John Lee’s Summer

                This past year I had the wonderful opportunity to serve with the MTW team in Cambodia! It was my third time coming back to serve with this beautiful team. I came here for 2 weeks in the summer of 2014, then another 2 weeks in the summer of 2015, and because I didn’t get enough, I decided to spend a year here. Actually, I still didn’t get enough, so I am planning to come back to serve as a long-term missionary!

Bolong (college student) and Chandara (current student @Angjeay) teaching the younger students a Bible story.

                I had the unique opportunity to serve at almost all of MTW’s ministry sites in Cambodia: from living in Phnom Penh in 2 different church dormitories and staying a few nights at a third to living at our 2 village ministry sites (one of which is Angjeay, where Pastor Luke lives). Because I spent time at all the different sites, I could see how God is working through all our different church plants.

These youngest students in Angjeay learning English from Sokha. Pray for God to work in the hearts of these children and that they may know the love of Christ!

                Something that encouraged and inspired me is seeing the fruit after many faithful years of discipleship. Pastor Luke and Sokha Smith have been ministering to and discipling the children of Angjeay for over 7 years. Everyday, the Smiths model Christ-likeness to their students through the way they love their students and love their own family. On the weekdays they meet the needs of the students by teaching them English which will help them to find better jobs when they grow up, however during each class, they make sure there are opportunities for God to be glorified through praying, singing hymns, and reading God’s Word together. On the weekends, there are English Bible studies, guitar lessons, new believer classes, membership classes, and Sunday worship. They also teach the students to take responsibility for their own faith by having them take on roles to lead songs before classes, pray for their classes, and even teach younger students the Bible stories that they have already learned.

Sreylin (college student) teaching children a Bible story to children at the village church plant.

                   These were all things I got to experience during my stay in Angjeay village and got to see the fruits of when I lived in the dorms in Phnom Penh. Because the Smiths have been ministering to their community for some time, their oldest former students are finishing up college and I got to live with some of them. I can see that they love Jesus in the ways that they serve their churches in the city. For example, at Khmer Christian Church, there are 3 students who came out of Angjeay who faithfully attend church and serve a church plant in a village 2 hours away. Almost every Sunday they start their day at 6am cleaning up the church and setting up chairs before worship, sing for the praise team during service, and then right after service get in a van for a 2-3 hour ride, lead children’s worship and spend time with the students at the village church plant then finally get back home around 8-9pm. They use what they learned in Angjeay to disciple children in a different village from their home village and I have never heard them grumble or complain about this trip. They give up their free time to love, serve, and share the gospel with others. I praise God and am so joyful to see the gospel being lived out and passed from missionaries to the Khmer people and then from the Khmer to other Khmers. This is the vision of our team to equip, disciple, and train the Khmer so they can also pass these things on to their neighbors which is how we seek to live out the Great Commission that Christ calls us to. Cambodia is still around 95% Buddhist so for most people, things we see everyday and take for granted such as praying, singing praises, and reading the Bible are foreign for most people. Sometimes it is easy to be tempted to believe that what we need are new hospitals, schools, or some other programs or activities (these are all important) but what we really need is to obey God in discipling God’s people to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us.”

Caitlin Washburn’s Summer!

                 My adventure in Cambodia began on June 8th, when I landed at the Phnom Penh airport. After a whirlwind weekend in the capital, I made the journey to Angk’jeay village, where I would stay for the next seven weeks with the Smiths. Angk’jeay is small, but picturesque, with the rolling mountains and sparkling green rice paddies providing a beautiful backdrop. My days in the village were spent teaching English at the Smith’s home in the afternoon and evening, as well as in the 6th grade class at the local public school. I also helped to lead an arts class two days a week, where the students learned dance and singing. This class was particularly fun, as I taught ballet to the students. Despite minimal exposure to dance, many of the kids surprised me with how fast they picked up the challenging technique.

A trip to the rice fields

            Some of my favorite parts of the summer internship were spending time with the students outside of class. We would walk to their homes, ride bicycles, trek through fields, and once we even attempted to climb a mountain. The students in the village were so eager both to learn and to get know the interns. We spent hours playing games of tag, Uno, charades, and Mafia – they especially loved this game of mystery and betrayal! These are some of my most fond memories, playing with the students, and slowly getting to know them personally. It felt so rewarding when they started to confide in me and trust me enough to include me in their conversations. Learning their names was challenging at first, because there are so many new sounds in the Khmer language, but I picked them up eventually.

Our trip to the mountain!
Girls’ night that we hosted for the students

            Living with the Smiths enriched my Cambodian experience, because both Luke and Sokha were terrific resources for me, and readily answered all of my questions about the culture, food, people, and language. Getting to know them and their children was a pleasure, and I was so grateful for their hospitality. It is quite clear that they have made an impact on the village of Angk’jeay. Spending the summer in the village also opened my eyes to the daily challenges of missionary life. I had never been on a mission trip like this before, and it was definitely a learning experience. Long-term missionary work is a full-time job, and it touches every area of your life. It is a difficult work, and while it doesn’t always pan out the way you expect, it is comforting to remember that God is always in control and can use sinful, broken people to accomplish His work. I learned a lot about myself through this trip. This experience highlighted both my strengths and weaknesses, and I think that it has helped me to know myself better. I also learned ways that I can continue to serve God in my own community. There are people that I can be humbly serving everywhere, and I think that this internship has equipped me with some of the knowledge and skills necessary to continue serving from a different part of the world than Cambodia. I will always remember my summer spent in Angk’jeay, and I am so thankful that God called me to be here.  

Reaksar and Srey Mao

 

 

Realizing What It is All About

The following blog post was written by Sharon Jung who was part of the January 2018 Sojourner Church short-term team. Sojourner Church is the sending church of our teammates Paul and Susan Lee.

I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this trip. Isaac, my husband, encouraged me to go and his experience was almost vacation-like last year. So, I thought I would see some ministry work, hang out with the Lee’s and get a break from my ordinary life.

Our first full day was jam-packed. We worshiped with KCC (Khmer Christian Church), the Lee’s local church in Cambodia. I couldn’t understand a word but I still got all choked up realizing we are all part of the same body of Christ. Paul and Susan, Caleb and Nate are so much a part of the community there. Watching them interact with their church members, speaking in Khmer, it was very cool … I understood why Cambodia is “home” for them now.

So that same day we went to Prey Thom with KCC. And there we had several “stations” going on at the same time. A dental clinic, VBS and I gave a talk on nutrition and handed out vitamins. I honestly know nothing about nutrition and some of the kids ate a week’s worth of vitamins all at once even when we told them not to. We also saw a little boy, maybe 3 years old, who had been in an accident with a large farming machine and had a huge gaping wound on about a third of his face and I had nothing to help clean or disinfect it. The children clearly came from poor families and most of them had no shoes and were wearing tattered hand me down clothes. We saw this huge need there but I felt unprepared, inadequate and unhelpful. But at the same time, I was so encouraged. The members of KCC were so happy to be there, playing with the kids, tending to their needs while Pastor Thet was leading worship with the adults. I can’t imagine going there every Sunday, 3 hours each way, but they do … preparing lunch and eating together on the way and with praise songs literally blasting in the van on the ride there and back.

The next day at Precious Women I gave a training on basic self-care and other health topics. There was some miscommunication and they were expecting an actual doctor to be there to examine the women. While I thought my training went well a part of me knew I wasn’t meeting their expectations. Many of the questions were about their ailments and wanting a diagnosis and treatment, something I can’t do. I talked and fielded questions all day. By the next day the physical and mental toil took over my body and I literally cried all day. I couldn’t stop crying, the tears just kept flowing.

Then we left for Angk’jeay. When we got to Luke’s house, it was like walking into the equivalent of a governor’s estate. He had built a playground, a basketball court and several open areas for ministry and teaching. Again, we had a dental clinic, VBS, we also taught English and I gave my self-care training. The same thing was happening, a line of women wanting to know what was wrong with them, how to be cured, wanting medication. But this time I turned to Sokha, Luke’s wife and my translator, and said “We live in a fallen world, there will always be sickness and pain, I don’t know what to say to these women.” And she goes, “then we pray for them.” And then we started praying for them.

That’s when I realized this is what it’s all about. We can certainly help with physical needs and temporary “band-aids” but God wants all of us to ultimately go to Him, for comfort, for strength, for healing, for answers to the meaning of our lives. Short-termers can only do so much and even “lifers,” what we call missionaries like Paul and Susan, are at the mercy of God’s plans.

And we were lucky enough to see some of the fruits of those plans. I mentioned I talked about nutrition in Prey Thom that first day, my translator was a girl named Pisey, a university student from KCC who grew up in Angk’jeay, the village Luke and Sokha live in. Pisey learned English and the gospel from them and eventually went to the city on a scholarship through MTW. And now she ministers to her own people in Prey Thom with KCC and returns to Angk’jeay once a month to teach Sunday school.

I can’t fully describe how it feels to witness such fruit. To see the poverty, the corruption, the lack of opportunities for most of the population in Cambodia and then to see God revealing Himself and making opportunities and showing His people that He loves them, you just have to go and see for yourself.

2017 Year in Review: January and February

A few highlights from January and February 2017:

Sokha translating for Joel Kim who is now the president of Westminster Seminary CA at the Khmer Pastors’ Retreat, Jan. 5th-7th in Kep, Cambodia.

My mom and Hannah. My mom visited from Jan. 9th to Jan. 20th, 2017. It was the first time for her to visit Cambodia since our wedding.

DeAnn Harris visited us along with my mom. She was a missionary in Cambodia for two years leaving two weeks before the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh in 1975. It was her first visit back since she left. She has an amazing story of how God has cared and provided for her. You can listen to part of her story here: http://www.riveroakstulsa.com/mediaPlayer/#episodeaudio/44

Valentine’s Day party with our students. You can read about the dangers of Valentine’s Day in Cambodia here:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/12/the-country-where-valentines-day-is-the-most-dangerous-day-of-the-year/?utm_term=.dea4dd9a1e58

Asa’s baptism. Our team came down for Asa’s baptism on Feb. 26th.

Report from Rachel Sugg – Summer Intern

This summer I served as an intern in Angk’jeay Village, Cambodia alongside Luke and Sokha Smith for nine weeks. I taught intermediate and advanced English classes to kids of all ages and seventh grade English at the local public school. I also taught guitar lessons and a writing class, studied some Khmer, and spent time with Hannah and Asa, the Smiths’ children.

I was drawn to this internship because my mother was born in Cambodia and spent her childhood there before she was forced to leave during the time of the Khmer Rouge. Her family lived in a province not too far from Angk’jeay. It was surreal to picture her there and experience a bit of what her early life was like.

Naturally, I feel a connection to the people of Cambodia, and seeing their world only cemented that. Like all groups, they have a rich history that has powerful effects, and theirs is a difficult one. Poverty and corruption still beset them, and life is not easy
for many Cambodians.

What Luke and Sokha do in Angk’jeay then is so important and valuable. Being able to speak and read in English opens the door to higher education and better futures. More than that, they are role models, friends, and bearers of Good News to the Angk’jeay community. I was encouraged and challenged by their passion, commitment, and work ethic.

I also had the pleasure of spending time with the rest of the MTW Cambodia team. I was always reminded of God’s love for me when I was embraced by their families and allowed into their hearts and lives.

Nine weeks doesn’t sound like a lot, but there were days that left me tired and discouraged and anxious about the rest of my time. Experiencing the faithfulness of the Lord in sustaining me and giving me enough peace and encouragement for each day was a beautiful, gentle lesson that I hope I will hold on to forever.

CCPC and CCSC Short-term team 2017

From July 18th to 23rd, a joint team from http://christcentralsf.com/ and http://www.christcentralsc.com/ served with us. This was the fifth time that Christ Central Pres. Church sent a team to work with us in the village and the third time that Pastor In led the team.

Ryan, Lydia, Andrew, Sharon, Beka, and Pastor In

Update 1 and 2 below are two updates written by the team while they were in the village.

Update 1: We just finished day 2 in Angk’jeay village with Pastor Luke and Sokka. The ministry out here consists of reaching out to the village kids through teaching them English (beginner, intermediate, advanced), playing games, teaching guitar lessons, and most importantly teaching them about Jesus through praise, sermon, prayer and the love of Christ through building relationships. The kids are precious and every moment is something very special. An update for the entire team, we are all healthy, in hopeful spirits, exhausted but tremendously blessed. Team unity is increasing but I guess that’s what happens when you pack a bunch of people in a car (26 at one point). Check out the picture.

For all the past STM teams, the students remember you and all your stories start to make a little more sense. Can’t wait to share more with y’all when we’re back.

To the church, thank you so much for the prayers and the continuous support. Lord knows we need them. Please keep them coming.

Ps: Cambodia is hot and humid and there are bugs. But not as bad I expected, so there’s that.


Update 2: Today’s Sabbath Rest was a little taste of heaven. It seemed fitting to wrap up our final day at Angk’jeay Village with a worship service together with our spiritual family. After a full week of teaching, basketball, music, crafts and tons laughter, we ended with encouragements, prayers, and a tearful farewell. God is truly Big in this Small Village. Never underestimate, that God can be worshipped in the most unexpected places. On another note, this also concludes our joint CCPC & CCSC team as they fly back to the states tomorrow. We celebrated with a final boat ride with the MTW team and old friends from KCC. It was a perfect bookend to a terrific day. We are exhausted but it was a blessed Sabbath Rest! Lastly, pray for us as we take on another week of urban ministry in Phnom Penh. We might have less man-power, but plenty room for the Spirit! Thank you for your prayers!

Bolong’s Facebook post thank you:

Our student, Bolong’s thank you to the team.

Kunthea’s Facebook post thank you:

Our student, Kunthea’s thanks you to the team.

Bolong’s Testimony

Bolong, Kunthea and Srey Pich are in their senior year of high school now. They have been studying with us since they were in 6th grade. They came to study when Daniel Pak and I first went to live in the village in Jan., 2011. This was before Sokha and I were married. All three of them are members of our church too.

From left to right:
Kunthea, Luke, Bolong, and Srey Pich

The two pictures below are from Feb., 2011.
See red arrows: (left to right) Srey Pich, Bolong and Kunthea.

(See red arrow) Bolong – Feb., 2011

Luke and Bolong – Sept. 2016

A recent visitor asked me for some of the students’ testimonies. I asked Bolong to write his testimony out in English. Below is his unedited testimony in his own words.

‘Teacher Becca, do you have a boyfriend yet?’

Story from Brennan McCafferty and Becca Nyman’s Wedding Website
(their wedding is on May 6th, 2017)
Our Story (from Becca’s perspective)
‘Teacher Becca, do you have a boyfriend yet?’

In 2015, I (Becca) spent 6 months in Cambodia, January to June. I left for Cambodia excited to make an impact on the people in Cambodia, and be a blessing to them- little did I know it would be the people and country that made an incredible impact on me. A time of intense growth, learning, and perspective, a greater understanding of God, others, and myself. Little did I know, Cambodia would also weave itself into the story of how I met the man I am blessed to marry. As I was gearing up to leave Cambodia in June, I found out there would be a couple more MTW interns working in the village I worked in (Angkjeay), and living with the same family I lived with (the Smiths). To be more specific, I learned that there was going to be a male intern, who would stay with the Smiths for one month, and serve in Angkjeay village as a pastoral intern, as part of his RPTS Seminary studies. At the time this didn’t mean too much to me. However, once September came around I started receiving messages from various people in Cambodia- the family I lived with, friends, students I taught- and each one kept mentioning this guy, Teacher Brennan. Cambodian children messaging me asking, “Teacher Becca, have you found a boyfriend yet? Because I think I found someone for you- Teacher Brennan”. Describing him as tall, loves sports, loves God, and loves Cambodia too. I found these messages sweet, amusing, and thoughtful. My friends in Cambodia were still looking out for me even after I had left. Little came of this until late November 2015, when Brennan and I connected on Facebook. This led to many Facebook messages, skype dates, phone calls, and finally a meeting in person. We started dating on January 29, 2016, and on August 13, 2016, I said yes to the man I get to spend the rest of my life with. Our relationship remained long distance until November 2016, when Brennan moved to Minneapolis, MN. God’s timing is perfect, and Brennan and I could never have anticipated our paths would cross, but we are both so thankful they did. We are excited to see where God leads us as we seek to glorify Him.

Teresa Smith’s Reflections from Her Trip

Teresa Smith’s Reflections from Her Trip (Luke’s mom)

On Jan 7, 2017 DeAnn Harris and I took off on our almost thirty hour flight to Cambodia. We went to visit missionaries, Luke and Sokha Smith, who reside in Ank’jeay village. Luke is my son and Sokha is my daughter-in-law. DeAnn is a good friend of Luke and Sokha’s and now a good friend of mine and a great traveling companion.

Once you arrive you feel like you have already been through many dangers toils and snares (jet-lag). Ha! Even though it was my second time to Cambodia. It was a time of venturing out of my comfort zone and putting my complete trust in God.

First of all it was a joy getting to know my long distance grandchildren. Hannah was two and one half last time I saw her and is now four and one half. We had lots of fun with tea parties, playdough, and puzzles. I also gave her bread making and cinnamon roll lessons. She has mastered kneading bread very well. The dough took some pretty good punches but turned out some tasty bread and cinnamon rolls. Good job Hannah!

This was my first time to meet seven month old Asa . He is a very busy boy and just beginning to crawl.He seems to enjoy life in the village with the constant attention. What more would a seven month old boy want?

Now a bit about life as a visitor in a missionary’s world.
One of my highlights of course was just experiencing life as a villager. Since I am a country girl I adapted well. Not to mention eighty degrees in January. Not bad.

One of the things the Smiths’ do is teach English classes in their yard to the children. It was great to meet them and interact with them. Some are very fluent in English.

I read Bible stories, played basketball, and oh yes! The girls and I had a hoola hooping contest. You are never too old to hoola hoop. After meeting these beautiful children I know why Cambodia is referred to as “The Land of Smiles.”

Another thing I done was to recite a couple of the books of the Bible that I have committed to memory. I recited the book of Jonah and the book of James. I taught them the value of the memorized word of God. On my last night in the village three of the students had memorized Psalm one and recited word for word.I never dreamed that when I started memorizing scripture in my forties that God would send me to the ends of the earth. World Traveler was not in my vocabulary, but God had a different plan for my life.

I spent eight days in the village and four days in the city of Phnom Penh and two days of travel time. What an adventure! I truly saw God’s love all over the world.

Summer Update 2016

Hello friends and family,

As summer comes to an end, we wanted to send you an update.

Family update
Our son Asa Eldad Smith was born on May, 29th! It was a difficult delivery that ended in a c-section. Thankfully, Sokha and Asa both made it through in good health. I have attached a new born picture of Asa and a more recent picture. Karen, a nurse practitioner, on our team wrote a blog post about his birth that you can read here: http://mccluremissionaries.org/2016/06/06/meet-our-newest-mtw-cambodia-team-member/

Hannah turned 4 on July, 28th. She adores her little brother at times and is very jealous of him at other times. We have just started a pre-kindergarten home schooling curriculum with her. Hannah loves playing with the students in the village when they come to study, and picking flowers in the flower garden by our house.

Translation Update
After five years, Sokha and I have finished translating the Westminster Shorter Catechism into Khmer. We have tried to translate it in a manner that is accurate and easy for Cambodians to understand the biblical truth that is being taught. We have printed off and distributed 300 copies so far. We are using it in our outreach classes and Saturday evening youth Bible study.

Prayer for New Missionaries
We have had three families leave our MTW field team this year for health reasons or a change in call. Could you pray for new missionaries to join our team, especially long-term missionaries? Our team urgently needs someone to handle finances and administration. In addition,church planting opportunities are plentiful. The latest statics show that 87% of the villages in Cambodia our still without a church plant Here is a link to a description of some of the opportunities on the MTW website:https://mtw.org/serve/index?query=&filter%5B2%5D%5B%5D=237

Link for support
https://mtw.org/missionaries/details/luke-and-sokha-smith

Thanks for partnering with us through your prayers and giving!
Luke, Sokha, Hannah and Asa