It’s hot. And you know you’re in trouble when your weather app says “99 degrees–cooler temps today.” But we have long since left behind those sub-100’s and are now getting daily heat indexes of 115-125. We had already decided it was the hottest weather we had ever experienced here, even during our years in Phnom Penh. But determined that we would endure with joy and “not even notice” like the natives, we hardly mentioned it (at least we tried). Then the locals began to complain, telling us it was the hottest weather they had known in years. Then we started seeing articles like these pop up, telling us we’re breaking all kinds of personal bests for heat. So we’re grunting it out through the heat, praying for rain (which is not supposed to come until July, rather than May, this year) and cooler temps, praying for joy from the Spirit, and realizing afresh the close connection between body and soul.

We have now been in our new home in Stung Treng province for almost 3 months. In many ways, these months have felt the way that our initial move to Cambodia 5 years ago was supposed to feel. Maybe it’s just one more symptom of being a slow learner, but it seems like all the difficulties of culture shock/stress that new missionaries typically experience have waited until now to hit home. Things like sickness, heat fatigue, and simple frustrations with the way life works (or more accurately, doesn’t work!). In a word, our time thus far has been strenuous, both physically and mentally/emotionally. The biggest temptation to fretting stems not so much from these various stressors per se, but more from the fact that we very often feel (particularly during the past 3-4 weeks) that very little of our time is actually going toward the things you sent us here to do–namely, learn Lao, share the gospel, and teach national Christians. Please pray with us that we would find our joy in knowing and being known by Christ, that we would love our neighbors the way we love ourselves, and that we would know the Spirit’s strength to fulfill these obligations. We’re also praying that as Cambodian farmers think on their need for rain, they would begin to think about the rain Giver whom they have long neglected to thank for His gifts of rain, produce, etc. (Romans 1:20-21). May this lead them to fear His wrath (Romans 1:18) and seek His mercy. Please pray also for rain and relief from the heat.

One recent encouragement was a warm reception from two local authorities in Stung Treng, the minister of religious affairs and the head of immigration. These are important relationships and God is answering our prayers of many years for a friendly relationship.

Language learning

My primary goal for the next few years is to learn the Laotian language, particularly as it’s spoken here in Stung Treng. Apart from the expected difficulty of language learning itself, I’m finding it very difficult to obtain a tutor who is regularly available. For about 2 months I’ve been meeting each afternoon with a young man, but these meetings actually happen less than 50% of the time as he frequently needs to cancel for one reason or another. Please pray for (1) a tutor who can meet with me consistently and (2) who is available to meet in the mornings, rather than in the heat of the day when everyone here is less productive.

Market fire

Two weeks ago, the main market in town where we do all our shopping burned to the ground. We live less than two blocks from the market, so we had a front row seat to all the commotion. Here is a summary of the events of that night if you’re interested.

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for sending and keeping us here. We are exactly where we want to be, doing (or at least trying to) exactly what we want to be doing. Please persevere with us through prayer.