Author Archive for Vista

I Love the Culture in Cambodia

As I reflect on our time spent in Cambodia, I consider the mixture of hardship and blessings the people here experience. We all know the old sayings, “money can’t buy happiness,” and “the best things in life are free.” It was so inspirational for me to witness people who have nothing to not only live life with a positive attitude, without complaining and to share what little they do have with myself and others.

I love the culture in Cambodia. Life in the streets is vibrant. The people are real. They are connected.

Here in the U.S., we tend to isolate ourselves. Even when driving on a busy highway surrounded by cars, we are still alone. Those other cars (to some of us) are just things in the way, not other people like us trying to live life. Driving in Cambodia is organized chaos at best, but the attitude is that we are all in this together, and as a result, it works!

I knew that Buddhists were the majority in Cambodia, but I was still surprised to learn that the country is only 3% Christian.The missionaries living there have their work cut out for them, and I am amazed and humbled by their courage and determination.

I feel so blessed to have been a part of this mission trip. It was a privilege to be among the people living in Prek Eng and Chbar Mon. It was truly life changing and will not be forgotten.

~ David Mateskella

The Ripple Effect

I have been trying to process my trip long before we left Cambodia.  How does one find the right words to share with others, words that express the depth and whirlwind of emotions experienced and shared?  God’s hand was and is touching, molding, pushing, healing and leading lives on the opposite side of the world all at the same time.  The amazing part is He brings these lives to cross paths to do even more for His Glory.  Sometimes it is with your own unmet neighbors from home, sometimes it may be across the world. The fact that we are able to travel across the world and to places we have never been and still feel like family is only a thing of Christ! 

I was amazed when we first stopped at Prek Eng 3 of Asia’s Hope, our Children’s home.   This amazement grew each day we spent time with them, along with a deep, deep respect for Pisey and Savong, the house parents.  We traveled to love on and encourage each of them.  However, I truly feel it was the other way around….we experienced 28 hours each way of travel time so WE could be loved on and encouraged!  From day one, we were embraced with such intense loving hugs and smiles as though we had returned home from a long trip.  To the family, it was just that….their Vista family was returning.  Having never met them myself, the experience was quite humbling.  As our days with them continued, I found myself stepping back and realizing such respect for Pisey and Savong.  We get so exhausted and gray haired bringing up our own children, though we love them dearly and would do anything for them.  Pisey and Savong had parented 21 children, teaching them the love of Christ, teaching them they are worth the time and love, teachings about life, discipline, the value of education, manners, respect, personal care, values and SO much more. This is love! Their hearts amaze me and it shows in the lives of the children, how deeply the love and the incredible joy. TRULY God’s grace and mercy is in action daily!

Our new family with New Life in Chbar Mon, wow!  Talk about a battlefield and a deeply loving community.  The best way I can describe the heart Pastor Sary Chea and his wife Sophea have for the Chbar Mon community is truly having the love of Christ. It is incredibly deep and bold.  They draw the youth in by offering English and music classes. Smart! These kids love their music. By doing so, they hear of Jesus.  In a country that is led by fear and constant concern as to what ‘type of spirit’ they are contending with, to accept Christ is incredible freedom.  The passion and joy these kids and the church have is contagious when you are with them.  I am going to limit myself in sharing more now because this is an area that truly hit my heart and I am still trying to process.  God has placed Chbar Mon heavily in my prayers.

This experience has opened my eyes to my need in letting go, stepping outside of my comfort zone, to stop focusing on my inadequacies and letting God be God. It is so easy to let day to day life take over and put too many expectations on equipping myself for every purpose. I do not want to lose what has been experienced, nor do I want to just hold on to it. How do I make it grow?  My prayer is to love in the real sense of the word, and not just in comfortable terms.  It is with painful realization at times that I accept that God has always been ready to equip me, yet I take my own path.  I need His mercy, grace, forgiveness and equipping daily!

When I try to sum up the trip I am drawn to “the ripple effect” and generational change.  Cambodia has such a dark and painful history with incredible spiritual warfare.  Though not limited to Vista, but using as an example….. Vista’s investment into PrekEng 3 and Chbar Mon is that of a stone tossed into a lake.  The ripples continue to grow and spread.  This is what is happening, especially with the youth. Changing the lives of the youth brings on generational change. Powerful!  Though Cambodia is currently only 3% Christian, I am excited to see the changes in 10 and 20 years. Truly transformative!

On a lighter note…. I have come to greatly appreciate my washer versus having my clothes stone or board washed, and appreciate seeing the bones on the top of my feet rather than the swelling and 4 ankles on each foot

Love Boldly

Cambodia has been a whirlwind of moments filled with big emotions and new relationships.  God-filled spaces that we were blessed to walk in, to lean in and engage. When I think of what this trip has meant and how it has impacted me, I keep coming back to these words – reach out in faith and love boldly.  I have seen that in action this week, powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching. I am so thankful that God has given these examples to me, allowing me to step away from my daily life and immerse myself fully here. It has fed my soul and inspired me to pray for a heart to love differently, more openly, pushing away personal insecurity and walls for the sake of knowing another deeply. I have seen children and adults alike in Cambodia model that this week – embracing new faces and friends, providing comfort and encouragement to each other across languages, ages, and cultures.

There are two clear examples that I pray stay in my heart forever. The love and passion of the youth of Cambodia – modeled by our children at Prek Eng 3 and our new family at Chbar Mon (New Life Fellowship).  We were blessed to be able to worship and play with these beautiful children at both sites, and were in awe of their boldness. They love deeply. You are met with a warm embrace and a smile almost immediately and treated as family.  Warm hugs and the words of “May God Bless You” ring in my ears.  Holding hands with people I just met. Placing hands on shoulders and praying together.  Singing and worshiping our God together.  The beauty in these moments is amazing. Serving as a reminder of His love and our calling to love each other as He loved us. John 13: 34-35.

The second example that sticks out in my mind is that of walking along a dirt road in Chbar Mon and stopping by a woman’s house. She was the first adult Christian woman in the village and the oldest member of that New Life Church plant.  We found her in a tree, picking fruit, which she offered to us. We sat down and were translated a story of faith pushing past fear.  She asked for prayer for her home, the ground it was built on, and her neighbors which practiced witchcraft. I saw a group of people gather in a circle, hold hands, and pray over her and her property. I saw intention, boldness and love gather round between people who had just met.  When we were finished, some tears fell and we exchanged hugs. There was praise and hope in her front yard that day, prayer to a God that always pushes out darkness.  Upon leaving, we saw some of the NLF youth that we had met the day prior running down the road in their school uniforms. They had heard we were back in town and had run through the village to meet us. Their fierce pursuit of relationship brings me to my knees. I pray that I can grow to love like that – fiercely, boldly, and with purpose.

I can’t even put into words what God showed me this week. I do know that He placed me here purposely for a few lessons and clear examples of His gracious and merciful love.  Among the bustling and darkness that is present in certain elements of Cambodia, I saw His light there. I saw the bold movement of people stepping out faithfully to embrace His love and share His hope. I witnessed gratitude and love that I sometimes miss seeing at home. I am hopeful for the future of christianity in Cambodia, and thankful to embrace these people as family, all of us children of the one true King.

~Heather Eschbach

Light and Salt

I sit here and reflect on everything that has happened.  How God is always showing us His pathway.  All the many souls who we continue to meet on this journey and mission.  Missionaries sitting next to us on a plane, meeting our friends from Asia’s Hope to find out they are my neighbors in Columbus, to meeting a lovely group of people here in our hotel that live in Marysville, Ohio.  All this plus so much more in the first few days…

Wherever we are on earth, being completely on the other side of the world, God is always at work… God never rests…  Each day I have gained so much.  It is a fulfillment of knowledge, hope, determination, but most of all, Love…

Opening my eyes, seeing the things that I need to change, in myself, in loving others, and in loving myself.  Learning to lift others up, but the biggest part I became aware of was to keep our loved ones lifted up continually.  The more you speak it, think it, change your thought pattern, the higher you are lifted to lift others and shine God’s light. The Godly walk with integrity, Blessed are their children who follow… Proverbs 20:7

Life is such a domino effect.  I pray daily for God to keep my heart soft.  To use me for His will.  I always feel I have so much love to give, but I have never felt the love as I feel when you are at PrekEng 3.  It truly is a family kind of love and bond like no other.  The love and respect that they all have for each other is just amazing.  I noticed no clammer or small talk amongst the kids.  They all just want to love and help each other, let alone us.  They are some of the most beautiful souls I have ever met in my whole life.  You truly fall in love with each and everyone of them that live there.  On our visit Sunday, I just stopped out of no where and listened to our Lord who continues to always tell me, Be Still… I absorbed the calmness, peace, and love that overwhelmed the atmosphere.  There is no furniture, big screen TV, electronic games, etc.  But everyone was enjoying each other so much.  Doing a few different crafts, all together, as a family.  Laughing, singing and worshipping God.  It was such a beautiful moment and time.  Its such a missing factor in our culture, family ways and life, just remembering what is truly important.  More is not always better…

Coming to Cambodia, meeting our brothers and sisters here is life changing.  The love that everyone has for each other is truly amazing.  To start making changes in the world, it begins with us…  With God as our guide and teaching our youth the way of the Lord.  They are our future, at home and across the world.  Lets continue to Shine God’s light and glorify Him through this fabulous journey…

Love and Blessings,Melissa Baz

God is Good, All the Time

As I sit trying to think how Im going to explain what we are seeing, feeling, and experiencing, I am not sure how to even put it into words.  Being here has challenged my faith and pushed me beyond my comfort zone.  I partly expected that when I got here all of my insecurities would drop off and I would embrace everything but naturally they followed me here.  It was a process for me to gain comfort here.  The first day going out of the orphanage I felt such a powerful love but I didn’t quite know how to connect with our kids because of the language barrier.  We were all in a bit of a haze just adjusting to the time change but I just couldn’t get myself out of this funk.  Upon reflecting on the day I felt the need to ask God to equip me.  But at the same time I realized that I also need to allow him to.  Then I came down to meet with the team and that is exactly what Adam was talking to us about.  Allowing God to show us his strength by leaning on him to provide us just enough energy to play one more game with our kids, or just enough strength to process all that we are seeing.  It hit home and I was already feeling transformed.

Spending time the past few days a PrekEng 3 has been such a rewarding experience.  Getting to really know ours kids on a deeper level that I want to explain to everyone when we return.  I truly feel like they are my children now that I know them.  Of course at the surface I felt that way from home but it is a whole new level of connection when you spend time worshipping with them, eating at the table like a family with them, playing games and singing with them.  Their home is now my home.  I don’t even want to begin to imagine what it will feel like to leave and not bring them with me.

Chbar Mon has been an awakening experience as well.  We have spent time in the village with Pastor Sary and his church which is still very young.  The ride out there was hilarious because traffic patterns here are drastically different than ours at home.  The rules are not rules but more suggestions so people just drive wherever they want.  Plus the country side offers a whole new view of the country such as herds of cows just walking in the road and people using a pick axe to break concrete off a broken road sign.  Once we got there though, we were welcomed almost as warmly as at PrekEng.  Some experiences there I will never forget are: praying over the new church building, helping the children with english class, the squatty potty (don’t ask…), and the youth program.

The youth program especially felt like home for me because I was thrown back to what it felt like to be in Young Life Club nights but across the world in a different language.  The most incredible part, was being told at the last minute that they wanted someone on our team to share their testimony, and naturally because I am the youngest they thought mine might be the most powerful to connect to their kids.  So being thrown into that space without warning was scary, but I just went back to my prayers the day before about allowing God to equip me, and he did.  Hearing my story in their language was such an amazing experience and I could see the kids connecting.  Then when I was done I didn’t even remember what I had said but I was overwhelmed with emotion.  The words I spoke weren’t mine, they were God’s.  Mike stopped me to let me know that I did great and he was proud of me, I just broke down.  I didn’t know where the tears were coming from but I wanted to embrace them.  So I went outside to cry my tears and Sophea (Pastor Sary’s wife who has broken english) gave me a “Tammy” hug and spoke the only english words I needed to hear in that moment, “God is Good, He changes us.”  Upon reflection later, I think Mikes words carried so much weight because I felt like they were a reflection of God saying “I am proud of you in your growing faith and trust in me.”

Now I have just unloaded a lot, and I could probably stop there but I want to continue to help others see and feel how I am while I am here so I have one more day to reflect on if you can stick with me just a little longer.  You with me?

Sunday, the day of Worship.  Talk about a powerful day.  We started by going to church with our kids at PrekEng.  They prepared a song and dance for the church which was absolutely beautiful.  Again I don’t even have words to explain the blessing it is to sing worship with them.  The same song but they sang in their language and we in ours.  I tried to capture the moment but just to be in the space you could feel the spirit of God moving in every heart.  Adam did a great job teaching on how God’s garden is still growing and restoring our hearts.  However, I was sitting next to Timothy (Tim-oh-tay) one of our kiddos and he was so distracted by my phone and my notes.  At one point, I told him as I would tell my child, “give me the phone, you need to listen” haha it was so surreal.  But the other part that was so impactful about this morning at church was when Adam said in english at the end of his sermon “God is Good” and before it was even translated the church responded “All the Time.”  How amazing is that!! Literally across the world and they worship and praise God just the same as us.  Truly a transforming experience.

Alright that is it from me for now but I hope you are enjoying our blogs and you will hear from another team member tomorrow.

God bless you, Morgan Gallatin

Hello! We’re Here!

It’s impossible to capture in words the sights, smells, sounds and feelings experienced while serving in global missions. Our team has been in Cambodia for only a few days and we’ve already accomplished so much. We’ve had the opportunity to invest time in our kids at Prek Eng 3 playing games, talking, singing and sharing a meal together. But more important than anything else, we’ve had the opportunity to encourage the kids and their house parents, Savong and Pisey. Everyone at Prek Eng 3 expresses their love without reservation and it’s been our joy to do the same. We’re looking forward to sharing more time with them in the coming days.

We’ve also had the opportunity to connect with the leadership of New Life Fellowship both in Phnom Penh and in Chbar Mon, which is the town where they’ve recently planted a church led by Pastor Sary Chea. While in Phnom Penh we attended an orientation class explaining their vision and discipleship practices. Perhaps what was most inspiring is how intentional New Life is at engaging the Cambodia culture through seven distinct spaces… religion, relationships, education, business, government, arts and technology. In each of the spaces they are training up and releasing leaders and disciple makers. It’s a privilege to be partnered with a Cambodian church that is on the forefront of transforming the Cambodian nation for Christ.

We have spent the past two evenings with Pastor Chea and his community. It’s wonderful to be able to serve these charming and passionate people. Whether it was english conversation class or an outreach gathering with the youth, sharing in an equipping space with the core leaders, or simply walking around the neighborhood with Pastor Chea praying for his neighbors, we’re overjoyed to be worshipping Jesus together.

A quick word to the wise. If you’re going to be ambitious about expanding your Cambodian vocabulary try to do your best to make certain you know what you’re saying before you run around saying strange things to the people around you. For example, try not to be person that gives a thumbs up to people and exclaims “underwear!”, rather than saying “good job!”. The Cambodian people are so polite… they’ll let you put your sandaled foot in your mouth over and over again…

We have several more days ahead of us and plenty of opportunities to serve and love the kids at Prek Eng and the people of New Life Fellowship. Pray for us and pray for the people of Cambodia. The Lord is doing amazing things in this country.

~ Chris Kelley

Catch Court

CATCH Court: Fighting Human Trafficking

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Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert has become a leader in fighting human trafficking since 2009, when he founded CATCH Court — Changing Actions to Change Habits. Through the two-year CATCH Court, women are sent to residential rehabilitation programs to detox and receive intensive therapy. You can learn more about Judge Paul and Catch Court here.