The following is a letter from Katherine Parker of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, who is serving as a General Board of Global Ministries missionary, assigned to work with Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD) in Cambodia.
March 17, 2011
My heart goes out, as I'm sure yours does, to the people of Japan and all those around the Pacific Rim who have been affected by the earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. I have been reading updates from friends and staff at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) who are located just 130km from the nuclear plants. They have been reaching out with food and spiritual aid, both to people in the immediate area affected by the quake, and to evacuees who are showing up in their town. ARI is very close to my heart and has also been very supportive of the mission in Cambodia. One of our young staff members, Ms. Daneth, spent last year there as a participant and I am so inspired by her transformation and excitement to serve her people, as well as the new skills she has developed since she has returned home.
ARI will be delaying the start of this training term, probably by a month, as we all watch the unfolding nuclear crisis and as they clean up all of the earthquake damage to the school and farm buildings. But ARI is committed to continue with its mission to build an environmentally healthy, just and peaceful world where every person can live to his or her fullest potential. Funds are needed to rebuild and continue this vital training program that provides connection and inspiration to rural leaders of all faith backgrounds from around the world. For those of you in the United Methodist connection, donations can be made through your local church [with checks written to the Conference, with the Advance number on the memo line] or on line, using the code Advance #220450 specifically for ARI, or Advance #3021317 for the overall earthquake relief. You can also donate through the American Friends of the Asian Rural Institute at http://friends-ari.org, where there is also additional information about the disaster.
Life in Cambodia continues with inspiring glimmers of hope in the midst of constant struggle. I finally posted a few reflections from last January on our blog at http://chad-cambodi.blogspot.com, which I invite you to read – including the story of what actually happened to that cow I mentioned on Facebook. There is also an updated vision page that includes details about our recently completed five-year strategic plan.
The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the UMC will be hosting a Consultation March 31-April 2 in San Jose, California that is bringing together folks from all over the USA and Cambodia to celebrate the mission and consult on how we can strengthen our work together. I've heard that there are about 150 people already signed up to come. I will be there and there is still time to register and make plans to join together with us. More information is available at http://www.cnumc.org/Cambodia. I hope to see many of you there.
I have also received several requests for "Alternative Giving" catalogs and I hope to have those finished in time for the Consultation, with details of specific projects that you can link in to.
I am not always good at capturing those glimmers of hope that sustain me into words to share with you, my friends and supporters, but they are there. Thank you for your prayers and notes of encouragement even when I fail to communicate regularly.
With hope and a peaceful heart,