Titus and I, and our best friends, Vandy and Tess, a Cambodian man married to a filipina woman.
Unlike the service in Takao, the service in Siem Reap took place inside the church. The sanctuary was decorated beautifully with balloons, large oragami stars, running and flashing lights, a tree covered in colorful garland, and a large Christmas banner.
The order of service included much singing and dancing; the men sang, the women sang, the men and women sang together, the children sang, the pastor's grandchildren sang, the youth sang, the youth danced... it was all wonderful! There was even a guest appearance of Santa Claus himself, dressed in a velvet coat, hat, pants, a fake white beard, and nike sneakers.
Missionary Tim Gallant concluded the service with a powerful Christmas message. He shared a story of a king who fell in love with a village girl; knowing the village girl would never have the confidence to love the king, he humbled himself and moved into the village, where he worked as a peasant and earned the love of the girl. The illustration was a powerful depiction that put the story of Christ's humbling birth in a context that was more understandable in the Cambodian culture, and I know many hearts were touched.
Following the service, everyone gathered outside the church at beautiful tables under a colorful tent, and we enjoyed a delicioius three-course meal and wonderful fellowship.
After a restful afternoon -- ie. watching National Geographic Underwater in the hotel -- we returned to the church and joined Pastors Banyen and Malachi for delicious goat and rice, and the pastors took advantage of the opportunity to share with us about their joys and struggles of serving and pastoring in Siem Reap.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the six of us traveled to the nearby mall (Siem Reap is a tourist city) and had Christmas sundaes in celebration of Jesus' birth.
It was a beautiful day with wonderful people, and I will certainly never forget my first memorable Christmas in Cambodia. By the way, my next post will feature our full engagement story, including pictures. :)