What a privilege it was to travel to Cambodia with my dear friends, Steve & Jackie. We experienced eight full days of new sights, experiences, food & culture. It was a lot to take in...I have been reflecting a lot on the trip and trying to decide how to write about it. I am going to just walk you through, from beginning to end...I don't want you to miss a thing!
Part One: On Our Way
It was my first time on a two-story plane...I am dying to know what the top floor looks like. For a mere $2000, I could have upgraded to first class and found out for myself. But I didn't.
After a 12 hour flight to Seoul, Korea, we were ready for a refreshing cup of green tea...here is Jackie, ready to enjoy. We thought the tea bag was so fancy.
Only it wasn't what we expected:
Turns out, green tea in Korea = seaweed.
ps. Jackie gave me permission to show her reaction of disgust!
Moving on...next we had a five hour flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Here is a shot from the skies above Seoul:
26 hours from beginning to end...we finally made it...and we were thrilled to find that our hotel had a restaurant attached. After a good night's sleep, we had breakfast...not your typical American style:
Rice, chicken, cucumbers, soup, veggies, jasmine tea, and one fried egg. It was actually pretty good!
We took in the sights before heading to the World Relief Office. The thing that I noticed first was all of the garbage. It lines the streets and makes me appreciate garbage day in a whole new way!
This lovely lady is on her way to work...she is a street vendor who makes and sells food on the city streets. As you can see, she is carrying her cooking utensils, etc with her. I just love her bright smile.
Here is a mini "wat," or Buddhist temple, which can be found all over the streets, often with insence burning in them.
Phnom Penh was a bustling city with lots of traffic and no real rules to the road. This stop sign was pretty comical; as you can see, it is totally ignored.
We went to the World Relief Office and met with Joke, who is an inspiration. She is the founder and director of the Hope Program, which began as a child development initiative, and has grown to include cell church planting and AIDS ministry. We were able to see all of this in action, and it was very powerful...providing lots of hope, just like it's name!
Check out the World Relief: Cambodia website by clicking here: World Relief
Next, we traveled to Kampong Cham, where we would stay for the next four days. The journey there was full of interesting sites, like this:
This is a common site...you see, the seats in this taxi are cheaper on the roof.
We saw temple, after temple, after temple:
Part Two: Kampong Cham & Friends Forever
Breakfast in our favorite restaurant, called "Smile." We went there all four days that we were in Kampong Cham.
Some things never change, no matter what developing country you are in:
It was such fun to order the fruit plate each day and find new & exotic fruits to try. Here is our first fruit plate:
A closer look at the longan:
Steve thought it looked like an eyeball:
Steve is one of the funniest guys I know. He is hil-arious.
We set out on the town with our new friends, Martha & Mlis, who both work for World Relief:
From left: Mlis, Martha & Jackie
God opened a door for us to visit a Girls' home at Destiny Rescue, where girls are rescued from abusive situations; some that involve human trafficking. Visitors are not usually permitted there and the locations are undisclosed, so we felt very blessed to be able to spend some time with these precious girls.
Remember the bracelets we made? Here they are, in action:
It was so touching to tie these bracelets on each girl, encouraging them by telling them that someone back in the US was wearing a match to their bracelet and praying for them. When one of the teachers at the home chose her bracelet, I was in tears as I recognized that it was the match to my husband's. Telling her that he was praying for her was a moment that I will cherish forever.
To learn more about Destiny Rescue, click here: Destiny Rescue. To donate specifically to the location we visited, go to ‘General Donations,' and put ‘Kampong Cham Girls’ Homes’ in the comments box. Joel & Chloe, the program directors, will see that your donation makes a difference in the lives of these sweet girls.
Check out some of their artwork:
For obvious reasons, I can't post pictures of the girls we met, but believe me when I tell you that they were sweet, beautiful children and when they hugged me, I did not want to let go. Meeting them was the absolute highlight of my trip.
We Invite Prostitutes to a Party!
Our church, Christian Life Fellowship sponsored a party that was put together by World Relief & Destiny Rescue. We were very excited to be a part of this, as it would be the second party to date and last year's party was very successful.
Here is the invitation:
Jackie & I set out to the brothel district, with Mlis & Martha...we went in groups of two so that we could draw interest (with our white skin) and translate (the Khmer language). We were hand in hand, praying the whole way for wisdom and guidance. Here you can see the invitations and bible tracts we passed out in Mlis' hands.
Here are Jackie & Mlis, in front of a brothel. I have blurred out the faces of the prostitutes...in an effort to protect their privacy. These women are human beings, mothers, sisters, with no other means of making a living. Some of them were trafficked & tricked into this trade.
Martha and I found this group of women & children eating. They offered me a seat and a portion of their rice...their generosity astounded me, especially knowing the kind of work they have to do to feed their babies.
Jackie had a special bond with this woman and her daughter. We learned that she ran away from home as a teenager, because she was being abused. She is working to support herself, her child, and her younger siblings. She had never heard the name of Jesus until she came to our party.
All of the women that we invited to the party said they would come, and we were very excited!
Stay tuned for the continuing story. Tomorrow I will post about the sights, the villages we visited, the HOPE program and more.
Thank you for reading!