Karol Boschung - March 26
Advance warning: Another long post ahead. I just can't help myself sometimes!
Today was one of those days. Not one of those days, but one of those days where joy so overflows that sometimes you feel like jumping up and down because God has done and is still doing great, great things. While seeing God's work in Svay Pak may have been amazing on a daily basis, today was only rivaled by last Sunday in terms of "wonder and joy/hour". That, by the way, is a new unit I have invented. I call it the Joywatt hour, or JWh for short, and intend on patenting it. Stay tuned.
We were intending on painting a wall at Hagar school this morning, but instead we had the morning off. The wall was outside, and thus the weather needed to be dry for us to paint it. However, God made his face to shine upon us, and it rained! Funny how that works sometimes. Anyways, enthused with the news about some time off, we had devotions, followed by a wonderfully leisurely breakfast. After some time to digest, some headed back to their rooms for some much-needed sleep, while most of us headed to the Daughters store for some not-as-much-needed, but still very welcome joy! Daughters is an organization, partnered with Ratanak, which gives girls career training and an opportunity to escape from the sex trade. By doing this, they live out the Gospel to them, and give the a sense of the value of their life, and life in general, which is so often lacking in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge devastation. We were greeting by several smiling wonderful young Khmer women, who opened the door and happily welcomed us in. We only learned about 15 minutes later that the store was not actually open for the day yet, and that they had let us in early! Regardless, we looked around at all the beautiful items, and we all bought something for ourselves or our loved ones back at home. We also found out that the store had only officially opened yesterday, and so we were privileged to be among the first people to be able to bless these people. Please pray for Daughters and their store as they work to bless and honour the Daughters of Cambodia.
This was a good appetizer to the wonderful main course for the day. Relishing the taste of Daughters, Grant, Pablo, Graham and I wandered around Phnom Penh for a while and then headed back to the hotel to drop off our stuff. From there, we stepped into our van and headed off towards the buffet table, where just a bit of God's plentiful feast awaited us. We were honoured and blessed to be invited by the Brewsters to visit NewSong, or Agape Restoration Center. This is where girls rescued from child prostitution are rehabilitated and healed. This place was joyful and wonderful; there are no words to capture it, except perhaps in the tongues of heaven. However, I'm sure that, being who I am, I still have lots of words, as inedequate as they might be. And so here I go. We arrived there, met the phenomenal staff, and then were able to join the girls as they had lunch. They were a bit shy at first, but soon after they finished their meal, some of them came and talked to us (all in English - we're good practice for them!). One girl had multiple sclerosis, and was quite difficult to understand. However, this didn't stop her from talking and joking with us, as long as there was a friend there to translate. She, along with all the others, was a joy and a wonder to be allowed to meet.
After lunch, we were given the tour of the facility - it was great to see what God's blessed them with! Then we were able to watch Sports Day, which they have every week. About 10 of the girls played a very intense game of volleyball as the rest of them, along with us, cheered them on. There was competition, but it was friendly, loving, smiling, profoundly healthy competition and it was an utter joy to watch. The older girls took care of the younger girls, and all of them clearly loved one another, as well as the staff. All through the visit, there were girls smiling and laughing, the hope and joy of Christ showing clearly on their faces. That they can be like this, show this joy, love, hope and respect after being abused thousands of times - it staggers me and puts me in awe. These girls are titans, one and all. I am in awe of them, of their courage and fortitude. I am in awe of the staff, of their love, respect, self-sacrifice, and deep, profound joy. I am most of all in awe of God, that he can bring this into being! Hallelujah! We left with many goodbyes,jum reap leahs and God Bless Yous. I felt so blessed to be told "God Bless You" by these girls and I tell you truly, unless I have a heart of granite, I will remember those few hours at NewSong with wonder until I die.
And while this was truly the highlight of the day, if not the entire trip, we're not done yet! Afterwards, we went to Bloom Cafe, which has a similar concept to Daughters - career skills training and reintegration. Here, I had what were, bar none, the best cupcakes I have ever had. Bloom trains the girls in gourmet cake-making and decorating, and the stuff here is truly delicious! I have to say, my stomach has had a very happy 2 weeks!
Finally, to wind down, the dessert platter of the day was a supper at Jars of Clay cafe (mentioned in an earlier blog post) to celebrate 20 years of Ratank working in Cambodia. Nearly 40 people were there - Teams 1 and 2, the McConaghys, and various Ratanak reps and staff. The dinner was great, and I got to chat with some wonderful folks from Team 2, as well as be blessed by simply being present for a celebration of such great work for His Kingdom! It was a great way to end a great day, which is summed up by thïs verse I read upon coming home: I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man abide in me, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5
Well, tomorrow's a sleep-in day, but my eyelids are drooping and the soft pillow on the bed accross from me is calling. Ciao!