Archive for cambodia team2 2018

From David Henry

As I have just returned from my second mission trip to Cambodia, I reflect on a number of things, including the questions from family and friends. One question I’m asked is, ” Was it fun? Did you have a lot of fun?” I’m never sure how to answer that. The word fun by definition means to engage in joyous play and amusement. That is just not my experience.

My first trip to Cambodia last year did not go as I thought it would. I was expecting hardship and pain. There was virtually none. Even the weather cooperated, as the warnings of monsoons and oppressive heat did not occur. This year, as I struggled with jet lag, lack of sleep, illness, dehydration, and a general sense of malaise, my thought was, “this is the REAL mission trip.”

But the grace of God is a miraculous gift. Through Him, I was not only able to survive, but thrive as well. To watch the teenagers and young adults of the Youth Camp come to Christ, to pray over them as they in turn prayed over us. To feel the unconditional love from our kids at Prek Eng. These are privileges that for me make it all worthwhile. Unforgettable, life changing experiences that would never occur if I traveled somewhere to just “have fun.”

In closing, I want to thank everyone who prayed for us and supported us during our journey. May God bless.

~ David Henry

From Beth Conti

What a gift yesterday was! And the day before that, and the day before that, and . . . You get the idea. Every time I visit Cambodia, I feel compelled to bring the country home with me, as if I could fit it in my pocket and sneak it past customs. Unfortunately, I’m not that smooth. Nor do I think Cambodia would very much appreciate taking a nap and then waking up smack dab in the mid-west of the U.S.A. So while I’m still trying to figure out how to encapsulate my experiences here and bring them home with me, I have come up with a short list of ways to experience Cambodia in my life at home. In the Cambodian spirit of generosity, I want to share this with you.

How to get a little bit of Cambodia in your own home:

  1. Buy mango juice and drink it every morning. The Cambodian juice game is strong.
  2. Once a month, have a slow, purposeful breakfast with your friends or your family. Breakfast has been our time to connect with each other and to thank God for the experiences we have had here.
  3. Smile at everyone you see and say “thank you” profusely. The people I have come into contact with each time I have been here have been so polite and kind. It makes an outsider feel welcomed and loved.
  4. Look at lots of pictures of Cambodia. Let’s be honest, Ohio ain’t got nothing on the expansive rice fields, the city sparkling with colored lights and blinking tuk tuk carts as they weave in and out of traffic, or the lush jungle robed in shades of green you didn’t even know existed.
  5. Sit on the floor more. It sounds strange, but we spent a lot of time sitting on floors, supported by God’s earth below us and God’s people next to us. I love the idea of eliminating the middle man and just making a connection with the earth. It’s especially wonderful when you are seated next to beautiful sisters or brothers in Christ, playing a game or making bracelets. Creativity, laughter, earth, God’s love—what an amazing support system. Who needs a chair?
  6. Buy local. The Cambodian city streets are crowded with food carts. The markets are bustling and fragrant. Our guide, Abby, knows exactly which cart or market stall to visit. The shop owners know her and greet us as friends, too. Can you imagine the connections we could make if we bought our soap from the same person every time? Their business would grow and so would the bonds of our local communities.
  7. Trust the young people. An unbelievable amount of pressure is on the shoulders of the youth in Cambodia. In my lifetime, thanks to conditions created by the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge decimated this country. People under forty are the backbone of this country. People under twenty are its future. It is not a job they take lightly. In Chbar Mon, we saw church leaders as young as 13 years old! In Phnom Penh, New Life Fellowship is managed by many people half my age. At Prek Eng, our kids help around the house with cooking, cleaning, caring for the neighbors and each other. Some of our kids are already teaching English to other Cambodians. Like, HOW COOL IS THAT? Maybe, if we gave our teens a little more responsibility, a little more faith, a little more trust, and a lot more supportive prayer, we could see them grow and lead in our communities and nation, too!
  8. Don’t know what to say? Try a hug. So. Many. Hugs. Here. Well-timed, firmly delivered, heart-felt hugs can do a lot when language fails. And let me assure you, it has failed us many times here. Even for people who may not be touchy-feely, a pat on the shoulder can go miles for making someone feel heard and seen.
  9. Refrain from criticism. I love this country. I love the people. But not everything is pretty. In fact, some of it is downright ugly. Poverty is next to every sparkling high-rise building. Trash is piled along the sides of every street and the odor from it can stick to your clothes. On more than one occasion, I have wanted to yell, “Where are the trash cans?! Just throw the trash in a trash can!” There are different foods. Different smells. Different customs. I think, though, that instead of trying to criticize methods or customs that are different, we just lean in and love. Especially as outsiders to a culture, we often think we have a better way. But by butting in and trying to fix everything we see “wrong,” we are depriving a people from finding their own way and doing things how they see best. What I learned about the trash piles later was that they have trash collection in the evening, and the collectors go along the streets to grab the trash from the edges of the sidewalk. This is infrastructure that was not here five years ago when I was here! How great is that?!
  10. Love, love, and love some more. How a people so oppressed, so beaten down can rise up with open hearts is nothing short of miraculous. Our own country seems to be in a state of conflict. We have poverty, crime, drug epidemics, political corruption, and brokenness. Can we rise up with open hearts? Can we love a little harder when what we really want to do is fight or give up? Can be a little more Jesus and a little less “us”?

I am sure this is not what the team had in mind when they asked me to blog, but I’m the one with the computer right now, and thus the power! MUHAHAHA! I jest. In all honesty, this blog was my heartfelt attempt to share with you what we learned and to thank you for your prayerful support of our mission trip here. What a blessing. What a responsibility. What a gift.

~ Beth Conti

From Brian Webb

We’ve been on the ground in Cambodia for one week today. Throughout this trip, God has drawn me specifically to 1 John 4:11-12. It reads: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

As I think about the many challenges and questions we’ve faced during our first week, I think about this verse.  At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to love. We’re here to encourage. We don’t come as saviors.  We don’t come as westerners who have all the answers. We come as brothers & sisters in Jesus with a desire to love because He first loved us. This is a simple statement. This is a powerful prayer. This is God’s redemptive plan.

Church, you’d be so encouraged and proud of this amazing team!  Despite sickness, exhaustion, uncertainty and spiritual opposition, they’ve poured themselves out completely. To say I’m inspired by them is an understatement!

  • They’ve loved and encouraged each other through some very difficult moments.
  • They’ve loved and encouraged 50 teens at the youth camp … many who took steps towards Jesus.
  • They’ve loved and encouraged Pastor Sary and his leadership team in Chbar Mon.
  • They’ve loved and encouraged our kids at the orphanage.
  •  They’ve loved and encouraged our driver, our translator, tuk-tuk drivers, coffee shop employees, hotel desk attendees … everyone!

The beautiful part of all of this is that we’ve been loved in return! From the teens in Chbar Mon to our kids at the orphanage, we’ve been loved! There’s a miraculous yet unexplainable thing that happens when God’s people unconditionally love each other.  Hearts are restored. Hearts are healed. Faith becomes clearer. Heaven comes to earth.

Vista, thank you. Thank you for giving, praying and reaching further. Thank you for loving those you’ve never met.  I hope we can carry back the love they’ve given us for you in return.

With love,

BWebb

From Heather Eschbach

Today I write this blog on a needed few hours of rest.  We have just returned from a 3 day youth camp in the beach area of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.  While we were excited for this camp and our opportunity to connect with the youth there, the trip itself seemed fraught with trouble.  Sickness, exhaustion and a general sense of heaviness seemed to follow us.  We prayed hard through it, both for the camp and our own health and hearts.

As always, God is faithful, and he showed up in spaces we didn’t expect.  It allowed us opportunities as a team where we could care for and support each other, pray expectantly and witness God’s hand through a community of strangers.

Our partner church, New Life Fellowship, invited 50 kids from the village of Chbar Mon to attend this youth camp.  The camp was an opportunity to bring kids to a fun place (the beach), play games, make friends and introduce them to Jesus. On the first day, we saw many kids were tentative and hanging back.  The games helped to break the ice, laugh and make connections with others.  Interspersed in the games were meals, times for worship and teaching. Our team had the opportunity to jump into those spaces, meet kids and connect.

What I saw transpire over the course of those few days was special. To watch them engage with each other, the message, prayer and small group was inspiring. Some of the questions we heard were challenging, raw and heartbreaking.  Kids seeking a sense of family and meaning, questioning the reality of our God, questioning how they could be made clean and righteous in spite of their selves, their lives. We were witness to 18 kids coming to Christ over the course of the weekend.  What a blessing to be a part of it!

The goal of the church was to introduce these kids to Jesus, the One who gives hope and restoration. What I was most encouraged with during our time with these kids was the way God wove a spirit of hope together, connecting them to each other, breaking down walls and cultivating a sense of belonging.  As God’s children, we care called to love each other. We are called to reach out and to welcome all.  The outcast, the stranger, the fatherless, the weary.  When I saw the sense of love and family that was shared between these kids on that last day, I know that is of nothing but God. He welcomes us in every time.  As His children, we must also love and care for each other in the way only a community in Christ can.  I pray that these kids find a sense of purpose, value and hope in this new community – and through it’s very unique reflection, I pray that they begin to see just how much Jesus loves them.

Ephesians 5:2

1 John 3:1

-Heather E

The Lost and Almost Forgotten Children of Phnom Penh

First a Little Food for Thought!!!

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Matthew 28:19 NASB

Why should we be actively doing and supporting mission work?  Well, through mission work we bring the Gospel to the Dead of this world. Scripture tells us that mission work is an important subject which must be taken seriously. As Christians we need to live with an eternal world perspective, not one that revolves around ourselves. We need to daily seek ways in which to lay our lives down for the Kingdom of God.

For those of us who have accepted Christ as our Redeemer, we have felt God’s Grace and Merciful hands at work in our lives. It’s a feeling that we will never forget. Don’t we want everyone in the World to experience God’s presence in their lives???

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in the riches for all who call on him. For “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved”. How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Romans 10: 12-15 NASB

If we had the cure for cancer wouldn’t we want to share it with the whole world??? Well we have something even better and that is the cure for Death which is found through Jesus Christ’s Death and Resurrection.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation”. Mark 16:15 NASB

As many of you know Prek Eng 3 is a home for about 20 children. From the moment I met them I was blown away by their open Love and affection. It’s hard to describe exactly what it is, but it’s different than anything I have ever experienced from a group of children in that it never turns off. I have experienced this some with younger children such as my grandkids, but not with kids as old as 22. God is definitely hard at work here in a mighty way.

During my stay I was able to spend sometime getting to know the three young men who are in college. Each one has had more than his fair share of trials, some of which were pretty horrific. When asked, they will tell you that Jesus is the reason they have been able to deal with the harsh trials this world has put them through. You can tell by their words and actions that their relationship with Christ is healing them and opening their eyes to a brighter future. They really are just normal guys with normal problems, only they lack some support and resources to solve some of them. This is where Vista Community Church has stepped up with some support and provided these children with a lifeline.  The orphanage Vista sponsors gives them a safe haven to feel love and get their basic needs of housing, food and education met. They also learn about Salvation through Jesus, Grace, Mercy and the Soul Healing that God wants to wash them with.

My experience with the people in Cambodia was a positive one. I found them to be a loving, generous and hardworking people. At our hotel I met a young man of 22 who grew up very poor with his mother. They often didn’t know where their next meal was going to come from. He said he was unexpectedly sponsored by a man who helped his family out and also paid for him to go to college. With this opportunity he graduated and has since started a hotel cleaning business which is doing quite well. He returns the favor of his good fortune by employing very poor people from his area. He told me that the man’s generosity had changed his family’s future from being grim to unbelievably bright. At the same hotel I made friends with the daytime security man who told me that he lost all of his family during the Khmer Rouge killing fields. With tears in his eyes he told me there was not a day that went by where he didn’t remember watching his family being murdered.  He has been blessed with a wife and five kids now and says he has had to start his family over from nothing. Cambodia has had a tragic history and as a result is full of broken people. An example of this is how mothers can sell their daughters into the sex trade. Another is while I was at the orphanage I held a small girl of maybe 2 in my arms just as cute as anything and so loving. She and her older sister where found abandoned on the street only a month earlier. My heart ached at the thought of how these things could possibly be happening in this day and age.

Religions in Cambodia (Est)
Buddhist       95%
Christianity    2%
Islam               2%
Other              1%

Cambodia is a country just full of people that are desperate for the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. This is why I believe the Lord has brought Vista to Cambodia. These kids that you are sponsoring are the future of this country. They will be the ones to become educated, get good jobs, spread their Faith and help bring their country to know the Lord.  I urge everyone who reads this to stop and think about how blessed we are and think hard about supporting missions. Your contributions are going to a good place, one that I know God is blessing abundantly.

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy other, and sent them in pairs ahead of him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10:1-2 NASB

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 NASB

~ Dave Heilman