We can’t go "back to normal"…

…but perhaps we can go forward as people changed by the experience we’ve shared. Hello. My name is Jennifer Perlick and I’ve just returned with the Phnom Penh team from my first mission trip. When I applied to be a part of this team in November 2012, I was coming off a personal low and I was looking to serve as a way to forget about my own situation. I’d heard Andy preach many times about serving in our local and global community, and I figured it was time to see what it was all about. Many people who serve and volunteer in various capacities will tell you that serving does more for them than they are able to do for others. Oh how true! As I acclimate myself back to Atlanta time, I can’t help but look at the clock and think about what we would be doing at that point on Cambodia time. I’m reminded of being greeted by the smiling faces as we got off the bus each morning, the sweet voices of Srey Lin, Srey Mom, Pony, and Chea as we held hands in a circle and shared our prayers in both English and Khmer, and the laughter of Peanut, Narin, and Samnang as they would run and play. These moments stop me in my unpacking process as I prepare myself to return to my regular routine next week. I had the luck of being roommates with Tiffany on this trip. She and I are both public school teachers (she teaches 5th grade and I teach 8th grade special ed math). She reminded me while in Cambodia that she and I are privileged to get to work with kids every day. How lucky are we?! We get to do what we did in Cambodia, every day back home! So as I prepare to start another school year with Georgia teenagers, I can’t simply go back to my usual teaching routine. The loved shared by our kids in Cambodia must be paid forward to my kids here. Perhaps the biggest lesson that the kids in Phnom Penh taught me was to love others the way that they need me to love them. The teens in my classes here may not hold my hand and talk to me as our kids in Cambodia did in new situations. In fact, my kids here will likely act out in times of unfamiliar and uncertain situations. So I may not show my love for my kids here in the same way that I could love our kids in Cambodia, but I can love my kids here in the way that they need me to love them. Maybe we could all do that…love those in our daily lives at home in the way that they need us to love them.

Now I remember….

….why we are so darn crazy about this country on the other side of God’s green earth. Today was a long day. Long in a great way! A day filled with prayer, fellowship, service, great food and FUN!
We begin with Emily Rains and our fab four freshmen (Emily Stubbs, Jen Perlick, Alanna Cronk and Tiffany Fick) leading morning worship with strong voices and incredible dance moves. It’s amazing how quickly all the kids catch on. We then divided up in to our small groups. Topic today was ‘Service’. No matter how big, how small, how rich or how poor we all are called to serve God by serving others. We reviewed John 13 and washed all the kids feet… in return they washed ours. Very moving for us all. We then headed out on foot to visit the residents that live around the orphanage delivering rice to them. We packed them full in quart size bags with a small aluminum cross and a business card that had the address of New Life Church as well as John 3:16 written in Khmer (the language of Cambodia). We were welcomed by the locals and they accepted our gifts graciously.
After lunch we returned to the orphanage and let Tiffany and Jen do their thing teaching English lessons. It is wonderful to see children who treat learning like a luxury. Like something so rare when that when it’s available they recognized the value in it.
Then we all decided to treat ourselves with a dose of fun. We planned to take the kids bowling…but…the bowling alley had been closed for 3 months. So, plan B. Cambodian amusement park. “Dreamland”. And that it was. Kristie Poll said it best, “It was kids being kids. And it was wonderful!”

Next stop ‘Pizza Company’. 8 Dozen orders of chicken wings, 15 large pizzas, 18 pitchers of soda and 31 smiles! Worth every penny!

We then told the kids good-bye for the evening with many hugs and best wishes. They returned to the orphanage in their bus and we….. stalled…. And showed up about 15 minutes behind them and took them by surprise creating a thirty minute party filled with glow bracelets and Chinese sky lanterns. Despite the rain the 26 sky lanterns lifted off in to the dark rainy sky with only one casualty. The kids loved it! They cheered and danced in the rain…many, many happy faces and much, much joy!

Tomorrow will be our last day to visit the orphanage. A day we look forward to, yet a day we wish was still far in the distance.

Sister.

My name is Tiffany and this is my first time traveling to Cambodia. Before leaving Atlanta, I was excited to come to Phnom Penh to serve the children that live at New Life Orphanage. Although this is my first time in Cambodia, it is not my first mission trip. I have been serving since I was 11 years old all over the States and overseas. I was not sure what to expect when I arrived here in Phenom Penh, and I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming amount of love received from children that didn’t even know me. As we pulled into the orphanage driveway, kids were waving and chasing our bus. Many of the people in my group have already been to Phnom Penh 2 or 3 times. When getting off the bus, I expected the veterans to be greeted by the kids with warm welcomes and “I love you’s”. What I didn’t expect was to be pulled by the hand of an older child with a smile across her face. Within the first few hours I was getting to know a very special girl named Kim Chhai who I would later call “Sister”. Instantly we connected. Maybe its the tomboy thing, or the ability to create friendships bracelets in a matter of minutes. Whatever the case, with in two days I had adopted and renamed Kim “sister”. On Tuesday when we arrived back at the orphanage from the beach I was greeted with “sister” from Kim unlike the broken “stiffany”. This after noon I was given a card from Kim with beautiful penmanship labeled “Sister”. I also broke down before opening it. To see the love these children have for people they barely know is amazing. It just proves that God’s love can break all barriers.


As we worked with our small groups each morning, I am able to listen to my four teen aged  girls pray to God is their native tongue. It is the most amazing experience. Their love and understanding of God’s grace,  strength, love and kindness is eye-opening. I think about my life and what I was thinking about at age 14. It sure wasn’t God. God can penetrate through any circumstance, and that is proven as I spend everyday with these children. There is nothing more powerful than seeing a glowing face speak about Jesus.

I wish I could document in writing each of the activities that we have done with the kids thus far, but there are too many to type and I am exhausted. Tomorrow will be another fun-filled day as we deliver rice with messages to local families, teach more English, and take the kids bowling. Tomorrow will be bittersweet as well since it is our last evening in Phnom Penh with the children before heading to Siem Reap.

For those that have supported our mission financially and spiritually, I thank you! 

The Beach and Back…

Just to get everyone caught up a little….the Business Luncheon was a huge success! On Saturday 73 local business owners and influential members of the community showed up. Andrew Rains did a terrific job communicating his five points of business success (with the help of a translator) to this large group of people. Many of the attenders were observed diligently taking notes and appeared to be fully engaged. Andrew also spoke of his Faith and how his relationship with God and the values God has laid out for him has a huge impact the way he lives his life, his career/work ethic and life as a family man.

 Andrew delivering his business man luncheon message.

We followed up the luncheon with a trip out to the orphanage to see the kids for the first time since we arrived. Lots of hugs and smiles and for the folks returning on this trip it was wonderful to see our team members new to Cambodia  begin to engage with the kids and begin to learn about them individually!

Sunday, we were early risers and made our way to the 7 AM service at New Life Church. Following the service we loaded up the buses and headed to the beach with all three teams and all three sets of kids from each orphanage. The beach, as usual, was delightful! The kids (and us) had the opportunity to run free, dive, splash, flight kites, throw balls, build sand castles, take pictures, laugh and eat like kings! That only left one thing to do for the ride back…sleep…

 Darrel, being nice and posing for a picture, and for one moment, not dunking the kids underwater
 Kristie with Narin. Look familiar?
 “But what really knocked me out was their cheap sunglasses, oh yeah!”

We returned back to the city yesterday evening in the thick of rush hour. We finally were dropped off at one of the favorite restaurants (Khmer Surin) the teams over the years have enjoyed to celebrate the success of the last two days!

Amazing

Yesterday the team and kids returned from a two day trip to the beach. I left for the trip feeling frustrated about having a difficult time learning their names. I returned from the trip thankful for the long bus ride home that allowed me to get to know them. I spent that ride home in the back of the bus with the older kids. They remind me so much of my students back home. I’m just in awe of these kids. I can’t help but allow them to influence the way I see life! They are simply amazing.

Day 1

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We officially arrived yesterday, Friday, July 12th, around 10 pm local time (11 am EST).  All twenty-two bags made it here and we were greeted by some of the older boys and the New Life church staff who helped us with our luggage and provided bus service to the hotel…yep, back at the wonderful and all familiar Cozyna Hotel.
And now we are waking up to our first morning under the Cambodian sky.  It was a short but well needed night of rest and we are ready to begin our day. This first day will consist of visiting and touring the church grounds, visiting a location known as Tuol Sleng, aka ‘S21’, (once a Khmer Rouge concentration camp during the late 1970’s) and hosting a luncheon for some of the influential businessman in the Phnom Penh area. The intention of the luncheon is to break bread with local business operators to share best practices in regard to growing and sustaining a small business but most importantly sharing the word of God.  With the help of an interpreter, Global X team member Andrew Rains will be the featured guest speaker at the business luncheon event.

I’m a Seoul Man!

The flight from Atlanta to Seoul doesn’t get any shorter….however, we have arrived at our transfer point and will be boarding in one hour for the next flight destined for Phnom Penh.

Our thirteen member crew (we officially added Kristie Poll mid-flight…..”sorry Mark and Jon….we got her”) is happy and healthy.

The next leg of the flight is roughly 5 hours which will put us in Phnom Penh sometime around 10:30 pm local time. (That’s 11:30 am EST). We are very much looking forward to being greeted by the kids and certainly having a few hours to lay down and sleep… and not in the ‘upright and normal position’.

Stay tuned for day to day coverage…or whatever Cambodian Wifi coverage will allow.