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I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Genesis 13:16


The bulk of the roads in Cambodia are dirt roads. Dust on, dust off is a perpetual cycle in Cambodia during the dry season in everyone’s daily lives, our eyes, bodies, clothes, motorcycles and homes etc. Now if a covering of dust was a preserver then we would be well preserved this year. Since around October last year we can’t remember any significant rain. Even trees have a layer of dust over their leaves at the moment. For our peace of mind, we need to embrace and accept the dust levels on our bodies in our eyes and nose, but we do find ourselves choosing the ‘less dusty’ roads to travel on at present (and it is common to shower our bodies three times in one day).

At the edge of a road intersection, dust is something that also covers much of the Chreav school vegetable garden where Rob volunteers. With the help of a project last year the garden now has a less back-breaking drip water system that has made life and garden maintenance easier (it started with watering cans). The water system has also required significant modifications to make it more “child-proof”, and the compost still ends up receiving a lot of plastic waste added with tree leaves and food scraps, but the garden is steadily seeing changes in what a year ago was a dry, hard and barren part of the school yard. The plants and garden shed at present are coated with dust, but a transformation is taking place. Children spontaneously help out to work in the garden and many come seeking a cob of corn, a long bean and even bananas to eat most recently. Most of the soil has grown softer and is becoming more fruitful over time. Interest in the garden has come not just from within the community, but has created interest far away. Rain will come and wash the dust at least temporarily from our memories. May we keep our focus off the dust or whatever present challenges we may have and sow and seek some of the life-giving longer-term things where we are planted; like the ‘dust’ promise of fruitfulness that Abram received in the verse above.  

Deb sits with two sisters (not at the same time) that are grandmothers – ‘Yeay’s’ on a regular basis to learn from them the ways and being of Khmer culture; this will be an ongoing occurrence as wisdom is shared and learned over a lifetime. One Grandmother is really funny and the other one is the village matriarch and is more sedate and serene. Deb finds real peace sitting with them and growing. One of the Yeay’s shared with Deb that she has observed us planting and growing grass around the home since we arrived. She said she noticed Deb had progressed from just wanting green around the home to then swapping to a better grass that the people in the village gave us. Slowly over time the good grass has provided a dense covering and is more tolerant to the Cambodian seasons, the grass grows and spreads in coverage. Then Yeay has noticed that the weeds with her failing eye sight and one cataract covered eye we try to thin the weeds out along the way. She shared she hoped that our learning is just like the grass it gets better and thicker over time and more Khmer people want to come and enjoy so will sit around and chat. She shared a real treasured insight and gem with us.

A recent funeral went for close to a week across the road from us giving a great opportunity for the village and surrounding family of the deceased to gather together. We found ourselves sitting with some grandfathers – ‘Dtar’s’ and the local village Monk one of the days. We talked and listened about our different cultures and faith. The Monk shared how he had heard the story of Noah from the Bible and how God got angry and killed all the animals and people, and this is why he doesn’t like God. For devout followers of Buddha, killing any living thing is a sin and not killing even an ant or mosquito is one of the five basic laws of Buddha. As this was a public setting following Khmer culture, we gave the Monk’s insight space to sit, giving respect for the occasion of the funeral and the position of the monk (a relative of the deceased). However, we have invitations flowing on from this funeral to visit more people and we invited the Monk to come and sit with us at our home like he has before. We pray that as relationships grow and deepen that true peace, wholeness and wellbeing will be something that is shared with our Khmer neighbours.

Above: Paul Gravitas (previously lived in Thailand with Global Interaction and has a doctorate in studies of cultural Buddhism) visited, listened and shared many insights to assist us. Pictured here with Deb’s language nurturer. Right: At the funeral sharing with near neighbours and local Monk.
Sharing with village Monk and grandfather elders Dtar Jah’s
My neighbours whose Grandmother - Yeay died.
For good health from recent medical follow ups.
For deepening relationships to share our source of peace, wholeness and wellbeing.
For many opportunities to grow in cultural and language understanding
For good health for young children in our team who have been sick a lot.
For safety on road at all times across all team members.
For patience and discipline in reviewing and growing in the Khmer language.