“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30
I’m an introvert…to my core. No shockers here. I’m the girl who, in my own room, with a door I can close, constructed a reading nook where I can further hide myself from the world. Don’t misunderstand, I love people. I love to be around people but they make me tired. My soul gets really tired, really quickly.
There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or needing time alone. There’s nothing wrong with barricading yourself behind a bamboo room divider and disappearing into a great classic novel. The problem comes when this is where my soul looks for rest.
As I try to figure out this life of loving God and bringing His Kingdom I am often overwhelmed by the thought of all the people I know and the more I meet everyday who need the love of Jesus. How do I make an eternal impact on their lives without going deep in relationship with them? How do I have that many deep relationships with that many people when who I really want to hang out with is Jane Austen? It all makes me feel very ‘heavy laden’.
You must be thinking, “Wow, the last place this girl should be is on the mission field.” And there are days I’d be inclined to agree. I’ve often envied the dad and chauffeur from Sabrina who sits in his above-the-garage apartment with his books, occasionally drives his rich employer to a meeting only to wait in the car…with his books.
But that is not the life we are called to live. We are loved. Deeply. Intimately. Extravagantly. Irrationally. We are called to love others in the same way. We don’t love people because we’re supposed to. We love them because the love of Christ for us is too much for our finite hearts to contain. It spills out on anyone we meet.
This is the yoke He wants me to take on and the burden He asks me to carry. Seems a bit lighter in that context. He is not asking me to save the world or even to save Phnom Penh. He is asking me to learn from Him, to see how He loves me and know how I am to love those on my ministry team and the prostitutes I meet at the park and the kids trying to sell me books on the river front.
Written on my bathroom wall in dry-erase marker is the phrase “Your yoke=rest for my soul-daily need”. Don’t judge the grammar. I scribbled it one sleepy morning after having read the above verses. It reminds me (usually while I’m in the shower) to take on His yoke every day; that my own idea of how I am going to “win the world for Christ” will always leave me ‘heavy laden’. Each morning while I’m rinsing my hair I ask Him for His yoke and His burden. It is the only way I’ve found to love without reserve and still not exhaust my soul.
Mr. Darcy ain’t got nothin’ on that.
PS- I am still in great need of monthly support. Please consider joining what the Lord is doing in Cambodia. Click the link on the right to donate.
In April of this year, my best friend Lisa and I decided to use the insurance money we received from losing our belongings in her parents’ house-fire and meet for a two week rest in Spain. After touring Madrid and Barcelona, the last three days of our trip were to be spent in Mijas, visiting some friends from the World Race. These friends work at G42 Leadership Academy, a school for Christian leaders and missionaries in the making.
My post-vacation plans were to return to the States for a bit of rest and to spend some time simply seeking the Lord. But as He often does, the Lord decided to seek me first. Upon arriving at the airport to check into my flight to the US, I was informed that somehow the airline had lost my ticket. After much prayer and discussion with friends and leadership over the next few days, I decided to remain in Spain and complete the entire six-month leadership course at G42.
All that the Lord did in my heart there would take pages to explain, but I will try to summarize.
The day I decided to stay, I was sitting in class listening to Andrew Shearman, the founder of G42, teach. He said “You are not adopted to become a part of God’s family…when you are saved you are born again, as His child.” As a person who grew up in church, I knew the concept of God as a Heavenly Father and had heard people talk about Him being “Daddy-God” but neither of those ever felt real. But this time the practical reality of that truth finally took root in me. Romans 8:16 reads “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” It was the first time I could say with confidence, “God is my Dad and my Dad only wants good things for me.” This was the day it was settled in my heart that God is good.
On the foundation of His goodness He built a new identity, security and sense of purpose. These manifested in everything from a willingness to heal broken relationships to the freedom to dance in public (which is fun for me…maybe not so good for the public).
Over the next six months, I attended class and discovered many truths from the Scripture, learned practical aspects of leadership and ministry, began deep relationships, found a group of people I’ll be connected to for life (something I do not say lightly), and simply fell more in love with Jesus and His glory.
I occasionally struggled to justify spending six months away from Cambodia in such a beautiful place, but the Lord was faithful to confirm over and over again that my time was not being wasted. Through scripture, through others and through His Holy Spirit whispering to my heart, He repeated again and again, “You are here for a reason. This time is valuable.” So I chose to trust Him and that trust has not been disappointed. I have already seen effects of my time in Spain in the way I relate to the Lord and how I view my role in His Kingdom.
My Momma always said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Are you fond of my blog yet? You should be, it’s been absent almost a year. I could blame it on slow internet or busyness, but that wouldn’t be entirely true…it would be entirely a lie.
I’ve had this fragment of a song going through my mind for the past several days. “I went to the enemy’s camp, and I took back what he stole from me.” I’m not sure where I heard it, but it has seemed pretty appropriate. What was stolen from me? What did I take back? This. Writing. You are witness to the Lord’s victory, simply by reading this blog!
I have always considered myself a decent writer (I am not asking you to agree and certainly not asking you to disagree, just being honest) and have always enjoyed writing. But over the years I have all but quit. Quit writing in all its forms; journaling, blogging, even emailing. I’ve mostly just avoided it and what little I have written has been pounded out grudgingly.
The Lord likes to talk to me while I drive my moto and the other day this was the topic. He began by asking why I had quit writing. My first response was, “why not”? Not surprisingly this was not a sufficient answer. He asked me again. “I don’t have time.” Wrong answer Number Two. “I don’t like it.” Yeah, God’s not gonna buy that. “I have nothing to say.” Ding, ding, ding! Honesty as last.
He then proceeded to gently agree, “You’re right. You have nothing to say, but I have a lot to say and I want to say it through you”. We hashed this out for a few blocks and finally I understood. Writing is a gift God’s given me. A way to share what He’s doing, what He’s teaching, Who He is. I should be using it to declare His glory.
He showed me that I’ve allowed Satan to silence me by stealing my passion for writing and leaving in its place the lie that I have nothing to say and that God has nothing to say through me. As if somehow, what the Lord is doing in me, through me, and around me is not worth sharing.
Here’s an excerpt from my first journal entry of 2012 (my first since September):
“You’ve given me the gift of writing, which means You’ve given me something to say, because You
do not give incomplete gifts. Forgive me for allowing Satan to steal that gift and shut me up, for
rolling over and letting him walk away with Your glory.”
So as I swerved through intersections that day, I went to the enemy’s camp, told him where to go, and took back what he stole from me, in the name and by the authority of Jesus. What God is doing in me and in Cambodia is worth telling. His glory is worth declaring.
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16
I hesitate posting this for a few reasons. It is a really personal thing for me and not something I am excited to broadcast. I also don’t’ want to misrepresent my intentions; my blogs are still likely to be less than regular. But who better to keep me accountable than the entire internet?!
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there. They bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. -Revelation 21:22-27
So I read this yesterday and thought, “That’s kind of cool. Heaven should be a good time.” Then I went to an International Fair here in Phnom Penh and God put color to the text. As we were walking around there were people dressed in traditional outfits from countless nations, aromas from tables full of tasty ethnic-ness, music and dancing from all over the world. I ate Malaysian fried rice, listened to Lebanese music, watched Baliwood dancing and realized this is a fantastic day, but a small, pathetic glimpse of what Heaven will be.
Revelation 21:26 says, “They will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations.” The glory and honor of the nations!
Picture this: An endless, eternal international city with the best architecture, art, music, dancing, food, natural wonders, clothes, traditions, fun and anything else you can think of, from every nation and people group throughout all of time, all redeemed and to the glory of God!
No worries about spending the day on a beach and walking away scorched by the sun. No thought of, “Is this delicious street food going to send me running to the bathroom in an hour?” No frustration of language barriers. No culture shock. No long travel days.
Just the glory and honor and beauty and splendor of the nations at our fingertips to enjoy forever. And at the center of it all? The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, being our temple and the light by which we see everything. As though the person of Jesus Christ and the physical presence of God would not be enough on their own, we get all the other stuff too, just because that’s how much we are loved!
So, if your heart is in the nations but your body is not, no worries! This is what we have in store! If you’re like me and would like to be in at least five different countries on any given day, it’s coming! I, for one, cannot wait!!
Note: The verses above are only six out of 27 in this chapter, all describing the awesomeness of Heaven, you should read the rest and get excited!
When I quit my job to go on the World Race, people complimented my willingness to sacrifice. When I lived in a tent or slept on floors for the better part of a year, I was praised for my eagerness to surrender. But here’s the secret…that was the easy part…Walking away from a 9-5 sit-at-my-desk job was more of a joy than a sacrifice. Living in a tent in the African bush was more adventure than surrender. Not that it didn’t have its challenges or require faith, but those are the challenges I prefer and the type of faith I enjoy building.
Homesickness was never an issue; being immersed in a new country, new culture and new language every four weeks doesn’t really leave much time for dreaming of home.
But now I find myself five months into an indefinite commitment to a country and a people not my own. I love Cambodia, but it’s not all elephants and fried tarantulas.
This Christmas was not my first away from home, but it was my first in a hot climate. It was my first Christmas morning waking up alone. It was my first Christmas spent with people (awesome people) with whom my longest relationship was four months. This year I missed my brother’s home-coming from a 12-month deployment in Kuwait, two of my best friend’s visits to West Virginia and another best friend’s daughter’s first Christmas.
I knew being a “missionary” would not be easy. I was prepared for the work to be hard, the air to be humid and the culture to be strange. What I was not prepared for was realizing that giving things up is hard. Dealing with false guilt (self-imposed guilt, to be sure) over where I should be spending Christmas is hard. I finally realized that in choosing to be here I have chosen not to be home, among people I love.
It seems to be a self-evident concept: sacrifice is hard.
I know now that in choosing missionary-ness, I am choosing sacrifice. Small as it is compared to what others have or are giving up , it is sacrifice all the same.
As I am learning this I pray that I will fall so far in love with Jesus that He truly satisfies not only all my needs, but all my wants. When you pray for me, ask God to so captivate my heart that everything else disappears. I am convinced that this, above all else, will empower me to serve Him and love His people.
So, I stink at blogging…this is common knowledge, I think. My once-a-week goal has ended up being a once-in-four-and-a-half-months reality. But that was last year…so let’s forgive and forget, shall we? Rather than try to blog about everything that happened since I’ve arrived in Phnom Penh I’d like to offer you some highlights. This blog may be a bit long, but think of it as 18 really short ones…one for each week I’ve skipped. Enjoy.
When my plane touched down in Phnom Penh on August 13, I had just one goal in mind…to see my boy! I was picked up by a friend at the airport and we headed straight for House of Rainbow Bridge. When Sok Leap spotted me, there was no stopping him. He ran down the hall and threw himself into my arms, beaming the whole time. There was a lot of hugging and smiling for both of us and I’m pretty sure there were even tears in my eyes. As I said in my last blog , I would gladly make the entire journey again if only for that one moment!
During the Khmer holiday of Pchum Ben (October), I had the privilege of being invited on a two-day trip to Rabbit Island with a group of teachers from my Khmer school. It included myself, my Australian friend Cate, and about 15 Khmer people. This meant that at least 75% of the time I had no idea what people were talking about. But it was a blast, none the less! We ate sea food, played in the ocean, marveled at the glow-in-the-dark algae, played games and laughed a lot. The island was beautiful and at times I felt as though I could be on LOST…
Fun and Tragedy
November in Cambodia brings the end of the rainy season and a celebration called Water Festival. This is a 3-day event when people from all over the country flood Phnom Penh to watch boat races, fireworks and a parade of lighted boats. I visited Water Festival each day with the orphanage, with friends and with my Khmer school. This year on the last night of Water Festival, there was a stampede which killed over 370 people. While I didn’t personally know anyone who died, I have friends who lost friends and family. Everywhere you looked people were hurting and scared (fear being a major part of the Buddhist religion and the culture of Cambodia). People set up altars outside of their homes with food and incense in hopes of appeasing the spirits that caused such a tragedy.
Christmas is Cambodia is certainly a different experience. Wearing shorts on Christmas Eve was a first for sure. But that did not stop the fun. There were orphanage dance parties, fancy meals, stockings, Christmas music and many hours Skyping with friends and family in America. Good times.
The week after Christmas some friends and I took the love of Jesus to two villages in a province near Phnom Penh. The villages are very poor and most of the children are unable to attend school full-time. We played games, administered basic first-aid, cut fingernails, washed hands, taught about Jesus, sang songs, made crafts and gave gifts of toys, candy, school supplies, soap, and blankets. It was such a blessing to be able to allow these kids time to just be kids and to let them know that they are loved and valuable. And all my years of VBS paid off, we made salvation bracelets to help them remember the truth of God’s love.
It’s Greek to Me
Well, Khmer, really. I have been studying the Khmer (pronounced come’eye) language five days a week, two hours a day for most of my time here. It is a challenge to be sure! But it is well worth the time, effort and expense. Speaking Khmer has saved me an untold amount in market and transportation bargaining, rescued my cell phone from a pick-pocket and helped me build relationship with the people of this country who I love so much. It is not without its perils, though. I once asked my driver (a man) what his husband’s name is, and I constantly fear saying words I would rather not translate into English because their Khmer counterparts are frighteningly close to perfectly benign words such as “corn”, “help” and “mouse”.
I do Work, I Promise
In the midst of all the fun and adventure I have been working. I teach English in the evenings at the orphanage where Sok Leap lives. I have six kids in my class who sometimes love to learn English and sometimes would rather stare at their desks in silence than answer my questions. It has been an interesting experience as I have no interpreter in my classroom and my Khmer is by no means sufficient. It has stretched me in communication and creativity and has forced my kids to decode my bad Khmer and simple English for meaning. It’s an adventure every day…for all of us.
You Ate What?!
- Whole Fried Frog: Really tasty and really fun, like tiny little chicken legs.
- Baby Duck Egg (Egg with baby duck inside): Didn’t taste too bad, but seeing the head and beak inside makes it a bit of a challenge to get through.
- Tarantula: Had this on the World Race as well. Not bad at all. Kind of crunchy and mesquite.
- Crickets: Crunchy and they sometimes come with a delicious dipping sauce.
- Grub Worm: Don’t remember the taste, but the texture did not agree with me.
- Snake: I could take it or leave it.
- Eel: Delicious! Watch out for the bones!
I hope this gives you a little better idea of my time in Phnom Penh. I make no promise of blogging each week, but I promise to try harder to communicate with you what is happening here and how you can be praying. Thanks so much for your prayers and support!
Praise God! After a year of waiting, a 12-hour flight, a 12-hour layover and a 4-hour flight, I am finally back in Phnom Penh! I arrived Friday the 13th. After being picked up at the airport I was taken straight to House of Rainbow Bridge Orphanage. I was happy to see all of the children, but when Sok Leap came running out to hug me, my heart melted! He came full-speed, a smile stretched across his face, and leapt into my arms. I hugged him tightly and thanked God that we were together. I would gladly make the entire journey again, if only for that one moment! He stuck right by me the entire time I was there, holding my hand and hugging me. I don’t even know words strong enough to describe the happiness! What a blessing to be here and have him back in my life.
After spending some time at the orphanage I was brought to my new home. The girls I am living with are fantastic. They have included me in ministry and been gracious enough to answer my never-ending questions about practical life in Cambodia. I have my own room and even my own bathroom! We are within walking distance to the Russian Market, which means I can find pretty much anything I need and there are several choices of restaurants with wi-fi right around the corner.
Cambodian life thus far has been hot and humid…very humid…but also filled with unexpected blessings…a giant hug from my boy, my own room and bathroom, ice in the freezer, popazon chairs in the common area, s’mores Pop-Tarts at Lucky Market and a group of girls who have taken me in and made me feel welcome. Who could ask for more?