CARLA is a VERY hard word for people in Thailand and Cambodia to say. I was nicknamed “Cola” by our translator, Mawn, in Pattaya Thailand. Embracing my new nickname has made introductions fun and my name easy to remember. I say, “My name is COLA, like Cocoa-Cola. Easy!!” Hahaha!
Balancing life, living, learning with documenting the things that happen. Meeting new friends and missing friends and family both acquired along the journey and from back home.
As I sat with my fellow team mates—Anna, Noelle, Sara, and Rachel in our hotel room I had a thought. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself being in a hotel room in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Nor could I have dreamed I would be with a group of people that would find a place so easily in my heart eating pineapple pieces, crackers, and tuna that is almost too spicy for my mouth from a packet using chop sticks. In moments like those I realize how far God has taken me both physically and spiritually and I need to dream bigger with God.
Yesterday at dinner we discovered a noodle restaurant that fell within our budgetary allowances. Yes! After we ordered our food we reflected about the day. In Pattaya Thailand while we were volunteering with the Tamar Center we had a more regimented schedule with activities and tasks. Here in Phnom Penh our role is much more organic without specific tasks or objectives. Which is great, because we are spending time hanging out with the women in the program at Daughters, and it is challenging not having measurable goals. So, we were eating and enjoying the rice noodles when a one legged Cambodian man came up. We have taken to carrying crackers for people who beg versus giving money or ignoring the people. While we were going through orientation in Bangkok Thailand we were told about situations that happen: often the individual begging (cripple, child, ect.) do not get the money that is given—typically ‘handlers’ collect these people and take the money donated. Sometimes ‘handlers’ will physically harm people and set them out daily to beg. Noelle had a pack of crackers she gave this man. Simultaneously Sara, Noelle, and myself had this thought—Lets buy him dinner. I leapt to my feet and ran after this man and motioned for him to come back as another bowl of noodles was ordered. Jesus said that His disciples would be known by the way they love one another. This man was an answer to a prayer. Before leaving New Zealand we prayed over the objectives of our team and one was to have dinner with people from the places we are ministering. God brought this man to us, and it would have been OK if we had just given this one legged man the crackers. I think its exciting that God’s love allows us to love better. To love above and beyond.
Today as we got to Daughters a woman asked if we were there to pray? This was not unusual as our mornings had been starting with a time of prayer. We answered, “yes.” She told us the power was out, and asked if we could pray for it to come back on? And she also asked us to pray for a premature baby that was taken too soon out of the hospital, for wisdom to speak to the baby’s mother. After we were done praying we were reflecting on how POWERFUL prayer was. We sat there marveling about how mighty our God was in the still air of the prayer room as the electrical outage prevented the fan blades from twirling. RIGHT AFTERWARDS? The electricity came back on!
There is a daycare for the individuals who work here to take their children. You actually walk through the daycare center as you enter Daughters, and you guys, there is this sweet, sweet little girl. My heart SWELLED and has grown SO much for children. Her name is Rica. She is three years old. When she sees us she hops up and down chanting “hell-oo! hell-oo! hell-oo!” The first time I met her she RAN up to me and threw her little arms around my leg! Ahh! She is so precious. Realizing that children are definitely a desire in my heart. Rica also reminded me how God sees us. Even as adults we are God’s children and God sees us that way.
I’m thrilled that you are journeying with me. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support. Big blessings from Cambodia!