Cambodia Update: Lent 2005

Dear Friends in Mission,

After three months …

Time seems to pass by so quickly! Most quickly, of course, one week last month when Nancy came for an all-too-short but highly enjoyable visit.


Picture it: Jim and Nancy scooting around Phnom Penh on a motorbike. Now complete the picture with the rest of normal traffic: a gazillion other motorbikes and "vehicles" of all sorts on the street moving in what at first appears to be random patterns. It’s been surprisingly easy to adjust to motorbikes, cars and trucks driving slowly toward me, in my lane of traffic, waiting for the opportune time to angle through to their proper lane. Works pretty well, in fact. Other manic motorcyclists, however, bobbing and weaving around and through traffic at high speed in the same direction are truly scary! Even more heart stopping are those playing chicken – literally! – racing straight across intersections without even turning their heads (great peripheral vision an asset!). Thrills – and recently, spills* – enough for everyone!

Nancy’s visit was short but sweet. We had fun! So you ask, What else have you been doing?

Learning in villages

In December you will recall that I began visits to each region to see life and work of our churches and their villages. I made direct contact with the majority of our pastors, met members of the congregations and saw first-hand village life and development efforts of UMC churches before I arrived.

Wells have been dug providing clean drinking water to villagers. Training on pig production has enabled farmers to be more successful and to “pass on the gift” of an offspring to others. Small loans have provided capital to generate jobs and income, including weaving, rice noodle making; and loans to support watermelon, mushroom and fish farming, among others. Similar village-level projects will be supported in other locations under the Finnish Methodist Church-supported Agricultural Development in Rural Cambodia (ADRC) project. I will be sharing more on these as they develop. One of our partners, the Center for Livestock and Agriculture Production Integrated (CeLAgriD) will introduce pig-biogas-vegetable production in one of our villages (others later, we hope). I am extremely excited about our partnership with them and their cutting-edge approach of participatory extension.

Supporting Cambodian Leaders

Under the ADRC project, four Regional Agriculture Committees (RAC), including experienced agriculturists, have begun to oversee the development, implementation and monitoring of new projects. My central task has been to train and support the UMC Cambodia leaders to take on these roles. Key to the process: regional workshops focused on building local capacity; and site visits, both to verify that proposed activities make sense and to assist with project development. Working in Cambodia is truly a process of “walking together” in mission.

Thanks to you for sharing in this work and for your continued support. Remember us in your prayers along with those in South Asia who were devastated by the tsunami. Fortunately, Cambodia was unaffected, as the Malaysian peninsula protected us.

Grace and peace to you in this Lenten Season.

Jim Gulley

* Two weeks ago I became the product of an unsolicited merger: Another motorcyclist was the Merger; I was the Mergee. Gratefully, just some scrapes, bruises and lumps.