14 Oct 2013 by Jason Law CM –
The Christian missionary life is an extraordinary one, full of challenges, but also full of experiences that are beyond what most people come into contact with in their routine daily life. Through such experiences, lessons are learnt, characters and relationships are built, and most importantly, lives are transformed and a new perspective of life and God’s concern and will for the world is developed. Many books have been written about these incredible experiences, and in ‘Give Me 2 Months’, P. Leelet shares her personal story about a 2-month-long missionary trip.
Book Title: Give Me Two Months
Book Author: P. Leelet (Penne Lee)
Published By: Pristine World Sdn Bhd
Printed By: JESS Concept, #20-0-8, Jalan 1/108C, Taman Sungai Besi, 57100 Kuala Lumpur
‘P. Leelet’ is actually the pseudonym of Penne Lee, and an indication of the sense of belonging that Penne has with the Lee family. In fact, while the story is hers, it is not about her alone, but also about her husband CK and her two daughters (Jo, Nat) and two sons (Bas and JJ), as well as the locals in the places they went during their missionary trip. Throughout the book, it is clear that Penne has a gift for observing and reflecting on the lessons God gives her from the simple things in her life such as the wonder of God’s creation. She and her family are members of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church.
In the preface, before the real story starts, Penne shares about how the aspiration for a mission trip has been in her for years but had not came to fruition. She came many times to the altar and finally surrendered her dream to God’s will. God gave her the peace and the day finally came when God called her for the mission trip she had asked for for many years. Through this, Penne learnt that God has His own timing and that we should trust and wait on God for His direction.
Penne divides the body of the book into 3 sections, each about a village or city that she and her family visited during the mission trip. The first is ‘Kampot’. In this section, Penne shared about her family’s experiences in the Cambodian village of Kampot, staying with another missionary family who Penne affectionately calls the Chinlets. Penne shares about the friendship and rivalry between her children and the children in the Chin family. The Chinlets stayed in a simple kampong wooden house on purpose, without the amenities we take for granted such as gas, running water, and communication media such as webmail or Google, but finding the simple joys of life. When one of Penne’s daughters first saw the place, she swore she would never survive the place.
In Kampot, through an observation of the interactions of the Chinlets’ dogs, she learnt that change is a cooperative work between God/parent and child/dog, and the wisdom of not changing a child’s behavior but consistently applying the boundaries and principles that keep a child safe (a fenced compound in the dog’s case). Through an observation of a procession of ants and how the direction of these ants could be guided, Penne also learns that in all her dreams, there is someone much bigger and wiser, who can see far more than her, constantly guiding her. Penne also shares about the challenge of carrying out a missionary work and transforming lives in a deeply traditional society.
The Leelets also traveled to Baray, another village in Cambodia. In Baray, the Leelets met friends from a former shorter mission trip, including nine pastors, and how life has progressed for them since the earlier trip. She shares the story of these pastors, and the challenges they faced, including persecution, sickness, and suspicion, but also the perseverance and faith that led to the growth of their ministries which brought hope to the lives of the people in Baray. Baray, formerly a very hard ground, became open to the Gospel through the testimonies of these indefatigable servants of God. Penne shares about her family’s experiences sharing the Word of God with the people of Baray, and what she learnt after witnessing their lives and how they contrasted with the comfortable lives back home in Malaysia. The amazing thing is that in a place filled with challenges and difficulties, there were people who served the Lord with tirelessness and true faithfulness.
Interspersed throughout the missionary experiences, Penne also shares about her family’s experiences with the daily life in Cambodia. The Leelets also travels to East Asia which takes up the other half of the book. The interesting thing here is that the names of places are kept secret, such as City A and City B, probably for reasons of confidentiality.
We often hear testimonies of missionary trips, and what people who have gone on them had experienced on such trips. This may make P. Leelet’s book seem to be ‘just another story about a mission trip’, but the fact is each one counts for something, and I truly enjoyed her account of her missionary experience. There was great warmth and plenty of humor in it and you really get a sense of what her wonderfully supportive family and the locals in Cambodia mean to her. You also get lessons from the simple things in life that we take for granted. There is so much story and sharing in ‘Give me Two Months’ that it’s impossible for a short review to fully cover them all.
‘Give Me 2 Months’ may seem to be just another piece of mosaic in the picture of Christian mission and God’s redeeming vision for the world, but it’s also a deeply personal one accompanied with many endearing photos of the family, and a worthy one to add to the bigger picture. And in the end, it’s really this bigger picture that matters.
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