As usual, the pace of activities is outstripping by far the pace of my posts. (Lingering effects of trans-global travel aren’t helping things either.) I started to write last night at about 8 p.m., but I kept falling asleep. It’s 5:30 a.m. now; I have hot water on for tea, and no one else is up. I think I’ll be able to manage a short update before things get crazy again.
Late Tuesday night, Pak and I picked up from the airport a very tired group of friends from Columbus. Jared Boyd is my friend and neighbor, and a pastor at my church, Central Vineyard. He brought his ten year old daughter, Rayli. I know they’ve dreamed about Cambodia for years. I’m so glad it’s finally happening. We’re also joined by Seth Earnest, Asia’s Hope project manager. I work with Seth every day at the Asia’s Hope office in Columbus, and I haven’t tired of him yet. He’ll be continuing on with me to Thailand, his first trip there.
It’s really great to have both Pak and Rayli on this trip. I’ve been to Cambodia something like 20 times, and it would be easy for me to lose my sense of wonder. Experiencing the country and the ministry through the eyes of children keeps me fresh, and reminds me of just how amazing it is to be able to do this kind of work.
I prepared Jared and Rayli in advance for some degree of hardship – unfamiliar foods, unreliable utilities, unbearable heat – but to be honest, we’re living quite well. Savorn booked us a small apartment managed by a long-time friend and colleague of ours, Pastor Narin Chey, and we have everything we could ask for. There’s A/C, hot showers, internet access and even a TV that gets the BBC. And when we visit our staff and kids, we get fresh mangoes and bananas (grown on the premises!) and more hugs than we can handle.
On the team’s first full day in Cambodia, they got another unexpected treat. The manager of a cinema in town offered free tickets to all of our Prek Eng staff and kids to watch Madagascar — in 3D, no less. So, yesterday morning we got up early, grabbed a bowl of phở and hustled off to the theater with 150 Asia’s Hope kids and staff. Everyone, including jaded movie critics like me, had a fantastic time. Rayli and Pak got commandeered by Asia’s Hope kids an hour before the movie started, and emerged from the theater slightly giddy and already exhausted by the non-stop hugs, hand-holding and hair tousling.
After the movie, I chatted with the theater manager, distribution director and a couple of other staff members. They’re eager to partner with Asia’s Hope in the future, and we’re already tossing around some ideas for a fundraiser in the near future. What a cool answer to prayer. Partnering with local businesses and donors is a key component of my long-term strategy for our ministry’s sustainability. Along with a few other contacts we’ve been cultivating, this could be the start of something great.
After the movie, the kids and staff returned to Prek Eng to finish out the school day, and I took the team to a local tailor. Shirts and trousers are incredibly cheap here, so Pak, Jared and I decided to get a few made. (I swear, if I had to wear suits every day for work, I could pay for my tickets to Cambodia with the savings over buying in the U.S.).
We then grabbed a bite to eat and drove out to Prek Eng for a staff meeting and a (literal) field trip to look at some plots of land. We desperately need to get out of the renting cycle in Prek Eng and move on the purchase of land. But as I shared with the staff from Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor at it do so in vain.” So, we’re praying. And trusting. And planning. And, for now, waiting.
The same chapter in Psalms also says “Children are a heritage from the Lord…blessed is he whose quiver is full.” Well, we’ve been blessed. Our quiver is full.
Hence the need to build the house.
Today we’ll see some more land. It’s exciting to look out over a jungley rectangle — nothing but fruit trees, rice paddies and dirt — and to imagine a beautiful campus with five homes, a church, a school, playgrounds and gardens filled with sound of kids singing and laughing, of food being prepared and school lessons being recited… If I hadn’t seen it before at our campuses in Doi Saket, Thailand and Battambang, Cambodia, I’m not sure I’d have the faith to believe we could do it in Prek Eng. But I am 100% convinced that God loves these kids even more than we do, and will work through his people once again to provide the resources we need.
Now the rest of the house is starting to wake up. Jared’s up and checking emails and Seth is rustling around in his room. I should make tea for them and help them start day two in Cambodia.
More from me soon.