Sunday, August 19, 2007

Live in Cambodia

Crossing over the dateline and losing 1 day can be tiring at best but I am thankful to all who have been praying. I took a different flying route using Cathay Pacific and we went over Anchorage to Hong Kong before touching down in Phnom Penh. The flight over was fairly quick and thankfully I had a good sleep on the plane despite the fact the seats seem smaller in size and the leg room much limited. Maybe I've expanded horizontally since my last trip but I know I haven't expanded vertically so what gives! :-) Oh well, not too much to complain about. Arriving in Hong Kong and seeing the sea of Asian faces always seems to bring about feelings of 'home coming'--- a feeling of belonging that I think is tied into so much of my cultural identity. Even though I am not born in this part of the world, my affinity for it never wearies. Perhaps it has to do with my Asian roots as our ancestors were originally from Canton, China and as the story goes one of our ancestors was kidnapped and brought to work as indentured slave labor in the sugar cane fields of South America. I couldn't help but wonder if my own passion and heart for justice perhaps emanates from this family hertiage of once being a slave. Yet today as I think of many in this country that I visit, they are enslaved by the sufferings they have endured during the Khmer Rouge era. We come offering up prayers to the One who can set us all free from our pasts and things that imprison our souls.

While I was sitting in the Hong Kong airport waiting to board our next flight, I looked around and heard the familiar sounds of Khmer being spoken. The Khmer langauge is so gentle and as I look at the older crowd of people waiting to get on the flight, I wonder what is their story. How did they survive the Killing fields? But as I look at them, my eyes catch a glimpse of the darkness that I expect to see within the country---an older American gentleman with a young Khmer boy. They are sitting behind us and as my friend strikes up a conversation with them we discover that he has √°dopted this young boy 7 years ago and this is their first trip back. I look around but do not see a 'wife'and there is no wedding ban on his hand so once again my suspicious mind begins to go into overdrive. I remember the comments some of the people who work on the frontlines here in Cambodia often say---anytime they see a single white man travelling to Cambodia or they see a man with a young kid they can't help but think the worse. I find myself thinking the same. THis is reality that is hard not to judge. The man tells my friend he is coming to Cambodia to look for opportunities in education and I am reminded from stories I have read that many pedophiles come here as teachers. IT is easy to be suspicious and so I ask the Lord to just give me discernment as I enter into this country.

Our flight on Dragon Air provides a different flavor to this country and God again reminds me that He is in control and that His light is shining. I strike up a conversation with an older Khmer women sitting in the ailse seat opposite me. It turns out she is a believer and even more interesting she attends a C&MA church in L.A. Ironically she is travelling here with 25 others from her church seeking to bless her homeland. But what is even more interesting is that she happens to be the aunt of one of our Ratanak partners in Poipet. As we continue to talk, I discover she knows a few more workers here that I am planning to see. It is just as if I am talking to an old friend as we share stories about our interactions with the international workers we know here. We exchange emails and I hope to follow up with her. The family of God is so amazing and it is so encouraging to see these older Khmer brothers and sisters in Christ returning to the land that has been both a place of joy and suffering for them and yet I am once again reminded √°bout God's redemptive purposes in our lives. He indeed does make something beautiful out of all our brokenness and suffering and then sends us out to minister in His name. Surely what HE has started in each of us, He will complete despite the many roads and paths we have taken. HOw freeing it is to know that despite where we go and what happens to us, His plan and His purposes don't change for His desire is to prosper us and not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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