We spent the last week teaching English with our university students. We teach them English and make connections to our favorite Stories and they teach us about their culture and beliefs. We’ve been on outings with them to Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields, the Phnom Tamau Zoo, and a riverboat on the Mekong to celebrate the new year. We teach three classes every weekday, and we want to make friends with the students so we can tell them about things that are important to us. And they are wonderful. Our two guys (affectionately dubbed ‘the brothers’ by our M) have really bonded with a group of guys, and we continually lift up the students so that Father would prepare their hearts for his Message. Our guys and the guy students have done a lot together—icecream, karaoke, arcade games, and shared meals.
We have gone shopping with our girls, had icecream and ‘American fast food,’ and just had them over to our house to talk. Father has really blessed us, because we have all connected with students whose hearts have been undergoing preparation for the Message for a long time. The two girls I am closest to (we’ll call them Padma and Rita) have been over to our house many times already. I’ve started a story set with them, and they are both so hungry for the stories I’ve shared. Between the two of them, they have heard C2C, Jn. 13:1-14:14, creation of the spirit world (that story was in Khmenglish), Elijah and Ahab at Mt. Carmel, and Noah’s flood. With all of that, they’ve learned about sin and our need for the Son. They’ve learned that our Father is more powerful than anything they encounter, and that he does not desire them to live in fear. They have learned that the Father is holy and that we are not, and they have learned that all paths do not lead to heaven. They are so hungry for what they are learning. It blows my mind. We take for granted that we can pick up the Word and read any story any time. These girls know nothing about the stories I love, and if they had time, they would sit with me all day to learn. I love them with all of my heart, and I lift them up daily. I love the assurance that none of this is my doing. So many requests to the Father have been answered, and He has been hard at work preparing minds and hearts. He has called us here to feed the hungry; to bring good news to the broken, and to provide for the poor. Is. 55 is one of my favorite chapters in the Word, and I love seeing it work out in my daily life here.
Father has really brought our team together since we’ve been here too. That has been a blessing greater than my words can ever say. We have all become close friends, and we love spending time together. Often on short term trips friction within the team can be used by Satan to retard Father’s work, but we have not had to deal with that. Father has heard what we have lifted up and woven us together as a wonderful team. We learn from each other and balance each other’s weaknesses and strengths. We are functioning as the Body, and it is a beautiful thing. It almost brings me to tears when I think about it. And speaking of tears, a few were shed last night when we dropped Dr. Carlton off at the airport. He is leaving early and the team and I will be ‘on our own’ for the rest of our trip. I cried a tiny bit before I could rein it back in, but I cried for many reasons, and my heart still sings and hurts when I think about it. First, I cried because I’m a girl and I’m hormonal. Second, I cried because of the good friends who came to see him off, and because of those who didn’t. And I cried because of his legacy.
Dr. Carlton and his wife Mrs. Gloria have been an influential part of my life since they moved to OBU almost two years ago. I love them both so much, and I have learned so much from them. They are both hilarious, and one of the things they have taught me is how important it is to laugh as you work on the Field. Dr. Carlton has taught me to story, taught me to be an M, trained me and encouraged me in the classroom, and invested in my life just as he has with his other students. Mrs. Gloria and I have met (along with my roommates) to talk many times about life, love, and all things related to being an M or simply living a life full of the Son. I admire them so much, and they both have invested deeply in me, just as they have with countless others. On this trip I have gotten to see a little bit of their legacy, and I have been overwhelmed with their commitment and dedication to Father’s work and Father’s people.
During the whole trip I have worked alongside students developing a passion for overseas work that they wouldn’t have were it not for the Carltons. I have met Shepherd after Shepherd who was trained and taught by Dr. Carlton. I have seen people and the work of people who were trained to plant new communities of believers. And I have watched many tearful reunions and listened to many stories about the years of work the Carltons invested in this country and its people. I am so honored to be serving our Father alongside such heroes of our faith. And I don’t just say that to lift them up on a pedestal or praise them. They would be the first to deny that they had any hand in the exponential growth of believers—they would give all the credit to Father, where credit is due. Dr. Carlton shared an impromptu motto with us the day he left that I think is worth sharing with all of you: Life is fun. Have a blast. Tell people about Jsus. As we have done on this short trip, the Carltons have done just that and fed the hungry for many years; I ask the Father to bless them for their work.
One of our goals for this trip is to establish a legacy of believing university students. We want to make connections and disciple so that when we leave, the students who are hungry for the Message can continue to meet with the Ms. I told you I have been storying with my girls, but this Sunday we got to model what a gathering of believers looks like. We asked Father earnestly to bring students to hear his Word and to see our joy in Him, and He did not disappoint. At the risk of sounding like an American, I’ll tell you that we were blown away by the numbers; but not just by the numbers. We had EIGHT students come to worship with us, and every one of them was engaged and hungry for the meat of the Word. It was INCREDIBLE! I was so amazed and blessed and overwhelmed by Father’s faithfulness!
We sang Every Move I Make (which we taught them in class on American Song day) and some other songs we love (and miss while we are here). I storied about Elijah, Ahab, and the showdown at Mt. Carmel to help correct the fault in their worldview that allows them to believe that they do not have to pick between deities. Father blessed my words, and everyone present had something to say about what they had learned from the story. After we sang some more, Kasey shared a short message on Paul’s conversion to teach that believing in Father is not just intellectual—that is brings about a change in people, and that no matter what our past holds, Father still wants us to turn to Him. I’m pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face the entire time because I was so excited to see Father’s work in our student’s hearts! Please continue lifting them up with us. If you lift up Rita and Padma, Father will know who you’re talking about. 🙂
I have one more quick story about feeding the hungry and I’ll let you go on with your lives instead of melting your corneas in front of a computer screen. Today was not one of my favorite days. The girls and I had a wonderful brunch with the lady Ms, and then we met the boys in the market for some shopping and bartering before we went back home to rest. Today is an Independence Day for the Khmer people, so there were no classes. The first part of the day was great, but after that I wasn’t feeling very good, which compounded any emotions I had stored up. But as we rode back from supper in our tuktuk, my mood was radically changed because we were given another opportunity to feed the hungry. The streets are lined with beggars, many of whom are contracted and are forced to pay any money they receive to bosses, who dole out next-to-nothing to live on. We stopped at a stoplight and three precious little boys came up to our tuktuk with a hand out and a feather duster ready to clean anything for us. We had some leftover food from the restaurant and some fresh fruit we had just picked up, so we gave the boys something to eat. We also handed them each a little book in Khmer that told the Greatest Story Ever with comic book-like illustrations (taken from an incredible storying tool called The Action Bble, for any of you who’d care to know). They forgot about the food in their hands and immediately sat down and started flipping through the pages and following along the words with their fingers. It may not have been much, but at least they have the chance to hear the Good News from someone who cared enough to feed their bellies and souls.