Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I guess this is what a lot of kids, and maybe some adults, are experiencing during this time of year. I'm experiencing it in a very different way, but with no less excitement. I'm still very hopeful about leaving for Cambodia in February and anticipating seeing the Lord at work in making that happen. I'm anticipating some mixed emotions too as I continue to say goodbye to friends and family, but having seen photos of my new place in Cambodia I'm eager to get there and get settled in. I'm looking forward to jumping into language learning and building relationships in my new community to facilitate that process. I'm excited to be able to be with my colleagues in Children in Families, both expat and Cambodian, and to meet the children and families they are currently serving. Please pray with me that my eager expectation will be met with the Lord's provision for a February departure and that any potential obstacles to this will be removed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sharper Ears, Looser Tongue

These were a couple of the goals of my recent two-week language acquisition training at Mission Training International. While this training was of a completely different nature than the three-week SPLICE training which preceded it, it certainly was equally worthwhile. Most significantly for me, it gave me a lot of hope, as well as a load of helpful tools, for taking charge of the language learning process I have ahead of me. I'm convinced of the importance of language learning for effective long-term cross cultural ministry, yet the thought of learning a new language, particularly one as unfamiliar as the Khmer language, was a daunting prospect at my age. The PILAT program encourages us to recognize that we are capable of learning a new language just as we so naturally learned our first one, the key is for the learner to take ownership of "pulling the language in." Our instructors intentionally had us practice their techniques on a language that was not our target language. So guess what language I got to practice on..... Mandarin Chinese! This video is of our Mandarin language helper preparing us for learning how to buy noodles in Mandarin. Well, if I could get even a small jump on Mandarin in just a few sessions, I have great expectations for what God can do for His glory in helping me learn Khmer!! That being said, PLEASE PRAY for me in this because, while I know it is doable, I also know it is going to take a lot of hard work and being willing to make "a million mistakes."

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I just finished the SPLICE cultural adaptation training at Mission Training Institute. I was excited to be here both because it is just one more step closer to getting to the field and because I had been anticipating that God had big plans for me in this training. Well, God has, once again, done “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” This training has gone well beyond what I had anticipated in providing helpful tools, it has also broken through to deep heart level issues. One of our sessions was about the paradox that missionaries face. They used a visual illustration of a “pair-o-ducks” with one duck called the “Yay” duck and one duck called the “Yuck” duck. The “Yay” duck represents all of the exciting things the missionary is looking forward to in serving in another context, the “Yuck” duck represents the hard things such as leaving family and friends, letting go of the comfortable, entering into the stresses of language learning and navigating a very unfamiliar environment where things just don’t work the way we’re used to. We have to embrace the paradox. It doesn’t help to pretend that the “yucks” don’t exist but we can keep them in perspective as we appreciate the “yays.” I share this with you because I want all those who care about me to recognize that I am already living in this tension. I can at one moment be in tears thinking about leaving my nephew and nieces behind and the next be excited because of God's having provided me with a great apartment and roommate in Cambodia. If I'm talking with you and I'm all animated about getting to the field, don't for a minute think that I'm not sad about having to leave you. At the same time, if you catch me on a down day, don't think that I'm having second thoughts about leaving. I'm just living with both of these "ducks."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Please Pray for Pastor Youcef of Iran

I just posted yesterday that Iran is the the country where Evangelical Christianity currently has the highest rate of growth in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution, which is what makes the growth rate that much more amazing. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is currently facing execution for his faith. He was arrested two years ago because he wanted his son to receive Christian education rather than having to study the Koran. He has been offered the opportunity to recant his faith but refuses to deny Christ. Please ask that the Lord would grant him strength to continue to stand, that his life would be mercifully spared, that his family would be comforted, and that the name of Christ would be glorified in Iran and around the world through Pastor Youcef's bold witness. He is one of many whose lives shout out to the world, "JESUS IS WORTH IT!!"

Click here to hear the story

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We're # 4! We're # 4!

Okay, so that's never going to be a very popular cheer at sporting events. Still, I think being in fourth place is a great cause for celebration in this instance. During the seminar presented by Jason Mandryk, author of Operation World, at the Desiring God national conference this past weekend he listed some rankings on the rate of growth of Evangelical Christianity in different countries around the world and Cambodia was in fourth place! Here and in many other parts of the world the rate of increase in the numbers of Evangelical Christians is higher than the rate of growth of the population as a whole. And who do you think came in 1st & 2nd place? Iran and Afghanistan! What an amazing God we serve! What an exciting time to be partnering with God in building His kingdom!

"Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”  John 4:35-38

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CIF - Pioneering Foster Care in Cambodia

A couple months back I received from my field partner, Cathleen Jones, a copy of the Children in Families program evaluation report that was put together by representatives from Substitute Families for Abandoned Children (SFAC), a UK based organization which exists to help organizations in developing and emerging nations to establish Foster Care and Kinship Care programs. It was really encouraging for me to read this report from an independent source and I want to share some of the highlights.

One of the exciting things for me was to see an outsiders' view of how vital this ministry is. In terms of addressing needs in Cambodia, it really is cutting edge. Here is what the authors of the report had to say: "CIF is pioneering Social Work practice, believing that children have better outcomes in life when raised within families, rather than in institutional care. The development of their family strengthening, Kinship Care and Foster Care programmes is impressive bearing in mind it appears to be the first of its kind in the country and possibly within the South East Asia region. There is evidence of good practice being developed with locally recruited families where home visits are conducted to ensure an accurate assessment of needs is done prior to the placing of any children. Equally there is good practice in the preparation and support of these families in terms of training, financial, practical and emotional assistance. This demonstrates good levels of knowledge with regards to Social Work practice and a growing expertise by the national staff employed by CIF, in a concept not previously known in the country."

Additionally, the authors indicate that the program is well received by the Cambodian government. "Recently CIF were inspected (at CIF’s own cost) by Cambodian Government officials from The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans & Young People (MOSAVY). They concluded that CIF are leading the way in Cambodia in developing family care alternatives for children living away from their family. They were extremely impressed by what they witnessed asking CIF to help in developing Kinship and Foster Care models across the country."

I have shared with many of you that I really see this as a strategic ministry and I think that this report helps to illustrate that. The fact that this ministry meets critical needs and is held up as a standard for practice, even by the government of Cambodia, while operating with an unapologetically Christian approach makes it a great means of demonstrating who Jesus is to the Cambodian people by doing the kind of thing that He calls us to do. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of it. You can have a part in it too! If you haven't already, please consider joining my team of partners in being His hands to help bring hope and healing to Cambodia. Contact me and I'll be happy to tell you more about it. Also, if you would like to read the full report put out by SFAC let me know and I'll send you a copy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Good News & Bad News

"Okay, I've got some good news and some bad news....." I posted this yesterday and somehow it disappeared. I know the blog site was having some technical difficulties. I'll try to recreate the gist of it.

Well, starting with the good news, I had requested some Khmer (Cambodian) language materials at one time from Here's Life Australia, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. I received an e-mail from them the other day saying that they need to recruit help from someone who can read and write Khmer for online evangelism and discipleship via e-mail. They are receiving 10 e-mails a day from people in Cambodia who want to know more about Jesus! It is so exciting to me to see how God is at work there, opening their hearts and minds to want to know Him.

Now for the bad news. There are people there, just like here, who are distorting the message of the gospel. Maybe you've seen billboards proclaiming May 21 to be "judgment day." A misguided individual has convinced himself and wants to convince others that he can prove from the Bible that May 21 is the beginning of God's' judgment on the earth. He is spreading this misinformation through billboards around the United States. Well, apparently they have made their way to Phnom Penh, Cambodia as well.

Check this out:
I'm sad to see Christianity represented in this way in a place where so many are in need of the true knowledge of Christ. Please join me in praying that people will not be deceived and subsequently disillusioned with Christianity by association with this false teacher. Pray that young believers there will not be confused and taken in by this teaching and that the believers there will be equipped and motivated to spread the real Good News!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Beautiful

I was driving back to my current home in Minnesota from Iowa the other day and I had to pop in an old Twila Paris CD. I wanted to hear her song, "How Beautiful," because I was reflecting on the encouraging two weeks I had just had being with some of God's people in my home town of Inwood, Iowa and the surrounding area. It was one of those times when I think of Paul's words to the Romans of how he anticipated being "mutually encouraged by each other's faith" when he was able to be with them. I was getting to share what God has been doing in my life and what He has in store for me in Cambodia, while also getting to hear of the ways that He has been at work in other people's lives - it was beautiful! Then I was at a Wednesday night Lenten service and got to hear the song again. I'm looking forward to experiencing more of the beautiful body of Christ as I continue on this partner development journey!

If you haven't heard the song in a while and would like to you can hear it on by clicking here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Praying for Japan

I look at my last post in light of the tragic devastation in Japan and now it seems kind of trite. It did not feel trite at the time - I just wanted to share about receiving a loving hug and encouragement from my Heavenly Father in a time that I needed it. Not because I needed my netbook, that was just the means that He used to remind me that He was in control, that He's always in control and working everything for good. That was what I needed to know then and definitely what I need to keep in mind now. It is so hard to see so much suffering but I know that God is going to work through it. I know that because that is just what He does. I am praying that those who are suffering in Japan will find Him to truly be the God of all comfort. I am praying that through the darkness His light will shine. I am praying that believers will be mobilized to be His hands to help bring hope and healing to Japan! All who love Jesus, please seek Him now for how He would have you respond to this and please follow through with how He leads you.

Monday, February 28, 2011

See how easy that was?

Jeremiah 32:27 "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

God's been dealing with me lately about my struggles with fear and anxiety. Today He did it in such a sweet way. For several days I've been trying to find the power cord for my netbook, the battery of which was completely dead. I was getting so frustrated with the time that I was wasting looking for it when I kept coming up empty. Today I just said, "Lord, I'm just going to stop looking for it. There are so many other things that I need to do. Please just show me where it is." Seriously, it could not have been more than an hour later that I just came across it in a place that I definitely did not expect it to be. I was grateful to God for His answer to prayer, but even more for His tender encouragement that followed. I laughed at His sense of humor immediately after I found it and then I felt as if He were saying to me, "See how easy that was for Me? Everything else that concerns you is just as easy for Me." Wow! Yes, I definitely need to hang onto that!!