I don’t want this to be long so I will try to be concise. However, it is hard to describe all that we’ve done in the last week. I haven’t written sense last Sunday before we left the capital City to go to the province. What a great trip it was. It has been non-stop action. We planned this trip well and it has gone according to plan.
I don’t need to review what we did last week because you can read the previous blog and it will get you up to speed. We left Phnom Penh last Monday morning and headed to the Kampong Cham. Last year our team held a huge festival in Kampong Cham, and thousands of people came, we also built a hope center. The hope center is headed by a wonderful Pastoral Couple, who love God, people, and children. They have a church they pastor, and oversee several others equalling about 400 people. Last year his home was functioning as house, church, and orphanage, and there was not near enough room. So we built the hope center to house the orphans. He has taken in 15 so far. 15 little cambodian children, who would otherwise be on the streets, prey to all kinds of vulchers. Instead they are receiving love and care. They are being educated, their medical care taken care of, and the spiritual lives are being encouraged. We went to the hope center and really didn’t know what to expect. I wondered if it would be as nice as we left it or would it be worn down over the year. We were pleasently suprised they had taken great care to finish it out and make it a wonderful place to live. They had recently put a playground with swings in the back yard, however it gets very hot and certain parts of the day the kids can’t go out and play because of the heat. So we built them a nice overhang shade. They were so excited, and we had a great time with them. We bought the materials and built the shade, it looked great and was fully functional when we left. We also saw that they needed a walk way between the buildings so we built one and it is beautiful. We also landscaped the back and front of the buildings and truly made the place beautiful. We took each orphan a back pack and filled them full with school supplies. We gave them painting sets, and coloring books, and instruments and soccer balls. It was truly a blessing to them. We also were able to get them several bibles that Pastor Hong could give to believers in the church that cant afford to buy a bible of their own. Once our mission was complete there, we had dinner and invited pastor Hong and his wife, and lavished them with gifts and appreciation for the hard work they do in the ministry and watching over these kids.
After a good nights rest, we got up, and began our journey to Kampong Thom. We arrived just in time to meet with Pastor Sochan and Esther and their brand new baby girl Christina Joy, and went out to one of their feeding sites. Pastor Sochan is a young pastor who has a real heart for orphans or impoverished kids. He has 5 Churches that he oversees. each of them have orphans and each of them have a feeding program. We went with him out to the feeding program. The way it works is they feed the kids, while they are there they tell them bible stories and then sing Christian songs with them so they are learning the word of God constatnly. They also teach them a practical health lesson. How to clean up, how to brush their teeth, etc. The reason he does the feeding programs, is because many of these poor village kids, would like to get an education but they can’t because their parents need them to work on the farm or as a vendor, they need the kids to work to make enough money to be able to eat. So if Sochan feeds them for free then they don’t have to go to work with their families because they don’t need them for extra money, so the kids can go to school and get their education.
We fed them, gave them stickers, they love that, and sang songs and told them stories. They were beautiful kids, and extremely poor. Sochan is doing a great work. We then went back to the hope center and met with the orphans there. We gave them all their presents (back packs, school supplies, and toys) The older kids led us in praise and worship and then we presented Pastor Sochan and Esther with a gift basket that was put together just for them. We were also able to resource them to help finish some construction that need to be finished. They want the kids to be able to play out in front, and Destiny Church in st louis brought a team and built them a beautiful fence, but they needed a secure gate, so we were able to help with that.
After we left the Hope Center, we met with Jenn Garrett, Our International Crisis Aid representative and great friend, she introduced us to the coordinators of the after care program for Hagar. We went through an orientation to preapare to minister to these precious girls who have come through such extreme abuse. They are great women, doing a great thing for the Cause of Christ. I will blog about hagar later and about what is being done about the sex trade.
We went to the home, and because they knew we were coming they were so excited and prepared a dance for us. It was incredible, it was a formal, traditional Khmer dance, we were very impressed and moved that they were so talented. We met them and intereacted and then went back to our hotel. We met them in the market and bought each of them a new set of clothes, they were so happy and excited, it was a beautiful thing to see. The next day we all got up and headed to Siem Reip, where we took the girls to the “cultural village”, this is a great place where they do several programs that show you how different cultures do different things. It was a lot of fun and the girls really warmed up to us. Many of them had never been able to go to anything like this, it was a huge blessing for them. Next day was angkor wat, one of the 8 wonders of the world. It was amazing and the girls and the team loved it and continued to cultivate a relationship. We truly were having a week for a princess. After this day, we came back and a banquet with different dishes that the girls never get to eat because of budget. At the end of the banquet several girls wanted to tell us thanks so they thanked us for the trips and for the clothes and for all the food. They were so grateful, so precious, it really was a great moment. The last girl said, I would like to give my testimoney. She talked about how her life used to be really bad, the story is that she was sold into the sex trade by her aunt, and was severely abused, she went on to say that she had the opportunity to join Hagar and get an education and food and medical care. While she was at hagar she was introduced to Jesus Christ, and she said that becuase of her past at that time she was unable to trust people, but after knowing Jesus she said God changed her and she knew that God is always there for her, it was so sincere and so powerful it left us in tears.
The girls stayed at the hotel and ate ice cream and the team went to prepare to receive hem. When they were finished they came to the house. When the bus pulled up, our team was out on the porch with glow sticks and balloons and crowns to put on them. The house was decked out for a princess party. We had several stations, one to fix hair, one to do nails, one to make crafts and one to color. The girls and staff got off the bus and literally ran into the party, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you knew the circumstances these girls have come out of, and the fact that they rarely would get any of the things that we did for them it was a huge deal. They sang and danced and enjoyed all of the stations and we had a grand time. After the party settled down, we all took a picture together, and then sang some songs, after the songs we sat down, and I told them the story of Esther, and then prayed with them. They prayed for us, and we for them. It is hard to explain what a bond was made in those few days, but it was heart wrenching for them and us to part ways. I can honestly say that we truly made an impact and i believe that God is going to raise these girls up and bring beauty from their pain. They will be great leaders in the future.
Be watching for a future blog about sex trafficking and what is being done about it. Thank God that there are many organizations attacking this problem.