I arrived back in Cambodia last night after my flight from Singapore got delayed. I have always thought of Singapore as my second 'home' only because I lived there for 1 year way back in 1994-95 when I was serving with OMF and was surrounding by some amazing spiritual giants. Singapore is like the Asian version of Toronto---very multicultural, very clean, full of skyscrapers and of course lots of great eating places. In Singapore, every thing is organized, the trees that lined the boulevards look like Japanese Bonsai trees and you feel you are in the midst of a rain forest despite the hot temperatures. But for me the most enjoyable time is hanging out with old friends. There is something to be said about Singaporean hospitality ---they are warm, generous and will not let you pay for anything.
Now as I am spending this extended time in Cambodia, it is strange how I have become accustomed to the dirt, the dusty roads, the pollution, the crazy driving and the smells. I actually missed being in this chaotic environment while I was a way on this short trip. Just as Singaporeans are known for their hospitality, Cambodians to me are known for their warmth. You could be sitting in your tuk-tuk and someone catches your eye and if you smile, they simply smile back at you. Others will wave at you. Two very different countries at different stages of development and yet in both places, it is the people who grow on you whether it is through their hospitality or their warm and welcoming smiles.
While I was only out of country for only 3 days, it was nice to be back in Svay Pak. As soon as I arrived this morning at the Sanctuary, some of Pastor Chantha's students came up and said 'I'm so glad you are back, I miss you, you've been a way too long.' I am not looking forward to the end of this month when I have to leave. I'm trying not to think about it but to live and enjoy each moment that God gives me in this special place and with these special students who are like my young brothers and sisters. As I have had the privilege of sitting in the 'Trauma' class that Barb Wilson from the Bayside team is teaching them and as I have heard their stories and testimonies of how Jesus has touched their lives---how He has has given them hope when they felt hopeless and wanted to die, how He has healed their hearts or their bodies or their family members, how He has given them courage to share some painful family stories where they have felt rejected, abandoned, ignored, I am blessed beyond measure by how He has literally lifted them up from the miry pit and how He has infused in them such passion, love and intensity to live for Him so fully. Despite some of their challenging backgrounds, each day as I watch them interact with the little ones at the kids club, it is a real joy to see the bonding and love that naturally exists between these teenagers and the little ones. Christ indeed is knitting hearts together as this generation of students are naturally mentoring the lives of these young ones. More and more, I am realizing what a special community Svay Pak is. Despite the perversity of lust that it is notorious for, Christ love is being formed and shaped in the hearts of both big and small. His acts of love are evident daily through the smallest, the weakest and the broken. Just today in the kids club as I sat, three little friends came over to my side. They just wanted to be held and hugged. No words spoken, just a little smile, one showing me her 'boo boo' on her knee, the other just wanting me to put my arms around her as she stood next to me. There is such a hunger for true love in these little ones. It is pure joy to receive Christ love through them and to also be His instrument of love to them. As 1 Corinthians 13:8 says 'love never fails'---even in Svay Pak, where Satan has sought to destroy pure and holy love, God continues to demonstrate that His love is higher, His love is deeper, His love is wider, His love is greater, His love is stronger because He is love and nothing can separate us from His love!