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.
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!