Friday, July 9, 2010

Friends, Food, Fellowship, and Freedom

Have you ever wondered if there is a 4th of July in Cambodia? don't really think the calendar jumps from July 3rd to July 5th, do you?  Seriously, for the Baptist missionaries in Cambodia (the ones from America), the 4th of July is our big, annual get-together.  This year my family had the privilege of hosting.  On Monday, July 5th, we had 66 Americans at our house, representing 14 different families.  What a great time we had!  Pictured above is Stephen Benefield with his buddy, Ethan Mau.

In keeping with tradition we had a BBQ and potluck and sparklers for the kids.  We also did a couple of new things.  We had an award for the Most Patriotically-Dressed family, an award for the Most Patriotic Hat, and a pie-baking contest.

We also had a program with singing, special music, poems, and some fun competitions.  When we got ready to start our program all of the attendees were told on which side of the auditorium they were to sit, then we asked who could look around and determine what criteria was used for the seating arrangements.  Mrs. Anna Johnson caught on more quickly than anyone...we had seated folks according to which part of the US they call home, the north or the south.  At the end of our program, and after several rounds of American trivia and other fun competitions, the south was the clear winner!  However, the north provided far more of our program entertainment than did the south, so that should count for something!  (At least, so they said!)

The selections of vocal and instrumental music and poetry were very stirring.  Candace and Deborah Benefield did a good job on their piano solos, and the Schrock children and the Wood children sang beautfiul songs ("I'm Thankful To Be An American" and "God Bless America").  David Stephens blew everyone away with his own arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".  The Ruppel family gave a stirring poem honoring our men and women in uniform, and then had us looking for the recruiter's office after their "Armed Forces Medley" (complete with Bro. Ruppel on the snare drum!).  Bro. Ruppel also gave a great poem about an old veteran standing up for "Old Glory".  Tom Johnson was a hit with his trumpet solo (with his back-up musicians, Rodney Ruppel on the snare drum, and yours truly on the piano).  A few people were seen throwing money into a basket, but we aren't sure if that was to get us to play more or to stop immediately!  Bro. and Mrs. Snyder provided comic relief with their modern day George and Martha Washington skit.  Megan Mau brought a southerner or two to their feet when she played "Dixie" on her flute, and then she brought the house down with her rousing-rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever".

At the end of the program, the winners were announced for our contests.  The Most Patriotically Dressed family was the 4 oldest Wood children.  Joshua was Johnny Appleseed, Anna and Abigail came dressed as the Statue of Liberty, and little Charity was Molly Pitcher.  Mrs. Wood did a great job with their outfits.  Our children won the prize for the Most Patriotic Hats with their red, white, and blue straw hats.  My wife won first prize in the pie-baking contest with a fresh blueberry pie!

We wrapped up the evening with some sparklers and more fellowship.  I am so thankful for the other missionaries who serve with us in Cambodia.  There is such a sweet spirit of love and friendship!  I count it a true honor to serve alongside of such good people, and am very thankful for each and every friend we have made here.  The Lord has given us something very special among the Baptist missionaries in Cambodia.  I also want to say a special and public thank you to my wife and kids for all of their help in hosting this fun day.  There is no way this day would have happened without Angela.  She did a great job planning and organizing, and wore herself out serving others.  My three older girls spent hours tracing, cutting, and stapling red, white, and blue pennants to a long string so we would have festive decorations.  Thanks, girls!

Now, enjoy a few more pictures from the day.  And if most of the pictures are my kids, well...that's because they're my kids!

The Wood children in their patriotic garb.

One of the many Benefield hats.

Emma Benefield (8) enjoying a sparkler.

Gabby Benefield (2) enjoying a sparkler.

Gabby Benefield modeling her hat.

Seth Benefield (10 months) enjoyed the day too!

Stephen Benefield (4) asked for days leading up to the 4th, "How many more days until the 4th of July?"

Emma (8), Candace (11), and Deborah (9) LOVE the 4th of July!


  1. I am so grateful for all of your hard work this Independence Day! I had such a good time and smiled and laughed and enjoyed the fellowship! Thanks for posting the pictures of the day.

  2. Yes, it was a great day! Thanks for hosting it, all of you. You are right, we do have a special group of missionaries here! We truly enjoyed the fun and the fellowship!

  3. A wonderful post. Good job on the patriotism, partnership and parenting.

  4. Looks like so much fun. Wow, so many people at your house....I know Angela rose to the ocassion and was a great hostess. God has given her a wonderful gift of hospitality. I know you are proud of her :) I am so please to call her my sister-in-law. All the kids, costumes, hats, food, decorations, etc. look terrific!