Thursday, June 13, 2013

Christmas in Cambodia

I’ll never be able to truly express in words how much my experiences in Cambodia have shaped me and led me to where I am today. In short, it has helped me grow closer to the Lord and experience such a joy and peace that is only from Him.

We arrived in Cambodia late at night and although I was exhausted, I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning to get started and meet the kids! I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that the Lord had great things planned for the week!
The next day we set off to take a tour of the S21 concentration camps where the victims of the Khmer rouge were imprisoned, tortured and often killed. Although it was an extremely sad experience, it was also very humbling and showed me how far Cambodia had come since that dark time, how the people had such joy going forward despite all they and their ancestors had gone through.
After this, we took our first hour-long bus ride to the village we would be serving, with many more to come throughout the week. We traveled through the busy city of Phnom Penh and onto the dirt roads where various smaller villages were located, until we arrived to “Glory International School,” which serves the children of one of these small and poor, yet deserving communities.
Once there, we began to play with the kids inside the church building, and the more we got to know them, the more I began to sweat! I was suffocating in the Cambodian heat and humidity that the kids are so used to, but regardless, I was having the time of my life! I would do anything to be back there on that day, chasing those kids around as they ran up to tickle me from all sides, giggling and grinning from ear to ear. I was amazed at how joyous they were, how they were not afraid to hug and hold me tight even though we had only known each other for a matter of a couple hours. I knew that this love, so pure and true, was only possible through Christ, and this love that I experienced taught me more than any other worldly, materialistic, or romantic love ever could.
Throughout the week, we built two houses with the help of some Cambodian workers who built the base of the house and taught us how to hammer, saw, and construct. We spent most of the time we weren’t working playing games with the kids and just lovin' on them. Although I knew only a couple basic words in Khmer, the Cambodian language, I felt so connected to these children through the love of the Lord that it didn’t even matter. We communicated through hugs, kisses, smiles, and laughter. The minute my hands set down that hammer, they were happily holding a child’s hand, or carrying a baby. My arms were full, but my heart was even more full, in fact it was overwhelmed and overflowing.
The love of Christ is so deep, and there is no way of ever fully understanding this love on earth. However, I think that serving is just about as close as you can get. Looking into the eyes of a young child who you love so much, who you would do absolutely anything for, and then realizing the Lord loves that child 100 times more than you do; it’s unfathomable. My God is so good and gracious for allowing me to go on this trip and allow me to experience this love!

I brought back with me so many amazing memories, but one of my favorites was this: We were traversing through a Cambodian market and we came across a beautiful lady who was selling hand-painted postcards and portraits. She came up to me with a huge smile on her face and asked me if I was a Christian. I said yes, and her face lit up even more, as she explained to me that she was too. (Only about 5% of Cambodia's population is Christian, so it is very rare to come across believers.) This woman explained to me that these beautiful paintings of Cambodia's scenery and people were painted by talented artists with certain disabilities and conditions, and they earn their livings that way. As I listened to her interesting story, I couldn't help but notice the burns that scarred her face and neck. She was beautiful!! She was created by her Heavenly Father that loves her so much, regardless of her physical looks, which nevertheless were gorgeous. I learned a lot from her and her joyous personality, and now I have my wonderful portrait of Cambodia in my room. What a wonderful memory of this country and my brothers and sisters in Christ there! God is good, and His love is definitely growing in Cambodia!
I am overjoyed to say that I will be going back to Cambodia this December, the day after Christmas! We'll be staying for a little more than a week, and we'll be volunteering at the same school in the same village as last time. I am so excited, and I will be updating you guys on the planning, funding, and more on my Facebook page. Like it for more information and regular posts.


  1. Very nice Emily! It was an awesome time to see how God uses those who are willing to be used!! This year will be another exciting trip and look forward to serving with you! Mr. M

  2. Thank you so much, it's nice to know that some people are reading my blog posts! Yes, I am counting down the days! We miss you and are praying for you! :)