Virgin territory?

The two primary reasons we chose our house in Stung Treng were its size (just right for our little family) and location (right in the middle of a “village” of neighbors). One reason we didn’t choose the house was its newness or its beautiful landscape. We knew it would take some work to make it live well, and we were okay with that. So over the past six months, we’ve been chipping away at various projects, big and small. One of the biggest has been making our small yard a safe and somewhat pleasant place for humans. Thankfully, I love yard work, but this was yard work I’d never experienced: working with a piece of land that evidently had been a dumping ground for all kinds of trash—from broken glass, metal, and plastic, to layer upon layer of rock (both natural and added gravel). Again, I really do like this kind of work most of the time, but after a full Saturday at it, I’ve sometimes told Bonnie Ruth that 8 hours of yard work here feels like 16 hours of the same in the US but actually accomplishes only as much as 2 hours! Both my joy and frustration in the work has often reminded me of gospel ministry, particularly in a pioneer setting. To make the land green with grass, trees, and flowers is a sweet pleasure to me; but how I long to do so on truly virgin land—uncultivated land, still untouched by years of human abuse! Is this not the dream of every gospel minister, regardless of location? But is there such a thing as “virgin” territory? Whether it be with the deep-seated assumptions of an animistic/Buddhist culture and worldview as we meet here, or with the increasingly prevalent secularism of the West (or worse than both, the “prosperity” gospel!), the Enemy has been faithfully “sow