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 ☺