"That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3
Today was our last day of work in Sway Pak. It has been a number of days since we were last there. We returned to paint the rest of Rahab's House. As soon as we arrived, a teenage girl (who helps out at kid's club and the medical clinic) came to meet me. She was one of the girls who had shared her mango with me when last I was there. She invited me to visit her house and see the mango tree in her yard.
I was permitted to go if a male member of the team came too. So, there we were, walking down the street through Sway Pak. It was surreal really. This was a place we had learned all about back in Canada as being very dangerous. On the outside, it looks to be quite normal: men sitting on the street corners visiting, people lounging in front of their homes, children wandering the streets. By all appearances, it seems like any other community. But we have heard the stories first hand and have seen the lives touched by the tragedies. So to be able to walk through the streets felt as though we had been given a marvelous privilege to go deeper in.
At what we thought was her house, we were introduced to the young girl's sister. They pulled up chairs for us to sit and visit with them. The girl took a stick with a small cross piece at the end with which she knocked down several mangoes from their tree. She put some in a bag for us to take home and her sister washed two others in their outdoor cistern and peeled it with a peeler capable of taking off a digit. Then they offered them to us, along with bottled water, and sat with us while we ate them taking none for themselves.
Next, she brought us to her home and we visited for a time with her and her mother. She pointed out pictures of her family which hung on the wall boards and showed us two school books. Then, she told how she desperately wants to be a nurse but tearfully explained that she hasn't the money to go to school. Each of us was quiet for some time after that, giving her some time to regain herself. Words aren't sufficient, but it is enough to say that it felt such an honour to be offered the opportunity to see into her life and heart.
When we arrived back at Rahab's House, there was a volleyball game in progress across the street. Some of the teen boys had gathered and despite the sun and heat (we are sweating just standing still and it was 39 degrees), were having a game in the sandy court. Seeing that there was no work for me to do at that moment, I wanted to join in the game. I asked one of the girls if she thought the boys minded if girls played. She assured me it would be okay so Kaylie and I wasted no time joining in. It wasn't long before one by one, most of the rest of the team came out to play too. We were all mixed together, the boys and our team equally dispersed on either side. Still, we named teams and it was Cambodia against Canada!
At lunch, one of the girls shared her story. It was very difficult for her to tell of how she was raped. She freely shed tears as she spoke. Immediately, the other girls shared in her sorrow, for each intimately understands the depth of shame, fear and loss that this one has experienced. Yet now, she and the others have a hope and a future.
After lunch we spent some time praying for Sway Pak in the Sanctuary. It was powerful to join our hearts in agreement, all asking the Lord for His blessing for Sway Pak and its people as we looked out from all sides and later, on different levels split into groups.
We said good bye to many in Sway Pak today, but as Bridget, Don Brewster's wife said, It's not really good bye...just so long!