aerobics groupThe park is definitely the place to be in the evenings! People of all ages gather to play soccer, volleyball, badmitton, and to exercise and dance. Kesara and I attend the group aerobic exercise at least four times a week. It’s been a great way to interact with the community and get to know many of the ladies [women tend to dominate the aerobics group, although there are a few courageous men].

There’s an old man who wears a white hat, who sets up the television (we follow an exercise video) and sound system for our workout. While we’re exercising, he walks around teaching those less coordinated how to do the movements properly. He also walks around with a whistle, sounding it to inform us each time the movement changes. You hope he’s not near you when he makes the notification.

fit4jesus

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Twice each week, Kesara and I visit Pu Amseun and his family. While we’re there, we teach English and Bible stories to children from the community. They lovelovelove to sing, so I teach them English songs and they teach me Khmi songs. They’re beautiful, and have lots of energy!

Pu 1

K & Kids

gone saod

No, there was no eating strange fishy products. No wearing a funny hat. No motodop parade. However, my dear Cambodian friends did seize the occasion to make me feel very much loved on my day of birth. There were two celebrations—one in the afternoon at Bong Somaly’s with the house church, and another in the evening at Kesara’s house with twenty of my friends. We ate a delicious traditional Cambodian meal, I baked chocolate chip cookies to share, there was music and singing, Cambodian dancing, sparklers, cake, and even presents! I was able to share my testimony and thank God for his grace, goodness, and provision upon my life, and to thank the guests for coming and making it such a special day for me–a day I truly felt God’s blessing and favor on my life.

My 25th birthday celebration is going down in the books. [Note: If you haven’t experienced a Cambodian birthday celebration, I recommend you put it on your list of things to do].

afternoon celebration

afternoon celebration

evening celebration

evening celebration

excited about my cake - with dragon fruit on the top

excited about my cake - with dragon fruit on the top

my beautiful friend

my beautiful friend

i received a birthday package from two of my very thoughtful friends, full of treats from America! i. loved. it.

i received a birthday package from two of my very thoughtful friends, full of treats from America! i. loved. it.

My returning flights have been changed! Charlotte, the woman who was supposed to come live and work with Kesara beginning in August, has been delayed and cannot come until Aug 31st. There is currently no team here in Sisophon, and OMF does not prefer Kesara to be here all by herself, as she is a single woman. So if I go, she will go to Phnom Penh (or on vacation) until Charlotte can come. If I stay, Kesara will continue on with her ministry here. Both Kesara and I cannot help but think this is God’s perfect timing. God has given me great joy to serve Him here. He has opened up many, many doors for ministry, for building relationships, and for opportunities to love, serve, and proclaim the Good News. The idea of me being able to continue on with what God has provided seems like too favorable an opportunity to pass up. As I have sought Him in prayer regarding His will, He has been faithful to confirm to me the decision to remain here multiple times. Therefore, in response to Him, I will continue on here in Cambodia for an additional three weeks! Oooh, God is good. There is a purpose for Him wanting to keep me here. Only time will tell… So I will be flying back your way on August 31st!

taking the gospel

taking the gospel
. . . are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15) 🙂

She’s tiny, maybe three years old. She wears a dress. It’s black and rose pink. It hangs loosely on her little figure. Down the back is red thread attempting to function as a zipper that once-upon-a-time fastened it together. But the thread, too, is wearing thin. Each stitch is less fixed than the one before and gives up before it reaches to the top. One side of the dress slips off her tiny frame, leaving her back and right shoulder bare.

She twirls. Soft, loose, brown curls surround her ears, bouncing with every barefoot step she takes. She bounds from chair to chair, climbing on and quickly off again. She curiously, yet fearlessly, comes near me. She touches my arm and looks up at me. I smile. Her big brown eyes are fixed on me. We sit together. She turns the pages in my Bible, studying the pieces that mark the Book. She’s eating a crumbly rice treat. Morsels sprinkle her little cheeks. She goes for seconds, and thirds. She discovers a pair of sandals lying at the doorway. She puts them on and flip-flops about. I don’t hear her voice. She doesn’t say a word. She just twirls, while the tired dress tries to keep up.

As Kesara, Oykhan, and I were waiting for the motos to pick us up from the village and take us back to Sisophon, I decided to follow the laughter that tickled my ears. Soon I saw parked bikes with clothes hanging off the handlebars. . . I was finally led to a small bridge with a large pond with many little brown bodies flailing about. I counted 6 small boys climbing a tall tree, each at differing levels, excitingly awaiting his turn to jump at the tree’s highest point into the muddy water waiting below. The boys jumped in the water, waded out, and did it all over again, and again—the fun never seeming to grow old. The scene brought a big smile to my face. I was thiiiiiiis close from jumping off the bridge after another little boy, to join them in the simple joy of splashing in dirty water.village (tree)

Bible teaching at Somaly's

Bible teaching at Somaly's

Somaly became a Christian at the refugee camps in Thailand as she and her family were finding safety during the Pol Pot regime. Kesara and I meet with Somaly and her son, Rathana (age 20), every week to study the Bible together and pray. Somaly has opened her home for a group of believers to worship together on Sundays.

The first week I met her, she invited me to use her home as a place for teaching English to youth in the neighborhood. Twenty-two kids [ages 12-22] come to the English class. And now we teach English there two times each week. What began as a simple language learning class turned in to be an amazing platform to share the gospel to the youth as well. Last Thursday, Kesara and I had the privilege of seeing 3 of these students become believers in Jesus Christ! What a joy it is to see God’s salvation at work and new life be given to those of faith! [Funny tid-bit: the ceiling of the classroom is not quite tall enough for me, so I’m always bending over or kneeling in the dirt. Haha. Tall foreigners.]

English classroom

English classroom

Please pray that I would be intentional in building relationships with these young ones [despite the language barrier]; that my life would reflect the Lord’s love to them; and for repentant hearts. Also pray for these 3 new believers [one boy and two girls–Mun, Srymum, and Reckana]. Kesara and I will be meeting with them once a week to begin discipling them through God’s Word. Pray for this time together with them–that it would be fruitful. Pray for a hunger and thirst for Truth; for courage and wisdom in application of God’s Word in their lives; that they would grow in their knowledge and love for Jesus; that they would have boldness to share their newfound salvation and love with friends and family.

Bong Somaly has taught me traditional Cambodian dance! Oh goodness. Great FUN! I caught a bit of it on video (but, of course, I can’t get it to upload). However, if you’re lucky, you will get a live performance upon my return. Maybe.

twist the wrist

twist the wrist

Oyk, Kes, & me Oykhan [age 22] has been a believer for almost two months now. Kesara has recently began meeting with her each week to disciple her in God’s word. I met her the first week I was in Sisophon. This young woman’s precious life has been heavy on my heart since that day. I wish you all could meet this girl. She is oh so very sweet. I really enjoy spending time with her, and God is providing more opportunities for relationship growth!

I pray that she would better know the Lord, his grace and love, and His purposes for her. I’m praying that God would continue to allow our friendship to grow deep during the next two months, and that He would use me to teach her and model for her what it looks like to love Jesus and others well. Would you pray for her with me? For a strong, Christ-centered friendship to be built between us? For an ever-increasing hunger and thirst for God’s Word? Ultimately, that she would grow toward spiritual maturity as her knowledge and love for our Savior and Lord deepen!

Khmi study group

Ming [Aunt] Mun and I are illiterate in the Khmi language. . . but not for long! Kesara has graciously offered to teach both Ming Mun and I how to read and write Khmi, which has proven to be a great relationship builder! Ming Mun is 59 years old and quite full of life. We always seem to find a bit of fun while studying Khmi at her place. We both have the same workbooks [used in the schools here for first graders]. As Kesara teaches, we’re working through the books together. Ming Mun is getting along very well with the language (much better than myself).

She and her daughter, Sukha (age 19), have been our sisters in Christ for about six months now. Kesara and I visit Ming Mun a couple times a week, teaching her fundamental truths from the Bible and having our language study session. Please pray for an ever-increasing hunger and thirst for God’s Word; for wisdom and courage to apply what is learned; and that Ming Mun would gain a deeper understanding and love for the Lord through our study together. I’m also praying for an opportunity to study the Bible together with Sukha once she finishes school at the end of June.

Ming Mun’s husband was once a believer as well but, due to circumstances, he has choosen not to believe anymore. This has proven to be a great burden to Ming Mun and has caused her much pain. Please pray that he would repent and return to the Lord, and be a godly spiritual leader for his family.

language fun