Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hagar Catering & Street Elderly Drop In Centre

Today has been a busy day starting with a 7am breakfast with Marie Ens at Rescue. We had breakfast at Hagar's Catering which is a ministry founded by YWAM many years ago. Hagar's catering hires women who were once in the sex trade and gives them 6 months training in their catering school. The restaurant provides western food and the Director Frank Wood who knows Marie came over to chat with us for a bit. Frank used to live in Australia and is now retired ---probably around his late 60s in age. He came here for 4 months but now has stayed for 4 years. His experience in catering has led him to oversee this ministry which has become quite successful. I wish I had a few more days in Phnom Penh but time is slowly running out as I would have loved to spend more time chatting with Frank but perhaps that will be for when I return again on next year's trip.

At 11am, Shannon and I went with Sotheary who is Ratanak's lone paid employee to meet Lorraine a 70+ international worker whom God has given a heart to reach out to the elderly beggars in Phnom Penh. Ratanak funds the Street Elders Drop In Centre that Lorraine runs. Today, there were about 12 people who dropped in---both old men and women who beg for food around the markets. The drop in centre provides lunch for the elderly and then provides mats for them to lay down and rest in the afternoon. Those who want to take a shower can also use the shelter's facilities. There are Christian books that are available for the elderly to read. When I look at these old faces, it is at times like this I wish I could speak the local language. Their faces reflect the hardships they have endured and yet despite their daily challenges, they still manage to give us beautiful smiles. I wish I could hear their stories, for the old have so much wisdom and experience to offer to us but so often we discount what they have to say. Thankfully God knows their history and am thankful again that this place provides a shelter from the storms of life and a place of peace. This is a new ministry that is being started here and as far as we know, no one else is reaching out to the elderly. There are so many who beg on the street and have no place to go. It is for these who live 'outside' the city gates that Christ calls us to reach out to. The marginalized, the outcasts, the displaced, the poor and the oppressed. The poor indeed is all around us and the divide between the rich and poor seems to be getting worse and these elderly especially are so often ignored. Yet is ministry's like this drop in centre that reminds us that despite the overwhelming poverty around us, God does not forget these who society sees as valueless. It is these pockets of light that give glimpses of God's hope to those whose daily existence seemed so meaningless.

These next two days we will be visiting friends in Kep---located in the south of Cambodia. It will be a time to rest and reflect and with no email access, my next posting will likely be on Sunday September 2nd.

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