On our way to Hagar's House today, Beth announced that she had forgotten the paint for the community room in her hotel room. The staff at Hagar liked the outside wall so much that they asked if we could paint a room inside the school. I have to admit, when I heard we had no paint, I groaned inwardly because it felt like a big project and we would lose time with her having to go back and get the paint. Beth said "I'm sure God has a reason for this." I wasn't there - and it shows how small God was for me at that moment.
We shared the Lord's supper, sitting in the outside portico - we shared bread and mango juice and thanks to Forward for sending the reflection sheet. We ended in prayer, each person praying for the team member on their left and I am thankful for each member of this team God has selected for this work in Cambodia. Each person has brought something in particular and something special to each of us and to Cambodia. Thanks to Lorey for praying for my girls at this holiday time. It's hard not to be emotional as we think about our loved ones - all of us are away from our families and missing them very much.
We prepared what paint we had left for the upstairs room, but there wasn't enough work for everyone. Sean suggested we do a prayer walk around the grounds and through the stairwells. Peter, Kaylie, Melanie and I walked together and prayed aloud: for the school and its leadership; for the children at Hagar’s who have experienced abuse and exploitation; for the ongoing financial need of the school, that God would raise up faithful donors and supporters; for those children who will be involved in upcoming court cases and above all, for God's grace and mercy to touch each one there. We prayed for those who had been abused, to be able to forgive through Jesus Christ and for the perpetrators, who would know that forgiveness and experience a life transformed. The prayer walk changed my heart and lifted the burden of "need to get done." As Sean continues to say, "this trip is not about painting"?.
We went back inside and the bell rang for break and some of the children started to gather in the room where we were painting. By now, we were a bit familiar to them after having been there the day before and they were freely engaging. Peter was teaching a hand game to the boys and Adrianna was playing the "Cup Game" with some of the other children. And then they wanted us to sing - we wracked our brain trying to think of songs and children's songs: we started with "Jesus Love's Me" and went on to "Deep and Wide," "I've Got the Joy," "Peace Like a River," "Noah's Arky Arky" and "Father Abraham." How they loved the songs and actions and they wanted more! And the one little girl requested Christmas music - we stood in 39 degree heat and sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bells!" How they loved it, but we had run out of songs, so I suggested a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose." They had never played it, so we sat everyone in a circle and Peter and I demonstrated and we were off! Once they got the hang of it (they didn't say "duck duck goose", they would just hit and hard!) then they started having fun. Peter would wrestle with the boys when they tried to run by and I have not laughed so hard in a long time, my cheeks hurt! They had such a sense of humour and some of the children (some were 15 and 17) had us in stitches.
These children are amazing - so many of them have been horrifically abused and betrayed by families and those they know and to watch them today, they were just like any other child playing a game. They were so hungry for safe touch - the boys responded to Peter's wrestling and play fighting and before they left to go home, one boy came to him and hugged him and said "I love you." One little girl sat next to me on the floor and her little hand touched my arm and then she wrapped her arm around mine - I couldn't get up when I was "goose" - she wouldn't let go!
The bell rang and it was time for the children to go home and then one of the boys stopped us and said "we need to pray." We sat back on the floor and held hands and he asked Peter to pray and Peter prayed for the children.
My heart was so touched by the interaction we had - singing, dancing, playing and lots of hugs and I pray that their day was positively impacted by this group of crazy Canadians who sang and jumped around in 38 degree heat. And Beth, you're right - God had a reason why you forgot the paint, and we were so grateful that you did.