H.O.M.E.

We’re home!  And Oregon feels a little chilly.  We flew in from Taipei at 8:50 last night and headed home, to Oregon.  We got to Corvallis around 3:00 this morning.  It’s still hard to put into words all that we went through.  Both amazing and challenging.

“The beauty of LIFE is found in adventure”

Well, the beauty of life is found in the Lord, but the quote seemed to fit.  After adventuring with 11 crazy people for 10 days in another country, life was an adventure.  And it was worth it.  Worth the tears, money, stress, sleeplessness, travel, everything.

After serving the Lord for a majority of our lives, we would each say that following Him is worth it.  Living life on mission for the Lord is the best and greatest adventure we will ever experience.

We had the privilege of encouraging people in their walk with the Lord and saw people come to the Lord.  As a believer, there is no greater pleasure.As we spend the next days processing the trip it will be exciting to see and relive the memories.

Also, on July 31st at Calvary Corvallis the team will be talking about the trip.  If you’re in the Corvallis area, be sure to swing by.  Grab some BBQ and join us in the Multi Purpose Room and we share about the glory and power of the Lord!  It’s going to inspiring because God is inspiring!

The Last Supper

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Well, here we are. Finishing off our trip. Tomorrow afternoon we leave Cambodia for Seattle. After months of preparation, we’re done. God has moved in power in the places we’ve been and in the lives around us.

Today we spent the day traveling. It’s an eight hour drive from Angkor Wat to Phnom Penh. We laughed, we shared stories and enjoyed company of each other as we finish off these last hours together. We also spent the morning encouraging each other. Never have any of us served on a team this dynamic with deep unity and relationships between each of us. We are dreading when Wednesday night rolls around and we separate. But today was sweet. Today was a great reminder of how good our God is and the true joy of serving Him.

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Please be praying for safe travels as we come home. We’ll miss Cambodia, but it’s time to come home.

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Temples and Elephants

Today was spent exploring the history of Cambodia. We started at Angkor Wat, and made our way through the jungle to find all the temples. imageMost of them were falling apart and overgrown. Cody mentioned many times that he could picture King Louie from The Jungle Book popping out. There were some monkeys hanging around, and not just the ones on our team.image

There was a slight delay in our day due to a tropical storm, but it cleared up in time for the time to ride elephants up to the highest temple. ELEPHANTS. Photos on the way. The view was absolutely mesmerizing. If the earth had edges I would have sworn you could see them.

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We ended our night at the market, and the team tried out their bartering skills. It’s hard to think that our time is coming to a close, almost hesrtbreaking. Im hoping this will not be the last time we see this wonderful city.

In Angkor

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We’ve finished up our last official day of ministry today. It’s almost bittersweet to think about how quickly our time has gone! As we’ve made friendships, shared memories and worked through challenges; watching this adventure come to an end is hard. It’s heartwrenching to say good bye to the amazing people we’ve met and served with.

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But God has bigger plans for us than just two weeks in Cambodia. His plans stretch into eternity. The lives we’ve been privileged to impact have also impacted us. We’ve seen people get saved, discipled and overcome some of the toughest things because God called them. And just like them, God calls us too.

May of us have been stirred to think bigger than our wildest dreams could have imagined. Some of us may return to Cambodia in the future. But we all have been changed because we serve a God who changes people. The 11 of us who left 10 days ago are not the same 11 people returning. It’s not possible to be unchanged when you see and experience the things we have.

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As we spend the next 24 hours debriefing here in Angkor we’ll be visiting Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the largest Buddhist temple in this area. It’ll be refreshing to spend time with the people who have become family for this short time.

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Coming to Cambodia was one of the best experiences for each of us. God has and is moving mightily in Cambodia and in each of our lives. He is so, so, so, good. Words cannot describe how truly blessed we each are. As we get ready to head home, our hearts may be a little heavy, but they are also so full!

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Finishing Strong

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Another full day in Cambodia! Arriving in this province yesterday, our team put on a conference at another New Life Church for youth who traveled up to three hours to be there! The day went by quickly filled with getting to know the youth, teachings by Garrett and Jess, small groups, worship, dancing, and lots of games. The small group times were very special, producing meaningful discussion which led to many kids choosing to follow Christ! How incredible it is to be a part of sharing the gospel with those who have never heard the good news! We ended our night praying with the church for God to continue moving through the growing number of His people in Cambodia. Would you join us and lift up a prayer for them too? Arkoun (អរគុណ) which is Khmer for Thanks!

-Cody and Laura

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As we are nearing the end of our trip and physical and emotional exhaustion begin to creep up on us, it is easy to check out and not give our best with the little time we have left. Tomorrow is the last day that we are serving in the provinces before we move to our debriefing time in Siam Reap. These last nine days have been a full time of serving and pouring out that which has been given to us. However, even as we are almost done with our time here, I was reminded of a verse that we had read during one of our team times. It’s when Jesus turns the water into wine during the wedding at Cana and the host says, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:10). I was reminded while reading this verse how whenever we begin to serve God, we always begin with such passion and fervor, but as time goes on some of that passion tends to die down. However, seeing today the passion through which the kids at the outreach worshiped the Lord and hearing the boldness of the leaders of the church praying for their people, I was reminded that just as Jesus had the power to turn the plainest water into the richest wine, He also has the power to make the end of our trip better than the beginning. Today was amazing seeing how many kids came who didn’t know Jesus and the hunger in their eyes for the hope that He brings. I am excited to see what God does tomorrow in our final session of the outreach! We are believing that God will do big things in the lives of these youth! His power is made perfect in our weakness.

-Nisha

 

Next Stop

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We’ve arrived at a providence outside of Phnom Phen. This church is the first church plant of New Life. They have plans on making 500 church plants over the next 5 years. To say that God is moving here would be an understatement. It’s incredible to see how quickly the gospel is spreading in this unreached country.

Today we’ll be running a youth retreat. It’s exciting to see the overwhelming excitement for God here. People just want to know more about Christ than anything else.  Please be praying for us as we head out in about an hour to be poured out to the village kids.

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Before we got here though, Garrett, Andrew, Ashely and Jess all tried fried tarantula. They said it tasted delicious, but they looked rather disgusting. But that’s just one of the weird foods we’ve had. When you go to another country sometimes it’s best not to ask what you’re eating until you’re done! But all in all, the food here amazing.

Please keep us in your prayers as we’ve had a cold start to spread through the team. We only have a couple days left and we want to be used in the fullest to glorify God! It’s a privilege to serve here and we can’t wait to get back at it again today!

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With our internet not being incredibly consistent, we’ll try to post tonight about the youth retreat, but it might be later. Thanks for your patience!

Final Day in Phomn Penh

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Today we returned the the New Life church to help teach in their English classes. I was able to share my testimony, the work God is doing in my life and how He has redeemed it. The class ranges from ages 9-21. I thought it went pretty well and the kids seemed to like both mine and Nisha’s testimonies. After that went to dinner with multiple people from the New Life organization. We were able to hear some of their hearts behind what they’re doing. It was awesome to see how much God is moving through this organization here in Cambodia.

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There’s a 17 year old young man that we got to get to know better. I was able to give my testimony in his class. He really has a heart to reach out to the younger generation of the Khmer people. He teaches them English and about God on a daily basis. He is an amazing man of God. There’s almost no way to describe his raw passion for the Lord and depth of maturity. He’s one of the people here changing Cambodia.

 

-Andrew

Earlier in the day, we were able to tour the king’s palace. I was so intricatelay beautiful (pictures coming later). We were able to see many people paying homage to the Buddha. It was heartwrenching to see so many lost people blindly giving offerings to a stone. It’s a reminder of how much this culture reveres the Buddha. However, as a team we are incredibly thankful that our God is not confined to a building.  This trip would not be possible-the adventures that we’ve had-if we didn’t serve a God bigger than our imaginations.

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Tomorrow we head out to a village to run a high school and middle school retreat. Only an all knowing God would know to send most of the middle school leaders and a couple high school leaders to Cambodia! It’s an exciting adventure. Please keep us in your prayers as we head out from here and finish off our trip.

We’re not sure of the wifi situation once we leave, but we’ll do our best to keep everyone updated.

Here are some pictures of our visit to the king’s palace:

 

 

Halfway Point

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We started this morning cleaning at the House of Refuge. The new building was once a place with a dark history, so cleaning was a little bit of an emotional process, and we prayed over each room as we dusted and mopped. Watching the way that God can turn any dark place into a new creation and a place of peace and light was encouraging.

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After lunch, the team split into two smaller groups; Nisha, Ashley, Jess, Andrew and Garrett went with Chad to a local inner city slum, while Connor, Kim and I went with Cody and Laura to do in house visits for New Life church members living on a different side of Phnom Penh. We went to several church members’ homes with a local pastor, praying over them and anointing the sick with oil in the name of the Lord. Many people welcomed us in and shared their stories with us. One beautiful elderly woman told us that she believed in Jesus because her son had been very ill and deaf, and although she was a Buddhist and her friends encouraged her to take him to the local monks for prayer, she had decided to take him to the church instead, and Jesus completely healed him. Her entire family had put their faith in Him. We heard many stories like this, and although several of the families we visited lived in another local slum, their faith in the goodness and greatness of God in spite of any hard circumstances is definitely something I will never forget.

– Whit

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Today a small team of us got a sweet opportunity to come alongside a woman from Australia named Tanya and go out and minister to children in the slums, showing them the love of Christ. The slums consist of tall shacks with metal siding, a narrow path about 7 to 8 feet wide, and trash swarming with flys covering the ground. I have never seen anything like it. Within moments of walking through the slums we were swarmed by excited children, wanting to climb you and have you hold them. Though they could not understand our words, my hope is that we were able to model the Love of our Lord Jesus to them in our actions through painting faces, blowing balloons, and holding these children.

-Garrett

After going on out various afternoon outings, we were able to go to the dorms here in the city. We brought them dinner-we had beef fried rice and they brought us these HUGE bags full of individual take out boxes. As per usual in Cambodia, we divided girls  and guys. Nisha shared her testimony with the girls and Chad shared with the guys. Sharing our stories with them helps them learn about us, but also to practice their English. Knowing how to speak English is vital to success in Cambodia.

As we’ve been blessed, encouraged and challenged by the people here, it’s easy to forget this is their reality. In a week we’ll be headed home and the amazing people we’ve met along the way will be here. This is there home. And may we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, continue to lift all these people up in prayer as God is raising them up to change Cambodia.

 

Fear vs. Freedom

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Today was a long, emotionally tolling, but fruitful day on the field, where we saw both the depravity of man and what happens when people deny the intrinsic worth of human beings as image bearers of our God. Firstly, we visited the Killing Fields outside of   Pnom Penh, where thousands of Cambodians were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Seeing the thousands of skulls of victims collected in a memorial shrine made me contemplate how without God, our hearts are capable of comitting the worst atrocities against others.

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After that sobering experience, we went back into Pnom Penh to witness to sex exploitation in the red light district. It sickened and sobered me to understand that those girls were being totally marketed for the sake of their bodies, and were being treated as nothing but products for sale. Yet it was amazing to share the true love of Jesus with those girls, giving them hope to rise above their slavery. Overall, this day challenged me to ask God for strength to respond in love to my enemies, not in hatred and fear as the Khmer Rouge did. And instead of letting the sexual lust of our culture consume me, to ask Him for strength to respond in pure, fervent love, to protect more woman from sexual exploitation.

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For Christ alone can undo the depravity of the human heart, and all of the atrocities that proceed from it. He is our one hope.

-Connor

After finishing in the red light district we went to New Life Fellowship where they teach English. Jessica and Connor both got to share and then we broke into small groups where the students were able to practice their English with us. We are having an incredibly blessed trip. God has been meeting each of our needs as we each have had fears to conquer and stretching that has needed to happen. Please keep us in your prayers as a few members have been getting sick-partially due to the heat and partially due to the food.

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The Light and the Dark

We started our morning with the most intense historical lesson of our lives. We visited Pol Pot’s secret genocide prison, Tuol Sleng. Pol Pot was a terrible, though this word does not serve him justice, man who led the Khmer Rouge in the mass murdering of millions of Cambodians. The killings were brutal and horrific. As we walked through what was once a children’s school, then a concentration camp of sorts, we were silent in awe of the horror is this place. As I looked up and saw blood still on some of the higher ceilings, I felt helpless. This was a Godless place. I felt dark and distant from God. I will never forget what I saw there. The images are burned into my mind. Being able to see the history behind the now growing nation was important for our team. This all started about 40 years ago. It is fresh in the history of these people, and drives a lot of there spiritual culture and fear. We were able to talk to 3 survivors of the prison, one of which is only there because he can’t find work elsewhere.

Our day took a significant turn when we came to the House of Refuge. It’s purpose is to be a home for girls who no longer want to be a part of the sexual exploitation. Here these places are called KTVs. They are “karaoke lounges”. A team here aids girls in changing their lives and welcomes them into the home. They are INCREDIBLE. I personally have never been so inspired by someone as I was listening to the woman who leads the operation. Her heart is to see everyone in this industry saved. If ever you could see God’s hand somewhere, it was here. Feeling the contrast of the darkness in Tuol Sleng, to the extreme light and overwhelming peace of being in this house brought me to tears. Our men were able to paint the front of the house, as the color symbolized the possibility of relations with girls under the age of 18, and the women of our team spent time with the girls currently in the house. We taught them how to make bracelets, which we will be taking tomorrow as we make relationships with the girls currently employed by the KTVs. The girls of the house are so sweet and loving, and our time with them was incredible.

It’s hard sitting in my room, looking at my window and seeing the flashing letters. KTV.  It’s a helpless feeling. But not hopeless. There are some powerful people here, people with more power than anyone has bargained for, because God has put them here. We saw the way Satan turned a school into a hellish place with the prison, but there was redemption in God taking a horrible place, the KTV, and putting into his people’s hands and making it a safe haven. He alone has the power to push out the worst things in this world, to change the hearts of the hurt and broken, and to break the system. This country is fresh and new, restructuring all the time. God has such an opportunity here, and being able to be a part of it all is the greatest blessing of my young life. We appreciate your support and prayer so much.

-Jess

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