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Cambodian ‘pioneers’ observe holiday

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Members in the various branches in Cambodia — pioneers themselves — celebrated Pioneer Day Aug. 13 by recreating pioneer experiences of the 1840s.

In six buildings in Phnom Penh and one in Kampong Cham, members in the seven branches decorated the halls with lights, streamers, balloons and colorful drapes and then presented programs of testimonies, pioneers stories and pictures.

Each hall was packed with members and friends, leaving standing room only.

Missionaries re-enacted such historical events as persecutions by mobs and crossing the plains in handcarts, which was dramatized with artificial snow. Cambodian members danced in elaborate cultural costumes, employing the gracious hand and arm movements characterized in Asia.

The Virginia Reel was taught to the youth, who then invited senior missionary couples to dance with them. A banquet followed festivities where members lingered for hours. Pioneer Day is second only to Christmas in terms of importance for Cambodian members.