Our update is a little later than usual...sorry about that! It's been a super busy (but very fun!) month for us. We started out the month celebrating Khmer New Year early with our kids at HCO. Khmer New Year is the major holiday here in Cambodia. Everyone leaves the city and heads out to the provinces to see family. It usually includes new clothes, good food, family time, and lots of dancing. Understandably, this is sometimes a tough time for our kids. Not only do they not receive as many material things as other children do, but many also do not have family close enough to visit. However, Pastor Sokhom does a great job at making sure the kids feel extra special during this time. All the children started off our night of celebration with a new outfit and a special (and delicious) meal including a SODA (a luxury for these guys!). An hour later, the dance party was off to an official start. The older boys stuck a bamboo pole with an attached flourescent light in the village dirt between our school and dorms. Veasna (our oldest at HCO) was our official DJ sitting behind massive speakers. Traditional Khmer music, Khmer pop, and even some recognizable American music was blared for over 6 hours into the night....and few of our kids stopped for a rest. If we weren't dancing out on the "dance floor" with them, we were on the sidelines watching....and usually laughing. NOT an experience we will ever forget. We can't even express how happy it made us to see our kids SO HAPPY. Channy kept asking us, "Teacha! Sabi? Sabi?" (in Khmer, "Happy? Happy?") with a huge grin on her face. And the answer was an emphatic YES...it would have been impossible to answer that question any other way.
A week later, we took advantage of the holiday time off of school and took a trip to Thailand with two of our friends who are also serving in Cambodia. Although the trip meant four different 12-hour bus rides round-trip, that small inconvenience was well worth it. We got to experience Songkran (the Thai New Year) celebrations, visit some of our favorites (Starbuck's!) in Bangkok, and see the beautiful coast of the Andaman Sea. As much fun as it was, we cannot wait to see our kids again (tomorrow!).
This newsletter we wanted to give you an opportunity to pray SPECIFICALLY for the different needs we encounter in Cambodia. Don't be overwhelmed with how large this month's newsletter is! Each prayer topic is organized by days -- 18 days total. Print out this newsletter and keep it on your fridge, in your desk, in your car, in your locker, in your Bible...wherever. Just keep it somewhere you can access it daily. Each day, read the short description and pray accordingly...pray fervently...pray faithfully. Please commit to praying with us for these next 18 days. Keep updated on our Facebook page, Village Feet, for updates on different prayer concerns. And, please keep us updated on ways we can pray for YOU.
We love you all, and appreciate all that you have done for us! If you have committed to giving monthly we want to remind you support checks are due and thank you again.
Tamara & Lauren
Pray for our relationships with Cambodians who do not know Jesus. Our tuk tuk driver, "Boo" (which is "uncle" in Khmer), and a lady that works at a little shop on the ferry landing are two people that we have fell in love with since we have been here. Although we feel as if we know these two Cambodian friends well, our conversation with them has been limited to the very few Khmer phrases we can speak. Thankfully, God has provided us with resources such as translators to speak for us. Pray for Boo and the ferry lady, that they may see the light of Christ in us. And just as Paul asked the church at Colassae, please "pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ," regardless of the language and cultural barriers.
Pray for Sokhom and Ronnie. Sokhom is the pastor of Lveasar Bible Baptist Church (LBBC) and leader of Hope for Cambodia Orphanage (HCO). In addition to their work at the church and orphanage, Sokhom and Ronnie both work full time. Not to mention, they are the parents to four (really awesome!) kids. And if that wasn't enough, these two have to deal with these two loud Americans living on their third floor! Pray that Sokhom and Ronnie have time for rest, time for family, and strength to continue their ministry in Lveasar. There are over 60 children that have a loving family at HCO because of the love of this awesome couple.
Pray for the unreached people of Cambodia. Very few Cambodians know the hope that only can come from Jesus Christ. With less than 1% of Christian Cambodians, it's no wonder that the majority of Cambodia is considered as "unreached". According to OperationWorld.org, 71% of Cambodians are "unreached". This basically means that 71% of Cambodians have no means of hearing the Gospel. Please pray that the current groups of Cambodian Christ followers will continue to actively pursue their families, friends, and neighbors with the Gospel. And pray that God will give them the strength to endure the inevitable social persecution from fellow Cambodians.
Pray for Japan. One of the most humbling experiences since coming to HCO was listening to the children pray for their brothers and sisters in Japan. Even among the immense suffering that many of these children have endured, they have not forgotten to pray for those that are suffering too.
Pray for future missionaries. We love that song that Kristen often sings at BPF that says: "I see a generation rising up to take its place/ with selfless haste." We love that song, because we do see a generation of Christ followers willing and committed to serving God regardless of the cost. In addition, we see many church leaders, small group leaders, mentors, and friends that are pouring into that generation that will affect the Kingdom of God eternally.
Pray for sponsors. It's true, we're still searching for sponsors. We hate to harp, and we hate to plead. But, for those of you that have been to HCO before, you know how difficult it is to spend time with these awesome kids...and then watch as they have to do without. Everyday we see what COULD be done if all our children were fully sponsored. We know that God is bigger and greater than money, and we know He will provide. Please pray that every child will soon be fully sponsored.
Pray for our older kids at HCO. Recently, some college students from a church in Phnom Penh came to play, sing, and love on our kids. Many of them have been to HCO before (either to translate for BPF mission trips or to play with the kids) and already have a relationship with them. One of the older girls at HCO asked one of the college students an interesting question, she said: "When I'm inside the gates at HCO, I know I am loved, and I know God loves me. But why do people in the village not care about us?" She continued to tell the college student how many of the kids get picked on by the other village children for being so poor and for being Christians. Although we might have imagined this was the case, it was really disturbing for us to hear one of the kids actually say this. Many of our older kids go to high school in the village. On top of all the normal teenage dilemmas every kid faces, these kids have even tougher issues they must deal with. Pray that God gives them strength and confidence in who they are in Christ.
Pray for our English classes. English classes have been going great. But just like any other teacher, one day you're saying "Wow, these kids are GENIUSES!" (and they really are...haha) and then the next day you're saying "Do they remember ANYTHING we've learned?!" As much progress as we're making, this month is Khmer New Year. They have had most of the month of April off. Please pray that we can start where we finished without too much review, so the students can continue to progress.
Pray for Lveasar Bible Baptist Church. Although physical persecution against Christians is practically unheard of in Cambodia, the emotional and social persecution is often extreme. When a Cambodian publically chooses to follow Chirst, he is sometimes faced with intense persecution: husbands have been known to leave their wives; families have been known to refuse to talk to its members; and communities have been known ostricize even the closest neighbors and friends. Please pray for the members to find their strength in God and grow closer as a church. In addition, pray for the other villagers that are interested in following Christ, but may be struggling with the possibility of future persecution.
Pray for Jamie and Marianne. Jamie and Marianne go to our church. These two friends have gone through some tremendous health issues recently. It's difficult to find quality healthcare in Cambodia, so they have had to visit Bangkok several times for adequate care. Please pray for their healing, patience, and their families during this time.
Pray for our house moms and teachers. There are about a dozen staff at HCO that influence our kids on a daily basis. Pray that they will continue to be godly examples for the children and that their relationship with Christ will continue to be strengthened as they live in a Buddhist community where being a Christ follower often means being an outcast.
Pray for Sokhom’s children (Rachana, Soterhett, Srey Pet, & Srey Po). Rachana is currently attending medical school in Phnom Penh and in the process of pursuing possibilities for education in the US. Pray for wisdom and confidence as she studies for language and medical school exams and visa applications.
Soterhett is in 8th grade and speaks English extremely well… we’re proud ‘big sisters’ and like to brag on our siblings but, it’s true. Pray as he has to face all the things that come along with being in intermediate school as well as being a Christian in a predominantly Buddhist country.
Srey Pet (5 years) & Srey Po (3 years) are Pastor Sokhom and Ronnie’s youngest daughters. It’s difficult for us to imagine them as the two shy little girls they were when we moved in… these two keep us on our toes between jumping on our beds to always wanting to paint nails. We’re so thankful that they have such an amazing family that allows them the opportunity to just be kids. Please pray that they would come to know Christ when their hearts and minds are ready and that their generation would seek Christ as no other generation of Khmer has.
Pray for The and Khim Mey. The is Ronnie’s (Pastor Sokhom’s wife) uncle and the man God used to connect Brazos Pointe to Cambodia almost 10 years ago. Pray for Pastor The and his church, Rosharon Bible Baptist Church, as it grows as well as the Cambodia community surrounding it. Pray for good health as Pastor The and Khim travel to and from Cambodia each year.
Pray for our family and friends at home. It’s difficult to be separated from people you love even when you absolutely love what you’re doing. Please pray for good communication between us and those at home, for our family and friends that do not know Christ, and that we would have opportunities to share that even while we are away.
Pray for our older kids as they transition out of the orphanage. We have several older children at HCO that in the very near future will need training as they finish high school and/ or age out of the orphanage. Pray for provision as far as housing, school, and funding as well as wisdom, Godly mentors and a Christian community for them to connect with as they leave Lveasar.
Pray for our babies and preschoolers. These children tend to be more susceptible to respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses than their older siblings and friends. Pray for health and safety for them as well as adequate nutrition for proper growth and development and a nurturing environment.
Pray for hygiene at the orphanage. We know all kids need constant reminding to wash their hands, brush their teeth, and all the things that go along with cleanliness. While we feel like we’ve made some pretty decent progress towards this we also realize kids are still kids… and we have 66 of them. Please pray that proper hygiene would become part of their daily routine and that they would be protected from illness.
Pray for our new house church. We were invited and began attending a newly formed Bible study by a friend of ours back in early December while we were looking for a church home here in Cambodia. Overall, Sundays were our most difficult days because our church family was one of the things we really missed. While we still miss BPF, it didn’t take long for this group to feel like they were our church family here. Over the last several weeks we have been studying what a church is by Biblical definition and after prayer and discussion we felt like God was moving us to become a church. Please pray that our church would continue to follow the model that is given in Acts and that God would use us individually as well as collectively to accomplish his will and reach the lost.