Youth Conference

It’s 4:30 in the morning. As much as I’d like to be able to go back to sleep, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Jeff, Ian, Seth and I all need to be up in an hour anyway, so I figure I’ll take a few minutes to update this here blog of ours.

My days here in Battambang have been more than chkoo-ut tik tik – a little crazy – but they’ve also been incredibly rewarding. 

…As an aside, I’ve given up on crafting beautiful prose. I know, for instance, that most skilled writers excessive use of adverbs (and parenthetical asides), but this trip has been filled with so many amazing experiences that I can’t help peppering my paragraphs with words like incredibly, unbelievably, astonishingly and inexplicably. I’ll gladly accept a C+ for composition if you’ll grant me a B+ for content and an A for effort…

Well, if you can get out to Battambang, Cambodia in the next couple of hours you’ll see something pretty wonderful.

Take National Road 5 out of Battambang, over the bridge, past the giant statue of the man with the stick, further than the new Mormon church and the University of Battambang, about 4 minutes (depending on the number of cows, tractors, tuk-tuks and petrol trucks) beyond the statue of the dove and the globe, there’s a little dirt road that goes off to the right. It’s marked by a little blue sign.

No, not the one with the picture of the pig. The other one. It says “Asia’s Hope.” Turn there, but be careful. The rains have made the dirt road pretty treacherous. Yours wouldn’t be the first car to get stuck in the mud, and if you block the path, the buses, vans and tuk-tuks full of kids won’t be able to get through. About 300 meters to the right, there’s a gate. You won’t be able to miss it; it’s festooned with balloons.

Come on in – tell them you’re with me – and follow the music. It’ll be loud. Hang out near the back of the Hope Fellowship pavilion and just enjoy. Enjoy watching 250 teens – most of whom have experienced more loss than you or I can imagine – enjoy watching them sing and dance and shout. You probably won’t know the words to their songs, but if you ask around, someone will translate for you, and they’ll tell you that these kids are singing about how God has blessed them, and how they’re trusting him with their lives. Pretty great stuff.

If you’re there by 7:30, you’ll get a chance to hear my pastor Jeff Cannell speak. And if you can’t get there until the afternoon, you’ll still get to hear Darrell Evans, a Vineyard pastor from Salt Lake City teach. Sorry to say you’ve already missed Gwen and the guys from Australia. But we’re saving the very best for last: tonight we’re closing out the conference with a dance party and fireworks.

If you haven’t been to one of our dance parties, you’ve really never partied. John Dewit and his family will be there. So will Gwen and Vern Higaki from Western Reserve Grace Church. Ross, Loudy and Karen will be getting down with us, and you’ll get to meet Clarissa, a volunteer teacher from somewhere near Sydney. I’ll be there, but unless I get a nap at some point today, I probably won’t be dancing much. But I’ll be happy.

Okay. If you haven’t left yet, you probably won’t be able to make it in time, but I’ll take lots of pictures. And I’ll probably ask you for a donation so we can do this again next year.



John McCollum2 Comments