Carly here to update you on what we’ve been doing for the last couple of days! On Monday morning we piled into a taxi (it was only five people and a driver when usually it’s 7 people and a driver) and headed down to Kampot province to visit another missionary family, the Hims. Mark and Susan know the Hims through Innerchange, and in Kampot they run a therapy center (TTLC) for children and adults with cerebral palsy, an injury to the brain that can present itself in different ways. We planned to take all of TTLC out for a trip to the beach! When we got to Kampot, we immediately left for the Gulf of Thailand.
One thing that’s different about going to the beach in America and going to the beach here is that Tessa and I had to wear our clothes in the water. However, that didn’t stop us from having an amazing time. As soon as we got in the water, it started to downpour, but our fun wasn’t ruined! The Hims had brought inter-tubes and we put those who couldn’t swim or walk on them and took them out into the water. I was watching a 17 year old girl, Srey Mom, who has little ability to move her body, but every time a wave lifted her up, she laughed so hard. She enjoyed herself so much that when I brought her in, she told me she wanted to go back out! And she stayed there until lunch was ready. After lunch we visited an aquarium as well as a butterfly farm.
The next day we did an activity with the kids where they planted seeds in cups with dirt and we taught them how plants grow. Lots of the people at TTLC have difficulty moving their hands, but this was a simple activity that they could all participate in. For those who weren’t able to put dirt in cups by themselves, we let play with some dirt. I put some in Srey Mom’s hand and she worked on picking it up from one of my hands and dropping it in the other, all the while repeating ‘dye’, the Khmer word for dirt.
Something that I didn’t realize until this trip is that in Buddhist culture, when someone is born with a disability, they believe it’s because they did something wrong in a past life. This leads to lots of handicapped people being hidden from the public. There’s even a girl at TTLC whose mom stopped feeding her so that she would die and hopefully have a better life next time around (she was at the brink of death, but is now healthy again and has her mom with her at TTLC to learn how to take care of a child with cerebral palsy). Of course this breaks my heart. All of these kids are super smart, they’re just trapped in a body that can’t always show that. But it was amazing to me to see the work that God is doing through these kids. Moms learning about Jesus and children of witch doctors hearing the gospel. Kids with limited mobility turning the pages of a Bible. I had never before felt called to work with the mentally handicapped, but now I am hoping to do this more!
After working with TTLC, me, Tessa, our teammate Rachel, and Susan went to a nearby retreat center to have some silent time with the Lord. The rest and prayer was much needed, and after spending the night, we left feeling spiritually refreshed.
Tomorrow we leave for Siem Reap, to visit the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.