Thankfully, we rarely label a day at the orphanage "useless" or "discouraging"; unfortunately, however, a few days ago was one of those days. "What are we even here for?" and "Is nothing sinking in?" was the beginning conversation over lunch. For the last six months we have been working so hard to improve these kids' lives. As simple as hand washing before eating, filtering water before drinking, and learning to take care of what God has given us (i.e. don't litter!!) may seem; these lessons are unheard of for some of these kids who came to HCO with little or no previous parental guidance. These are just a few of the lessons that we have consistently poured into these precious children's genius (yes, they are geniuses!) brains. Yet, because kids are still kids, they have yet to implement some of our "lessons" unless we are standing by their side. And like all kids, sometimes that comes with an attitude; somewhat that day.
After class that day, we did our usual...hanging out with kids. Reaksa, one of our boys, ran to his room to get the ball -- its soccer time. As we were waiting for him to get back, we simultaneously glimpsed the horror: trash EVERYWHERE. In Cambodia, it's not taboo to litter. It's actually common and accepted. We've gotten some strange looks as we have stuffed our garbage into our backpacks because we refused to let it join its little trash friends that fill the Mekong River. So, for our kids to decorate the campus of HCO with litter really shouldn't be so shocking. Unless, you know how much not only we, but also Pastor Sokhom, has battled this issue. It was only two days before that we had every student to help us pick up trash. Today, it happened to be worse than it had been just two days before. Imagine our reaction...stifled a bit, because we love these kids too much to let them see how angry it actually made us. So, again, we rounded up the perpetrators -- from 5 years and up, they were handed rice bags and asked to pick up every piece of trash in sight. And yes, we were very aware that day that it is officially hot season...not only by our own sweat, but by the complaints of our kids. In Khmer, "It's hot, teacha! Very hot!" Our reactions were very simple, "I know." Followed with, in English, "Pick up trash." (We have yet to learn the Khmer for this, yet the kids are very aware of what it means in English :) We got some protesting and some complaining....but, we persisted. Finally, the bell for lunch rang, and ALL of us were relieved.
And that brings us back to our conversation at lunch...."useless." That's how we felt that day. Something as simple as a messy day had got us down. Some days we feel we have conquered our little corner of Lveasar....other days, like that day, we feel like we're doomed to fail. As we replayed all this in our heads later, God reminded us of 2 Corinthians 12:9: "But He [God] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest in me." We're declaring weakness. Let us just get it all out there now. If you sent us to Cambodia so WE could help these kids, then you have sent the wrong people. I guarantee that in our own strength we will fail miserably. We're declaring this weakness, because despite the failures we've encountered so far, we have faith that GOD is going to do something with this year. And we want you all to know, that whatever success occurs during this year, it's not because of us....it's because "the power of Christ rests in [us]." So, we will sleep easy tonight, knowing that "when I am weak" [my Savior] is strong.
So, things for you to do: continue to pray for us. This month, we would like you to pray for some transitioning that is happening with the staff at HCO. We have been so blessed to see some of our older girls stepping up to fill in the gap and help the other house moms. In addition, some of the other kids have been stepping up in some responsibilities to help. Kevin, Lauren's fiancé, is here this month, and several of the boys have been a huge help to him as he has been working on some projects around HCO. Even though we have some discouraging days, we are so often reminded about how good we have it. These kids are awesome! Pray also that the kids will not get discouraged too during this transition. Pray that the ones that are helping and working hard don't get burned out, and keep working hard. Pray for some of the younger ones as they see servant hood and responsibility modeled by some of our older kids, that they too might be a help around the orphanage.
You have no idea how much we appreciate your prayers. Thank you all so much for the feedback about our prayer calendar last month -- you guys were a huge encouragement to us!