30 September 2009

A quick update

Don't ask me where the last two weeks have gone! Days here just fly by. This is just a quick update to let folk know that I am still alive. I survived the staff retreat, and it was OK, but 9 hours or more travel for a day & a half retreat seemed a long way to me. Granted it is an interesting drive, but the roads aren't that great (at times it was a matter of finding the smallest potholes rather than avoiding them altogether). Coming back on wet roads was even more hazardous, especially when we decided to try and avoid the Phnom Penh peak hour by taking a fairly major "back road", only to discover that either it had been washed out by recent rain or they were rebuilding a bridge without any diversion routes. When I compare road building in Cambodia to road building in Australia there's just no comparison. You think the Australian roads fall apart quickly? You should try Cambodian roads. Some are better than others, but I'm sure they could benefit from some Australian engineering input!

Speaking of Cambodian roads, I haven't been out to the new school recently, but I've been told that access is something of a challenge. Let's hope they get something sorted out before we have 30+ staff and 300 students trying to get there and home again every day. I'm sure it's on the list of things that has to be sorted!

And while I'm on the topic of the new school, it looks promising for us to have two computer labs to set up when we move. We still need monitors, keyboards and mice, but we know that God can provide.

OK, it's time I was in bed, so I'll finish off for now.

See you again sometime soon I hope. Report cards are looming in the very near future!!!


17 September 2009

Hooray for Holidays

Hooray. I have survived the first six weeks of school, and I finally get a break, albeit a short one.

This weekend is one of the important Khmer religious holidays, Pchum Ben, which is determined by the Khmer lunar calendar. This year it is in September, but two years ago, it was in October. Pchum Ben is the "Festival of the Dead" and a time when the Khmer people feed the spirits of their dead ancestors, who supposedly walk the earth during this time. It is time when Phnom Penh is largely deserted, as many people head out to their "home" provinces, and so the roads are quieter, and shopping can be a challenge. This can be a challenging time for Khmer Christians, who don't want to offend their families, but no longer wish to "celebrate" these traditional festivals.

So what do I plan to do with all this extra time? Well, actually, I won't have much extra time. Tomorrow I am off to Takeo Province, with my teaching assistant. The trip will take about an hour and a half by moto (or some I'm told), and I'm not sure over what sort of roads. If you're reading this in time, pray for safety on this journey. This will definitely be a stretching experience for me, and I'll admit to being a little nervous about it.

Saturday and Monday I plan to spend at school, catching up on some marking, and planning for the week ahead. Sunday I'll relax part of the day, and will lead worship (& play piano) at ICF in the afternoon. Then it's just one and a half days of school before more "holidays", only this time I don't really get a holiday. We have a compulsory staff retreat happening at Koh Kong (more than 4 hours travel by school van each way), departing lunchtime Wednesday and returning Friday evening. Not looking forward to it, but I'll do my best to make the most of it.

By the way, I finally have all my students. The last one arrived today! It will take him a while to get up to speed, but hopefully he can do it next week so everyone starts fair after the holidays.

Bye for now


05 September 2009

Chamber Strings in Phnom Penh

On Friday night a friend and I enjoyed a great treat. The Tubingen Chamber Orchestra from Germany performed music from Mozart, Mendelssohn, Telemann, and Jaan Raats in a Phnom Penh auditorium to a packed house! I'm still not sure how we got tickets, but our music teacher at school had managed to procure 20 tickets, and on short notice there were not a lot of people able to attend. By the time my friend arrived it was standing room only. Fortunately we got a spot leaning against one of the side walls, and then a gentleman rearranged his children so that my friend and I were able to sit down. Even if we'd had to stand for the whole performance it would have been worth it. By the time it finished it was raining again, but fortunately I didn't have very far to ride home in the rain. I've been trying to load a picture, but it doesn't want to happen, so I guess I'll just post this without.

School is going well, with plenty to keep me occupied. The children are really enjoying the variety of songs I have to use in the classroom, and they make a great break in between lessons, especially when they give opportunity for actions or playing air guitar (I've got a few who do a great job at this). Colin Buchanan and Doug Horley songs go down really well, and so do some others I've had for many years.

Well, I've got put music together for this afternoon, and time is fast getting away. Chatting on Skype is great, but it does take time. Still it's time well spent, keeping in touch with friends and family and I had great lines today!

Bye for now


02 September 2009

Rain, rain and more rain

Wow, I think it has rained every day this week, and consequently the temperatures have been delightfully low (mid-high 20s) instead of low 30s. I love it. I think this a result of coming from so many years of drought in Southern Queensland, especially the Toowoomba area. I love the sound of the rain on the tin roofs, even though sometimes you have to send text messages to communicate with someone only 6 feet away because it's soooo lound. I don't love riding my moto in the rain, but it's something you do, and I just have take extra care, especially when it comes to avoiding potholes, which frequently appear in the roads without warning. Our cement road seems to be holding up well to the rainy season, but the point where it connects to the bitumen road at the end is not so great. Still, it's lovely to have the rain, although those whose homes regularly flood don't tend to agree with me.

My staff devotion last week was well received. It was great to just praise God for who He is and all He has done for us. Several people commented that they had enjoyed it.

Well, I'm back on music again for church, only this month I have someone else to play piano and I get to sing, so I'm quite excited about that. We welcomed our new pastors to ICF last Sunday, and we are looking forward to seeing how things move in the coming months. I'm sure God will do great things.

This week has been interesting. As I became increasingly stressed last week, I realised that, once again, I was trying to do this job in my own strength. Yep, relying on my own organisational skills, training and ability to do a job that I can't do on my own. It was amazing the relief I sensed when I confessed to this, and have once again made a concerted effort to start each day by placing it in God's hands, and giving Him a chance to speak to me. It's not easy, as I'm not a morning person these days, and I have to be at school, in the room ready for devotions at 7.30am. Got to keep working and trusting Him to help me with this.

Finally, the fourth grade students presented Elementary Chapel on Tuesday morning this week. The music teacher had been teaching our chosen songs to all the other grades as well, so they went really well, and the kids did a great job. Sorry, no photos. Must remember to take some next time! Praise God for his guidance in planning and for making things run smoothly. It was also great having someone else looking after the sound equipment for me so I could focus on helping the kids with their presentation.

OK, better go and listen to some rain drops as I fall asleep.