  We all waited outside for several hours not knowing what to do.  The police had locked down the whole airport.  No one could either enter or leave.  The team began to pray and seek for God's guidance.  We weren't sure if we could go on tour anymore.  We began to sing songs as we were waiting.  People began to gather around us to listen to our songs.  We were even recorded by the local TV news station (CBS).  Some people came up to us afterwards and thanked us for bringing peace and stillness into their hearts.  It's interesting to see how God uses His people to minister to others.  Eugene, our travel agent, went out of the airport to bring lunch back to us.  What a great testimony for us it is.  A servant going out of his way to serve others.  After waiting for several hours, everyone was allowed to go back into the airport.  It was chaos everywhere.  The team was checked in quickly but had to wait in line again before going to through security check point.  By the time we had boarded on the plane, we were 5 1/2 hours behind departure time.  The plane finally took of shortly after 8 p.m.  God has answered our prayers once again.  We actually arrived in Bangkok with plenty of time to catch our Phnom Penh flight.

July 5-6, 2002 - We arrived in Japan around midnight (having lost a day due to the International Date Line) and waited for around 30 minutes before we boarded back onto the plane.  By the time we arrived in Bangkok, it was 4:15 a.m.  Itís amazing that the team was still full of energy.  There were two concerns we had on our mind.  The first thing was how were we supposed to meet up with Gloria Lin.  She is flying in from Singapore.  That concern was immediately answered as we walked off the plane.  Gloria was standing right outside at the gate waiting for us.  The other concern we had was how do we get our boarding pass to go from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.  Since we were checked in at LAX in a hurry, the airline did not do our boarding pass for our flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.  There was no one at the counter to assist us.  Uncle Marsh and John went around the transfer waiting area looking for answers.  Fortunately, there were told that someone would be there in an hour.  We boarded the plane without any problems.  We arrived in Phnom Penh at 10 a.m. and met up with our contact, Doris, without any difficulties.  Cambodia is very different from the States.  As we stepped out of the airport, it was dirt road, and some part of it was filled with mud.  Construction was going on everywhere.  Many people are driving scooters.  The weather is very hot and humid.  We began to sweat immediately.  We got to the Methodist Centre with a quick tour and orientation.  The team had a chance to wind down for the first time.  We then met up with the Sunday School superintendent and the youth leaders to discuss about the Sunday programs.  It was  a great meeting for us since we had an opportunity to exchange culture and ideas with one another.  The lunch and dinner were great.  We all retired for the day at 6 p.m.

July 7, 2002 - The team woke up at 5:30 in the morning to prepare to go to church to teach children Sunday School at 7:30 a.m. Worship was led by Josh along with Tiffany and Joseph.  Then the kids were split off into 2 groups.  Those that are under 12 and those who are 12 and over.  The team did skits, play games, and taught bible lesson through skits.  Afterwards, we went into the church service and sang.  Pastor Alan gave a message from Psalm 23:3.  After service, we had an opportunity to mingle with the congregation.  We held a quick practice after lunch to prepare for our afternoon evangelistic concert.  There, approximately 50 people showed up.  Pastor Alan gave a message and an altar call.  About 20 people raised their hand.  How awesome God is to use us to bring His people into His kingdom.  At the end of the concert, we spoke with the people and had a chance to share with them about our faith.  Fruits and biscuits were everywhere for us to eat and chat.  We even had a chance to play volleyball with them.  Many friendships were formed and encouraged. 

July 8, 2002 - We had a chance to sleep in for an extra hour today.  By now, we all feel refreshed and without any jet lag.  After breakfast, we left the Methodist Centre to go to an orphanage a few kilometers from Phnom Penh that was created by the Centre.  There we had a tour of the facility, then walked about 200 meters to a public school near the orphanage.  We met up with a mission team from Singapore that is doing some remodeling of building structures and building of new furniture for the school.  We sang to them and then moved over to another field to sing to the kids, elementary through high school, several hundred in all.  The kids stood there listening attentively as the team sang.  Pastor Alan gave a message about who Jesus is and what His name means.  The teachers were encouraged and thankful of us sharing our faith with the students.  We went back to the orphanage and met up with the little kids to play with them.  As soon as we saw them, we all became little kids ourselves.  We ran around with them, play games, sang songs, and took pictures with them.  What a blessing for us to see these angelic faces smiling and being joyful.  We couldnít understand why some of their parents would abandon them, but soon realized that they were very well off at the orphanage compared to others living in poverty.  We had a hard time leaving the orphanage as some of us and the children didnít want to let go of each other.  We were sad as we waved bye to the children.  On the way back from the Centre, we drove around Phnom Penh to do some sight seeing.  It was an eye opening experience for us.  To see how one section of the city is wealthy while many other parts are in deep poverty.

July 9, 2002 - As the team woke up this morning, two of our team members didnít feel too well.  David has a fever running along with stomach problem.  We are not quite sure what is wrong. Yod is also running a small fever along with a sore throat and running nose.  Please keep them in your prayers.  Fortunately, our schedule is pretty light today.  In the morning, we visited a small branch church a couple of miles from the Centre where a missionary lady from Maritius is teaching English. This small island country is off the coast of Madagascar, and she has been here for two years.  We sang, did a short skit and Alan gave a simple message (translated to Cambodian).  We then got to spend some time in small groups with the children.  During the last song, a young man from the neighborhood stole Uncle Marshís digital camera from inside Auntie Meiís backpack.  Though we gave chase, we could not catch the thief. It is sad that the people are so poor they had to steal to survive.  After lunch, most of us went to the Genocide Museum.  That was an awesome experience, as we witnessed first hand, manís inhumanity and the depravity of human nature.  A few went shopping after that and some of us rested.  We then returned for dinner and had our group devotion before retiring for the evening.

July 10, 2002 - Since we had not explained about this previously, the girls and Uncle Marsh and Aunt Mei are living at the Methodist Centre while all the guys are living at a nearby hotel.  The cost at the Center is $3 per person per day while the guys are paying $6 a day per person.  We are eating wonderful food cooked for us at the Centre on a budget of $2 a person a day, so we are staying well under our budget for the tour.  Today, we boarded a ferry to cross the river a visit a local village church.  Halfway across the river, the rudder broke, so it took us over a hour to cross a river which should have taken 15 minutes.  No one complained (the locals and us, about 200 people on the ferry).  We finally arrived at the village at 10:30 am, and found about 100 women and children with a handful of men waiting for us.  They had been waiting for 2-1/2 hours just to listen to us.  We sang and did a skit while Alan preached to them.  It was amazing to see so many there and we found out a major reason was that the village chief is a Christian.  This showed us the importance of reaching the leaders of a country for Christ because it can influence so many more.  When we boarded the ferry to return, we found ourselves stuck in the river because the vans were too heavy.  It took over a half hour to get the boat unstuck, but again, everyone on board just quietly waited.  We finally ate lunch at 2 p.m.  Then we rushed over to the Methodist Bible Institute where we sang to a group of about 40 students and Alan encouraged them to minister and get enough rest at the same time.  We then returned for dinner and group sharing and rest.

July 11, 2002 - We spent the morning meeting with a group of about 40 elementary students at the Centre. They had a lot of fun playing the games and listening to us sing and singing with us as we taught them the Orchestra Song.  These children, like all the others we met in Cambodia, are delightful, lovable, and very responsive.  We had a great time playing with them.  After lunch, we spent $150 of our budget to buy 8 cases of dried noodles to bring with us to give to the poorest of the poor, 70 families who live on the garbage dump in Phnom Penh.  These families were farmers who lost their farms about 5 years ago when the river flooded over several times, causing them to lose their homes, so they had to borrow money to rebuild and then lost them again (and again) when the floods returned, so they were completely destitute.  A church is Singapore is paying rent to the city to enable these to live in broken tents here at the dump.  They make their living salvaging garbage and recycling them, such as bits of cloth to weave into rugs, and nails from old wood which they pull out and straighten out one at a time.  The dump is an incredible sight!  It was smoky from the continuous burning of the garbage and smelled terribly.  The children were filthy, some had open sores which the flies lived off.  Some of the children had hair which had light brown streaks on them like Chinese kids in America like to do to be fashionable, but we were told their hair is that way because of malnutrition, not fashion.  Some had extended bellies, yet they were delighted to see us and wanted us to carry them and hug them which we did.  We sang and passed out 12 packages of noodles per family, and left wishing we could do more.  This visit was to be the highlight of our tour as we later discussed during debriefing.

July 12, 2002 - Today is our first day with Campus Crusades.  We went to Phnom Penh New Life Church to have orientation with Brother Vek and his team.  The church is located in the downtown area.  We went over the program of what we were going to do for Saturdayís night outreach and asked questions of what kind of things to expect when we meet the students at the dinner.  We also went over some items in regards to our afternoon activity.  The team was split into three teams.  One went to a school called NIM (National Institute of Management).  The second team went to Norton University (a Christian school); and the third team went to a school called RUPP (Royal University of Phnom Penh).  Each team went to each school to witness to the students there.  Since it was around exam time, many students were at school preparing and studying for exams.  We had an excellent response from the students when we told them that we are from America.  They were eager to talk to us to find out many things about America and our lifestyles.  A door that is truly open by God.  Many members on the team were able to share our faith and the Four Laws with the students.  We also had the opportunity to invite many students from different school to go to New Life Church for Sunday Services and for our Wednesday afternoon concert.  Please pray for us that many students will show up. 

July 13, 2002 - Today is the ďbig outreachĒ planned by Campus Crusades for us.  We spent the morning at the Methodist Centre practicing our songs and skit for the outreach in the morning.  After lunch, we proceeded in a rental shuttle bus to the restaurant, Lucky Star, where the outreach is to be held.  There, we helped the Campus Crusades team prepare the room with balloons and signs for the dinner/concert.  Campus Crusades had asked their leaders to invite two or three of their non-Christian friends to this event and gave them printed invitations.  We were to start at 4:30 in the afternoon but with the rain, we didnít start until 5.  We expected about 70 guests, about 30 Christian leaders, and us.  By the time we started singing, the room was filled.  Connie and David gave their testimonies and our singing was well accepted.  Brother Vek Huong, Campus Crusades director for Cambodia, gave a short summary and asked the guests fill out a survey card.  We then had dinner with all of us spread out among the tables so we could share our testimonies.  The students then left after dinner.  We found out there were a total of 70 non-Christians there and 28 (40%) indicated that they accepted Christ at the meeting.  Praise God for this excellent response.  Joseph was able to share the Four Laws with a college student who was sat at the same table.  He had many questions in regarding about God.  By the end of the night, the student was still searching.  Joe was able to plant a seed into this student.  Hopefully the harvest will be reaped soon.  We made some appointments for follow up with some of these students.  We also invited them to come to the service on Sunday and to our concert on Wednesday afternoon.

July 14, 2002 - We woke up at 5 AM to get ready to leave for the first service at Campus Crusadesā New Life Church at 7 a.m.  The place filled up by about 7:15.  We sang one song and Wayne gave a wonderful testimony.  The rest of the service was difficult for us since it was in Cambodian.  We then split up to teach their 5 Sunday School classes.  David taught the High schoolers, Adam the College, Pastor Alan taught career, Uncle Marsh taught the other young career class and Auntie Mei taught the adult men and women class of about 100.  The rest of the classes had about 40 to 50 students.  We then sang for the second service, but did not stay for the service since it was identical to the first service.  At 3 p.m., we sang for their third service and Emily gave her testimony.  We then went back to the Centre to have our own worship service.  Pastor Alan shared a message with us.  Since we woke up so early this morning, we all retired early to prepare for the next day. 

July 15, 2002 - This is our first day to do follow up with the students that we had met on Saturday night.  Linda and John met up with two students from the dinner.  As soon as the team arrived at the church, their friends were waiting with them.  Linda and John wasted no time and began to share the Four Laws with them.  With the help of some of the Cambodian speaking student leaders at the church, these two soon became new brothers in the Lord.  Praise God for their decision.  The rest of the team prayed for these two decisions and played with the children at the New Life Church.  After a quick trip back to the Centre for lunch, we returned to the New Life Church.  We again divided into two teams to distribute flyers and talk to the students at Norton University and NIM, while George, Singer, Melody and Uncle Marsh stayed behind to await appointments.  Only one person showed up this time and he was not quite ready to receive Christ yet.

July 16, 2002 - We spent the morning at the Methodist Centre meeting with about 30 high school students. Their English is OK so we played some group games with them, including a communication game where one visual message was passed up the line, getting distorted as it went.  It showed us how hard it is to keep a message clear.  We than sang a short program and presented some skits and testimonies to them.  They were quite appreciative. After we sang they led us in a quiz about Cambodia.  The winning team was rewarded with two special dishes, which surprised all of us.  One was fried Crickets and Grasshoppers, which was quite good, but the second dish, a local delicacy, was cooked maggots, which left a few girls gagging.  After lunch, we immediately proceeded to the Methodist Bible Institute where we sang last week.  This time, we were there to teach and sing 4 part music with them.  They are learning some simple praise songs from Taize, the French worship music group.  The students were eager to learn, although they donít sight sing and had to learn all their parts by rote.  It was interesting to see that they had many bad singing habits they learned from singing Cambodian music (such as slurring notes, and adding extra tones), but they sang quite well, overall.  After this, we went back to the Universities to pass out invitations to our concert tomorrow and share with them, but we were not so successful today and were asked to leave Norton because we had not previously asked permission to be there.

July 17, 2002 - After morning devotions, at which time we noted that everyone was more or less healthy finally, those that felt like it went to the Royal Palace for a tour of the palace and ground.  It was incredible and made many of us angry to see such wealth and opulence in the middle of such poverty.  There was a gold statue weighing over 80 kg. and a solid jade Buddha statue over two feet high, diamond encrusted statues, emerald and ruby boxes, etc.  Since we are studying the book of Amos for our devotion during tour, the cry for social justice made a strong impression on all of us.  After lunch, we went to New Life Church to prepare for our 4 PM concert.  There were over 300 people there (mostly members from the New Life Church and therefore the majority were Christians, but we did identify some of the students we invited.  The worship team led the service and we sang while Linda and Dillon gave their testimonies.  After Alan gave his message, about 20 raised their hands to accept Christ.  The New Life members said they would follow up these new believers.

July 18, 2002 - After breakfast, we left the Centre to go to airport.  There were many farewells to those at the Centre who treated us so kindly during our trip, especially Doris Chan who coordinated our stay there.  She accompanied us to the airport.  There we were met by about a dozen students from both the Methodist Centre and New Life Church, friends we had gotten to know during these two weeks.  It was both a surprise and made leaving very difficult.  We finally boarded the plane for Bangkok.  When we got off the plane, we found out one person left his passport on the plane but fortunately, he got it back.  Another left his cell phone and that was gone by the time he tried to recover it.  We met Vida, Yodís sister and Vision member from the last two years.  She had three vans rented for us to use here and checked us in to a nearby hotel which Vidaís family paid for.  She bought us lunch and we started out debriefing at her home.  We broke for dinner, hosted by her father, a fabulous banquet with many of the choir members from their church joining us.  We sang by the pool several songs during dinner and retired for the night.

July 19, 2002 - We continued our debriefing and spent the whole day doing that at Yodís parentsí house.  It was a good time for us to remember what God showed us and what we wanted to bring back to the States.  Here are some comments:

After the debriefing, we prepared to go to Yodís home church (Maitrichit Church) for a concert.  We sang there for the last two years so this is almost like a homecoming.  There were about 150 people in attendance for a special Friday night concert.  We sang a full program and were warmly appreciated by the audience.  After the concert, we met some old friends from two years ago and also some of the Singapore team we met in Cambodia.

July 20, 2002 - This is a light day for us and our last day of tour.  After morning devotions, we proceeded to a nearby mall to test our resolve to spend wisely and not buy non-essentials.  Then we went to the Tai Romprakun Church where we stayed two years ago to sing a special program there.  It was a joy to see many faces we recognized from two years ago.  Even more important, we met some of the students who became Christians when we ministered there and we were delighted to see that they are now strong believers who have started to become mature believers.  That really encouraged many of us to see real fruit from our labors of the past.  We sang the best concert of our tour here, partially because the acoustics were wonderful in this church and partially because it is our last concert of tour.  Toward the end of the concert, a small group of Chinese believers came who had read of our performance in the local Chinese newspaper, but they had gotten lost and arrived just as we were closing.  After fellowship time, we surrounded these new friends in the parking lot and sang a couple of songs for them (a capella), then returned home while some of the team stayed to play a basketball game with the locals from the church.  Tomorrow morning, we leave early to return to Los Angeles.