It’s been two weeks since I returned to the states after a week in Thailand following our mission trip in Cambodia. I have spent a great deal of time in reflection, as I am sure the rest of our team members have as well. Many friends and family members have asked, “How was your trip?” I have found that there is no quick and easy answer to that question. So, in an attempt to provide some kind of answer, I plan to write about our time in Cambodia and even that will be a challenge to provide somewhat of an adequate reflection of what we experienced!
For this Freedom’s Promise blog entry, I want to look back on our last day of the medical clinic. On Monday morning, August 16th, we bid an emotional farewell in the Poipet hotel to four of our American team members as they headed back to the states to return to school and work. Those of us remaining were setting out to provide medical care and VBS in O’Kambot Village, a slum area of Poipet, and had already made a decision as to whether to wear tennis shoes or flip flops in the rainy weather in which we were about to embark! Before leaving the hotel that morning, while waiting for the rain to subside, we met in the lobby to praise God through music, prayer, and devotion. We talked about how Jesus directed his disciples to feed the 5,000 with the two fish and five loaves of bread, and how Jesus abundantly multiplied it to feed all of those who followed him (Matthew 14). We discussed how in the same way, Jesus directs us to give what we have knowing that, humanly speaking, it could never be enough and to trust that He will multiply our efforts. Even though that was apparent during our entire time in Cambodia, it became especially so when we met with the people in the slum villages that day.
We made the short trip in the vans to our drop off area. Shortly after arriving close to the village and beginning our walk to the designated clinic location, it became apparent that those of us who wore flip flops were not going to be able to proceed through the muddy terrain and would need to carry them while walking barefoot! As we proceeded through the rain and mud, we silently petitioned God for protection for our feet and bodies! As Brooke and I were nearing the location, holding hands for stability, two precious little “angel” girls ran up to us. Each took our flip flops in their one hand, and with their other hand, took our hands and helped us through the remaining terrain to the shanty where the clinic was to be held. I wish I could describe my feelings that accompanied their actions. It made whatever distress we were experiencing walking barefoot well worth it! Our medical and VBS teams crowded into the designated spaces and provided care and love to those precious people for several hours before departing. During that morning it was a special privilege of mine to spend an hour with a young woman who was isolated due to her mental illness. Tiffany, Mike, Perlito, Mom (my precious translator), and I met with her to talk, witness, read scripture, and pray. How inadequate I felt as I attempted to teach her coping skills to deal with her anger at having to be bound in chains that were used at times to keep her safe and from hurting herself. It was heart breaking for the five of us and yet we felt the strong presence of the Lord’s Spirit in that room. We left that sight with heavy hearts and yet trusting in the promise of our Faithful Lord that He will multiply our obedient efforts.
That afternoon we traveled to another slum village just outside the city. It was to be our last medical clinic and VBS. The people there were especially poor and their many children who were more rambunctious, to put it mildly, presented a special challenge to our VBS leaders. I was amazed when I looked out and saw them all in a group doing what the VBS leaders were telling them to do! How did they do that when those same children seemed to be deaf to the things the medical team was directing them to do?! At this clinic, like all the others, I was also amazed at the adeptness with which all the nurses, doctors, and their translators provided medical care to these desperate individuals. The love and compassion they shared with them made a visible difference in their faces and interactions! Again, as in other locations, it was my privilege to provide health education regarding basic principles like sanitation, clean drinking water, disease prevention, nutrition, etc. In addition, it was my pleasure to meet with many individuals to discuss their emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, losses, and to share the love of Christ.
The members of this Freedom’s Healing Group were all there to answer a call. They were amazing and bonded together quickly in a way that only God’s Spirit could orchestrate! It is very difficult to find adequate words to express the extremes of emotions that we experienced on this trip. We were exhausted and yet energized, saddened to tears and yet overfilled with joy, homesick and yet not wanting to leave! In short, for every low there was a high! We made many new and lasting friendships with the missionaries, translators, drivers, and others that we look forward to seeing again.
Thank you to Freedom’s Promise supporters for your willingness to help with this endeavor. I cannot express the gratitude that I and the other members of the group feel for this unmistakable privilege to serve in this way. Forever grateful, I will remain!