Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The reality of our transition is growing every day

Last week, we moved our family and a week's worth of stuff into a guest room at The Abbott Center, a building on the campus of World Gospel Mission Headquarters in Marion, Indiana.  Packing for a week away was a great opportunity for a "trial run" before we pack for a MONTH away in North Carolina next month.  We quickly realized that we need a better strategy for packing our things into  luggage (read: luggage not multiple small bags!) and then into the trunk and beneath Sophear and Chamnab's dangling feet.

I already miss Pam! (Seated on the floor beside me)
At the Abbott Center, we joined four other missionary units going to other WGM fields as well as various WGM leaders including the regional directors for Africa, North and Central America, South America, and Europe/Asia/the Pacific (that's us!)  Like us, the other four families were there because they have a team of awesome people behind them, championing their cause and their ministry on the American Indian Field, at Tenwek hospital in Kenya, and in Peru.  They've worked hard and long to raise support and, like us, they're ready to transition to their fields in September or October.

Chamnab and new friend, Hannah (MK to Kenya)
Titus and Jesus (Cambodian missionary to Cambodia and Peruvian missionary to Peru)
The week was called "Orientation Camp" and we attended more than 20 sessions on 20+ topics including WGM's history, policies and procedures, as well as family challenges, cultural adaptations, second language acquisition, child protection, safety, and more.  We are grateful for the knowledge and experiences shared with us by our regional directors, who combined have more than 100 years of experience in Bolivia, Honduras, Kenya, Japan, and their regions.

Lots of learning! (And lots of notes!)
We left on Friday afternoon feeling better prepared for the impending transition and challenges, empowered (despite being the only WGM missionaries in SE Asia), inspired by our veteran regional directors, supported by our WGM family, commissioned to serve, and simply blessed to spend a week with people who have faced or are facing what we're facing.

Sophear playing outside with the big boys!
We began our support-raising journey at WGM with a week-long orientation in January 2016 and now we are approaching 100% and the culmination of our support-raising and our big transition to Cambodia.  So much has happened since our first orientation.  God has taken us on an incredible journey of faith.  We have spoken at more than 40 churches and venues and met many wonderful people.  Many people have gotten us to this point - giving generously, praying over our family, hosting us, and advocating for our ministry.  Our team is growing and we are thankful for each one supporting our ministry in Cambodia!  Thank you for your partnership!  Thank you for sending us, for walking beside us, for going with us!

Sophear and Chamnab's "classroom"
The reality of our transition is growing every day.  Yesterday, as I was unhanging our wedding portrait and framed vows, I paused to reflect on the last 5.5 years of marriage.  When Titus proposed on December 26, 2010, we both knew God was calling us to return to Cambodia.  We're finally here - packing, preparing, and watching ticket prices.

We’re at 78%!  Would you prayerfully considering investing in us and in our ministry to Cambodia? We’re almost there, but we still need more help! Visit or click the button below.

Support us financially!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Two colliding journeys and one mission

The week of January 11, 2016, my family and I began two very important journeys. First, we attended a week-long orientation for beginning our support-raising journey as missionary disciples with World Gospel Mission. On Tuesday, January 12, BI-5527 Christian Character and TH-5525 Theological Foundations for Biblical Interpretation opened - my first two Masters in Applied Biblical Studies courses at Moody Bible College. (I was also plagued with morning sickness that week, but that’s not important for this conversation.)

Yesterday, I started one of my final courses: BI-6618 Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature. This means that I’m finally in Revelations, the last book of the Bible and my last content course for my masters degree! After finishing Apocalyptic Literature, I have one week to submit a portfolio and then an 8-week capstone course and I’m done on October 9!

It has been a very challenging journey to mange coursework on top of many other responsibilities including family, work, housework and cooking, and support-raising; but the Lord has been faithful and has given me a supernatural strength way beyond my own strength. With God’s help, I functioned many days on five hours of sleep. The two coinciding journeys has been one of emotional and spiritual growth, of gaining knowledge and becoming empowered.

On Sunday night, we’re moving back into a guest room at WGM for a week-long orientation on life as a WGM missionary! We’ll be talking about boundaries, relationships, family challenges, cultural adaptations, child safety, networking and resources, medical care, etc etc etc. We’ll be there with four other new missionary families, as well as several WGM leaders. Like us, the other four missionary families here are here because they have a team of awesome people behind them! Thank you for being our team of awesome people! Thank you for your faith in us! Thank you for empowering us to be obedient to God’s call to “Go and make disciples!

We’re at 76%. Would you prayerfully considering investing in us and in our ministry to Cambodia? We’re almost there, but we still need more help! Visit or click the button below.
Support us financially!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Friday, June 16, 2017

Our Cambodian Family

Many of you have asked about Titus' family - Where do they live?  What do they do?  Etc.  Here, we introduce you to Titus' parents, five younger brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews - our beautiful family in Cambodia, who we miss very much and pray for daily.

Dad's name is Romdenh Chamnan (in Cambodian culture, the family name is before the given name).  Pak (Dad) is a hard-working man who is currently working as a foreman in a rural province more than five hours from the rest of our family in Phnom Penh.  He has skills in architectural engineering, but it became difficult for him to find work in Phnom Penh when computers began to replace hand-drawings.  Earlier this week, Pak was very, very sick and we were afraid we wouldn't see him again.  While there is still risk of complications and a reoccurrence of his sickness, he is now recovering at home and we have hope that he will greet us when we return to Cambodia soon!  "Ta" is the Cambodian name for Grandpa, and Sophear loves her Ta!  Pak's family is Catholic.

 Mak on left; Aunt on right
Mom's name is Hem Sokly (in Cambodian culture, women do not take their husband's name).  Mak (Mom) has always been a stay-at-home mom, raising six sons and caring for our home.  Mak's family is Buddhist.

Chamraun is 33-years-old and drives a motorcycle taxi (called a moto dop).  When we visited Cambodia with Sophear in October/November 2015, Pou (Uncle) Raun was Sophear's favorite uncle because he gave her the most/best attention.  When we went to Angkor Wat for family vacation, Sophear spent most of the 7-hour drive on Chamraun's lap, and when we were touring the temples in very hot weather, I was very grateful for Pou Raun and all the uncles who had fun carrying her!

Chamnieng is 31-years-old and is married to Bopha and has two sons, Chamroat and Reaksmey.  Chamroat is maybe 13-years-old and Reaksmey (pictured) maybe 9-years-old.  Chamnieng washes dishes at a restaurant and Bopha is a garment worker (makes clothes in a factory).  They want to have a daughter one day!

Chamrong is 30-years-old and is married to Chantharet.  Chamnong and Chantharet have a little boy, Sovannareth, who is just 9 months younger than Sophear.  Chamnong and Chantharet also hope to have a daughter one day.

Chamnong is 27-years-old and is a very hard worker.  He was recently awarded "Employee of the Month" at V Hotel Phnom Penh, where he is working as bellman.

Titus' youngest brother, Chamnob, is 20-years-old and was born on Titus' 14th birthday.

Titus' family lives in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.  Although Titus spent some years living in a rural province, at least three generations of his family have called Phnom Penh their home.  When we move to Cambodia, we will also live in Phnom Penh.  Phnom Penh is 262 mi2 and is home to more than 1.5 million people.  We're not sure how close we'll live to our family, but we're excited to share life with them again!

As you can see, it is a family of BOYS!  Titus parents have six sons, four grandsons, and SOPHEAR!  She's a pretty special girl!

Please pray for our family - Pak and Mak, Chamraun, Chamnieng and Bopha, Chamrong and Chantharet, Chamnong, and Chamnob - because they are not Christians.  We pray that God will use Sophear, Chamnab, Titus, and I to open their hearts to Christ.

To see Christ glorified in our family
and in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Monday, June 12, 2017

You're the God of this city

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city

God has called us to ministry in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.  Watch this testimonial from Titus' May trip.

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Friday, June 9, 2017

Cambodian Buddhist Tradition of the Dead Body

Cambodia is a Buddhist country. In Buddhist culture, it is tradition to cremate the dead body. After death, the body is kept in the home in a closed coffin for two to four days. Lucky paper is burnt at the foot of the coffin. When the monks visit the body for a chanting ritual, the coffin is opened so the spirit can listen, but the face remains covered with a white cloth. After 2-4 days, the body is taken to the Buddhist temple (pagoda) for cremation. At the pagoda, the body is exposed for a farewell look, but the face remains covered. The body is cremated at the pagoda, the ashes are placed in an urn, and the urn is placed in a stupa on the pagoda’s property or sometimes at home. A white flag is displayed outside the family’s house for one week, and children of the deceased shave their heads and dress in white.

Phirum's stuppa

On Sunday, May 7th, after preaching at a fast-growing church plant in Phnom Penh city, my aunt (Phirum’s mother) and I rode in a taxi to Kompong Som province (140 miles, 4 hours drive) where Phirum’s wife and son live. We spent Monday morning at Phirum’s stuppa. Phirum’s wife asked me to burn incense - a gesture of paying one’s highest respects to Buddha or as an offering to Buddha for His blessing. I told her that I am a Christian, so she lit the incense on my behalf and placed the sticks in an incense pot. Phirum’s mother cried throughout our entire visit. She was quiet except for talking to the picture of her son displayed behind his urn.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 
John 11:25-26 

This is one of the reasons why we go back to Cambodia, we want the Cambodian people, who are living in the darkness of Satan's deceptions, to know and understand that religious belief cannot save them from their sins. God's grace alone can save them from their sins.

We are grateful to be called sons and daughters of the Living God! We know that one day we will see Him face to face.

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thoughts on concluding a very eventful year

2016 was the most eventful year of our marriage, perhaps even of our individuals lives.

How God is growing our family:

As 2016 began, our sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were stuck in the Philippines for an extra two weeks due to complications regarding Aldean's Green Card. Finally, they returned to Indiana and we announced our pregnancy. I had horrible 24/7 morning sickness for almost six weeks. January 18-21, we attended Champion Migration Strategy orientation at WGM headquarters – a training that would launch us into support-raising. That same week, I started my online studies towards a master’s degree in Applied Biblical Studies with Moody Bible Institute. That same week, Titus and I both got a terrible case of the flu, which last five days and seven days respectively. While January 18-21 was definitely our craziest week, all 52 weeks required a high level of balancing demanding responsibilities – marriage, parenting, support-raising, working, studies, taking care of our home, our walks with the Lord, etc.
On February 4th, Sophear turned two-years-old and on March 16th, she had surgery to close a hole in her heart. It was a very scary time for us, but we felt so supported! There were people all around the world praying for Sophear and for us! During the days and weeks leading up to and following Sophear’s surgery, we were reminded in a very real way two important truths: 1) God is a big God and 2) He loves our precious daughter, His precious daughter. I’m reminded of the lyrical line “I'm no longer a slave to fear, for I am a child of God!!” It is with confidence in this truth that I am able to go to Cambodia.

In July, we attended Family Camp – a traditional church camp-meeting for all ages. It was our last week as a family of three (Chamnab was born Tuesday after camp), and we shared some special times together as a family living in a small cabin and staying up too late. We also enjoyed the time away from technology and other distractions, which allowed us to reconnect in fellowship with those around us. God gave us many opportunities that week to advocate for the unreached in Cambodia and we’re grateful for how our support team grew that week!

On August 2nd, our son, Chamnab Harvey, was born. As I’m writing this, I CANNOT believe that our Baby Bear (affectionately called Chamnabby as dubbed by Sophear) is five-months-old. We were so busy and the months flew too quickly… and yet, he’s thriving! He’s rolling, he’s sitting unassisted for short periods, he’s laughing, he’s playing… but HOW is he five-months-old?! Over the weekend, I built a blanket fort for Sophear and put Chamnab in the fort (per her request). I sat a few feet away, listening, smiling, burning into my memory what I was seeing and hearing. Sophear was making silly noises and waving toys and Chamnab was laughing until he fell over. Things won’t always be easy in Cambodia, but they will always have each other! We wake up and go to bed thanking God for our fun and beautiful duo!
On October 29th, we celebrated 5 years of marriage. I’m so grateful to go through life TOGETHER. The last five years have been full of adventure! We’ve pursued dreams of a driver’s license, citizenship, educational pursuits, extensive travels, and raising support for our ministry in Cambodia.

How God is growing our support team:

In April, we became connected to a small community of Cambodian Christians in Columbus, Ohio. We have been able to visit both churches on three visits, including Cambodia’s most celebrated holiday – Khmer New Year. It was a real blessing and encouragement to connect with some Cambodian families and to feel so welcomed by them. Our time with this Cambodian-American Christian community grew even stronger our desire to take the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ to reach the unreached in Cambodia. We believe that God allowed us to cross paths with these people for a great purpose!

On May 1, we spoke at our first church, located in Coleman, Michigan. I believe we will always remember the first pastor who had enough faith in us to offer our first speaking invitation! Our first invitation came from a former classmate who sat in front of me in Homiletics my senior year in college (Fall 2010). While some relationships have fizzled in 2016, it has been a blessing (and fun!) to reconnect with old friends and classmates as well as to build new relationships! As we have traveled, we have met some wonderful people –people that we wish we could have spent more time chatting with and people that we hope are not just a one-time-meeting!

In June, we traveled by faith to a small church nine hours away in North Carolina. This was our first time visiting a place that we had never been, where we knew no one (and staying in the home of people we had just met). Along with taking Sophear, I was already well-advanced in my pregnancy. We questioned, ‘Is God calling us to go?’ and ‘Are we sacrificing too much at the expense of our children?’ God was good to bless our obedience to accept His call to North Carolina. Three families/individuals from the little NC church started supporting us and one of the families has been especially loving towards us, even advocating for us!

In September, we began a very busy travel schedule which took us to 18 speaking engagements in 18 weeks. Our travels took us to Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, and North Carolina. Raising support has not been easy; in fact, it has been very hard, but God has been good to us! Very good! As I wrote earlier, we have met many wonderful people and we have also been blessed with opportunities to reconnect with friends from our past! We consider it a privilege to be sent out to advocate for the Great Commission, to advocate for Cambodia’s unreached, and to finally return to Cambodia and commit our days, our mouths, and our hands to winning souls!

To those of you who have “followed” our journey and to those of you who have not forgotten us, although we’ve been away, THANK YOU. Thank you Lord for being us every day, on every mile, and at every podium! We faced some challenges in 2016, but God was with us every step and every decision! We trust that God will be faithful to walk beside us as we continue our support-raising and eventually move our family to Cambodia in 2017!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Love Story

Our story seems normal to us (nonetheless very special!), but perhaps it isn't so normal to most.  Some couples meet at school, others meet at parties, others meet at the special olympics, are introduced by mutual friends, or meet at church.  No two love stories are the same, but perhaps ours is more unique than most.

Titus and I met in May 2008, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I went on a team with five other girls from Indiana Wesleyan University, and we traveled throughout Cambodia, teaching English and doing children's ministry. At the time, Titus was co-pastoring The Way to Life Wesleyan Church in the province of Kratie, and teaching English at the School of Hope, a small English and computer school that shared the same property as the church.  During my short time in Kratie, I was assigned to teach an intermediate level English class.  Titus was first my translator, but he quickly became my friend. Meeting Titus, I quickly realized that he was the funniest guy I knew and I am still sure that he is the funniest guy I know. We had an instant connection because Titus and I owned very similar cameras - his was pink, mine was blue; he wanted to trade, but I refused.

Engagement picture
After our time in Kratie, Titus and his best friend (Vandy) traveled with our team to another province.  In Siem Reap, our team spent a day being tourists - exploring ancient temple ruins and other cultural sights.  This provided us a day full of chatting, laughing and making memories.  He convinced me to eat a stuffed frog; in exchange, he agreed to stay up all night playing Uno.  Still, at the end of my time in Cambodia in May 2008, neither one of us thought much of the friendship that we had developed during the short, albeit memorable, time that we had spent together.  I hadn't fallen in love with Titus, but I had fallen in love with the Cambodian people.

Before I went to Cambodia in May 2008, I had already been asked to lead a short-term missions trip to the Dominican Republic in May 2009.  I returned home from Cambodia with such mixed emotions.  I still vividly remember the hours that I spent praying that God would lead my heart to make the right decision.  At the end of the Summer, the director of the university's missions department contacted me and asked me if I would like to return to Cambodia instead.  I never asked Dr. Pettis what prompted him to ask me this, but I do think that it is how God answered my prayers for wisdom and Titus' prayers for a wife and helpmate.

A double date at the mall with our best friends, Vandy & Tess
I returned to Cambodia in May 2009.  As we spent more time together - chatting, laughing, and doing ministry - we could both sense something deeper happening.  I was thinking, "How can I have a boyfriend 12 time zones away?" and Titus was asking, "Is she going to come back for me??"

We went on one date in 2009.  It was probably the most wonderful date that I have ever been on!  The pizza and ice cream were okay, but what was so wonderful was the one-hour open taxi ride around the city at night.  The air was cool, the city was beautifully lit, and we spent the hour asking each other dozens of questions about the past, present, and future.  We decided then that we would commit the next year to 1) praying that God would lead us in the right direction and 2) not to date anyone else.  A few days after our first date, I returned home to Indiana.

As the next 1.5 years passed, we communicated weekly through e-mails, Skype, and very expensive phone calls.  In December 2010, I arrived alone in Cambodia a few days before Christmas.  I knew that Titus was planning to propose during my short two-week stay in Cambodia as we had already begun making plans.  On December 26, 2010, Titus and I were swimming under a waterfall at Koulen Mountain Resort in Siem Reap when he asked me to be his wife.

Two days later, we had a beautiful, traditional engagement ceremony with 49 of our closest friends.  The engagement ceremony took place at our friends' home.  When we arrived to get ready, I couldn't believe how the room had been beautifully transformed.  I was so humbled to see friends who had traveled so far to attend.  After the ceremony, we began focusing on the fiance visa application - a 10-month-process that would involve many papers, signatures, appointments, dollars, and patience!  Titus finally arrived in America on October 15, 2011 - just two weeks before our wedding day.

We recently celebrated our five year wedding anniversary.  Titus is a citizen of the United States and he has obtained a Business Management degree from IWU.  We have two beautiful children and we're raising support to return to Cambodia as career missionaries!  I can remember the exact hour that we met and I cannot believe the wonderful story that God has written for us!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab