I hope that this letter finds you enjoying the spring time. Here in Bangkok we are in the middle of the hottest month of the year and seeing daily temperatures of near and over 100ºF. I look forward to May and the arrival of the rainy season, in hopes that rain will relieve the heat.
We are all still recovering from our recent trip to Cambodia. Because of my kidney stones, my doctor here advised that I not spend a lot of time in Cambodia because it lacks in modern medical facilities. I stayed about five days while the rest of the team was there for almost two weeks. My short visit was truly amazing. It was strange to be in a place that has experienced extreme change and hardship over a short period in history.
My first full day in Cambodia we toured Tuol Sleng, former Office S.21 of the “Kampuchea Democratic” 1975-1979. The former high school was converted into a museum to remember the horror Cambodians have endured. The Khmer Rouge used this place to detain, torture and kill the residents of Phnom Penh. Most people who survived Tuol Sleng were taken to what is commonly called “The Killing Fields” but is officially named Choeung EK Genocidal Center. At the killing fields, bodies of nearly 20,000 men, women and children are buried in 129 mass graves. These remains speaks as undeniable evidence of crimes against humanity carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime. While we walked and looked down at the ground, we saw pale white shapes in the packed dirt. We were informed that the recent rains had revealed other bits of bone and clothing; evidence pointing to graves yet to be uncovered.
Most of the photos I took while in Cambodia were on this day because I never want to forget. While I stared into the empty eye sockets of the skulls, I was easily filled with love and compassion, and outraged at the injustice the victims suffered. As the day went on and our tour continued, I felt challenged to remember the men and women who executed these orders with the same love, compassion and injustice that filled me when I remembered the nameless dead beneath my feet.
I was reminded the divine distance between Christ and me is much greater than the distance between Cambodian murder victim and Khmer Rouge killer. Christ is similar to that little child whose life was cut short at the hands of an angry and self-righteous soldier (who is metaphorically like me.) It is easy to love and fight for a voiceless victim, to remember their story and honor them. How much harder is it to love and fight for the people who killed these
children? As much as I am called to love and serve the poor of the world likewise I am called to love and serve those who exploit and cause imbalances in resources that cause so many poverties. It is easy to love the victim; it is Christ-like to love the victimizer.
I stayed at the Missionaries of Charities Home for Children for most of the rest of my time in Cambodia. There‟s nothing like touching and holding babies and children. One is easily mired in the suffering that you see all around you when you live and work in impoverished conditions. Getting to hold and be held by little babies was soothing for both of us. Their hunger for affection was evident in the way they turned toward the sound of someone walking in the door and raised their arms in a manner that must be the international baby language for „pick me up‟. Their desire was to be where you were, without any hidden agenda or lies; just the simple desire to feel their skin against yours and your heartbeat under their ear. I was glad to be there and leaving after only two days with was difficult and tearful.
Cambodia is a strange dichotomy of an extremely old country and young country. Many people who are faithfully allowing God to use them to do amazing things in His name. Pray for Cambodia and God‟s people who there as they do Kingdom Works in their everyday lives.
My stay in Bangkok is winding down and that is hard for me to believe. There are less than two months here and I‟ve already been here for over three months now!! As interns and servant team, we are starting to look ahead to what happens next. I have applied for a couple of different positions and been searching for opportunities. I am especially hoping one in particular works out and when I know more details I look forward to sharing it all with you! For now, could you keep all of us (Bekah, Seth, Simeon, Caroline, Angie and me) in your prayers as we are looking forward while continuing to be here fully? We would all be so grateful!!
I am thankful and overwhelmed by how generous you have been. To date, I have $4217 in my support account. I only need $2783 to completely cover my mission expenses (travel, accommodations and food.) I am confident that God will provide! I know I can ask you to prayerfully consider giving to this ministry I have been called. I feel a calling in my life to full-time ministry and I am excited to see where God will lead me next.
In His Love, by His Grace,