I am so grateful for facebook video chat and skype to be able to talk with my amazing hubby and the kiddos. I am so grateful to live in such a time as this where he can hear what is going on face to face and see videos and hearing stories of girls I am meeting. I am so grateful to have access to technology where he can have such a great glimpse of what I'm doing across the world. Oh how I long for God to become more famous through the use of technology and praise Him that we get to be part of it!!
When we first arrived here in Cambodia just a few days ago we discovered beautiful rooftop seating with a pool that looks out over the city of Phnom Pehn. One of my favorite things!
Day 1 I was overwhelmed with amazement at God. Even here... even here the fullness of character dwelt. Even here, in the valley of the shadow of death, His grace was being lavished on me. Even here... "Where can I go from your presence? ...if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast." Ps 139:7, 9-10
Day 2 we went to a Cambodian church that started 5 years ago and now has 200-250 people in a small town. Filled with 22 former brothel owners and 3 former traffickers. Now transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. There are also 34 students (called disciples) being trained by the pastor who give 20-60 hours a week to serve the kids and the community, and studying the Bible. Wow!
Tears of joy poured down our faces as we sang How Great is Our God in English and they in Khemer.
After church we had lunch and went back to the hotel before going to a genocide museum. Angi and I were waiting for the elevator when the room right by the elevator had the door open and a 50 year old man with a 14 year old cambodian girl sitting on a couch outside the door. All I could think to do was what Don (the director of the ministry here) told us he does to the foreign men here (since to rape y0ung girls is the only reason they come here) so I went up to them and said, "What are you doing here?" (I cant remember what he said, I was shaking at the time-pretty frazelled) I said, "I know what you're doing, you need to leave. I am calling the cops and they are going to come get you." I didnt have the local phone with me so i just pretended to call. Erin (a girls staffing the team with me) walked up and I told her to go get the hotel staff. While we were waiting he started smoking and told the girl to go in his room. I took his picture and said I hope he's ok with his picture plastered all over the internet. Angi motioned for the girl to come out and began asking her name.
The hotel staff came up and checked the girls paperwork. It was forged and said she was 21 so there was nothing they could do.
Angi and I were pretty shaken up. We see foreign me alone here a lot, but it was in our face. Down the hall from us. A young sweet girl, trapped being forced to have sex with some awful guy. But God began speaking to me over and over and over "the kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance." (Rom. 2:4) Quite honestly the last thing I want to hear. Many tears. In just a matter of hours, elation to devestation. This is Cambodia.
Then we get on the bus to go to the genocide museum... which was hard on top of hard. The things this countries government did to its people is on the scale of the holocaust. 25% of the country dead in 3 years. Exterminating the educated and brainwashing the kids and making them kill their parents.
Before getting back to the hotel we ran into some street kids who followed us around begging, carrying a baby boy, followed by a 1 1/2 year old wandering around with no pants. One of the girls following us had a scar on her neck and by their obvious lack of physical boundaries, these girls were sold by their moms for sex.
The next morning, I rise. Refreshed. Ready for a new day. Not full of despair. "He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." Psalm 127:2
Even here. Even here His grace finds me. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death... He is here. Even though these sweet girls walk through the valley of the shadow of death... the fullness of who He is, is there.
Even here God is giving opportunity for joy and laughter. The team is doing great. Today is another story but will have to write tomorrow. But it seems having an all girl team has great advantages.
Here are some verses that have taken on a new perspective for me (from the sold to men by your mother for sex at the age 5-17 perspective):
"They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me." Ps 129:2
"I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." Ps 130:5
"Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." Ps 130:7
PS. We can not take picture of the girls in the Restoration Center since they have angry people looking for them.