July flew by fast! It was filled with meetings, education, encouragement, and a bit of quick travel! We are thankful we have the honor of doing ministry here in Cambodia and seeing so many exciting changes happening in people’s lives.
Melissa was in Siem Reap to celebrate two of our former leaders from Bloom, who graduated from their university this month. They had to wait two and a half years because the government did not allow any graduation ceremonies through COVID-19. What a joy to support these amazing women!
The journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is only 196 miles (317 km for those reading in countries outside of the USA). However, it takes more than 6 hours to travel there by bus. We are showing you a photo to help you understand the reasons why it takes this long. From the front seat of the bus, portions of this journey often have traffic jams like the one above. A two-lane highway quickly and often becomes a game of chicken!
We are thankful to have the opportunity to share devotions and encouragement with multiple organizations. Some organizations have asked us to come in weekly, and others on a monthly or bi-weekly basis to encourage their team members and present topics intended for personal and group growth. We are thankful to be able to do this together as a married couple. We love encouraging others, and God continues to expand both the depth and the width of the circle of relationships that we have here.
Matthew’s graduate program at Colorado Christian University requires a yearly one-week on-campus intensive. This July, he attended Residency 1 and roomed with one of our dear friends we knew from Cambodia, Jonathan, who returned to the USA in 2020. Jonathan is enrolled in the same program. We are thankful to all who helped with transportation pickups and drop-offs in L.A. and Colorado during that time!
Jonathan and his wife Elizabeth co-authored a fantastic book through Wipf and Stock Publishers called Serving Well. It gives great insight to anyone who has been on a mission trip, overseen a missions program, supported a missionary, or been involved in long-term missions ministry. We highly recommend this book filled with meaningful experiences and insights: Learn more about their book, Serving Well.
Reunited Over Coffee
In 2020, we helped a sweet Cambodian lady (who did not speak English) on a flight from Seattle through the transit in Korea. We wound up in the same quarantine hotel, where she visited us and brought us food since she was in the neighboring room. Melissa became Facebook friends with her, and they stayed in touch and communicated through Google Translate.
They reunited this month over coffee and spent two hours talking and catching up. Some of this woman’s family lives in the USA and Canada, and we all hope to have a big meal together when they visit Cambodia! What a joy to be in touch and get to know random people that God connected us with!
The amazing part was hearing about her and her husband’s arranged marriage by the Khmer Rouge in 1978. They shared the story with Melissa, and it was an honor to sit in the presence of this couple who survived and were so resilient through what they experienced.
Mentoring Cambodian Leadership
We have spent time both together and separately—on a weekly and monthly basis—working with Cambodians in leadership positions from multiple NGOs. Part of the joy in doing this is the relational aspect in this highly social and relational culture.
It is a joy to continue to develop relationships in a culture where relationships are crucial to building trust and connection. Processing through challenges and growing in discipleship while discussing cultural impacts and solutions provide hours of laughter and tears each month. We are truly thankful for the leaders that have sought us out, and we find great joy in these times!
Matthew “graduated” from his six months of PT this month after his right shoulder surgery last February. Though it is his second surgery on this right side, his physical therapist states that his recovery is exceptional. It is clear he has been doing the work and has regained much more strength and mobility than is normal. We thank the Lord for your prayers, and for such a smooth recovery!
Thank you for your encouragement and support! We have been on quite an adventure and are thankful for where God has us right now. We are excited about the future and continue to learn every day. We thank God for the challenges He has used to shape our lives, hearts, and responses. We are thankful for the visitors we have had, as COVID-19 travel restrictions are no longer in place. We look forward to more of you visiting in the future!