A sorcerer Who Looks Like Me
Other Evil Gods
Pnong Bible Story Set
Pnong Story Set Terms
Bugs in the Rice
As the trail led around the last stand of bamboo I could see the field hut. My heart was pounding! What would I find today? Who would I meet? I love my job! I love the wilderness. I love the beautiful people here who make the wilderness their home. I love adventure and new discoveries every day. The trail I followed on my motorcycle opened into the rice field. I made my way down the narrow footpath past corn, rows of rice, pepper plants, eggplant, pumpkin, clumps of lemongrass, and chives. The think green foliage of the fields, dazzlingly beautiful in the sunlight, was only magnified by the garden-like fragrance and aroma of fresh worked soil and growing plants. As I parked the motorcycle in the shade of the thatched hut and cut the engine, I could hear the symphony of birds around us in the jungle adding their voices to the glorious picture I had just stepped into. And then I heard the crackly sound of her voice!
Uey ah! Jit han mai? In English the precious granny’s words don’t have the same ring, but it would be “Oh hello my son. Where are you headed?” For years I’ve known Granny Mochek. Her son is Chumpri and her daughter in-law is Kaak, Johanna’s long-time language helper and friend. She seems very old, yet tall and proud. She has few teeth, if any, remaining and is difficult for me to understand. I’ve made the trip to her home deep in the jungles several times, once to carry her dying husband to the hospital. We were relieved when he pulled through and I was able to take him back. But the first trip was with two friends visiting from America. Each visit, Granny Mochek has gone out of her way to make us feel warm and welcome and always calling Johanna and me “daughter” and “son”.
Today was no different, though we weren’t in her field. She was obviously visiting Kaak and Chumpri in their field. Her warm greeting was followed by an invitation to rest in the shade of the field hut and her inquiring if I were hungry and in need of some fresh corn to be roasted over the small cooking fire. “Sit down my son, sit down. You must be exhausted from your long trip from the provincial center.” I smiled to myself thinking of my ten minute trip realizing she was probably judging the distance by time in an ox cart. I assured her I had just eaten and wasn’t hungry, but she still sent a grandchild scurrying into the field with a backpack basket to pick some fresh field corn.
“It’s just me here,” she added as she stooped down to blow and revive the coals of the cooking fire. “I told them I wanted to go too, but oh no. They insisted on going alone and leaving the old woman to watch the grandkids.” I smiled again at her toothless grumping thinking of how similar her feelings were to my own grandma’s back in America. It must be hard being a grandma. “I had thought it would be nice to attend the wedding of our relative today,” she continued, “and I was all ready to go, but oh no. Oh no! They wouldn’t think of taking me. ‘Someone has to watch the field,’ they said. ‘Someone has to make sure the rice isn’t eaten by wild pigs or monkeys’ they told me. ‘And who’s going to stay with the grandchildren if you come?’ So once again I had to stay and sit here by myself. But now you come! Welcome, welcome!” I sat there in the field hut with Granny Mochek, my heart swelling with love for her. I felt so incredibly loved by her too. What a blessing to be called “son” by yet another Pnong woman! I feel so honored, so humbled.
A Sorcerer Who Looks Like Me
It wasn’t long before Chumpri and Kaak returned. We heard the sound of their motorcycle long before we saw them coming down the narrow tail through the field. “I didn’t feel like staying all day until the evening meal,” Chumpri confessed with a grin. “So we left our small gift of 10,000 riel and came home.” Kaak immediately asked again if I was hungry and once again I assured her that I was fine and in no need of food. “I’ll still get some sweet pumpkin soup cooking since we’ll all be hungry soon,” she added as she put the supplies away they’d bought in the market.
As Kaak and Granny Mocheck peeled and sliced green pumpkin into an old aluminum pan, Teem told me a story that was of great interest to me. “Do you remember when I was sick a few weeks ago?” he asked. I nodded my head as he continued. “Well, that first morning I was sick I was lying awake there on my bed when suddenly, as plain as I see you now, I saw someone with a crossbow coming towards me. He aimed and shot an arrow directly at me. I realized immediately that he was a na’ang and that my sickness was caused by his arrow.”
Kaak added, “We had just returned from that village where the man had died of a snake bite remember?” I again nodded. “Well, there is a famous na’ang who lives in that village. He is my relative since he was married to my younger relative. She died and he’s since married another woman, but I know him very well. He is a terrible person and has frightful powers. I’m sure that he was jealous of all that rice you took the widow and all the supplies you gave her.”
“He probably thought it was actually from me,” Chumpri said. “But when I saw him that morning, he didn’t reveal himself. Instead he came to me in disguise. His hair was just like yours. In fact his nose was just like yours and his eyes and ears were just like yours. Even his skin was just like yours. He looked exactly like you all over. But I know it was actually him just appearing like you.” I suddenly felt chills all over my body. A powerful evil spirit had caused my dear friend’s sickness and then appeared to him in broad daylight with my face and hair and skin. “He is a terrible person,” Chumpri continued. “He doesn’t eat human buffalo souls because he’s hungry like some sorcerers. He kills human buffalo souls because he likes to see them die. Then he throws their meat aside as garbage to see it rot. He’s a gruesome killer!”
I asked them for clarification exactly what a na’ang is. This is what they told me. A na’ang is someone who wishes to become a soul eating sorcerer. Unlike a jyak who inherits his powers from his mother or father, a na’ang actually has to learn the arts of sorcery. He finds a jyak and asks them to teach him their secret ways. “But a jyak who lives in the village is actually a person who has jyaks living in his stomach.” Granny Mochek added. A na’ang has great power and even a shaman can’t win against his spiritual power. “If he decides to kill you, there’s nothing that you can do,” Kaak explained.
“I did a special ceremony with incense and chicken’s blood when I realized what was happening,” Chumpri explained. “I think that must have somehow broken his power over me.” My heart raced as I remembered Chumpri’s sickness. We had wondered why he had gotten sick so suddenly after seeing him strong and healthy the night before. And I vividly remembered Chumpri’s vocal agreements with me during my prayer as I had prayed, “And Lord, if there is any evil spirit or jyak who is making Chumpri sick, please send it away.” I remembered the trip to the doctor in my truck and the prayers again that God would help the doctor to give him the right medication. But now Chumpri was talking as if it was his incense and chicken’s blood that had done something to cure him. I suddenly longed to argue it all and say, “No it wan’t, it was God! God is bigger than all and can chase away any evil spirit.” But I felt a listening ear was best for the moment. As they continued it was as if I heard the Lord whispering to me, “Take note and craft my stories in a way that will explain to them my love and power over evil.”
Other Evil Gods
They continued telling me about the spirits who live in the jungles. “There are so many more evil spirits than there are good spirits out there,” Kaak continued. “There are a few good spirits who help the shamans know what leaves to use when we are sick, but most of the spirits are evil.” Then she launched into the story Nao had told me in Boan Village a couple weeks ago about the kidnapping god. There were a few details different about the story, but it was certainly about the same incidence. In May a man in Dhak Rang was working as a guard. He was cooking rice over a fire and began talking to the rice and the fire. He then went out to go to the bathroom. There he met a god who invited him to come with him into the jungle. The man told him that he had a wife and children and couldn’t just go, but the god insisted. The villagers noticed the man was missing and began to thoroughly search the jungle for him. Two women came to a large tree and suddenly they were sprayed with blood from the tree. They said, “We’d better not wash off and go immediately to show the villagers or they’ll never believe us.” So they went back and showed everyone the blood and led them to the tree. But though men climbed up in the tree and examined it thoroughly, they found no blood.
Meanwhile, the man went with the god deep into the jungle to the god’s house who was newly married to a female god. The god’s wife said, “Don’t let him come in here. I’m not satisfied with him.” So the man slept outside. “If he had gone in,” Chumpri commented, “he would have never come out alive.” All they gave him to drink was rice wine and nothing to eat. He stayed there four nights before the god finally returned him to the village. The man looked terrible upon returning – haggard and skinny. Kaak finished by saying, “They are horribly evil gods. It’s so difficult when there are so many evil gods, jyaks, and na’angs.”
I was greatly burdened by their words. I kept thinking, “Yeah but God can chase them all away. It’s easy. Just pray to God.” Somehow I knew it went deeper than that. It wasn’t that simple to explain. The Pnong are looking to see how the God I speak of interacts with these evil Gods. They wonder just what he does when a person has a vision of a na’ang, in the form of their friend, coming and shooting them with an arrow from a crossbow of sickness to strangle their buffalo soul. And the simple answer “Let’s pray for the sick person to get well” may not answer the questions the Pnong are asking. Let me give you another example.
“They want me to drink dog’s blood and pig’s blood mixed with alchohol,” Pday explained to me. “They want me to join them on the spirit mountain and call out to the powerful ones there to prove who is the guilty one.” Pday is a Khmer man I’ve only met once before. His wife used to come to the little Adventist church here in town quite regularly when Samuth was here. But I hadn’t seen her for over a year until just two weeks ago when she again started attending church with us. Pday explained to me that he had recently joined a health organization here who works among the different Pnong villages in the province. He only has two weeks left of his three-month probationary period that all staff go through to work for the organization. He’s spoken recently with the two French directors and knows that they are planning for him to become a team leader once he’s accepted on the pay roll as an official employee.
He really needs this job. He’s more educated than most in this province and speaks English quite well, but he’s been without a job for many months. That’s why he’s been excited to see that it’s working out well and his employers are impressed with him. But just when everything seemed to be well, disaster struck. One thousand dollars suddenly vanished off the safe when one of the French Managers looked away and the only people around were staff. But which one had taken the money? No one seems to know. The staff angrily discussed together a way to find the guilty one among them. They decided to call a Khmer shaman who knew the art of sorcery and ask them to show them the guilty one. The shaman used his magic charms to determine that the guilty one among them was a man, but he refused to say more than that. This enraged the staff even more who became more and more suspicious and hateful of one another. Finally someone suggested the ancient test on the spirit mountain. That would for sure prove who was guilty. But it would likely mean the death of the guilty one. Would they all consent to this test?
Only one man seemed hesitant. Even the French managers had agreed to the test. With the tension building around him that one man tried to explain that he served a God more powerful than all the other spirits and didn’t feel right about participating in a ceremony to the spirits of a mountain. When he finished his spiel, the room was silent. He could see daggers in the eyes of his colleagues who had before grown to admire him and trust him. Not a word was spoken, but their faces screamed judgment and condemnation. He didn’t know what else to do.
Moments later Pday was in my house asking me what to do. “As a Christian, I believe and follow God in my heart,” he explained to me. “But I’ve never told them I was a Christian. I’ve been too busy to attend church the past few years even though I’ve been a Christian for over 15 years. There was no way for them to know that I believed anything different from them in our every day interaction. When they drink and party, I sometimes say that I’m not feeling well and return home to avoid the drunkenness. But I’m not afraid of the spirits. I’ve led many tourist parties on long treks into the jungles where I know many great and powerful spirit beings live. But I’m not afraid. I always ask the Lord to travel with me and keep me safe. I’m not afraid of those fallen angels when God is with me. But I’ve made a commitment to follow the Lord God and him only. Just like with my wife, I would never think of sleeping with another woman now that I’m married to her because I’ve covenanted to be true to her. I’ve also covenanted to be true to God and follow him only. Thus I can’t participate in a sacrifice to demons on the spirit mountain. But what do I do? They’ll for sure say I’m the thief then.”
This is another situation where a simple, “Let’s pray and ask God to be with us” may not be good enough. Pday was asking what God’s answers are to these questions. The spirits will tell you who is guilty when asked. Instead of dog and pig’s blood mixed with alcohol, what does our God do to prove the guilty one and the innocence of one of his followers? What does our God do when a na’ang with a cross bow shoots you? What can you do if your rice becomes angry at you and decides to kill your three-year-old? What do you do if the cliff god causes your eye to swell up? What do you do if the termites cause your husband’s throat to close and his breathing to become frantic? What do you do if a jyak comes to your house and scratches on the walls at night? What do you do when the Cher bird begins to sing outside your house signifying death and you know someone is going to die that night? What do you do if you know one of the trees in the field you just cleared was a spirit tree and the spirit is torturing your wife’s spider soul in the fire giving her a high fever? Certainly prayer is important, but does our God have an answer to these situations? What would he have us do?
I believe that we westerners need to be careful how quick we answer these questions. We honestly don’t know because we don’t deal with these supernatural spiritual encounters very often. We have sanitized our world from germs, from bad smells, from dirt, from blood, from pain and from anything else we don’t like to deal with. We use disinfectants, soaps, air fresheners, filters, bandages, and powerful medications. And we have learned to not think about monsters, sorcerers, werewolves, witches, and demons unless it’s in a movie that we can fast forward or turn off when it’s over. But I’m afraid sometimes by sanitizing our world from the things that make us feel uncomfortable, we often sanitize out God as well. We put him in a little bottle that we can take out when the need arises. When we get sick, we pray – take out that little bottle. But the Pnong deal with the spiritual world as you and I deal with the physical world. Does our God have answers to their every day questions? I believe he does, but I’m not going to be too quick to say I do.
Fortunately the Bible is full of such stories and demonstrates God’s way of dealing with these encounters. He once created powerful spiritual beings to help him rule the universe. Some turned away from him and followed Snake God who claimed he could become as powerful as Chief God. There was a clash of the spiritual beings as they fought one another and the losers retreated. But they regrouped and with other powerful dark lords Snake God was able to capture planet earth and torment its people. He marched into the heavenly court accusing Chief God of grievous crimes. But there were some among his oppressed subjects who refused to give him homage. One man stood firm even when he lost everything. Another man stood before the people and proposed a spiritual dual between Chief God and the most powerful spirit beings of evil in the universe. He simply spoke to Chief God and fire exploded from the sky and burned up rocks and water with the sacrifice. The people screamed, “Chief God is the only God.” The Bible is filled with stories of divination, sorcery, mysterious healings, and powerful battles between forces of spirit beings. Have we sanitized these as well?
I spent many hours with Pday looking at Bible passages that may be helpful to his situation. He’s Khmer and I’m not as familiar with his culture. I suggested ideas from my own experience but reminded him I was only a foreigner. I encouraged him to go before the Lord and ask him for specific guidance expecting an answer. We prayed together and I could feel the power of the Holy One near us.
The next day Pday told the staff he would be willing to go with them to the hill but that he would pray only to his God. They became angry and said that wouldn’t count. He invited them to come to the church and together ask God to show them the guilty one. They strongly refused. So he asked me if I would go to his French managers and explain to them in English why a Christian can’t participate in such a ceremony. I agreed to meet with them though I wondered if it would really help. I suspected getting me involved could make matters even worse for him. But God miraculously arranged for Pday to meet my Australian friend Fred in the market that same day. Fred knows Pday’s French managers and agreed to speak with them. First he called me to make sure he had all the facts straight. Later, he told me the managers will allow Pday to speak only to his God if that’s his belief. I know God is leading, but the situation is still up in the air. The planned ceremony on the spirit mountain is set for this week sometime, so please be praying.
Pnong Bible Story Set
Since the workshop in Malaysia, I’ve been fiercely chipping away at the mammoth task of preparing a unique oral story set in the Pnong language that deals with the exact issues and questions most important to them. I’ve been working closely with our Bible translator friend Debbie who attended the workshop with us. And I spent two days and a night 26 miles away in a village working with Raplang, the main Pnong Bible translator on the team. He helped me to digitally record 106 separate passages of scripture over three hours in length. He read the passages from a Bible translated into the Mnong language, a people with close relations to the Pnong, who live in Vietnam. He also read the passages of scripture that he has already roughly translated into Pnong. Johanna will use these recorded passages to let her helper listen to as they work together to craft the simple oral stories.
Raplang is a man of God. He has spent years in God’s word and is now translating it verse by verse. Thus he’s constantly growing and learning more from His Maker. I stayed in his home and met his wife and young son and daughter. I could feel God’s presence there. They are a loving couple and spend time playing and talking to their children. Tears came to my eyes as I saw what God wants to do in every Pnong home. I asked Raplang to help me think of the right words to use when talking about God, Satan, angels, prophets, etc. Our discussions were wonderful and I came to know my Father better by just listening to Raplang’s thoughts and ideas.
Here is the current list of terms we have been working on though this may change as we go. If you’re not interested in this type of thing, please skip to the next section.
Pnong Story Set Terms
Angel – tong bar This term is used regularly by the Christians and is used in the V translation for angel (Luke 1:28 V). One interesting passage in the V translation is Luke 1:38 where Mary submits herself to the Lord saying to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant”. The word servant is also translated bondslave and handmaiden, meaning a woman slave or someone who has sold herself into slavery. I’m assuming that the word tong bar means servant and could thus be an excellent word to use for angel. But the term is completely unrecognizable by the unchurched Pnong. Thus Raplang suggests explaining that God created beings bhras to serve him in the very beginning of time. These bhras were called tong par. Then explain that some of them became bad and God forced them out of heaven. Today we call these beings bhras mheuk, or demons. But the beings that remained faithful to God we still call tong bar or tong bar wes to clarify. I am fine with Raplang’s terms and think it will be clear to the unchurched Pnong and also acceptable to the churched.
Other Gods, Dragon’s angels, Spiritual forces of Evil – bhras yeus This term simply means a spirit being who is evil. It is used in the V translation bhras mhek for demon and also for Satan and spoken in the Busra dialect bhras mhuek. I’ve heard the unchurched Pnong in Boan and Punih refer to the spirits who cause sickness as bhras yeus. I believe it’s a good term since the church uses it and the unreached understand it.
Satan – Satang This is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew name. The church is familiar with the term. The unchurched will simply know it as a name for the chief evil spirit. Raplang suggests explaining Satang in the first story when there is war in heaven. We’ll explain that there was one angel who fought against God. He was the chief evil spirit koranh bhras yeus and his name was Satang. Raplang also felt it would be fine to refer to Satan as bais bhras after the creation story where he becomes a snake and once it’s clear who he is. We may have to experiment in testing to see what is clearest.
God – Koranh Bhras Yehova This term means Chief God Yehova. When I first told the story of creation to some unchurched Pnong I only used the term koranh bhras or Chief God. But my listeners asked what Chief God’s name was. It seemed important to them. I realized at that point that the term Chief God didn’t necessarily mean singularity. I think it’s important to give him a name and then show that he is the only and only true God in the stories. I believe once we’ve established the fact that Chief God’s name is Yehova, we can use the terms koranh bhras and yehova interchangeably or together. This term is used in the new S translation and recognized by the church. Yet I believe it will also be clear to the unchurched.
Prophet – koranh ngkooch loor meaning elder who tells before. In the V translation the term is koranh neum mbeuh loor. In 1 Kings 18, the prophets of Baal are koranh neum mbeuh loor bhras Baal and Elijah is called koranh neum mbeuh loor bhras Yehova. Raplang says that we could explain by saying koranh ngkooch loor naw ngeuy koranh bhras or the elder who spoke before the words of Chief God. This may help, but it certainly seems burdensome in the length. I tried and tried to come up with another word with him, but Raplang felt it was important to use this term. I’m not completely satisfied with the term since it may take a lot to explain it to the unchurched. It also doesn’t seem to fill the other roles of a prophet such as “spiritual advisor”, “spiritual teacher”, and “one who called the people back to God and away from the false gods,” though I’m not sure our word prophet does by itself either. I’m still hoping for a better word.
Disciple – oh moon Yesu literally “younger nephew relative”. But I asked Raplang what a spokesman would be called who went out from the King to speak his words to the people. I was trying to find a better word for prophet. oh moon is the term he gave me for spokesman. Thus I believe it’s also a fitting word for disciple. It’s used in the V translation but is a common word among the unchurched.
Holy Spirit – bhras hweeng wees ?? This term I did not clarify with Raplang. This is the term in the V translation, but it sounded a bit different in the S translation.
Sin – ma na ma tiis in the V translation. Luke 3:3 in the S translation simply uses tiis but the explanation of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is noteworthy.
Baptize – yuk ma dhak This term simply means “to briefly submerge in water”. The V translation uses babtaim, a transliteration of the Greek word. The S translation also uses the transliteration but explains it. The unchurched would have no idea why John was submerging the people in the water so we too will have to somehow explain. Note Luke 3:3 in the S translation.
Sabbath – sabat I believe the transliteration with the explanation of nar peuh, the seventh-day, will be sufficient. In this first set we may even want to remind the listeners of Creation and that God rested on the Seventh-day so they’ll know why the Pharisees were angry at Jesus for “working”.
Ark – Tuuk kwang big boat
Rainbow – bheis jong toeng the common term the Pnong use for rainbow
Sheep – pyap a term and an animal the unchurched will not know. Raplang suggests explaining in the story that a sheep is the size of a goat with lots of hair used for making clothes. He also suggests saying a sheep li gees jain or isn’t aggressive.
Shepherd – bhu chyab pyap a term the unchurched will recognize as the person who cares for the sheep. But we’ll have to explain it’s more than the way a person cares for a cow or a buffalo. A shepherd is someone who loves the sheep, holds the little ones close,
Flood – dhak leng dhak teug is a term the unchurched Pnong already have for their traditional flood story.
Magician – bhu naheum is the term Raplang used in Acts 13 for Elymus the magician or sorcerer. The V translation also uses naheum. I’m not sure if this is the best term here. A bhu naheum from my research is a healer, a person working with good spirits to help people, a person who can see into the spiritual world and discern what spiritual cause makes a person sick. This healer is also capable of sucking out the kun that a jyak or a na’ang shoot at a person to make them sick. I would call both the jyak and na’ang sorcerers. But I would call the bhu naheum a shaman. Since a jyak inherits his power from a parent but a na’ang learns the art of sorcery, I think a possible better term for Elymus would be na’ang.
Ghost – In Luke 24:37 Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection and they are afraid he is a spirit or a ghost. In vs. 39 he invites them to examine him and touch him. As proof that he is not a ghost he says that he has bones and flesh and ghosts or spirits do not. The V translation says the disciples were afraid he was a jyak. The S translation says they were afraid of jyak nh’hu or the appearing of a jyak. It’s my understanding though that the Pnong believe these appearances are not just in the supernatural world but that the jyak actually uses a body with bones and flesh that you can touch. I believe more research needs to be done on this but my suggestion would be to use the word hweng or spirit and possibly even hweng jyak
Our Bible translation friends, Bill and Debbie, visited from Phnom Penh this week. It was my honor to have them stay in my home. Since Johanna and Keenan don’t return until this Friday from their month in the states, I was very glad for some company. With them was their 8-year-old daughter and a friend about my age who is also in the Bible translation organization. He came along because his wife is also gone and felt like a trip to the hills with friends would be better than staying at home. I very much enjoyed their company. I’m always inspired and refreshed after being with them, sharing with them, and praying with them.
I went to church with them back in Raplang’s village. During the week Raplang works on the translation. But he is also the pastor of a church there. His village is where most of the Christian Pnong settled when they returned from Vietnam. They haven’t been very successful at sharing their faith with the Pnong around them and tend to stick to themselves in their own Christian villages. But as I listened to Raplang’s message to the people, tears came to my eyes. He told the story of Job. That was one of the stories I had him record and I wondered if it had triggered his decision to use the story in church. But in the most beautiful and simple Pnong he used the story to show that there is a fierce power struggle happening between the forces of Chief God and Satan. He said, “When we get sick we wonder why and try to find the reason. We are still afraid of jyaks and na’angs and being shot with a spiritual cross bow. There may not be a good reason for our sickness other than God has allowed it to come to us. But have no fear, God is more powerful and He knows what’s happening. He will make sure that all things work together for our good if we will trust him like Job even through the hardest times.”
Tears flowed down my cheeks as I listened to him imploring the people to stand firm in their faith in Chief God alone. The words were so simple and beautiful. He said exactly what I’ve been trying to find a way to say for years. It was all in one sermon. I kept wondering, “How can we get this message out of the churches and to those who have never heard the good news before?” I kept thinking about my friends in Boan Village and wishing that they could all hear the sermon. But I realized that it would be impossible to bring them all to the church in Raplang’s village. I thought of asking him to visit Boan Village, but then I thought of the mistrust my friends have of the strange Christians who live in their own separate villages. As I thought about it I realized how little words alone would affect my friends in Boan Village. They would need to hear the words from someone they trusted and knew well. They would need to see the words lived out in a person’s life they could walk with and talk with. “Oh Father,” I prayed. “Please use me to bring these words to your people in Boan Village.”
Yes, Job is one of the stories I have prepared for crafting. Once Johanna get’s back, she will begin working with Kaak to craft and record that oral story along with 16 others. And then we can take those simple oral stories, carefully crafted, to our friends in Boan Village. And hopefully the church members will be able to use the same stories to take to their neighbors in the villages around them. A story goes so much further than a list of ideas.
Bugs in the Rice
Please pray for the Pnong again this year. It’s early, but there are indications that point to another complete crop failure if something doesn’t change. There has been little rain. A type of beetle larvae has infected the roots of the rice leaving the plants to slowly wither away. And a nasty brown plant hopper is also infecting many of the fields sucking the life out of the plant and leaving it withered and dry. Two years ago these insects caused complete crop failure throughout much of the province. I’m working with Fred, my Agricultural friend, to see what we can do, if anything, to help the Pnong through this season. He’s suggesting planting millet and sorghum in the areas already killed by the bugs. The Pnong can use both crops to supplement their rice. But will the Pnong be willing to try these new crops? I pray that through my intimate relationship with many Pnong families in the community, I can assist Fred in introducing them to these new crops and methods of survival. Please pray!
Braden, Johanna, and Keenan