Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our 2nd Week in Cambodia

Our second week in Cambodia, to me, went by much more quickly than our first week! Maybe because we were more adjusted to the time zone & all of our new surroundings. Although it felt fast, it was also filled with incredible opportunities for learning & memorable experiences that have shaped our hearts. 

This past week we traveled back to Phnom Penh & then on to another province. We experienced for the first time in Cambodia some truly rough roads during our drives - some dirt & partially finished cement with large pot holes. It was an adventure & we were blessed with safety in all of our comings & goings.  While in an Eastern province we were able to visit Destiny Rescue - an organization rescuing children from human trafficking & other kinds of sexual abuse. We spent the afternoon with one of their staff members - a highly intelligent & passionate young woman dedicated to the healing & well being of the girls this organization rescues. They provide emergency & long term shelter, schooling, vocational training, counseling & introduce the girls to the ultimate Healer, Jesus Christ. As we toured their facilities, we discussed at length the prevalent issues in Cambodia contributing to trafficking. Although it may be a dismal topic to some, I find the conversation inspiring & compelling. I was inspired to see how this global issue is being addressed on the field & how this ministry is being specifically effective! At our last  site visit - one of Destiny Rescue's safe houses - we got to play a game with twelve beautiful & very young survivors! They were playing a game after they had finished their studies & we asked to join - they loved it! So did we. The especially sweet part for me was watching my husband so gently & kindly play with the girls. Male interaction could be very difficult for many of them, which makes positive interactions all the more formative & vital to the girls healing process. Those moments with the girls are a memory I believe we will all hold dear for many years to come! Also during our time in this province, we had a very meaningful team devotional time of prayer & reflection as Andrea led us with beauty & authenticity. 

When we returned to Phnom Penh we got to attend an International church service & visited another organization that seeks to rescue women from human trafficking as well as extend more options to women trying to leave prostitution. It was another inspiring afternoon as we had lunch with a staff member from Daughters of Cambodia (daughtersofcambodia.org) - this organization has 7 small businesses including a jewelry production, two cafes, a boutique & a guest house. All of these businesses provide new jobs & skill training for the women while they join a stabilizing program that Daughters offers. 

We are now on our way back to the States with wider eyes & full hearts! We debriefed for an afternoon over the weekend & are each continuing in our own ways to debrief our experiences! We appreciate your prayers & would ask that you continue to pray for us as we ask  God to reveal all that He wants us to draw out from our experiences in Cambodia! See you soon! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The 1st Week in Cambodia

We have now been in Cambodia for a full week and it has been packed with incredible experiences! Thank you for your prayers - everyone on our team is healthy and doing well.

As we have been introduced to the amazing work the missionary team is doing in Pursat, we have spent  a lot of time with Cambodian believers. We attended a church service and multiple Bible studies. It is moving to see our God at work in the hearts and the lives of the Cambodian people. At the beginning of our trip Scott led us to pray for God to expand our vision of Him and His world while we are here in Cambodia. He indeed has been faithful to do so! The missionary team is teaching us so much and beautifully modeling cross-cultural ministry and life. They have been a tremendous blessing to us!

We have had many opportunities to engage with Cambodian culture and history. Last week we visited two historical sites in memoriam of those who died during the Khmer Rouge Genocide. Although they were sobering experiences, we were grateful for what we saw. Also, visiting such sites has deepened our understanding of what it is like to do ministry among a people still in need of healing. We have also visited multiple Buddhist temples, called Wats.

Other incredible opportunities have included riding bikes through the villages alongside open plains of rice fields, meeting a local musician who crafts traditional Cambodian instruments, and meeting with a monk to discuss Buddhism and Christianity. Just this morning we had the opportunity to visit the local prison where we shared Bible stories and made friends. We have also had three Khmer language lessons, which all of us thoroughly enjoyed! We are trying to use more Khmer everyday :)

In the next few days we will be traveling again - please pray for our safety and the opportunities ahead. We are all praying that God would continue to speak to each of us and give us true hearts for Cambodia.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cambodia Bound

We are so excited that this day has finally come - my husband, Brenden, and I are leaving for Cambodia this afternoon! We will be there for two weeks working with two missionary couples - visiting villages, a prison, genocide memorials, and even two safe houses for rescued victims of Human Trafficking. God has provided in abundant ways for us to be able to go on this trip and we are so grateful for how we have seen His hand already at work! We would appreciate your prayers as we go with hearts that are searching for what is next in our life. Please pray that we would have open hearts and eyes to what God wants to reveal to us. We want to be fully present in the things we will get to experience in Cambodia and the people we hope to befriend, while listening intently for His voice among it all.

Thank you again to the many people who supported us and in doing so, are sending us. We are so grateful to each of you and can't wait to share with you when we return. We hope to send a couple of updates while on the field, so check back here to read how it's going for us!

Lindsey & Brenden

Monday, December 3, 2012

Privilege & Guilt: to renounce or embrace?

I am now a part of the unemployed - strange. I belonged to this label a year ago but felt depressed by it’s crushing reality. Today I feel liberated and excited about what is to come. I have come to recognize and confess that this is the luxury of being married and living a lifestyle that can survive on one income. It is a luxury to be able to walk away from a job & a luxury knowing that we will still be able to meet all of our needs while I am not working. Before I quit my job, I felt guilty about the prospect of such a luxury. This idea of “luxury” and the fact that I did not want to abuse it kept me at a job that I had grown to despise. In my stubbornness I stayed, as well as out of financial necessity. I felt guilty for not being as grateful for my seemingly purposeless job that many others in this state really, really need and desire. So I stayed. I had what felt like a huge student loan payment (exceeding the amount of most of our bills) to make every month and I did want to pay that, even if it meant sacrificing my desire to be working somewhere else, wherever that may be. So I stayed. I struggled through these mixed emotions of guilt, responsible living, necessity, longing and discontentment for what felt like a much longer period of time than it actually was. Despite all of my internal warring with myself, I knew that the day I got to walk away from the job I had no desire to move forward in, it would be a luxury.

If I were a part of a different socio-economic class or I was not a native born citizen of the United States, it is safe to say that I probably would not have such a luxury. Would I even ask myself the same questions? What do I really want to do? Why can’t I find a job I love? Are such questions a product of my privilege or a product of the heart I was created with - one that can’t be still, one that craves to know the why, one that isn’t satisfied with accepting the answers she’s always been fed and one that desperately (oh, so desperately!) wants to please the Lord in every crevice of her life. Although the latter sounds more noble and holds much truth, I believe that the answer is both. My privilege and my heart make up who I am, so it really only makes sense that both would cause me to ask such questions.  

This is not a new struggle for me. Life has often lost it’s luster amid the ocean of self-condemnation that has drowned my joy and gratitude. The waves swallowing up the blessings, battering me to believe that I was not only unworthy of such things, but that I was living in selfishness if I enjoyed them too much. I am not quite sure how I had come to employ this rationale, but I know when and why they began to take root in this sensitive heart of mine. My first interactions with extreme poverty opened my eyes to what I truly had and bore my guilt in return. Once I saw it, I started recognizing it everywhere, even here in the U.S. At the age of 21, of course convinced that I knew much more than I really did, I confessed this to a wise, trusted friend as I explained feeling guilty for taking an overseas trip that wasn’t specifically for mission. He immediately responded and in love said to me, “Don’t do that to yourself, Lindsey. You will become bitter and miss the joy God intends for you to find in life.” (Not to mention we had a discussion about what qualifies something as a “mission trip” - certainly not the agenda nor the destination, but the intent. Which hopefully is always the same no matter where we go!) What he said did not alleviate the guilt I still carried, but it did propel me to consider what the appropriate way to deal with the tense relationship between the blessings in my life and the guilt I felt for having them. 

So for the last five years I have pondered such things, praying that God would help me not to waste the blessings I have been given. I believe that if we want to be humble people who do not take our provisions for granted, then we are going to have to admit that we’re privileged in comparison to the rest of the world. I have driven myself nearly insane asking the why - Why God was I born in the U.S.? Why wasn’t I born into a tent city or a dump? Why me? Maybe the answers will someday be revealed, but until then I must renounce the guilt and allow my empathetic feelings to encourage me to use my privileges for the sake of blessing others. Is this not what the Bible asks of us? Israel was blessed to be a blessing and a light for the nations. Is this not the example Christ showed us? Jesus did not keep His glory for Himself but extended His power to heal - in the moments He encountered brokenness during His time on earth and as He died on the cross, offering healing to all humankind for eternity. 

That day of luxury, it arrived. I got to leave my job as a result of financial provision. I am now freed up to pursue what I really want to do. I am confident that I am not wasting this luxury as I accepted an unpaid internship with an organization that is fighting human trafficking! God lifted the burden of my impending guilt by providing this opportunity and my gratitude spills over daily as I am loving my new job. To be able to live the life I know He has asked me to live,  I cannot allow my feelings of guilt to keep from doing something - I wrote a former post about Empathy and how it can propel or cripple us. I know that the only way to continue to live and grow in faithfulness is to admit to being privileged, renounce the guilt I carry for being so, and embrace the blessings for the sake of something more - knowing that it matters not what I have been given but what I will do with the blessings.