Saang: a province 40 minutes outside Phnom Penh. It's rural, primarily made up of farmers barely surviving...or not surviving at all. It's a place that desperately needs the Lord. Abuse, prostitution, forced labor and slavery is rampant in this agricultural countryside - so sad. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to visit this area that In His Steps works in. The Foundation Center - a safe haven for orphans all the way to age 25 to learn how to read, write, and be influenced from the Godly staff at In His Steps. Basically, it serves as a hub for the community. Loaves & Fish is also an active program in the Saang Province. This program provides much needed food and medicine to the local community. It's amazing to see how the Lord has provided funding and a great place for these kids to come for the day...and more!
Since day 1 of our trip, I've been asking the Lord to open my heart to the people of Cambodia. And I think yesterday, when we visited the province, my heart began to swell for these precious people, especially the teenagers. Often times, the father is absent leaving the kids behind without the important role of a man in their lives. When we got to the Foundation Center, I instantly felt like that's where I could fit in - providing much needed discipleship to some of the young men in the community. There is this one young man I met that was extremely shy when I approached him. He lives with his Grandma and Grandpa but is confused about his identity. The surprising part is that all it took was a little interaction and he opened up. He became talkative (I couldn't understand him :) ) and wouldn't leave my side. I loved being able to be present and communicate that someone cared about him. I felt right at home! This continued throughout the day with different families. I would say this was my favorite day so far.
I love how my heart is exploding for the Cambodian people. They have been through tremendous suffering, and I'm excited to see how the Lord will use Noelle and I here to help raise their spirits, communicate love to them and hopefully lead them to the Lord.
Today, we were carted around through Phnom Penh to see the sites. We used the popular tuk tuk as our method of transportation to see where Cambodians leave sacrifices for the New Year, the beautiful river front and the local Western hot spots. We also saw how Phnom Penh is turning into a Western empire offering upscale apartments for $2,500/month hoping to draw wealthy Americans and Europeans to bring Cambodia into the spotlight. It's working. In fact, last year, the economy grew 10%. In the first quarter of 2008, the economy was already at a staggering growth rate of 25%!! I couldn't believe it. So as it may seem like a good thing that the economy is growing so quickly, the community is being left in the dust. They aren't making more at their jobs and the rich aren't helping the poor. That's why I love In His Steps. And that's why I can't wait to work with them!!
It's been a great experience so far - here in Cambodia. I'm so thankful the Lord has made it clear to Noelle and I what the best is...for us.