Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Cambodia

Its Christmas day here in Cambodia but it certainly doesn't feel like Christmas. Its sunny and hot and here and there we see a few Christmas decorations but sadly it is another work day here in Cambodia. The young women at RAP have school today and outside my apartment I can hear the noise of construction work at a new building nearby. As I think of all of this, I am reminded again that Christmas is not about a holiday, but it is about Christ our Savior's birth so despite the visible reality, today I am blessed to just reflect on His birth and am filled with thankfulness for His coming in such a lowly and humble way to deliver us from our sin and to give us a new life filled with hope, peace and love.
RAP Home Christmas Tree
This past week at the RAP home the young women were busy preparing for the first ever Christmas party at the RAP home on Saturday December 22nd. A few weeks ago our staff had gone shopping to buy Christmas decorations with the young women and they all began to decorate the tree and the home.
One of the young women putting up the Merry Christmas sign outside the front entrance

One of our staff finishing off the decorations
In the midst of the decorations, the young women were busy practising different dance routines. One was a Christian Hip Hop dance and the other a traditional Khmer dance known as the ''Blessing Dance''.
Practising the Blessing Dance
The Ratanak Christmas party at the RAP home was an opportunity to invite the previous caregivers of our partner organizations to come and spend time with the young women. We believe it is important for the young women to continue to keep in contact with their caregivers who have played a significant role in nurturing their journey when they were first rescued. All of these relationships are part of a journey of restoring healthy relationships where the young women feel loved and cared for knowing that there is a big family of people who are there for them as they continue their road to healing and ultimately to reintegration.
A Tent is set up for the CHristmas Party

Here in Cambodia when one is having any kind of party, you will see tents being set up at different places and along the road. We are thankful that the RAP home has enough space at the side of the building to have a more private party as we invited some of our partner organizations who have assisted us throughout this past year. As well, the young women were each given the opportunity to invite 3 of their caregivers.
Musicians from the Svay Pak Church
As part of our Christmas program, each young woman at RAP chose what they wanted to participate in...some of them were involved in the dancing, others were leading worship and others were reading scripture while other young women had created a drama skit. We didn't have any musicians so we were thankful that three of Pastor Chantha's disciples were able to provide the musical equipment to accompany our young women in a time of worship.
One of the Young women in the Khmer outfit

Make up used for the young women participating in the traditional Khmer dance
The five young women who were involved in the Traditional Khmer blessing dance were busy getting dressed in a special Khmer outfit that really makes them look like royalty. Indeed they are princesses of the most High God and to see their reaction when our staff completed all the make up for them. They had these big smiles on their faces as everyone began complimenting them. They looked so pretty and looked well like royalty! It is these occasions we see how the Lord is literally restoring value, dignity and self esteem to them as they feel good about themselves.
Some of the caregivers from our Partner organizations

The party began with different events and skits performed by the young women at RAP followed by a message about Christmas from the pastor whose church we are partnering with. One of the young woman who wasn't involved in the skit was busy serving the guests dressed up in her Christmas attire---a Santa Clause hat!

Some of our RAP staff also participated singing a Khmer Christian worship song as they wore their traditional Khmer clothes.
RAP staff 
The party ended at 6:15pm---yes here in Cambodia people eat and run but our young women continued their Christmas celebrations inside the house dancing up a storm to different Christmas hip hop music late into the evening and then ate again like hungry teenagers do! It was always such a joy to see them laughing so hard and having so much fun. They had done a great job that day and at the end of the event I had the privilege of presenting each of them with a rose for in God's eyes and in our eyes, they are beautiful flowers that are blooming and with each day we trust they will continue to be a fragrance of Christ in all they do.

We are thankful to all our donors and friends around the world who have supported our ministry for without your partnership we would not have the opportunity to be Christ hands, feet and voice in the lives of these young women and to host such events that allow the young women to discover a whole new life that is full of joy and laughter despite the challenges they face each day. Events like this become spiritual markers in their lives that enable them to feel special, to feel valued and most of all, they discover that there is a Savior who loves them and wants them to experience an abundant life in Him. In celebrating Christ's birth, they like us are again reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season!

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