Read below for the team’s updates!
Read below for the team’s updates!
Today is our last full day in Thailand. We completed day 3 of English classes and Devotions at Shear Love. After eating lunch with the staff we got on our bus and went to the Temple of Truth. It is built totally of wood and no nails were used. It has intricate carvings and is constantly being restored. There was a sign there that said all religions lead to God. Although I was impressed by the structure, it was sad to think that so many people believe that there are many paths to Heaven. It makes the work being done here in Thailand even more important.
In the late afternoon our team went to an impoverished area with the Compassionate Cart ministry. This program ministers to children in an impoverished area. We did a mini VBS program which was so much fun. Afterwards, large bags of rice were passed out to each child. Another team member and I walked a little boy home carrying his rice for him. We were able to meet his grandmother who was so appreciative of the food given to her family. That was the highlight of my day.
I have witnessed our team members growing and serving God in ways they would have never even considered at the beginning of our journey. I love all the Shear Love staff and their willingness to serve God here. They are a blessing to their community and are God’s light in an area that needs God desperately. What a true blessing this trip has been.
Oh my goodness. What a day!! I honestly woke up emotional today. So many different emotions, excited to get home, so emotional leaving and then learning more about myself on this trip. We started out with devotions with the students. Marilyn J. shared her beautiful testimony for the first time today. My heart was proud and full watching her share and watching those beautiful girls listen to her story. She did a wonderful job and those girls connected and were open to sharing their stories. It is amazing how you can go across the world and find family. The body of Christ is so incredible.
After we had devotions we ate an incredibly yummy lunch provided by Lighthouse Café, I swear they are angels. Josh and Tina are just incredible servants who want to reach the lost. During lunch we say our goodbyes to the sweet students and translators. Wow what a group. I love them all so much. The girls were so sweet to me with their hugs and telling my “bye Momma B.”
I took in each face, hug and smile to remember in my thoughts and prayers. This group is really going to change Shear Love in a big way. Each student knows what their calling is, to reach more lost for Jesus and change lives. They are all Jesus with skin on.
We had some time to visit the Sanctuary of Truth, which is incredible to look at, but when I think about what it represents it’s so dark and empty. It is good for our teams to see the background and culture of the country we are visiting. It allows us to understand more about the people we serve. We also got to spend some time at the Floating Market. It was full of all kinds of Thai souvenirs and food. It is a really beautiful place.
Our incredible team then went to serve in the community with the compassion cart. Our team was going to do a super mini one day VBS for these kids. We brought back our puppet team for the sweet children who ran over to the metal covered open building where they meet. It was so fun to hear their giggles and responses to the puppets. Our team is awesome, we played games and had a blast. This trip takes you from one end of the spectrum to the other. We finished off by giving each family a bag of rice and the kids a healthy treat and milk. Our heart were full watching their little faces. The compassion cart goes into the community bringing light through food, health care and loving on the children. This is something I see growing into a church! It is so beautiful. As we played games and laughed we could hear the monks chant in the background, I loved that our loud laughter was able to drown it out. This place is so lost.
Our last stop the infamous Night Market, if you follow Lady Di on Instagram, the Night Market finds are pretty hysterical. We ate our last dinner there, some of our team at their last pineapple sticky rice and others had the fruity smoothies that we will NOT be able to get back home. The Shear Love staff met up and ate with us. These youngsters are an army of Freedom Fighters for real. They are in the uttermost place of the world, loving like Jesus and making a difference in the world one life at a time. They are inspiring, motivating and very talented. All of their parents should be so proud of what they are doing. I love them so much and it was such a blessing to be with them this week. Our guide from Shear Love, Julianne, has been incredible.
Our team ended with our last debrief. What a team, we shared what it is going to be like going home. The adjustments ahead, and how we have really bonded like a family. I’m a mom, aunt and I was even referred to as “girls” when I was with the youngsters. I love each one of our team members they all brought something so different and dynamic that made us whole. God ordained our time for His purpose and His glory. I go home knowing we finished well and that our team served so well, but the best is we loved well. I will never forget these places, and I will miss the family we made in each country. They are beautiful. God’s church is beautiful.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Love, Mama B
Well, Thailand was definitely a different transition from Cambodia. Upon getting onto the plane I started to feel uneasy. We came into the city of Pattaya and we started seeing the things we were trained on. It felt really weird and out of place. I now truly understand why people say this is the darkest place in the world, and not just what they mean by it but what they feel here.
We met the Shear Love International staff. They are beautiful people that radiate the love of Jesus. We had church the second day with staff, students and anyone from outside. I’ve come to learn that in Asia, fighting for your faith is real. We are truly on a battle ground for Christ and have come here as his army to seek the lost. We have come here to uplift our brothers and sisters. This has challenged our team on another level and yet we still stick together as one. During worship, I closed my eyes and could feel the Holy Spirit moving as they praised louder and louder. Tears slowly came down my cheeks and into overwhelming sobs. I could picture this place as a safe haven in the middle of this broken, dark city of Pattaya.
Tuesday night, we walked and prayed on the infamous “Walking Street.” As much as I’ve trained it still hit me like I walked into hell. First thing I noticed was the girls from the different clubs dressed different outfits. The first ones reminded me of my past “Gogo Dancing” life. It was like seeing myself through them and I looked around to see girls waiting for customers and men taking photos to post on social media. I saw groups of men like hungry wolves in packs, tour groups coming through like they had no shame and I tried to hold myself together. My heart was breaking for these people who do not know the love of God. These people do not know their worth, the worth of others and how much God did not intend for them to live this way. It was an eye opening experience to what I didn’t know exists in this world.
Wednesday morning, I led devotions for the beauty students at Shear Love. Not just one session, two- 1 hour sessions! I wasn’t prepared for because plans changed, but it all worked out perfectly. If you know me, I’m not a loud person but when I am given the opportunity to share God’s word, I feel empowered and fearless. God has truly grown me in ways I couldn’t imagine! I shared my testimony with the girls and related it to the story of Mary Magdalene. I gave the girls a chance to open up and share their stories. It was amazing to hear how God has redeemed them from the brothels and the violence they experienced. They had so many questions about forgiveness, graces and breaking the cycle of abuse. The also asked about loving others like God loves us. We talked about healing and to see our worth in whom we are in Christ. Both sessions were different but it was a great experience.
We did outreach at night on Beach Road where we gave women condoms as gifts with a message about Shear Love. It tells them that they are special and there is a place to go if they want out of the sex industry. I felt ready to be Jesus’ hands and feet. We were all ready to go out there and shine for Jesus. Cori, Kelly and I we’re the first ones dropped off. We had a little mishap where we grabbed two of the wrong bags that only had bibles and lube, and no Shear Love message. We could have let it discourage us and bring down our night. I said “Maybe this is meant to challenge us to pass out more of the Bible’s than the condoms. We weren’t even half way down the street and we ran out of bibles!!! We reached out to other teams to help give us more of their stuff so we could go back and speak to the girls. When the girls saw us bow to them and say hello, they lit up! They were so happy! They would talk to us and they knew we were there for good intentions. A group of men seen us passing out the gifts to the girls and they asked me “Why are you giving them gifts?” And I answered “We just want to show we care for them and make them feel good.” They were so surprised and said “Wow, this is good for their heart” and of course, in my head I thought… well, why are you here? I just prayed for a heart of conviction for these men. It was like we became friends with all the girls on Beach Road and it was a great feeling to show them love. We even had conversations with men about why they were here in Pattaya and heard their feedback. We had a successful night! We were so excited with the impact we made and the seeds that have been planted.
We still have two full days of ministry still and I know I’ll have so much more to say. This missions trip was incredible, life changing and challenging. I am so glad I got to experience my faith on so many levels and be a part of a truly amazing, talented team! Shear Love staff has such courageous staff and a fearless leader, Diana. She is so inspiring and I pray I come back to do more. I am so grateful to have been part of this trip.
God is so good. Every part of this trip has been incredible but today especially incredible. Two big things happened. For those who don’t know me, I am a planner. I like to prepare before I do anything, especially when it comes to presentations. This week in Thailand, our team has devotionals scheduled with the students of Shear Love – than men with the men and the women with the women. I was not on the schedule to do a devotional with the women this week. Instead, I was supposed to help the Shear Love Staff with whatever they need. On Monday, my teammate Debbie spoke with Diana (founder of Shear Love) about how I work at a counseling center that focuses on play and art therapy. After she found out, Diana asked me to hold a workshop for Wednesday. I said, yes!
During breakfast today I spoke with my teammate Cori about whether or not to share my testimony with the students before the beginning of the workshop. I told her that I was unsure because it was long, and I have never shared it with anyone before. In less than 30 minutes, God answered me. When the team met up after breakfast to head over to Shear Love’s school, Julianne, (Director of Outreach at Shear Love) asked me if I could not only hold the workshop on Wednesday but today as well. Cori and I looked at each other in amazement. It gets better; they gave me three hours for the workshop. Not only would I speak to the women today, but also to the men tomorrow. Normally, I would panic because I literally had nothing prepared. I was planning to write my notes down today for tomorrow. But I felt at ease with everything. Before the workshop today, we went out to eat at the Lighthouse Cafe. I asked Diana if we could talk about what I should share before the workshop since I had so much time. I told her that I felt in my heart that I should share my testimony, but I was unsure if they could relate. After I finished sharing with Diana, her mouth dropped, and she told me that I had to share my testimony. She said that it would not only be moving for the women but so impactful for the men.
So I shared for the first time ever my testimony to the female students of Shear Love. It was an incredible experience; I never in my life would have ever thought that I would share my testimony. Nothing I went through in life was in vain; it was meant for this moment in life. I can’t thank Diana and Cori enough for being my rocks while I shared my testimony; they kept me anchored. After I shared my testimony, I had everyone paint about either a happy or sad moment from their childhood. After, those who felt comfortable shared about their paintings. It was awesome having the space to be vulnerable with one another.
Another highlight of my day was going down Beach Road to pass out condoms to both men and women. I didn’t know what to expect, but one thing I did know was that I wanted them to see that they are loved by the King of the Most High, even if that meant demonstrating it with just my smile. Seeing them light up and spark up with a smile was everything! I felt like we went through our condoms so quickly and I was so sad because there were hundreds and hundreds of people more who didn’t get any. I quickly realized that I didn’t need the condoms to show God’s love. I kept walking down the street saying “sawat dee ka”, hello in Thai. Their faces lit up just by me acknowledging them, that was everything.
My team and I came across this one person working on Beach Road, who is actually from Cambodia. Our Shear Love leaders shared with that person that we just came back from visiting there. This person and I counted all the way up to twenty in Khmer (the national language of Cambodia). I could tell that this made this person’s evening. I am still so in awe at God’s work. There was a reason for why I tried to get those numbers down in Khmer with my Cambodian babies. It was meant for something great, which was evident tonight. If I didn’t learn how to count in Khmer, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to connect with this incredible person tonight.
Please keep me in your prayers as I share with the boys my testimony.
Today was a day all about DOING for Shear Love. There was a Devotion time for the male and female students. At the same time, English classes were being held by the remainder of the team. The classrooms were full of questions, joy, and laughter.
The women on our team let the students wash, cut, color, and style their hair. That was pretty gutsy if you ask me. Smiles on the students’ faces were awesome.
The men made a nice looking bookshelf. They did a great job.
We handed out 513 Chinese Bibles in the evening. It was so much fun seeing the faces of those who accepted Bibles. Some were Christians and took advantage of talking to us and thanking us for traveling so far to give them a Bible. Others took the Bible and rapidly put it away. Still others had someone telling them not to take a Bible but they took one anyway. Praise God.
I never thought I would stand on a pier and hand out Bibles. I did and was glad I did it. It was a long day but we thank God for using us.
The team helped with English classes this morning. First up were the basic students learning types of fruit. Students are taught with pictures, reading, writing, and saying the words all at once. They all seem excited to learn new words and are joyful with the process.
The intermediate students interviewed us yesterday asking a long list of questions to learn more about us. We had great conversations and I learned that both women have started their own businesses while attending the Shear Love School. One has bought a street cart to sell crepes. The second crochets beanies as well as working in a salon. Their pride in their new life and accomplishments was evident and I’m in awe of what God is doing here. Today they were to give a presentation of the person they interviewed and share what they learned about us. All the students did a great job but are still learning pronouns.
The men were able to build a shelving unit in a short amount of time this afternoon and we were blessed to be using our gifts to help Shear Love.
In the evening we distributed free Bibles to Chinese tourists on the pier with a partner organization. It was a new and exciting experience for many of us. As thousands passed by us, there were many people that stopped to get a free Bible or say, “God bless you.” There were many blessed moments as several people were in tears at being given a Bible and meeting believers from the West.
Sawat dee Ka family and friends! The team is now in Thailand. Today was Church at sheer love. We had an incredible worship time together. Although we didn’t know the words to the songs we all sang and worshiped with our own songs. I had the privilege to give a message with the help of a translator. Holding nothing back I shared scripture and the story of life without Jesus, how he revealed himself to me, restored me, and continues to redeem me. The response was beautiful as students shared some of the same struggles they faced. A morning of inspiration and encouragement with one another.
Tonight we finally walked “walking street!” I have been preparing for a year and my heart still pounds as I write this. Although Nothing can truly prepare you for it. Before we arrived we went to market street where I noticed many “johns” and bar girls. Still the most shocking has to be when I saw men with young Thai children. Your mind wants to hope for the best scenario but statistics will show otherwise. Would you join me in praying for these children and the “johns” everyone has a story and we don’t know how they got there. When we arrived to walking street we went out in groups I sang CYA Remedy as I walked down the street Trying to make as much eye contact as I could with the girls and share a smile and hello. Hardly any of them will make eye contact with you if your not a male. Turning away menus being shoved in your face with different acts, seeing families, tour groups, even the elderly casually stroll down the street reminded me of the lies and seduction in this world. Being in that darkness once again proves to me how merciful and REAL our God is. He will search and stop at nothing to have our hearts. If all he called me to do was to walk down beach street touching the palm trees as I prayed, sing remedy down walking street, smile and give a respectful hello to the bar girls I know it is all part of HIS plan and He will make good. Continue to pray for Thailand and Sheer Love as we join them in this fight to stop trafficking through the love of Christ. Love from Thailand
Sunday September 15
Welcome to Pattaya Thailand which is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand approximately 90 miles southeast of Bangkok. It is considered a resort area with beautiful beaches.
We arrived Sunday afternoon in Bangkok, where members of “Shear Love” meet us. By vans, we traveled to our hotel in Pattaya. After all of us received our room keys we were able to relax awhile, before starting our adventure in Pattaya.
We had an early dinner at “Sketchbook” restaurant, which is an artistic type of place. With our host from “Shear Love” ordering a family style meal for us, we did not leave hungry. I think my favorite was the Thai tea and sticky rice with mango desert. After dinner we went over to Shear Loves buildings for orientation and training. Then we toured the two buildings where Shear Love runs the school and ministry. Something new they have now is a store with items for sale, and yes I did buy a few items to take home. All the money spent in the store helps to fund what wonderful work is being done there. Another long day is done, and I am excited to see what the next day will bring to us.
As I pray this evening this verse to came to mind. I pray that the freedom will come to all the darkness that we will be seeing this week.
2 Corinthians 3 vs 17 (NIV)
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Monday September 16
The experience that I had last night was like no other in my life. The night was spent in the red light district. Even though we had been prepared for what we would see, it was darker than I ever imagined. I felt as though I was walking through hell. Satan seemed to be everywhere and the people did not realize it. The groups of tourist just continued to arrive to walk the streets. I could only imagine that they just wanted to see the “freak show” that Satan has created. Please continue to pray for this city and these people.
It’s Monday morning and we are preparing for our first full day at “Shear Love”. Monday is church day at Shear Love, with the service starting at 10:00 AM. Our team member Cori lead the service and did an exceptional job. We were all proud of her and inspired by her testimony. Besides the students, staff and us (Crossroads) there were approximately 50 people in attendance. Out of the 50 there were also ten people from the neighborhood, including our bus driver.
While driving us around Shear Love staff member “J” asked the bus driver if he would like to attend church with us, and he said yes. He not only attended church, he stayed all day with us inside to watch what we were doing. Hopefully we have a new brother in Christ.
After lunch all the men were offered haircuts, and yes I let them cut mine. My friend (adopted son of Pattaya) who is the teacher for the barber school cut my hair. It took him awhile to style it like his but he did it. Lots off pictures had been taken since they all were surprised that I let him do it. Scott and Kerry joined in on the hair cutting experience, by letting the students cut their hair. They are also going to cut our bus drivers hair tomorrow.
The team is done for the day at Shear Love and now back at the hotel. We will all be praying for what we will be doing this evening. We will be praying for God to be with us as we travel to the darkest area in the world. We will be asking for him to let his Holy Spirt be with us and give us the strength to guide us on this journey. The Red Light District of Pattaya where they believe over 150,000 people are involved in human trafficking. This means women, men and children are being sold in Pattaya where there is an estimate of 8 million tourist visiting each year. Of the 8 million, 80% are men. In just one area the alley of Soi 6 it is estimated 2000 men, women, “ladyboys” (transgender women), teens and children are being sold in 80 bars.
We have completed our trip through Beach Road and Walking Street. The sights the sounds the smell in the air is something that most of us on the trip have never experienced. It is considered the Disneyland of the world for adults. Just imagine going to Disneyland on a crowded day, the number of people there and how it feels to be crowded like that. Well that is what it was like on this walk, but it was not Disneyland. As it was described during debriefing last night, “I felt like I was walking through Hell and Satan was there”. I think that statement summed it up as to what we all experienced this evening. We will begin a new day tomorrow with fresh eyes and the thought of God one day reclaiming what is his in this sin filled area of the world.
Galatians 6 vs 9 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Yesterday we spent our last day in Siem Reap touring Angkor Wat. It was a rainy day but the sun did shine pretty bright in between moments of downpour! Today the team transitioned to Thailand, please keep them in prayer as they work with Shear love international working with men in women in the red light district.
Day Five – One of the hardest goodbyes
Waking up and noticing the brightness I immediately close my eyes wishing and praying it was a different day. Any other day than Today
Waking up was tough, having to go downstairs and seeing everyone and just being there during breakfast was tough. Quiet time was honestly a must, and moments later my brave roommate came upstairs and handed me a card written by one of my fearless leader back home. It made me see this day a little different and honestly reminded me that it’s okay to feel and know it will be hard. It reminded me to remain in God’s strength.
It felt weird and it most definitely felt different as we loaded the bus. As we approached the gate we were welcomed by children with big smiles and I couldn’t help but smile and tell myself to pull it together and give it my all!
As soon as I see my little baby girl she ran up to me and hugged me tight, her beautiful eyes, her beautiful hair, her beautiful smile her beautiful cheeks, and my favorite part of her is her beautiful laugh! That I will forever remember! She’s kind, loving, sweet, feisty, but all she wants is love and to feel loved. I couldn’t help but love her since the moment I laid my eyes on her. I will never forget how she would run to me every time she saw me.
I felt so loved, like never before.
I asked the translator for her name, but she didn’t know it. I am comforted to know that my little one knows mine. It made my heart so warm every time she would say M-a-r-i-l-y-n. We danced, we played, we ran around so much, she rested her head on my chest, we played peek-a-boo so many times and made silly faces. I hugged her and praying for her. I asked God to protect her forever, I love you baby girl and if it’s God’s will I will see you again.
All of these children touched my heart in different ways, all they want is to feel love and to be loved. My other little baby is not so much of a baby he is 11 and he was tough at first but as soon as he saw other kids hugging me he started to stand closer and closer to me.
He walked by me and said something in Khmer. I had to ask a translator what he said and they responded with, “he loves you.” My heart melted I love him too and every time he smiled my heart would just melt all over again. He is fun, he is tough, he is brave and everyday was a good day because I knew he would be there chasing me , and trying to tell me in English he wanted to play and just hang out.
On the last day he wasn’t there and the team and disciples knew how much we had bonded so they did what they could to allow me to see him. They said he was sick with a fever so he stayed home and Honestly I was pretty upset. I know that’s selfish but I knew I might never get to see him again, will he know that I was looking for him? Will he know how much I will miss him? Will he know I love him?
My fearless leader Lisa made it happen! She spoke with disciples about letting me visit him and see if he wanted to come for a little bit if he was feeling better. We took a Tuk-tuk down this dirt road full of trash , mud, and more children who had no shoes, shirts, pants, some of the little tiny babies walking around with no diapers. They were all dirty, but I noticed they were all smiling and excited to see whoever was walking or driving by.
We approach his home, and there is a man outside who seemed very upset and all the children there looked sad. They look unhappy, sweated, dirty, no shoes just sitting and laying on pieces of trash. Then I see a head pop up, it was him!
I see him and he shakes his head “no”. I was confused and asked the translator what was happening there. What was the man saying? I felt nothing but evil there and I did not like it one bit! I could just feel that something is wrong
He walked over to the Tuk-Tuk and I was not allowed to get off so I open my arms hoping for a hug. He walked over slowly and I said “I love you,” he smiled but was still sad. I couldn’t help but hug him as tight as I could, praying that God protects him and gives him strength.
We had to leave in a hurry. I left feeling so confused not sure what is going on. I left feeling like something was wrong. We headed back and when we arrived one of the disciples let me know that his mom does not want him to come back to Kid’s Club. She is mad and wants him to stay home.
I couldn’t understand why. He has so much fun and him and all the other children receive so much love there. I couldn’t help but wonder if he would get in trouble for walking over to the Tuk-Tuk after the man said no.
These kids deserve so much more. He isn’t the only boy who deals with this. There are other children who come with bruises, cuts, and scratches. They are tired, worn out, filthy, wearing the same clothes for weeks. When we ask about them we are told it’s their parents. Their moms, their dads ,their step parents ,the people who are suppose to protect them are hurting them and when I am gone it’s still going to happen. I have to live with that
I was as happy as they were to give them their last snack and boxed milk they are so thankful and am I too! I feel privileged that God wanted me here with these children and disciples. I have to sit down to just look around and take it all in, ending my time with them waiting by the gate hugging them tight, waving goodbye as they leave in the Tuk-Tuks.
The sun is starting to go down and yes it is still very hot, but by it’s time to debrief with not only the AIM team but the disciples too and wow!
We prayed some more
We watched a slide show they made for us with beautiful pictures they had taken during our time there. In that moment I was reminded that these kids are in good hands, these disciples have given everything to be there with them, they love and are loved.
They are amazing and watching them be obedient to God was a beautiful thing.
Oh but there’s more, we were able to have dinner with them one last time! We took pictures, shared laughs, and where able to just be sisters, children of God.
I learned so much from them. I will take and hold onto forever.
As they would say, I love you my sistas and if it’s God’s will we will meet again.
Until next time Cambodia, you were good to all of us but now it’s time for another different adventure, all we ask is for more prayers, in fact loads of prayers for all the children, disciples, and the AIM team. I love you guys and can’t wait to share pictures and stories
“ May today be the day you courageously pursue every opportunity to make a difference for something that is greater than you”
I love you God , thank you for making me feel so loved, worthy and enough
Friday September 13, 2019
Today was the last day of VBS/Kids’ Club in Cambodia. It has been such a blessing serving this week alongside the staff here. Our team was able to ride on the tuktuks (small 4 passenger carts pulled by a motorcycle) that take the children to and from Kids’ Club. We crammed 18-25 kids on each tuktuk! What an experience to see where they live. It made me realize how important this ministry is to both the children and the community. It was bittersweet as we said goodbye to the kids. We will miss their smiles, hugs, and laughter.
This evening we were able to bless their staff by taking them out to dinner at a nice restaurant. One of the workers told us that they have ridden their bike past the restaurant everyday on their way to work and had told themselves that someday they would eat there. Tonight we were able to fulfill that desire. What a blessing it is to give to others. We spent the evening together as if we had known each other for years. It was difficult to say our goodbyes.
We pray for the staff as they serve with hearts obedient to God. They are God’s light in Cambodia.
We have been here for half a week and yet, it feels like home here. This place is broken but beautiful. The people are what make it beautiful. We have learned much about the history from the museum, to the killing fields of a genocide, to the stories of the people we have met.
The organization called AIM that we have been working with is new to this community in Siem Riep. There is a lot of work to be done but they are a light in this place. This is a place of hope and healing. When we first met the children, they were very timid. End of VBS day 1 and they began to grow on us. Now the children run up to us with huge smiles, open arms and so much joy. They have had so much fun! We’ve had great puppet shows, intimate craft time, tug a war and even dance parties! It’s been the most incredible experience! I look into each child’s eyes and see a child with hope. There has been moments where a child has hugged me really tight or have had more than a few of them hanging on to me. I love when I’m sitting down and there’s always someone sitting in my lap, hugging me or holding my hand. It gets me a little emotional because I know they do not feel this way when they leave the gates of AIM. I know they probably never have this kind of love. I know it takes a lot for them to trust us since they are exposed to things no child should go through. When these children go home this is not the world they live in but I’m grateful to feel those hugs and see their smiles. They are safe here. These children are so smart and so invincible. You can tell these children have learned skills that have made them learn how to survive out here on their own.
The AIM staff is absolutely amazing and they work so hard for these children. They have been so loving and caring to us. We have heard some of their stories and how they came here and how God is using them. One of the main staff members shared her testimony with Cori and I. I am so moved by how God has used her to fight for others. We share that fight and I’m so grateful to have met her.
Today, I led the devotional. I was so nervous but God truly took control. I was able to share my testimony and help give encouragement to everyone. My team and the AIM staff hugged me and some shared their stories with me. They call me “ Strong mom.” I’m humbled to have the opportunity leave an impact on others in another part of the world with different circumstances, but we feel each other’s pain.
Also, another exciting part of today was being able to ride in the Tuk Tuk to pick up the kids and see the actual areas they live in. It was interesting to see their homes and families. It reminded me of Kenya in some ways but in my heart, I know these kids are not safe where they live. These kids are truly survivors in their culture and I pray they will be the change here in Cambodia. Tomorrow is our last day of VBS and I don’t want to say good bye to them.
Our team has pushed through each obstacle gracefully and we’ve given each day so far 100 percent. The great part of all of it was not being able to have our phones at the VBS location and just taking in every moment here with the staff and kids. We’ve had intimate moments with no interruption. Even though, sometimes I wish I could capture my time here, it’s been even more worth it to know I get to keep those precious moments in my heart instead. Each one of us was no doubt hand picked by God. We have been a family and I am so grateful to be apart of it. This has been the best experience and The people have stolen my heart. Thank you to everyone who made this possible! I can’t wait to share it all with you.
Today was a late day for the team. We got to sleep in and enjoyed a couple extra hours of sleep that some how disappeared as we flew last weekend. The rest was badly needed as every day is full of playing with a bunch of kids and encouraging the staff at AIM.
Today Kathleen gave a fantastic devotion. She shared her life story to the AIM staff and our team. The impact of her testimony could be seen on every face. It was clear that people from all walks of life in all parts of the world share similar experiences and need encouragement, community, and the love of Jesus. Everyone was blessed by Kathleen.
It’s so great the way the children we are ministering to know that the Crossroads team provides a safe and love-filled experience. They want hugs, high 5’s and just to be loved. Crossroads should be proud of this team. They truly demonstrate the love of Jesus to the people of Cambodia.
Word for of the day.. REST!!
This is my 3rd GO trip and my second trip to Cambodia. It is such an honor to be here. Each trip is so beautifully orchestrated by God, from how our team is hand picked by Him to our incredible experience of being His hands and feet to those who might just need a simple hug in a dark, dirty and hurting place.
Day 3 is always fun and also can be one of the most tiring. Our team is now in the rhythm of serving and it is that mid point to our first week. Our leader,Kerry, gives us a phrase or word of the day before serving and today was rest! Rest when we get an opportunity or break, today will be our hardest, rest in knowing Jesus will carry us and give us strength.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
As our team entered in the gate at AIM we were greeted with big smiles and hugs by the staff that now call us “brother”, “sister”, “auntie”, “momma”. The little children wait anxiously and also rush to give us high fives and hugs. I am so excited for each day to begin.
Today we were going to do two VBS sessions and we were ready!
There is this feisty little boy, probably about 4 years old, I’ve nicknamed him “Spider-Man”. Everyday he runs to me so fast and so hard and jumps in my arms to give me the biggest hug. No words, just a simple smile and the biggest hug you can imagine. It is the best feeling knowing that he runs to ME and trusting when he jumps to my arms he knows I will catch him each time. I love that he gets to be in a safe place for most of the day and he is able to be a little boy with no worries, even of it’s just for that time. Playing, singing and having fun like a little child should. AIM is doing such a great work in this very poor area of Siem Reap. When I think about my little Spider-Man, it is almost like God put me here just so he could get a hug from me twice a day for the week.
I get to serve with our puppet team everyday and it is my one of my favorite times. We can’t see their faces but we hear their giggles and responses.
Today also brought the rain in between sessions! Cambodia rain is like nothing I’ve never seen. It was so refreshing and almost calming. Immediately when the rain ended, the AIM workers and many of our team members worked quickly to prepare for VBS session #2. We had about 100 children in a small space that ended with the most amazing freeze dance party I’ve ever been a part of. Note: Due to the work we are doing and the location we aren’t able to take photos of the kids or selfies!! Our phones are off and not even on us….. it’s SO great.. we are able to be in the moment and 100% engaged… what a concept. Everyone on our team was dancing, jumping, smiling and sweating from head to toe. It was the best feeling ever and something I will have in my memories forever.
There are going to be days like these. The news of Jarrid’s death hits me like a punch in the gut this morning. Two churches are reeling.
I serve with the hope that some joy can be found in this day. I try to focus on the moment. I grind out the day. I sing. I help make bracelets. I play with the kids. We worship and pray with the staff. I play guitar. We all talk over lunch. I’m encouraged that the AIM staff is so devoted to this work. They serve kids and their families 5 days a week on a regular basis. Still my heart is heavy. My thoughts are with the Wilsons , Jarrid’s family and the grief they must be suffering.
After lunch, I hear laughing and silly songs. Joy is in the kitchen washing dishes, so I go there to find it too.
The rain comes with a vengeance. The sound is so incredibly loud on the metal roof. We need to get ready for the afternoon session, but the center is flooding with mud and water. Out comes the brooms and shovels and many of us are sweeping or digging trenches with the staff. We are all soon drenched with sweat from the humidity.
The afternoon session brings over 120 kids. I won’t stop sweating this day, but the kids don’t mind. They still climb all over me. There is not enough room for the games we had planned. Instead the staff plays dance music. This has obviously happened before because the kids are immediately into it. The jumping and dancing begins. The music stops and the kids freeze in place. They try not to move, but the joy can’t be contained and next comes the giggling faces. The music restarts and the kids show off their best moves. It’s a mob of pure joy and we can’t help but join them. As we dance, Its clear that this work of Jesus through AIM is the best thing to ever happen to these kids.
I’m also so grateful for the impact the youth groups at Crossroads has had on my own life and family.
Sok sab bye te family and friends?! Today was day 2 of working in a rural Cambodian community. The staff at AIM meets for a daily devotional and asked our team to lead them in it each day we are here. After meeting this courageous team yesterday, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:9 “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Sitting with the AIM team today in a circle on the floor as we sweat and read Gods word together was pure PEACE. I was with my family in Christ who are fighting for the freedom and protection of young children in their community. These at risk children are living in extreme poverty often left unattended and many are asked to go out and bring the family home money no matter how they have to get it. Hearing about the situations these kids are facing is not easy and putting on VBS for these children twice a day has taken a lot of effort. I’m honored to serve alongside my Crossroads team as each day they put forth their BEST into the experience for the kids. Always in AWE of the places God takes me and the people I get to encounter. We are beginning to form bonds with the children and am excited to continue to show them Jesus love throughout the week. Pray for these precious ones and the staff at AIM. Love from Cambodia
My experience thus far in Cambodia has been more than I could have ever have imagined. I didn’t know exactly what to expect coming here since this is my first church trip, but one thing I did know, was that I wanted to come love on those who have never experienced what true love is. While in Cambodia, we are partnering with Agape International Missions at one of their kids’ clubs in the city of Siem Reap. Each day, we have a VBS that consists of a puppet show, games, and arts and crafts for kids in the community who are left at home by themselves all day while their parents are at work. The work that AIM is doing is helping transform the culture here – giving kids food to eat, clothing to wear, education, and a place to stay while their parents are working.
Driving on the way to Kids’ Club, I noticed this girl who must have been at least eight years old walking this dirt road with a baby in her arms all by herself. Seeing this really made an impression on me because it was as if I was looking at an adult in a tiny human. Little did I know that in just a few hours, I would run into that same little girl with her baby sister at Kids’ Club. When I saw her there, I knew in my heart that God was calling me to serve her from head to toe.
Throughout the first session of VBS, I noticed that she would step aside just to take care of her baby sister, who was really ill. The staff would offer to take care of her, but she knew and felt that only she could give her sister the best care. She had to step aside from the activities multiple times because of the baby. She later left early to take her sister to the hospital because she was too sick. But later on in the afternoon, she came back by herself, and I knew that this was my chance to make her feel like a kid and have someone take care of her for once. During our free time, she would bring the toy animals and vegetables over and ask me how to say the names of them in English and vice versa. I noticed that she had a fresh cut on her leg and was bleeding. Before she tried to stop the bleeding, I had her wait for a moment until I returned with a band-aid and anything else I could find to help clean her cut. When I returned, I gently disinfected her leg and placed a band-aid over her cut. That moment was so special for me becuse at that moment she got to see how it fet to be taken care of – she got to be a kid. I thank you, Jesus, for giving me the honor to be a part of taking care of your babies here in Siem Reap and showing them your love.
Phrase of the day “Don’t get weary”
The day started off with all of us having breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast I started thinking about the first day of VBS. While getting ready for it Psalms 56:3 came to mind “When I am afraid put my trust in you”. What a wonderful thought that was and I felt much better about the day ahead, knowing God will be with me. With the thought of God being with me and the sound of soothing worship music on the bus trip, I knew I was ready for the day.
Once we reached our destination we had a little road block. The dirt road ahead was full of thick mud and water so the bus had to drop us off at the corner. We had a Tuk Tuk transport our seven suitcases full of VBS materials to the location. This made us happy even though we had to walk about 100 yards to the school.
For the first session of VBS we had 56 kids and 104 kids in the second session. When the kids arrived, a small girl came over to me and held my hand. What a wonderful feeling that was when she did that. God knew I needed that and the little girl needed some comforting. It came at just the right time to make both of us feel good.
The activities for the day was a puppet show, crafts and games. My main responsibility was helping with crafts. Overall it was a great day seeing how much fun the kids had.
As Psalms 56:3 says once I put my trust in God, my fear will go away and it did. It was a terrific day.
The day is finally here! The day that not only I have been praying for, but everybody in my life has been praying for, Cambodia!
First of all, if you donated or helped me with words of encouragement or prayed for me, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Today the day started with us listening to the Remedy album (well duh! :)) followed by my team’s beautiful voices. Honestly, I am feeling all sorts of emotions yet also not knowing how I feel. I’m beyond happy but I can still feel tears falling my face and still can’t believe I, Marilyn, have the privilege to serve Jesus in Cambodia!
We got dropped off in the middle of a dirt road and then had to figure out how we could carry 7 suitcases across a road full of mud. I was trying to not be the one who falls while still calming my nerves and reminding myself that this isn’t about me in the first place.
As soon as I see the gate open I felt as if God was telling me “it’s okay and go in, you will see and hear what I want you to see and hear”. Can I just say that God did just that!
So many beautiful smiles, so many games, so many peek a boos with a beautiful three year old, so many hugs, so many kids wanting to sit on my lap and me trying to say it was okay while they looked at me confused , so many heads resting on my chest and tiny bodies sitting on my lap, so many I love you’s said in different ways just so both of us could try and understand each other. I loved having lunch with the disciples and being loved by complete strangers all while learning how to say thank you and I love you in Khmer. I realized God has me where he wants me.
I felt as if I knew them. Like we have always know each other and we were just catching up. These women and men do so much for these kids, and it’s just beautiful to see what God has done and is still doing.
I wish I can share more about what I saw and felt but it’s honestly so much that I am still processing. I’m just thankful that I am able to be here with this amazing team and a beautiful, kind, caring roommate.
Can I share how the night ended? Yea?
Okay cool 🙂
Let’s see… well it ended with a beautiful bouquet in my hands, melted gelato with a delicious cone made out of who knows what, a heart full of love, joy,happiness, feeling thankful , worthy, enough, and loved.
Thank you God for every moment and for another year. Today/tonight was special and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
If you are reading this know that God has a plan for you, he knows you from head to toe so be still and let God do what he does best.
Remember, God will always have your back.
Love, Marilyn Jasmine
It’s been a long and exciting day today. We departed Los Angeles international airport Friday night at 11:30pm. After a 16 1/2 hour flight, we made it to Siem Reap Cambodia.
After a short drive to the hotel from the airport, we checked into the “Lotus Blanc” hotel. It’s a very nice hotel with beautiful tropical landscaping. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at one of the hotels restaurant.
Once lunch was done, we were off and running. We visited a historical location in the area that is referred to as one of many “Killing Fields” in the country were the Khmer Rouge ruling party committed genocide on the Cambodian people in 1975 to 1979. For the tragedies that occurred during that period of time, the government has made a national monument so the people of the world will never forget that period in history. After visiting the fields, we went to the “Angkor National Museum”. This museum shows many artifacts including numerous Buddha’s and Hindu religious icons.
How should a day like this end up, well let me tell you. It was my birthday today and the team took me out to a terrific Cambodian restaurant for dinner. The food was great and the joy of hearing the team members sing Happy Birthday to me was special. Thank you team members for making this day special for me.
Angkor National Museum of the Khmer Kingdom.