Helen Sworn from Chab Dai
Today was another full day of activities as I met Helen Sworn a Ratanak partner that overseas Chab Dai at 7:15am for a quick breakfast before visiting the Chab Dai offices and passing out some Ratanak t-shirts to the staff. For those of you not familiar with Chab Dai, this is a coalition of 50 Christian NGOs that seek to end child sex trafficking in Cambodia. Ratanak funds the church training and prevention program and it was neat to see how much the Khmer research section of the Chab Dai library has expanded. Helen recently has moved into an advisory role after passing on the leadership of Chab Dai Cambodia to Yeng, a Cambodian national. I spent some time praying for both of them as its exciting to see Cambodians take on greater leadership roles.
After Chab Dai, I headed over to the Newsong centre to meet up with Pastor CHantha and Bunthan who were having some meetings there. It was nice to see some of the girls again as they were on a break. One of the little ones was so sweet that she gave me a small bundle of flower petals as she was heading back in class. Some of the others who often come to help out at the Kids club in Svay Pak came over to give me hugs and to say goodbye. I'm always so amazed at the girls here. Despite all the abuse they have gone through, they have the ability to still give love in such a tender way.
Little baby Neang Rua
We headed off to Biek Chan to visit Marie Ens at Place of Rescue and both Pastor Chantha and Bunthan were in awe and amazed at what they saw at Rescue. Chantha commented that in Svay Pak he often feels overwhelmed but stepping onto the grounds of Rescue it was so peaceful. He is right, God's presence and peace reigns in this place. They had a tour of all the different homes for AIDS patients, orphans, grannies and factory girls and of course Bunthan fell in love with all the little babies. One of the special treats for me was to see little baby Neang Rua. Last year, we had arranged for this little baby who was born with spina bifida to come to Rescue as her mother a prostitute could not afford to keep her and the doctors had told the mother to take her home and die. Now 1 year old, little Rua (which means life) is much bigger and has such a beautiful smile. Recently she had a rash in her hair and so unfortunately they had to shave her hair but as Marie said, she had the most beautiful smile. She is such a happy baby. No doubt the joy of the Lord is within her.
Sokhan, Marie, Chantha & Bunthan praying for each other's ministries
Before we left Place of Rescue, Marie, Sokhan, Pastor Chantha and Bunthan locked hands together and they began go pray for each other's ministries and for God's blessing upon both Svay Pak and Place of Rescue. It was a precious sight to see and we trust that God will use this new connection to provide a way for unwanted babies in Svay Pak to have a home---one that is prepared for them by their heavenly Father!
After our 1 hour pit stop at Place of Rescue, it was back to Svay Pak for lunch. We were running a bit late and Bunthan knowing that I was leaving soon apparently had made my favorite dish--Lok Lak. Little did I know someone told them it was my birthday (tomorrow) and when we got to Svay Pak, the kids were hanging out outside, the people who were waiting for the clinic were standing outside and all of Chantha's students were inside. They had been waiting for the last hour for us to arrive and had not eaten.
A surprise birthday 'cake' made of my two favorite fruits
At one point they told me a 'new chicken' was in town to keep me from going inside The Sanctuary but soon as I stepped in, I heard a loud 'Surprise' and they all began to sing Happy Birthday with these little firework sparkles. I started to cry as they began singing Jesus We Enthrone You. The 'birthday cake' was actually made up of two of my favorite fruit: Long Kong and Mangoosteen which they somehow managed to decorate with candles. They know me well as I don't particularly like cake but these fruits, I eat all the time. Each of the students came around giving me their own personal hand made cards. One of the most touching gift came later that afternoon when I was sitting at the medical clinic. One of my Vietnamese guitar students who I hadn't seen for a few weeks came back and I actually thought she was going up to one of the classrooms but instead she simply came by my side, said Happy Birthday and gave me a beautiful gift wrapped present with two cards written inside from her and another student saying 'God bless you'. Inside was a box of chocolates.
I am so humbled by the love that has been poured over me today and each day that I have been in Svay Pak through all the students and Chantha and Bunthan. These students have so little and some of them in their cards were so apologetic that they couldn't give me a'gift'. Little do they realize that their friendship is the gift that God has given to me. It will certainly go down as one of my most memorable birthdays with such a special bunch of friends who the Lord has given me such a love for. Indeed this was such a special day. Thank you Jesus!