My time in Cambodia is down to the last three days. I begin the journey home tomorrow. As I think back on the past two months, I am realizing that there is so much I have learned. From contentment to hard work, God is steadily teaching me wonderful things about himself, me, and the world.
The past few weeks have been a time of growth and learning.. and fun! I’ve been able to form stronger relationships with some of the students and learn more about who they are. One evening, while teaching the advanced english class, I was able to see a side that I hadn’t yet seen. We were going through a bible english book and the question was asked, “are you leading your family to Jesus?” One (very outgoing) student spoke up and said, “no”. I gave him a strange look and asked why he wasn’t. When I asked, Another student chimed in and said, “Afraid”. To that, I replied, “afraid of who?” Then a third student spoke up and said, “afraid of my parents.” I was very taken aback; so I turned to the whole class and asked the question, “is everyone afraid of their parents?” Multiple students shouted, “YES!” I paused for a few seconds, very surprised at what I had just heard. Before then, I did not realize how real the verbal persecution for being a christian is for these kids. Their families are not okay with them being christians, yet they are still faithful and come to church week in and week out. It is so so beautiful and encouraging to see and think about.
On a lighter note, we took a trip to the mountain this past Sunday! It was so much fun! There is a banana farm on the side of the mountain that we hiked to. Many of the students came and we all rode motos to the base of the mountain and hiked up. The students love going to the mountain and I thoroughly enjoyed it myself. A very special characteristic of the kids is that they are very caring for one another and for others. On our way to the mountain, one of the girls lost her shoe… So in order for her to get up the mountain, another student carried her on her back all the way up (it was not an easy trek). I volunteered to carry her down but failed at my duty and slipped on a rock, so a different student stepped in and carried her all the way back down the mountain (an even harder trek because the rocks were slippery and we had gravity working against us)! Witnessing this self-sacrificing kindness and generosity was truly indescribable. I’ve found that most people I have had the pleasure of coming in contact with have these same attributes. They will give freely… whether it’s a chair, their time, or their food. Generosity is something that I have learned from the people of Angk’jeay.
We are also able to take a quick 24 hour trip to Kep (the beach) a few weeks ago. It was such a great trip!
The students came to send me off this morning as we left the village! I received so many caring notes and letters!
Sokha was wonderful in teaching me how to crochet(among other valuable lessons that I learned from her)! I was able to crochet a headband, a hat, and a dishcloth!
Things I have learned:
God’s strength is truly made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I have been blessed to be able to see the depth of God’s strength when I am weak and only have him to turn to.
We need not to be anxious. (Matthew 6:25-26) Why? God will take care of everything.
Pray about all things. (Philippians 4:6) When I have needed strength, when I have been totally weak, God provided.
Needless to say, I am still processing my time here and thinking about all the things I have learned and how to apply them in my life. I am so grateful for my time in Cambodia. It has been so different than I could have ever imagined and for that, I am very thankful.
You can pray for:
- Me as I transition back into the states and figure out what to do with what I have learned.
- The ministry here in Cambodia
- Luke, Sokha, and Hannah as they continue their english teaching ministry in the village of Angk’jeay.
- All the other MTW interns around the world as we travel back to the US for debrief.
Thank you so much for praying for me, thinking of me, and supporting me!
Happy Fourth of July, America!
Today, here at the Smith’s home in Angk’jeay Village, we celebrated America’s independence day with a good, old fashioned cook out! Sokha grilled some chicken on an open flamed grill, and let me just tell you… it was some of the best chicken I’ve ever tasted. She marinated it with soy sauce, garlic, and some other really special ingredients that I cannot remember right now, but it was wonderful! Luke also cooked some potatoes that were delicious, along with carrots and bread! I couldn’t have enjoyed the meal any more than I did. It was just what I needed to celebrate Fourth of July in Cambodia!
I also taught the bible class on John the Baptist today! We are going through a really helpful and simplified book (because they are learning about the bible as well as english). On Saturdays, after the bible class/ guitar lessons, they have a Kmer bible study. It is kind of cool because what they have been studying the past few weeks goes over the death of John the Baptist, so it correlates to the bible class that I am teaching. I’m pretty sure that was not planned intentionally.. by us at least. It is always fun to see the ways God works.
On a lighter note, yesterday one of the students found a baby bird and picked it up for me to see. The bird was so cute. Although, there are birds everywhere around the house and they constantly poop so other people don’t really think they are as cute as I do.
We went to the city this week for the team meeting/worship/dinner together. The team meeting is once a month and all the MTW missionaries who are serving in Cambodia come together to worship and fellowship. So, for this meeting, we were able to celebrate the Fourth of July by having a cookout/ potluck dinner. There was Korean Barbecue (soo delicious), fruit (not the fruit you’re thinking of), spaghetti, and potato salad, among other things. It was a great celebration!
I have three weeks left here in Cambodia! Thank you so much for supporting me, praying for me, and thinking about me. I can feel your prayers and am learning so much! One of the things being… anxiousness is not worth it. We have no reason to worry about tomorrow.
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Hey everyone and Happy premature Fourth of July!
It’s hard to believe that a month of my time in Cambodia is already gone. I only have about three more weeks in the village and the days are coming and going quickly.
Since I last updated, I have started teaching english/bible classes on my own. In the bible class, we are going through a book on John the Baptist. The students love reading out loud and playing games with new words they learn from the book (I have a lot of fun watching them play the games too). They seem to be really enjoying it and I have had so much fun teaching the class as well! I must say, I think teaching has taught me more than the students are probably learning.
The church in the village is very close to Luke and Sokha’s home. I usually just walk there on Sunday mornings. Sunday school for the younger students starts around 7 am, and they usually play a few games before it starts. They are so excited about it every week and the amount of students that come is very encouraging. Persecution for being a christian comes in the form of verbal abuse. The children’s families often do not like the fact that they are going to a christian church and are involved in a christian ministry. Therefore, it is extremely encouraging and inspiring to see the children come to church and classes faithfully each week.
Since being in the village, I have learned many things. One of which is how to crochet. Sokha is teaching me and I have already successfully made a headband! Sokha has an outreach program in teaching some of the students how to crochet. Many of them have made Elsa hats from the movie “Frozen”. I’m thankful that she is teaching me; I’m working on crocheting a hat right now!
Probably one of my favorite things each day is singing hymns at night and praying together with Luke, Sokha, and Hannah. There is something so so sweet about singing hymns together. I can’t think of a better way to end each day. Luke and Sokha have made it feel like home for me, honestly. I am so thankful for them, and am learning from them every day. Sokha took me to the market in the village one morning this week to get a few things. It’s very cool to see how fresh all the food is!
God is continually teaching me how to be content in every situation, how to be patient when it is hard, and how to have acceptance of His perfect plan.
Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Matthew 6:27 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Thank you for all your prayers and support!
When you have hours upon hours of flying time to get home, you have lots of time to think and reflect….so I just started writing and I thought I would share my thoughts with all of you! (Can’t believe this is my last blog post!!) Sorry my thoughts may seem a bit disjointed at times… What can I say? These past 6 months have changed me in ways I never imagined. I have grown more than I expected or ever could have anticipated. God has truly blessed me through this trip. I come back learning so many things about myself, my God, and people in general, especially people of a different culture.
God is everywhere. God is so good. God is bigger than I ever imagined. And he is ever present. To see Cambodians worship the same God I worship made me realize and see more clearly that God is a God of many nations, many peoples. He is not the Western God but the one true God, the creator of all. My world has grown- I have had my eyes opened and have learned many sweet lessons from living overseas. Living alongside a people very different from myself, with a different language, different cultural practices, different climate, and a different official religion. Intimidating? Well of course, but exciting, eye opening, exhilarating. A trust exercise? Yes definitely. When we feel like the outsider, the one that is different, the foreigner, we don’t know how people will react to us, how they will approach us. What do you do when you have those moments of doubt or uncertainty, you turn to God, you trust Him. And you remember that we have a common need, and that is the Gospel. We all need the Gospel and it binds us together, it is the common thread across cultures. And you continue to trust God and show love to those around you. God is faithful, God watches over his people, and he continually provided for me. He sprinkled little blessings throughout my days- He didn’t have to but he continually made His presence known. Especially at the beginning I felt inadequate, out of sorts, unsure of what my place would be or what my ministry would like, or if I could do what was being asked of me. God continued to remind me- take it one day at a time Becca. And my perspective changed. For instance with teaching, it no longer mattered if I had the perfect lesson prepared- what I wanted was to teach with love and joy, and to show Christ to the kids in some small way. To have fun with teaching, to smile, to laugh, and to encourage them.
I was continually reminded during my time in Cambodia how blessed I am to have grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents- and to not face the persecution that many face in Cambodia for their Christian beliefs. The kids I lived life with for six months face persecution of different kinds- from their family and friends, and they continue to believe, they continue to attend church, they continue to pray to the one true God. God is definitely at work in Angkjeay village- and I am so excited to hear how God works in the coming years. Using His people to share the truth of the Gospel- to show Christ’s love to those around them, to let it permeate their lives.
While in Cambodia God was revealed to me-through His creation, through Luke and Sokha, through the love shown to me by the kids- God is there. He is everywhere, he is in the U.S. and He is in Cambodia. Less than 3% of Cambodia is Christian, but I saw them, I met them, befriended them, lived life with them, sought to love and encourage them. I think being completely out of what was comfortable for me forced growth. It was inevitable. And it comes a lot quicker. I was faced with new obstacles and challenges every day. And God was always near to me, guiding me- I felt weak at times and I knew without God I would be hopeless. But God gives us hope, he gives us strength. Our weakness can glorify God as it shows we need Him, He is strong when we are weak, He is our rock. He always was while I was in Cambodia. I am constantly changing, growing, learning, but God is constant, He doesn’t change. I have learned I may be gifted in teaching-something I want to pursue more. I love relationships- and they are so incredibly important. Intentional relationships. I witnessed their utmost importance in the furthering of the Gospel. Coming alongside missionaries in support and developing relationships with Khmer Christians and non-Christians. And each relationship takes time, effort, prayer- and I desire to make this a more present part of my life. Cambodians definitely know how to say goodbye well. Lots of tears but I am so thankful for the goodbye parties I was able to have before leaving. I have never taken so many pictures, but I loved it. Although goodbyes are hard, they are so important. I feel so blessed to have met such an incredible group of people in the village and in the city, Khmer and expat. What an impact they have made in my life. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to live life with them for 6 months.
A sincere thank you to all of my supporters. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the generous financial support and steadfast prayers. These past 6 months would not have been possible without your support. I kept telling people I felt the prayers from all of you. I could feel your support all the way over in Cambodia. I thank the Lord for each and every one of you!
To God Be the Glory
Prayer Requests: ~For my transition back to the states- wisdom and guidance in knowing what the next step is for me ~Strength and wisdom for Luke and Sokha as they are faced with the ups and downs of doing ministry ~For the church in Cambodia- that it would be encouraged, strengthened, and continue to grow.
First off, thank you to everyone who has supported me financially and in prayers. I could not be here if not for you. It honestly means so much to me.
I’ve officially been in the village of Angk’jeay for about 10 days now and am getting into the swing of things. Luke and Sokha have english classes at their house every day of the week except Sunday. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there are three english classes that go on at different times of the day. They start each class by singing a few hymns and praying. Many of the kids know how to play guitar because they have learned from Sokha, so usually a few students will play the guitar while the rest sing. It’s very beautiful to listen to and watch. Many of the students have become christians through coming to these classes over the past four years. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I will start teaching a english class through bible stories. We started a booklet on the life of John the Baptist and I’m excited to see where it goes.
The students love to play volleyball! Luke and Sokha have a volleyball net set up in their yard so we play together quite often. They are pretty good(way better than me)!! Recently we started playing USA against Cambodia… they love representing their country, that’s for sure! We took many of the students to the mountain this past Sunday after church. We were able to hike for a while and explore a little bit. Personally speaking, I had a lot of fun and I think all the students did too! Luke, Sokha, and Becca also hosted a health fair for the students this past weekend! Some team members from Phnom Penh came to the village to help with the sessions. There were sessions on toothbrushing, hand washing, height and weight, and nutrition. It was a huge success and I think the kids learned a lot and had a lot of fun!
We had a farewell party for Becca last night as it was her last day in the village yesterday. Becca is an intern from the states who has been here since January. Cambodians definitely know how to say goodbye well. It was incredibly beautiful and heartwarming to see everyone from the village come help send Becca off and wish her well. There were lots of tears. It’s not hard to see the impact she has made on the students’ lives while she’s been here…. or the impact that they have made on hers. It will be hard to see her leave tomorrow, though.
Speaking of Becca- I cannot put into words how thankful I am that I have had her to help me transition into the village. She has been a blessing from God and we have gotten along so well! It’s been so good to learn from her and witness the love she pours out daily on the village of Angk’jeay and the people in it. She will definitely be missed.
I am quickly learning that God is more amazing and comforting than I could ever imagine. I don’t deserve life but He has given it to me and all I can do is be eternally thankful.
- For Becca to have safe travels home and to transition back into the US smoothly
- Luke and Sokha and their ministry in the village- that God would give them strength and perseverance
- For more students to come to know Jesus through these classes. Also for the students’ futures, that they have a chance to experience God’s immense love in many different ways.
- Me to be an effective teacher while I’m here and to hold nothing back. Also for me to be content while I am here and for any homesickness that may occur to leave quickly.
Thank you again for praying for me, supporting me, and keeping up with me!
Yesterday was my last day in the city (training) and today we head to the village of Angk’Jeay! I will shadow Becca(the other intern) and begin teaching soon. I’ve only been in Cambodia for five days but have not ceased to see God’s amazing Grace working. The team here is amazing and I could not be more blessed to be able to work with these people and learn from them for the short time that I am here.
In the short time that I have been here I have learned how to teach affectively, learned some kmer language, and learned the importance of culture and what a difference it makes. Cambodia’s Culture is so beautiful. It’s delicate in some ways and very unique in others. Learning about a different culture has opened my eyes to see my own culture in different ways.
Nevertheless, it’s amazing to see God work all the way across the world (literally 12 time zones away). The Beauty of all the people I’ve come in contact with gives me so much Joy and hope.
Thank you for all the prayers. I sincerely appreciate them!
Short Term Medical Mission:
***Sorry for the delay in this post! I was hoping to have it up earlier!
It was in May that I greeted my parents and friend Sarah Nickel at the airport. What a sweet reunion! So thankful they were able to come and experience what had been my life for 5 months. Working alongside them during the mobile medical clinics was surreal! These mobile medical clinics in the villages come alongside the church plants in support. They truly encourage the church and its members, as well as the village as a whole. There is an opportunity for the gospel to be preached at each clinic. Along with this the patients are prayed for and encouraged to attend the local church plant. It is very rare that these villagers see a doctor, and even more rare for them to see a foreign doctor, so there is no shortage of patients. There were eight people who came from the states to join on this mission. We travelled to three different villages and saw 566 patients. We worked together with translators, Khmer doctors in training, pastors, and nurses. Lasting relationships were formed in as little as a week. Sometimes short-term missions can be viewed very negatively. Hurting rather than helping. I think one thing I have learned from being on the field is the importance of listening to the long-term missionaries and partnering with them. Finding out what the needs of the people are from them, and coming alongside the local church. Trying not to approach things with your own agendas in mind but being willing and eager to learn from the people who live and work in the country you will serve in. And this is the exact approach MTW takes to short-term missions. It made for a very successful mission, by God’s grace! I know the local churches, the long-term missionaries, and the team who came from the states, were all encouraged by this mission. To God be the glory.
Well the Cambodia team is in the ATL airport and waiting to board the plane to take off! We have been at pre field training for the past 3 days preparing for what is to come. Even though I’m not in Cambodia yet, I feel like I’ve already learned so soo much! Just from training. God is doing amazing things. It’s been so awesome to meet all these different people from different backgrounds and different states. But what is even more mind-blowing is how well we have all just gotten along and become so close over the course of only 2 days!
Needless to say, I am beyond excited and ready to be in Cambodia and begin serving. I have no doubt it will be like nothing I am expecting, but will be way more breathtaking. As one of my team members said earlier this week…. I am ready to watch what God is going to do… in Cambodia, but also in all the other countries our friends are traveling to! God never ceases to amaze me.
This is the Cambodia/ Nagoya team in the airport today!
Thank you! Thank you to all of my supporters, both financially and in prayer. I am continuously thanking God for each of you as I reflect on this incredible opportunity I have been blessed with.
March 15: Said goodbye to Luke, Sokha, and Hannah at the airport as they headed to the states for their HMA.
March 16: Moved into my apartment in Phnom Penh, and spent time with my roommate Jillisa. She will serve with MTW for 2 years, and is currently in language school. What a blessing to have her as a roommate during my 8 weeks in the city!
Tuesdays and Wednesdays: Mentoring, working on projects with the nurses at Mercy Medical Center.
Thursdays: Teach the nurses at Mercy Clinic.
Saturday and Sundays: Travel to Angk’jeay village to teach four classes while Luke and Sokha are away. So thankful I have this opportunity to continue their ministry while they are away. I continue to see God’s faithfulness each weekend.
April 13-17th: KHMER NEW YEAR!! I had the opportunity to get some respite away from the city with a few others on the team, and Sokha’s sister Reaksmey.
April 24, 30th, and May 1st: Health education in Prey Thom with Dale Knutson. A follow-up from our time there in February.
May 6: Luke, Sokha, and Hannah return to Cambodia!
May 7: My parents and my lovely friend Sarah Nickel arrive in Cambodia for medical missions!
May 11-15: Mobile medical clinics held in the villages.
May 16: Move back to Angk’jeay village!
-Despite the busyness that is inevitable as my time in Cambodia comes to an end, I ask for prayer for strength and wisdom, and that I would approach each day with a gracious heart.
-Prayer for the medical team coming in 2 weeks! Including my parents and delightful friend Sarah Nickel! Prayers for their final preparations, their travel, and the clinics held while they are here.
-Prayer for Luke, Sokha, and Hannah, that they would finish their HMA well, and that they would have safe travels back to Cambodia in 2 weeks.
-Prayer of thankfulness as God continues to bless my time here, and grow me each day
Before I arrived in Cambodia I remember thinking, I hope I am a blessing to the people in Cambodia. I hope by God’s grace I can show them Christ’s love. And now being here for four months I am continually reminded of how they bless me, how they show me Christ’s love on a daily basis.
The students in Angk’jeay: sacrificial…I went on an adventure with two of my students a couple weekends ago. We climbed one of the mountains near Luke and Sokha’s. Long story short I broke my shoe during the climb and encountered more obstacles than anticipated.Despite the language barrier, these boys persistently said to me, “teacher are you ok?”, and “be careful teacher”. And when my shoe broke one of the boys without hesitation gave me his shoes, not taking no for an answer. After he walked barefoot for a while another student offered the barefoot boy his shoes. Wow. Christ’s love. And this is only one example from the students, trust me, the list is endless.
Reaksmey: Sokha’s sister, Reaksmey, goes to the village each weekend with me to help with the ministry. After many taxi rides down to the village, and a lot of late nights up talking, we have grown quite close. She continues to show me Christ’s selfless love every time I see her! She is such an encouragement and truly an inspiration.
Nurses in Phnom Penh: Again I think I anticipated being the teacher and not the student. But honestly I have learned so much from the nurses here in Cambodia. Their eagerness and desire to learn is infectious. And their gratitude for showing interest and investment in them is a good reminder. A reminder that we have so so much to be thankful for. So let us be thankful, and show it.
The MTW team: This team has exceeded all of my expectations. They are warm, encouraging, real, personal, and they genuinely care about you. I have grown so much from each of my conversations with them. They encourage me each day and are another sweet blessing.
~There are definitely times when I have felt weak during my time here, and I am encouraged by this verse…I continue to see evidence of the sufficiency of God’s grace.
1 Corinthians 12:9
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.