Monday, July 11, 2011


I apologize for the huge gap in our blogging. Originally it was my intention to spotlight certain people and tell their stories so that you could better understand these amazingly beautiful people we have come to love so very much. But after actually learning all of their stories, I can no longer slap them up on the Internet where anyone could read them. I know that most of you who read this are very close to us, but the reason for having a blog in the first place was not only to inform those we know well, but also to reach out to others who might happen upon this page and come to hear about Jesus in a way that may not have otherwise happened. Add to this the real-life drama of our friends’ stories, people that we have come to see as our brothers and sisters here, and the private nature of the Khmer people and I just can’t post such important words on a screen for anyone to read.

This may seem strange, but I think that ten weeks in a country changes you. I find myself taking less and less pictures of strangers we pass by because my snapshots are their life. It occurred to me that if tourists walked around our home towns with cameras and took pictures of our children, our modes of transportation, our everyday life…well I actually think there might be some legal action taken, ha ha ha. Yet this is what we do here. While part of this city is completely built for tourism, so much of it is the home of people who may never leave this city. So much of what we have come to know here is the real life of people who don’t have shoes, who strap pigs to their motos because it is their only form of transportation and way of income, people who smile and wave at the foreign white people because they are told we are rich and more attractive than they are, and people who really do live down dirt roads in grass huts. Suddenly my camera feels so invasive and my words more powerful than ever before as I put words in someone else’s mouth and blast someone else’s feelings out into the world.

I want you to know the stories that we know because they have changed us and I believe they will change you too if you let them. Here we have friends who were forced to be child soldiers for the Khmer Rouge, forced to do terrible things. We have friends who were beaten as children by alcoholic fathers and live a different life now due to bold determination and the oh-so amazing, all-powerful grace of our loving Father. There are children here who watched one parent kill another and yet are resilient enough to open up their hearts to us and to love. I can tell you every one of the 27 stories of the kids at the children’s home, where they have come from and what they have overcome through the transformative love of Christ. And we will be thrilled to be able to share with any of you once we are home and can give these stories to those who will cherish them and keep them safe. But we cannot do that from across the world and I actually think that it would deeply hurt our relationships here if they ever found out that we put their lives online.

So please be patient and know that God has done SO MUCH, and that we will have so much to tell you when we get home. For now accept our apology for being lousy bloggers and know that we have been working hard, experiencing so much and trying to take it all in before we leave. Its hard to blog in the midst of life…well hard for us anyway :-).

To anyone who is reading this, thank you for traveling with us in heart. And thank you for taking the time to open yourself up to a different world and for supporting us as we walk this out across the world. We really do love you all and say THANK YOU for everything. Please pray for us as we come to the end of our 10 weeks here…it is not going to be easy to leave.

<3 MattNCatie

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tonle Sap

Catie and I are sorry it has been several weeks since the last post. Sometimes it is hard to put thoughts into the written word. Since the last post, I was able to spend a couple of nights on the Tonle Sap Lake, which is the largest lake in Cambodia. This lake isn't any lake Burton, or even Allatoona lake. No, about the only way to describe the Tonle Sap is to picture one of the great lakes and imagine all of the water is brown. Now this lake changes size from 2,700 sq. Km in the dry season to 16,000 sq. Km in the wet season. Water depth goes from 9 feet to 27 feet deep. All this is to say that people do not desire to live on the lake like in the states but instead, many people live on floating shacks that have either empty gasoline barrels or wooden boats under their shacks in order to keep their lives floating. When the water levels rise, their shacks begin to float with the shifting of the waters making it very hard to have any sort of permanence in their lives. Sometimes they will be near a floating school for their children, but sometimes they will not be close enough. Everyone fishes. Some people fish at night, some in the day time. Everyone who lives on the lake eats, drinks, bathes, washes, and survives from this lake. Unfortunately, they lake has become very polluted with trash and body waste that many diseases are spread through this water.

PCL, the organization we are working with, has a houseboat on the lake and has setup a durable and productive water purification system that they give to the people who desire fresh drinking water. During my time on the boat, I sat down with several older men who needed this water in order to survive because of the damage the lake water does to their bodies. PCL is also able to teach the children near their boat English, Khmer (Cambodian written and spoken language), and Bible classes.

It was a surreal several days talking and sharing life with people who have never touched a white man's hair or skin. There are many many people who have never heard of Jesus, and he is opening doors for more people to come to know about his grace and forgiveness. Continue praying for strong Cambodian Leadership from PCL on the lake. Here are some photos.