Pastor Bob [Fetterhoff, Wooster Grace Brethren Church] and I have arrived safely in Cambodia, and are having a great time. The weather is hot and humid, punctuated by nearly daily rain showers. The rain is not as bad as it could be or has been in the past for which I'm grateful. The food is superior, the fellowship sweet, the mosquitoes and cockroaches only a small bother, and the blessing of seeing old friends again is immeasurable. Kind of gives new meaning to the saying... "Suffering for Jesus." No, we're not truly suffering.
So far the trip has been a resounding success; thanks no doubt in large part to your prayers. The basic objective of this trip was to introduce my friend and former pastor, Pastor Bob, to Asia's Hope work here in Southeast Asia. Let me tell you... he has been introduced.
It would be hard to decide what the high point of the trip so far has been. I guess it would have to be time spent with the 152 precious, smiling, loving, hugging, giggling, inquisitive orphans under the care of Asia's Hope in Cambodia. It reminds me of that old beer commercial (sorry for the reference) ..."life doesn't any better than this". Amen.
Anyone over the age of 30 will remember the time of the Vietnam War, the national unrest, and endless newsreels of soldiers and jungles and death. But our worst fears and nightmares pale in comparison to the nightmares of Cambodians during that time. For these people, theoretically uninvolved in the conflict, suffered daily at the hands ofbothof the opposing sides of the Vietnam conflict. And in the late 1970s, as if this wasn't enough already, the nation suffered under the brutal communist rule of the Khmer Rouge. This "revolution" resulted in the genocide of 1 1/2 to 2 million Cambodians. Anyone over 30 in the country of Cambodia can tell a story of their struggle for survival, of family members and friends who did not survive, and chronicle the horror experienced by all.
We visited the Toul Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh. Right in the middle of the city is the former high school which in 1975 was converted to a torture and prison facility for the Khmer Rouge. Enemies of the revolution were tortured in unimaginable ways (vividly and graphically displayed at the museum) in order to extract a fabricated confession which would "allow" the authorities to put them to death. It is a sobering monument to the pinnacle of man's inhumanity to man.
Today, we experienced the opposite... the glory and grandeur of God's hand at work. Asia's Hope and Wooster Grace Brethren Church dedicated the opening of Grace Orphan Home in Battambang, Cambodia. This home opens with 27 beautiful children who will experience a future far different from that which they were destined for before coming to Asia's Hope. After a time of worship, singing, and celebration, Pastor Bob, myself, and Savorn (our country director) cut the ribbon dedicating this facility to God's glory and the future of the children it will house.
Tonight, all 152 children residing in our five orphan homes in Battambang, the staff, and our team will celebrate with a party of roasted marshmallows, dancing, and fireworks. I have been to one of these celebrations before, and I can tell you it is a real treat. To God be the glory.
So in a few short days, we have seen the worst man can stoop to and the nobility man can aspire to when working with God! Quite a trip.