Jeanette & Sarah having a foot spa and pedicure at Daughters!
From there we headed to a meeting at the Newsong Centre. I appreciate all the work the staff at Newsong do especially Sisarat who herself wears many hats. She is not only the assistant director at Newsong but she is also overseeing the pillow casing work in Svay Pak and acting as a big sister to the girls in the Agape home. While she took the Wellspring guests on a tour of the facilities, I hung out chatting with some of the young girls. As my Khmer is somewhat improving, I am able to have basic conversations with them. Of course when it came to the question of whether they had boyfriends, they got all giggly and started laughing just like typical teenage girls. They of course couldn't resist asking me the same question since we were bantering back and forth and I told them 'yes, Jesus is both my boyfriend and husband.' They all laughed and a few said 'me, too'!
One of the interesting stories that I got to hear today was that of a young woman who is approximately 21 years old. I'll call her Srey Phal. Srey Phal was in the brothel system in Svay Pak for many years. I remember first seeing her in 2008 when I was in Svay Pak doing a VBS with one of our short term teams. Every day she would bring her daughter to the VBS but she sat outside squatting looking in at all the activities, never feeling comfortable enough to enter into the building. She just stood at a distance. She never said anything and in the midday heat would wear a thick woolen turtle neck. (Many of the girls who have been abused here typically tend to wear clothing that covers up their body). Yesterday I learned a bit more of how the Lord is healing Srey Phal. Like many of the girls who have been sold in Svay Pak, she had endured multiple rapes and torture, except in her case it was over 10 years of systematic abuse. Srey Phal was transferred to the Newsong centre around 2009. She never spoke to anyone because she couldn't speak. Her voice was totally silenced whether it was a physical disability and/or whether it was from the years of abuse. She was silenced!
Srey Phal also never knew what it was like to live like a human being. She never knew what it was like to use a toilet like a 'normal' person nor did she know what it was like to even take a shower because she never was allowed to have such 'normal' experiences like that in her time in Svay Pak. Over these past couple of years, the staff at Newsong have spent several hours tirelessly ministering to this young woman. Teaching her the basics of life of how to take care of her body, how to go to the bathroom and how to take a shower. As Sisarat said, it was like caring for a 3 month baby in a 21 year old body.
Over this time, Srey Phal began to trust the staff as she began to experience God's love through them, she is learning to care for herself. But more than that, she can now speak a few words. Whenever she sees me, she will come over and greet me politely with a traditional Cambodian greeting and she has a big smile on her face. I always give her a big hug. As I think of this young woman, my heart goes out to her. I can't imagine what its like to live with such deep pain and brokenness within one's spirit and yet, day by day, the Lord is doing His work in her. He is making her a new creation in Him. Srey Phal is a living example of how God is transforming a life that has been so badly destroyed. Scripture says in Philippians that He who started a good work in us will complete it. The Lord has started a good work of restoring Srey Phal's life. She has been helping out making some jewelry in Svay Pak with some of the other girls. She is on a journey of restoration and a journey of hope. I can't wait to see how her life enfolds in the year's to come and God's plans for her.
But there is another angle to Srey Phal's story. If you have been following this blog you will have heard me mention a few days ago about another little friend of mind in Svay Pak called "S". This is the little girl who is on the Ratanak brochure and whose grandmother had asked me whether I would adopt 'S' if she dies. Srey Phal is the mother of 'S'. I can't help but reflect on the conversation that I had with 'S's grandmother last Sunday when I asked her where is 'S's mother. She said "S" had no mother. Indeed in a strange way, 'S' has had no mother for years. For her mother did not have the capacity to take care of herself much less care for the child that she bore. I am so thankful to the Lord that He does not forget these who in the eyes of the world seem so forgotten, so marginalized and so abandoned. Today, I thank the Lord that He not only seeks after the lost, but when He finds them, He begins His work of redemption to repay the years the locusts have eaten from them. For Srey Phal that journey has began. For her daughter 'S', my prayer is that one day she will discover and meet the mother she never knew. For now, I am thankful to the Lord for the privilege I have of meeting both Srey Phal and also spending time with 'S' in Svay Pak. I look to our Lord who is the God of reconciliation, that one day He will do another miracle of reconciling this family. What a testimony that will be of His mighty hand to save, deliver, heal, restore and reconcile! His love has began the journey of healing their hearts and their wounds and it His love that will have the final say in their lives. His Love indeed covers over a multitude of sins!