In August of 2010, I answered the call to go to Cambodia on an awareness trip with a group from my college. I wrote letters, cried because it seemed like nothing was happening, watched the money trickle in, and wondered if God even wanted me on the trip. I spent the summer presenting and hanging out with kids at church camps, begging for their money to help send me over there. I stood amazed as kids – teenagers – brimming with generosity, and sometimes tears, offered up what little they had in order to bless me and send me on my way.
In August of 2011, I went on that trip. I had enough money, and then some. The Lord blessed me with more money than I needed, and I was in turn able to bless a fellow teammate who needed a little bit more to pay for everything. It was so absolutely wonderful to see how they Lord had provided.
On our last night spent with the girls at the safe house, I felt a little out of place. I looked around our bus, with its yellow bucket seats and hot pink curtains, at the faces of all of my teammates and all of the girls saying goodbye just beyond the windows. Somewhere in the three days we had visited with them, acquaintances became friends who quickly became family. Strangers were suddenly very dear brothers and sisters, and this goodbye was ripping at hearts all around me. I looked at my teammates, some of which were downright bawling at having to leave their new sisters, and my heart wrenched just a bit. I get it. I get it. It’s sad to leave these girls who we’ve grown to love so much, resolved to fight for. But I just didn’t understand why everyone was crying so hard. Even the girls on the outside of the bus had tears streaming down their faces, hands reaching through windows to grab hold of hands reaching out. Trinkets were being exchanged as a way to remember the other, pieces of hearts being given with pieces of paper and hearts being left behind with the girls outside the sliding windows. In all this chaos, in all this beauty, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the eyes of my teammates. The eyes so full of love and sadness that mingled together and trickled down tears, staining red cheeks. These beautiful teammates of mine, men and women alike, not even ashamed at the tears being shed but instead embracing them as fiercely as they embraced the girls they were about to leave behind. I saw them. I watched them. I took it all in. And I felt guilty because I didn’t feel as sad as them. I felt guilty for not weeping. I felt guilty because in my heart, somewhere deep in there, I knew that I would come back. I just knew. So I sat at the table for supper, staring down at the chicken fingers and french fries on my plate and listening to the sniffles and wimpers of my teammates, marveling at how I could love these girls so much but not feel as terrible about leaving as everyone else was. For a while I even believed that something was wrong with me.
In December of 2011 I got word that I was chosen as a Rapha House intern. I don’t think the word “excited” could do justice to the feelings that went on inside me as I sat at the kitchen table at my parents’ house and read that email. I’m not sure if I have the vocabulary to explain just how right everything felt in that moment.
In February of 2012 I was sitting in my car after a long day and reading the internship contract that I had just received in my email. Because of the beauty of technology, I was able to view the whole thing on my phone and simultaneously about die when I read the line that said I would be returning to Cambodia in May as part of my internship. Two weeks in Cambodia for orientation. Me. In Cambodia. Again. Just mere months after returning from Cambodia, I am on my way again. I cried in my car that night. I sat there and bawled, amazed and in awe of the glory of God. I sat and cried and cried out, “why me, God? why do I get to go again? why me?” God didn’t answer me, but instead just gave me this wonderful sense of peace. This peace that calmed my heart and calmed my mind and gave me grace to thank Him more. Look how the Lord worked in my life! Look at how He knew my heart and saw my desires and heard my prayers, and answered in such a beautiful way! It didn’t take too long for the doubt and the fear to kick in, and the questions like “don’t they know I’ve already been?” and “am I really allowed to go again?” and “surely this is all a misunderstanding!” But it wasn’t. It was correct. It was right. I was going again.
So in May of this year I packed up my bags once more for another twenty-four hour flight. The Lord led me, and I followed. And this whole summer, Cambodia and Joplin and Illinois and Iowa and Oklahoma and Arkansas included, I just prayed that the Lord would lead me and guide me and give me grace and courage and strength to follow. And He did — He did all those things, and provided me the courage and strength, and gave me grace to praise Him all the way through.
In August, on my last day at the office in Joplin I was called into my boss’s office to talk to her about something. I was already excited, and nervous, as we had spoken very briefly earlier in the day and the thought that this might actually happen stunned and shocked and smacked me upside the head. She talked, I listened. We talked. Would I consider and pray about moving to Cambodia after graduation for six months to a year? Would I? Would I! So we talked a bit more, and I went about my daily work. I had a drive to Georgia to pray and think about it. Then I had the drive to Florida to pray and think about it. Then I took another week to pray and think about it and talk it over with some very close friends, friends who are wise and generous and gracious and give good advice. Then the Lord gave me peace in the midst of my anxiety over the decision. He calmed me, once again. He washed peace over me like waves against the shore, once again. He whispered Truth to me, once again. He led me and guided me and gave me courage, grace, and strength, once again.
So friends, now I get to say this: On May 12th, I begin my third journey to Cambodia, to live for a year and work with Rapha House.
Isn’t it amazing how the King of Glory works? Isn’t it beautiful how He takes our lives, broken and fragile and dust and breathes new life into them? Isn’t it glorious how He answers prayers and causes our hearts to beat and then sets them ablaze in fiery passion for something? Isn’t it wonderful how He blesses those passions when we hand them back over to Him?
And friends, that’s what I want. I want this to be the King’s. I don’t want this for myself. I ask God to make the desires of my heart to line up with the desires He has for my heart. I beg Him to line me up with His will, to set me on the straight path and give me the courage to follow and for Him to be my strength to continue. And He has done all these things and more. So. Much. More.
So friends, family, would you please consider praying with me over the next few months as I prepare myself for Cambodia?
Would you please pray with me that the Lord’s hand would be on me, guiding me the whole time? That I would be obedient to the Spirit’s prompting?
Would you please pray with me as I ask the Lord to protect me and keep me from any spiritual oppression/attacks over the next few months, and especially as I live in Cambodia?
Would you please pray as I begin seeking financial support for my year, and that the Lord would provide and I would trust Him in that?
Would you please pray that I would continue walking forward with the same courage, strength, and faith that the Lord has brought me this far with?
I am so excited, you guys. So. Excited.
Friends, do you see the string of God-glory that has been strung through the last two years of my life?
Why has He been so good to me? Why do I get such blessings? I don’t know, but I am so thankful.