Posted by: Laura | July 29, 2015

These past years…

After many years of teaching in Cambodia I am finally returning to the United States for a time. My heart is still in missions and Asia but I believe God is calling me home right now. I don’t know exactly what the future holds in store for me, but I know that the last four years have greatly changed me and will stick with me forever.

Every year has brought new challenges. The first year, I remember that everything was just so new and challenging because I had never ever done it before. But most of students were very good and easy to handle. The second and third years were challenging because I had to be a dorm dean and love and discipline students who could be nice one minute and hate you the next because you wouldn’t change your mind about some work chore they must do. It was a deeper revelation of how God’s love is never changing and unconditional no matter the hurtful things we say and do to God. But at the same time, God still carries out heavenly discipline. For all of you parents out there, I am sure you already got those lessons down long time ago. But for me it was still a new experience. This last year, I learned a lot of patience. I saw how frustrated God must be with our slowness, our disinterest and laziness towards developing a Christ-like character. I could see more clearly how he must repeat again and again lessons important to our walk with God because we weren’t listening the first dozen times He gave us that lesson. As the years go by, I see myself more and more in the undesirable aspects of my students’ behaviors as it relates to my walk with God. It has taught me a lot about how much I still need to grow.

But besides all the spiritual lessons, I have grown to truly love all my students. Each are special and unique and just when you think you have them figured out, they surprise you. As the youngest in my family, I never had younger brothers or sisters. But now I feel like I have a few dozen younger brothers and sisters. I cheer their success, anxiously pray for them as they traverse their sloughs of despond, and rejoice to see sparks of spiritual interest kindled or burst into flame in their hearts. I love seeing the light bulb moments of understanding and the pride of accomplishment on their faces. I have experienced and seen so much here. I have seen God work miracles and answer prayer in powerful ways.

I have also seen how Satan is working more powerfully in this generation than any other to distract and cloud the mind to spiritual understanding. Young people in today’s world are surrounded by a constant barrage of attacks in every area of the life that is nearly impossible to escape from. Satan is working more diligently and successfully at “evangelizing” Asia than Christians. He is making sin in all its various distracting forms easily accessible to the new modern Asian. If only we could make Christianity as readily accessible. We are a step behind Satan, or maybe a few million is more accurate. But God is all powerful and has ways far beyond our imagination of bringing the gospel to every man, woman, and child in Asia.

But he does need human hands to do His work, human hearts to draw close to His hurting children, and human feet that will go onto Satan’s ground to rescue the dying and hopeless victims of a war they are unconscious of even being fought. There is an emergency in this world. Millions are dying in sin with no hope and you and I have the cure, the life-saving antidote. I am leaving Cambodia for a time because I believe that God has called me home right now. But I feel and see such a great need in the world for foreign missions that I want to return to it as soon as God leads me so. I encourage anyone who feels God impressing it on their hearts to go and share you knowledge to those who have none. All around the world people are desperately in need of missionaries to not only tell but show them what a true Christian is.

To those who God has not specifically called to foreign missions, do not let the normalcy of life hide the reality of the emergency of situation at home. Your neighbors and co-workers are living on a ticking time bomb. Do you recognize it as such? I know that it is easy for me to forget the true reality of situation. I pray that God will help us all not to be blinded by the mirage that Satan paints around us of a world that is not eminently in danger of a catastrophe of epic proportions.

Posted by: Laura | March 10, 2015

It is Making a Difference

I remember what you said in history class, teacher, about not believing something if you don’t have a reason for it. I thought about why I was afraid to walk in the dark because of ghosts. I realized that I was only afraid because all my friends talked about it, but I didn’t really have a good reason. So now I try not to think about it when I walk in the dark. I feel a little bit scared, but I know that there is no reason to be afraid.

And teacher, there is this game on the computer that I know I should not play. I know it is not good, and now I don’t even want to play it anymore. But I still play it. It is like I can’t stop. I used to try to play my guitar or go for a walk when I got bored and wanted to play the game because I remember what you said in Bible class about finding something good to replace what you used to do. But now my guitar broke and my house father doesn’t me to walk to far away before dinner. What can I do?

Teacher, in Bible class you talked about people who know God and people who only know about God. How do you really get to know God? What if you don’t feel like doing the right thing? What if it is really hard to do the right thing teacher? What if someone held a gun to your head and told you to give up God, what would you do teacher? How can we do the right thing?

These were a few questions that some of my students and I were discussing this last week. Sometimes as teachers and missionaries, you look out at a classroom of faces day after day and wonder how much of what you tell them is really sinking in. So many times, I see the words going in one ear and right out the other or studied with indifferent diligence lacking any personal interest in the subject. I pray every day that the Holy Spirit will give me wisdom in speech and touch my students’ hearts with a desire for God. But so much of the time, we are not given much outward sign that what we have discussed has actually made a lasting impact in how they think or act. But as I was talking to several of my students this week, I was encouraged to hear them speak about things I had talked about in class and how it was impacting how they thought and acted. This was really encouraging to me. Results aren’t always apparent, but it is rewarding when you see it happen. It makes you realize again whey you are out here doing what you are doing.

As we share about the amazing, life-changing power of God with those around us, we are often discouraged by the apparent disinterest and careless indifference many exhibit. But it is all worth it, if just one person takes it to heart. We can’t always tell from outward appearances when that happens though as I was taught this week. I ask that you would please continue to pray for my students and their struggles. Satan is working hard, but God is stronger still. Thanks again for all you love and support.

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | September 1, 2014

Bury My Heart

Furlough.  As always, it reminds me of birthdays or new year beginnings – a special time of reflecting on God’s leading and working during the past year(s).

Three years ago I first stepped off an airplane and the Cambodian people stepped into my heart – personally.  God had already placed them there, I just didn’t know them yet.  Because people back home asked, I said I would stay one year, but deep inside I knew my decision to go was for as long as God asked me to stay.  After three months, I knew a year was far too short.  I decided to stay another year.  But God sent me back to America for nine months to recover from amoebic dysentery and dengue fever – and to learn many lessons of surrender and following where He called, not just where I wanted to go.  The lessons were hard, but necessary.  At the end of the nine months, He called me back to Cambodia – mostly to show me that He had provided other means of carrying forward the work I was burdened with, and that He had raised up capable people, including some of my former Cambodian students, to fill my position.  Finally, after another six months, I surrendered the care of my precious Cambodians back to Him, content in the knowledge that He loved them more than I ever could and He would not leave them lost in their current darkness.

And then He called me to the jungle.  I was more than a little nervous.  I still hadn’t regained all the strength or weight I lost during my sickness and I had no idea if I would be able to stand up to the rigors of jungle life.  I was afraid people would misjudge my motives for leaving Cambodia.  But I knew God was calling me.  My love for my Cambodians was so strong, I prayed that if God wanted me to stay in the jungle longer than three months, He would give me a love just as strong for my jungle students and their people.  By the time three months passed, I had no doubt He wanted me to continue teaching at J.E.M.M.S.  I love my jungle people, too.  My health has steadily improved since moving, and I have discovered I enjoy jungle life!  I’m still not strong, and may never be, but though I haven’t always had enough energy for things I’ve wanted to do (even simple, easy things), God has always given me enough strength for everything I’ve needed to do (some things quite difficult).

I feel like I have three homes now: my family home, my Cambodian home, and my jungle home.  Sometimes I think God sends us different places to prepare our hearts for our eternal home where we’ll never have to say good-bye to those we love and labor for.  Someday soon I hope my family and friends, my Cambodians, and my jungle people will all be there together.

My jungle students singing a farewell song right before I left.

My jungle students singing a farewell song to me right before I left.

Moo Cheh (grinning despite of teary eyes), Ku Ser Wah, and Saw Jayn waiting to push the boat into the river.

Moo Cheh (trying to grin despite teary eyes), Ku Ser Wah, and Saw Jayn waiting to push the boat into the river.

My students, waving good-bye and calling with choked up voices, "Remember me!" "May God bless you!" "See you in September!" as I left for my month-long furlough and visa run.

Waving good-bye and calling with choked up voices, “Remember me always!” “May God bless you!” “See you in September!” as I left for my month-long furlough and visa run.

With Khen at the Siem Reap airport just before boarding my plane.

With Khen at the Siem Reap airport just before boarding my plane.

Recently several friends and fellow missionaries have encouraged me to start a new blog – one dedicated to the work where I’m currently located.  It’s difficult for people who aren’t in Southeast Asia to keep track of the work among two different languacultural groups in two different countries.  As I have opportunities, experiences, and stories about Cambodia, I will still share them on this blog.  But for wherever God calls me to work in the future, I have started a new blog called Bury My Heart.  As you read, may you continue to be blessed and encouraged in the work God is calling you to do.

You can find my new blog here: burymyheart.org.  We’re currently in the process of setting up a way for you to receive updates when I make a post, but it isn’t completed yet.  If you would like to receive email updates once we get them set up for the new blog, send me a message with the email you would like to use.  I can arrange things so that you will receive an email in which you can confirm that you want to receive the updates.  Or for those of you who know how to do such things on your own, I leave you to take care of yourself!

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | July 6, 2014

Jungle Journal, May 9 – Mango Tree Miracle

For those of you who didn’t read the story Momo and I wrote for the Sharons’ blog, I’m reposting it here with a few pictures.

~*~

Our Friday began ordinary enough.  Some students were working, others were studying, and we were teaching.  It was after school that things took an unexpected turn.  Most of our students came to us and asked if they could go home for the weekend, although it is not a home weekend.  They all had good or helpful reasons for wanting to go – a few wanted to get some of their friends and bring them here to study also, while others wanted to get seeds to plant or more rice.  So we watched them walk away in small clusters.  Only four remained.

At lunch we talked about maybe making flatbread for Sabbath.  Our students were enthusiastic and asked if they could learn to make it, too.  Normally they go to the classroom/dorm to sleep in the afternoons since they get up so early, but instead they joined us in the kitchen to help with the bread.

Pretty soon, just about everyone was up at the kitchen working on bread or sorting soybeans or happily chatting away when the wind picked up and we could tell that rain was on the way.  It felt wonderful since the wind cooled things off considerably.

Suddenly we heard it: snap! pop!  We froze, then raced to the doorway in time to see the trunk and canopy of our gigantic 90-foot mango tree crush our just completed dorm/classroom building, totally demolishing it.

Our first silent reaction of horror was slowly replaced by the recognition of the miracle we had just witnessed.  Normally, our new building is the place to be – either the students are working there, sleeping there, or just visiting there.  But today nobody was in it at all.  We were all together in the kitchen instead.  We know God sent our students home this weekend, and that His protective hand covered all of us.

Satan may be angry with what we are trying to accomplish here.  But it is so encouraging to know that God is helping and protecting us.  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…”  Romans 8:28.

In every situation, it seems God reminds us of a song that fits our circumstances.  This time the song He brought to mind is called “Gratitude.”  With each new experience in the mission field, the depth of meaning in these words continues to expand.  For those unfamiliar with the song, we pray you are blessed and encouraged by the words:

“Send some rain, would You send some rain?

‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again,

And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade.

Would You send a cloud, thunder, long and loud?

Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down;

Surely You can see we’re thirsty and afraid.

“But maybe not, not today.

Maybe You’ll provide in other ways,

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude

For lessons learned in how to thirst for You,

How to bless the very sun that warms our face

If You never send us rain.

“Daily bread, give us daily bread.

Bless our bodies, keep our children warm and fed;

Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight.

Wrap us up, and warm us through,

Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs;

Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time.

“Or maybe not, not today.

Maybe You’ll provide in other ways,

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude –

A lesson learned to hunger after You –

That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead,

And if we never taste that bread.

“Oh, the difference that often lies between

All the things we really want, and what we really need.

“So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace!

Move our hearts to hear a single beat

Between alibis and enemies tonight.

“Or maybe not, not today.

Peace might be another world away,

And if that’s the case…

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude

For lessons learned in how to trust in You,

That we’re blessed beyond what we could ever dream,

In abundance or in need,

And if You never grant us peace.

“But, Jesus, would You, please.”

Yes, we choose to thank Him for His continued miracles – including the laughter I hear coming from the clean-up crew.  I’d better get busy and go help them!

Sarah made two observations: the tree was huge, and mango wood stinks.

Sarah made two observations upon arrival: the tree was huge, and mango wood stinks.

Jason and Esther Paw exploring.

Jason and Esther Paw exploring (you can see them if you look really carefully).

Jason and Memewah – yes, we can smile in the face of Satan's rage, because "if God be for us, who can be against us?"  Romans 8:31.

Jason and Memewah – yes, we can smile in the face of Satan’s rage, because “if God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

Our clean-up fire the following week.

Our clean-up fire the following week.

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