Monday, November 29, 2010

moo-ay chnam howie!

Last Friday was a special day for me. It marked "moo-ay chnam howie," or one year anniversary, in Cambodia. It was one year ago that I stepped off a plane in Cambodia not knowing what the future might hold. It was one year ago that I fell in love with Cambodia and her people. It was one year ago that I was overwhelmed with new sights and smells and sounds that quickly became normal. It was one year ago that my life was changed forever, and I knew I could never go back.

A lot has happened in the last year. My views on many things have changed. One year ago I would not have guessed that I would be sitting where I am, doing what I am doing. But, I would not trade it for a moment. The past year has involved so much growing and stretching and learning. I know I am not the person I was one year ago. I have seen entirely too much. I had planned to post a list of things that have shaped me and changed within me over the last year, but with all the events of the last week here, I simply haven't had the capacity to do it yet. But, hopefully I will soon!

i saw what i saw and i can't forget it
i heard what i heard and i can't go back
i know what i know and i can't deny it

something on the road cut me to the soul

your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what i'm afraid of
and what i know of love

we've done what we've done and we can't erase it
we are what we are and it's more than enough
we have what we have but it's no substitution

something on the road cut me to the soul

your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what i'm afraid of
and what i know of love

your courage asks me what i'm afraid of
your courage asks me what i am made of
your courage asks me what i'm afraid of
and what i know of love
and what i know of God

~ i saw what i saw, sara groves

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I don't have a whole lot to say today.
I am really sad but safe.
The tears keep welling up in my eyes.
My heart is aching.
The streets are quieter today.
The celebrations ended with tragedy.
Please pray for Cambodia today.

You can read about what has happened here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jesus wept

There are mysteries of God that I am sure I will never understand until I see Him face to face. But, as I draw near to Him, I find that He reveals more and more of Himself to me. I have earnestly prayed that God would break my heart for the things that break His, that I would be moved with compassion as Jesus was.
"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36
Jesus loved with reckless abandon. He loved deeply and radically. He loved those the world deemed unlovable. He pursued the outcasts. He dined with murderers and thieves. He invited Himself into the homes of the poor and the hated. He communed with the stigmatized. And, He wept.
"Then Jesus wept." John 11:35
Weeping is not merely a glistening tear falling down one's cheek. Rather, it is a fit of tears. Weeping is typically associated with a deep burden, not a fleeting emotion. It is not a cry of momentary anger or frustration. It is not what we do when we see a touching movie or even when our favorite football team loses the Super Bowl. Weeping is a result of an ache so deep in our hearts that the only One who can truly touch that place is our Abba Father. Jesus understood weeping.
"But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. 'How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.'" Luke 19:41-44

I feel like God has taught me a lot about this kind of compassion over the last several weeks. I live in a place filled with brokenness and beauty. I can easily be overwhelmed by hopelessness until I see the flicker of hope in another's eye. I live in a place that is dark and thus have to carry the light of life within me wherever I go. There have been many days where I have wanted to stop, to sit, and to weep. Weep over the deception in which people live. Weep over the filth in which people live. Weep over the rejection people feel. Weep over the injustice that surrounds them.
But, I have yet to actually release the floodgates. Sometimes my eyes well up. Sometimes a tear or two will escape. But, a flood is coming soon. A cleansing flood for both me and for this nation I have come to love so deeply.
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5b

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I had an opportunity last week to travel to Bangkok, Thailand for a few days. It is amazing the differences that can exist a mere one hour flight away from my home. Thailand is still Southeast Asia, and there are many similarities between Thailand and Cambodia. However, the differences between the two capital cities were striking. It was surreal to be able to use the sky train and taxis to get around the city in Bangkok and to see countless buildings that towered over me.
And, it was great to be able to contact with some friends! I met Brook and Sara a couple years ago as they were preparing to move to Thailand, and when I was certain I was moving to Cambodia, we agreed that we would be way too close together not to visit. It was so much fun to be able to spend some time with them in a nation that they love and share life in Southeast Asia with them. Four of us came from Cambodia (3 of us who are living here, and one who was visiting), so we had a great time of fellowship with one another. Friends are such a blessing!
We didn't have plans to do too many tourist things, but we did make a trip to Jim Thompson house. Jim Thompson is the man who introduced Thai silk to the rest of the world. He mysteriously disappeared in 1967 while on a vacation in Malaysia. It was an interesting visit to the beautiful home that he had built in Bangkok before his disappearance.

As I mentioned, our goal for the trip was not to be super tourists. We actually had a short list of things that we wanted to do--things that we don't have access to in Cambodia. The list included eating good Mexican food (which we did 3 times in 4 days), eating good Thai food, seeing a movie in a real theater, and exploring to find other things we don't have in Cambodia. Franki and I getting excited about seeing a movie with a big bucket of popcorn. Unfortunately, we all forgot our jackets, and by the end of the movie, we were all fearful of hypothermia! But, it was so fun!
And, yes, we found Starbucks, which was not hard since there are over 30 of them in the city. A toffee nut latte was the most spectacular treat!
As much as I love Cambodia and can't imagine living anywhere else, it is nice to be able to visit a city with a few more luxuries and reminders of America once in a while. It did my heart good to have a little bit of time away to rest and regroup!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Several weeks ago I made a post about one of my Khmer brothers, so this week I decided it was only fair to make a post about my other Khmer brother. I had a super proud "bong srey" (big sister) moment last week that I wanted to share.

Last week while doing our regular afternoon ministry with a group of children, we encountered a situation that we hadn't had to deal with yet. Our ministry takes place in a public area, which also happens to be a location frequented by tourists. Thus, there are often foreigners wandering about with fanny packs and cameras hanging from their necks, and the vast majority of them cannot resist taking pictures of the children jumping rope or sitting in a circle singing songs. This is nothing new to us, but we have learned to simply ignore it and continue on with our lessons. However, this particular day a tourist grabbed the attention of a group of about five boys who were more than happy to pose for a series of photos. After several snapshots, one of the boys took advantage of the situation and asked the young woman for a dollar.

Now, pause. Do not EVER give money to begging children. It is never appropriate. It is a bad practice. It creates cyclical poverty. It creates a climate of handouts rather than hand-ups. And, in many cases, begging children are exploited children. So, just don't do it. Ok? Thanks!

Ok, press play. Unfortunately the young tourist was happy to oblige the boy and pulled out a crisp one dollar bill. Insert chaos. The recipient of the dollar skipped off waving the dollar in triumph while the other boys chased him to try to get a piece of the action. Other boys mobbed the tourist in hopes that she would share the wealth with them also. However, she didn't have enough dollars to go around and simply smiled, shook her head, and walked away.

And, now the proud big sister moment. My wise-beyond-his-years "p'own bproh" (little brother) took command of the situation. He corralled all the children, made them sit down in a circle with him, and asked for the dollar. The dollar was yielded, and he went on to explain to the entire group that it is never appropriate to ask others for money. He explained that it is important to work hard and earn money honestly. Then, he informed the children that we would keep the dollar and use it to help purchase fruit for them, which we bring with us for a snack each day. This opportunity also led to a discussion of being careful in talking to strangers and not automatically trusting everyone who approaches them and offers them something.

I was literally bursting with pride as I watched my 17-year-old brother take command of the situation without the prompting of anyone. I am so incredibly blessed to have him in my life.
He certainly possesses wisdom far beyond his years, and I pray for him. I pray that he would increase in wisdom and knowledge as he grows. Luke 2:52 says, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all the people." This is what I pray for my brother--that he would grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with both God and men. I think he has a pretty good start already!
And, for some reason, I have a lot of photos of him in this same position. I promise he does work...and work hard!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, his name means wisdom.
And, here I am with two of my most favorite Khmer brothers! It is a privilege and honor to work with them each day.