Northern Exposure

Working with the Krung Tribe in North East Cambodia

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Nativity Illuminated

Whilst in many countries Christmas is largely celebrated in the home with close relatives, Christians in Cambodia do not celebrate Christmas in the home at all. There is no tradition of giving presents, enjoying a meal together or visiting family members. Christmas is simply a time for Christians to gather together with their church family and share the Christmas story with their local community. Preparing for these events usually starts a month in advance and consists of three basic things a) decoration b) creating a performance and C) cooking food. But the highlight of the event is always the performance – Cambodians love to watch performances! ‘We like to be together with the church during that time and see the performances’ said a young Christian Cambodian lady. ‘We do not have the habit of buying the gift and giving it to each other in the home – we do not know about this - but the performance reminds us about the gift of Jesus and reminds us to be thankful for Him coming to earth.’ At our church in Ochum it was the Youth Group’s responsibility to prepare the performance. We decided to make a recording of the Christmas narrative in Krung, with traditional Krung music and song woven throughout. Once the recording was finished we set about making a shadow puppet performance to go along with the recorded narrative. The final outcome was a marvel to behold: an illuminated performance outside in the dark, with both ochum village and people from villages further afield gathered together watching the story of our Saviour’s birth. "The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world''. John 1:9

  • Praise God for His kindness in helping our youth group put together a memorable Christmas performance.
  • Pray that the message of Emmanuelle will continue to stir the hearts of all those that saw and heard it.

And then there were boys...

Until now ochum Youth Group has consisted of 12 girls and every week I reminded the girls to pray for boys! Two weeks before our Christmas performance I was suddenly called to Thailand to help a Cambodian friend have an operation. On my return I discovered three teenage boys were involved in our Christmas performance. It is still not clear to me exactly how they came to be involved, or where they have come from, but they have continued to join youth group and church ever since. In addition to this wonderful news, I recently met a young Krung Bible student whom we are considering to ask help lead our youth group. He has already started attending the group and has fitted in very well. Could this be a new turning point for Ochum Youth group?

  • Please pray the new boys would continue to join us and that their hearts would be captivated by Gods Word.
  • Pray for the possibility of a new Youth Group leader; one who will teach the Bible faithfully and be a good role model to the new boys.
  • Pray that the current female leader would welcome the idea of sharing her role and not feel pushed out or rejected.

New launch at Thun Village

Last Saturday we launched our second Krung Youth Group at a village called Thun. The village is more remote than Ochum, so the logistics of getting it started have been more complicated. The more remote the village the more reliant I am on others to help me get there; the journey requires someone with a 4x4 truck/car who is willing to drive me all the way there and back again! Also, the more remote the village the more help they need. Although I had written a manual for the youth leader, with lots of lessons already prepared for him to teach, it was obvious he was not grasping how to use it. Getting a group of village kids together with the purpose of teaching them is a very foreign concept for isolated tribal people and it will take time for everyone to get used to it - but praise God we've made a start!

  • Praise God for the 15 kids that turned up on our first week.
  • Pray the youth leader, Sovann, will learn quickly learn from watching me teach from the manual and be able to take over in just three weeks time!

Bits n'Bobs

-Praise God for time spent with my mother here in Cambodia over the Christmas period. It was good for her to see my new life in Rattanakiri and to visit some of the Krung villages. The dusty red roads were a bit scary for her, but at least I know she will now be fervently praying for my travels to and from the villages. Please join her in this!

-I have new neighbours; a -flock? herd? gaggle?- of Ducks & Geese! I love drinking my coffee in the morning and watching the new view from my kitchen window. Now I really feel like I live on a farm - especially now that I wake up to the early morning song of 'quack, quack, quack'.

-Three weeks ago I ran over my puppy dog Topsy. Its a miracle he survived! Praise God he escaped with just cracked ribs and seems to have recovered remarkably well.

-It seems that many of you never received my last two prayer letters. This is very disheartening for me, as your prayers are so very precious. If you think you were one of those people, you should be able to access all of my past prayer letters by entering the Smore Website.

Thank you for praying.

Love Joelle