This video was made by the Eternal Life Ministries Short Term Team (http://www.yselm.org/). From the 2:14 minute mark to 4:14 is about our ministry. They served with us on August, 12th and 13th. We are grateful for their help and encouragement.
Here are some excerpts from a seminary paper that Brennan McCafferty wrote about takeaways from his time in Cambodia and Thailand:
At a basic level, I had the opportunity to see what it looks like to live day by day on the mission field, and the different challenges associated with doing so. I was challenged immediately by the foreign languages. Both Thai and Khmer are incredibly difficult languages to learn and speak, and I received an up-front taste of the challenges associated with learning a foreign language and trying to communicate in a foreign language. I was also able to experience and also witness the challenges associated with living in a foreign country, particularly in regards to Visas. While in Cambodia, I had the opportunity to witness and partake in the work that is involved when a missionary hosts a short-term missions team. In addition to these common missionary challenges, both Paul Henry and Luke Smith also showed me the priority of caring for one’s own family on the mission field. Living on the mission field is not easy for families, and I was impressed by the commitment both missionaries had for caring for their families through activities like family worship. Though it would be easy to become consumed with the ministry work in front of them, they made time to spend with their wives and their children, and that is something that has stuck with me. Paul Henry also reminded me of the value of having a hobby and of taking time to rest. The missionary will quickly become burnt out if he never takes some time to relax, and that can be as simple as taking a day off or as extensive as returning to America during times of furlough.
I learned also that the missionary must be both self-propelled and flexible. It is often the case that the missionary, especially in an area where there is not yet much established work, does not have a set schedule. There is a lot of freedom in missionary work, probably even more so than a traditional United States pastor has. It would be very easy to become lazy and waste a lot of time doing nothing substantial, and there is therefore a great need to be self-disciplined. The missionary doesn’t have a boss constantly peering over his shoulder, and he spends a lot of time alone. So, self-propulsion and self-discipline are very important traits for the missionary to possess. With that said, the missionary also must be flexible. There were a number of times where there were plans to go and do something, and those plans quickly changed. Whether it was water problems in the house, an unexpected sickness, or people who didn’t show up for a meeting, there was a great need to be flexible and not become frustrated when plans unexpectedly changed.
Working in cultures that are so different than the one I grew up in was a challenge but also a great learning experience. During my time in Thailand, Paul Henry challenged me to understand culture. He showed me the need for humility and teachability, especially when working among people who are much different than you. It is best not to rush in with judgment when you have not taken the time to truly understand why people do the things that they do. In Thailand, for instance, there is much greater sense of “power distance.” That is, there seemed to be an usually high amount of social deference given to those members near the top of the social hierarchy. In addition, in both Thailand and Cambodia, there seemed to be a much greater sense of community. People genuinely seemed to live in community with one another in a way that they don’t in America’s individualistic culture. So, I was able to observe a number of different cultural practices, and I was challenged to recognize that these certain cultural differences are not necessarily wrong, but just different. And I was also able to see that there may very well be things that I can learn from these cultural differences and apply to my own life in America. But most importantly, it was instructive to learn how these cultural differences affect the way you do ministry in a foreign culture. In addition, it was helpful to see the ways that both missionaries strived to develop good rapport and gain respect among the people they were working with. While working on the mission field, I had the challenge of “adapting” or “accommodating” to a different culture. For example, while in Cambodia, I had to learn to adjust to village time. In an area when many people don’t have electricity, the day to day routine of people revolves around the rising and setting of the sun. For instance, mealtimes were at 6:00AM, 11:00 AM, and 4:00 PM, which was quite different than I am accustomed to in America. Sunday School before church on Sundays begins at 6:30 AM, and it began at this time because children would be less likely to come if it was any later. It probably would not be very smart to begin an American Sunday School class at 6:30 AM, because nobody would show up. But in a village in Cambodia, starting Sunday School at 6:30 AM is the best way to get people to show up. This is part of adjusting to a different culture…
There were also a number of church related issues that I learned about while on the mission field. I had the privilege of being able to witness what a church service looks like in a culturally different and less developed country. Along those lines, I had the opportunity to think through how one handles the regulative principle of worship in a foreign culture. I was also able to reflect on missionary issues related to money and support of indigenous church leaders, especially in a poverty-stricken culture. I was also able to see a small glimpse of the problems that arise when there is a dearth of theological training.
Overall, I am deeply thankful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to serve Him overseas this past summer. It was truly wonderful to be able to see how the Lord is working in countries all over the world, and I am excited about what God is doing in Southeast Asia. As someone who has been considering foreign mission work for a number of years, this trip was so helpful. To begin with, it was my first real taste of the foreign mission field. Although I’ve been abroad before, this trip was my first opportunity to really see what ministry looks like in a culture other than America. On top of that, I had a great time while I was gone. I really enjoyed the work that I was involved in, and I miss many of the people already. I feel that I adapted well to the different cultures, and I did not seem to experience much culture shock or homesickness. I understand that I was only abroad for a couple of months, and sometimes culture shock and homesickness take longer to set in, but I was pleased with my ability to quickly adjust and fit in without many problems. In that sense, I found this internship to be very confirming, and it has been an encouragement to me to be searching for opportunities to serve on the mission field in the future.
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!