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.
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."
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.
|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|