27 October 2012

Getting a little culture

This evening I was privileged to attend a delightful concert in the Grand Ballroom of the Phnom Penh Hotel InterContinental. It was part of the 9th International Music Festival which runs for 5 days, with a 5 free concerts. I missed the first two, both being held in an auditorium on the other side of town in the evening, as will be the final concert, but the two over the weekend I am able to attend.

This evening I was treated to a selection of three compositions by the late King Norodom Sihanouk, followed by a trio from Georg Philipp Telemann, a voilin sonato by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and finally another trio by Johann Joachim Quantz. Here's a glimpse of the musicians.
Notice the instrument on the left - a contralto recorder! Beautiful.

While this was a violin sonato, I did not envy the pianist at all. She did a brilliant job, and I'm sure the accompaniment was almost as challenging (or maybe more so) than the violin solo. Yes, I had a front row seat with a perfect view of the pianist's hands.

I loved this combination of instruments. Contralto recorder, flute, and cello, with very subtle piano accompaniament.
Alas, due to the fact that I didn't want to head for home much after 8.30pm (I was out alone and that's about my limit time wise), I didn't get to enjoy the second half of the concert, but I am looking forward to tomorrow's matinee Piano Recital. I wonder if I'll be able to get quite such a good seat. Even if I don't I'm sure I'll enjoy listening!

16 October 2012


Today I enjoyed one of the benefits of a long weekend. Today I enjoyed catching up with a friend I haven't seen since July 2011. One of the joys of living overseas is making friends from all around the globe. One of the trials of those friendships is separation, especially within the missionary community where folk regularly go on "home assignment" for shorter or longer periods of time. In today's world, keeping in touch is so much easier for missionaries and other expats than it was when I was growing up in North Queensland during the 1970s.

I remember moving from Melbourne, Victoria, to Townsville, North Queensland (2000 miles). At the time, I think most of my extended family still lived in Victoria (maybe with the exception of one aunt who lived in New Zealand). As I was only 9 at the time, it didn't really seem like such a big thing, although I know it was a huge move, especially in those days. There was no internet (so no e-mail or Skype) and STD (long distance) phone calls were really expensive. Our main form of communication with family and friends in the south was by snail mail. I think it was hardest for Mum, as a stay-at-home Mum. She was a long way from both family and the friends she'd grown up with. It took a long time for her to settle and make new friends.

Then in 1980, Dad was transferred to Brisbane, and so the family made another big move, this time only 1000 miles, but it was challenging none-the-less. Mum & my sister Jenny moved down in January, in time for my sister to start grade 10 in Brisbane. Dad and I went for a visit at Easter, and then in May Dad moved down. Meanwhile I was at boarding school for my senior year. Rather than change schools for 12th grade, I was able to become a boarder at my existing school. Most of my class were boarders (in fact there were only 5 day students out of our class of 22), so there were plenty of people around, but it was still hard. Even then, my primary form of communication with my family was by snail mail. Still no such thing as e-mail for the general population (in fact I never used a computer at high school at all), and definitely no Skype. Phone calls were limited to special occasions.

Once I finished school I moved to Brisbane as well, where once again I had the challenge of making new friends. It has been interesting in the last five years or so to catch up with school mates on Facebook and by e-mail. In Brisbane, I made new friends, and I'm pleased to say that I'm still in contact with many of them. In the last month, one of those friends that I've had since I was 17 made the journey to Phnom Penh to visit me and see where I live and work. Now that's friendship.

Today, it is easier in some ways to maintain contact with friends and family who live a long way away, but it still takes time and effort. Writing e-mails and newsletters takes time. Picking up the headset and logging onto Skype takes time. Facebook definitely takes time. But, friendships are important, and those who have no friends are often lonely and sad. I praise God for all the friends He has given me over the years. It takes time and effort to maintain a friendship, but it's worth it, and I'm thankful for those who are willing to put time and energy into being my friend as well as allowing me to be their friend.

Then there are those special friendships, that when you meet after a long time apart it just seems like yesterday. You pick up where you left off and have special times together. Today was one of those days. It was so good to see my friend and pick up where we left off. Thanks JK.

Friendships aren't easy. Sometimes we hurt each other. Sometimes we are just too busy. Sometimes we want people to carry us, when we need to carry ourselves. Sometimes we need to grow into a friendship. No matter what, friends are important. If you are one of my friends, then I thank God for you. I thank God for what you give to me, and I thank God that you allow me to give back to you. Thanks for being my friends.

15 October 2012

Five years on ...

This time five years ago I was on my way home to Australia following the death of my father. I still miss him, but the pain is getting easier. It helps to know that one day I will see him again. I wonder if the King of Cambodia and his family have that comfort. I suspect not. Today, the King Father, went to meet his maker. He saw much change during his life, from French colony to indepndence, war and peace. You can read about his life here. Life is fragile. I thank God that He loves us so much He made it possible for us to know Him personally, despite His perfection and our imperfection. I also thank Him that the death of His children is never without hope. God is good. Let Him take control of your life. He will not let you down.

05 October 2012

Open House

Today we had our first ever Open House at EWIS. From 1.30pm to 2.30pm we opened up our school for parents to come and have a look at what goes on in the classrooms. I couldn't keep track of who had parents come this afternoon, but there were certainly enough that it was worth doing.

Chatting with the principal after school it was interesting to hear that more than one teacher had wondered why we hadn't done it before, so I suspect it will become a regular event on the school calendar.

This morning I was frantically putting together and getting copying approval of my class handbook. A little late, but it contained important information for parents about classroom procedures, homework, what we are going to learn, and how to contact the teacher, as well as our class schedule. Now the first one is done it will be much easier to update for future years. I just have to get a copy of the Khmer translation, so I can save it in a safe place. My poor assistant had to completely retype all of the material (even though it he had translated it last year) because unfortunately his computer had crashed and he no longer had last year's translations. Fortunately I had a hard copy! Next year I'll be able to send it home on the first day of school (at least that's the plan)!

It was also interesting to hear this afternoon some of the fun things that had been going on for parents to look at. In my classroom students were working in small groups on their "Create a Country" project. In one of the 2nd grade rooms there was a Science Fair happening. Fifth graders were peer teaching in one room and having a technology based lesson the other. I wish I'd been able to escape and go and visit some of the other classes.