Forgive me if you are bored or slightly irritated with the continual flow of pictures and posts about our time here in Cambodia. If you are, you have my full understanding, and my absolute permission to disregard this entry.
But if you understand that this is not just a travel log or a personal journal of events, that my true goal is to bring you along for the opportunity of a lifetime, to invite you to join me in experiencing the real, the raw, the every day reality of those in a world completely unlike our own, please read on.
If you’ve begun to see my desire to document what I see, hear, taste and experience is to bring you in, to entice you to want to know more about this land, about the world in general, then stick with me.
Because all too soon this trip will be over. I will return to my comfortable life in my safe community. If I were not to write about what surrounds me, my human tendency would be to too quickly forget what I have come to see firsthand. If I didn’t put into written words how my senses and sensibilities are offended, these memories and very real and ongoing issues would too easily be pushed to the furthest corner of my mind.
I will go back to the devotional type writing that I normally do when I return home and these Cambodia posts will be logged in the archives of my blog. Life will resume as normal, daily activities once again occupying the vast majority of my time and energy. My thoughts will adjust back to the rhythm of first world pleasures and problems.
And that thought sickens and scares me. I don’t want to forget or move on.
I want the impact of what I saw today to last for the rest of my life. To mark all that I do, all that I think. I want to be changed. Forever.
Because I saw tiny faces that have seen and experienced things no human should endure.
And those sweet faces, now smiling, finding love, healing, restoration and hope.
I saw girls too young to read whose innocence has been stolen, their childhood ripped away.
And now these young girls are receiving an education, regaining the normalcy of a childhood defined by love.
I saw teenage girls whose hearts have been hardened by the abuse of predators and perpetrators.
And those same girls whose hearts are now melting as they learn a new trade and find a brand new sense of identity.
I saw things so beautiful that have been born out of things so broken.
Selfless people who have given their lives to rescue, rehabilitate and restore the lives of these precious girls.
People who have given up so much and who often receive so little in return.
People who will keep fighting for the cause, reaching to the lost and living among the brokenness to help heal.
How can I NOT be changed???
The hardest part of my day today was when I knew I couldn’t hug any of these little girls unless they first reached out to me. My arms ached to reach out and lift them up into an embrace.
The best part of my day was when they DID reach up, did grab onto my legs and squeezed, giving me the permission to hug them, to tell them they are beautiful. To look into their deep, brown eyes and smile and try to say with everything in me, “Jesus loves you. He has SO much in store for you. He will not leave you. He will not hurt you. You are safe.”
But they ARE hearing that message. Every day. In their own language and in the simplicity of the care and attention they receive.
A giggle never sounded so magical.
I cannot share the places we went to today. I cannot share the specifics of what we did. I cannot share pictures of the faces that are now embedded in my heart. For the safety of the girls. For the safety of the mission. But I looked hope in the face, where only despair used to dwell. Brothels turned to safe houses. Darkness turned to light.
The day was hot and humid. The roads were muddy and riddled with potholes. We came away dirty and sweaty and tired.
You can’t see the level of devotion that we saw today and not be impacted. You can’t look at the poverty that is being addressed, the brokenness that is being healed and the lives that are being restored and come away the same.
So thank you for your patience. Thank you for sharing the journey. You are helping me process and hopefully, at the same time, you have seen a little bit through my eyes.
And may none of us ever fully recover…
Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,