We arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia early March, and were welcomed by bre. and sis. there at the BEC. A rigorous initiation into the running of the Cambodian BECs began, and lasted a few days, ice cream and football included.
We then took the bus to Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville is a beach town some 5 hours south-west of Phnom Penh. It is fairly ‘touristy’. The BEC there is located under/next to a university, and we were required to help out there after K and Sarah had left. It is a light and airy space, which serves the purpose of teaching well and makes it pleasant to live there. Sam and Naomi (Aus) were in charge when we arrived, and had started handing out leaflets attracting some new students, starting to fill an otherwise rather empty timetable.
Once the students began coming, many of them invited their friends to come with them. This was great, but meant we had to have a flexible attitude to class sizes as there was often one more than we expected! The students here are mostly young; still going through their education, either high school or university. They are enthusiastic about learning English and enjoy playing games like pairs using cards with English words on to add some variety to the lessons.
We taught English using the Bible as the backbone, teaching new vocabulary, sentence structure, use of tenses, pronunciation and so much more. It is illuminating to just how many odd things we say when you are teaching those who have English as a second language… what does ‘to tell someone off’ actually mean?!
We were also welcomed to the BEC by Sreypov, our sister and cook, and Savy and Theung, all of whom were eager to find ways of attracting new students to learn with us. Our first meeting was called to order (on the beach, we ordered drinks) and Savy wanted us to hold a seminar the following weekend to tell our students about who God was and what the message of the Bible was. Within a few minutes, we had agreed the details – the beauty of a small number of people means that plans are very quick to organise! So we spent the next week teaching lessons, and gearing up to lead a preaching seminar.
In the meantime, Sreypov left for a few days to say goodbye to Kay and Sarah as they flew from Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, Sarah was struck with Dengue fever and they had to postpone their flight, but Sreypov was able to stay in Phnom Penh with them to look after their son while she recovered. Our loss, but their need was greater!
The following weekend we were visited by Johnny, Melinda and Sorphea from Phnom Penh. The seminar was held at the BEC, and 10 or so of our students came. The seminar went well, and afterwards we shared food and drinks together, and then played some games out in the yard! Much laughter was shared, and some good relationships were made.
Good times at the BEC
We were invited to Savy and Theung’s house for dinner, and shared a BBQ with them, Chim (Savy’s cousin) and Sutong (Theung’s sister). There was a power cut, so we ate around candles – very ‘romantique’, Savy said. Power cuts were a fairly frequent occurrence over the month, but they weren’t too disruptive – only the internet connection became very unreliable following the cut.
Later in the month, a few days before we left, Sreypov finally returned from Phnom Penh with Ratana and Rasmey in tow. It was great to spent a little time with them. The trio giggled and talked late into each night! We managed to spend some quality time with our friends on the beach, going out for meals, enjoying each others company. We felt really blessed to be able to work with such wonderful, kind people.
So our time in Sihanoukville has swiftly drawn to a close. We will travel back to Phnom Penh tomorrow and then fly out, returning to Chiang Mai for the next two months. We are sad to leave our friends and students – a month seems to have gone very quickly. It had been a real privilege to work with and get to know the people here, and we pray for the BEC here to be blessed.