I love Cambodia. I love the beautiful people. I love the story this country tells. My heart and attitude is completely different than it was in Taiwan. I am fired up. I am completely renewed and excited. I am content here. I feel like I could stay here forever. I'm ready to run as fast and as hard as I can until the end. But I don't want this to end. The past week in Taiwan I was distracted/tired/selfish BUT here I feel alive, passionate, and excited. Both of my feet are here. I am here to claim this as His. I am more than excited for this fresh start and new opportunities. I am desperate to be used and to know more of God's character.
We have been staying in Phnom Penh. Our first day we had orientation at the YWAM base. There were 2 other mission teams (from America and Australia) there for orientation as well. It was really refreshing to see all these young people so passionate about spreading His fame throughout this country. We were thoroughly informed about Cambodia's history, religion, and life. I immediately fell in love with this place and one main reason is because of the history and what the people have been through. I don't know how much ya'll know about the history of this country but it's unbelievable. About 30 years ago, after centuries of changing political powers, a regime known as the Khmer Rouge held a mass genocide where over 2 million Cambodians were killed. This regime killed all the educated people, teachers, doctors, and religious people because they wanted Cambodia to be only a farming country, not "corrupted" by western thinking. So, we visited the memorial, killing fields, and the genocide museum. Wow. It was heartbreaking. It reminded me of the Holocaust. The killing fields is where the victims were tortured, killed, and buried. There were skulls, bones, and mass graves. I couldn't believe what I saw. After the fields we went to the prison where thousands of victims were imprisoned and exterminated. The 4 buildings contained individual cells, mass detention centers, lists of prisoners, mugshots, clothes and belongings, art, and photography. The photographs and paintings will be forever engrained in my head. Just the reality that I was standing in the exact same place that so many innocent people were tortured, interrogated, and killed was like no other feeling I've ever felt. As I looked at each individual in the photographs I could see the deep state of fear that was written in their eyes. I can't believe how little I knew about it. I will never forget the things I saw.
This gave me such a good understanding of Cambodia and the people here. I can't believe how recent this was. Today, 80% of the population is under the age of 30. This shows how much of the older generation was completely wiped out. The past few years have been major growing years for this country. More than anything this has inspired me to stand up against injustice.
The past couple days we were able to help out a ministry in the slums called children at risk. This was an amazing opportunity. The spring of this year these people were forced out of the slums in the Phnom Penh (using tear gas) by the government because the city didn't want to look at them anymore. So, now they live about 30 minutes outside of the city in minimal shelters, if any. The children are beautiful and so precious. As the children put on a presentation to honor the fathers I was able to just sit in the audience with children hanging all over me. I loved every minute of it. These kids were clinging to me. There is something cool about communicating only through eyes and touch. It can say so much sometimes. After the program we helped serve 350 people dinner. It was chaotic to say the least, but very fun. The next day we joined in with the ministry to worship and intercede for this community. After intercession we split into small groups to make "visitations." We were able to pray for and encourage several people. I still can't believe the way these people live. Some literally are living under a tarp held up by 4 sticks and have been for 3 years! It's always eye opening to see poverty like this. My heart breaks for these people and people all over the world in the same situation. It's just not God's will for His people to live like this.
It's been really cool to work along side "western" missionaries that have moved here long term. To see there lifestyle and the willingness to live in such a foreign country has been encouraging and makes it seem do-able. I've been getting really excited about my Occupational Therapy degree and being able to use it in countries like this. I am actually thinking that at some point in my life I would love to commit 1 to 3 years to being a missionary in another country. We'll see what happens...
For now I'm absolutely loving Cambodia. God is teaching me so much. My devotion times are SO good. I couldn't be happier. We head to Siem Reap in the morning for our 4 day break. It will be nice to get some sleep and hopefully some sun.