Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|First we must drive across the city of Phnom Penh...|
|...passing local trash dumps...|
|...the Independence Monument...|
|and wedding tents that take up half the road.|
|As we leave the city, the poverty becomes more noticeable.|
|The marginalized Muslim communities live on the outskirts of the city.|
|Then we arrive in Svay Pak.|
|This building houses a medical clinic, a church auditorium, nine classrooms, two offices, two supply closets, two households, a kitchen and a computer lab -- all in five floors!|
|The view of the community from the back of the school/church.|
|Becki having a meeting with the teachers.|
|And just for fun--never underestimate what can be carried on the back of a moto!|
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
- We are thankful for the friends that we have made in Cambodia over the last eleven months. Heather, Jen, Sopheak and Borey (and many others) have encouraged us and walked through this first year with us.
- We thank God for our language teachers. Moi Ding, Sopheap, Panha and Anin are endlessly patient and seek to help us speak the language well and understand the Cambodian culture.
- We are thankful for fun package full of Christmas cards from Cornerstone Church in Arizona!
- We are thankful for our safe and peaceful home. It is a haven and a place of rest for us.
- We thank God for you and the many ways you have blessed and lifted us up. Your prayers have sustained us and we could not be here without you.
- We are thankful that God has been our refuge and rock as we have encountered both joys and struggles in this year. He has been so faithful as we have followed Him into unknown territory.
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
We hope and pray that you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
One current crisis discussed at the member meeting is the plight of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia. 20,000 maids and housekeepers are currently employed in individual homes in Malaysia. These workers have few rights and are often abused and exploited for labor and sex. Recently, Cambodia halted the departure of maids pending the Cambodian government's negotiations with Malaysia for improved worker rights. CNN and others have been following these development -- read more about this issue here and here.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Fall greetings! We are sad to be missing the autumn temperatures in the States right now. The weather here remains quite warm, but we are becoming acclimated to it.
Thank you for your consistent prayers and encouragement over the past several months. We have now completed our internship with the Hard Places Community (HPC). Our time with the HPC was full of intense learning and hands-on service as we ministered to street children and their families; they live in extreme poverty and are at high risk of being sold for sex. Working with the children’s program at the park and the newly opened boy’s center were challenging and profound experiences for us.
Following this time of learning and growing, we decided to expand our education in the field of anti-human trafficking by partnering with new organizations. We are now focusing on three things. First, we are more intently learning the Khmer language, as this is critical to deepening relationships and engaging directly with those in need. Second, we are meeting with several other organizations that work in anti-trafficking in Phnom Penh to learn about their ministry and how to partner with them as we continue to learn and serve in this field. And third, we are volunteering to work on curriculum development with a few organizations in Phnom Penh. Given our background in education, we can use our skills to help advance the work of local projects that teach about preventing the abuse and exploitation of children.
The work of fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation has many layers. Organizations often specialize and focus on just one or two areas in order to provide quality care. Then, by cooperating together, they can provide a complete spectrum of services to families. Some of these areas are: prevention, social work, rescue, counseling (aftercare), education, vocational/job training. Here are a few of the standout Christian organizations we have met with:
Daughters of Cambodia
Daughters of Cambodia has developed a unique model for Cambodia, one in which sex workers come directly to the organization from the brothels by their own volition. Daughters is not a shelter, but they facilitate the girls' exit from the sex industry by providing a number of resources and programs that enable them to sustain healthy choices for themselves.
Agape International Missions
Agape International Missions (AIM) provides holistic care to rescued victims of sex trafficking through a residential shelter. AIM is highly involved in equipping and mobilizing the local church to take action and helps build church-sponsored community centers and schools in areas with a high concentration of sex trafficking.
Precious Women is a Khmer Christian organization that reaches out to disadvantaged and vulnerable women who are working in brothels, beer gardens, bars and karaoke halls. Precious Women promotes value and dignity through counseling, job opportunities and life skills training.
Please pray for us as we continue to study the language, meet with organizations, and volunteer with various ministries. We hope to have more information in the coming weeks as to where our gifts and desires best match one of these groups and its’ needs. We remain committed to being in Cambodia and confident that God has us right where He wants us. Thank you for your continued partnership in our work here in Cambodia!
Kimberly, Rachel, and Becki
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Recently the mother started asking questions of one of our Khmer staff. She couldn't understand why we would keep helping them even though they practice Buddhism. She asked if the Buddhist shrines in their house made us uncomfortable. We told her that we love her family, that Jesus loves her family, and we wanted to help them even if they didn't believe in our God. After many conversations, the mother and two older children accepted Jesus as their Savior. We are thrilled that our friends are now our family!
Please pray for continued wisdom and direction from the Lord for our work and our lives here in Phnom Penh. There is a lot to learn, and overwhelming need all around us. We are getting to know other anti-trafficking ministries and exploring ways to partner with them as we discover our own passions and gifts. We want to continuing following Him in all things.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting. Step by step, many things have built upon each other in order to be ready to open a center for exploited boys in Phnom Penh. And now, it's happening! On June 15, the Hard Places Community will get the keys to our new building. The dream is becoming a reality! This could not have been possible without many months of hard work to prepare the spiritual and physical ground for this long-awaited project.
While working with children at Kid's Club over the past few months, the need for a center for boys has become all the more apparent. We know boys like Mike* who showed up last week with terrible burns, evenly spaced, along his inner-thigh. Someone saw this vulnerable boy on the street and did something evil. Each day we see Steve* who is bright and loves to learn. He wants to go to school but his family does not have the proper paper work. Now he is far behind the other kids his age. Oscar* comes to Kid's Club when he can, as long as he still has enough time to collect recyclables in his ratty sack to take back to his family at the end of the day. These boys and so many like them need a safe place to find love and hope.
One of the main reasons that it is possible for us to open this center is because of Traffick Jam 2011 (traffickjam2011.com). Many of you responded to the call this spring and took a stand/walk against the darkness of human trafficking. The funds from this event made it possible for us to sign a lease and start renovations. We have teams of people arriving in the next two months to help with cleaning, painting, and construction, which are all important parts of getting ready to open our doors.
Thank you for all that you have done to be a part of this amazing endeavor! God has used you to be important building blocks in this project. Prayer warriors, Traffick Jam coordinators and walkers, our own supporters allowing us to be here to work in Cambodia, encouraging visitors, people spreading the word about human trafficking - all of you are a part of this. God is using YOU to bring his Kingdom here on earth!
We'll keep you updated on the developments at the Boys' Center in the coming months. Keep praying and spreading the word. God is up to something good.
Kimberly, Becki, and Rachel
* names have been changed
Things are constantly changing around me, but one steady part of my life here is learning Khmer. Depending on the month, I go to my language school up to four times a week for a one hour lesson. So far, the focus is only on speaking and listening, not reading and writing. I'm continually amazed at my teacher's patience while I butcher the pronunciation and word order day after day after day.
Recently my teacher, who is a college student and also a believer, began teaching me how to pray in Khmer. Every lesson we switch off who starts the lesson in prayer. I have to write out my prayers the night before and then I stumble through them during the lesson, but I immensely enjoy learning language to express my spiritual life.
Pray for us as we transition in our roles within the Hard Places Community (HPC). Kimberly is taking on more responsibility as the HPC in-country administrator. Rachel will be doing resource development, setting up programs for the Boys' Center and training new staff. Becki will continue working with children in the park ministry while dreaming up the beginning steps of outreach to young women in the park.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
On Saturday, all across the US, people took part in Traffick Jam 2011, a nationwide walk-a-thon aimed at helping to eradicate child sex trafficking in Southeast Asia. Funds raised from the walk will be used directly to help the projects that we are engaged in here in Cambodia. Our team, the Hard Places Community, is committed to working in areas where there is a high incidence of trafficking in order to help bring an end to the sale of young children.
As we mentioned in our previous post, we are currently running a Kid's Club at a park in the heart of Phnom Penh. Because of Kid's Club, we meet children who hang out at the park everyday and we are developing relationships with their families. This park is an area where it’s common to find pimps and prostitutes. It’s also an area men go to looking for young children. The kids are incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Indeed, some have already been sold.
The Hard Places Community hopes to have a boys’ center close to the park where we are currently volunteering. There are many organizations here in Cambodia who are helping women and young girls who have been abused or trafficked. There is relatively little focus solely on young boys. The risk of a young boy being sold is just as great. With this center, we hope to provide a safe place for boys to go, where they can have practical needs met and find help and hope. The funds raised from Traffick Jam 2011 will help to make the boys’ center a reality.
In solidarity with those who walked in the States, we and our teammates walked across Phnom Penh on Saturday. We started at 5:00am in hopes of beating the worst of the heat. We started at our house and walked to the Independence Monument and then on to the park.
Thank you to those of you who helped to coordinate walks in your area! Thanks also to those of you who walked or supported those did. Together we will help bring child sex trafficking to a grinding halt! (For more information, you can check out the Traffick Jam website.)Here is a picture of our Cambodia team after our walk. We finished with breakfast together at a local restaurant.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Here is what a normal Kid’s Club day looks like:
We leave our house in a tuk tuk with a box brimming full with supplies - crayons, scissors, an attendance book, a first aid kit, silly stickers and any other lesson materials needed for the day. At the park we are often greeted by a small group of children awaiting our arrival. They grab our supplies from the tuk tuk and dash towards the place we meet. If we are not careful, they begin rummaging through the box, trying to catch a glimpse of what the day’s lesson might hold. We pull out our bag of balls and spend 20 minutes simply playing with the children as they come from their various ‘homes’. When most have gathered, we give each kid a name tag, which they carefully apply to their shirts and we officially begin.
Because we have such a transient community, we often spend the first ten minutes introducing ourselves and reminding the kids of good Kid’s Club behavior. From there we sing some songs. This is one of the most precious times at Club. It is such a joy to hear 15 little voices sing songs with lyrics like “Jesus loves me and Jesus loves you” in the middle of a public park for all the world to hear. Then, with much gusto, we play a game like Moses Says or Red Light, Green Light.
After the game, we settle into our Bible lesson. Once we finish, we ask the kids how we can pray for them. They tell us about their sick family members and friends. In unison we lift up these requests to the Father. Next, we split into groups and begin a craft. When we finish the craft, we share a snack together and, finally, remind them to come to Kid’s Club the next day. Then we gather our supplies, give last hugs, say good-bye, and climb into our tuk tuk. As we head home, our hearts are full of gratitude for Kid’s Club and the children that God has given to us for this time.
Grace and peace,
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
NEW. INTENSE. GOOD.
These are the three words we would use to describe the last two months of getting settled into our new lives in Phnom Penh. During the last two months we started the process of learning Khmer, received some intensive training on trafﬁcking and the sex trade here in Cambodia and began a park ministry for children at risk of exploitation. These are just the tangible things we have been doing.
Then there is the other realm of emotions which have accompanied these weeks. The stories we hear and now engage in have powerfully broken our hearts and challenge us to continue pursuing God’s shalom for this place.
At Kid’s Club, our daily park ministry, we sing, play games, and tell stories about Jesus. It's an amazing opportunity! The kids come from a variety of backgrounds, but most are profoundly poor and many are at high-risk of being abused. Several are already being exploited.
We recently learned about a trafﬁcking situation with three of our Kid’s Club children. Our Khmer staff discovered three siblings are taken out at night by a man to 'have fun'. Their parents are paid the equivalent price of a latte at Starbucks. Each and every day while we teach, laugh and play with these precious children, we are also devastated by what we know happens to them each night.
This is a terribly sad situation and sometimes we are overwhelmed by the manifestations of evil all around us. In this case, the good news is that an investigation is beginning. The even better news is that we are able to pray and cling to the hope of a different life that Jesus offers these children. Please join us in prayer for this family. Lord, have mercy!
TRAFFICK JAM 2011
On May 7th people all across America will come together to walk ten miles in their neighborhoods to take a stand against child sex trafﬁcking. Trafﬁck Jam is a fundraiser for Hard Places Community to help open a center for exploited boys in Phnom Penh. We want to provide a safe place for boys to come and receive counseling, medical care, education, and freedom from oppression. Each walker commits to getting ten sponsors to donate $1 (or more!) per mile. Want to be involved? Check out http://trafﬁckjam2011.com/ or e-mail us for more information
Pray for our adjustment to life in Cambodia -- learning Khmer, ministering crossculturally, and living in a hot, tropical climate.
Pray for healthy outlets for us to process the stress and emotions of the difﬁcult situations we see every day.
Pray for the children who attend Kid’s Club -- that they would learn about God’s truth and that they would be protected from the evil that surrounds themCONTACT INFO
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Not everything has been new. Asia, in many ways, is still Asia. I have been able to assimilate all the Cambodia ‘new’ not just into my United States schema, but also into my China schema. Very little here fits into my US mold, but a lot of it is similar to China.
Yet, Cambodia is so different from China. I see that more and more as each day passes. To me, Cambodia makes China look like the most predictable and orderly country known to man! With only two weeks under my belt that’s not a very informed statement, but for now it’s what I can see and give words to.
The amount of learning in these past two weeks has been extraordinary. I have not only started daily language study but also training in anti-trafficking for sexual exploitation. Our team has heard from several people who are working specifically with exploited boys and girls. Their stories are inspiring and overwhelming. The problems are enormous. As someone said recently, “there will always be more problems in Cambodia.” You can tackle one issue and then ten other serious issues will surface. There is no way to isolate the problem of poverty without intersecting with problems due to lack of education. You can’t work on reaching only sex tourists and not grapple with the supply chain of girls coming from the countryside or neighboring countries. Where does one even begin?
One thing I have taken comfort in these past few days is the fact that I am not the beginning. Many others have come before me and tilled the ground. For many years, people have been fighting for the lives and hearts of exploited and marginalized people in Cambodia and all over the world. I am joining a large Body of workers. ‘Together’ is such a powerful word. ‘Alone’ is scary. And we are not alone! Praise God!
I am eager to learn more from those who have already given so much to the cause. I know my heart will be incredibly overwhelmed at times, but I have teammates here and people all over the world who remind me that we are never alone. There is hope. Change is possible.
Here are some links to some of the amazing organizations we have heard from so far. As things continue here, we will let you know more about what we are learning.
Daughters of Cambodia
International Justice Mission
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
We made it! After some long flights, we all arrived safely without any major snags. It's been less than three days and already we've gotten settled at our temporary guest house, acquired cell phones, met our teammates, had a stomach bug, explored the neighborhood and started language school. We'd give you a Khmer greeting, but we don't remember. We're going to blame that on jet lag.
On Monday we begin orientation and training with our team. This will jumpstart our education into Cambodian culture and the realities of the sexual exploitation that surrounds us. Soon after we will begin working with local children at a park that surrounds a Buddhist temple. More on that later! Also in the coming weeks we'll begin searching for an apartment to call home.
It's been quite a journey to get us to this place. Walking off the plane and realizing we were finally here - that this is our new home, our new country - was surreal. Thank you for all the support and prayers that have made this possible!
There will be many stories to tell in the days to come. We'll post pictures and more frequent updates on Facebook. Feel free to e-mail us any time; we'd love to hear from you.
Kimberly, Becki, and Rachel