Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #12: Day 3

This is my twelfth journal entry as part of the OCC Volunteer Discovery Trip. The material relates to the tenth journal day but publication here will not align to that actual day/date – Friday 5 February. The alternate-day publication schedule allows me to post this in full, after returning from the trip.

The other articles available for this series are:

  1. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #1: Introduction
  2. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #2: God First
  3. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #3: 7 Days Before You Depart
  4. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #4: 6 Days Before You Go 
  5. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #5: 5 Days and Counting 
  6. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #6: 4 Days – Not Long Now
  7. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #7: 3 Days Left
  8. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #8: Less Than 48 Hours!
  9. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #9: What Will Happen When You Return?
  10. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #10: Today Is the Day
  11. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #11: Day 2
  12. Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #12: Day 3 [this article]

Journal Guide

READ LUKE 9:46-48

The Greatest in the Kingdom

46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. 48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

Is it not interesting that these disciples were actually arguing about being great in God’s Kingdom? Their arguing showed their pride and Jesus immediately flipped the conversation around by setting humility as the foundation of true greatness. Children are weak, cannot protect themselves, have to be taught everything, cannot think for themselves and are vulnerable. Children are usually seen as nuisances in many cultures. Jesus uses the welcoming of a child as an example of loving Him. Loving the “unlovable”, those who are vulnerable and feeble, is one of the markers of Christ followers. May you love with the love of Christ today and whilst you are on your missions’ experience.

According to Jesus, who are the truly “great” people in the world? During your Discovery Trip consider what are the some ways you can help the children you will meet to feel welcomed and loved.

Journal Write-Up

Jesus’ teaching was and remains quite revolutionary in the way we are called to reverse our mentality. To be great is to humble ourselves and serve instead of leading and pushing for greatness. Jesus’ teachings is quite consistent throughout his ministry as seen when he washes His disciples feet as another clear example that we lead by serving. The pure faith of a child is exalted in the passage above and I was privileged to witness clear examples of this at work in Cambodia. The local workers who humbly go about their work in the villages and rural areas of Cambodia are fantastic examples of people who are truly “great” people on fire and serving God. Their passion and love for the kids as a representation of their love for God is inspiring and encouraging. Much of this Discovery Trip will see us interact with children when we visit schools and churches, particularly for the shoe-box drops. For me, interacting with the kids and making the time for them is part of helping to show them God’s love.

Samaritan’s Purse have developed the program and material called The Greatest Journey (TGJ) which provides the children a solid foundation introducing them to the Gospel, and Jesus. The material has been delivered to teachers such that 500 volunteers have received the training just in January 2016 alone. Some churches choose to adopt and use TGJ as an ongoing way to teach Christ to the children whilst the material itself is mature enough to be delivered as is. The material and books are intentionally printed in colour which costs more but helps improve the level of uptake with the young audience who enjoy the interactive nature of the content. The way TGJ is introduced varies from location to location, but nominally the children workers go out to the villages one to two weeks after the shoe-box distribution; the children will either have been provided a copy of the TGJ booklet as part of the shoe-box drop, or later on. An invitation is made to the children to come to church or join a local Bible club held at their own village.

Thursday 4 February was a day of travel from Phnom Penh to Battambang. Given the quality of the roads, this journey of ~300KM took about 5 hours with two stops scheduled including one for lunch. Lunch was held at a restaurant called White Elephant. In the afternoon we had free time to visit the local market or relax at the hotel. A few of us chose to gather poolside and unwind whilst others took tuk-tuks down to the river. Battambang is both a city and the name of the province in which it is located; this practice is fairly common in Cambodia. As a city, Battambang is the third largest city after Phnom Penh and Siem Reap where the Angkor Wat is located. Whereas Siem Reap is the tourist hub, Battambang is the “bread basket” of South East Asia, where good quality Jasmine rice is grown. Back in the 1920s, Christian missionaries from the US came to Battambong and the first convert to Christianity took place here.

This journal/devotion caters more-so for Thursday 6 February, when we completed the journey to Sisophon, which was accomplished in the morning period. After lunch, we visited a local village after stopping by the Sisophon office  of Samaritan’s Purse where we picked up the local project worker Sinoon. Sinoon has worked for Samaritan’s Purse for the last two years and we all appreciated his passionate explanation of the cause and program behind the Water for Families project. Every 20 seconds each day, a child dies from water-borne diseases. The quality of water was initially so poor in the rural villages that when SP surveyed villages the results would indicate that 70~90% of children suffered from diarrhea. As a post implementation comparison, after implementing bio-sand filters (BSF) this statistic would decrease to under 15% – praise God! SP have to diligently check the source of water for a village. Part of the challenge in delivering a holistic solution that lasts is not just in providing technology (BSF) but also in educating the local population on why they should use BSF; educational and training programs were delivered over the period of a year as part of addressing this need.

The bio-sand filter is relatively simple in design and implementation. It is similar and slightly more expensive than the same units that SP use for temporary and disaster relief deployments. The BSF operates on gravity where water trickles down through the layer of sand and rocks before being channeled through the piping to the outlet positioned halfway up the front side of the filter/container. The filter containers are constructed out of concrete because it is durable yet still portable should families need to relocate and move. Previously, it was found that cheaper materials like plastic had the effect of creating a perception in villagers that the filters were not as effective or worth the effort. Over the long period (30 years) concrete is the best material. The cost of this type of BSF is $100 USD and maintenance is also simplified to scooping out the silt. The trick is to agitate the water so that the silt floats and leaves the layer of sand undisturbed.

The source of water may be piped and pumped, but in the village we visited only two homes had that installed whereas the other homes relied on the old-fashioned method of drawing water from the local river/lake and carrying the bucket(s) back home to the BSF. Filling a BSF container with water will trigger the outflow of water through the BSF to the order of 30~50L/hour!

Part of the job of the SP project worker is to convince the village leader that the BSF offers benefits to the well-being of the entire village. Once the village elder has been persuaded and proof is offered in the health and well-being of the children, then all the villagers will rally behind the elder and the entire village of families/homes will end up with a filter too. Since each filter is charged at $5/month per family so that there is a sense of ownership involved.

In 2015, SP installed 1900 compared to 3000 installed in 2014 – this decrease was purely due to decreased funding provided by donors from countries like Australia. As part of the project deployment the SP workers move and live in the local region, for periods of up t o two years before both project and worker moves to the next area of deployment. SP helps to subsidies the rent cost of project workers to $50/month/room. The project has natural milestones for monitoring the BSF – 1 month, 3 months and 6 months. Whenever the worker comes to the village to monitor the filters, they also share the gospel so the whole village ends up hearing about Jesus as the reason behind these projects. In our visit, Sinoon was proud to inform us that the entire village we were visiting had heard the Gospel. Unfortunately, none have become believers just yet… Today 5% of all homes in Cambodia have a bio-sand filter!