Hermione: “You know Ron, just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

So many emotions are running through my head as I sit here staring at the empty “Add New Post” dialogue box. For starters, yesterday was my teammate’s and my last day working with the children at the school. To tell you that I was sad to say “Goodbye” would be a drastic understatement. I announced to them in our English class that I was leaving to go back to America soon, and today was our last time together learning English.

Side Note: I’m a very emotional person (I cry in almost every “touching moment” in movies) and I’m also a sympathy crier (Another reason why there is a very short list of movies that haven’t made me tear up), so you can imagine where this is headed…

I didn’t want my last day to be so.. “School-y” so in English I taught them some American games, hoping that this would distract them from the fact that I was leaving and (not to be a Debbie Downer) would probably never see them again. Nope, it actually worsened my situation. Half the class teared up when the school bell rang– and not just the girls. Well, there went my calm and collected reserve. I was able to regain myself just before our Bible lesson, but looking at all their lost and confused faces, as my teammate, Remi, and I shared about our Savior named Jesus, made my heart hurt.

Here’s where my muddled and profuse emotions come into play. Here I am, sitting in a dimly lit school room, pouring out my heart and soul to children who I met barely a month ago. Children who can barely understand a word I say, but who I care about so deeply, that to see their beautiful faces fills me with an abounding joy.  I’m filled with a sadness that I have to leave this place and leave the little ones I’ve come to love. I’m filled with a hope that the words Remi and I spoke, and the love we shared, wouldn’t fall onto hardened hearts. A frustration that I can’t share the Word with them in Khmer. And also a regret that my beginning time in Kampong Cham was consumed with self-pity and homesickness. However, most of all I’m filled with a joy that my Savior gives me and a joy that these children have a future ahead of them. Yes, some of them may not fully grasp the concept of carrying on a relationship with Jesus, or understand the sacrifice that He made for them. But I can leave this country knowing that the Lord sent me to Cambodia to plant the seeds, and I did. Now He will bring someone else to water the ones that took root. What I need to remember is that, although my heart breaks for these children, I did what I could. Now I need to let the Lord use someone else to further His kingdom. It’s not about the amount of “conversions” you can say you witnessed. Or the number of miracles you witnessed. But the effort and willing heart that you put into the work the Lord provided for you. He can use the most curious and amazing circumstances to bring people to His feet.

 

Advertisements

Silver Linings

So here we are. Two more weeks to go in Kampong Cham province, and a week ago all I wanted to do was leave. I just wanted to get out of this hot, sweaty, mosquito infested country, where I don’t speak the language and live in extremely close proximity with someone who I only met a month ago. (I’m not complaining at all about Remi, she’s great! However, if I tell you that you probably won’t feel quite as bad for me (; ) As I’ve been here, I can really feel the Lord doing His work. Yes of course I still can’t speak khami, I’m currently swating bugs and pouring sweat as I type this, and both Remi and I continue to count down the days until we are reunited with our fellow teammates in Phonom Phen, but I’m slowly reaching a point of contentment.

Teaching at the school has not only become easier as I get more comfortable, but the kids have started to realize that just because they speak more slowly, doesn’t mean I’m going to miraculously understand what they’re trying to communicate to me. They have come to love Remi and I, and squeal with excitement every time we ride our bikes onto the property. And when we bike away, they chase us with laughter and smiling faces. They run to us with hugs; stumbling over their new-found knowledge of the English language. Heart. Melted. (I really hope that you are Facebook friends with me so that you can also enjoy their faces and smiles in pictures I’ll post when I get back to the States.)

I read Jeremiah 17:5-8 recently and it really resonated with me about just being thankful in all circumstances. Yes, it is still hard living here, but finding the silver linings has made my time here easier. Silver linings like the children’s smiles, the two American channels on our tiny TV in the hotel room, the AC in our room we can enjoy while we sleep, tiger balm, Harry Potter, the convenience of a bathroom where you can shower, use the toilet, and brush your teeth all at the same time! (I’ll explain that one later) Even the Westernized restaurant that Remi and I have frequented enough they know our names, has given us a semblance of home. Theses little victories keep us going and allow us to enjoy the now….. but we still get excited every time we can check another day off the calendar. 🙂  

Just Do It.

Ever since arriving in Cambodia things have just felt… off. Going through orientation in Phenom Pehn with the whole team was really great and encouraging, but as soon as my teammate (Remington) and I left for Kampong Cham we both started feeling a little discouraged. When we started training, the six of us that were headed to Cambodia became really close and bonded as one whole team. However, upon our arrival we had to continue on with the original plan and divide into teams of 4 and 2. It was hard to leave the group we had come to call family, and the comfort of the missionary’s home in Phenom Phen, but Remi and I had to face the fact that this trip was not going to be easy, or comfortable, 100% of the time.

Monday, the two of us started our work with the children. Going into it, I assumed it would be the joy that kept me going while I was here, but it turned out to be difficult and exhausting. The hour we taught arts and crafts was fairly straight forward because we could show them what to do, but as soon as we began our English lessons and Bible class, we hit a wall with our language barrier. Yes we had translators, but sometimes even they didn’t understand what we were trying to communicate. Tuesday was a little better, but I just pray that it gets easier. I know that the Lord sent me here for a reason and He has a plan for the outcome of this trip (even if it’s just letting me know that Cambodia is not the place for me), but I am greatly looking forward to July 3rd when our team is reunited! And then onto the 10th when I’m home and can look back and maybe see the seeds that were planted and a possible direction for my life. If anything, I will have learned that the life of a missionary is hard! Being able to stay somewhere because He sent you there, when you’d rather be anywhere else in the world, is one hard task. For all I know, this could be my future… better get used to it! 🙂

10,000 Reasons

So far four other interns and I have safely spend two days in the Kingdom of Cambodia– not without our fair share of trouble. We left for the Philly airport at about 5:45 am (ps I’m not a morning person at all so you can imagine how that went) and came to the realization that Satan wasn’t going to let up just because we raised the money and had our plane tickets in hand.

Upon arrival we learned that our flight from Philly to Atlanta was canceled, and hurried to get a new flight to Korea so we wouldn’t in turn miss our flight from Korea to Cambodia. We quickly realized however that the Lord was truly on our side. Not only did He provide a new flight quickly and almost trouble-free, the flight we were put on had multiple seats free (which was unheard of that morning) and was delayed long enough for us to race over to the terminal just in time. After over 24 hours in the air, a series of turbulent unrest, and cramped legs and backs, we finally arrived… only to discover our luggage didn’t. At this point we were hot and sweaty, desperately in need of showers and bed, and all we wanted was a clean change of clothes. Not gonna happen. So instead we slept in the clothes we were wearing and woke up jet lagged and weary… wearing the same clothes. Gross.

The next morning, although we were grumpy, tired, gross, and sweaty, we each had quite a reality check. After breakfast the six of us and our missionary mentors gathered for worship and sang this song:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,

O my soul, worship His holy name.

Sing like never before, O my soul.

I’ll worship your holy name.

V 1: The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning;

It’s time to sing your song again.

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me,

Let me be singing when the evening comes.

V2: You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger.

Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.

For all your goodness I will keep on singing;

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

V3: And on that day when my strength is failing,

The end draws near, and my time has come;

Still my soul will sing your praise unending;

Ten thousand years and then forever more.”

Talk about a reality check. Ten thousand reasons for my soul to praise you. Ten thousand reasons for us to be thankful. Even when you feel exhausted, dirty, frustrated, and grumpy….. We are in Cambodia, we are safe, we are healthy, we have each other for fellowship, we have Jesus, we have soo much to be thankful for.

Fellowship… It Wasn’t Tolkien’s Idea First.

My whirlwind summer is shooting by quicker than I ever imagined! Upon my return from the road trip of a lifetime to the Grand Canyon this past Wednesday, I spent all day Thursday unpacking and repacking for my internship to Cambodia… of which I leave for today, Friday. These are the experiences that I want to cherish and fully soak up, but my life seems like it is always moving faster than I can breathe. My entire semester was devoted to finishing my classes well and raising the $4500 needed for Cambodia. I was so caught up in just getting it done, I failed to notice God’s hand in it all. I took some of the hardest classes this past semester, and still managed to get the grades I needed at the end. And the $4500? Whew it was tough but I raised it. WRONG. God raised it.

So often we get caught up in just trying to get things done that we forget who is really behind it all. This is why I believe Christian fellowship so very important in a believer’s life. (Now I’m about to show you my incredibly nerdy side). When I think of Fellowship my immediate thought is Lord of the Rings… Honestly this isn’t far off. If you’ve read the books or seen the movies (if you haven’t yet…… I have no words for you…) you can see how the fellowship clings to one another for support and encouragement. They grow together, learn together, and fight together. (There are actually a lot of Christian under currents in LOTR). This is how the Christian fellowship should be. We all need people in our lives to hold us accountable and to bring us back down to earth– make us see what really matters.

Yes, the road trip was amazing! But praising the Lord alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ on the rim of the Canyon was even better. My trip to Cambodia will be life changing, but being able to grow in the Lord alongside fellow missionaries who are able to challenge me and pray with me will blossom my faith even more.

We need others in fellowship. You don’t need to always talk about the Lord and faith, but just knowing that they are there to support you and grow with you is immense! You can’t learn about God’s Word solely on your own, this is why Jesus gave us the Church. Your Christian community are some of your best friends. They’ll help you get back on your feet and point you back to the Lord. Even when you think your doing right by raising funds for your mission trip, your eyes may not be fixed on the Ultimate Goal.

Flashbacks to Guatemala

Summer is here, maybe more in the fact that the school year is over and not in congruence with the weather, but never the less it’s here. Looking back over my 2012-2013 school year I can see how much the Lord changed me, especially in my trip to Guatemala this past fall. One of the perks of my University are the Alternative Breaks that become an option every fall and spring; lucky for me, I got to experience Guatemala with some of the most amazing people and fellow peers.

To say that this trip changed my life would not be an exaggeration in any way. Upon arrival last October, I was a little apprehensive about my visit—no running water, giant spiders, sleeping on a cement slab for a week.  I was excited but it didn’t exactly seem like the most comfortable Fall Break. I ended up falling in love with every experience and didn’t ever want to leave. You get used to the living conditions, and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces—who run around without shoes—gives you every reason to not complain, but instead change your entire view on your own life.

Upon graduation, I plan on become a missionary. I’ve known for a while I wanted to go, but if you had asked me what I wanted to focus on or where I wanted to go, my answered would have been very different from what it is now. Guatemala transformed my entire life plan and God threw me a curve ball. From October on, working with children in third world countries is the only thing I could ever see myself doing. I loved being able to provide these families with the stoves and clean water—their grateful and teary-eyed faces are forever in my memory—but what really stole my heart were the children in the village, and one little boy in particular. Adorable Manuel, with his gap toothed smile and funny little mullet. This little boy was so curious about us Americans that everything we did or said he would copy. By the end of the week he was constantly walking up to me, greeting me with a “What’s up?” and leaving with an “I love you!”

Unfortunately, I also experienced two of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and one was my goodbye to Manuel. I was telling him over and over (in Spanish) that I loved him and to always remember me and that Jesus loved him, etc. Then he looked up up at me, poked at my tears and said, “See you tomorrow?” … I lost it… and I think he understood because he started crying and hugging me harder. (Insert chills here). The second was giving out the donations we brought. Now you may be thinking this sounds like the easiest and most rewarding of jobs. However, trying telling a mother of five (or even eight) that she can only pick one toy, one pair of shoes, and one article of clothing…. yeah. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here but sometimes having to go through experiences like this are what inevitably gives you a wake up call and kicks you back into reality.

This reality isn’t my resort of a campus I live on, the car I drive, or the fact that I know where my next meal will come from. These are truths, but the reality I’m writing about is all around us; we just need to step outside our little bubbles of comfort we get so used to. Just knowing that these children could be so content and happy with no “zapatos” on their little feet, or barely a roof over their heads changed my life. The fact that I experienced so much in a week makes me so excited to see what God will do in me for the rest of my life. That’s my reality.