When we arrived on Thursday, Beth took us directly to Svay Pak. As soon as I climbed out of the van and headed to the front of Rahab's House, two little girls (who looked to be about four years old) came to me. One hugged my legs, and the other, seeing her little companion do this, came and did the same. I bent down to hug them so I could be closer to them. It felt so wonderful, like a little God-gift from the start. And it was such confirmation for me about being here (as if I really needed any)! To be able to have this privilege, to love them through Jesus, was beautiful.
We had a wonderful day today (Saturday). Some of the people on our team are fantastic singers. While we were working, someone began to sing a hymn and we all joined in. We sang several after the first. The sound echoed down the stairwells and throughout the building, spilling over onto the streets of Svay Pak. It felt like it would flood over the people, ministering to them and bringing beauty and hope.
Later on, I felt compelled to go up to the top floor out onto the balcony of the Sanctuary overlooking Sway Pak to pray. I prayed from every side looking out 360 degrees. I hardly knew what to say to God much I could have prayed and it felt overwhelming in a way when I thought about it all. I remembered what a lady in my prayer group had said about saying the name of Jesus there. So I did that too. Somehow it felt like speaking out the name Jesus in that place would penetrate the places which I
cannot physically, but that in doing so would make a vast difference. When I thought about the situation, it brought tears. It seems like such a normal place, with children playing and everybody going about their everyday life, but then there is this terribly tragic thing lurking behind closed doors. It is so typical of Satan, wanting to keep sin hidden as though it is a figment of our imagination, that it can¹t be true, that you can¹t see it...but it¹s real. Yesterday I saw a Caucasian man in shorts come out of one of the buildings.
As we drove along and I looked out the van¹s window, I thought that Cambodia and this problem with human trafficking in Svay Pak, seem to parallel one another. The country has been ravaged by war and the Khmer Rouge, what was once considered to be the Pearl of the Orient, was torn down and destroyed. The enemy moved in and wrecked havoc. But now the people are rebuilding and what was once lost is being reclaimed and restored bit by bit. Likewise are the lives of the girls. Once they were in the grip of the enemy, their lives were repeatedly ravaged. But because of Ratanak (and other partners), this place is being transformed and as a result human lives are being redeemed. And yes, this problem is too big for us, but it is not too big for the One whom we serve.
This afternoon, we visited a shop called "Daughters". They make all sorts of beautiful things: purses, pillows, jewelry, etc. This work provides a living for them thus encouraging them in an occupation far removed from the life they once had. It was remarkable to see these girls: testaments of God's miraculous work in changing lives.
Also today I held another little girl. She was about two or three but so tiny. There are some Cambodian workers helping at the building and it was a daughter of one of the workers. She was reluctant to come at first but her parents told her it was okay and then she came. I picked her up and she rested her little head on my shoulder with her skinny arms right around my neck. It is amazing that you cannot understand a thing each other says, cannot communicate at all, but it doesn¹t really matter.
Last night we had a party to celebrate Ratanak¹s 20th year. Team One (that was here working for two weeks before us) was there, as well as Brian McConaghy and his wife, Louise, plus several others who work for Ratanak. It was really lovely. It feels so amazing to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself. There, Brian unveiled the plaque for the outside of the building we are working on, "The Sanctuary".