Posted on February 16th, 2010 at 1:37 pm by Genesis
It is easy to make assumptions about people. When I look at a
homeless man on a street corner holding up a sign it is easy for me to
write him off and to deem him as a “lost cause.” Troubled youth are
labeled as a “waste of time.” Judging people based on past failures
seems to come second nature at times as well. There are so many areas
in life where instead of looking at the potential of a person I feel
blinded by stereotypes and negative connotations.
The more time I spend here working side by side these benevolent
people, the more I realize how God has assembled an army of wounded
healers in this place. These men, women, and children seem to have
been overlooked by society. The hurdles that some of these people
have faced are heart breaking, but the faith they profess and the
strength in which they live out their lives is inspiring.
Though the staff and students have been deemed as unworthy, lost
causes or wastes of time by society this ministry accepts them with
arms wide-open and is more than willing to pour out into their lives.
Children that otherwise wouldn’t receive an education are being
provided with a teaching that is beyond their parents’ wildest dreams.
Parent’s that are crippled by their inability to financially provide
for their children are still able to put their children through school
through this ministry. Almost every child is on a scholarship because
every child is looked upon for where they can be in life instead of
the dejected value society has placed on them. The staff is made of
men and women who have experienced some of the pains that the storms
of life can bring about but have been nurtured in their education and
spirituality and are now looked up to and admired by many.
In Ezekiel 37 there is a valley filled with bones. God sends Ezekiel
into the valley and tells him to look around and asks him what he
sees. Bones. Bones of fallen men and women. Bones that can never be
anything again. Bones that represent hopelessness, destitution and
death. Often when we look at the people in our lives it is as if we
are in this valley filled with bones. We don’t see people with
potential, we don’t see them for where they can be with a little help,
and we don’t feel they are worth our time. We feel that there is no
point in reaching out to certain people because they probably wont
receive our input. We shouldn’t give to a homeless person because
they want to be in the position that they are in or they are probably
going to use the money for drugs or alcohol. It is so easy to look
around ourselves and label everything and everyone we see as a pile of
dead bones, but we need to look at people for where they can be and
see the potential they have. Ezekiel followed the orders of God and
spoke life into the bones and they rose up and came to life. An army
of healthy, strong and able-bodied men came to life out of that pile
of nothing. People who have done the most atrocious acts and who have
morally fallen to depths beyond comprehension are still of worth and
can be transformed from a pile of bones into a healthy, strong and
able-bodied person. It is amazing the transformation that can take
place in someone’s life when someone is willing to give a little time,
love and affection to him or her; this place is filled with walking
living proof of that.
The men and women I work with here were once a pile of bones no one
saw anything of worth and look at them now.
WORD OF THE DAY
Phew-ha-yea-tra – parade
– A little girl gave me a valentine she made for me.
– yesterday we had the staff over for breakfast. We made AMAZING
banana pancakes. I remember a few years ago a friend told me it was
physically impossible to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without
drinking water. It dries up your mouth and it is just impossible.
I’ve tried it a few times and have gotten MANY friends to try it
because of a bet. So I mentioned this to the guys who were over for
breakfast. I started it off by saying I would give someone $5 if they
could swallow it. Then I explained how it was impossible. Once I
said impossible one of the guys wanted to try it. He put it in his
mouth and started having the typical reaction, NORMALLY people spit it
out though… not him though. He grabbed a bottle of water and started
drinking it… we were all yelling out to him to spit it out. He
didn’t. He ended up vomiting 3 times. One of the other guys was near
him when he vomited so he threw up to. I have it all on video and
I’ll be sending it probably with the next email.
– we eat a lot of mangos they are SO cheap. We got 7 big mangos the
other day for under $2.
– Jessica wont watch Paranormal Activity with me. She doesn’t want nightmares.
– Homemade egg rolls are amazing!!!
I’m still not 100%. It looks like I have walking pneumonia.
Jessica and I have had a pretty rough week – It is nothing I can
really disclose but please pray for us
Posted on February 10th, 2010 at 2:36 pm by Genesis
This past Sunday was interesting. Jessica and I went to church,
didn’t understand a lick of what was being said, but we showed our
support for the ministry by attending, after a while you learn to
smile and nod a lot. Afterwards we joined the leadership team as well
as some of the members of the congregation for two hours of prayer.
I’ve been in long prayer sessions before but I don’t think I’ve ever
been in one that long while sitting crossed legged on a hard surface.
I don’t have much of a buttocks so whenever I sit on a hard surface
for a long time I get what I call “butt-lock,” you know when your butt
locks up and hurts. Well after sitting for two hours I had butt-lock,
back-lock, and leg lock, standing up was no easy task afterwards.
Jessica and I kept on making eye contact throughout the prayer session
and every time we did it’s like we knew exactly what the other was
thinking, the straining and wincing look in our eyes gave away how
much out butts hurt.
Though Jessica and I had some difficulty understanding all of what was
being said, we didn’t need to speak their language to understand the
type of people we are working with because the honesty and humility
that was displayed by these gentle Cambodians was so apparent. Coming
from a country where pride and haughtiness flourish I was blown away
by the brokenness and transparency that these men and women showed as
they graciously presented areas of weakness and trouble in their lives
before one another. The prayer requests that were presented were
anything but surface and shallow, people were completely honest with
what was going on in their lives and were more than willing to open up
about things that in America we most likely would keep to ourselves.
One of my favorite verses is John 3:17, it says “for God did not send
His son into the world to condemn the world but the save the world
through Him.” It is far easier to saddle up on our high horse and
think more highly of ourselves than we ought to than it is to humbly
admit that we, like everyone, have flaws. Instead of creating an
environment of mutual edification or a refuge where people can seek
help and guidance we can sometimes create a place where people feel
forced to put on a mask and pretend as if the life they live is
problem free when the truth is that we all have hurts and we all go
through difficult seasons in life. This church truly doesn’t judge
or condemn people for mistakes made. Instead of kicking them while
they are down or disassociating from them they sympathetically share
the weight of one another’s burden and walk through life side by side
with arms locked. This is a place where people don’t have to fear the
wrath of one another but are assured that there is no judgment or
condemnation within these walls. There are so many lessons that
Americans can teach to the Cambodians, but I think this is one that
the Cambodians can teach us.
Before Adam and Eve fell the two of them were naked in the Garden of
Eden and felt no shame. The two of them were vulnerable, they didn’t’
cover themselves up or try to be something they weren’t, they simple
stood before one another naked and without fear or shame. Immediately
after they ate the forbidden fruit and they became aware of their
nakedness they then hid in the bushes and covered themselves with fig
leaves. The truth is as useless as it sounds we haven’t done much
better since, in some futile attempt we still hide in the bushes and
put on fig leaves. Instead of standing before one another naked,
vulnerable, broken and transparent by being honest with one another,
we are ashamed of past mistakes, shortcomings, failures and our sins
so we put on the fig leaves. We cover up our nakedness by putting on
a smile and pretending as though life is perfect and saying, “God
bless you,” even though our whole world may be crashing down behind
close doors. We run and hide in the bushes, avoid the possibility of
being open and honest with one another, by covering up the storms in
our lives with these pretend smiles and think that we are making life
better by keeping our hurts to ourselves when in reality it is self
destructive, shame and guilt build up and rot the inside of us.
God has called us to share in the burdens of one another. When it is
me against the world I am going to lose every time, but when it is me,
all of my brothers and sisters in Christ against the world I can’t
lose. When I come out of the bushes and remove the fig leaves and am
real with others I have support, help and encouragement. There are
times when I am not strong enough to press on and it is in those
times, my darkest hour, when my brothers and sisters in Christ
strengthen me and pour light into my areas of darkness. There are
times when I am ready to quit and it is at this point in my life when
vulnerability and brokenness is needed the most.
It reminds me of when Moses and the Israelites fought the Amalekites.
Throughout the entire battle Moses stood upon a mountain in view of
the battle with his hands lifted to God. As long as his hands were
raised the Israelites were winning the battle but as soon as his arms
weakened and lowered the Israelites would begin to lose the battle.
Both the brother of Moses, Aaron, and his right hand man, Joshua,
stood besides Moses for the entire duration of the battle. Moses did
this for hours, but like all humans he grew weak, tired and exhausted
and his arms began to lower. When the arms of Moses began to fall
Aaron and Joshua were there to hold them up for him. Moses could have
acted as if he was strong enough to do it alone, he could have been
prideful and told Aaron and Joshua to leave but this would have been
foolish and he would have fallen flat on his face. Aaron and Joshua
were right by Moses and instead of mocking his weakness they stood
beside him and shared in his suffering, this is what we are supposed
to do. Instead of pretending that we are strong when we are weak we
should embrace one another and endure the storms of life united
instead of by our lonesome. If God wanted me to go through life by
myself He would have made just me, instead of making just me He gave
me more supportive, encouraging and loving people than I can count.
He did this for a reason, because He knew there would be obstacles
presented in life that I overcome alone.
– The teachers here for the most part are in their early to mid
twenties. Only one of them has a girlfriend. Today in class the
other teachers were making fun of him saying that when they all went
out that he and his girlfriend kissed fourteen times. Before this
conversation I taught them the phrase, “that sounds like fun,” and as
soon as they started talking about him kissing his girlfriend all of
the other guys started saying “that sounds like fun.” I was cracking
– I gave Jessica a concussion one time. We were playing broom ball
with a college group and I slide across the ice and ran into her and
she hit the back of her head on the ice really hard. She hasn’t let
me live it down since.
– I’m trying to grow a beard…. It’s pathetic… you can call me patches
– Jessica and I went out with the staff for dinner Sunday night, it
was a pretty awesome restaurant. They brought out little camping
stoves and put pots of broth on them and then brought out a ton of
different vegetables and random types of meat (livers, kidneys and a
bunch of unidentifiable things) and you basically made your own soup…
it was REALLY good. I was fine afterwards but I guess Jessica had
some issues with the food that next morning. Cambodian food – 1
Jessica – 0
– Since this country is 95% Buddhist it isn’t at all unusual to see a
monk walking on the streets, my favorite thing to see though is the
monks on the back of motorcycles. Jessica and I have tried to get
pictures of it SOO many times but each time we fail.
– Brandon Heath is AWESOME!!!
– The couple from Canada went back home so it is just Jessica, the
Cambodians and me now
– I just got done eating cow tongue
– Before we leave we are going to be eating balute – that is the egg
with the bird in it but it isn’t fully developed… should be
I’ve been sick since I’ve been here and today I felt really bad and
wasn’t able to teach the night class. Please keep my heath in your
Jessica is preaching on Saturday night
Posted on February 5th, 2010 at 10:00 pm by Genesis
Jessica and I were fortunate enough to be able to sit down the other
day with the founder of this organization, Keat, and hear his story.
As words poured out of his mouth it was as if his memories, struggles,
past hurts and pains beat against my innermost being. I still sit in
disbelief of the haunting past that this man who was sitting before
me, this joyful and exultant man, had endured.
The story of Pastor Keat and his wife Sally finds its beginnings here
in Cambodia. Keat’s family fled to Cambodia from China to escape the
despotism of the communist rule. In a country where polygamy is
booming, it wasn’t at all strange that Keat’s father found a second
wife here. Being the “first wife,” Keat’s mother was forgotten about
and she and Keat were forced to fend for themselves. Hard work and
discipline weren’t things his mother tried to teach him, they were
essential for surviving and soon a hard work ethic defined this young
boy. The constant uphill battles that Keat and his mother faced
prepared him for the deadly Khmer Rouge reign that would soon rob Keat
of his freedom.
As he described the incomprehensible atrocities that occurred during
the Khmer Rouge rule I found it extremely difficult to wrap my mind
around it all. At age seventeen he found himself a prisoner in a
concentration camp. For four years he was starved and overworked.
Virtually every inmate developed head and body lice due to not being
able to bath for four years. He was forced to use dirt and charcoal
to brush his teeth because for four years he had no toothbrush. The
feet of the prisoners grew calloused and hard from the ceaseless work
and from the constant moving throughout the rough terrain without
shoes. Anyone who was educated was instantly killed. If you could
read you were dead. If you wore glasses you were an intellectual so
you were killed. If you spoke any foreign languages you were
murdered. Keat, being an intelligent man, had to spend the four years
pretending to be uneducated, he said the only reason he survived was
because he never said a word and always did what he was told. He
worked each day, whether he was sick or not, if you didn’t work you
didn’t eat. There were no days of the week, there were no hours, time
had ceased to exist because you simply did what you were told when you
were told to do it.
After three years of enslavement the Khmer Rouge allowed prisoners to
marry, but under their conditions. They would line up thirty men and
thirty women and the person in front of you would be your new wife or
husband. Keat didn’t even know Sally when they were married but they
have been married for thirty-one years. Apparently the tyrants used
“marriage” as a power trip and a tool more than actually letting the
men and women enjoy being married. As soon as he was married the
tormenters forced Keat to work at a different camp, hoping he would
refuse so they would an excuse to kill him.
As the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge military began to
weaken and this allowed for Keat and his wife to flee to Thailand for
freedom and hopefully the opportunity to start over again. However,
they found themselves in a refugee camp set up by the Red Cross. It
was at this camp that Keat heard the gospel for the first time and he
and his wife dedicated their lives to Christ. Before long a relative
in Los Angeles sponsored them to come to America. Within three weeks
of arriving in the U.S. an opportunity opened up for Keat and Sally to
move to Hawaii.
Keat began work in construction and Sally began to work cleaning in a
hotel. Because of the work ethic that was instilled in them, the two
of them were able to work more hours than anyone else and within two
years they purchased and built their own home. This same work
mentality enabled Keat to begin his own business after seven years.
Within eleven years of arriving in America Keat and Sally were able to
sell their business and retire. They moved back here to Cambodia and
established this ministry and have been serving the “least of these”
ever since. Because of these two, hundreds of children and young
adults are receiving an education and coming to know God. Lives are
being transformed because of their generosity and the overwhelming
amount of compassion they have towards the unfortunate.
Their story reminds me of when Jesus walks on water. When people
think about Jesus walking on water they list it up there as one of his
many miracles, just like feeding the thousands, turning water into
wine and bringing the dead to life. It is a miracle, don’t get me
wrong, but Jesus didn’t do it to display his power and might, if so he
would have done it in view of the multitudes, instead he did it in
front of only twelve men to show his heart.
The disciples were in the middle of a large body of water and in the
midst of a horrible storm. Waves were beating against the side of
their boat and with the shoreline miles away their future was bleak.
They had been fighting against these waves for the entire night and it
was now early morning and they were exhausted, wet, and nowhere near
to being anywhere closer to safety. It was then, in their darkest
hour when Christ came out to them. He came to them in the middle of
this ocean, during the worst storm they had ever faced, when it was
completely dark, and when they thought there was no hope. It shows
you that God will come to you when you are in your darkest hour. When
Peter walked on water to Christ it wasn’t because he wanted to walk on
water, it was because it was then that he realized that safety could
only be found with Christ so he wanted to draw near to God. It amazes
me that God came all that way for the disciples and did the same thing
for Keat and Sally. They were in the same situation as the disciples,
hopeless, in the middle of an emotional storm, and it was there in a
cramped Red Cross relief center where destitution ran rampant that
Christ walked on water out to them in the form of a street
I think that God walks on water for us because he sees the end result.
He sees the men and women that we are going to become, rather than
where we are in life. I bet no one looked at Keat and Sally when they
had nothing to their name and thought that they would accomplish what
they have, but God knew. I know I wasn’t anything special before I
was a Christian, people didn’t look at me and think I was going to do
anything great, but God saw the end result and walked on water for me
in my darkest hour. Now I have traveled the world, shared in front of
thousands and I am proud of who I am and know that I am going to
continue to mature and grow. When God looks at us all He sees is
potential, he isn’t blinded by how we appear or by whatever troubles
we have, all He sees is potential.
WORD OF THE DAY
Ply Bomb (this is what it sounds like) – banana
– Packs of toilet paper come with a spoon and fork… I have no idea why though
– the dogs in the house eat the leftovers from the meals. They always
get meat and bones so they hate rice. Jessica and I always try to get
them to eat the rice but they never do. Jessica just mixed up the
rice with the meat and the dogs were smart enough to eat and the rice.
– Today I was teaching the three year olds. I was having them come up
to the board and write some of the letters of the alphabet. One
little boy started jumping up and down when I picked him. He ran up
to the board, he came up to my knees and could hardly reach the board,
and instead of writing a letter he started to draw a picture… freaking
– A few days ago I got a big water bottle. I was excited about it and
used it throughout the day, it was awesome. I got ambushed two days
ago by a bunch of little kids. One of them went for a high five and
smacked my new water bottle… it hit the ground and broke. Now I use a
– Sometimes our food looks like it came from PF Changs – beautiful and
delicious. Other times it looks like cat food.
– Every night the pastors daughter plays a song on the piano over and
over again… it is a song with lyrics that say “I wanna make love right
now right now.”
– About an hour ago we found a lizard in our kitchen, caught it and ….
Watch the video to find out the rest
The little girl in the pictures is about a foot and a half tall and
ALWAYS has a HUGE smile on her face.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 at 9:57 pm by Genesis
One of the most heart warming aspects of living here is that each morning when I step outside I am greeted by two hundred precious, trusting, and sometimes toothless grins of life filled children who are more than willing to give you a high five. There are two separate schools here. One is in the mornings and goes from preschool to fourth grade and has been around for six or seven years, every year they add a new class for the children. These are the preschoolers that I get to work with each day. I’m now on a rotating schedule, I will be going to teach English to two classes each day from Tuesday through Friday. Which translates into me making up games and songs that have to do with different letters of the alphabet and rewarding the kids with stickers, I’m probably just as excited about it as they are.
In Mark 10 it gives accounts of how people brought their children to Jesus and he would hold them in his arms and bless them. I can relate. The only word that my foolish self can come up with to describe what it is like working with these children is “joy,” and that is but a faint echo of the overwhelming sense of peace, jubilation and delight that stirs up within me when I get to teach them. These children are so innocent and pure, I can see why Christ embraced them and loved them so.
I can’t help but smile and be filled with joy when I see these children. The mannerisms of these children put a grin on my face. I smirk when I catch a glimpse of a small child with a backpack that looks bigger than him. I laugh to myself a little when I see one of them standing on their tippy toes trying to grab a hold of the door knob or when I see the puzzled look on their faces as they stand outside the bathroom trying to figure out which one to use. I like it when a stampede of children burst onto the grounds from the gate with bags filled with sugar cane juice, yoyo’s dangling from finger tips or foreheads proudly displaying newly earned stickers. You never seem to grow numb to the childish grin that appears from cheek to cheek when it’s snack time and favorite treats of all kinds are handed out.
The children here are precious and I know I can’t wait to see what this trip has in store for me.
WORD OF THE DAY
Sucksabye (not sure how to spell it) hello
If any of you are interested in possibly coming out here for a two week trip to help put on a vacation bible school for the kids please shoot me an email and I can give you some more details.
– Jessica and I just ate these fried squid things… they taste a little like flavored Styrofoam
– Last night I counted how many mosquito bites or marks from mosquito bites were on my feet. My left foot has 22 bites and my right foot has 23. My feet are covered with little red bumps. I think I just racked up a few more bites as I wrote this.
– I asked a group of college aged guys what they like to cook. They started blushing and chuckling, apparently they literally only know how to fry an egg. I was thinking that it was maybe a cultural thing and that guys here just didn’t cook… nope lots of guys here cook just not these ones.
– Jessica and I were walking through the street market right next to where we stay and we saw some fish. Jessica asked how fresh I thought they were and then they started to flip around because they were still alive and we both just cracked up.
– Have any of you ever been a part of Operation Christmas Child? It is a program that is ran through churches and schools where people take home and fill these red and green shoe boxes and it gets sent to children in third world countries to give them a Christmas. Well yesterday over two hundred boxes were handed out here to our preschoolers and school kids. It as so amazing to see these boxes actually delivered, I had filled them countless times over the past few years… it was just really amazing to see these kids playing with little cars and dolls through an organization I had supported.
– Apparently in Phnom Penh traffic related deaths are among the highest in the world. I heard that about five people die each day. On that note, Jessica and I went exploring a little bit in the city today after we went to the dentist to get Jessica’s correct tooth fixed and we almost became one of those statistics. We were crossing the street at the intersection and crossed when the little green man lit up and it seemed like we became moving targets and like cars didn’t care that we were crossing ha ha. Watch the video I attach if you want to see how it went.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 at 9:47 pm by Genesis
This past week has been quite an experience, the new people, culture and environment keeps me on my toes. I love the feeling of being completely out of my element because it forces me to rely more on God. I’m thankful, though, because Jessica and I have received such a warm welcome. There is a young married couple from Canada serving here, Jenny and Josh. These two have opened up their home to us, shared meals with us, guided us around the city and have accepted us with arms wide open. These two bend over backwards to accommodate us. The pastor of this ministry and his family, the staff of this facility and the leaders of this organization have been such godsends as well. Our accommodations are remarkable; the thought never crossed my mind that our home here would look like this. For the past two years this ministry has been constructing this new facility that has the capacity for the multitudes of people that ground themselves here. The almost complete building is four stories tall and is absolutely magnificent from the strikingly colorful tiles that brilliantly clothe the floor to the unyielding stone pillars that support the structure. The top floor is the church and allows for seven hundred people to sit comfortably, which I assure you will soon be too small for the vast amount of individuals that learn, grow and mature here. This place is stunning to say the least.
This city is very big and modern, I feel underdressed and as if my attire is out of date when I see the fashion and apparel the youth are sporting out here. The Buddhist temples with a beautiful Cambodian sunset set as the backdrop are picturesque and awe-inspiring, the fact that these remarkable shrines were hand crafted leaves you breathless. Don’t let the inexpensive price of the Cambodian cuisine fool you, the food brings out the most exhilarating aspects of flavors and these meals leave your taste buds begging for more. Venturing out on a Tuk Tuk (motorcycle with a carriage) is the only real way to travel within this city, wearing a mask isn’t fun but the rush of wind flowing through your hair (except around sewers) is elating and the view of the street vendors and community goes unmatched.
Throughout the week we will both be teaching numerous classes and training different English teachers. Every morning I will be training the teachers for two hours and afterwards I will be spending about an hour working with the preschoolers. I am really excited about working with these children, I can’t tell you how adorable they are. I worked with a preschool for about a year (shout out to the staff of Precious Lambs Preschool) and that has given me a lot of different ideas for songs and games to play with these children. I’ll be leading a bible study about twice a week. Every evening I’ll be teaching English as well, knowing English is gold out here and to have a foreigner teach it is a rarity so the children seem to hang onto each word that is spoken from us. I’ll also be speaking at this church on different occasions.
It is easy to volunteer and contribute towards a worthy cause but that isn’t what I want for this trip. My hope and prayer is that I will fall in love with these people just as I fell in love with my Kenyan family. I want rejoice with them when they triumph in life and I want to mourn with them when troubles are revealed. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Paul knows the truth, to give, help and serve without being emotionally attached is simple to do, I want more than that. I want to be a life learner of loving others, rejoicing and praising God for the good and weeping and mourning the sting of life’s troubles. I hope that when I come home from this trip I will have learned what it means to love without limits.
Playboy is a big deal here… they have playboy shirts and bags but they don’t know anything about the playboy industry. They think it is a mischievous boy…lol
Taking off my shoes whenever I enter a building is going to take some getting used to
Jessica chipped her tooth and had a really big hole because of it. We took her to the dentist to get it filled and they did the wrong tooth!!
There is a dog here that has a bunch of blue ink all over his back… his name is Lucky
A boy here doesn’t like going by his name. We asked him why and apparently his name means Lucifer… lol
Word of the day
Sngat – be quiet
I have had a lot of people ask me about a mailing address. It is…
New Life in Christ Church
ATTN: Geoffrey Nighswonger
P.O. Box 1234 Wat Phnom
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
To be completely honest I have everything I need right here. Jessica and I are perfectly content with everything we have. If you want to do something special for us it would be awesome if you made a donation to www.tumainiinternational.org or if you want to give us something very specific for us personally, maybe something pops into you head or you want to take us out for dinner or something along those lines shoot me and email and we can work out a donation on line or through my mom. I would love some peanut butter cups… but the odds of them actually making out here are pretty slim and the cost of sending them is pretty high but the call is on you. Thank you everyone for sharing in this journey with us.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 at 9:45 pm by Genesis
Yesterday we ventured out and visited the two most heart breaking and grim places I have ever been to and I’m finding it difficult to finds words to fully articulate exactly what we encountered there. We went to the killing fields, the location where thousands of innocent men, women and children were horrendously slain and to the biggest prison during the Khmer Rouge rain of terror.
The silence was deafening as we walked through a field laden with dug up pits where thousands of unmarked graves had previously been. The victims were forced to kneel next to the pit before the back of the neck was beaten with a hoe. As we meandered through the massive burial sites we couldn’t help but notice old tattered clothing that had been embedded in the soil over the years. We were walking on the clothing that had been stripped from the backs of those facing horrific demise. We came upon a thick tree with a sign that explained how the oppressors would grab babies by their legs and smash their heads against it. Our stomachs turned as scenes of this gruesome, horrid and barbaric action were depicted in photos, paintings and a movie. Hundreds of shattered and pierced skulls and bones had been piled up in different locations in an attempt to prevent forgetting the atrocities that occurred in this country not too long ago. We then went to S-21, the largest prison that had housed, tortured and killed thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children.
S-21 was haunting to say the least. This massive and abysmal structure reeked of destitution. We stood in the prison cells where young men and women were chained to beds and tortured to death. We gripped the same bars on the windows that caged the innocent until it was their turn to be executed, how many poor souls must have clung onto those same bars of imprisonment as they cried out for help and justice. We endured the overwhelming feeling of abandonment and desperation as we walked through the inhumanely small and hopeless prison cells constructed of wood and brick. We touched the chains and shackles that had bound the legs, feet and hands of the ill fated. We ran our fingers over the edge of torture devices that had robbed so many of life and hope. The most horrid, by far, was walking through the rooms filled with the photos of thousands of women, men and children that had been taken as they awaited their death. The images of the children is what struck me the hardest, the look in their eyes pierced my inner most being. When you looked into their eyes all you could see was hopelessness, pain, fear, and anguish. When you look into their eyes you see what it must be like to see death coming.
I don’t think any amount of words can express what is deeply stirring within me. I can’t tell you what it was like seeing the gravesite of thousands, walking across the remains of worn and frayed clothing of the victims, seeing the pierced and shattered skulls of the casualties, touching the shackles that had imprisoned so many, standing in the prison cells that had stolen life from the multitudes, and seeing the fear of death in the eyes of those children.
This outing definitely had its toll on me emotionally but I feel as though it encouraged me to do what I can with what I have. It reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago, “I can’t do everything, but I can do something. What I can do I ought to do and what I ought to do by the grace of God I will do.” I may not be able to feed everyone, clothe every child, or provide for all but there is a sphere of influence I will have. There are going to be people, maybe five or possibly five hundred that I am going to be able to pour my heart and life into. I ask that you share in my prayer for this trip which is for me to give it my all and pour out everything I can into who I can, touching those within my reach and loving on all who I encounter.
Jessica broke my glasses
There is apparently a westernized pizza place that we are going to hit up on Tuesday
Fried bananas are AMAZING
Stuffed tomatoes are pretty sweet too!
Today was SOOOO hot… I am not looking forward to the hot season at all
I attached a few videos of Jessica and I from today. We ventured out for the first time on our own.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 at 9:43 pm by Genesis
Jessica and I spent our first day traveling the people filled streets of Phnom Penh. The streets were laden with men eagerly taxiing clients on the back of small motorcycles, tuk tuks, and leg powered carts. The different fruits were mind boggling, some that were so with such vibrant colors others with intricate eye catching patterns and some that looked more like a deadly weapon with hundreds of sharp spikes. As we walked throughout the different market places we saw hand carved pieces of art, jewelers crafting new petite Cambodian treasures and Rolex watches for less than $15. It was raining off and on as we move around town today, the humidity here is pretty intense and the heat is constant as well, and this is the cold season, I’m not too excited to see what weather the warm season brings.
From what I have gathered the rain seasons seem to bring a lot of health problems. The sewage systems are bad and when it rains the sewers flood the streets. When the waters finally drain all of the waste and rubbish dries on the ground and turns into dust and then people inhale it and get sick. Apparently dust is such a big issue that people wear masks when they are outside, I grew numb to the images of traveling motorcyclist and playing children wearing masks.
Today was an exciting and eye opening day. I can’t wait to see God’s plans unravel as we live and grow in this foreign land.
I went to take a nap this afternoon around 4:30 and woke up a few minutes ago… around midnight. I missed the homemade Cambodian meal that was prepared for us and everyone is asleep.
I found out that most of the country closes down each day for a few hours around noon to rest. It is time for people to take naps or just relax during their day…. How cool is that? We need this in America!
Adidas, Ambercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister all have their clothing factories here so you can get shirts for like $3.
If you can think of a CD, DVD, videogame, or computer program I bet you I know where to get it for $1.50.
Your left hand is unclean.
Posted on September 8th, 2009 at 8:18 pm by Genesis
My first month here was really difficult. I remember pulling up to Masii and saying, “What did I get myself into.” I don’t think the first month could have gone by slower for me, I missed my family and friends, I was submerged into a completely new culture and with that I got a heaping serving of extreme culture shock. Lakewood and Masii are two completely different worlds. In America most people have running water and electricity; most of us have cars, computers and television sets and in comparison to America, Masii doesn’t have much as far as material possessions go. In America we may have fast cars, enough clothing to last months and big houses but Kenya has something that we don’t, Kenya has God and the people feel genuine love for one another, things of far greater worth and value than any car or home. Once the scales from my eyes came off and experienced the warm compassion and sincere hospitality of the Kenyan culture time went by too fast.
Yesterday was my last day of attending church here. We had a big party for my leaving and because it was our first year’s anniversary. I was asked to make a speech and I could hardly utter a few words. I didn’t know what to say, my life has been completely changed, my eyes opened and my heart has been touched and restored in ways that words can’t express. I fought to hold back tears as different members of the congregation lined up with their arms full of cards, letters, and gifts that they had bought or made for me. I even had one family, that loves music and dancing, write a song about me. I think that yesterday really made me realize the fact that I have made an actual difference in lives here and that I am most definitely going to cry when I leave. The way that these people live, the way that they interweave their faith in God and their extreme love for one another in their everyday lives, and their ability to persevere are qualities that I can only hope to one day have.
Posted on August 28th, 2009 at 2:50 pm by Genesis
Friday August 28,2009
Sometimes you can’t hold back the tears
On Tuesday a group of friends from my old church arrived here in Masii and the time I have been able to spend with them these past few days has been incredible. I can’t think of a better way to end my six month journey than with serving side by side with this compassionate people that I am fortunate enough to call my friends.
This morning we set out for another day of house visitations. We have been visiting the homes of the children that they or members of their church sponsor and delivering food packages to them. The first home that we visited was the home of an HIV positive widow her four children and mother. Only one of the boys was sponsored by Tumaini, the three others were on the waiting list. One of the boys was anemic, his frail and thin figure along with his fatigued appearance opened our eyes to the suffering that this family is facing. This drought has taken this family as a causality, with the lack of rainfall killing off a majority of their cattle and their farmland being a dry wasteland this family was truly struggling financially. School fees, food, water, medical attention, trying to attain any of these things is a constant upward battle for anyone who finds themselves being a sick widow in a financially starved situation like this woman was in. As this family’s story and constant struggles were revealed to us our hearts shattered. By the end of our visitation each child got a new sponsor. The children weren’t looked at with pity but with compassion. Those children were so loved by our team that they couldn’t bear to see them suffer anymore. Pity would mean that we walked away while saying, “that sucks,” and maybe tossing up a prayer. The compassion that these individuals were consumed tugged on their hearts to the point of stepping up to the plate and making the commitment to support these children.
I was overwhelmed with emotion and couldn’t hold back the tears. How long had this family been suffering? How many times did they cry out to God? How many times have they gone without food? How many times did they feel like throwing in the towel and giving up? Here and now God wiped away the tears from their eyes, took away the pain and sting of poverty and heard their cries and pleas and used a few individuals to answer their prayers.
Once again my eyes have been opened to how God uses us as individuals to answer prayers and to meet the needs of his children.
Posted on August 27th, 2009 at 6:41 pm by Genesis