There have been two incidents this week, both relating to driving a vehicle in Cambodia, that I have said should feature in the blog such as experiencing our first flat tyre (which took over two hours for us to replace) or almost having the van towed away for being parked on the wrong side of the road and giving the police a small gift to bless them for allowing us to simply move it. But instead I want to share about celebrating our second Easter in Cambodia – a time when we focus on the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
On Thursday our friend Colleen and her three children visited the Day Care Centre where we introduced some Easter traditions from New Zealand and Northern Ireland to the Khmer staff and pre-school children. Nine year old Sophie had come up with the idea to make a Piñata (paper mache object filled with sweets which is then broken as part of a celebration), a process which took them three days to create. We were thrilled that Sophie, her twin brother Sam and 7 year old Tobey wanted to enjoy Easter festivities with us.
They helped the children dye hard boiled eggs before hiding them in the garden. This was a totally new experience for the staff and children alike, it was lovely watching them walk, and sometimes run, through the garden searching for coloured eggs. They managed to find them all, Sophie carrying out an official count to make sure. There were enough eggs for all the staff and children to each take one home at the end of the day. Next the children were organised into a circle and Colleen explained to the staff how everyone should take a turn hitting the Piñata to try and break it. Several times round the circle and with Sophie, Sam, Tobey and the staff helping out it finally broke open releasing the sweets hidden inside. The children knew exactly what the treats were and quickly gathered them up, with everyone getting share. On behalf of the Day Care Centre I want to thank Colleen and her wonderful children for all the fun we had and think this will definitely be an annual event. They have already promised to visit the centre after the Khmer New Year holiday and teach us how to make a piñata, so thank you Sophie for your wonderful idea in the first place.
Earlier this evening, on Good Friday, we went to ICA church (International Christian Assembly) for an event entitled ‘Journey to the Cross’. In a small group we took part in a virtual, walk through tour reflecting on the events surrounding the first Easter thousands of years ago. Our guide led us through each of the stations, beginning with celebrating Palm Sunday, when the people heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. We interacted by waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna, Jesus is coming’ imagining what it would have been like to witness this for ourselves. The next room was draped in black fabric with various sins written on them in many languages – selfishness, cursing, bad temper to name a few. As we walked round the room on the floor were bowls with pebbles in them. We were instructed to pick up a pebble depicting a sin we struggle with, and when we left the room were told to put it inside our shoe to discover how uncomfortable it is to walk round carrying that sin in our life.
The next station was laid out as though we were sitting at the feet of Jesus, as an actor portraying Him quoted scripture such as ‘I am the bread of life’ and ‘I am the light of the world’. At this point we were given a glow stick to break and be reminded that Jesus is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. We moved into the next room where we sat at the foot of a cross, touching nails and a crown of thorns and thinking about the reality that Jesus would willingly go to the cross and die for me. At this point we removed the pebble from our shoe, putting it in a bowl of water to signify Jesus washing away our sin by his death on the cross. The most moving part of the journey for me was when we shared communion together eating bread to remember the body of Jesus that was broken for us and wine to remember his blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sin. The finale of the tour took us to a room depicting Jesus rising from the dead and the stone being rolled away to show an empty tomb. The song ‘He has risen, He has risen, He has risen, Jesus is alive’ played while two girls performed a celebratory dance.
As we journeyed to the cross we were able to ponder on how much God loved us that He gave his only son as a sacrifice for our sins. This Easter weekend as you carry out family traditions and eat too many Easter eggs, think about Jesus and His journey to the cross remembering that He loved you so much that He laid down his life to spend eternity with you!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10