Today is the last day of our work schedule, both at School on the Mat and in the preaching seminar. The end of the trip has come much more quickly than we realised - the time has flown in.
Today's School on the Mat was in Santepheap and Prochea Thom, meaning probably the longest drive in the van to get there, a drive of at least 45 minutes on the lumpiest, bumpiest road we have been on. We did the story of Daniel, acting it out with 26 children as the lions; in the morning they were reluctant, but keen in the afternoon. In the afternoon there were 27 children to start with and more drifted in with some parents and then granny appeared with a little child, standing on the fringe listening; we'd never seen that before. This was the most urban of the villages, but Reatray got lost and the CHO staff on the bike had to come to our rescue. We played musical bumps and the winner was mobbed by the rest and lifted into the air.
Jim's last day of the preaching seminar consisted of the morning at Safe Haven teaching the class from John 13, Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, Amos 8 and the corrupt leaders oppressing the poor, and Romans 5 focusing on the quality of hope that God gives. "Have you met Amos before?" was the opening question of the second discussion - it caused consternation; how can we meet someone who died 2500 years ago? The wonders of the English language... Amos provoked no discussion at all; they understood the bible passage and they also understood how it applies here, but they needed to have time to think about how to stand up to corrupt leaders in their culture. In the afternoon, Jim gave the group an outline for sermon preparation, a summary version written on a postcard of Edinburgh! In turn the 7 CHO staff (1 was absent, sick) took it in turns to say 'thank you', some saying that this preaching was all new to them, but they felt better equipped now, thanks to the time Jim has spent with them. "When are you coming back?" was their parting question.
Chomno appeared back from his travels this afternoon and we had a long conversation about CHO, Poipet and our visit. He is delighted that we have come and is excited about the new emphasis of their work. They have stopped doing sewing classes and motorbike maintenance, amongst other things. They are concentrating on the school and the value of education, and on building strong and safe communities where the CHO staff will work in villages and get to know people really well, thus introducing them to a better way of life and to the gospel.
This evening we went to visit the casinos in the border area - we stayed outside! They are in complete contrast to the rest of the town, full of lights and glitz. The casinos are owned by Thai and Chinese businesses, and while 85% of the staff are local, for some it is the first step to be the victims of trafficking. Poipet really gets little benefit from all this wealth on its doorstep.