Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time for a Video!

Hi everyone,

In lieu of writing an update, I want to share a little glimpse of one of our ministries, Sak Saum. You probably already know that I live in the Sak Saum ministry house, where most of the girls who are in the program also live. They are so sweet and God is doing so many awesome things in their lives, sometimes little-by-little and sometimes quite dramatically! It's hard to do justice to the heart behind this ministry, but this new video does quite a good job of it (kudos to Jacob Goodlin). So click on the link above and enjoy!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A GCCS Update

Hello everyone, hope those of you enduring high temperatures are beating the heat! Here in Cambodia it is actually cooling down (somewhat) as rainy season has started to make its entrance.

I had a minor moto spill since my last update, but I'm alive and well enough to tell the tale! Essentially I was making a slow turn off of a paved road onto a nice soft dirt road and fell into said dirt while avoiding a moto that was driving straight towards me. A very helpful boy from our Center was riding his bicycle right behind me and ran to my aid, and my only injuries were a scraped elbow and knee, which are healing nicely. I feel blessed that it wasn't a serious accident. Thanks for all your prayers: they are very important!

I've been wanting to share with you about our church for some time and since this month marks our church's first anniversary it seems like an appropriate moment! We have been seeing some awesome moves of God in Gospel Community Church of Saang (GCCS), with many people being touched as he works individually as well as corporately. It's awesome as well as personally challenging to see the congregation getting on board with what the Holy Spirit is doing! I love that God always honors the requests of people who ask for more of him.

I love our pastor Pheaktra and his wife Heng (who is expecting and due next year!). They are a great example of practicing what they preach: spending much of their time serving the community, visiting the sick, and encouraging the congregation.

One of my favorite parts of our Sunday services is getting to spend time with local yays (grandmothers) coming to worship together. We have some really beautiful elderly women in our church. I wish I could explain how special they are: if any of you ever have a chance to visit I'm sure you will agree.

Each week before our main worship service starts, I help Solomon teach a Sunday School for elementary aged kids. Some of them aren't allowed by their families to stay later in the day for the regular service, so our Sunday School serves as a sort of mini church for them. By later in the day, I mean 8:30 a.m.. That's right, our church service starts before most Americans get up on a Sunday morning! Actually, our Sunday School starts at 7:30 a.m.. I start driving at a little past 6 every Sunday morning in order to get to church in time to set up! So if I'm yawning during the sermon, that is the only reason! I like working with children, although it can be challenging to keep things interesting through somewhat of a cultural/language barrier. But Solomon is extremely good at keeping kids' attention, so it's not a problem.

Something that we recently began doing is organizing an informal pastor's fellowship for the Kandal province area. The pastors who have attended meetings so far are excited about having a chance to meet and share what's on their hearts and what God is doing in their congregations. It's going to be great to see the fruit that comes from building unity in the area.

I hope you've enjoyed hearing more about our church. Sometimes it's hard to find a balance between blogging about details/stories and giving the big picture of what we are doing here in Cambodia. But our ministry website has got a great mix of both (if you haven't been there yet, click here). And I just finished the latest IHSI newsletter last week, so if you haven't seen it yet, check it out!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Update

Hello all, it's been some time since my last update, due to a few weeks where I was quite under the weather. I hadn't been feeling well, found out I needed all four of my wisdom teeth pulled, got that done and then came down with a virus! So this past month has been unusual in some not-nice ways. Fortunately the Hansons' were awesome about taking care of me while I was taking some doctor-ordered bed rest, and I am now feeling strong and 100% better than before. :)

A lot has happened since last month. First and foremost, I want to share with those of you who don't know that In His Steps has received full funding for our safehouse project and the construction is underway! It's so exciting for all of us here to see God working out the details of what he has put on our heart for at-risk children in Saang. Being able to move forward with the safehouse is definitely the highlight of last month.

By the way, if you haven't yet seen our new website I strongly encourage checking it out, it's got great photos, a lot of info about what In His Steps does in Cambodia, and a blog that we update almost every week with stories of what's been happening and lots of new pictures. Plus there is a beautiful new blog dedicated to Sak Saum!

Also, my good friend and pastor Pheaktra got married to his beautiful sweetheart Heng and all of our staff got to attend the wedding. It was so awesome to be a part of their special day. Let's just put it this way: Cambodian wedding are about 40x brighter, louder, and longer than a typical Western wedding. Tiring but fun.

My health class in Saang just started a new sequence of classes about First Aid. The Goodlin's will be helping with the next few classes, which is fun. They gave a very humorous and energetic demonstration of the do's and don'ts of emergency response last week; the students loved it.

Two weeks ago we had an awesome event at our Center to celebrate International Children's Day. Children's rights are big issue here in Cambodia: violence and abuse in the home is common and it's simply normal to have young children working instead of attending school. So many children here never get to be a part of fun things because they are busy pushing clam carts on the roadside or working in garment factories. So we hosted a show with dances, songs, fun educational dramas, and more. We invited about 180 kids and their parents - over 400 attended! Some local government leaders came and watched too, which is great because we want them to understand the importance of the issue of children's rights and also to see what In His Steps is doing to educate the community.

Other exciting events are in the works at our Center, too... Hopefully I will be able to update you on some of them in the next few weeks.

Theavy's son Sokun has a birthday coming up, which makes me remember my time here as an intern in 2006 when Sokun was born. His name means "gift from God" and I know that his mom is very blessed by him. Sokun has been learning quite a bit of English at school. Lately, every night around dinner time he starts talking in cute, slightly broken English, letting loose an endless barrage of questions. "What is dees?" "What are you doing" "What is dat?" Now little Aaron (who is really not so little anymore, growing up so fast!) is learning from Sokun. However, his English sounds more like a product of the telephone game. "What de de dees?" "What do you do doing?" They are both very repetitive but extremely cute.

We have a new girl (actually TWO new girls, more on that at a later date) in the Sak Saum program. SreyWin is a sweet, quiet girl who is just starting to feel at home with us. I'm looking forward to getting to know her more.

Yesterday I had my birthday, and when I woke up I realized that I have been living in Cambodia for a year and a half now! It's been quite a ride; there are a lot of ups and downs to working in the missions field in a foreign country. But I can honestly say I wouldn't trade this time for anything. I know I'm supposed to be here and I am so blessed to be a part of what God is doing in this country. Some thoughts and observations since moving here:

- Confidence doesn't come from knowing your ability, but from knowing you are loved and accepted no matter what.

- Poverty is as much a mindset as it is a situation. People who want to come out of poverty need a paradigm shift for their approach to life, not just a change in circumstances.

- Programs are only effective when they are birthed from and centered on loving people and building relationships that can transform from the inside out.

- God's plan is always better. That's why he uses people without their own agendas. ;)

- Simple things like nail-painting sessions with your neighbors or running around in the rain with friends are sometimes just as important as "more important" things.

- Whether 3 weeks old in the womb or 10 years old being sold into slavery, the plight of at-risk children breaks God's heart and should move us to speak up for those who have no voice.

- There's no safer place or better feeling than doing what you are called to do!

Monday, May 3, 2010

IHSI Has Moved!

Guess what everyone, In His Steps has a new and improved website,! My new friends and fellow staff members the Goodlins put together the new site and it looks great. It's full of info, pictures, and stories of what our ministry is doing here in the (extremely warm) Kingdom of Cambodia. I'm excited to share this with you, and I hope you check it out soon!


I Love Me Some William Wilberforce*

Too often, we Christians feel a vague affinity towards being "do-gooders", forgetting why we have this desire and neglecting to trace the feeling to its cause: Christ's genuine compassion on his creation. Just as any culture has its perceptions of good, evil, and acceptable behavior, Christian culture has its own take on how we are to act towards the world around us. But can true compassion come from morality that has become mere habit? William Wilberforce** didn't think so, and neither do I. As he puts it, "there is no substitute for the love of God being our highest purpose."

Christianity is not just a system of ethics, dictating to our conscience what is right and wrong, leaving us to our own devices for how to act on what we know. Wilberforce felt a strong need to impress upon Christians of his day the relevance which faith should have on our emotions and our understanding of life. We should not be performing good works like lifeless robots, but thinking, feeling, passionate people who pursue godly living not to avoid pricks of conscience but for the joy of giving Him pleasure.

"We live in a state of cultural decline. A dry, unanimated religiosity does not have the ability to inspire the masses…[True faith should] know no social boundaries." (Real Christianity) The change that Wilberforce brought to the world through the abolishment of the British slave trade was not merely the result of dutifully taking action for a cause. It was the outworking of his genuine compassion for the oppressed. That compassion comes from the heart of God – a heart which is accessed by devotion, not duty.

Wilberforce aptly summarizes what real Christianity entails: "Keep a close watch on your heart. Don't get entangled in immorality. Do the next indicated thing God seems to be leading you to do. Attempt to be an imitator of Christ in your behavior. His goal was to always to do the will of the Father. Yours should be the same. Do justice. Show mercy. Be about the Father's business… Live like you love Jesus! [And] do it with more gusto than the people of this age pursue fame, fortune and power."

Until next time, God bless!



*Long ago (I was about 18 at the time, so obviously it wasn’t too long ago) in a land far away (America), I wrote for a Christian online magazine called, which is now defunct/dead/altogether-past-tense. Part of the “job” (it was a volunteer position) was doing book reviews and editorial pieces, which sometimes meant getting free books! I loved it. Besides an improved resume and work experience, one of the coolest things about the job was getting to read Real Christianity, a modernized version of a book by William Wilberforce. I recently came across the review I had written for the book, and rereading it is where the above musings came from.

**William Wilberforce was a British parliamentary member in the 1900's who played a major role in the demise of the English slave trade. Wilberforce was not just an eloquent advocate of social justice, but also a gifted writer with a hunger for spiritual truth.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy New Year! Again!

Well everyone, it's that time of year, again... and again... and yet again! April is the third and last time each year that Cambodians have new year celebrations (we've already had International New Year and Chinese New Year). This country has a lot of holidays, but Khmer New Year is by far the most important to Cambodians. It is technically a three-day holiday, but it's relatively common to hear of people taking off the entire month to go and visit their home village... Very difficult to relate to when coming from a country where no one who's finished college expects to have much vacation time!

We have been super busy here at In His Steps: our sponsored children have been studying up a storm for their exams (and many got top marks in their classes!), Sak Saum girls have had some visitors and are learning new skills, our English classes are overflowing with students, and our church plant is growing! On the administrative end of things, I have been very occupied with helping our directors get ready for tax time (non-profit organizations have a lot of accounting responsibilities to prove to the IRS that they are legitimate!). So we have been going over numbers from last year and getting ready for the rest of this year. It's kind of mundane, but also very important if we want to keep going with the work our ministry is doing here.

It's extremely hot in Cambodia right now, to the point where you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if the fan is really on. Even local people say it's hot, which helps make us foreigners feel less conspicuous as we sweat gallons and fan ourselves with anything that happens to be available!

As I mentioned earlier, the English classes at our Foundation Center are overflowing... Eric recently made a short video at the Center so I thought I'd post the link to let you catch a glimpse of how busy it is here every day. But yet again, is having problems posting links. So if you want to see the video, copy the following URL and paste it into your browser. Sorry for the hassle, enjoy!


God bless,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Video Post (courtesy of Eric)

Hi everyone, Eric made a short video at our Foundation Center last month of a women's seminar that our ministry held... it's a really nice little glimpse of the Center and the community that we are working in. For some reason, the "link" option isn't working on my blog right now, so to watch the video, copy the following link and paste it into your browser. Enjoy!