01/15/14 9:34 a.m. CST 10:34 p.m. Cambodia time
We began our second full day in Cambodia eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant in Phnom Penh. Only a sheet of glass separated us from the constant honking, rumbling and dust making of what seems to be a million motor bikes dodging the ever present passenger vehicles and enormous transport trucks. We ended the day four hours away in a “Western food” restaurant called The Charlie Chaplain, overlooking the Mekong River and eating fried crickets with our Cambodian friends in Kampong Chom. What transpired between those two meals is a day that I will not soon forget.
We began our day by going to Grace Christian School to sing songs, tell Bible stories and play with some wonderful little kids who are there learning English and about God’s love for them. It is amazing to see how children behave, interact and love in the same way my kids do even though their situation is vastly different. Notice I said different, not better or worse, just different. This trip is quickly reinforcing to me something I have believed for a while now. We should not be as arrogant as to think that we are better off because we have more material possessions, better access to things such as healthcare or better food to eat. As I saw parents dropping children off to school and saw the teachers interacting with them I continued to think about how much these kids are loved, how happy they seemed to be and how much they were like my kids. It was a great reminder how simple mission work can be at times if you just set aside your preconceived notions about what people need. They don’t need our western culture or our input on how they can do things better. They just need us to share the love of Christ with them.
We left the school and Phnom Penh to begin our journey to the targeted sight of the Angel Dormitory. Along the way we stopped at a market where they sold fried frogs, ducks, crickets, tarantulas, cockroaches and about anything else you could dream up. Marla, Ken and I all held a live tarantula which was something I swore to the staff at St. John I would never do. Tracy, Shelli and Sherry, all I can say is, somehow it just seemed to be an opportunity that wasn’t to be missed. After all that excitement we loaded back on our bus and continued on to the Angel Dormitory sight.
Jesse, our incredible partner on the ground, announced that we had about 20 minutes before we would be to the dorm site. Suddenly a rush of thoughts entered my head. I was so excited to finally see a site which could very likely be the beginning of life change for children in Cambodia. I thought about all the hard work of numerous volunteers and staff over 3 years ago just to get the Launch funding effort off the ground. I thought about all that has already been accomplished through Launch but how this was one major goal still outstanding. I thought about the financial sacrifices that so many people have made to support Launch over the last three years. Thoughts of all they may have had to give up during that time so they could give financially ran through my head. Ultimately, I thought about how God had orchestrated all of this and how humbled I felt to be part of it. I wish each of you could feel the way that I did today as we walked through the dorm site and talked about what the future would look like here. It was a truly amazing experience.
So far this trip has been full of highs and lows. I fully expect that to continue, but with each low comes growth and with each high comes thankfulness to the incredible God who we serve. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring but I am sure it will be something I won’t soon forget.