S: H.I.S. Team Cambodia Trip June 2010 by Laura E. Shughart
BC: "How could I forget your face? When all it took was just one day For me to see it wasn't ordinary. I could never be the same. You took my hand and led the way. I didn't even know your name. But something happened deep inside me And I knew life would have to change. So how could I go back to life as usual? And how could I return to who I once was? I just want to take your story to the world Cause you have shown me what it means to love. You healed the sick and calmed the sea But Your heart was for the least of these. You came to love the lost and broken. Your cross has set the captive free. So how could I go back to life as usual? And how could I return to who I once was? I just want tot take Your story to the world Cause You have shown me what it means to love. Now I no longer live for myself. Your Words are so clear. Help me live it loud enough So they can hear." - Meredith Andrews What It Means To Love
FC: Cambodia 2010
1: "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27 | Cambodia Trip 2010
2: Welcome to Cambodia! | After traveling for 36+ hours, I finally landed in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. As I stepped out of the plane and began to walk towards the airport, two words kept running through my mind: "Welcome home!" | As I walked out onto the busy streets of Phnom Pehn, I was greeted by the sweet sights, smells and sounds of Cambodia. The typical scene of monkeys in the trees, fried crickets in vendor's carts and Sambo the elephant roaming the streets made me feel right at home again!
3: The first stop of the day was Wat Phnom, a major center for idol worship in Phnom Pehn. It was heartbreaking to watch the people offer sacrifices to gods of clay and stone that cannot offer forgiveness of sins for the people. These people do not know of the One True God who can redeem them and set them free! | Wat Phnom
4: Sambo the Elephant | While in Phnom Pehn, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Sambo the elephant. She grew up on a farm with her owner Sin Son but in 1977 she barely escaped | an attempt on her life by the Khmer Rouge who took her to a labor camp. In 1979, her owner was released from a labor camp and found out that Sambo was being used for forced labor. He arranged for her release and they now reside in | Phnom Pehn where people can ride her and feed her. I did not get to ride her but was able to feed her bananas and touch her. It was an unforgettable experience!
5: National Museum of Cambodia | My team visited the National Museum of Cambodia to learn more about the country's history and culture. | The museum was filled with nothing but idols and gods. This speaks volumes about what the people truly value- their gods and goddesses.
6: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum | Our hotel this year was located directly across the street from Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Tuol Sleng used to be a high school but was turned into a torture center during the Khmer Rouge reign. This was my second time at this camp and the shock of it was not any easier this time around. The fact that people were treated like animals and were murdered because of an education is unbelievable. The horrors of what occurred in Cambodia are just one of the many reasons why the country is in the poverty stricken state it's in today.
7: The Killing Fields | I also had the opportunity to visit the Choeung Ek Genocide Center (The Killing Fields) again. | As I walked through the fields for a second time, I was much more aware of | the bits of bone, ripped clothing and teeth in the dirt. While I walked, the tour guide shared many gruesome and horrific stories of the things that occurred on this land. | This tower holds thousands of skulls from those who were murdered in the fields by the Khmer Rouge.
8: My Cambodian journey took me back to Poipet for a second time where I was able to visit some of the children I met last year. It was a breath of fresh air to go from zooming motos and tuk-tuks in the city to | plow drawn carts and bicycles. Poipet is a much quieter town and although the poverty is more prominent here, | Poipet, Cambodia | there are many more visible signs of hope for these Cambodian people.
9: I wanted to bring this beautiful baby home with me! | A true jungle baby! | Multiple people on a bike- a common sight in Cambodia. | This year I spent a lot of time in the slums of Poipet presenting Bible stories, teaching songs and playing games. Walking among the people in the slums brought a new light to Poipet and played a part in making my heart more like Christ's as I spent time with the poorest of the poor. The Khmer people have very little yet are filled with such joy. Each time I think of them, they remind me to be thankful at all times and in all circumstances!
10: The Safe Haven | I was able to travel back to the Safe Haven in Poipet that I helped to build last year. As the truck pulled up and I saw all those beautiful children running and playing in a safe place, the tears began to flow! It was a very moving moment for me to see children that had been abandoned, abused and trafficked now thriving!
11: In the winter of 2010, the children at the Community House were moved to the Safe Haven. The rest of the children living at the Safe Haven have been rescued from trafficking or slavery. Many of the older girls at the haven were rescued out of sex trafficking. It is hard to believe that such beautiful girls had something precious stolen from them. Each child at the haven is going | through a counseling and recovery program to help them deal with the difficult emotions and questions they face each day.
12: The Joy of Childhood... | The sweet innocence of childhood is lost when a child is trafficked, abandoned or abused. However, my team sought to bring a little bit of lost childhood back to the children at the Safe Haven. As I played with each child, I saw small glimpses of the joy of childhood in their eyes. They enjoyed new gifts such as bubbles, balloons, jump ropes, bouncy balls, kick balls and much more. Such sweet joy from simple gifts...
13: This is the same little girl that I sat and rocked with in the hammock when I was in Cambodia in 2009. She is Vietnamese and was picked up when her grandmother was going across the Thai border to work. She now lives at the Safe Haven so that she does not have to cut sugar cane in Thailand. | This year, the Safe Haven got swings and new soccer goals. It was good to see that the children have things to play with to help bring some of their childhood back. | This little boy lived at the Children's Home last year and was transferred to the Safe Haven. He enjoys his new room that he shares with his friends and loves to learn in his new school.
14: Learning at the Safe Haven School! | The Safe Haven School opened in the spring of 2010 for the children at the haven to get a good education. This school is also open to the children of the nearby village so that they do not have to walk far distances to school. At the school, I helped them with their English and observed while they learned. It was a joy to spend some time investing in the lives of these future leaders of Cambodia!
15: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 | Although these children have faced many difficulties and hardships in life, they are being nurtured and trained to be future Christian leaders for their country. I pray that as they are taught God's Word, it would penetrate their hearts and move them to put their faith and trust in Him.
16: The Slums of Poipet | At one point during the week, I was given the opportunity to travel deep into the heart of the | poorest slum in Poipet. There are no true words to describe the horrible conditions these people are living in. However, despite this, | I have never met more loving and beautiful people in my | entire life!
17: I spent two hours there playing games, singing songs and teaching Bible stories. The whole community came out to enjoy these special festivities. That day I learned what it truly means to live and love like Jesus - to look at some of the dirtiest children I have ever met and not even see | the dirt but to see a person longing for someone to tell them they are beautiful and loved. This was an experience I will NEVER forget!
18: The Story of a Slum and a Well... | Cambodia last summer, God laid a heavy burden on my heart (Estelle's too) to somehow start raising money to build a well for the people in the slums that had no access to clean | As a college, LBC not only raised enough money to build this well to provide clean water but also offered a community of people hope for a new future. | After going to | water. It was incredible to walk through that slum and see a vision become reality! Now these Cambodian people can look forward to a healthier, safer life.
19: These are just a few of the beautiful faces that get to benefit from clean water and the new well. By having a well that is close to their homes, they will not have to walk long distances through the land mines and run the risk of being picked up by traffickers. And they will not have to worry about water born diseases. I am so thankful that this dream God placed in my heart has now become a reality for these children.
20: Soap Galore! | In meeting a basic physical need, the door was opened to meet an | even great spiritual need- the need for Jesus Christ! | Before I left for Cambodia, my Aunt BJ (who owns a soap making business) contacted me and wanted to know how she could help the women and children | of Cambodia. She had the perfect idea to send me handmade soap to give to the people there. When I got to the slum and began handing out the soap to the women and | children, they did not even know what to do with it. Many of the children tried to eat it and the | translator had to tell them that it was not edible. Then I was given the opportunity to teach the children how to use the soap. It was incredible to be | the first one to ever show these children how to keep | themselves clean and healthy.
21: Working at the Safe Haven | One of the mornings before the team ventured to the mat schools, we were given the opportunity to do some manual labor at the Safe Haven. Our team worked hard to fill holes in the cement wall surounding the compound, carry cinder blocks from one location to another and dig part of a trench for the new water system. It was hard work but extremely rewarding to be a part of the process that will give many abandoned, trafficked and orphaned children a safe, new home.
22: School On A Mat | This year I visited four different schools on a mat. These schools are run by the CHO staff and are used to get children caught up in academics before returning to a "real" school. Many of the children in these schools can not afford a school uniform so they go to these schools to get some form of education. These children usually learn basic survival skills, cleanliness, Cambodian culture and mathematics.
23: and school supplies and told Bible stories. The children sucked in every moment they had with us and followed us all the way out to our truck. Their hunger for God's Word and His love challenged | At each school on a mat my team sang songs, played games, handed out balloons, stickers, candy | me to cherish His Scriptures | and to never take the opportunity to study God's Word for granted.
24: A Hop, Skip and A Jump to Thailand! | One of the days in Poipet I was given the opportunity to go across the border and teach at a mat school in Thailand. I taught these children many new songs, played games such as "Limbo" and handed out candy and school supplies. It was a joy to be able to love on these children and spend time teaching them about God's love for them! | Before I left Thailand, I gave this mother some of the lavender soap Aunt BJ had made for the women.
25: One of the houses in the slum in Thailand- made of nothing but a few branches under a tree
27: Free-time at the Safe Haven | On one of our last days in Poipet we had some extra free-time before dinner and our leaders asked what we wanted to do with it. | We all decided that instead of going back to the hotel to take showers or naps (which we could have desperately used), we would go to the Safe Haven and spend a little more time with the children. | We played soccer, blew bubbles and played games with them. I am so glad we chose to spend time with these kids instead of relaxing at the hotel :)!
28: Days at the Temples | After five days in Poipet, the team headed to Siem Reap to debrief and do some sightseeing. Our first stop lead us to the temples. Bayon is well know for it's rich stone cavings of faces into the temple walls. Ta Prohm bosts temples with towering trees growing ontop of each structure. Phnom Bakheng is visited often at sunset and is known for it's breathtaking view as the day ends. We journeyed up steep stairways, climbed over monsterous trees and | slopped through muddy jungle paths to reach each temple destination. Even though this was my second time visiting these temples, it certainly was an adventure I will never forget!
29: Trekking through the temples on a hot Cambodian day was a little cooler with our traditional Asian fans! | Temple windows have become one of my favorite places to journal and reflect on how God worked during the trip and what He is calling me to for the future. | Angkor Wat was the final destination before boarding our afternoon flight. Again, we woke before dawn to rush off to see the sunrise. As much as I hated getting | up early and the thought of leaving beloved Cambodia, I knew what the sunrise brought- a fresh start and the promise of hope for the Cambodian people and myself.
30: Cambodian Apsara Dancers | While in Siem Reap, the team went out to dinner one night at a traditional Khmer restaurant where we sampled all kinds of Cambodian treats (my favorite were the vegeatable spring rolls and sweet banana shakes :)!
31: What we did not know about this | restaurant was that they had a nightly performance of the traditional Cambodian dance called Apsara. Apsara dance was originally practiced in the royal courts for the king. However, during the Khmer Rouge reign the art form was | nearly extinguished. | In recent years the dance has been revived and is used to tell stories about love or sorrow (similar to a ballet). Watching these dances was an incredible experience for me!
32: The Children of Cambodia | The majority of my time in Cambodia was spent ministering to Cambodian street children, orphans, former slaves and those living in the deepest poverty. Their joy and love in the midst of sorrow changed my life and opened my eyes to true, selfless, Christ-like love.
33: "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name, receives Me." Matthew 18: 4-5
34: The Cambodia Team | Kara Fila Amanda Prohaska Jenny String Pam Humbert Bri Epps Laura Shughart Estelle Soulard Ali Anderson Lindsey Meckley Amber Goehrig Ryan McGinnis Amanda McGinnis Michelle Kime Aiyana Ehrman
35: Until next time, Cambodia... | The day I left Cambodia was an aweful, rainy day. The weather must have understood what my mood was...glum from having my heart ripped away from the county I loved. I choked back tears as I packed up and dragged my suitcase out to the tuk-tuk. Estelle and I discussed plans of running away fom our leaders and staying for an extra week or two :). home. | We were not ready to leave and go home. However, we knew we had to go home to our families and continue our lives. Minutes before we boaded our plane, the rain stopped and the Cambodian sun shone bright as it set beyond the trees. It was a beautiful reminder to us that even though we were leaving Cambodia, God was still there with His people.
36: "He has showed you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8
37: Who will speak up for the least of these? | It has been over a year since I've come home from Cambodia and at times it does not even seem real. However, at other times when those beautiful faces flash before my mind, it all comes back and I realize that it was not a dream. It was reality...and still is! Even now there are orphans begging on the streets, countless people being trafficked and thousands staving in the slums. I continue to struggle with the questions of "What is my role in this and where do I fit amidst the large scheme of it all?" I have come to learn that my actions or inactions signifcantly affect those around me, even those on the other side of the world. The choices I make here significantly impact the lives of sweat shop seamstresses in Asia, child slaves in Africa and even those in Europe and the Americas. I cannot participate in such injustices and at the same time live a righteous and holy life before God. This is why I have chosen to fight and make others aware of the issues going on in our world- not just for myself or for my Savior- but for the little girl in Cambodia with a flicker of hope in her eyes that's begging fo someone to be her voice. If for no one else, I will speak for her! | "Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of those that are down and out. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!" Proverbs 31: 8, 9