Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cambodia Update #6

Hello Everyone!

Well, amazingly enough, there are now less than two weeks left of this mission adventure. We taught at the Vietnamese school again tonight and I was really sad thinking that we only have two more times with them – I’m going to miss them! Only God knows what He has accomplished through us for the people He loves in Cambodia while we’ve been here, but I know He has accomplished a lot in me. It has been a good refining process: dealing with pride, learning to be slow to speak and quick to listen, finding my strength and security in Christ. All of these are areas in which He has already been at work in my life prior to coming to Cambodia, but it seems like the process has been stepped up a notch – always a good thing, whether I like it or not!

Since my last update our team took a weekend trip up to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat and some of the other famous ancient temples. It was quite interesting (and really good exercise as well). Siem Reap is a lot different than Phnom Penh. It is much less congested & more geared toward tourists. One of our tuk tuk drivers while we were there is a solid believer. His name was Van San (though I’m not sure if that’s how it is spelled). The other is not a believer, though he seems to be searching. He speaks English pretty well so we were able to have a few good discussions. It is clear that he has a lot of respect for Van San and that his friendship has had an impact on him. We gave Van San a Khmer Bible before leaving which he immediately gave to the other driver. Pray that God continues to draw him to Himself and that he will respond to the truth he sees lived out in Van San’s life. While we were in Siem Reap I also had the opportunity to meet up with a couple, David & Lara Narita, who are friends with my friend Kathy (Smith) Phelan. Kathy and Lara were in medical school together at the University of Iowa while I was in PT school there. They are involved in church planting in the Siem Reap area and both are doing medical work part time. David is a doctor at Angkor Hospital for Children. It was very encouraging talking with both of them. I enjoyed hearing about what they are doing in Cambodia and learning that we even have some common Cambodian connections (including that their kids went to Logos when they lived in Phnom Penh and they know Kim, our connection with the Vietnamese students we are teaching English). Also, they gave me very positive feedback regarding the prospects for someone with my particular set of skills and experience finding a place to plug in here in Cambodia.

Over the last two days I got to tour the Veterans International center and the Cambodian Trust center. Both provide physical therapy services as well as prosthetics, orthotics, wheelchairs, and other equipment for people with disabilities. Both seem to be fairly well-equipped and are really great resources for people living in the areas they serve. I got to visit with a Cambodian physiotherapist and watch her treat the cutest little boy with cerebral palsy yesterday. It was so fun!

Today I had lunch with some of the Cambodian Christians who work for Daughters. It was so encouraging to hear their stories. Most of them have come from a Buddhist background. One of the girls said that her father had been a very strong Buddhist but he was the first in her family to come to Christ. After that all the rest of her immediate family eventually became believers and some of them are now pastors, including her dad.

There is much more that I want to write, but I’ll never get this sent if I do. I look forward to filling you all in on the rest later, maybe after I’m back in the states and, for some of you, in person – it won’t be long now! Thanks again for all your prayers & support!

  • Praise God for how He is at work here in Cambodia and pray that we will be sensitive to how He would have us participate for the rest of our time here and make the most of every opportunity.
  • Pray that I will be able to finish the work I’ve been doing on the catalog for the cakes and cake decorations that are made at Daughters. It seems to be coming along, but time is getting short.
  • Praise God that we have continued to stay healthy for the most part. Pray for continued health & safety, particularly that everyone would make it home safely.
  • Pray for the Christians in Cambodia. It is very difficult for many of them because their culture demands strong family loyalty and many of their families are not happy about their being Christians.

Grace & peace,


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cambodia Update #5

So, after almost 3 weeks pretty much packed with activities, I was happy to have a little more laid-back Saturday today. I slept in (until 8:00), called my parents (my first venture into the wonderful world of Skype), got some laundry done, and then went with a couple of my teammates to a café to eat & do some computer stuff (like uploading pics & working on this update). After a while we ventured into the nearby Russian market and within 5 minutes I was experiencing major sensory overload. There is an almost unbelievable amount of stuff for sale per square foot, making shopping for souvenirs a nearly overwhelming task. There is so much cool stuff and all of it being offered “cheap for you” that I just start to shut down. After looking for a while at the textiles & such, I wanted to find a particular coffee that I know someone sells around here but I haven’t been able to find in the grocery store. That took me to the area where food of all sorts is sold, accompanied by a barrage of smells from ripe, raw, and cooking foods. The blend of smells, as well as the increased heat from the cooking, finally drove me out of the market and back to the refuge of the air-conditioned café. It is operated by a Christian organization which provides work opportunities and experience for at-risk Cambodians, those who might otherwise be forced to seek employment in exploitative situations for survival. There are a number of places offering this much-needed type of ministry.

Finished up at Logos on Friday. Kind of sad & happy at the same time. Sad leaving my sweet students, but happy to be freed up for some other opportunities (no more planning & preparing for lessons). My CrossWorld team leader is planning to schedule time for me to meet with PTs who are working with some of the organizations with which she has been making connections so I am cautiously excited about that. I say cautiously because, as I mentioned before, things here are always subject to change – it’s hard to make plans very far in advance. So I’m praying for the right things to open up as well as for patience and trust in the Lord’s plans for me which might be different than I think they should be. If I don’t have a lot of PT opportunities I’m praying that the Lord will help me to know where it would be best to focus my time. I like to hang out with the women at Daughters, though the communication can be a little awkward because of the language barrier. I'm thankful that love does not always require words to be communicated, but it's hard to feel so limited sometimes. They are so sweet - when we're having fun with them it's hard to think about what they've endured in the past. So grateful that they have been given a chance at freedom. Please pray for the Daughters ministry. They are really working on making the businesses in which the women are working self-sustaining so that they can continue to reach more women. Right now they are doing beautiful work making cakes, sugar flowers to top cakes, jewelry, photography, artwork, and textile products. The problem is in finding a big enough market for them. This is something that my team is working on in addition to building relationships with them.

Now for the prayer points:

  • Praise God for sustaining our team as we adjust to the heat, schedule and Cambodian way of life. Continue to pray for our health - still just minor stuff at this point (another praise) and for energy, rest, and wisdom to know what we need when.
  • Pray for the Lord to open up the opportunities that He wants for me while I'm here. I really want to get a taste of what ministry might look for me if it is His desire for me to come back long term. I'd really love to get to see some physical therapy opportunities. At the same time, I want to be yielded to His plans if they are different from mine.
  • Pray for the Daughters ministry, that they would be able to develop their businesses so they can be self-sustainable and allow the ministry to grow and for the women involved to experience the Lord's provision. Pray for the salvation of those who have not come to know Him.
  • Pray for wisdom for the Christians working in Cambodia, both native and ex-pat. There is so much need here and the problems are not easy to tackle. Pray that the Lord would be magnified here and that an outpouring of His love would bring healing to this part of the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Left turn, Cambodian-style

Traffic in Cambodia operates much differently than in the U.S. The road markings are just general guidelines of where your vehicle should be. When you want to turn left you move into the lane of oncoming traffic and gradually weave your way in until you can make your way across.

Some Things You Can Carry on a Moto

It's amazing what people here transport on their motorcycles. This is just a small sampling of what we've seen: a washing machine, several large TVs, multiple bunches of bananas, a tall stack of boxes, your 3 children, a large amount of groceries, even more grocery items, a couple of mattresses & pillows

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cambodia Update #4

Soh-suh-dhi! (my attempt at a phonetic spelling of the Khmer word “hello”),

If this letter looks too long to read, feel free to skip to the bulleted prayer points at the end.

We’ve been in Cambodia for over one week now and, well, there’s a lot to say but I’ll try to keep this note from becoming tediously long and tell you the things that strike me as most significant. I’m glad to be here & I know the Lord has me here, but that doesn’t make it easy. Of course, I didn’t expect it to be, but I also didn’t really know exactly what to expect. I’ve been exposed to cross-cultural experiences before, but this has been unlike anything else I’ve experienced so far. Most of our team has been going through pretty significant culture stress, though it is getting better (which is a good thing since I’m now out of peanut M&Ms – my comfort food). The people are friendly, which helps a lot. It’s just the cumulative effect of all that we’ve been bombarded with that is so unlike what we’re used to – I can’t really explain what it’s like, so I’ll just ask for continued prayer & leave it at that.

Okay, now for some more positive stuff. One of the things I was most apprehensive about regarding the plans for our time in Cambodia was the two weeks of teaching at Logos International School. I love kids and really enjoy working with them, but I’m used to one-on-one or maybe a few at a time. I was a little intimidated about managing a whole classroom. Well, we’ve finished week one – it seems to be going well and I’m enjoying it more each day. I have 5th & 6th graders for most of the morning and then a 45-minute session of craft activities with 7th & 8th graders. My 5th grade girls are especially sweet. It’s great when you really have to depend on God because then you have to give Him all the credit – pray that I continue to depend on Him! I got to help with the Daughters ministry to women who have been victims of trafficking, but so far have had only limited opportunity for building relationships there. The first week we were here they were really busy getting ready for an art exhibition featuring art the women had done, as well as products they had made to sell. Still I was really encouraged with how the event turned out and was grateful to have been able to contribute to something which I hope will result in increased revenue for the ministry. At the event they posted statements from a few of the women at Daughters. This is what one of them said:

“The trafficker offered to get me a job making cakes, and I agreed. But it was a lie – she took me to a brothel and sold me to the brothel owner. I didn’t realize it was a brothel until they locked me in a room. I was kept there for 4 days whilst they threatened me that I would never be allowed out and was given know no food. All I wanted was to return home, so I eventually agreed.

Working in that brothel I felt it was hell and would never get out. I thought I would die there and never return home. It was beyond my belief that I had become a sex worker. I felt so helpless, so worthless, without value. I stayed locked in that brothel for one year.

My feelings and my life are so different now. The difference is like the difference between earth and heaven…. I love my job now. I love the educational workshops they give at Daughters; they give me ‘penh jut’ – a full heart, and hope.”

One other ministry we’re working with is a school which helps Vietnamese children in Cambodia who have no legal status and would otherwise not receive an education. We are teaching English Tuesday & Thursday nights and the students are great.

Well, this is on the verge of “tediously long” (or maybe it’s crossed over) so I’d better wrap up. Thanks so much for continuing to pray for us.

  • Praise God for safety & generally good health for our team – a few issues, but most of them are resolving. Pray for continued health & safety.
  • Praise God for helping us through the initial stress & continue to pray for our adjustment and ability to connect with the people here.
  • Praise God for helping us in ministry & pray for our continued dependence on Him.
  • Pray for the ministries with which we are involved so far (Logos – one more week, Daughters, Vietnamese school); also please pray for God to continue to open up the opportunities to be where He wants us to be.

Grace & peace,


Monday, June 8, 2009

Cambodia Update #3 - WE'RE HERE!

Hey Everyone!
We made it to Phnom Penh, Cambodia today after a 20-some hour flight (about 25 hrs including time waiting between flights). It's now Monday afternoon here - I think it's a 12-hour difference between here and Dallas I guess it's about 2 a.m. Monday there. The flight was uneventful (in a good way - no drama!) Got to sleep a little, now going to try to stay up the whole day so I can get on Cambodia time. We were picked up by our mentor, Lois, shown around our new dwelling, got to take a quick (and much needed) shower, and had a ride by Tuk Tuk to a near-by mall where we're now at a coffee shop with free wi-fi. I never have liked cold showers until today. It is pretty hot, but I'm grateful that the guest house where we're staying has a pretty nice breeze.

On our way to the guest house Lois was filling us in a little about the way life works in Cambodia. It's really hard to plan ahead because people here don't really like to plan ahead too much and the plans constantly change. The good thing about it is it sometimes gives more room for God to move. She said that a lot of things come out of seemingly "chance" encounters. I was excited to hear that just this morning she met a physical therapist at a medical clinic where some of the CrossWorld people have been helping and she mentioned that she had a pediatric PT (me) coming in today. The PT said, "Oh, Cambodia really needs pediatric PTs." So, we'll see where that goes, but I'm eager to see what the Lord is going to bring about.

Okay, I've got to wrap this up - we're going to pick up a few groceries. I'll keep you posted as things develop!

Grace & peace,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cambodia Update #2 (pre-field)

Okay, I'll try to keep this one brief, especially since a number of you probably just got an update from Beth. I've decided I'm going to post each of these updates on my blog as well. That way if people have just joined the list they can see the updates they missed without my having to remember who did or didn't get one. Hopefully I've gotten everyone on who wants to be on and, once again, if you don't want to get the updates feel free to let me know - I won't be offended at all!

Well, we're in the final countdown now - we leave this Saturday!! I'm still trying to pull together all that I need to take and wrap up all the details I need to take care of before I leave (such as turning in my lease which I was supposed to do two days ago & just did today - whoops). I'm so excited about going, but there's still lots to do & not a lot of time to do it. I think I pretty much have all the "stuff" I need for me, but I'm still working on what I'm going to be teaching & trying to figure out what supplies I'm going to need for that. I'm going to have to make at least one more Wal-mart run and maybe another trip to Michaels for my craft projects. I was told that I would be teaching computers, science and arts & crafts to 7th & 8th graders, but when I e-mailed for some clarification the plan had changed & I will now be teaching a devotional, science, & arts & crafts to 5th & 6th graders for the most part, with one crafts session for 8th graders. Flexibility is an essential in missions, and fortunately, by temperament & by upbringing, that happens to be one of my strengths. I actually feel a little more comfortable about this age group anyway, so I'm just going with the flow and adjusting the material I've been preparing. Beth is going to be doing art instruction on different techniques used by some of the great artists. She was a step ahead of me already having put this curriculum together for a previous class.

So, here's how you can pray for us:
  • Pray for our safe travel (we fly out of Dallas at 10:30 pm Saturday & arrive in Phnom Penh at 11:35 am on June 8th (they are 12 hours ahead of us).
  • Pray for us to get over jetlag quickly - we begin language & culture learning right away & our teaching assignment starts the week after we arrive.
  • Pray for good relationships to develop with our mentor and the other team members with whom we will be working. We've spoken a couple of times with our mentor by phone, otherwise all contact has been through e-mail and we've not met any of the other teammates. Team unity is so critical in ministry, so I really ask for your prayers for this especially.
  • Pray that we will abide in Christ and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading right from the start. Even in these few days before we leave please pray that we keep our focus on Him and not get overly anxious about the preparations.
Thanks again, so very much for being a part of this through prayer. I am so looking forward to being able to share what God will do through this partnership!

Grace & peace,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cambodia Update #1 (pre-field)

I can’t believe how close this is to happening! Beth and I leave on June 6, less than a month away now. We have purchased our flights and now I’m trying to work on some of the other details like getting all my shots and recommended prescriptions, figuring out what to take, planning for the class(es) I’m supposed to be teaching over there, and getting spiritually prepared. I’ve also had to work on wrapping things up at work – it’s been hard for me to say good-bye to all of the great families and kids I work with at THERAPY 2000 since I made the difficult decision to leave this job permanently rather than just taking time off for the trip as I originally had planned. I love the job, but realized that I’m just spread too thin the way I’ve been dealing with work & school. I need a job where the hours can be a little more consolidated.

Here’s what we know right now about our time in Cambodia:

  • We leave June 6 and will return July 28.
  • Our first week will involve a lot of orientation to the language & culture.
  • We are going to be working regularly with Daughters of Cambodia, the organization I mentioned in my original letter which assists girls & young women trapped in the sex trade industry. (
  • We will be teaching for half days for a 2-week period at Logos International School (June 15-26). (
  • We will be helping out at Children of Peace orphanage doing art & crafts, teaching English, or whatever is needed.
  • We will be introduced to a few other ministries and possibly have some opportunities to help out with them, including Samaritan’s Purse.
  • I am planning to meet with some people working with/ministering to people with disabilities while we are there, though there are not a lot of formal opportunities set up at present.

So, I’m sure we will have plenty to keep us occupied and that the time will go very quickly. At the same time, being in such a different place for this length of time will be a big adjustment for me. Though I’ve tried to mentally prepare for this for a long time, now comes the test of actually doing it!

That being said, thanks so much for praying for us! Specifically:

  • Praise the Lord for the wonderful financial provision we’ve received (and thanks to all of you who have been a part of that)
  • Praise the Lord for working out the details and allowing everything to come together so far – it’s been an amazing journey already.
  • Pray for our continued spiritual & practical preparations for being there.
  • Pray for my preparation for the Logos school teaching assignment – (that’s one thing that’s way out of my comfort zone and I’m still trying to get clarification on what exactly I’m supposed to be doing.)
  • Pray for safe travel.
  • Pray for good team relations as we meet our mentor and other short term team members who will be there while we are there.

We will have access to an internet café there and I’ve plugged everyone’s e-mail addresses into my online g-mail address book so I can send updates from the field every so often. I have a friend putting together a prayer calendar for us, so I’ll try to get that out to all of you before we leave.

Thanks again for joining in this ministry through prayer. I look forward to seeing God do some amazing things.

Grace & peace,