Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reflections on two weeks in Cambodia

Time flies when you are having fun . . . is it okay to have fun on a missions trip? I certainly believe you can serve God and have fun where ever He calls you. It has been hot, it has been emotionally draining, it has been hot, it has been tiring, did I mention it has been hot?... but mostly it has been a blessing.

Our team has worked very well together, every one found something to do – we did not often have idle hands. We overcame jet lag, a different climate, some minor stomach issues and many emotions thanks to the prayers, encouragement and support of our awesome Home Team, families and friends. For this we are most grateful.

We have witnessed much and will have much to process on our return home – we read of a Team 1 member who managed to deal well with his emotions while here in Cambodia, but finally unloaded once home. Please continue to pray for us as we make the transition back and deal with all we have seen and experienced.

My heroes are the children of Cambodia who continue to suffer daily at the hands of man; and to those who are overcoming the nightmare they have lived through as they are counseled and rehabilitated. Five months ago I had not heard of the Ratanak Foundation; I had not heard of the social injustices involving the children of Cambodia. Today I know about some of the amazing projects supported by the Ratanak Foundation and I have seen firsthand the atrocities the children of Cambodia (including many from surrounding countries) face each and every day. For more information on the Ratanak Foundation, please visit their website If you would like to hear more of what we have seen in our two weeks here, ask.

Perhaps the most difficult thing I am processing is the psychological effect of the abuse these children have to live with after they have been rescued. In one instance a 22 year old girl is totally withdrawn as the result of being the girl raped repeatedly every night by many men. She has a twelve year old son who is living with her family. You do the math. How could a community allow such a thing to happen to a little girl? Another brave girl gave her testimony one afternoon – she struggles with reliving the event in her mind and cannot escape it – she was raped by a drunken family member– how can a family move forward from such an event? In a conversation at a rehab home I learned that many of the girls have had multiple abortions (some as many as four) prior to being rescued. How will they deal with this as they mature and fully understand what has been done to them?

Thankfully there is a place like New Song! The girls at New Song range in age from five years to twenty three years. All are there because they have been removed from an unsafe situation at home or brought in from off the streets. What will happen when the next girl needs a place to go, as New Song is now at capacity?

The questions do not have easy answers. The issues may even seem impossible to overcome. But we serve a God who is bigger than anything we can imagine; who can multiply bread and fishes. He may be calling you to help. He called twelve of us to leave our homes and enter an unfamiliar place to be His hands and feet – we will never be the same because of it. There is much heartache in Cambodia, but there is much to love in Cambodia. I know I am leaving with a new found appreciation for this country and the people who have already overcome great obstacles.

Please consider how you can help these people – go to your local library, search the internet, talk to someone who has been there, and learn about this country. Find out how you can be used to bless Cambodia and do not be surprised to find you will be blessed more in return.

I am so looking forward to seeing what God will do with Svay Pak, Phnom Penh and Cambodia in the days to come. Thank you for journeying with us and for your encouragement along the way.

God bless,

Jo Ann

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