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GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2018

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“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:19 

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS DECEMBER 2018

Have you ever made a Christmas nativity space complete with banana trees, palm leaves, bamboo stable and even hand-made characters from local clay? Actually we can’t say we did it either; at least not by ourselves. We had a lot of help from some Khmer friends (more about that below). We wish you a wonderful Christmas blessed with happiness, peace, hope, and refreshment to your body, soul and mind. We are so grateful for the privilege that so many of you give us, to be living here with the Khmer people in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Living cross-culturally gives a fresh perspective on things that we might have grown up celebrating, symbols that we may rarely have thought about the significance of, and our own response to them.

Imagine for a moment that your neighborhood is made up of people who have never sung a Christmas carol and their understanding of Christmas may have been formed from watching a YouTube ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon! Yes thanks to smartphones the cat and the mouse are much better known here amongst the children than many of the stories that may be stuck in our childhood memories. After two years living in Cambodia and so many of our friends and neighbours sharing their culture, their lives and their stories with us, we thought this Christmas was an opportunity to share some aspects of our culture and the Christmas story that is significant to us. Yesterday at our home we welcomed neighbours together with team members to share some of our own culture and held a “Christmas party” of sorts that was a blend of how people in Cambodia gather for a party and a few of our own traditions. There was no ham or turkey served, nor was there a decorated pine tree for that matter, but we did give small gifts to everyone and we shared the story of God’s gift to the world. In a country where there has long been very few picture books available even in schools, take a look at the photo below and how the grandmothers keenly gazed at every picture in the children’s book used for the purpose. One of the highlights for us was one young language teacher (or nurturer as we like to call them) after hearing the Christmas story in a language lesson, spent weeks drawing a welcome banner and hand crafting the clay models that made up the nine piece nativity scene fashioned in the likeness of Khmer people and stable. Another highlight for us was seeing some of our team children playing together with the Khmer children from the village as playing together broke the language barrier. Of significance though was the matriarch figure an older wiser lady of the village who said to Deb that although we did not have monks attend she had a full heart of joy seeing our team engage with her people in her village.

The Khmer nativity scene
Sharing together the Jesus is born story and book
Thankfulness:
For deepening relationships with Khmer friends and sharing of what is important to each of us.
The recent opportunity to welcome others to learn and share Christmas in our home.
For sharing in team milestones including end of year school events with the children.

Prayer Requests:
For safety on the roads for all team members.
For rest and refreshment for team families taking leave.
For our family back in Australia (and a couple of other countries at present) as they wait another year to see us in person again.