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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Happy five year anniversary of my life in America!

Standing in front of a beautiful tree with my beautiful fiance a few days after I arrived in America - I had never seen leaves like this before!
Happy five year anniversary of my life in America!

Time has flown so fast. It’s been a great five years. Five years ago, I left my family, friends, best friends, foods, church, church members and country, got on the plane, holding a very important document package from the US Embassy and traveled across the Pacific Ocean for 36 hours to the greatest country in the world, The United States of America.  Traveling alone to a very different, very far away place, I was filled with emotions and I had my questions.  But I knew God was leading me and had opened this door for Jewel and I to get married and live together in Indiana.

My friends threw me a "going away party" once I passed the interview at the US Embassy
I often told people that ‘It’s like I was born again’ when I first came to this country. I had to learn and relearn almost everything from the very beginning.  I did not know the traffic rules.  I did not know how to order food.  I did not know where any stores were or where to find what I needed.  I did not know how to interact with people and I did not understand many customs in this culture. 

Members at the last church I pastored in Cambodia.  I still miss doing ministry to my people!
The first two years in this country were very hard because everything was new and strange, but God has been so so faithful in my life! When He said, “He’ll never leave us alone” at the end of chapter 28 in the book of Matthew, He respects His Word!  I am very thankful for His faithfulness to me.

I have had so many experiences here.  Jewel and I have traveled together to Daytona Beach and Orlando, western New York and New York City, Chicago, Lake Michigan, Hilton Head Island, Georgia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Lake Tahoe in Nevada, Kentucky, North Carolina, many parts of Ohio, and throughout Indiana.  My daughter was born in February 2014, I became a U.S. citizen in July 2015, and my son was born in August 2016.  I’ve also had other experiences like:
  • Walking from our apartment to the local K-Mart store in the snow, but getting lost for three hours.
  • Being spoken to in Spanish many times, usually by waitresses.
  • Accidentally ordering off the diet menu many times.
  • Taking the written driving test 5 or 6 times before finally passing.
Winter is very cold!!!!!!!!!!!!
I could not say thank you enough for all the support from my wife, the family-in-law, church leaders, pastors and friends for these past five years. Without them, I would probably have become a frozen ice statue my first winter here, but they warmed my heart with their love and the love of God.  Gas City, Indiana has become a home to me.  My family-in-law has become my family.  Jewel’s friends have become my friends and I have made my own friends.

America is blessed.  My life is blessed.

Here are pictures taken at the airport as I was leaving Cambodia on October 7, 2011.
Missionary friends
Mom and three of my brothers
Fellow pastors
My students


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The stories and people that affirmed my call to Cambodia

My time in Cambodia in May 2008 was wonderful (except for the first few days of terrrrible culture shock - click HERE to read my first blog from Cambodia) but it was my extended stay in May-June 2009 that affirmed my calling to Cambodia.

Over the course of the year that passed between my first and second trips to Cambodia, I read multiple memoirs written by survivors of the Khmer Rouge - "When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge" and "The Tears of My Soul: The Story of a Boy Who Survived the Cambodian Killing Fields" and "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers" and others.  Upon reading these stories, I could not look at the Cambodian people (especially the older generations) the same, even if I tried.  In my eyes, I saw pain and hopelessness.

Many have not recovered from the devastating effects of the five-year genocide from 1975-1979.  More than three million Cambodians (one-third of the country's population) were murdered or died of starvation and disease.  Children watched their parents be killed.  Parents watched their children suffer.  Siblings were separated and often never reunited.  These years of pain and suffering have left very deep scars on both the hearts and the skin of the Khmer Rouge survivors.  Since my first exposure to Cambodian history, the Lord has laid Isaiah 61:1-3 on my heart:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

Titus' Mom
Traveling through Cambodia reveals a vibrant palette of color. Rural rice fields shimmer like emeralds; Buddhist monks’ saffron robes glow in the sunlight.  Khmer food is as stunning in color as it is in flavor, mixing green cucumbers, red chili peppers, yellow mangos, and white rice to create recipes that [usually] gratify even this particular American girl. But the people of Cambodia, their warmth and beautiful smiles, bring the most color of all.

Despite not knowing if and when I would ever return to Cambodia, I built warm, unguarded relationships with many I met in 2007 and 2008.  Because of the Lord's call and favor, many of those relationships continue today!  My favorite Cambodian memories are with these people - doing Bible studies on the floor, praying and fasting together, hearing their stories, visiting their families, teaching new English worship songs and learning Khmer worship songs, playing games, and being vulnerable.  Jesus has been in the thick of many of those moments - opening my eyes, growing my love, and drawing me back.

It's what I'll continue to do when we go back.  My ministry will be in our home - to Titus, to Sophear and Chamnab, our unsaved family members, neighbors, area university students... all who enter our home through the front gate.  My desire is to create a space in our home where old friends and new friends can gather - a place to share the joys and struggles of life and to share with them the Hope of Jesus Christ.

With the girls at the Wesleyan Bible Institute
Teacher Chetra and I with my friends and English students in Kratie

Teacher Tess and I with my friends and English students in Kratie

Thursday, September 1, 2016

And now there's four!

It's been too long since I've written and so much has happened.  The really big news is that, four weeks ago our son was born!  The week before Chamnab was born, we attended Family Camp with the Crossroads District of the Wesleyan Church.  We were scheduled to speak on Tuesday night and we asked many people to pray that Chamnab would hang in there until after we spoke.  God was kind to us and exceeded our expectations, delaying Chamnab's arrival until after camp and allowing us to spend the entire week at camp.

On Tuesday, August 2 at 8:44am, Chamnab Harvey Romdenh was born weighing 8lbs 12.2oz and 20" long.

Titus' uncle Chamnab died during the Khmer Rouge (a genocide that killed 1/3 of Cambodia's population in four years).  Harvey was my maternal granddad, a missionary in Africa, and a person who had an immense lasting impact on my life and call to missions.

Chamnab Harvey means skillful warrior and we trust that he will be a solider in the Lord's Army!  Thank you for praying with us for Chamnab's obedience to God's call in his life!

On Sunday, August 14, we dedicated Chamnab to the Lord.  Our sweet Chamnab is a gift from God.  Psalm 127:3 proclaims that "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him."  But we recognize... He is God's.  We don't know what the future holds for our precious ten-pound boy joy, but we trust that God will lead and strengthen us to guide Chamnab according to His ways.

"Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on their children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

My love tank is filled as I watch our family, friends, and church community pour love into Sophear.  I trust that Chamnab will be loved with the same deep affection and care.  By investing in and loving Sophear and Chamnab, you are edifying our whole family!  We're grateful that we have friends and family on both sides of the world - in the States and in Cambodia - that love our children deeply.


Chamnab is healthy and strong, eating and sleeping well!  Sophear loves him very much and has been exhibiting no signs of jealousy!  We are all enjoying the extra family time provided by Jewel's 10-week maternity leave.  We have quite a bit of traveling to do in the next three months - thus will begin our family adventures!

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What a journey!

What a journey! I (Titus) have been working with missionaries since I first became a Christian and went to the Wesleyan Bible Institute in 2000. The missionaries told me their stories of how they travelled hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home to churches to raise their own support. They told stories that many times they had to sleep in a tent in front of peoples’ houses, eating at McDonald’s almost every meal (just to save money), packing a lot of snacks and drinks (just to save money), and even staying in homes with people that they never knew or met before.    

We are on that journey now! The journey of an adventure and trust with the ALMIGHTY GOD.

Oh how I now understand that adventure! For the past couple months since we started raising our own support to go back to Cambodia as missionaries to start a new field for World Gospel Mission, we have been travelling quite a lot; and of course, we experienced some of the things that I mentioned above.  
Honestly, sometimes I wandered if I would wake up STILL ALIVE and BREATHING (don’t let our hosts know this) at a strange place in a stranger’s house. Or what if I have an accident on the road?  What if the car breaks down while I am driving?  What if the food that the hosts serve us has poison in it?  What if I have to go the bathroom (#2) immediately while I am driving, but the next exit is still 11 miles away?  What if Jewel goes into labor?  Those are the feelings and fears that frequently occurred from the moment we left the house to travel.

While driving and looking through the car window and seeing the view of mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, trees, skies, storms, rain, sunshine, stop lights, stop signs, deer….etc. These things have reminded me the beauty of God’s creatures and that He is still around me. He is in the car with me. He is in the storm with me. He is in the strange homes and places with me. He is simply with us everywhere we go.

The Lord has been so gracious to us! He has proven Himself trustworthy and a God who provides. We are a young couple, unexperienced in fund-raising, unprofessional in contacting people, but the God that we believe often chooses these kind of people to shine His Glory and to prove to the world that He could mold the ugly brown clay into the most beautiful vase.

Many of the people and churches that we speak at do not know where Cambodia is but once I mention that it borders with Vietnam, they all open their big eyes and stare at me……
(To be continued)

 For the Spirit of God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Little Man

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

You work all things together for my good

While some weeks our support-raising seems slow, God continues to encourage and strengthen us.  We have been motivated to seek deeper, look further, and stretch higher.  After hearing its words included in lyrics at church Sunday night, I have been encouraged by Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Cambodia - Christmas 2010
Things don't always go according to our plans. We had intentions to return to Cambodia as missionaries within two years after getting married (2011), but God quickly showed us that He had other plans.  In the time that has passed since we had already hoped to be in Cambodia, God has led us on some amazing adventures!
  • In July 2015, Titus became a citizen of the United States; this allows him the right to travel freely between Cambodia and the US without a visa.
  • Our daughter was born with a heart defect, but was able to have life-saving surgery.
  • Titus went on missions trips to Puerto Rico and Uganda.
  • Jewel found gainful employment at Indiana Wesleyan University, which provided Titus with the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree with free tuition.
  • We plugged into ministry with the youth group at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church.
  • We have built a strong support among those who have been able to get to know us as a couple and a growing family.
  • We have also had the opportunity to return to Cambodia twice (December 2013 and October 2015).
Titus' citizenship ceremony - July 16, 2015
Our story is long; and our God is good. Our journey to now has not always been an easy one, but it has been one full of blessings, of affirmation, and of the Lord’s leading us. He led me to Cambodia, He led us to each other, and He has led us since then.  He's taken care of us.  His sovereign plan has been greater than ours.

While we continue to make plans, we're trusting that His plans, even when they do not match ours, are great.

We didn't plan for Sophear to have surgery this year and we certainly didn't plan for her to be born with a heart defect, but we're grateful for what God has taught us.  When the anesthesiologist carried Sophear to surgery on March 16, I found myself helpless and fully reliant on God's loving goodness.  When Sophear was 12-days-old, we dedicated her to the Lord and chose 1 Samuel 12:24 as her life verse -
But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
He has already done great things for Sophear!  Dr. Kumar wants to see Sophear one more time before we move to Cambodia; but at her last appointment, he said she looks GREAT! The extra blood flow through her heart has COMPLETELY STOPPED and there is NO resulting DAMAGE on nearby veins or arteries. Also, he was surprised that the left side of her heart has SHRUNK back to almost its NORMAL size. (He had previously anticipated that the swelling would be long-term damage.)

On May 24, I (Jewel) had a very long and painful gallbladder attack.  While comprehensive bloodwork and an ultrasound (of the gallbladder) had good results, there is concern for another attack.  If I have another attack to the extent of the previous attack, my doctor wants to immediately remove the gallbladder.  Before removing the gallbladder, he will deliver Little Man.  Of course, our plan includes a full-term pregnancy and a complication-free delivery on August 1, but we're trusting that sovereign God has a plan to "work all things together for our good."

Memorial Day Weekend:
The Romdenh and Nov families

We traveled to Churchville, NY to spend the long weekend with our Cambodian-American friends and to speak at Spencerport Wesleyan Church. Phalkun and Janell have been friends of Titus since around 2001. Their story, though written a few years earlier than ours, is about the same – go to Cambodia as missionary from IWU, eventually come home with Cambodian pastor husband. Janell was a missionary at the Wesleyan Bible Institute in Phnom Penh and Titus also translated many courses for her. The drive to the Rochester, NY area was about 9 hours one-way and Sophear did FANTASTIC! We seriously couldn’t have asked for a happier girl!

On Sunday, we shared about our calling and ministry at Spencerport Wesleyan Church.  Because of our friendship with Phalkun and Janell, we had visited their church on previous occasions and we were grateful to see some familiar faces and receive a warm welcome!  SWC was the fourth church that we have visited as a family on this journey of support-raising.  We continue to be grateful for the opportunities that we have had to share, for the people that have encouraged us, and for the experience of worshipping God in a church outside our home church. Traveling and being a guest is not always easy or fun, but we are grateful for the opportunity that we have been given to raise our own support, to build our team, and to connect personally with our supporters!

We covet your prayers!
  • Praise God for His goodness and faithfulness!  Please pray that He will continue to strengthen and encourage us and provide us with more speaking engagements.
  • Please pray for the people at Cambodian American Christian Fellowship, Cambodian United Methodist Mission Fellowship, Coleman Wesleyan Church, and Spencerport Wesleyan Church. (These are the churches that we have visited on our support-raising journey.)
  • Please pray for God's favor upon Jewel's scholarship application for her continuing studies at Moody Theological Seminary.  Scholarship awards will be made in July and early August.
  • July 23-31, we will attend Family Camp in Fairmount, IN.  Please pray that we find comfortable accommodations for our little family.  Please pray that it's a spiritually and emotionally uplifting week!  Praise God for the tradition on camp meeting!  
  • Please continue to pray for Jewel's pregnancy, gallbladder, and Little Man, expected August 1.
  • Praise God for Sophear's healing!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Little Man

Monday, May 16, 2016

International Day of the Unreached

Sunday, May 14th was International Day of the Unreached - a day that Moody radio made me aware of in the days leading up to the Sunday.

According to the Joshua Project, an unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers (identified as greater than 2% of the population) and resources to evangelize that people group.  (Click HERE to read The Joshua Project's data on Cambodia.)

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  When He returned to Heaven, He left us with this command:
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"
(Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)

With more than 2 billion people who haven’t had a chance to meet Jesus, it’s time … to take a radical stand and say ‘This has to end in our generation.” - Rick Warren, pastor and author

God has called us to reach the unreached, a call that Titus and I know is leading us back to Cambodia.

From 1975-1979, 80% of Cambodian believers were martyred during the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.  From the small seed of some 2,000 remaining believers, the evangelical Church in Cambodia has since grown to more than 200,000 believers.  Nonetheless, evangelical Christians in Cambodia number less than 2% of the population and more than 75% of Cambodia is considered unreached.  The needs for evangelism and church planting in this war-ravaged country remain great.

Titus and I have chosen 1 Chronicles 16:24-25 as our verse for ministry in Cambodia:
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.”

A Buddhist monk in Kampong Cham and a Muslim school girl in Takao

Will you join us in praying for the unreached people groups in Cambodia and around the world?  Will you join us in praying for those who have already gone to reach these lives for Christ?  Will you help us go?

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Little Man

Friday, April 29, 2016

One Short Life

My grandmom, Jane, began writing One Short Life many years ago and finished only days before the Lord took her home in September 2013.  The stories and testimonies included in the book have been formative, as early as elementary school, in fueling my passion for becoming a missionary.

One Short Life is the story of my aunt, Jewel, who went to a remote area of Africa at 7-months-old with her missionary parents (Harvey & Jane) in 1954. They began to learn the Yalunka language and culture while adapting to life under a grass roof. It was a time that later helped birth Jewel’s own call to the mission field – a call, however, like that of her parents' missionary service, that was tragically cut short. But it is most of all a story of how faith in the providence of a loving God, hope for an eternity with loved ones, and love for God and others can overcome disappointment, loss and grief.

One Short Life is selling on Amazon for only $8.98!  Grandmom wanted all proceeds from her book sales to support world missions. However, our family felt that the book should be sold as close to cost as the publisher allows, thus allowing it to be accessible to more people. Our hope is that each reader will be inspired to financially support and pray for world missions.  Read more here.

I would love to give away one or two copies to readers who will, upon completion of the book, promote it!  If you are interested and willing to do this, please e-mail me.

To peak your interest, I've attached some pictures from the stories included in the book.  See more at
Aunt Jewel (7 months) on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt while the great Atlantic rocked Aunt Jewel and pet monkey, Sammy Home View from the front porch: Ganya, Sierra Leone, Africa Granddad leading a Christmas service in town Five Africans at work: daily life Mom and Bokari in 1956 Mom and Bokari reunited in 1983
Picture 1: Aunt Jewel on The Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (the boat they took from New York to London)
Picture 2: Aunt Jewel reading books to beloved pet monkey, Sammy
Picture 3: Granddad and Grandmom's mud and thatch roof home in Ganya, Sierra Leone
Picture 4: The view from the front porch
Picture 5: Granddad leading a Christmas service in town
Picture 6: Daily life: five Africans at work
Picture 7: Mom and Bokari in 1956
Picture 8: Mom and Bokari reunited in 1983

Granddad, Grandmom, Aunt Jewel, Mom (Joy), and Uncle Andy

I am endlessly grateful for the rich Christian heritage evidenced in this book and so thankful for Grandmom's dedication to write this story.  Thank you also to Uncle Andy, Aunt Nancy, and Kevin for the many hours they have spent in fulfilling our promise to Grandmom to publish her story.

I hope you'll read it and be inspired!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Little Man