Thursday, July 24, 2014

Miracles In the Jungle

Miracles In The Jungle

We were on our way to Stung Treng, in the jungle, when we were stopped by a long line of traffic. The road had given way on one side when a large truck filled with saplings had driven over it.  Though many of the locals had come to help, as they do in Cambodia, we began to realize that this would be a LONG wait.  It was then that we noticed a tractor towing another van down a small road with deep mud.  The road circumvented the truck and passed a small, boarded up school.  After careful consideration we decided to do the same.  While Pastor Setan was being towed our driver decided to try it on his own and became stuck in mud that was deep enough to cover half the vehicle.  Now the main road and the alternative path was barred to us.  

After several hours the truck had been successfully moved, thanks to the combined efforts of the villagers, but our van still sat in the mud.  We  made our way to a little shack on the side of the road that sold water and other necessities for the locals.  There we waited until nightfall when we realized that it was not safe to stay on the jungle road anymore, so it was decided that the women and girls would ride to Stung Treng in the other van, while the men and boys stayed behind.  Stung Treng was two hours away and Pastor Setan and the one remaining van would have to return immediately to rescue the rest of the team.

As we were boarding the van Pastor Setan met the Police Chief of the area driving home.  It had been his road-side store that we had been waiting at.  He was checking on his wife and child on his way to an over night duty and had been concerned about leaving them alone, so he invited the men and boys to spend the night at his house.  This allowed everyone to be safe that night, and an opportunity for them to deliver the truck the next morning.  God had provided for our team, and for the police chief and his family!

The next morning we were on our way to a far-off village in the Stung Treng province.  We were exhausted and still missing half of our team at that point, but it was necessary to deliver the rice to this starving village.  Many of the people at this distribution had travelled many miles to receive their bag of rice and salt.  They came from many tribes, many of them believing in several different Gods, and speaking their own languages.  As Pastor Setan began his sermon we all prayed that God would be glorified and speak through Pastor Setan.  At the invitation to receive Jesus as their personal savior the people began to pour forward.  Group by group they came, until there were only a few people remaining on the outside.  We prayed with over 195 souls that day to be redeemed from their false Gods and tribal fears.  

God allowed us to be a part of his work in his people that day, and he blessed us with miracles in the jungle.

Pictures of the Children of the David Center

Heaven On Earth

Heaven on Earth

We drove into the gates of The David Center and all around us were laughing, playing children.  As we disembarked from the van they surrounded us and  graced us with their wide, gap-toothed grins.   Beautiful children, all with their own story of how they had arrived at this haven in the jungle.  

Little Sammy is a loving and sweet Down's syndrome child with a gift for stealing your heart.  He was left at the gates of the David Center when he was just a baby.  Randa and Setan Lee took him into their home to nurse him until he was old enough to go into the David Center.  

Little Mia was born to a young girl who had decided to end the pregnancy until Randa Lee had intervened and offered to take the child after she was born.  Mia is a gorgeous, intelligent child who lights up the room with her smile and sweet personality.  Randa and Pastor Setan brought her home home with them and she remains with them to this day, but she also spends a great deal of time at the David Center, with Randa.  She calls the David Center her "real home."

Precious Hope caught my attention right away.  I found her standing by herself much of the time and when I tried to engage her she shriveled into herself, cringing from my touch.  Such a small, perfect creation of God's and I wondered what story lay behind her isolation.  Later I learned that she had been born to a Mother who had lost her mind due to abuses she had suffered in Vietnam and in prison, where she gave birth to little Hope.  After Hope was born her Mother loved her, but in fits of insanity would not recognize her and would abuse her.  The David Center rescued Hope, just as they have rescued all of the children there.  It is my prayer that I will be able to visit there again, to meet a new Hope, a redeemed child with light in her eyes and a smile in her heart, just like the other children of The David Center.  It has been reported to me that she has formed a very special bond with Sammy, I hope this is a beginning of healing for her.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Children of Krousar Thmey: School for the Deaf and Blind

My expectations of Krousar Thmey were grim.  I had visited  homes for disabled children in other countries and was appalled at the conditions, so as we drove to the school for the deaf and blind I was preparing myself. 

 I could not have been more wrong.  We drove into a beautiful courtyard with lush, well-kept greenery, and as we stepped out of the van we were greeted by a young boy signing that he loved us.  He immediately ran up to me, grasped my hand, and wrote a message to me. "I love you."  And I loved him too.

  We were shown into a spacious, airy room and seated facing a large, smiling group of children, all signing that they loved us.  In the room beside us there were traditional Cambodian instruments, all played by blind students, and then two groups of kids presented traditional Cambodian dances for us. The dancers were clad in sparkling, colorful costumes and complimented the music with graceful, choreographed movements, following cues from their instructor because they were deaf.  Afterwards we presented the rice and school supplies.

The school uses 2 tons of rice a month to feed their live-in students and had raised enough support for a six month supply, but still needed enough rice for the rest of the year.  It was a highlight of this trip to be able to present them with the 12 tons of rice they needed to feed the children for the rest of the year.

After dinner I was able to make friends with some of the smaller children.  The children loved posing for photos and then would laugh hysterically at themselves as they viewed their antics on the screen.  My favorite moment was teaching them that God loved them.  This school is not a Christian establishment, but it is our prayer that in time  these loving, intelligent students will come to know their savior.

As the sun began to set the celebration began, as students, staff, and our team danced into the evening.

It is a memory that I will keep forever.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Hungry Child

Our visit in Kompongcham was a favorite of mine because there were children everywhere, and because we were able to give them school supplies.  It was a delight to witness how happy they were with their notebooks, rulers, and pens. 

As I began scanning the crowd of Cambodians listening intently to the sermon I saw a little boy that caught my attention.  He had a huge, angelic smile and he seemed so content to wader around, sitting first with one group of children, then moving to sit with another.  What had originally piqued my interest was the condition of his little, emaciated body, so skinny you could count his ribs.  I watched throughout the ceremony, always with that smile, and I couldn't help but to fall in love with him.  Later, after the distribution I found him as he was leaving and handed him a banana and a hug, and he gifted me with his smile.  I looked then to his mother, also so thin, and though we could not communicate in words her eyes revealed her deep sorrow to me.

I can only pray that the rice they received will feed their thin bodies and that they had received the bread of life for their souls.

The Children of Joy Daycare

Joy Daycare is a ministry of Transform Asia to a group of children living in the city dump of Phnom Penh.  They pick the children up every morning at 8:00 am and bring them to the center for breakfast.  The staff will then give them an outfit to wear while they wash their clothes.  Then the kids go upstairs to class for schooling and Bible lessons.  They will receive lunch, a snack, and lots of loving care before they are brought back to the city dump at 5:00 pm.  The staff also strives to build relationships with the parents.  There have been many parents that have become Christians through this vital ministry.  They are truly representing the loving arms of Jehovah Jireh, our provider.

The rice that you helped to buy feeds these children every day.

P.S.  The little girl in the pink and white checkered dress is Mia, the adopted daughter of Pastor Setan.