Highlights and reflections

Sometimes, like Joel always does, I like to process things externally. So as I’m sitting in Cambodia still, trying to get some work done, I find myself looking through pictures of last week, and reflecting on the impact we (hopefully) had on the kids. One of the things we hope had a lasting impact was to have Kristie give a shorter, simpler version of Justin Grunewald’s and Joel Thomas’s “skittle” talk. The basic gist is that God gifts each person differently; some may be good at school, others may be good at making people laugh. Each gift was represented by a different color of skittle. Skittles were poured into 2 different cups, according to each hypothetical person’s gifting. Neither cup was full at the end, and one was more full than the other. Then Kristie took a big bag of skittles (“God’s skittles”) and filled each cup till it was overflowing. The take-away is that God fills each of us up according to our needs. I had the privilege of watching the kids taking this in, and I really think it sunk it with them. A couple of the goofier kids really just wanted to each some skittles 🙂 but I could tell they understood the message and we all prayed that it would have a profound impact on their hearts.
Kristie speaking w/ Phillip translating

The sweet byproduct of the skittles talk

Various pictorial highlights!

Joel and Rosa, the orphanage director’s daughter

Samnang (big), our resident artist

Another one of the big privileges we had last week was our business luncheon. Pastor Vek invited about 100 business leaders (including a 4-star general!) sponsored by the team and our supporters. Joel gave a talk about the impact God and his faith have had on his life and his business leadership. Then Pastor Vek followed up with a message and the opportunity to pray and enter into relationship with Christ. Out of 100 people, 66 said they prayed to receive the gift of Christ’s love! One guy wrote on his response card that he had been feeling empty in his heart for years, and that he was so ready for God to come into his life and fill him up! Props to Joel for allowing God to use him despite a language and culture barrier!

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Peanut being Peanut

Samnang big finding his inner woman through panty hose

Davin scrapbooking

Davin’s final product!
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The final leg…

Hey everyone – so we just landed in Seoul South Korea and getting ready for the final leg back to Atlanta. I know I’ve been a little delayed on updating, but the girls have done such an awesome job, I’ve held off. I did want to give very one an update on the team and where things have landed on my end.

This has been such an outstanding trip for me and I am so very thankful to everyone who helped me along the way — in prayers, support and encouragement. My heart is so truly softened by the country of Cambodia and all these kids we have the privilege of serving! As we reflect the past 10 days and all that has happened I continue to remain in awe of what has happened. Through the sounds of laughter, giant smiles on faces and enormous hugs all week – the reality of what these kids have been through seems not to exist. Time seems to standstill an it is a beautiful thing! Our prayer for these kids was an opportunity for them to disconnect from their normalcy and just be – as we look back, I think our mission was accomplished.

For each of us, our hearts are truly breaking as the miles between us and Cambodia grow greater. These kids have just spent the past week soaking up everything we could give them and everyone of us wishes we had more time to Continue pouring into them.

God is moving in Cambodia and I feel so humbled to just be a part of it! May we continue to pray over each an everyone of these children and may God continue to prepare a way for us to continue to return so these kids know beyond a doubt – they are not forgotten, they are greatly loved!

Thank you again to everyone for another life changing trip for both me and the kids!

Joel

Good Morning Vi-et-nam! Wait – make that Good Morning Cambodia!

Amazing and heart breaking day yesterday at the orphanages in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. Adding some pictures 🙂

Also a shout out to my awesome roommate Brittany Bowker for taking care of my “children” Reilley and Bindi. Hope everyone had a fantastic week!

Last Day in Phnom Penh/Banteay Meanchey Orphanage

So, our last day w/ “our” kids was yesterday. There was sadness but not a lot of tears, which I take to mean that we have come to a place where the kids trust us, are secure in our love for them, and know they will see us again. Each year I’ve been here there have been less and less goodbye tears and a lot more “Chooup kaneah chop chop,” or “See you soon!” We left EARLY EARLY EARLY this morning, drove to Battambang to pick up Alex (missionary/friend here), and drove to the Banteay Meanchey orphanage, which was the only orphanage not to have a team spend a week there. Those kids were stinking excited to see us! Here are a few pictorial highlights from the past 2 days:

Pichhing gives good hugs

Ratanak and Kristie (“Steeeve”) 
goofy Panarah

Joel, Pichhing, Heng

Davin, aka “Johnny”

Amber and Paly

construction team’s signature May 2011

Robb and Thearah, who has the biggest smile ever seen on a child’s face!

goofy cuddling

lots of kisses and hugs for Joel to take back to Billy Hall!

We just got to Battambang!

We rose early and hopped on the bus to head out to Battambang so we could pick up Alex ( our missionary we work with here in Cambodia) and tour the orphanage. After a bumpy ride we made it here in 6 hours and just sat down for a quick lunch. Here are a few pics from along the way.

Battambang & Banteay Meanchey

Today was early, a lot of driving and two very important stops… we stopped at the orphanages in both Battambang and Banteay Meanchey.  This was my first time at either orphanage but I already knew some of the kids from the beach trip in July.  It was so fun seeing the different places and seeing the kids again!!  It was also interesting to see how different each orphanage is.  I am exhausted so I’m going to sleep but before I go I want to share a few more pictures.

Battambang

Banteay Meanchey

Banteay Meanchey

Whats an update without someone wearing glow jewelry??

Tomorrow we are heading off to Siem Reap…

I actually cried

I’ve come 4 times and even though I’m sad every time I have to leave, I never cry on the last day.  Today, I got into the van and a few tears came out of my eyes.  I think my exact words were “I hate cry!!!!!”  Gotta love my KhmEnglish!

But, before that teary farewell, we had an amazing last day with our kids!  We invited the kids in the surrounding community in the AM and had games and treats for them.  After that we hung out, did some crafts and played some games again with just our kids.  Then we had a surprise party for Erin who’s birthday is Sunday!!!

Rothanak showing me love

Erin and I laughing about… something!!!

Everyone!!

Front: Smey, Davan (aka Johnny) Back:  me and Seing Hai