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