Today was a busy day with Holy Family Sunday masses this morning in two places and then dealing with St. Vincent de Paul Society cases in the afternoon. Then this evening the Maryknoll Cambodia community got together for a new year mass and dinner together. It was a quiet and enjoyable evening and everyone was gone by 7:00 PM. Here Ann Sherman and Russ Brine talk with a visitor, Beau Blank, who works with Maryknoll in Thailand and has spent the last four or five days with us.
This evening at the Saturday night mass at World Vision, I met a group of twelve people from Hong Kong who are finishing up a service trip in Cambodia. They have been working in a parish in Kampong Cham Province. In talking to them I found out that these two young men went to the Bishop Ford Primary School in the Tung Tau Tsuen area in Kowloon. I lived at the Bishop Ford School for twelve years before coming to Cambodia, but I was gone before these two started the first grade there.
I wasn’t planning on any more posts about Christmas 2017 but yesterday–Christmas Day–it rained! That is unheard of! When I first came to Cambodia, the common wisdom was that the rainy season ended in October. Through the years it has seemed to rain later and later in the year, and this year it rains on Christmas Day! Call it climate change or whatever you want, but CHANGE is happening.
Today was a strange mixture of religious holiday and normal Sunday for the Khmer people; and of the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve for the Catholic Community. Click here to see some of the day’s activities.
We don’t celebrate Christmas at the Deaf Development Programme because this Buddhist country makes no connection between Christmas and the birth of Jesus and we don’t want to introduce the commercialization of Christmas and Santa Claus into the culture. But today we had an unplanned Christmas party thanks to the generosity of the landlady of our DDP office building. Click here to see what happened.
Every year in Advent and Lent we have a communal reconciliation service, offering the sacrament of reconciliation. This Advent, for the first time we decided to have the service at the Maryknoll office.
Today Musica Felice and the Ninth Harmonics combined forces to perform a fun Christmas concert to benefit the children’s programs of the Daughters of Charity. Click here to see them in action at the Department of Performing Arts.
Every year the Don Bosco technical schools have a Christmas Bazaar at which they sell food and student-made items and also sing and dance and just have fun. Click here to see the 2017 bazaar.
Cambodia is 94% Buddhist and especially outside of the cities there is little understanding of Christianity, and Christmas—which people will have heard of–will be seen as just a western holiday where the foreigners wear Santa Claus costumes and decorate their homes with evergreen trees and lots of ornaments and lights. Christmas is not celebrated throughout the culture at all but most western families and groups will mark the birth of Christ with church services and parties at Christian-based NGOs. Click here to see how the English Catholic community began its Christmas season.
This evening we had a blessing for the new Flavors of Saffron restaurant opened by a Pakistani refugee family who just recently arrived in Cambodia after fleeing religious persecution in their home country. I have worked with quite a few refugees in my years in Cambodia but have never seen a family work so hard and so fast to get themselves established and in control of their own lives.