I'm finding myself at a loss for words trying to write this post. I just can't seem to sum it all up, all of the blessings my team and I experienced this year in Cambodia.
Stepping out into the familiar burst of hot air as we left Phnom Penh International Airport, I felt like I was finally home. I felt like I'd been waiting so long to just be back, and it felt amazing. I felt like I was finally back where He really wants me.
We set out to the S21 Prison our first day, where prisoners were detained, tortured, and murdered. It broke my heart the first time I toured this place, however this year it hit much harder. After last year I developed relationships with the Cambodian people, and a love for this nation. This connection brought me to tears thinking about how much devastation the Khmer Rouge has cost this country, and how broken it still is.
Up until now, I've always thought that the Lord would send me somewhere in Latin America because I speak fluent spanish. However, during the tour, I felt Him opening my heart to the possibility of returning to Cambodia in the future. WOW. Never in all my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined this possibility. As much as I fell in love with this country last year, I thought that God was preparing me for a life serving elsewhere.
Philippians 4:19 tells us, 'And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.' I am submitting my life into His hands because His plans are so much greater than my own. It's crazy to think that He would care enough about me to plan out my life and guide me down the path he Has prepared for me. Whether he leads me to Cambodia or not, I will follow.
One of my favorite memories from this week, among to many to count, was with one of the mothers who cooked for us during our time in the village. I had shared smiles and hugs with her for only about two days, and she told me through a translator that when she dies, she wants me to take care of her two young daughters.
My heart was touched and I was shocked that this woman I had just met would say something like this to me. I later learned that her husband is sometimes abusive and she's been married three times. Though her story is one of hardship, she's always smiling and so full of hope.
As for the physical aspect of our trip, our team built two houses and a fence surrounding the villages' elementary school, Glory International. We also painted a mural on the side of the school and put the team's handprints so that the kids can always remember us.
As much as I wish I were back in Cambodia right now, and as much as I would be content to never leave, I'm learning to accept the fact that that's not God's plan, yet. I still have a lot to learn, a lot to experience, and a whole lot of time to serve where He leads me before life as a missionary. I'm learning to consider myself a missionary for Christ now, not just on the mission field.
'Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.' Matthew 16:24-27