04 December, 2011

I Saw Love Today

To say this trip so far has been everything I thought it would be is a lie - the truth is, I really had no idea what to expect, so I didn't expect much at all.

Life here is still life. I am still my own person, I can still do right and wrong, and every morning and moment, in every situation, I'm still faced with the choice of whether or not I will live for God. Still faced with the decision of how much I want Him, and want to see His work, and experience Him changing me.
And of course I do want that, but the threat of complacency is no less here than at home.

Thus far I've been so blessed and humbled by the people here. I came to serve and love, and yet at every turn I find people going out of their way to love and serve me. I don't understand many things things about the culture here; some things unsettle and unnerve me, while other things inspire me and fill me with joy.

There's a girl here about 9 years old, Srai Laen, whose background is sketchy at best. It's easy to tell in both her and her sister that they have been starved of love and treated unfairly, and likely exposed to many things that arent healthy for children. And as so often with people brought up without love, she can be hard to love. She's clingy, interfering, moody, selfish, violent, she's infested with lice, and she often fights with the other children.
When I asked God what he wanted me to do here, he said 'love my people'.

Some of the children are so easy to to love, and I am also trying to love the unloved and seemingly unlovable. But I can't do it without God. Without his love, I cannot love this girl, I cannot find grace and patience in my own strength.

So I decided to love her as much as I do the cute, friendly, happy children, and God is slowly revealing to me the way He sees her. Another of His beautiful creations. An innocent child, given much less than she deserved. But she gives so much. Every day she wants to draw pictures, 'Sister, koom nu?' and I find my patience waning, but without fail, she will draw, and she will give me pictures of flowers, she will pick real flowers, she will give me some old plastic trinket that I would honestly never use, but to her is something big.

And today I watched, as another girl that normally fights with her and gives her grief was crying, and instead of being the rat-bag and making the situation worse, Srai Laen knelt down and started wiping away the other girl's tears with the most gentle hands and the ends of her own shirt.

Love is patient,
Love is kind and is not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Love does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

I don't consider myself privileged because I have more 'stuff', possessions are meaningless. I consider myself privileged, because I know Love. And because today, I got to see Jesus in the hands and face and tattered shirt of a child.

03 December, 2011


The question is: What exactly is my mission?

I am a volunteer. Many people I know are. I've spent most years of my life giving up hours, days, and weeks to one cause or other, volunteering, serving, putting up my hand to join in. Church, beach mission, youth ministry, even at work and with friends, "I'll do it!"
And I am happy to. I am happy to serve, I am happy to be a volunteer.

But, I'm only asking the question 'why?' now, on my longest volunteer mission to date.
And still, 5-6 weeks isn't really a long time, but at just over the half-way mark, I'm beginning to be able to place my thoughts together and ask the question, what is my mission?

I tell people I'm going on a 'missions trip', well, what does that mean? What is my aim, my goal? If I felt that God wanted me to come here, then what is the reason he wanted me?

I asked him at the beginning of the trip, and have since, and every time I ask I get an immediate answer: "Love my people."

That's all well and good, I'm very prepared to do that, at all times, whether at home or elsewhere. But how does that work here?

The culture in Cambodia is vastly different to that of Australia in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. Life at the children's centre can be challenging but it's by no means poverty. The children get educated, get three full meals a day, have plenty of clean water, the facilities here are amazing compared to the surrounding 'houses' (dilapidated shacks) they sing worship songs every night and pray and read the bible at dinner. They're fairly independent and do all their own washing (by hand) and get themselves washed and dressed and off to school...

The answer to the question is very clear when I'm at youth on a Friday night, the answer is even there in writing when I'm on beach mission for a week or two of my year. I know who I am, and I know what I'm doing in those situations.

Here, I am lost.

I try to take it as a good thing, because it makes me press into God more than I usually would. But in this place, I don't know where I fit, I don't know who I am, and I don't know my purpose.

Still I hear the words echo: "Love my people."

But I'm not sure what love looks like here. I've tried and I only seem to be further mystified by the culture.

What can I bring to these people? What can I show or teach them? How can I bless them? How, oh Lord, how, do I love your people?