Monday, April 11, 2011

Cambodia - it's not over until it's over

I thought today was going to be a day to unwind but apparently His work is never done. :) Ministry is still happening within the team, healing is still happening for those around us. This is a special place, a land of healing. It's like with all the pain that the Cambodian's have experienced with the genocide God has decided to land here with his healing presence. It's a very special place.

Today we hit the market and did a little shopping. I have a few souvineers to bring home as a huge thank for those that contrubited to my trip. You can't even imagine what you have participated in. Your contribution to my trip was life changing for many. So rest assured you have stored up yourselves treasures in heaven.

At the market we ran into an addict from Austrailia. He was a very convincing liar. Made sure to find out first we were not from Austrailia and then proceeded to tell us how he had lost his passport, been to the embassy which was closed since it was a holiday in Austrailia and thank God he had run into us because he only spoke English and needed money. His eyes were pinned, his teeth rotted from drugs. Pretty obvious he needed drug money.

A beggar with a small child, missing a hand. I hate to believe it, but the question had to be asked in a place like this, was that child missing his hand at birth or was that child maimed so the beggar could make a living.

We went to a medical hospital today. It was another heart wrenching experience. The conditions horrific. The patients beyond words. Sorrow is the only appropriate response. One man hit by a car and dragged behind it. The result, most of his skin on the front side gone, and literally his privates ripped apart. His wife lifted up his robe to show us, I don't think he appreciated it. One man waiting to have his broken leg set, it was compound fracture. 3 men who were burn victims, one wrapped from head to two and two eyes I will never forget hopelessly peering out, the only thing I could see of him. Unspeakable. Aids patients, ICU patients, just out of surgery patients. We were shielded from nothing. We are so fortunate to have what we have. We are so selfish to not help in whatever way God calls us to help. The hospital was unairconditioned and mostly outdoors. The patients had cots with thin matresses. The only real medical equipment I saw was outdated at best. The place was a pit. And people come and literally move in, bringing their own cooking supplies and belongings. One man, a neurology patient, head wrapped, reached out and asked us to come closer. So I stopped, gently laid my hand on his head and prayed over him. I hope God answers my prayer. How can you walk away unchanged by that experience. I don't know. The only appropriate response is to have a good cry and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you.

And not that i am trying to depress you, but I guess it is only a way to process...I forgot to tell you about the sweetest girl at the women's center. I only heard her story after we left. She is nearly blind and has a hearing aid but almost deaf. Why? She was born normal. But one night she was raped and the man then threw her off the balcony, only to go down, collect her and do it all over again. It left her damaged. When we first arrived she was a bit skiddish around us. By the time we left I could'hardly pry her off of me. What joy, what joy is this to love a woman so abused. To remind her that she is loved and to receive more from her than you could ever give back. Because everyone here has a strength in which they carry themselves, a grace that is unexplainable. At least the ones that know Jesus. The others are weighted down. It's a stark contrast.

After the hospital we walked down to the river and had dinner at a Spanish restaurant. Tapas! The river is where 4 rivers meet, there is a temple set up and people were burning incense and worshipping idols. As I walked into the area, I felt the spiritual stronghold, like a weight of bricks landed on me. I have never felt anything like it before. So I just prayed and praised until the weight lifted and then there was peace. And a vision of his people standing in that very place, worshipping Him.

Tomorrow I board a plane and come home, but I will never be the same. It's like i have been in a dream and I am waking up. Everything around me will be the same, work, house, kids, but I am not the same. And I don't want to be. But I do want my husband and kids! So here I come!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cambodia - can't keep track of the days anymore

The youth camp ended up as expected being a powerful time for the kids. Many gave their hearts to Jesus and you could just watch the healing take place. Not only did the kids receive healing but God has really met me hear too. Physically I have hardly even thought about my back, but more than that, I have this deep peace, a knowing that God has healed and changed me in a way that has no words to describe. There was a pastor here from Hawaii, a mentor of Pastor Charlie's and another women from his church. They have a prophetic prayer ministry and spent some time praying over me. It was really a thing only God can do. I have had some dreams, I have heard God's voice on some things in my life and as they prayed over me the things God had already told me, they prayed for me. I didn't tell them a thing and God spoke to me clearly thru them bringing healing, understanding, and wholeness. If you have ever experienced God in this way, you know, you know that no words can ever express, do justice the way God touched a my heart. And not only that, but I experienced his gifts in my life in a supernatural way as he has answered my prayers and birthed a new ministry in my life of bringing healing to others.

You know i am not much for dancing...I guess the Cambodians have brought it out in me...they sure know how to party. :) That's been one of my favorite parts of this trip...I think I got my groove on. Robin, that's for you...I thought you'd want to know. :)

This morning we had a baptism service. We took the entire camp to the beach and all the staff (probably 15 of us) lined up in the water and baptised person after person. It was really something to be a part of. To think all these young people commissioned to go back into their homes, changed forever.

What a journey. I love this place. It's fantastic...but I don't have time or words to write the rest now. We just got to the hotel and a line is forming for the I will try to sneak on a bit later and get you all updated on the many stories later tonight.

I am sooooooo homesick for my kids. I love you Mike, Jake, Ben and Josh. Can't wait to be home to hug and hold you all.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cambodia - Day 6 and 7 - Youth Camp

I missed a day of writing but that's ok as we simply traveled from one city to the next for our next project. The only interesting thing of the day was a stop for lunch where for some reason someone ordered the "bug soup". It was the nastiest looking stuff. Literally had ants and winged mango flies in it. About the size of a small bee. Reports from those brave enough to try it said "Uh, it's an acquired taste." Translation, gross. Someone said it actually tasted like urine. I felt no need to try it.

We are at the beach in Sihanoukville in a hotel with 250 youth that have traveled from all over the country to come participate in the youth camp. It was a crazy, hot, long day yesterday as we traveled and then checked in all the kids. It was chaotic to say the least and our team was a bit on edge last night and this morning. When we got here, the hotel left a little to be desired, some of the rooms not being adequate for sleeping in (at least to our standards). And on top of that, Setan got a call that an extra couple hundred kids were coming on the bus hoping to be able to stay at the camp even though they had not paid or registered. We would need to weed thru and only let the ones registered into the camp. There was sure to be heart braking tears as we turned away kids that shouldn't be there. Each kid had to bring a preregistration paper with a picture of themselves. Everyone that came had to pay $20. That's a lot of money for them. Anyway, as people arrived we had two lines of defense with registration. The Cambodian leaders had to ensure each child had actually registered and take their payment and then we had to get them room assignments and colored bands for teams/games later.

It's not quite like in the states, kids don't really know how to make a line and stay in line and we can't talk to them without a translator and well, you know it worked itself out. But after the first round of kids was checked in we had a little chapel time and made smores (that was interesting to explain to the kids who had never seen marshmallows). Then we got report that 2 of the buses coming had broken down and the kids were stranded. So later that night another hundred or so kids arrived. I got a bit of heat exhaustion and had to go to bed early so left the hard work to the others and passed out in my room. I think I was still processing the stories of the ladies at the women's center. I was lightheaded and nauseated. Nothing a good night's rest didn't fix. But there was also a bit of a spiritual oppression felt by everyone (whether they realized it or not) to kick off the camp so this morning I really had to pray. And God's mercies are new every morning so we cleared the pathway for a great day today.

Randa got pretty seriously sick last night as well. Fortunately we had a nurse on the team that recognized what was wrong with her and was able to get the right medications. God took care of all the details. She has been resting all day and hopefully will be up and around tomorrow a little bit.

Events of the day...chapels, games, small groups, swimming, more swimming at the beach, more chapel time, more small groups, more games. The kids looked exhausted, I am exhausted. So until tomorrow...more of the same.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cambodia Day 5

I'm sleeping with the little lizards in my hotel room tonight. This morning when I woke up I heard some chirping in my room. I thought maybe it was birds outside but as I opened my eyes and gained awareness I realize the sound was not coming from outside. I looked up and just above my head there hangs a picture. Behind the picture hanging over my head lives a family of lizards. There are two of them. They are scampering about my walls and chirping. I couldn't go back to sleep. Well, tonight they are still here so I went down to the lobby and told the man working that "I have lizards in my room. Two of them". He said "the lights don't work?" because I was pointing to the wall, where a lizard was sitting next to the light. I said "no, there is a lizard in my room. Two of them". He said, "oh, this is good." Me, "huh?" Him, "Yes, this is good they eat bugs for you." Me, "Oh." And then it dawned on me, he is not going to do anything about this. He is assuring me it is good to have lizards in my room with me so I am bug free. So, tonight I am again sleeping with the lizards. However, last night I did not know it and tonight I do. So I took the picture off my wall above my head and they scampered away and have settled behind the big curtain on the other side of my room. I feel better about them not being above my head while I am sleeping but I am pretty sure I will purposely toss and turn to keep them from climbing on me while I sleep and their chirping will be an assuring sound as long as it is across the room from me, and not too close.

Another good day at the women's center. We didn't go until after breakfast today so we slept in a little bit (I was still up at 6am). When we arrived everyone was waiting for us to do some teaching. We continued reading the story of Joseph and talked more about what we can learn about God and about his life from his story. The girls are all eager to learn. Today we asked how many of them have asked Jesus into their lives. Everytime I ask if they want to pray for something they all raise their hands. So when Randa asked this, they all raised their hands. And I am pretty sure they all have. If we can work it out, I would like to stay the rest of the week here and teach them more. They all need a little more spiritual food. Basics like how to study the bible, how to listen to God, things like that. Many cannot read though, so I want to stay and teach them more about how to read and study the bible together. Randa would like to stay with me to interpret but she is not sure she can because the camp we are running next week, Setan has said he needs her there to help interpret. So if we can find an interpretor I will probably stay the week here and keep teaching and just fit into the girls normal schedule. I think that would be great. If not, tomorrow we will leave.

Randa paid me a huge compliment today. When we were talking about staying or going she said she wanted me to teach at the youth conference to. And I said that Monte was in charge of it so I wasn't sure that I would. She said but I really like your teaching, I want you to teach and I interpret for you. What could I say but Thank You. But I was very humbled by it. I love to teach, there is nothing more I love to do then teach new believers. I thank God for the words he has given me to share this week.

We found out another woman's story today. Well, to call her a woman is probably a bit premature. She is young, a young teenager. She came to the women's center not to long ago. She was sold by her family and was raped and ended up pregnant. She ran away and Randa is not sure where her baby was born but she eneded up back with her grandmother. Her grandmother, I believe it was, took her baby and tried to sell the baby, but she chased after the baby and was able to get her back. Then she had no where to go. And someone told her about the "Jesus Place" That is what the people here call the women's center. So someone gave her a ride to the women's center and dropped her and the baby off. The staff found her outside crying and holding her little Anna. They called Randa right away and asked if they could bring her into the home. Randa agreed she should stay there so she is now here. Her little girl is 1 year now. Such a sweet mom and child. I have a picture of her so when I get home I will add pictures to my blog.

We played some fun games, laughed with the girls, made more jewelry, Karen shared her testimony (powerful), and we made evangelism bracelets. We also ate lunch with the girls today. We bought some fruit from the market. They have this fruit I have never seen before, in English Randa said they call them druken eyeballs. Because they look very much like eyeballs!!! They have a brown skin around them and a black round seed in the middle much like a pupil of an eye. The flesh is a clear jelly like substance that is sweet. So you pull off the brown skin and you have this clear jelly, like the white of your eye with black seed inside. Looks just like an eyeball. I told the girls thru gestures that I thought these looked like eyeballs and that gave them all a very good laugh. I guess they never thought of it but we really had a great chuckle over it. I tried to get them to take a picture of me with one over each eye but they didn't get it so it's just me holding them up to the eyes and them all giving bewildered looks or thumbs up. Ha, ha.

Tomorrow if we have time, I will wash the girls feet before we leave. If I get to stay I will probably save it until the day I leave. Although it is nice to have some help with that while Beth and Karen are here! There are 32 people here total. This idea kept coming to mind over and over again so I have concluded that the Holy Spirit wants me to do it. Or if nothing else the Holy Spirit wanted me to be reminded that the messenger is not more important than the students. And it is true, these women have such courage, such faith, such tenacity. I can't even imagine having survived what these women have been thru.

I am not used to the way of showing respect around here. Today there was a girl swinging on a wooden swing they have here. I pointed, asking if I could sit by her. Of course she said yes so I plopped down and started swinging us again. Then she discretely got up and moved to another place. I said to Randa, there was a girl sitting her, and now she is gone. Randa told me this is how they show me respect. That I am a teacher and to honor me they gave me a place to sit on my own. Well, I just wanted to sit next to the girl. So now I am a little conscience that if I sit next to someone I am displacing them. So I am trying not to sit down next to people so they don't have to leave! To funny. I want to sit together and they want to respect me. But nevertheless I felt honored, as was intended.

I am missing my husband and boys. :(

We have been eating at the restaurant at the hotel. There is a nice young man who is waiting on us. I keep tipping him, which is not customary here. But I just wanted to bless him. Today he commented that we are so happy and friendly so we took opportunity to tell him a bit about Jesus. But he didn't understand English well enough for us to get the point across, so instead we gave him one of the evangelism bracelets. We had sheets with the verses and meaning of the bracelet which were translated into Khmer. We told him we would be back for breakfast one last time and he can read it and tomorrow if he has questions he can ask us. So I am praying for him tonight. He says his sister is a Christian and teaches at a school but he works and goes to school and does not have time to go to church. And he says (and Randa said this as well) the bible translated into Khmer is not easy to understand. There are not all the helps and aids that we have to understand the bible. But he at least told us he wants to know more about Jesus, who he said was a great man. I told him, not just a great man, but God. He said no, if he thinks of him as God he doesn't feel like he can relate because he is too high of position, so he likes to think of Jesus as the man. I thought that was an interesting viewpoint. Cambodia has great respect for authority as they are a nation with a kingdom and with a pecking order for sure. Anyway, maybe tomorrow he will want to know more. You can join me in praying for him.

Last thing, Randa came today and asked us to pray for the "Joy Daycare", the place we visited the first day where they bring the children who live at the dump to teach. Recently they moved locations because the house they were renting was too expensive and they had to find a new place they could afford. Well, they didn't inform the government officials they were moving, which they usually would do. So apparently that is a problem. Usually Randa always gets permissions before doing something like this but they had to be out of the old place so quickly this step was missed in the process. Today the police came to the daycare and were investigating or something. Randa is worried they will make them shut down the center. This is a serious possiblity. I can't imagine living in fear of the government being free to do what they please. So we prayed for that and for the staff to have wisdom. Randa was very upset, wondering what would they do with all these children if that happens. So please join us in praying they will find favor with the government. Normally they have very good relations so I prayed those good relations would now be fruitful in preventing any adverse action.

Well, the lizards and I need to get to sleep so enough for today. I will update you again tomorrow if I can.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cambodia Day 4

I am laying alone in my hotel room all to myself enjoying a little down time tonight. It was a long day! Things start bright and early around here. We were up by 5:30 am so that I could teach the devotional time at 6am. I am teaching on the story of Joseph so before I began I asked if any of the girls had heard the story before. I was shocked to learn that not one of them had ever heard the story. Oh Lord, I now why you needed to send us here! Seriously, these girls have never heard anything from the Bible. About half of them do not read or write so they cannot learn it on their own. By the time the leave the center they will learn, hopefully. But the girls just teach eachother, it's not like there is a teacher coming in to teach them all the time. How I would love to come and teach them the bible for a few months!

I thought after that I would take a shower, but no, as we walked back from the women's devotional time the staff was meeting and Randa said, "you want to speak to them too?" So I did. And then the day just got away from us!

Food is a little scarce around here. I didn't want to pack any extras in my suitcase so I only have a couple Lara bars to hold me over. This morning, Randa kept saying she didn't know anywhere safe to have us eat. I thought we would be eating with the girls everyday but she doesn't want us to eat the food they prepare in case it might make us sick. But she didn't tell us this before we left so we didn't bring any groceries to make our own stuff. And they don't have enough to cook for us anyway! So by 8:30am we had been up for 3 hours and still had not eaten!!! Time to head to the market to get something to eat. The market was a memory never to be forgotten!!!

Rows and rows of vendors lined up like a maze. We decided while buying for ourselves we would also buy food for ladies at the women's center. They eat fish and rice pretty much everyday. Fruits and veggies are scarce, they only eat them occassionally. So we asked Randa and she said we should get them asian pears and apples because they don't ever eat those. They have so much good produce! I would have taken them the wonderfully fresh mangos but I guess they eat those all the time because Randa planted a mango tree at the center. Anyway, we also got each woman a chicken thigh to eat. So we had to buy 32 chicken thighs to have enough for the staff and all. There are more than 15 women here now, a few children and a couple boys that Randa had no where else to house them and her big heart would not let her turn them away. So all in all there are 32 here. Well, getting chicken here in Cambodia is not like getting it in the state. You see, they slaughter the chicken in the morning. It's FRESH! So as we made our way deeper into the market the produce changed to the meat section. Whew, the smell! And the flies, the heat, and raw meat hanging everywhere, lined up in baskets. Talk about unsanitary!!! Women sitting with a piece of wood and a big butcher knife. Dead, plucked chickens with head, feet and all laying on the tables. When we asked for chicken thighs they grabbed the dead chickens laying on the table, laid them on the wooden blocks, whacked thru the bones and all and stuck them in a plastic bag to take home. No washing hands, no refrigeration, nothing. Just salmonella waiting to happen!!! No wonder we can't eat the local food unless it is cooked. And if the chicken wasn't bad enough you turn around and there is big chunks of red meat hanging from strings everywhere, fish with head, tail and all salted and dried so it lasts longer strewn across tables and so much more. Really, I can't wait to show you pictures. I am so happy to have had the experience but it was an experience for sure!!!

We also bought carrots, cucumbers, mangos, watermelon, and fresh baked bread. Some for us and some for the women. Randa bought us some treats from vendors she knew were safe. A banana inside sticky sweet rice all wrapped into a leaf of some sort, and some cooked bananas that were very interesting. We also stopped to get iced coffees. Yes, we can have iced lattes here but have to remember to ask for good ice.

After the market we came back and began teaching the women how to make jewelry. They were really into it and had a wonderful time. They caught on very quickly and made some amazingly creative and beautiful necklaces and bracelets. But the supplies we brought are going to run out quickly so we tried to talk to the women about becoming business women, that they can go to the market and sell their jewelry so they can make money and buy more supplies. In this way, they can have a way to make some income. While Beth and Karen taught jewelry, I helped the ladies in the kitchen. The kitchen is outdoors under a canopy of sorts. It's a great big kitchen, I actually would love to have their set up. I sat on the ground and chopped green beans, cut on the bias as they did it. I wasn't as good and fast as their method but got the job done, nevertheless. Then we cut all the apples and asian pears and put them on platters for the girls to enjoy. All the while, I taught them the english words for things. So the cook had a journal and I wrote the English words in them and she wrote the Khmer equivalent. I attempted to also learn a few of their words but for every one of our syllables it seems there are 3-5 in their language and honestly I can't understand the sounds very well. I keep wanting to speak Spanish to the girls. I find myself saying something in Spanish every once in a while.

After lunch we put together gift bags and had another teaching session. Beth gave her powerful testimony which led to us following up with sharing a bit about the need to forgive. I asked the girls if there was someone on their life they needed and wanted to forgive and every hand shot up. So we prayed. It's amazing how open and eager they are to do what is right. You can see in their faces they are listening intently and they just need to be taught what to do and they will do it. I was so impressed. Then we had the girls play a game where we drew numbers. Each number had a question they had to answer and we got to know some of their stories. We asked very personal questions and I was so pleased they were open to answering them. Questions like tell us how you came to be here, what was your family like before you came here, what do you want God to do in your life, when was a time you were afraid or when was a time you were happy. It was sweet to get to know them more and after they answered we gave them a gift. Also, as they answered questions I got to encourage them and pray over them as appropriate.

There is one woman here that Randa told us more about and I am so amazed. She is the life of the party, a strong woman with a lot of personality. It is clear that she is a leader. But she has been in the home multiple times, each time she leaves she has fallen prey once again to being manipulated back into prostitution. Ronda told us that last time she left she was working and some people convinced her to move with them to somewhere else for a job that would make more money. She believed them and they ended up kidnapping her and she was not able to get free for 3 years. Because she had become a Christian she refused to sleep with men. So they beat her. Her body is scarred from it. This is the woman I told you that learned massage. Because she refused to sleep with the men, even after beatings they taught her to massage instead. Eventually she got free again, I am not sure how and she is back in the center. She has begged Randa to let her stay and Randa said if someone can sponsor her at $40/month then she could employ her at the women's center and keep her around so she does not fall prey again to the same things. When she answered her question "what do you want to do when you leave this place" she said only to have a trade that she can do to keep her from falling back into her old life. Big sigh, our lives are so blessed. You can't even imagine the tragedy these people live with every day. Every one of them have had incredible pain and yet they are so joyful, so beautiful.

One thing I have enjoyed so much is hearing Randa's story. Her and Setan have an amazing, amazing testimony. Randa survived the killing fields, not many people did. She hasn't told us any details about that, mostly talks about after she survived. She said it is still to painful to talk of and so her and Setan wrote a book and they pretty much just ask you to read the book if you want to know more. I can't wait to read it. Even after the war was over, when they came back to Cambodia they were imprisoned and accused of being CIA spies from the US. Randa laughed and told them no, CIA stands for Christians in Action and that yes, they were CIA's, but not spies. Her spunk and lack of fear is incredible. I guess when you have looked death in the face as they both have it takes away the sting. Her faith is so simple and childlike, yet so strong and unshakeable. She is truly and amazing servant, gentle, humble, and with compassion the likes of which I have never seen before. Words can't describe the richness she has taught me about life in 2 short days. Anyway, she was sharing how the whole situation has opened up the gospel in Cambodia. Before Pol Pot took power, evangelism was not allowed at all. Thru the genocide, only 300 Christians survived in the entire nation. But now, God has granted Setan and Randa good relations with the King, and government officials and they have given them their blessing for them to evangelize. They have actually not allowed it for many other organizations, but Transformasia they do allow. They do because they see that they are helping people and having such a huge impact for the good. So out of the death and tragedy of so many people, it is like God used this to propel his message forward and multiply the harvest. It is amazing how God can take the worst of life and use it for His good. If you want to read their book, you can get it on Amazon. Setan gave our team an electronic copy but I found it just by searching for Setan Lee on Amazon. The book is called "Miracles in the Forgotten Land and Beyond", I would highly suggest it.

After all that, we came back to sleep at our hotel. We had dinner at the hotel. Phad Thai, fried rice and cashew chicken, the real deal...very yummy! Beth, Karen and I got to visit and debrief about our experience so far. Both of them are great additions to the team. Karen laughs easy, loves kids and is so much fun. Same with Beth. They balance out my over serious nature which is nice. It's been easy to have a good time with them.

Well, I better get to bed because I know the day will start over again very early!!! I will let you know tomorrow what adventure awaits us next.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cambodia Day 3- Women's Center

Good fortune, I have internet while here at the women's center. Ronda is with us and she brought her computer complete with a wireless card. Yeah for modern technology!

We got up this morning and the rest of the team left the hotel on a 5 hour trek to their destinations. But I stayed with Ronda, Setan's wife, and Beth and Karen. We atteneded the transformasia church this morning. It was a great service. Then off on our adventure to the women's center.

It was an hour drive so we took our time and Ronda talked and showed us the sites along the way. The countryside is beautiful in its own way and I am happy to be out of the big city. We were in Phnom Penh and now are in Kampong Chanang which means pots by the water.

It was a nice drive and we took our time. We stopped at a 40 acre plot of land which Ronda and Setan bought 8 years ago with dreams to put a medical hospital and university on. There are some locals living and taking care of the land. They have planted a crop of cashew trees. When we arrived, the parents were no where to be found but their two kids were in the hut alone. So strange to me. We walked out to the middle of the property (ok, so maybe not the middle, it is hot) and prayed over the land. It was a great feeling to be part of something bigger than yourself. To know that every prayer offered up brings the land closer to having the dream fulfilled.

Along the way we got brave and stopped at two places to eat. One we bought fresh corn on the cob. 10 ears for $1.50. Then we found some fried sweet potatoes and bananas and bought some to try. Yummy. Since these are all cooked food and places Ronda said were ok to eat we went ahead and indulged. Plus we had so much good fresh fruit today. Mangoes, asian pears, and some new fruits I have never seen or heard of before. All good stuff.

We had a little extra time so got to see the market, just drove thru. Ronda took us to see the floating houses. Yes, floating houses. It's the dry season here but when it rains the entire countryside is covered in water. So they have a river that floods and all the houses are up on stilts. I don't mean 5-10 ft up on stilts, I mean 20-30 ft in the air because the water gets that high. So you are driving on this road and all the buildings look ground level but when you look behind, they are all propped up into the air from the backside. And they build floating houses that just are all over the river. People live in them and have canoes to get where they want to go. Ronda says that they are not anchored so someday your house would be over here and the next day it might be way over there. It was really an amazing site.

Finally we arrived at the Women's center. It is highly secretive what happens here. Setan said that any women's center that advertises what they do is not doing anything at all. The industry is dangerous and like the mafia, these people mean business. So this women's center is way out of town and the neighbors don't even know where these women came from. They are just a tradeschool as far as they know. I didn't realize they kept a low profile. Ronda said they bought this land for very cheap because it was supposedly haunted by ghost. So Ronda was happy to buy it, they bought it cheap and prayed all the spirits away. Now it is peaceful and beautiful. They know the authority that comes with being a child of God, authority over any spirit of the enemies.

The women are beautiful! As usual, it was a bit ackward at first. You don't know their names, the faces look very similar at first and the language is impossible for me so the names are difficult to understand. But we prayed God would break thru the ackwardness fast and he answered that prayer. We had a total blast playing all sorts of games with the girls. First we broke out frisbees and hacky sacks. Then they should us tug of war and jump roping. They have a funny tradition that the winners sing a song and the losers have to dance to the song. HILARIOUS!!!! I found it quite fun to join in the little dance and they certainly had a good laugh at me. My moves were not so graceful, as you can imagine. :) Then we taught them a game where you have to suck beans up with a straw and carry them (no hands) to the other end of the field. It was a relay race. It was a bit chaotic to teach as they didn't understand at first you were supposed to go one by one. But they caught on pretty quick after that. Then they showed us a version of duck duck goose. You get a scarf that is like a whip and one person runs around the circle. When you are handed the scarf, the person next you has to run and you chase after them whipping them on the behind. Very funny again. Finally we ended with teaching them a game called SNORT. I thought this game would be internationally safe since it is just a snorting noice you make and the person you make it to can't laugh or smile to stay in the game. But come to find out, Cambodians can't make a snorting noise. So it ended up being pretty funny as they tried.

I literally has so much fun!!!

After that I got to braid the girls hair, it was a quick line up when I did the first braid! Then we had an amazing dinner and a massage! Yes, a massage. So nice. One of the girls, named Mom (but not pronounced like we would, a little different) unfortunately was taught massage while she was in prositution. Sad to know that is how she learned it, but she was so eager to give back to us.

The Holy Spirit has brought to mind a couple of times that we are to wash these women's feet before we leave. I am so looking forward to the power of that time coming up. Tomorrow I am teaching at 6am!!! That is their devotional time. I wanted to do it after breakfast but somehow it ended up being so early. It will be a long day.

I am content knowing I am here in God's will doing the best work that ever there was. Just caring and loving for people. Pray these women, many of who have not made a commitment, will understand God's love for them this week. They need healing, they need grace, they need the power of his love in their lives.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cambodia Day 2 - Wow

It was an emotional day today as we headed out early for a tour of S21 the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and then on to the killing fields of Cambodia. The sites were horrific to say the least. Nothing can really prepare you for the experience, but I found it all the more rich as Setan, who lived thru the genocide, was our tour guide. We were also very fortunate to meet one of the only 7 men who survived the turtore at S21. He just happened to be there today.

Imagine a school where children laughed, played and learned, their futures bright as only the best and brightest of students were sent to this school. And this was the school hand picked by Pol Pot to become the torture chambers. As we drove in, you could feel the atmosphere change, a heaviness that surrounds the place. Room by room we entered, Setan showing us the tools used to torture, the conditions of the people that were slaughtered here. Hammers, hoes, electric chairs, whips, gallows. You name it, it was used. Pol Pot valued bullets more than human life so never used bullets to kill people because they could not be resued. Can you imagine? The tile floors are stained dark under the beds where the victims blood spilled and was never cleaned up. Pictures of each prisoner were posted on the wall, exactly as they were found once the prison was shut down. Pictures exactly as they were found meant some were missing feet, bone exposed, some had their skulls showing thru where their faces had been so marred, all were contorted, chained to wire beds. Hundreds of men, women and children slaughtered in the most unimaginable ways. Some of the most heart wrenching...women having their nipples cut off and scorpions placed on what was left of their breasts to sting them, mother's having babies ripped from their hands and made to watch as they grabbed the babies legs and swung them head first into a tree, blood and brains gushing out. If not this, a baby thrown high into the air only to be caught by the bayonette of the soldiers gun, speared thru. Men dunked into tanks and suffocated. Men made to deficate in boxes and then forced to eat it. Chained together with metal handcuffs which, according to Setan inflicted pain with every movement. Absolutely mind boggling atrocities were committed to 3 million Cambodian men, women, and children. At S21 they took pictures of every victim. As you looked at each picture you could see the hopelessness in their eyes. Some filled with anger and hatred, some with dispair, some with pain, some with a quiet courage. But only 7 would survive.

It made Hitler look humane.

Then off to the killing fields where we again were forunate to meet the single survivor of this mass grave. He gave us a tour, recounting to us the tragedies that he witnessed. Women raped, mothers and babies slaughtered. He showed us the tree they used to kill the babies. Men being executed with the sharp yet ragged edges of palm tree leaves...painful and slow to kill. There was a monument built where they have placed the skulls and bones of the victims but even with that momument as we walked, under the dirt you could see bones still yet to be dug up. Teeth, clothing, jawbones, other bones loitered as far as your eye could see. Really an indescribable picture.

It's hard to comprehend.

And this is the history of the people we come to serve. A tough, emotional journey to partake in today, but nonetheless neccessary to understand the pain of the Cambodians.

Anything else we did seems unimportant in light of the above. But we did also enjoy a quick trip to the market and a dinner at another nice restaurant.

Tomorrow I will be going to church with Randa, Setan's wife, and the other 2 women who will go with me to the Women's Center. We will then head to the Women's Center to minister to the 15 ladies who are recently taken out of human trafficking. The rest of the team will be headed to Siem Reap to see one of the 7 wonders of the world, the temple here in Cambodia before they head to their final destinations. The 3 of us going to the Women's Center opted not to go site seeing one more day because we would miss a day and a half with the women, cutting our time with them too short to accomplish what we want to.

My back is holding out fantastic. I had a little rough afternoon but my new tricks from Dr Wisman have helped tremendously and I am feeling better than I have in a long time. Still believing as I return to the US I will be completely healed.

Off to bed! I was up at 5:30 this morning by virtue of not having a working clock in my room. I missed out on an hour of sleep because of it! Definately not repeating that tonight!!!

I will probably not be able to journal the next few days as I head to the Women's center so until then!