A Familiar Shop

The foreigners in Cambodia (and probably in other countries) often get into patterns of going to the same stores, interacting with the same people, etc., as one way of acclimating to the different cultural settings we find ourselves in. This is Shop No. 41 in the Russian Market, with the proprietor and her daughter. I have been going there for maybe seventeen years to buy Cambodian goods to take to the US or other places as gifts or souvenirs. She knows me and gives me a good deal and I keep coming back and leading my visitors to her place. I was there this afternoon to buy some gifts to take to England on Sunday when I fly there for my nephew’s wedding.

Salesian Girls Graduation

Every year I attend the graduation of the Salesian Sisters’ girls schools: two of them in Phnom Penh and one in Battambang Province. I have mass every Friday morning at one of the schools so the students and the sisters know me.

Crowding together for a last round of selfies.
Finally it’s time to process into the auditorium for the last time.
There always must be a blessing dance to begin the ceremony.
The underclassmen sing a song for their graduating sisters.

Musica Felice

Today the choral group Musica Felice presented their summer concert. Many of their members are from the English Catholic community and a special addition to this program was blind and deaf young people, including deaf students from the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme. Click here to see pictures from the performance.

Christmas 2018: Maryknoll Tree

Every year at the Maryknoll office we put up a large Christmas tree that was given us several years back by a departing family.  In the recent past, Fr. Bob Wynne did most of the work setting in up in his free time, but this year, after his return to the US, the tree decorating became a Maryknoll community event.  We ended our usual Wednesday meeting an hour early and encouraged by some cheese and crackers and chocolate candy, the tree was set up and grandly decorated.

The tree is artificial and our guard washed it down, along with some of the other decorations, before we started decorating. Here Sr. Ann checks with the guard to see what is dry and what is still wet.

Always first to go on the tree are the lights. Here Sr. Len (kneeling) and Nancy Davies (a former lay missioner visiting Cambodia), and Hang Tran string sets of lights around the tree.

“No, no, not so high! Hang it lower!”

Sr. Mary Little, Karen Bortvedt (another former lay missioner back for a visit), Hang Tran, Fr. Kevin Conroy, Sr. Len Montiel, and Nancy Davies start to hang the ornaments and snowflakes.

Bro. Terry Heinrich

Yesterday we received the sad news that Brother Terry Heinrich died in Australia.  With the Marist Brothers, Terry established and directed the LaValla School in Takhmao, a really excellent facility for young people with physical disabilities that is a model for Cambodia.  Terry had been ill and returned to Australia about a month ago for treatment.  He was also a significant member of the English-speaking Catholic community that meets on Saturday night and he served there as one of our best lectors.  He was a most pleasant child of God, a real gentleman, and he will be greatly missed.

Graduation 2018

Today the three Salesian Sisters technical schools for girls had their graduation, for a little over 100 young women.  Two of the schools are in Phnom Penh where one focuses on office skills and the other provides training in cooking, sewing, etc.  The third school is Battambang and it provides more of the technical skills like cooking.

Before the ceremony, these young women–like graduates everywhere–got pictures of their friends whom they never see again.

Then it was time to march into the auditorium for the 24th graduation ceremony for the Salesian Sisters’ training programs for young women from poor areas.

After an opening report on the school year, the first year students sang a song of farewell to their old sister students graduating from the second year.

Good on ya, Colin!

Colin Allen is the president of the World Federation of the Deaf which represents deaf people to the United Nations.  He is a real organizational genius, just the type of advocate leader the deaf community needs–and he was just recognized for his abilities by made a member of the Order of Australia in the most recent Queen’s List.

Coincidentally the guard at our Maryknoll office in Phnom Penh showed up wearing an old Colin Allen shirt!  Maybe fifteen years ago we made up some shirts for a birthday party for Colin when he worked at the Deaf Development Programme here–before he got to the big leagues.  I doubt the appearance of the shirt at this time was intentional–I have no idea how the guard got it and I’m sure he has no idea who Colin is–but it was a fortuitous alignment of events!

Capturing the Culture

Occasionally, just for a lark, the Maryknoll Lay Missioners group in Cambodia goes for a “glam photo,” all of us westerners dressed up in traditional Khmer costumes.  The photo shop crew takes individual shots of each person dressed in the color of his or her choice and then takes several group shots.  Here a photographer adjusts Sami Scott’s head to get just the right angle while Russ Brine and Hang Tran wait their turn.