There was a lot going on in this past week after Christmas and I forgot to post anything here about the Maryknoll Christmas Day, after I posted some photos from the streets on Christmas Day.
This was Christmas Eve, at the auditorium of World Vision where we have our Saturday evening masses. This is before the flowers were added but the setting is basically simple there because we have to carry things to and from World Vision each time we want to use them.
This is after mass on Christmas morning at St. Joseph Church, our second site for the English-speaking Catholics. Every month we have coffee and doughnuts after mass on the third Sunday of the month but this month we moved it to Christmas Day to make it special. Also adding to the festiveness was the choir (a lot of the red shirts) who sang Christmas carols while people drank their coffee and chatted.
In the evening on Christmas Day we gathered at the Maryknoll office for our community celebration, the nineteen Maryknollers plus a few others who work with us.
I want to start a new page for collecting the Notable Quotes that I acquire through the year but until I can get the permanent page set up, let me start here with a quote from Abram Kielsmeier-Jones in Sojourners:
The prophetic task of all believers is not just to react to reality, but to reframe it in the light of a grander vision of the future.
A couple weeks ago I noted that several stupas and an archway at a prominent wat were being painted in an odd choice of colors. Now it seems the paint job is completed and the wat looks brighter but also traditional. The white color was an undercoat of paint, a primer, and the red was partly a primer and partly a final decorative color. This is how that same wat looks today.
This is the last of the series on this Topic of Car Door Protectors, showing the variety of colors that drivers are using. And it’s not only young people. I saw one police car that had added the stickers. Click here to see the last installment, Part 4. You must scroll down to it.
A few weeks ago, I posted an article about some mysterious fruits that I saw being sold along the side of the road. Lo and behold, Bishop Olivier was reading my website and sent me an SMS telling me, Those are not fruits but SNAILS! Big snails…. So now the record is set straight.
The celebration of Christmas in Phnom Penh is quite different from what most people would experience in places where there is a large Christian community and long-standing Christmas traditions and customs. Here Christmas is almost universally not understood and largely ignored except by the shops and stores that can profit from it commercially.
Christmas Day in Phnom Penh
Here are some glimpses of Christmas day here in Phnom Penh this year.
Even on a regular Sunday, much of the normal commerce continues in Phnom Penh. Here is an auto repair shop at the end of our street. These guys never get a day off–and they haven’t a clue about Christmas.
This man is stopping to get his morning coffee, probably like he does most other days of the week and of the year.
One sign of Christmas: the new Carl’s Jr put up an ersatz Christmas tree in the front of their franchise.
Down on the river front, a woman sells sparrows from her cage to Cambodia people who release them to gain merit for the next life. Seems to me there would be more merit gained by not capturing the birds in the first place.
A Christian NGO arranged a Christmas giveaway, handing out bags of goodies to the crowd that quickly formed around their tuk-tuk. I’m not sure what all was in the bags but I could see cans of Coca-Cola through the plastic.
A disabled man begs for money along the river front.
Two monks make their rounds begging for food for themselves and the poor people they support.
A husband and wife take a river front tour in cyclos.
An enterprising shop along the river sells little Santa Claus outfits to the tourists and locals who think it’s cute for their kids.
This crew repairs a flat tire on their garbage truck.
This coffee shops and bar goes all out for the Christmas spirit with a large snowman.
Phnom Penh has had cyclos, the pedal-powered bench seat rickshaws, and then motorcycle taxis and then tuk-tuks, for a few years. But now the newest entrant into the for-hire market are real taxis, available before only at the airport. They started three or four years ago and now there are maybe five taxi companies competing for passengers. The rates are relatively low. The latest variation of taxis, though, is that we also have a taxi-app like Uber. It’s called something like X-Taxi and all the booking is done on your phone. Users tell me it’s often cheaper than a tuk-tuk. There is no place to park taxis in Phnom Penh so this company has this eight or ten of them on the edges of a traffic roundabout.
This morning I had mass at the Salesian Girls Vocational Training School at 6:15 AM. There were only four girls with the sisters; the rest had gone home for the Christmas break. But when I came out, Fr. Luca (standing) was loading his pickup truck with overnight bags for fifteen of the young women who were going to his parish center in Kampong Cham for the weekend. The bed of the pickup was half full of boxes and belongings and at least ten of the girls also had to sit back there so the rest of their stuff was going up on top of the cab, wrapped in the green tarp and tied with ropes. Just a normal ride in Cambodia, and not as crowded and difficult as most!
Here’s more–Part 3–about the blue plastic strips used to protect new cars–and old cars in Cambodia. Click here to see what one car dealer said he had never seen anywhere else in the world. Scroll down to Part 3.
Last night I was at an Advent reconciliation service and I got a call from the DDP co-director who told me that the wiring on the pole across the street from the Deaf Development Programme was burning. This morning there was no electricity or Internet service because of the fire on the pole. But much to my surprise, the electricity company came this morning and repaired the wires. I honestly thought it might be a week before they came, given the way things work in the Kingdom of Wonder. Another surprise was seeing them using a truck with a power lift. Always before it’s a couple guys hauling big ladders around on a motorcycle. Maybe some things are changing here. Notice the remaining wiring under the street light is all white. That is the fire retardant powder sprayed from four of the DDP fire extinguishers and four from the apartment building in the background. You don’t call the fire department in Cambodia. It would take them forever and then you would have to pay them before they fight the fire. But now we’ll have to pay to refill our fire extinguishers.