Never did I ever imagine myself going on a missions trip, especially to Cambodia. For some reason God had this presence over me and opened my heart to consider going on missions. I really thought about it when sitting in service when they talked about it during the announcement time. I knew that I had other roadblocks that prevented me from going, but I told God that I would go if it was meant to be. I think God really wanted to show me something because he made it all happen.
Another reason why I decided to go to Cambodia was also for myself. I was struggling to keep my head above water, while juggling school, work, personal struggles, and deciding on a career path. I wanted to get away, take a break, and see how the other side of the world lived. When preparing myself for this trip, I had no expectations of what I was going to be doing.
When we got off the plane and walked out towards the street, we were greeted by our hosts Jillisa and Sovanny. They gave us a warm welcome into Cambodia. I knew it was a good start already. The following day was orientation, we got a powerpoint presentation on an overview of the Khmer (Cambodian) culture, basic words and phrases, and the do’s and don’ts. For the rest of day one we got a tour around part of the city, rode a tuk tuk, bargained at the Russian Market, and went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum.
When coming to Cambodia, I never knew or heard about the Cambodian Genocide (during the Khmer Rouge Communist Rule), it was a first for me. I didn’t really know how to feel going through the museum. I felt sad, angry, and shocked. I was sad that so many people had to die for no reason. Second, I was angry that it was Cambodian people doing it to other Cambodian people. Shocked because it happened in the 70’s. What shocked me the most was that the museum was located at a former school that was turned into a torture camp. Each classroom was turned into cells and crammed with a bunch of people. I was glad that I went or else I would have not known this had happened.
Day two, three, and four were our VBS days at Redemption in Christ Church in the city of Phnom Penh. We got to interact with the children that lived nearby. I learned that they get to decide if they want to go to school or not. Some of the children do go to school and I have also learned that school is a half day, so they can either go to school in the morning or in the afternoon. The age group of these children were from 3- 13 years old. It made me happy to see them come to church. In the afternoon on day four we helped out with the English class that is usually offered to the college students. We helped the students by having a conversation with them, so they can practice speaking in English. I enjoyed working with the college students because I was able to get to know them a little better.
Day five, six, and seven we were off to the village. I was not nervous, but excited to go to the village. I also had no expectations when going into the village. The one difference was that there would be more students in the village than in the city. I was really surprised because they spoke more English in the village than the city. There was a big difference with being able to communicate in English. I was able to develop a relationship quicker because I could directly ask them questions about themselves without waiting for a translator. In the evening we taught English to the older kids who were not able to meet at noon. After class we had the opportunity to get to know they older kids by playing basketball or having a conversation to get to know them better. I cherished the time that I got to talk with some of the students, to hear their stories and get to know them a little bit better.
In both locations we got to walk around the neighborhood to see what their neighborhood looked like, where they were living, and how they were living. It was quite an experience because it was an environment that was completely different to how I was raised. It amazes me how everything is still so traditional. For example, they collect rain water because they rely on the rain to do their laundry, take a bath, and wash their food. It is very interesting to see how people can live with very limited and basic essentials and be able to get on throughout their day. This is their home, and this is their life. It’s amazing to see how Cambodia is slowly progressing.
On this trip there has been so many things that I have learned about God and about myself. God has shown me so much and exceeded my expectations more than I could have imagined. He wanted me to trust him, to trust the process even though it is something that is so hard to do. But on this trip I had to trust him because I didn’t speak the language, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know what I’m doing until the day of. God really challenged me and allowed me to follow him. Another thing God has shown me was that he reassured me to continue to pursue what I’m good at and my passions. He showed me this from the beginning of the trip to the end, and it was something that I have been praying for. It still not totally clear, but it’s a direction to somewhere that we’ll have to find out.
Overall, this trip has been a blessing and I was extremely blessed to take part and be a part of the 2016 summer mission team. Like I have said before I have never imagined myself ever going to missions or being in Cambodia and God really wanted to show me something that I will never forget. Maybe I’ll even go on another mission trip when the time is right.
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support! I couldn’t have done it without you!