It’s been about 5 days now since I left Cambodia. It was an incredible learning time for me to be in a country that is plagued by poverty and religious misdirection. The majority of Cambodians are from Buddhist families and make less in a day than we do in an hour. Despite their “lacking” of what we would consider necessities in life, the are very warm and welcoming people. I enjoyed the opportunities I had to talk about life with them and really hope that Jesus would continue to work in that country.
Getting to Cambodia was no walk in the park. I woke early and had to wait about 2 hours for a van that wasn’t overly packed to begin my journey to the border. The trip lasted about 5 hours and our 15 passenger van was carrying 21 if I recall correctly. It was certainly close quarters for everyone but I guess in a way it was just preparing me for the future…Upon arriving at the border, I shared a taxi with a younger man from France who happened to be traveling to Battambang that evening as well. What I noticed very early on about Cambodia was that this country was no Thailand. By comparison Cambodia is much poorer and less developed. This made for some pretty cross country driving but certainly didn’t make our journey on a bumpy rode in an old Camry taxi any smoother. When I arrived in Battambang I headed straight to the YWAM base where I would be staying where I was greeted graciously by Rady, the director of this particular base. Having no real affiliations with YWAM, I felt very blessed that they just let me come and stay with them for 3 days. A DTS (Discipleship Training School) team from Hawaii also happened to be staying there as well so I had a nice opportunity to spend some time with other Americans who had already spent a few weeks in the country. My time in Battambang was short and between resting my swollen ankle and reading I didn’t do a whole lot. I did however stumble upon a very busy boat racing festival which was certainly unique and spent one evening in worship with the base in their weekly community service. The morning I was to leave I headed to the bus station but all the buses to Siem Reap were sold out. I was told taxis we only a few dollars more so I agreed to take one…
At first I thought my fellow riders would only be the 2-3 gentlemen who had been hanging around the taxi waiting for it to leave. Then the unthinkable happened. A whole Cambodian family strolled on up and began putting their bags into the trunk. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trying new experiences, but something didn’t sit well with me about this. So how do you fit 10 people into a 91′ Toyota Camry? (oddly the same car I drove in high school…we never tried for 10) Well, the driver sat with another man on his side, I rode in front with a man half on my lap, 2 men and 2 women sat four across the back seat, and each woman held a child in their lap. Amazing right?! 3 hours and an extremely sore bottom later, we arrived in Siem Reap, praise the Lord!
My new friend via couchsurfing.org Rady Rure picked me up downtown and took me to his guesthouse for volunteers at his school. It was certainly better than my expectations and it was nice to have a little space to call mine for a few days. Rady was extremely gracious and kept me fed throughout my stay in Siem Reap for free. That afternoon we went to the school that he opened, teaches at, and supports out of his pocket. It’s really an incredible act of selflessness and I’m certain that God brought me into contact with him. The school is out in the country and sits on an acre of land that he rents. A couple years ago, Rady and his friend built 3 classrooms and a library in order to provide tuition free English lessons for Cambodian children who can’t afford private lessons. Rady uses money from his own savings and the few donations he receives from others to support this project as well as his family of 9. Did I mention he has 6 adopted children living with him?! While Rady isn’t particularly open about his faith in Jesus Christ, he’s certainly seeking after God’s will in his life. He hopes that when the time is right he will be able to share openly with his students who Jesus is and how he has provided the school, not himself.
I spent my first 2 days volunteer teaching at the school with Rady and a couple of other volunteers. I also dug deep into my minimal artistic past to paint some flowers along one of the buildings. Click here to visit the schools website and get involved! Rady also took me around to some of the more touristy areas of the city including the wonder of the world, Angkor Wat. I’m really thankful to God for taking me to Siem Reap and being able to see His work through people like Rady. It is my hope that students and people in the community would continue to see the work that he is doing and see Christ being lived out in the way he lives.
I’ve spent the last 5 days here in Chiangmai, Thailand busier than ever. I’ve met loads of amazing people serving the Lord here and have been encouraged by how many people have devoted their time, money, and comfort to see His kingdom come. I look forward to updating you on the last leg of my Thailand trip once I’m back in Korea on October 26th. Until then, thank you for your continuing prayers. God bless!
ps. Unfortunately I don’t have much for pictures as I don’t have access to them…but I can post one or two from a day zip lining in the jungle!