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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS FEBRUARY 2021   

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS FEBRUARY 2021   

 

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
GRIFFITH GLEANINGS FEBRUARY 2021   

What is the riskiest thing you have done this year? Possibly the riskiest thing we normally get to do in Cambodia is ride our bicycles/motorbike on a Cambodian road, but international travel feels like it also seems to be a risky activity these days. It isn’t so much that aircraft are dangerous, but as many have discovered during a pandemic that we can’t take for granted that we can buy an airline ticket and expect to get onto an aeroplane and fly to anywhere we think we need to go.

This month we managed to take a quick trip back to Australia. It felt like such a risky activity that we didn’t tell too many people outside our immediate family until God smiled on the occasion and the dust settled.

There is the risk that the place you are heading has a virus outbreak and flights get cancelled, or you get bumped from the plane by a new restriction of permitted arrival numbers.

There is the risk that the airline decides the route you are booked to fly is no longer viable and pauses flights to that route.

There is the risk that your insurance or health documents are rejected and you are denied entry into a country, or that you will be denied approval to leave.

There is a risk that you will get infected with COVID-19 and not be permitted to fly or leave quarantine! These were some of the risks that we had to consider this month when we attended our daughter Miriam and Wesley’s Adelaide wedding.

Thankfully we got to fly and get out of quarantine, so that we could be present for such a treasured occasion. It was a relief just to arrive back in Australia and to be a part of ceremonies and celebrations with Miriam, Wesley and our expanded family. We are now in our 14 days of hotel isolation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and feel the risks and significant personal expense was all worthwhile. Despite being again confined to a small one room with bathroom, (we have had two months like this in the last 12 months) we feel strangely liberated and blessed to have had the experience. Knowing in Christ we are free indeed!

Many people have asked us about the current COVID-19 impacts in Cambodia. Before we arrived back, we read about a new outbreak in the nation’s capital Phnom Penh, nicknamed the ‘February 20th event’. Cambodia has mostly escaped community transmission of the scale of nearly every country, but this outbreak is of a scale that has already threatened to overwhelm the capacity of hospitals and services. The virus has had a devastating impact on the country’s frail economy and that flows on to the lives of its people. As of February 27th, there have been a total of 262 people tested positive connected to the February 20th event community transmission cluster. Cambodia to date has recorded 766 cases and officially no deaths to COVID-19.

With no international tourists at present almost 3000 tourism-related businesses have been closed, causing the unemployment of more than 45,000 people. Hundreds of factories and other businesses across the country have closed down resulting in more than 100,000 garment factory workers being unemployed.

At a village level we sit with many who are hugely impacted by significantly reduced income. Some have had to sell assets like a motorbike to pay for medicine for a sick family member.

In adversity and in taking risks there can also be opportunity and growth. We can report growing relationships, opportunity to help, bless and share God’s hope together with our Khmer friends.

Our growing family.
Wholesome produce from Bek’s garden.
Sharing meals and hearts.
Marriage ceremony bringing family together.
Delighted to share in person.
Sharing joys in life.
A Khmer friend gave this gift a Khmer hair pin for the occasion.
Creating their own bouquets 💐.
Walk of respect preparing to give God’s gift.
Treasuring coming together
Thankfulness:
For sharing together in person with family around our daughter’s wedding.
For ways to share our lives among the Khmer people.
For lessons learnt from 8 weeks isolation (in a one room with bathroom. no access to outside) over the past year.
Requests:
Wisdom for officials dealing with a current COVID-19 community outbreak.
For Khmer people to know God’s richest blessings.
For God’s leading upon each member of our team.

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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS JANUARY 2021  

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS JANUARY 2021  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS JANUARY 2021   

Have you ever planted a garden and seen it grow to produce flowers and fruit?

When we moved to the rural village home where we now live in Cambodia, we were keen to see the bare earth that surrounded our home to be transformed to be covered with lawn and have flowering plants added to the scattered fruit trees. Plants can grow quickly in the tropics and the garden in front of our home is admired by our neighbours as ‘sa-ardt’; a Khmer word that describes something being clean, pure, or beautiful.

This garden graced by butterflies, birds, lizards and the odd snake has bought much delight to us and our Khmer friends of how things grow in the tropics, but also to a plethora of insects and fungus that we are not as familiar with that equally enjoys the garden; obviously for different reasons.

Our friends have given us cuttings and seedlings to add to the garden. Last year we planted some trees with a friend Mr S. One of these trees is already taller than us both. Some plants are fast to grow and produce fruit, such as the pineapple that can bear fruit in 18 months. One of our Jackfruit trees was planted 7 years ago and only this year will produce its first fruit. Being in our garden gets us thinking about our relationships in Cambodia.

Some of our friends here came into our lives with almost instant connection. Others have taken a lot longer to see that we now have a friendship that has grown deep roots. Unlike Westerners, Khmer don’t divide up their lives into physical, emotional or spiritual parts. It is usual to start a language lesson with a prayer and seek help for things like Rob being quick to remember what he is learning.

Rob’s friend and language nurturer Mr S was beginning a language lesson with Rob this past week with a prayer. Mr S is a devout Buddhist and was a monk for 7 years of his life. He prayed though on this occasion that God would give him peace in his heart, peace in his family and peace in Cambodia.

Mr S was a small child in the civil war that followed the Khmer Rouge coming into power and causing the deaths of possibly a quarter of the Cambodian population at the time. He is familiar as a child with the sounds of gun fire and bombs exploding in the forests of Battambang province. He even carries the scars of what as a curious young teenager he did that resulted in an unexploded ordinance blowing up in his hands and face. The people of Cambodia know something about war and peace. During the last national election, the prime minister told the electorate that voting for him was the only way that they could have peace in Cambodia.

Some of our activities in Cambodia can have near instant results (like the planting of tropical grass runners in our lawn), other activities as intercultural workers may take a lot longer to bear fruit (like the Jackfruit in our garden). We thank those of you who pray with us that the people of Cambodia would know genuine peace, not just in a political peace. We seek that our friends will encounter wholeness, completeness and wellbeing; that their prayers of peace in their heart, peace in their family and peace in Cambodia will be answered.

Bas relief on ancient Khmer temple; captures life giving stories and a sense where where the Khmer people have grown from.
As language nurturers gathered with one of our team member’s; our Growing Participator Facilitator to retreat in a province most had never been to before for just under a week; they grew stronger as a community.
Growth shared together with Khmer friends of seasonal rice crops.
Growing families through the gift of new life.
Growing ផ្លែខ្នុរ jack fruit enjoyed by all.
Growing in new skills of singing Khmer carols with nurturers playing musical instruments altogether.
Thankfulness:
For schools re-opening across Cambodia.
For opportunities opening up as our team refines strategies of purpose and engagement.
For sharing the seasons of life as a family through different contexts.
Requests:
For all team families to be reunited in Cambodia.
For the wellbeing of local Khmer friends whose struggles are real, constant and intense.
For tourism and employment opportunities to return soon as COVID-19 is contained.

 


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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2020   

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2020   
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7
GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2020   

Can you stand on one foot for more than 9 seconds? Can you walk up and down stairs without help, or draw a person with a body? Congratulations you have passed some of the age milestone tests of a four-year-old child! This month we passed the milestone of four years since making our home in Cambodia.

For the past four years we have been learning to speak and read the Khmer language, understand the social cues and rules of relationships of our host culture. The Khmer people are extraordinarily patient and complimentary of our often-awkward efforts to ‘grow up’ in their world. We have also had a few lessons in life perspectives.

One of the most important lessons has been to grow in humility. In our lives before Cambodia, we had some challenges along the way, but on the whole, we had been praised and encouraged in the day-to-day exercise of our competencies professionally. We could give advice and have our egos stroked regularly. Then four years ago we came to Cambodia and we didn’t even know how to ask where the toilet was!

Another life lesson has been to treat our inter-cultural lives with respect. It is an honour to be invited as a guest into another person’s home or another country. As Westerners with a set of qualifications and skills, it is easy to act as if people are fortunate to have us. We may have definite skills, but we are not God’s gift to another country. We are reminded in this season that we are not the gift, but God is. We are thankful in this season for the many privileges we have and even for the numerous ‘growing pains’ that remind us to respect what we have been given and the gift that we can share together.

One of the privileges we have as an accepted outsider in the village we call home is to be invited into the celebrations of people’s milestones like weddings, rice harvests, festivals and funerals. This month we participated in the largest funeral we have ever attended.

The elderly local Buddhist monk from the village where we live passed away. On the day of his cremation at least 2000 people gathered (all wearing COVID-19 safety masks) for the funeral procession. Over 500 monks lead the procession followed by hundreds of school children and the rest of the gathering of people from all over Siem Reap. Sharing in this walk through the village provided a way to express our care for our Khmer friends and seek to honour and respect them and what they see as important in their culture.

What an honour to be a four-year-old in this intercultural life in Cambodia. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged us, supported us and prayed for us through this growing process.

We are blessed to live with the people here.
These ancient temples are wrapped in jungle beauty.
Monk Om B last time sitting to share with us.
The funeral procession complete.
Everyday Deb’s friend Mrs J prepares several batches of filtered coffee ready for customers to her families rice shop.
Thankfulness:
For the Cambodian community cluster of Covid-19 currently being contained.
For this season to reflect on the true gift in our lives.
For your support over the past four years; sharing lives and love among the Khmer people.
Requests:
For all team families to meaningfully share Christmas far from family.
For Cambodian team as we stretch in flexibility to meet both Australian & Cambodian governmental parameters.
For Godly wisdom in all our relationships, conversations and attitudes of the heart.

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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS NOVEMBER 2020   

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS NOVEMBER 2020   
The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. Psalm 67:6
GRIFFITH GLEANINGS NOVEMBER 2020   

We found ourselves side by side with the mud oozing between our toes as we harvested a small corner of a rice field nearby to our Siem Reap home. On the land where we stood, we could recall the seasons shared with the landowners. On this land we have celebrated a family wedding, a number of Khmer festivals and mourned at a funeral. We seek to see life through the eyes of our neighbours as we experience together seasons of planting, growing and harvesting; seasons of change, hope, challenges and love.

After three months of the rice growing, we were invited to participate as a team in the experience of rice harvesting, threshing and preparation of flattened rice. One of the parts of a Khmer end of wet season festival (Bon Om Touk) that normally involves boat racing, releasing prayer floats and even the full moon remembrance of a story of a pre-incarnation of Buddha that concludes with an apparent image of a rabbit on the moon!

As language nurturers and participants, we all are learning about Khmer culture and gaining new skills together. A few of our language nurturers had never done these activities before; having fewer connection to their cultural traditions like rice farming through transitions to city living. A significant lesson is that many hands make light work.

The important rice crop in Cambodia provides lessons for life. Harvest of rice is something that is changing with modern machinery in parts of Cambodia, but is still harvested by hand in many areas and involves anyone in the family who can use a custom-made curve bladed knife. It is a season of joy and abundance. A healthy thriving rice crop is a good illustration of what we see ourselves partnering in through our engagement in intercultural work. We aspire to see Khmer people thriving with increasing levels of wholeness, completeness and wellbeing in their community and homes.

As we share together with you and you encourage and partner with us, we hope you can sense the feeling of mud oozing between your toes too!

We are convinced that any intercultural engagement is limited without prayer. In this video, intercultural workers from across the globe share about the extraordinary difference prayer makes as they serve among the communities that they love. They have an invitation for you. You can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/467666744.

Here’s a yarn or two with this new “missioning” podcast episode with Deb Thyda sharing stories from her life among her Khmer neighbours. Listen to be encouraged that God is at work… in Cambodia and in your local community. Just click the link here and then click on Episode 7. http://www.globalinteraction.org.au/Missioning

Working and learning together in the harvest.
Group efforts in making flattened rice.
Threshing the rice together with our feet.
Making symbols of thankfulness and hope.
Making “prayer floats” together.
Sulari and Deb unpack what ‘missioning’ may look like.
Thankfulness:
For limited COVID-19 presence to date across Cambodia.
For receding floods and efforts of recovery of crops, homes and businesses.
For good health, and rest across the team.
Requests:
For wisdom as Cambodia navigates the risks of community transmission of COVID-19,
For the Cambodian team discernment for the next stages of strategy development.
For our two team families presently in Australia to be equipped with what is needed to return to Cambodia.

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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   
Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. Mark 4:32

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   What are you growing? Is a question that Rob receives sometimes multiple times in the space of an hour, volunteering at the local Khmer public school.

The space that the vegetable garden occupies is undergoing an expansion at the request of the new school principal, who also wants the school to become more attractive than just a space of concrete, bricks and grass. To support her cause, she has brought flower bulbs and seeds from her home to create an attractive border around the fruit and vegetable space beside the school front gate.

At this time ‘what are you growing?’ does not have a straightforward answer. The wet season in Cambodia is soon coming to an end, but typically September and October are the wettest months.

The school garden for some of this year has resembled a tangled rainforest jungle when the wet season arrived during the school COVID-19 closure. With the help of a community of school children returning and team mate Luke, the garden has been transformed, but with the exception of vegetables. A few hardy lemongrass plants and a pineapple survived, but not enough dry days has allowed sowing seeds in the often-saturated raised beds.

‘What are you growing?’ is a fascinating conversation starter. Children and the rest of the school community offer their suggested favourite vegetables and the discussion generates a sense of mystery around what we might soon see growing.

What is growing in the muddy school soil isn’t really the purpose of a school garden anyway (even if some fresh long beans and corn may be more nutritious than the high sugar snacks and drinks that are sold outside the school). Much more important is the relationships that are formed throughout the surrounding village. Since returning to Cambodia we have seen more of the effects of alcoholism, family breakdown and financial hardship present. Seeing the fruit of wholeness, wellbeing and peace is at the heart of what motivates us to be ‘gardening’ here in this part of the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sharing some hopes and plans of a fruitful school with the new school principal.
High in a tree in our home front yard sharing some laughs and a climb for ripe custard apples.
Luke with Rob in dryer days, midway in the extension and transformation of the school garden area.
Thankfulness:
For the invitation to expand the local school garden where Rob volunteers.
For some good rains to finish what has been a couple of dry years in Cambodia.
For reopening of many schools in Cambodia.
Requests:
For standard Khmer public schools to expand the availability of schooling and reengagement of children.
For Deb’s successful renewal of her Cambodian midwifery registration sitting a Khmer written exam.
For the Cambodian Global Interaction team growth and discernment for the next stages of strategy development.

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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS FEBRUARY 2021   

  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 GRIFFITH...
article post

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS JANUARY 2021  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with...
article post

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2020   

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who...
article post

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS NOVEMBER 2020   

The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. Psalm 67:6 GRIFFITH GLEANINGS...
article post

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   

Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big...
article post