Thursday, May 26, 2011

Broken Vessels

As a team we are on a rotation to do devotions at the children's home every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night. However Sundays are slightly longer and some children from the village come as well. Last Sunday night it was my turn to speak. To tell you a little about the children's home, it is in a village with a chief, in the middle of a dirt road, but it is technically still in city proper. This is a home started by PCL for orphans who had no where else to go. Currently there are around 25 children here who are well clothed, fed, and loved. Soon I will introduce you to some of them.

As for Sunday night, I spoke on Jonah. (I chose Jonah because everyone who is in the Christian Ministries department at Lee has to take a class that is essentially on the book of Jonah.) I spoke about the fact that everyone deserves the destruction that God had planned for Nineveh. I also talked about the fact that as believers we are all called, like Jonah, to preach the Good News to people who are difficult. Sometimes we even run from God, just like Jonah. Some commentaries even say that after everyone finds out that Jonah is the cause of the storm his jump overboard is not an act of mercy. Instead it is Jonah telling God that he would rather die than go and preach to his enemies in Nineveh. But God's plan is the same as when He called Jonah at the beginning of the book. So God saves Jonah from himself and eventually Jonah submits to the will of God. Because of his disobedience, God could have chosen another prophet. He could have raised up someone else, God did not need Jonah. But he chose and used Jonah anyway.

Jonah was a broken human and yet God made Jonah part of His plan. We are broken vessels and God knows this and He uses us anyway. We are here in Cambodia and we have no special talents, we are not particular assets to God's eternal team. But He uses us. He has called us here, knowing we will mess up, but He can still use us. There is nothing good in us apart from Him. Nothing. But God can and will use us for His precious, perfect, eternal will. God wants to use you too. Right now, right where you are. He has a purpose for you. Even though you are broken and stubborn and scared and sure that you have nothing to offer. He is so great that He can even use broken vessels.

<3 MattNCatie

Rainy Season Begins

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our Schedule

Here is our team schedule for each week:
Week 2: May 15-21
Sunday *Message to CG Fellowship(1)*SS Lesson w/Craft (~2) *Youth message *Games with Youth message *Village SS Monday *Devotion @ Children's home *Tutor Julie's son in English *2-3:30 English with Julie at CH *English Class 4-5 *English Class 6-7 Tuesday *Message to Takam Village Church *Tutor Julie's son *English Class 4-5 *English Class 6-7 Wednesday*Devotion @ Children's home *Village English Lessons(2,3) *Tutor Julie's son *2-3:30 English with Julie at CH Thursday *Community Day *Tutor Julie's son *English Class 4-5 *English Class 6-7 Friday *Devotion @ Children's home *Village English Lessons (2,3) *Tutor Julie's son *Possible Class 12:30-2 Saturday

Other Activities: English camp in early July, working on the farm, health and hygene instruction
(- CG Fellowship: cell group / -Youth Group: non-speakers do games, 30-50 youth, at night / -Children's Home Message: Needs good illustrations / Community Day: we're in charge, 9-11 am, includes a feeding program, devo, song, craft, ~50 kids / -Takam Village Church: 7:30 am / -Village English Lessons & SS: 2:30-5:00 including travel, Sundays we rotate to teach lesson /Tutoring Julie's son will be 1 hr / -English with Julie: several will assist her / -English Classes: We will be provided with curriculum and we are to provide quality English training but also build relational bridges to share the Gospel )

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

B is for Bicycle

So we were warned ahead of time that we would be riding bikes here in Cambodia. One of the team members from last year even told us that she "was afraid to ride on those streets at first, but you get used to it." For some reason this did not resonate with me like it should have. One of our first full days here in Siem Reap we spent a solid 2 hours trying to buy bikes for our whole team. Maybe I should explain that our shortest team member is 5'7" and she is as tall as most Cambodian men. After about 45 minutes of trying different bikes and our feet repeatedly hitting the wheels when we turned I finally said to our translator, "Niroth, the problem is that there isn't enough room from the seat to the handlebars," to which he replied, "Ha ha ha! That's Cambodia!" Later he offered me a chair to sit in warning me to be careful because "it's a Cambodian chair..."Finally, after much bargaining and bike testing, the five females of the group found bikes big enough to ride comfortably. Unfortunately Matt and Isaac were anomalies to the world of Cambodian bicycles and so had to temporarily do without. As if this whole process wasn't strange enough, we had to RIDE home. Let me explain.

There are almost no rules here when it comes to driving. Cars, motos (small motorcycle/scooter), and bicycles come from all directions at all times. Flashing one's lights and honking one's horn both mean "get out of the way, I'm coming!" People ride in whatever lane, going whatever direction they please and rarely look before pulling out. Just image five white American females riding down a four lane highway like a bike brigade from the Buttercream Gang or Now and Then...only in Cambodia where we already stick out like sore thumbs on our most inconspicuous day. If I remember correctly there was a great deal of screaming, swerving, and praying that the Lord would spare our lives. The guys rode in a van just behind us, slowing down traffic and taking pictures, only mocking us slightly.

We have continued to ride bikes since then, much to my dismay. Soon they will actually be our primary mode of transportation and we will be riding miles and miles a day. Please pray for us. I'm half kidding, but only half. God is good, all the time, even when we are forced outside of our comfort zone. It's so funny what a person does when there is no other option. I'm just imagining some of you reading this and thinking how dangerous and crazy this sounds (and you would be right, but I also share this to share the humor of it all). However here there are no other options and so this is what we do. I'm sure by the end of it all we will see what and adventure it has been. I am so thankful that the Lord has adventures for our lives. So often we think that we want to know what is next, but think about what it would be like if we did. How boring and predictable life would be. As I try to learn the skills required to live in this new country I will have to continue to remind myself of that. It is so good to be stretched because then we are forced to depend on the Lord, because then we grow and can become more like Him.

We love you all and thank you for being a part of our lives as we walk out this journey.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Recent History of Cambodia

WARNING: Some of the following images are graphic in nature.

Many people are unaware of the genocide that took place in Cambodia from 1974-1979 under the Khmer Rouge. During these four years between 1.5-3 million people were executed in a country of only 7 million. The exact number of victims may never be known. The circumstances surrounding the Khmer Rouge's rise to power are complicated and I do not understand all of the details. What I do know is that prior to the Khmer Rouge there was political instability in
Cambodia and the communist ruler Pol Pot was able to rise to power.

Pol Pot studied in Paris where he learned of communism and China's Great Leap Forward, an attempt to achieve an agrarian utopia. Once he rose to power he attempted the same in Cambodia. Everyone was hurriedly marched out of the cities into the countryside and many people died in this march. Those who survived were forced to work up to 18 hours a day doing farm-related work, being fed very little.

Other people, anyone related to the West (doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.) or former government officials, were put into work/torture camps. We visited the Toul Sleng (S21) prison camp in Phnom Penh. This was a former highschool that was quickly restructured to hold and torture prisoners. From here (and other places) many were sent to what is called the Killing Fields where people were murdered and put into mass graves. We also visited this site to better understand the history of the people we would be ministering to.

Visiting these sites was sobering, to say the least. It was especially difficult when we realized that children were murdered without thought. People want to point to atrocities like this as proof against the existence of God. I say that every single human being has the potential to commit similar horrors without the trans-formative power of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is only by His power that we can become anything more, anything good. Mark 10:18 says that "No one is good except God alone." We cannot be so foolish as to think that we can please God without Christ. This is why we are here in Cambodia, to point to the only One who can lift us out of this difficult world we live in. He is our hope, in Christ alone.

One of the torture rooms.

A map of the plan to move everyone out of the cities into the country.

A picture of people working in the fields

Pol Pot

This is one of the cells that the prisoners were held in.

This explains the significance of Case 002, one of the cases against the leaders of the Khmer Rouge. This was supposed to take place at the end of 2010/beginning 2011 yet the crimes were committed in the 1970's.. The trials of those who are responsible for this genocide have been incredibly delayed.

The man on the left behind the table is one of the 7 who survived the Toul Sleng prison.

Ticket to the Killing Fields Museum

This is a temple to those who were killed here. The bones of those who have been unearthed are kept inside.

These massive impressions are mass graves.

Basically everywhere is a graveyard.

They call this tree the "Magic Tree," and from it speakers were hung to cover the noise of the victims.

As you can imagine this has impacted this country dramatically. 60% of the people are under 18 years old and the political/educational systems are far from acceptable. I know this was quite a "heavy" post, but it is the past of the people we will be working with. Please pray for/with us and for the people of Cambodia in our ten weeks here. We are so grateful for your prayers.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank You

Thank You

This is a thank you to all of you who have supported us in this new journey:

To those of you who gave

Your time, your money, your love and your prayers, thank you.

To those of you who gave out of your abundance and were obedient with what you have, thank you.

To those of you who gave without being asked, thank you.

To those of you who gave and will give and give again, thank you.

To those of you who gave not out of abundance, but out of your need,

Yours was a sacrifice of worship, thank you.

To those of you who have spent so much time on your knees,

Interceding on our behalf, covering our way, thank you.

To those of you who have loved us with your whole hearts and in so doing have taught us more about the Father, thank you.

To those of you who have gone before, paving the way, sowing seeds, which we will water, thank you.

To those of you who have discipled, mentored and led us,

To those of you who teach that the heart of God is for all people in all places to know His Son,

You have taught us more than we can say and you have led us to this place of going, thank you.

To those of you who have walked with us this far, bearing and sharing burdens,

You have been the body of Christ to us and have influenced us greatly, thank you.

To those of you whose names I do not know but who will nonetheless pray and give,

You bless the Lord with your quiet obedience, thank you.

To those of you who sweat and toil for the harvest right where you are,

You are great teachers, leaders and senders,

You are irreplaceable and invaluable and have taught us the beauty in living a humble and quiet life that draws other to our Lord, thank you.

To those of you whose shoulders we stand upon,

The great multitude of saints, the great cloud of witnesses,

We tread after you, thank you.

To anyone whose heartbeat is for Jesus but whose plans are still unclear,

Your strong and patient waiting is an example of faithfulness, thank you.

To those of you who celebrate the Risen Lord with your life, thank you.

To those of you who live in difficult circumstances by choice,

Because you understand that eternity is worth it, thank you.

To those of you who point to Him in all these things,

To all of you, thank you. Thank you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our Team

A few weeks ago we spent some quality team-time together on our internship retreat. At 11:00 p.m. we all thought it would be a good idea to all share our testimonies and as 4:00 a.m. came around we were finally wrapping up. After that weekend I think I told Matt that I wanted to put all of our team in my pocket and keep them forever! What truly precious saints we will be privileged to work with for what I'm sure will be a life-changing 10 weeks. I think that we have all learned so much about each other and in better understanding where we each come from we can better love one another when we are in difficult situations. We also thought it would be a good idea if we did a little bio of everyone on our team so that you all know who you're praying for. Now let me introduce you to our AWESOME team:

What's to love: Lauren is full of energy, super kind and loads of fun. Her positivity is contagious and her heart for the Lord simply shines. Growing up as a pastor's kid she is able to bring a perspective that I don't always see but can most certainly learn from.

What's to love: Caitlin is our team leader and has been great at dealing with our crazy schedules and patiently letting us get all of the work finished that we need to take to Cambodia. Her laid-back leadership style has been such a blessing and encouragement. She has done a SUPER job so far and we all look forward to what's to come.

What's to love: Lindsey is one of the sweetest people I know and we continue to find out that we have more and more in common. Our unruly hair and insatiable appetites bonded us from the start and the similarities just keep coming. Her gentle spirit is so beautiful and her laugh is contagious and I think 10 weeks in Cambodia will only reveal more wonderful things!

What's to love: Emily has a PHENOMENAL voice that will bless our ears for the next 1o weeks! She is one who has so much to offer but is very humble so it took me a while to find out about her voice and sense of humor. I think she is an invaluable asset to our team and has the ability to work hard but also break the tension. She's also from the Atlanta area which makes us like her even more :-)

What's to love: I was so excited to meet the only other male on our team who would be the one escape for Matt when things got too crazy. Isaac is a man of God who can't help but share about his relationship with the Lord. Hearing him share about what God teaches him makes me excited for how the Lord will use him in Cambodia. He and Matt relate on many levels and I am so thankful to have such a great guy on our team.

This semester our team has spent time each week in prayer together. We all have very similar hearts for what we want to see in Cambodia and know that we can do nothing in our own strength. I have been praying especially that the Lord would keep us humble and broken before Him so that only He would be seen and only He would receive glory. I have also been praying John 17:20-23 which says,
"20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
I think it is amazing that God will show the world who Jesus is by how we believers love one another. I ask that you all would pray these things with us.

There is a missionary that I know of who always says that "eternity is at stake." Let that be all of our mindsets as we live day to day.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for all of your prayers.