3/18 Seoul – DMZ /Nanta

Today, in Seoul, we visited the DMZ.  This area is an active military zone and is where we visited the third tunnel of aggression.  We were required to show our passports and walked to down the tunnel.  In the afternoon, we walked through Nandemoon market and went to the Korean theatre show called Nanta (my favorite!).  It’s a cross between Stomp! and rhythmic chopping, blended in comedy that transcends languages. 

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We said goodbyes to our guides Miran and Salem, thanking them for their hospitality,  planning and assistance around the city and transportation. 

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We posed for one last group photo with the cast of Nanta before taking taxis back to the hotel.

We closed our group’s adventure with prayer in the hotel lobby, because our group splits at 0430 in the morning departing for the airport.

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3/17 Seoul – Scranton Woman’s Center

Red-eye flights are either great for sleeping or make for a long next day. Our flight left Siem Reap at 11 pm and we arrived in Seoul at 6 am local time (after losing a few hours to the time zones); air turbulence kept most of us from resting.

We arrived in Seoul, went through customs,  found our bags and were met by our shuttle driver. Four of us sat in the back seat of a van and rode for 2 hours through morning rush hour traffic (our other team members were in the other shuttle) to meet our guides. 

Seoul traffic is similar to rush hour traffic in the States with lots of cars, stoplights and buses. Temperature is very similar to the upper Mid-Atlantic states of the US and a 50 degree temperature drop from where we had been the past two weeks. 

At the hotel, we were met by our guide from Scranton Women’s Leadership Center,  Miran.  We must have been a strange sight:  beleaguered,  bleary-eyed and sleepy,  we changed shirts in the hotel bathroom, grabbed a bite or eat at the adjacent McDonald’s, and reviewed our schedule for the next 2 days.

We walked across the street to the bank so we could exchange currency for Korean Won, then boarded a public bus for Ewha Women’s College tour.

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This is where reverse – culture shock will hit and a reason that Ubuntu journeys include a day or 2 of debriefing.  

We toured Ewha (including the art museum and campus), found a coffee shop, had lunch, took taxis to the Scranton Women’s Center…and I confused our taxi driver who dropped us at the wrong building.   Thankfully, Miran had given us her card, so someone at the GBGM office in the Methodist building called to Miran’s office and they retrieved us.  A few hours later, we made it back to the hotel in the afternoon.  Checked into the hotel, changed clothes and went back out for dinner and a show called “Jump” – modern Korean theatre filled with great martial arts and universal comedy.  It’s somewhere between 36 and 72 hours since we’ve slept. It’s a different culture, with different language, and a different temperature…all of those changes within a short window can lead to cranky women. …

3/16 Silk Farm & preparation for travel to Seoul

We awoke this morning with no power.  Rolling blackouts are common, but the room was stifling hot at 5 am.  We learned later that a truck hit a power pole and knocked out power to the area at 3 am.  Our hotel was on a generator, but could not keep up with the demand.  The power returned at 0630 long enough for us to get breakfast. 

Today, we rode a boat to the floating village on the Tonle Sap River, stopped at the Mustard Seed preschool, and toured the Artisans d’Angkor Silk Farm.

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Mustard Seed School

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Several of our teammates went back to the hotel to prepare for our flight to Seoul.  Meredith,  Thida and I rode in a Tuk-Tuk with Kevin back to Angkor Wat since she was unable to go with us the previous day.  After that quick trip, we said our goodbyes to Esther, Sophany and Thida at the Siem Reap airport.  We had a 5 hour overnight flight to Seoul…

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3/15 Angkor Wat & Temple tours

Today, as we prepared to go to Angkor Wat,  we said goodbyes to Marilyn and Joseph.  We loved our time with these wonderful missionaries who have given their lives to serving Christ and the people of Cambodia.  Their stories of survival and joy for a life of service have been inspirational highlights of our journey. Roberta gave Marilyn a Ubuntu Sister pin in appreciation of her time with us.

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We visited Angkor Wat,  Bayan temple and the Tomb Raider temple.  Like many parks and monuments, Sundays are very crowded.  Our guide reminded us that we must show our temple passes (3×3 tickets with our photos) at each temple entrance).

Angkor Wat is a place where one could spend days, as opposed to an afternoon, exploring the ruins and temple grounds. Cambodians get in free to the temple and families often picnic on the grounds and children play in the moat surrounding Angkor Wat.

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Cambodia has many temples, some yet to be revealed to the public due to their locations and others because they are surrounded by landmines.

After touring the temples in 98 degree weather, we had dinner and saw traditional Cambodian dancing, visited the night market and rode a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel.

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3/14 Preah Vihear (Part 2)

After lunch, we returned to the church for a craft, worship, communion and our closing ceremony.

We boarded the bus for our 3.5 hour ride to rode to Siem Reap. We stopped along the way to see a famed bat tree which is the daytime resting place for thousands of bats outside of an abandoned home which was once used by the Khmer Rouge.
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Along the road, we saw rice – drying fields, small boats, Lilly – pad farms and road construction.
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We arrived at the hotel …preparing to see Angkor Wat. .. tomorrow!

3/14 Preah Vihear Methodist Church (Part 1)

Today, we awoke to 79 degrees and a glowing red sun. 

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We rode to the Preah Vihear church to meet with UMW from the district foe prayer, worship, small group time to learn about projects (including community gardens), and to have our closing ceremony.  

The church is actually an apartment home overlooking the river and local park with the front room serving as a classroom most days.

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For lunch we had appetizers of roasted grasshoppers and waterbugs….followed by a course of stir-fried vegetables and baked fish.

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Jeanie showed us how to hail a cab and I unsuccessfully attempted hitchhiking.  

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When we checked out

3/13 Travel to Kampong Thom

0730 arrived early as we loaded the bus after checking out from our hotel.  We rode for 4.5 hours on “good roads”…the National Highway #6 is partially paved and mainly dirt.

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We stopped for lunch at the BooLoom Restaurant and were early for our time with the youth.  We rode another 20 miles to visit with Sophany’s mother.  This had been the highlight of the trip.  This is what ties everything together.   Sitting in her mother’s home, on slatted floors, eating bananas from the yard, we could hear the mama pig as she quieted her piglets, men sawed boards, and chickens clucked in the yard.  Sophany shared her personal journey with us and we prayed with her and her mother.  Sophany showed us the pigs that her mother raises…pigs bought by UMW.  My sisters, you’ve wanted to see where our UMW funds go on an international level…they go to women like Sophany’s mother who goes to the local market each morning to cook porridge for children on their way to school.

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We boarded the bus and rode back to the dormitory that houses 61 girls and 9 boys who attend the local school built by the queen of Singapore and passed a church built by Methodist congregations in the US. 

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The pastor greeted us and after a brief tour of the Susanna Wesley dorm, we worshipped with the youth…they too loved the “chicken dance” and hokey pokey. 

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Faith, Hope, Love in Action…the wiring for lights inside the sanctuary were wired by two of the young women who studied electronics.  They added lights to say thank you for your support of their dormitory and education opportunity. 

3/12 Kampong Spue – 300 Children.

What do you do when you have 9 women, 3 translators and 300 children who speak a different language?  PRAY!

We traveled to a different village within Kampong Spue to Srey Sampong Methodist Church where 180 children from the community came for Bible school, games and songs in the 97 degree heat.

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The lost sheep story, group games and they loved the chicken dance song…shoes knew that a song with no words would be so universally loved and taught. 

We visited a local livihood project – a roadside store started with seed money provided by the Methodist Women.   She sells ice, petrol, fruits, candies, and drinks.  She wants room expand her convenience store to include clothing.

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At lunch, we met two American soldiers on a peacekeeping mission, and our guide/translator had an opportunity to speak with them as well.  They told us that the restaurant must be okay because they saw us!   *Photos used with permission of the officers. 

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While we waited for the bus to return, several of us napped where we could find a spot.

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After lunch, we traveled to Tree of Life Methodist Church,  built by the Korean Methodist Church.   Over 100 children came to the afternoon of singing, dancing, games nd story time.   Like the last location, we also gave out cookies and flavored drinks. 

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Games like “Over Under”, “Duck, duck, goose” and rhythmic clapping are easy to translate fairly well. 

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James, our translator’s daughter had his phone while he led a few songs, so as she snapped photos she told me, “Look, these are the children of the church.”  We are not sure how many random photos James now has on his phone, but I am sure it will be quite a few.

Kevin presented several Ubuntu service pins as thanks for translating and helping with the children.  James’ quote:  “I am saved to serve.  I am not saved to sit.”

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We traveled back to the hotel for dinner with Rev. Dr.  Romeo L. del Rosario and packing.

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We travel to Siem Reap tomorrow (Friday). 

Note: several folks have sent me emails asking about water closet breaks.  Water closet stops are are common: 

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“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said.  “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children. Matthew 19:14

3/11 Kampong Spue – District women

We rode the bus 2 hours this morning to the village of Kampong Spue to meet with Methodist women from around the district.  We sang, we worshipped,  and shared testimonies of how God works in our lives. We danced traditional Cambodian dances and enjoyed fellowship around the lunch table.

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Luke 10:38-42

We read the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) and breathed prayers into balloons that were tossed into the air.  We each popped a balloon and will pray for the prayer that God laid on the paper.

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After lunch, we gave out reading glasses and I broke into tears when I saw the expression on a woman’s face that expressed the joy of sight. 

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Nearby restaurant

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The women then taught us to weave rice steamer baskets; unfortunately, none of us mastered the skill.

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On the way back to the hotel, we passed several garment factories at shift change.  Most women who work in the garment factories make less than $128 per MONTH.  They work 48 hours per week: straight pay, no overtime as 48 hr/6 days per week is the standard work week in Cambodia.  Women ride in the back of trucks like cattle to their shared apartments and homes in the area and in Phnom Penh.  

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The temperature is 97 degrees and will be 20 degrees hotter in April, the last month of the dry season;  rainy season starts in May and goes through November. 

“”What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, I want to see.'” Luke 18:41

3/10 – Street Children Ministry

After visiting Agape International Mission and lunch at Friends International (www.friends-international.com a restaurant that trains underprivileged youth in the hospitality industry).

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We crossed the train tracks to a town where Clara Biswas runs street ministry program for HIV patients (GBGM Advance # 14921A)  We worshipped, heard heart-breaking stories of illness, cancer and daily struggles.  We played games with the street children at Boeungkok Methodist Church.  From the alley where we sang “Hallelu,  hallelu”, played “duck duck goose” and even the “hokey pokey”, people gathered and watched from windows and on the dusty street.  While our team gave out health kits a mother handed her crying baby to me for a moment.  Trying to soothe a crying baby in 97 degree weather is not easy.

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“I tell you the truth, whatever you do for the least of these, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40

*No photos were taken of the children or adult clients at this location.