First off, I want to thank everyone who faithfully prayed for us during our time in Cambodia! We saw God work in powerful ways and we couldn’t have done it without you!
Second I want to invite EVERYONE who reads this (and those who don’t!) to hear about our trip face to face!
Carly and I (Tessa) will be sharing at Blacksburg Christian Fellowship at a potluck after second service (or roughly 1pm), (Directions in hyperlink) on November 1st, next Sunday!
I can’t believe it’s already been almost four months since we returned! We are excited to share with you all what God taught us and what we learned in Cambodia!
See you soon!
Will we ever get home?
We left Phnom Penh at noon on Monday (1am EST) and headed for Taipei. We reached Taiwan and found a comfortable place surrounded by flowers to camp out for the next six hours. We’ve been hoping that since we had to rebook all of our flights that maybe somewhere we’ll get put in first class. We walked onto our long flight and headed for row 60, and once we reached it we got a little overly excited because we got the exit row and had all the leg room we could ever want. Not quite first class, but still a major blessing from God.
We reached Seattle ten hours later and went through passport control and found our bags. Carly’s bag and a little bag I have came through pretty early, and then there was a few minutes when no bags came up the belt. That’s when I started praying out loud that my bag would come since I have a lot of packages that I’m shipping for people. And then it came! Praise Jesus!
We found our gate and waited till midnight (Seattle) finishing up our 38 hours of Monday and waited to board our flight. It took longer than expected, but we finally got into the air. With only an hour left until we would reach O’Hare, a woman had a heart attack and we had to make an emergency landing in Minneapolis. She’s okay, but went to the emergency room to be safe. We got back in the air right around the time our connecting flight to Roanoke was supposed to leave. We weren’t concerned, but rather grateful that the woman was okay. This extra stop made for 11 take offs during the past month.
Now we are sitting in Chicago, our rescheduled flight was supposed to leave at 2pm, but now we just found out that our crew might not arrive until 3:30, so as of now it looks like we’ll get into Roanoke at around 7pm, only 9 hours later than originally scheduled.
Right now we’re wondering why we are facing all these delays. We know it’s in God’s hand and He doesn’t let anything happen to us that is outside of His will, but I’m seriously beginning to wonder what forces are at work in this. Satan must really want to make us angry, but I have some news for him, we aren’t going to let him win. Despite having a week and nine hour set back in returning home, we are both in good spirits, but really looking forward to seeing our dogs in a few hours (and families).
Please pray for us as we are considering using Rachel’s approach; sitting on the ground and crying.
Carly here. We are currently in the Taipei airport and are finally (and begrudgingly) coming home. We had an amazing time in Cambodia. The people there are so welcoming and it’s obvious that God is doing great things in Phnom Penh and the surrounding provinces.
Before leaving for Cambodia, I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I really knew about the country was that there had been a genocide there in the 70’s (thanks 10th grade world history). Because of this, I was afraid that there would be some sort of dark cloud hanging over the nation and its people, but that was not the case! The Khmer people have risen above their past and are working to make their country great again. We met many ambitious people and attended churches where young Cambodians worshipped God with a blatant passion that I don’t witness normally in America. We are very thankful for this experience.
We are also very thankful for you. Yes you! Those who supported us financially and with prayer and kept up with our inconsistent blog posts. It means so much to us to have people cheering us on from home. And as we close this trip, here are some prayer requests specifically for Cambodia that you can continue to lift up:
-for all missionaries there (especially Mark and Susan Smith, Sopheak and F Seoung, and Heap and Jennifer Him)
-for all ministries aiming to make Cambodia a better place to live in
-that God would raise up great Khmer christian pastors and leaders as examples for other Cambodians
-for corrupt and unjust government officials to change their ways
-for good male and female role models in communities
Again, we couldn’t have had this amazing experience without you and are forever grateful.
Carly and Tessa out.
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
This morning I got up and went downstairs to read my Bible and devotions. We’ve been going through first and second Peter, but have had additional verses to read each day as well. Today the selection was from Psalms. As I was browsing the verses after I had completed the devotional for the day, I decided to read farther into Psalms. I came across this verse that I have underlined, circled, and notes written next to. It drove me to focus on the presence of God. Quite honestly, this morning was one of the best times I’ve had in the Word of God this whole trip. It was what I like to consider a small glimpse of heaven.
This trip has been scattered with these tastes of what is coming, but two stand out to me the most.
While we were in Kampot, we spent time with TTLC, and I spent time with two girls in particular. One girl is blind, not because of her eyes, but because of her brain. She’s learning to see light and can make out shapes and faces. She traced my “Z” tan (from my Chacos), and Jennifer told me that was a huge improvement for her. Another girl I spent time with is very smart, but has trouble talking. Jennifer had said she was working with her son to learn some Sign Language to help him read and she wanted to teach others SL as well. So I sat down and started to teach her a few signs. Khmer Sign is different that ASL, but there are some similarities. My Khmer vocabulary is limited, so I could only teach her a few basic words. I loved watching her bring her hands to her face and I started to think about getting back into sign language. We’ll see what God does with that.
Another instance was on Sunday; our last day in Siem Reap. We were meeting a bus to take us out to the silk farm, and while we were waiting we looked around the workshops and stores. Susan found an Artisans Angkor for silk painting workshop. She told me I needed to come see it and I walked over expecting to see something unique to Cambodian culture. Susan asked me, “What do you see?” I wasn’t sure at first, they were all just standing around or painting. But then they began to talk. Every one of the artists was deaf and I started staring, trying to figure out what they were saying. I walked over to one of them and started to say hello. She asked me if I was deaf (the first question in every deaf culture), I responded saying no, that I was hearing, but I know a little ASL. I ended up not going to the silk farm and stayed with the artists for a few hours just chatting. Khmer Sign Language is different than ASL, but some things were similar and we worked together to understand each other. We talked about Buddha and Jesus and families and took pictures together. Not everyone was working on Sunday, but they came in just to meet me!
These two instances have been my favorite part of this trip. I loved it so much in fact that I want to return next summer and work with TTLC doing KSL.
Our trip was extended an extra week due to the passport situation, giving us more time to spend with the Smiths, visit ministries, and learn more. Please continue to pray that we have open hearts to what God wants to teach us during the next few days.
God works in mysterious, and sometimes painful, ways.
Yesterday, as Tessa and I slept, someone came to our window and used a hook to drag all my belongings – I was packed for our flight the next day – to the balcony, and basically sorted through everything and took what they wanted. This included a laptop, a camera, and a wallet containing $300 cash, $300 in gift cards, a driver’s license, and my passport. The thief then proceeded to tie some of my clothes together to use as a rope to get back to the ground.
After the initial response of calling airlines, getting a police report, and going to the U.S. Embassy – how should I react. Obviously my first instinct is to mourn all that I lost: my pictures were on the laptop and my favorite earrings were taken. But I am smiling through it. Here’s the thing: last year while I was on a missions trip in South Africa, I lost my phone. I’ve been upset about that since the moment it happened. Then last week, way before this whole fiasco, my phone was stolen out of my backpack at the night market. After that, I was really beating myself up and I began questioning God. Was this His way of telling me that missions weren’t in my future? But after all that’s happened, I’ve realized that these incidents are not from God. They’re from someone trying to stop me. But as long as I’m alive, I will not be stopped.
Ironically, my devotional this morning was about rejoicing in suffering. 1 Peter 4:13 tells us “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed“. Through this trial, I can only hope and pray that God is glorified somehow and that the devil realizes that he has no foothold here. God is shaping me to be more like Him. Jesus and His prophets didn’t have cell phones or laptops, and if a missionary is what God is calling me to be, I may have to go without those things too. He is teaching me not to put so much value on my possessions, because nothing is forever except Him.
Today, we were able to get airline tickets and will be leaving for home on July 6th. Throughout this extra week we have, please continue to pray as I learn this hard lesson and as Tessa works to comfort me. Pray also that these unplanned days would be fruitful and that we would be able to visit more ministries than we expected. I will not let this ruin my trip and my experience in Cambodia. And hey, if the devil wants to stop me this bad, I must have some amazing work ahead of me.
Today is the day, we leave for home, but I ask you not to pray for safe travels or smooth flights (we know we are in the hand of God); but rather, I ask, no beg, you to pray for justice in this land. We’ve seen injustice after injustice unfold before our eyes the past few weeks. Wives are abused, children are neglected and starving, and evil has no real wall it has to fight against. Here the police do not do much to fight injustice. It runs rampaged in our streets.
We are under attack. The devil is shooting at us. Last night someone broke into our room and stole valuables; Carly’s laptop, camera, wallet with cash, and her passport. She also lost her phone and ATM card. We have copies of all the documents needed to return to America later today, so please do not jump to conclusion that we are stuck here.
Please pray for these things:
- That God would be glorified
- That we would be examples to our neighborhood as we deal with this situation
- That we would respond not with anger, but forgiveness and love
- That justice would be brought to this place
- That we would have strength and clarity of mind
- That there would be no foothold for the devil here
- That I (Tessa) would love Carly well and know what to say and at what time
- That we would not be discouraged and led to doubt
Thank you for your faithful prayer, and continued support of us.
Right now we are on a girls trip! Ten of us have traveled to Siem Reap for four days to explore the temples here. Three mothers and their daughters and us three interns. Susan encouraged us today to ask questions to the three experienced missionary women while we have the chance. We’ve loved learning from these incredible ladies! F, Jennifer, and Susan are amazing examples.
How you can be praying for us:
We had a tour guide Thursday and Friday, and Jennifer and F got to have conversations with him about Jesus Christ. We are looking at all these temples, and all of them have religious significance. Ultimately the whole process of walking into a temple, preforming cleansing, bowing to Buddha, spirit worship and sacrifices is man trying to reach “god”. Cambodian religion is a mix of Buddhism, Animism, and Hinduism, but the foundation of cleansing of sins and talking to “god” remains. Please be praying for our tour guide; pray that God would plant in his life many more believers that will sit down and have conversations with him about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray that we make the most out of final few days. That we would be an encouragement and good students of the missionaries God has put over us.
For safe and smooth travels for all ten of us back to Phnom Penh. (Carly, Susan and I are flying back, but everyone else is taking a bus, and the roads are horrible. So pray that the pot holes would be few.)
For our hearts as we prepare to come home.
Thank you for everything, your encouraging comments and messages have brought smiles to our faces each day!