Visit from Memaw!

One of our summer highlights was to be a month-long visit from my (Bonnie Ruth) mom. We all excitedly made the 7-hour trip to pick her up in Phnom Penh and returned home a few days later. Four days into her stay, however, she fell down the stairs in our house and landed face down on the tile floor. We heard the commotion and rushed to find her lying unconscious. Seeing the obvious head injury, we immediately called two local friends, one a nurse, one a doctor, who examined her and helped us secure an ambulance. So at 11:30 pm, she and I squeezed into the back of an old Montero Sport for a harrowing night ride through heavy rains and flooded roads, navigating fallen trees as well as countless carts hauling illegal lumber without lights! Next morning at 5:00, we arrived safely in Siem Reap, the closest hospital with the equipment for a CT scan. The initial scan and x-rays revealed, among other things, swelling and hemorrhaging on the brain, and the doctor indicated that she would need surgery as soon as possible to relieve the pressure. For this, we would need to go either to Phnom Penh or possibly Bangkok. So we climbed back into an ambulance (much nicer this time!) for another 5-hour ride to Phnom Penh. In answer to many prayers, the second CT scan revealed that the brain swelling/bleeding had increased only slightly, meaning that surgery was not as urgent. Mom and I spent four nights in ICU and another four in a regular room for observation. Thankfully, subsequent scans showed that the swelling/bleeding was decreasing and no surgery would be needed. While the brain injury was certainly our greatest concern, honorable mention also goes to three broken ribs, a fractured vertebra, fractured wrist, fractured facial bones, and collapsed lung!

After being released, we were hopeful that she might be able to return to our home in Stung Treng, but the pain levels (combined with the bumpy roads) soon ruled this out. So after ten days apart, Jeremy and the kids—including newly-weaned Elisha!—joined us at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh where we made some memories nonetheless. A couple weeks of air-con, some western food, and playing games with Memaw—no one complained! Praise the Lord that though she has had quite an ordeal, she is on track to make a full recovery and was even able to make her return flight earlier this week. We just hope the memories from her visit don’t discourage her from future visits!

Memaw’s visit


While reading the Psalms recently, I noticed how often David begins by rehearsing his many troubles. Enemies, personal sin, setbacks, fleeing for his life, loneliness, exhaustion from constantly running, depression from feeling forgotten (or worse, hated)—all are common expressions in David’s prayers to God. Yet somehow, these same prayers almost always end with praise. How? And why? Did God answer in the affirmative every request David made? Were these negative circumstances removed? No, but David wasn’t finding his hope in smooth circumstances or from somewhere deep within his own heart. His source of hope even amid trouble and discouragement was in his never-changing, always-loving, and supremely sovereign Redeemer. Though our struggles aren’t normally of the magnitude of David’s, circumstances in recent months are forcing us to remember that our Hope, like David’s, is indeed steadfast. Our Hope—through hot days, nearly sleepless nights, discouraging lack of fruit, promising relationships that turn apathetic, lack of love toward the very people we are here to serve—has not changed. We cling to the same promises that the peoples will one day sing his praises. We hope in the same promises of ultimate renewal, both within and without. And we rejoice in the promise that our Hope is ever present with us. And so, brothers and sisters, please pray for us. Jeremy specifically is experiencing an unusual level of discouragement, in part due to prolonged seasons of apparently unanswered prayer, as well as physical and mental fatigue.

Writing to the Corinthians about his extreme adversity, Paul said, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” We are always grateful for your many reminders that you are indeed praying, and our hearts are hopeful that his blessings will be granted to us and the peoples of Cambodia through these prayers.

Reasons to pray

  • Physical stamina throughout the day and good rest during the night
  • Persevering joy
  • Renewed love and compassion for the people around us
  • God’s blessing on both teachers and students as we start a new school year
  • Fruit of conversion among those who have heard the gospel:

Ta and Yay (our 84-year old neighbor and his wife)—Jeremy recently shared the gospel with Ta and surprisingly, he listened without interruption for 15 minutes, quite unusual as Ta enjoys teaching the youngster (Jeremy) about life in Cambodia (and Jeremy enjoys listening to these fascinating life stories too). Sadly, his response was typical: Jesus and Buddha are both great teachers that help us all get along. Pray for light and for further opportunities.

Ming (an elderly lady)—pray for understanding and faith

Napi (Jeremy’s former language tutor)—pray for renewed interest

Moni (a young woman, newly professing faith)—pray for increased understanding and perseverance

Reasons for praise

  • Brooke Illsley is back with us for another school year. She has been invaluable in helping me with the schooling of our children.
  • Though my mom’s visit was not what we had planned, I’m thankful for the quality mother-daughter time during those days and nights in the hospital and also that we were able to address all of her needs here in country.

Spring session of the Ratanakiri Pastors Institute: “Theology for Worship”