The week began with a hectic start as I received a phone call from Sloat, a church member from Punih village.
“Could you help with a funeral?” he asked. “A man drank a liter of rice wine and drove his motor scooter into town. While he was riding down a steep hill, he lost control and crashed. He died on the way to the hospital.”
“Yes, of course, I’ll help,” I replied.
Half an hour later, as I was getting ready for the funeral, Sloat called again.
“The village elders will not allow the man’s body to be transported through the village. Because he died suddenly, they believe it might cause spiritual harm to come to those whose houses we pass. So the family needs to bury him behind his house.”
In Pnong society, if a death is expected, such as after a long illness, hospitalization or old age, it is acceptable for the body to pass through town. Not so with an unexpected death.
At this point, I began thinking of spending time with Sloat. It had been months since restrictions began, and we were still not officially allowed to gather for church, the only time when I usually could visit with him. I missed him and was looking forward to catching up, so I asked him to take me to the funeral.
While there, I met a young Christian man and a Christian lady whom I knew from before. I prayed, Lord, please give me the right words to say to Your children. God then gave me wisdom as I shared what the Bible says regarding death and the second resurrection. Please join me in praying to God that His Spirit, united with our prayers, will help water those planted seeds and bring fruit for His kingdom.
As Sloat and I talked about his field on the way home, he asked, “Do you have time to swing by and see it before returning to town?”
Grateful to God, I jumped at the opportunity to see his family’s beautiful field and replied, “Yes, I would love to.”
Sloat’s wife, Srey Neung, and his mother were excited when we arrived. His mother was all smiles.
As we enjoyed each other’s company, time seemed to slow down. Sloat and his family shared the history of the land, how business was doing as they sell their produce at the local market and their plans for the future. They have close to a thousand banana plants between all three of their fields and plan to add durian trees to see if they can have success with them, too.
“Due to the steep slopes going down to the field, we cannot use large mechanical equipment like tractors and trailers,” Sloat said.
“So, how do you get the produce into town?” I asked.
“We load baskets onto our jungle bike and drive down to the field to get the bananas. Then we haul them up, load them and take them into town,” he answered.
As I left, they shared with me from the bounty of their field — consisting of several ears of Pnong corn (both boiled and uncooked) along with ripe cucumbers the diameter of baseballs.
I thank God for the opportunity to interact with our church members. Because of the villager’s fear of the virus, it has been challenging to visit as often as we have in the past. Please continue lifting Sloat and his family in prayer as they learn and grow in Jesus.