Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Thursday, January 21, 2016
And I'm really glad for it because, lately the days have seemed kinda long and a bit hard and they just don't fit comfortably yet....
This morning I met my 5 students who I teach for two full days each week at New Life Fellowship (my home church here in Cambodia) and we piled into a tuktuk and drove an hour outside of the city to our first field trip! During the past 3 months we have been studying together about communities, Shalom, God's throne being built on a foundation of justice and righteousness and how the choices we each make have an effect on His heart.
As we step into this new year will continue studying about His character, especially as it relates to the oppressed and victimized, but we will also begin to learn from various organizations that are already working to bring His Kingdom realities to fruition here in Cambodia. My goal is that each month we will have visits from Khmer staff who work at varying organizations focusing on issues such as caring for orphans, education improvement, anti-human/labor trafficking, refugee assistance, disability advocacy and whatever else I can find connections to. Then we will go to visit each site and see for ourselves what it is like to be in the middle of these things on a daily basis!
So, back to today... We went to Place of Rescue which is indeed a safe haven for orphans, people who are infected with HIV (and their families) as well as elderly widows. I had visited before and was excited for this to be our first field trip! One of the great things that is done at Place of Rescue is that a visiting group can be no larger than seven people which I think is beneficial for both the people who call the place home and the visitors.
As soon as we were finished with introductions we were being led to homes of some of the adults who have HIV. I began to pray for God to touch the hearts of my students and for them to step out in courage as we began this first of many experiences. Before I even knew it, they were being asked to pray for a woman whose husband left her after he gave her HIV and got her pregnant. She now lives in safety and her two year old son also lives at Place of Rescue. I watched as two of my students got right in the middle of things and prayed with compassion and love.
As we walked to the next place I gently reminded them all that our words really do have power when we are praying so there is no need to be shy about it because we are bringing life and joy through Jesus in us.
The next house was a preschool classroom full of sweet 3, 4 and 5 year olds who belonged to the adults who have HIV! To my complete delight all five of my students immediately got down on the floor and began playing and talking with these persons ones! The room was full of laughing, hand games, hugs and praying!
It was so much FUN to watch my five throughout the morning as different ones' eyes lit up and came to life during different moments and interactions. I was so intent on finding the moments for each of them and then walking with them one on one to the next place so I could whisper to them about how I had just seen Jesus being displayed through them.
As we rode back to the city the conversation in the tuktuk was truly confirmation for me about why I am doing this... They asked questions about things they had seen. Questions like:
-why don't the staff wear uniforms? To which I replied, "Let's think about this, they said they want a family atmosphere so why do you think they might not have uniforms?"
-Why were there no physically challenged people there? To which I replied, "Good question, tell me what you think about the situation concerning physically challenged people in Cambodia..."
-The woman who started Place of Rescue (an 80+ year old ANOINTED Canadian) really hears from God, how can I know if I'm hearing from God? To which I replied, "Great question! Let's talk about that for a minute....do you think God was with us during that visit? Why?"
They were thinking about it, really thinking about it! They are being allowed access to something they haven't seen before and they are being told they can, they must make a difference. They are beginning to understand what it really means that we can do nothing on our but must partner with what Jesus is doing around us....
I love my job. Thank you to each of you who make it financially possible for me to be here and to those of you who faithfully pray for me! Can't wait to tell you more stories...!
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015
Right now though I'm deciding that my feelings aren't going to dictate whether I write or not today. Sure, I might not feel like what I have to say is worth being written but, so what? This is a blog! People read it because they choose to read it not because they're paying to read it (because, if you were paying to read it, I'd surely put more thought and effort into what I post. Just so you know, for like that one day in the future when I write a book and do ask you to pay to read what I wrote).
If we let our feelings dictate what we choose to participate in and to exclude ourselves from we take the risk of missing out on a lot and, on the contrary, sometimes end up in situations we were never meant to be part of.
For example (ahem...) if you feel unworthy of having an option about a topic maybe you will let that feeling stop you from writing or speaking when in reality what you have to contribute no matter how small or big could be exactly what someone was needing or hoping to hear.
And on the other hand maybe you feel like you really need to be part of something so you jump in when in reality you could have held back from that one and things would have been just fine and maybe even better. Nobody is supposed to be everywhere and do all things.
The important thing is to be able to know how to communicate with God and to know ourselves well enough to recognize the difference. So that we don't get held back by our emotion or allow them to pull us into things we shouldn't be involved in.
And, that's all I got today! My obedience of keeping myself in the game of putting my thoughts to writing. Every post makes it more and more normal.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Sunday, June 14, 2015
I believe, with many others, that the songs written for this album, titled, "Bold", are filled with an anointing that will release something into Cambodia. Not really release something new but rather release something that has been held in for far too long... The courage proclaimed in the lyrics to these songs will give the ones who hear them the freedom to walk in ALL the fullness of His Kingdom as it is here in Cambodia. These songs will relaese people to grab hold of what is already theirs-not things they have to wait for but ALL that is already given for them to experience now.
No more waiting for Him to restore all that's been lost.....He is doing it already!
No more waiting for Him to receive blessing from Cambodia....He is being blessed by this nation already!
No more waiting for Him to be with us so we won't fear....He is with us already!
This morning during worship at church (a mere 14 hours after the recording ended) God's presence was with us in such a tangibly powerful way! Declarations were being made about ALL that God has in store for Cambodia as we sang that we wanted to see revival and His Kingdom come to this earth. We want more of Him...and that's what it takes, more of Him and less of us (John 3:30). I am so ready to keep walking forward into what He already has for us here in Cambodia! The Khmer worshippers have been realeased from their fear and silence and satan better watch out because they won't be stopped again!
I LOVE being part of the church in Cambodia during this season of its history. It is a season of realizing His truth, a season of receiving new revelations of Who He is and a season of rapid restoration of all that the enemy thought he stole!
Here's a video of one of the songs from the live recording of the 2nd album, last year. As you listen to the words agree with Heaven that Jesus will continue to be exalted in Cambodia, that chains will continue to be broken, hearts healed and dreams and visions set free over this nation!
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Now, I find myself having been in Cambodia for 5 years and being amazed by God's grace throughout that time. When I first left America it was all a great big adventure and going to be so much fun! My first 4 weeks was completely that (and grace filled from the moment we arrived in Cambodia and the 17 year old on our team who lost his passport between America and here was allowed into the country!).
After that first month though, I found myself in some desperate need of His grace. I couldn't just force new friendships, I couldn't simply snap my fingers and be fluent in Khmer and I couldn't deny the need for Hope I was seeing all around me everyday.
His grace was the only thing that would make a lasting difference for me.
And, I still rely on His grace everyday.
I have wonderful, deep friendships here now and I need His grace to continue investing in them even though people come and go about every 4 months here. I can understand Khmer REALLY WELL now and I need His grace to keep me learning in an attitude of humility. I know the names and stories of some people who are bound by hopelessness in their lives and I need His grace to continually speak and offer Hope... Continually. Over and over and over and even over again....
So many things I can't "just make happen", His grace is a sweet necessity in my life.
Just as it was in Paul's life when he asked the Lord to remove a pain he could not remove himself and this is what God replied and Paul's wise response,
Monday, April 20, 2015
When God paints the sky in brilliant colors and the sun is already gone it reminds me that sometimes He asks us to wait so long that everyone else tells us the good stuff has already come and gone, we've missed it and should move on... And then He gives us the best.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
I really enjoy assignments that require real effort, hard work. After learning for 3 years with the same teacher he still knows how to make me go a bit farther each time. It's a great feeling when I know I've accomplished an assignment in Khmer and I gave it my very best. I can tell and so can my teacher. Those days make us both happy.
Yet, there I was last night chatting with my roommate, answering phone calls, scrolling through Facebook and only absent mindedly putting together Khmer sentences about HPC. At the end of the night I already knew that today's lesson wasn't going to go over very well. Going into a lesson and feeling like I don't know exactly what I'm going to say and how I'm going to say it feels really vulnerable to me. Some days are harder than others when I'm trying to communicate in someone else's language and I know I haven't mastered it yet. I want to feel adequate, competent, like I'm on top of things and oh my goodness do I learn so much from this whole speaking a second language thing! Most times I probably just need a little perspective... I work with 25 Khmer colleagues who speak English as their second language almost every day and I think they're so brave, so smart and amazing simply because they're not afraid to show and try to have conversations in English, so why I can't I see that for myself about Khmer? That's another post altogether, for now back to my unprepared for Khmer lesson...
"Yvonne, tell me honestly, how long did you spend preparing this?" was his first question after my teacher listened to me stammer through 25 minutes worth of very little about HPC. So I told him. Next question, "Are you satisfied with this?" to which I again honestly answered no. "Okay, so next week try again, I know you can do better" he said. I was frustrated. I like to move on, I don't enjoy feeling stuck. I would have much rather just bombed and quit, moved on to something else next week so I didn't have to do a better job. I did learn a few words and phrases today that I needed in order to better communicate about HPC and my heart. I also got a new memory verse (because I did manage to memorize Romans 10:17 in Khmer!) which is always fun, 2 Timothy 1:7 in Khmer, woohoo!!
I knew going into this morning that I wasn't going to do my best and I really considered just canceling the lesson. I'm glad I didn't. I chose to show up instead. I chose to beat my pride back with humility and fumble through a jumble of words that was my own fault for not investing in it the way I could have (and I really could have, it wasn't a week where I didn't have time, I just chose other things...). I showed up and was held accountable as I was forced to be honest. I showed up and was given grace as my teacher patiently listened to sentences he knows I could have said more accurately, quickly and with much more ease than I did. I showed up and heard words of mercy and encouragement as I was reminded that students are students so that they can learn not because they already know it all. I showed up and was challenged (which, once I've let go of my frustration and accepted things for what they are, is motivating for me!) to give it my all next time.
Brene Brown writes in her book, Daring Greatly, "Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgement and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly." During today's Khmer lesson I was seen, it wasn't my best but I was seen. I was vulnerable and had the opportunity to be met with grace, patience, accountability, honesty and motivation to keep going!
And, this blog.... I didn't write when I wanted to this week but I'm writing now. I'm showing up. I can be seen. It's vulnerable, it's a risk. It motivates me because if I can do it tonight then I can do it next time, too. I'm choosing to see this morning's Khmer lesson as a victory because I really could have backed out, cancelled and gone to pick up a friend from the airport, but I didn't. And this writing, right now, is an even bigger victory!
Jesus showed up for me, He did not sit on the sidelines and judge where I was. He walked the earth, He died on the cross, He was vulnerable. And, I certainly see Him, I honor Him in the ways He has showed up and how He'll continue to show up. So, yeah, when He asks me to show up for a Khmer lesson in honesty instead of backing out and letting shame and pride win, I will. When He asks me to show up and start writing again, about things that matter to me, about vulnerable things, I will. I will continue to dare to show up because He continues to meet me every time.
What did you show up for? What will you show up for?
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
If you’re familiar with the DISC personality test I am an SI type which means that I really enjoy people and stability could be my love language. I like to know what to expect. I like to be able to prepare emotionally for changes.
I think there are two major factors that contribute to my deep desire for stability. First would be my childhood. I grew up in a home where very little was predictable. I never knew if the adults around me were going to be happy, hung over or high. When they were happy life was pretty great…when they weren’t it wasn’t. Now, as an adult, I really like predictability, I like having control over my environment, it makes me feel safe.
The second factor is the fact that I am visually impaired. I have adapted throughout my life so that I learn and remember things quite differently than fully sighted people. When I walk into a room for the first time I immediately begin mentally mapping it out as far as things that will stay consistent-how many chairs are there? Where are light switches located? Is there more than one entrance/exit? And this mental map will be filed away very exactly for future reference. I also make short term notes about things that change-what color shirt is she wearing today? Where exactly did my purse, jacket, shoes (I live in Cambodia, we take our shoes off inside!) get placed? If we’re eating a meal together, where are things located on the table and how can I tell them apart from each other? In this sense, predictability and stability make me feel safe and confident.
Then, last May, some of my closest Khmer friends that I work with began quitting their jobs. And I hated it.
In fact, the past few months have been full of people moving. The normal interns and teams (I’ve learned to accept this, embrace them while they’re here in the capacity that I can and say goodbye when they leave), my roommate of the past three years got married, the worship pastor and his family at my home church in America moved and two of my closest Khmer colleagues left for new opportunities. It’s (mostly) not been a lot of fun at all. I have cried a few of those cries that make your throat hurt and your eyes burn with hot tears. I have tried to convince myself that it doesn’t really matter that things are changing. I have asked God why He made me to care so deeply that it has to hurt when relationships change.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
We spent time well this morning. Together with our iced coffees, notebooks and lots of laughter. As she prepared to put her outside shoes back on for the moto (mo-ped/scooter) journey from my house to hers she suggested that we pray first. I’m always up for this idea!
So, we began to talk to the King who loves us and greatly desires that we come to His throne and share our hearts with Him. We talked with Him about our hopes and desires for this upcoming year. Desires to see specific clients healed from heart disease. Hopes for certain staff members to learn to walk in their Kingdom identities instead of what their families and society lie to them. Desires for His name to spread throughout Cambodia.
We also told the loving King about things that weigh heavy on our hearts… The names of little ones who are still being sexually abused even as they leave our programs, the complications of overcoming a mostly corrupt government in order to stand up for justice, the difficulty of trying to speak hope into situations in which the people involved haven’t met Jesus yet and so they don’t understand what resurrection means for each one of us… So many heavy things on our minds and hearts. And, He listened to each one of them. He acknowledged our frustration, validated our anger and anguish and then He reminded me of such a simple truth that I just forget most times…
When we live our lives with Him we can completely trust every single next step we take. Every. Single. One. He already knows the future He has for us. He always has the very best in mind for each of us, He created us and a Creator values what He has made. So, we can walk secure and confident because He really only has good things in store for us.
When we know that at the core of our hearts, when our spirit resonates with The Spirit, we will not even think about worrying about the heavy things because we will know that He is good.
We won’t worry about the heavy things. We will engage with them though. We will partner with the good He wants to bring. We will speak life. We will validate the pain, the anguish, the losses. We will validate them because they are real in this world. Without them, what would our hope be for?
This morning’s time with my friend and my King was soothing to my heart. Hurts, uncertainty and frustration were validated. Then we were able to securely take just the next steps towards going back to work on Thursday. We will meet every situation with validity and hope because we know He is good and so we will follow Him.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
I am currently in America where I have been for the past six weeks and will be for the next seven weeks. It is good to have a change of scenary, different pace of life for a bit. During what has become my "normal" life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia I am met daily with the reality of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children, women and men. Along with each new story that we become part of at our center for prevention and restoration comes the chance to believe a victim, form a strategy to help and pray for God's favor and wisdom as we go forward.
I know though that if I chose to keep going I would have nothing to give tomorrow. And tomorrow will come with its new stories and new opportunities for myself and our Khmer employees to help.
So, as I live in Cambodia I do choose the discipline of slowing down and shifting my focus so I am filled up by lighter things because I know it is what will help me keep going tomorrow.
But right now, tonight, I sit here in America with LOTS of time on my hands because I don't have daily committments or to-do-lists. I've chosen to stop for longer than I'm allowed in Cambodia. And as I live in this strange place of 'in between' where I don't have the same demands/opportunities that have become normal I find myself with different opportunities being given to me by my Creator.
Some days I'll see an article (or five) on Facebook about pedophiles in Cambodia and I have the opportunity to pray my heart out...His heart really. I can just sit with the pain, the anger, the hope for transformation....all my thoughts and emotions can be what they may for as long as it takes for me to feel satisfied that I have given my heart, my attention, given my all emotionally to this thing that is so complicated and can never be wrapped up in one workday.
Other days I can't stop thinking about those I've grown to love in Cambodia. Literally, can't stop. I know what their days look like, I know when to pray and what to pray for because I'd usually be there with them. God's heart of intercession blows me away when I slow down so much that I can feel what He feels, hope what He hopes and declare what He has already done and is yet to do! Allowing myself the time and space to partner with Him in this way is completely refreshing to my soul.
I don't want to leave my everyday life, it's not natural for me to walk away from things I'm invested in. But, I choose to seperate myself for a while slowing down and shifting focus because I know I need the things I gain here so I can be reconnected to His heart for me and for those around me. It reminds me of His character and I continue to follow Him.
I can't do this slowing down thing alone. In Cambodia I have friends who remind me (without even knowing it most of the time) that it's time to slow down and shift the focus to other things so we can continue well tomorrow. There's a need for us to help each other slow down and shift our focus...
Sunday, August 24, 2014
I do want you to know that I still operate this blog and the Donate link is correct and your gifts will certainly get to me :-)
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I found this article this morning and it reminded me just how grateful I am for the freedom I have not only in the U.S. but, also in Cambodia, to read and carry around a physical copy of the Bible. Today, I will indeed find a verse that speaks to me and begin to memorize it :-)
"MEMORIZING GOD'S WORD
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT)
When China’s best-known pastor, Wang Ming-dao, was finally released from prison, he stated, “In these past twenty years, I have not had a copy of the Bible. Happily between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-four, I spent my time at home doing the housework and studying the Scriptures. I memorized many passages. These passages in my heart came out one-by-one and strengthened me. Had it not been for those words of God, then not only I, but many others, would also have been defeated.”
Pastor Lamb in southern China was in prison for many years at that same time. “I understood then why I had memorized so much of God’s Word while in Bible school,” he says. “I kept my sanity only by repeating Bible verses over and over.”
The best way the church can prepare for trials and persecution is by seriously studying and learning the Word of God. Christians need an overview of the whole Bible. Understanding God’s outline for mankind in the Bible aids in memorization as well.
What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? Some read and study the Bible with the intent to get something from it to teach to others. But first, we should approach the Bible with the desire to see the goodness and loving-kindness of God and understand how “wide and long and high and deep” is His love for us (Ephesians3:17-19). Let His love show you His supply for your own need and then you are better able to meet the needs of others.
Second, approach the Bible with humility. Study the Bible to discover what God has said. Bible study is meant not merely to inform - but to transform.
In restricted countries where Bibles are in short supply, pastors are often in a quandary as to which of the many spiritually needy he should share these precious books with. Progress in Bible memorization is one method they can use for determining who will receive the available Bibles. One house church group in Vietnam decided to give them to the believers who were most determined to use them. The criterion used was memory work. So Bibles were shared only with those who recited flawlessly Psalm 119—all 176 verses!
Open Doors is committed to provide God’s Word to those for whom it is not available. “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes....” (Romans 1:16)
© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission"