Just finished the last 2 medical camps of this trip. And they were wonderful. Had all new medical students so that's always a source of slight worry especially after the last group had become so well trained, but it was wonderful. This years medical students have been amazing!!! Some of them I know weren't so happy as we started the camp. They are trained to rush through patients and so it was just such a shift in their way of doing things, but by the end of the day they were happy that they were learning so much. They were learning how to really take a history and physical and how to educate their patients. I loved them, they were all smart, had a great heart and I feel so blessed we could help them learn.
We just finished our first set of medical camps for this year with the team from America. 4 straight camps - quite tiring but soooo good :) Everything was perfect! hehe! Because the team of Cambodian medical students, the american team and myotherapy team were just so wonderful. Our first day hotel was horrible - we couldn't even use the towels, but that just made the next few days so much better! I usually have a hard time with food, but this time people joked about becoming vegetarian :) We ended up seeing 200+ the first day, about 200 the second, 150+ the third and the 4th day when we were all so tired we finished early before lunch but still managed to see 100 patients! :) My cap is 100-150 so we more than exceeded my goals! And speaking of goals, the whole idea of medical camps started because I had medical students I was teaching. I had wanted to do free medical camps for the villagers but found I had to pay bribes to make it happen and that is something I definitely was not willing to pay. So when I found out the students in Cambodia don't get enough clinic experience I told them if they could arrange a medical camp, we would do it. I could do the medical camps I wanted, the students could be the doctors precepted by me and the villagers could have free care. It's been 5 years now and we are such a well oiled machine. My original students who are now leaders of the cambodian organization and I think so much alike, it's amazing!
For this set of camps we had about 6 new students and they were to be the doctors seeing patients. It made me just very slightly wary because sometimes it's soooo hard when you have to train new students and you are hot and tired and jet lagged. But we had them come and learn some basic things the day before and then on the field they were like sponges who said and did everything I taught them! They were sooo amazingly good!! and what made me so happy was that they were as happy with the experience as I was with them. When we talked at the end about the trip some of them said that is was the best mission group they had ever gone with and another said s/he learned more on this trip than s/he had at medical school (this from a 6th or 7th year student!)
I am pretty excited. You know how you dream and think about things and it looks like nothing will happen and then all of a sudden, God makes it all happen! :) Last year I went to Kenya to do volunteer work. While I was there I spent a lot of time with the pastor and he was telling me about all that they have done. One of the things they were doing was a feeding program. And for some reason as he talked about it, all I could think about was, that I wanted to do that as well. But being the practical person that I wasn't quite sure who or how that would happen. To my surprise I had an interesting conversation with Rithy (our head medical student) in the 5 days I was in the states before my next overseas volunteer medical mission and he was saddened by the fact that some people in Cambodia have anything money can buy and other kids don't have food to eat. So I mentioned my idea. We talked for a while excitedly and then realized we couldn't sustain something like that and decided to think about it. So when I arrived a month or two later we talked about it again. We met up with a nutritionist who basically said education was a better route. But as we were talking, I suddenly had this brilliant idea about having a home garden program. Going to the villages for medical camps, I'd seen the land and how much of it is empty and could be used to start a home garden (I recently started container gardening in america) and since we do education in the schools anyway, I thought we could add this to the curriculum. But everyone said it wouldn't work. I couldn't understand why and although I pushed it, everyone, I mean everyone said it wouldn't work. But I never give up when there is an idea that is really stuck in my heart. So I invited a friend of mine who is a farmer and a nurse to come in Feb for the medical camps and thought on the side she could help. But at the last minute she couldn't come. The day after I arrived I was talking about the program again and basically my students said they didn't know how to do it an didn't have access to anyone who could help. But I kept talking about it. One of our volunteers from America introduced me to an NGO who was doing a garden program in the villages. So I met up with them and found out they are getting help from the government to do it. They pay the government to train them. That's great, BUT, I like to save as much money as possible. The last week one of my friends said his friend is looking for help in starting a feeding program where for 25-50 cents a day per student we could help kids go to school by providing them breakfast (or else they are too hungry to study). I was very excited and to my surprise the next day Rithy said he would help and that we could even start a garden in the school to help decrease the costs. I said to him that he didn't like the idea. But he said that its a good idea and so he will do it even if he doesn't want to do it :) Now our only problem was none of us knew how to plant a real garden. So I asked God to send me someone, like an agricultural student. God did better than that. 2 days before me leaving I got a random email from someone in bosnia asking if I needed agricultural help. No where on my website does it talk about that! God is sooo good! I talked to him the day after I got back to America and he was sooo amazing. He was working for the government giving seeds to people to help them plant gardens. He was willing to take a boat from bosnia to cambodia for lack of finances. He was amazing and perfect! So God worked everything out. Now we are in the process of figuring out details! Both my garden and feeding program will start this fall when I return. Now all we need is money! :) But if God did this, He will do the rest too! YAY! I don't know if anyone reads my blogs, but if you do and you want to help, we would love your donations for these programs.
Cambodia - February 2016
Written by Tiffany Okerman – 18 year old missionary kid from Japan
God is so good! His goodness, love, grace, strength and mighty awesomeness were slathered on every moment of my very first mission trip. I spent a total of 25 days in Cambodia from February 12 to March 7 and have now been back for a week. It is nice to rest, eat good food, and process all that happened in those busy 3 ½ weeks.
Let me start from the beginning. For those of you who don’t know, I met Sapna, who is an awesome Christian doctor/missionary, when I was 8 and she’s the one who first sparked my dream of becoming a medical doctor. I have always wanted to go on a medical mission trip with her. A year ago I was Skyping my older sister and I mentioned that I would love to go on a trip with Sapna during my “gap year” after graduating highschool. She asked if I’d contacted Sapna about it, and I replied that I hadn’t but had asked God to have Sapna initiate it. Then I would know that God was truly in it and He would be my strength (for I had doubts as to whether I could emotionally, physically and spiritually handle such a trip). Of course this request seemed quite unlikely and ridiculous in my mind. Maybe I was just being shy, I even wondered. That night however, God confirmed my prayer by giving me a dream in which Sapna asked me to go on a mission trip with her! So I gave it all to God and went on with life. Months passed and I nearly forgot about my prayer. Then one evening on December 2, Dad read aloud a Facebook post of Sapna’s asking if anyone wanted to come to Cambodia for medical missions! I jumped at the opportunity and that night I just knew that God had answered my prayer—I was going to Cambodia.
Now about the trip itself! Needless to say it was phenomenal! That first day was incredibly long and tiring but even by the 2nd day I felt as if I’d been living in Cambodia forever—it just felt normal! Of course there were plenty of new crazy experiences around every corner. Getting used to the traffic, stray dogs, random cows, the language, bathroom quality, food.... And yet it was also evident how much God had prepared me; for instance the fact that Japanese summers are very comparable with Cambodian weather meant that the heat wasn’t so much of a problem for me (although dehydration was a constant battle).
On my fourth day we had our first medical camp out in the province (villages). I was given a crash course on how to manually take blood pressure and temperatures. This was my first real contact with Cambodians and it was so amazing to see how grateful everyone was. Anytime that I wasn’t taking blood pressure, I was busy writing out song sheets for worship that night. After the medical camp was over for the day I led a couple songs for the whole team, many of whom aren’t Christian yet.
The next 11 days were insanely busy with next to no sleep. We did 7 medical camps, plus one day of lectures on the eye, a packed day of sightseeing, and also a feeding program that Sapna has been wanting to do for several months. We fed 53 people and it was pretty cool to be there for the very FIRST one. Actually, one of the things I loved about the trip was just getting to be there for things. I would keep remembering how Sapna would tell us all sorts of crazy stories when she’d come to our house... but now I was part of those stories—I was there! So many times I would just be blown away and have to tell myself, “I’m in Cambodia! God actually brought me to Cambodia!”
Something I came away with strongly with was just how very blessed I am in two senses. First, looking at the people of Cambodia and their standard of living made me realize how many luxuries I take for granted. A sanitary environment, clean water, a great health system, a loving family... for instance, my first week we had a dental team come from the States and, man! were they needed! Unfortunately all they could perform were teeth extractions due to the available equipment, but nearly everyone had completely black or missing teeth!
Another time we went to a shelter for sexually abused girls. It was very sobering. To sit across from a girl around my same age and look into her eyes. To see all the hurt and the pain. I couldn’t help but think, “What did I do to be born into a family that adores and protects me? I did nothing to deserve to be where I am in life now! I did nothing to deserve to be born as an American citizen. Why should I be so privileged?” Oh how undeservedly rich I am!
Secondly there were so many times where God did something sweet just to say I love you. The trip itself was a gift from God. But one thing that made my day was when the electricity went out just before I was going to take a shower. Because the weather is hot, I wasn’t too concerned about the fact that I now had to take a cold shower but still I was a little bummed. But then just as I was closing the bathroom door, the lights came back on and I got to enjoy a nice hot shower. God loves me so much!! =D
Another amazing blessing was to get to share a room with Sapna and see her function in various situations, talk with her, and get to help her in any ways I could. We had some really great conversations that helped me work through some stuff! Another gift from God was the night we talked till 5:00 a.m. I had really wanted to talk with Sapna about some of my struggles but as we had one day left I figured “there was no time.” haha! Well, God saw my little desire and managed to fit it right in there. And it was exactly what I needed! I feel like that one conversation has rendered a lot of my issues defunct! And I feel loved that Sapna would give up her precious sleep (I learned just how precious it is) to talk all night with me!
So yeah! Such an amazing trip. I discovered a new trust and reliance on God. Mostly out of sheer necessity! As I mentioned, we were almost always tired and some days I would wonder if I’d make it. But somehow by God’s grace, I would find new energy!
I also learned a lot about praying for healing. The last medical camp I decided to be on the prayer team (or maybe I should say be the prayer team since it was just me and my translator, who I found out later actually was a Christian!) one last time. I had tried it a couple of the other medical camps but the system just didn’t flow and barely anyone came for prayer. But that last day just worked! I was literally praying for people non-‐stop and everyone except for two people had some degree of healing. All total I have recorded 21 people that God touched! And four of those people accepted Jesus so I got to see my first salvation (also one of my prayers coming into the trip)! But my favorite miracle was right after lunch when I was feeling a little doubtful as to if God would continue the healings. I was looking for a translator when one of the myotherapists asked me to pray for a guy who had one leg shorter than the other. In the past I’ve seen others pray for two different lengths of legs and have them equal out but I’ve always been scared to try it for fear of nothing happening. But instantly I felt eager to pray for this man and I just felt expectant that something would happen! And sure enough as I prayed the discrepancy disappeared! I compared the legs and they were the same length! I was so excited but also wondering in the back of my mind if I’d imagined the whole thing. Then the myotherapist came over to me and exclaimed that the guy had come in using a cane and now he didn’t need it!! PRAISE GOD! What I gained on this trip was not necessarily more expectation for God to heal when I prayed. But I have less fear of nothing happening when I pray. I mean, why not go for it? I have nothing to lose and so much that God might do through me!
And that’s a “short” summary of my life-‐changing experience in Cambodia. I tried my best to fit the longest month of my life into a few pages and pictures. =D
God is sooo good! When I was planning this trip, I didn't think it would go so fast, nor that God would do so much! It was just fantastic and as I left cambodia I was just soooo happy with all that God did. I really didn't think everything would fall together so fast and easily! God you are so good!
So after two weeks of mission trips, everyone needed a vacation! I hadn't spent enough time with Michael and Pert and so we all planned a vacation to Pert's desired spot of Koh Rong. Two days earlier we had a surprise visit from one of Rithy's friends and so we were able to get some info about what to do and expect.
We dropped off Jeffrey and took a van and just got the last ferry and then got to koh Rong and caught a boat to SokSan - our desired destination. There was one beach cottage left so us girls took it :) YAY! But not so yay at night when we heard the loud crashing waves at night. We slept in a mosquito net and there was a strange creature making noise at night as well as the loud pitter patter of rain on the tin roofs next door :) hehe! we didn't even have a sink in the place! But it was all good! Once we officially woke up and went out to explore. It was sooo beautiful. I wanted to be able to snorkel and see the glow in the dark plankton, but really just swimming all day would have been ok :) The boys were ready to go before we were and so we just planned to catch up with them once we were ready. It was so hot that we almost didn't make it to Michael, but because we did we found a spot to eat pizza for dinner! The water was blue, the sand so soft and white and we swam for an hour or two after taking lots of pics :) I LOVE the water! And then we were off to our $10 adventure of the day - snorkeling, fishing, island dinner and watching the sunset followed by swimming with the glow in the dark plankton. It was an amazingly fun time. Hehe! ok, the snorkeling was horrible, but good for the newbies, the fishing made Tiffy sea sick, the island and sunset was beautiful but I had to leave my camera behind because the water was too deep and we had to walk to shore and we didn't get to spend enough time with the plankton but I loved it!!! We got back and had horrible pizza and I think I have been officially declared a food snob heheh! But it was sooo great to be eating pizza! :) The boys and me left early the next day and girls decided to stay behind for two days. It took us all day to get home, but because of all our snafoos we were able to have their return all worked out smoothly! we got stuck on the other side of the island for a few hours and got to hang out and just relax, our van ride was delayed as well so I got to get a not so taste by desired sandwich and passion fruit drink and be happy :) We made some friends on the way over, but mainly I just slept. hehe!
Got home and was debating an upgrade for my two days alone and hehe! Guess what! they gave me one for free! so I had two days in a nicer room doing what I wanted, when I wanted and without anyone to worry about! YAY! The first day off was a blur, but my first day of real vacation! hehe! I loved all the people on the trip, but I was always disappointing someone by talking to someone else and didn't have time to meet everyone I wanted to because I didn't want to bore the group! hehe! So, I met up with Kimmy and it was great. We have been friends now since 2009, but until the last visit we never talked about anything serious ever. We just always had fun and laughed a lot together - watching movies, sight seeing, or just laughing at a restaurant. Last time I think I become her mentorish. This time as we lay on my bed chatting in the air conditioning she said I was the only person she could talk to about stuff. Kind of shocked me, but I'm so glad God put us together! Wish we had more time but we were both too tired to talk more than a few hours. Went to java with the boys and their gang and that was fun hehe though I was hoping it would just be the three of us :) hehe! Tuesday Rangsey - one of my original students who is no longer part of the group due to family health issues came to see me. Last time he drove 3-4 hours total to see me for 20 minutes and this time he drove 1 1/2 hours one way to see me for 30 minutes! I almost started crying when I was talking to him. It's such a blessing to be sooo loved. And as he told me his future plans (stuff he hasn't told anyone but his mom) I again felt soooo sooo privileged. I'm so blessed that people share so much of their life with me. I don't even understand why they do it, but all I can say is I feel so blessed!
The girls came back just in time to go off to the government official's house with us! It was a fun night. We got to invite Tharanga last minute too and so we all had fun! :) we got our ekg machine working and Tharanga had a great idea for my feeding program and although Rithy had said he wouldn't do the garden program earlier, that night he said he would and confirmed it the next day! He doesn't want to do it, but he thinks its a good idea so he will! heheh! I love him and HIM!!! God really is the best! Makes all your desires and dreams come true - one of my favorite verses Psalm 37:4!
So had a great meeting with the medical students after a morning at the russian market with pert and the girls and michael of course. We grabbed lunch with tharanga and just made it back in time for my meeting! I have to say, I was so tired, I wanted to drop, but just talking to them brought me back to life. As soon as we were done with our productive work meeting we were off to Pert's goodbye party on the boat. As I watched him with the students, it brought back memories of my goodbye party. My parents were there. I actually unexpectedly started crying at mine. I hate crying infront of people and I hadn't realized how much I loved them all till that moment. The next goodbye party of Pert's was the next day and that one reminded me of my second one too! This time his students were crying and he was barely holding it together. My second one my students had surprised me by crying, even some of the guys - maybe cause the same realization hit them cause they were talking.
But I am getting ahead of myself. During the party I found out Pert hadn't been to diamond island, so all you really have to do is tell Michael - which I did and off we went. We all got on the ferris wheel, hung out with the kids and then headed off to eat. Nothing was sounding good and suddenly Pert remembered a place he wanted to try and there we were. We were just talking about bkk and we ended up there eating at a really really good pizza place! YAY! It was a day where you could see God loving Pert and fulfilling all the little desires he had had and talked about but hand't happened! :)
The next day was the shelter. There is a great shelter in cambodia that I met 3 month into my year in cambodia. I had my very first team coming and I was nervous. I didn't have anything for them to do and they were coming for 3 weeks. Of course I had told them that and they had said they just wanted to come see me, but I hated them wasting their time. When I was at class the first day after they arrived, I somehow started talking to a person and she found out why I was there and told me about her friend who ran a shelter. That same day I think we were talking to the director and soon the girls were doing art and dance therapy there! And we have had a great relationship since. Last time I went and did first aid training and saw all the girls. So Chandra wanted me back. That's where Pert and Christine ended up volunteering as well. So we were there bright an early and started seeing the girls.
I had to leave early to see Rithy on the radio!!!! I was so excited he was taking me!!! I took 125 pics of him in the 1 hour he was on the radio! hehe! My day off I had prepped for his talk, but not good enough :( next time I will do better. But I'm sooo proud of that guy! I felt like a proud mom hehe! and I had nothing to do with it. I feel like I am living my dreams through him. hehe! Came back to the shelter and saw Pert's party and we finished up with the girls and then came home with Chandra. I feel missionaries everywhere struggle with isolation - I saw it in Japan and I see it here too. I've been blessed by the ability to travel home a lot and so it's always great to be able to bring fresh joy and love to people who have to stay in one place and sometimes are a little burned out because of it.
Went to meet another NGO who is interested in home gardens and had a great talk with them and got a lot of ideas. Almost didn't make it home cause my moto driver was crazy!!! My backpack got hit by another moto and it was all our fault! Never prayed the whole way before! We did our diabetes teaching the next morning and then dropped Pert off at the airport. Sadness :( but hehe then we celebrated. Sharon went off to siem reap for a couple of days and Tiffy and I went to the salon to do our nails. It took three hours!!! but they were beautiful and only 5 dollars for hands and feet with designs! :) I even found super glue for my sandal that was falling apart again! And good thing too because the next day I ended up climbing a mountain in them. But before that we all decided to hang out and watch a movie. When we brought the movie to the hotel even the staff wanted to watch it, but they were in the middle of a party. So hehe! it didn't quite work, but there was popcorn, mango and fun! We ended up playing spoons till bedtime and everyone had a great time.
The next morning we were up bright and early for the school outreach. Rithy arranged it just cause I wanted it. The poor students who taught weren't even trained, they were given the curriculum the night before! And with that they did great! hehe! then we went to a mountain to eat. Rithy is so sweet. It was super hot that day and it was 1pm by the time we got there. He told me it would take 10 minutes to climb to to the temple of the top where there was a great view. So of course after a few minutes in the hammock, I went. It wasn't 10 minutes hehe! but it was certainly worth it and although I can't trust the guy, I know this, that he loves me and he always has my best interest in mind. I am just sooo blessed with such super people in my life! so we took pics an then got shaved ice and then walked back down :) Ate lunch and we were off to the place where they are keeping all our stuff.
There there was drama. Someone was there trying to take stuff away. So I tried to be the bad guy but in the end Rithy had to take charge and say they couldn't take anything without the proper paperwork and even then Rithy would have the final say. It was tense for a few minutes but I'm so proud of that guy. hehe! Can't you tell how much I just love Rithy! The more I get to see him in action the more I love him and feel like I trust him and his judgment. 4 years ago he was just a kid but now he's a leader! hehe! So the other day he messaged me and said how I am his idol. I found this out last time I was in town, but what really made me so happy was that the guy he is training to take his place said Rithy was his idol on facebook! :) YAY!
We got home tired and the next morning we had the engagement party! That was fun! Rithy had said he'd call me 1 hour before it was time to go. So I get a call at 7:30 and he asks if I am ready! I'm like what! and he he said he called earlier and I didn't pick up. So I rush to get ready and run to the party with wet hair and not ready! only to find out when I got back that he had called 5 minutes before! that guy!!! I would strangle him but I can't, hehe! he too sweet. When someone loves you more than you love them and always is looking out for you, even in the smallest things, like lying so you will eat the fruit both of you want, how can you be mad at them at all! All you can do is laugh. I guess that's why it says in the bible we love him because He first loved us. Once you feel God's love for you - that unconditional love, how can you not love God back. He's just so good!
We came home and I slept for a few minutes and woke up hungry. I decided since everyone is always saying to try something new that I try something new at java. Big mistake. Couldn't even eat it and had to order my original. Should have gone with Pert and his positive reinforcement of my wanting the same thing - the heart knows what it wants. came back and then it was time to go out to meet Chandra at the night market. We had fun chatting and the girls got to see the night market, the palace at night eat at hummus where we had a great time eventhough the food was horrible and come back full of joy. Tiffy and I stayed up till 5am talking - what I know she has been wanting to do since she got here. Work up 2 1/2 hours later and were off to drop of Sharon. Off to Java, hung out with Tiffy and then off to airport with the Tiffster! tears :( and then then dinner with Michael hehe! I wanted to help him celebrate his getting the job he's been wanting for 6 months hehe! but he doesn't want it now! :) i thought we would go to the intercon - our old spot for cheap fine dining, but we ended up at java hehe! said my goodbyes as he had class the next day but to my surprise he missed class. I really am soooooo loved! Michael never misses his class. I love that guy!
So I was hungry the last morning. Didn't have time to eat, but went to the lounge and wow! the remodel is amazing! And they have so much vegetarian food!!! On the flight I got two seats to myself and got to sleep! And the next flight I got to be on the top part of the flight and there was sooo much leg room! YAY! God is sooo good!
Oh my goodness! so much has happened and its been so amazingly good! Week 1 was tough hehe! I'd forgotten how many different personalities come to mission trips, but each and every person was amazing and did great despite how hot it was and the tough schedule we had. I am so glad I insisted on a day off for them all! I think next year we will do two. :)
The first day of medical camps we were up bright and early and ready to go. Everything kept changing so we weren't even planning to go to this place. It was right behind a mosque and I was excited! Of course I would love to be in the mosque but I'll take what I can get. It was a super busy day! There was so much going on at once, a children's area with them drawing and hearing about God, the dental area, the medical area, the myotherapy area, and even a toothbrushing time! I loved it. The only thing missing was prayer.
I had not planned on overnight trips but we had two with the dental team. So I took advantage of the first one. We had a lovely dinner after a hard day's work. And although I hate to do meetings after medical camps, we really needed one. Julianne and Tiffy led worship and then I shared about my heart about a prayer team and miracles that had happened in the past. Just before starting I had talked to the leader of the myotherapy group and she had agreed to help with it! So I shared and then I held the medical students back to go over medical stuff to make the next day easier. I felt bad for keeping them till 11:30pm only to find out that some of them went swimming afterwards! They have so much energy! I would say it's cause I'm getting old, but I'll blame it on jet lag :)
The next morning everyone was all smiles and taking pictures. The myotherapy group was super happy because I guess they are all christian and they didn't know I was. Had a great breakfast with some of them that morning and we swapped testimonies.
Our camp was in a open church! It was so breezy it was almost hard to hear heart and lung sounds! It was an amazing setting because we never overheated! The dental team hadn't seen a lot of action the day before but they did a lot better this next day. :) Still not enough but better. The medical side was great, but I had concerns about a certain volunteer doctor. :( I talked to our head student about my concerns and when I said I need to talk to you about Dr. ..... He said I know. :) I love how these guys have grown so much and even they can see good and bad medicine. He had been fixing it on the pharmacy side but now we are fixing it from the beginning and hopefully training another doctor and helping the people of cambodia :)
The next day was our feeding program. I have been wanting to do this since I heard about it in Kenya in august and Rithy brought it up himself soon after as we chatted on facebook. When I came in november we talked about it and I had this brilliant idea that we should do home gardens in the provinces and that idea got nixed by everyone! hehe! Since I can't do anything without help, I just had to wait - story of my life, but it makes the ending always so much better because you see God's better plan unfold before you and such a beautiful way. So when the team told me they had money for it, I was excited! But due to miscommunication I didn't know they were actually wanting to do it till they got here! We had 4 days to put it together. I say we, but I mean Michael had 4 days to put it together and like everything he does, he did it and did it well.
Michael prepared everything and we got there in time to help a little. He had Rina and his students helping and it was great to chop up stuff and talk to them as we all worked together to help those less fortunate. I had been so tired I wanted to fall down. I had even stayed behind when the team went sight seeing, but once I got there and started chopping veges while the team ate their dinner and talking to all the students helping out, I came alive! I guess I really am a converted extrovert :) Michael had gone to the local slum and invited them to come and eat. They had to walk to come and it's a little far so we figured only those really interested would come. To our surprise over 50 showed up, even though we thought 25 would and if we were lucky 40! We had enough food and extra so it was great, noodles, fish, rice, veges and fruit! Michael really is the best! I had been trying to get someone else to share a welcome - like the people who brought the money, but they refused and so I got to, and I have to say I am so glad I did. As I stood in front of all of them, my heart just melted and I almost started crying as I realized what a privilege and honor it was to be able to provide them food. Sometimes I get so caught up in the administrative part and overseeing everything I forget to see individuals and it always bothers me. I love one of one time with people but now I just get it with the students and they get it with the patients. But as I stood there and shared with them, I loved that I actually loved and cared for these strangers as individuals. So the dental team nicknamed me heartless (I'm not quite sure why) but I'm glad God can put a heart in anyone :) After that they had worship night and we stuck around and had fun! I know the team was super tired, but I was so glad we stayed and they willingly agreed because I love hanging out with the khmer - it makes me happy :) Jolie from next door's salon kept poking her head in so I had Tiffy give her a song sheet. It was a great nice with a simple message and then we walked home :) I wanted to say and hang out with the students, but I didn't want tire out the team who I could see was ready to leave! At least during the worship night I got to hang out with a few people.
The next morning we had to pack and be ready because it was another over-nighter. The one thing about cambodia is that you have to be willing to go along with whatever comes your way :) I had been told only 1 away trip. The team had two. The first one we had a very nice hotel but the second was what I had been afraid of :) and so some of the team didn't sleep all night. The good news for me was that I woke up during that trip and was able to start really being myself again and hang out with the team and communicate. There was one team member I really didn't know and it was great cause I got to spend a couple of long bus rides getting to know this amazing person with a heart of gold.
One of the places we went to, I went to last time I was here. I remember as I sat and watched the "program" and a dentist being the chief guest I remember thinking how one day I would love for me to be the head person. hehe! Well, little did I know it would be answered so fast! :) Exact same place and me sitting at the front desk giving my short speech. hehe!
The dental team left sooo fast. Our poor member whose only desire had been to get a massage, didn't get one :( and so next time! :) Also next time maybe 1 day off isn't enough a week, we need two :) I thought they all hated the trip but they have already recruited another member and our 12 year old star has decided she might become a doctor! I love how God works. I was so tired, I just wasn't able to be there for anyone on the team that first week but despite that (because it really is God who does everything) He still made there time worthwhile.
They left at night and the next morning we were ready for the next "team" of one. At the airport of course Michael introduced me to more amazing people/missionaries as we waited for our respective teams. Although the first team got to take it easy the first day, poor Jeffrey started off busy and running. He got back, had his food and got to sit and meet Sharon and Tiffy and then we were off to not just one, but two ktv's. Michael and I had gone out the night before to secure our spot for the next day. At diamond now they know us so well they let us come even when our guy isn't there! :) YAY! For the other one, it was our second time, but they liked us and said we could come back without hesitation! It was sad, a few of them were pregnant and they are drinking 20-40 cans of beer in their first trimester :( We gave out a bunch of our cards and hopefully they will call in the future. And then off to Java. I think for new people who haven't been in Cambodia long the pull for java is mysterious, but by the end of the trip Sharon and Tiffy were all looking forward to it just as much as me :)
The next day bright and early we took off for the province. Another overnight trip. The camp was good. Lots of old people came and were all smiles as they got their glasses and sunglasses. Our old donations of people's old prescription glasses from the container even came in handy :) I guess there really is nothing you can donate that doesn't have some use on the mission field and God honors the desire you have to bless to truly bless people even if on paper it doesn't sound like it will work. We got surprised by a 20 minute trip to the beach after the camp and dinner on the riverfront :) The students pulled out their guitar and played and were quite good :) I'm always impressed how talented they all are. Intelligent, super sweet, caring and musically inclined too! I got to stroll the area I had been wanting too when we drove by 10 days earlier. Even though I didn't get to eat, I was a happy camper :)
We were short on hotel rooms so I had to share a stinky sewer smelling room that didnt have a lock or ability to close the bathroom door with Jeffrey. I was not looking forward to the night, but there were no other rooms and I felt bad swapping with Vasna, although he offered. So after finding out there were no more rooms, I adopted my usual motto of "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I didn't get dinner cause my first meal had eggs in it and the 2nd didn't have salt :) Things were just not going my way :) hehe! But you just got to go with the flow and smile because God is in control. So when Rithy found out our room smelled he said he was staying in a different hotel due to lack of space and was going to see if there were two rooms for us!! :) There only ended up being 1 room but it was huge, had hot water, even the partition between the toilet and the shower that Jeffrey had really wanted, two huge beds, and no smell!!!! I felt soooo blessed and happy! :) So when lunch the next day had eggs in it again I couldn't be upset. hehe! And I had a back up :) I now carry my peanut butter with me on these trips as back up :)
The mosque outreach I think was everyone's favorite. First of all how cool is it to do a camp in a mosque!!! Not in the building next to the mosque but in it! They insisted we use their prayer rugs as desk covers and I felt bad not wanting to ruin them but they insisted. We kept an area for their regular prayers but no one ever came. Everyone was just happy, the kids were adorable, the community was all smiles and enjoying their glasses and there was good air flow and ventilation and a lot of sick people (especially TB - praise God for good ventilation). We went home with a huge smiles that day.
The next day we had planned lectures but no one could come so we did speed sight seeing :) hehe! We managed to see everything in PP - the killing fields, toul sleng, royal palace, river front, wat phnom, independence monument and the prime minister's house even and ended the day at java cafe! :) Came home and had an unexpected visit from Rithy and his friend who proposed some interesting ideas for our future and helped us out in planning our vacation.
Next day was teaching. We had planned to get pics at a cambodian photo studio before the lectures but while looking for a deal we ran out of time. On our way back we saw an accident and stopped. The guy had had a head injury and needed to have his skull drilled and blood drained. It was kind of cool to be able to take charge and run after him and bring him back to safety as he wandered on the street with no one bringing him back. Michael's contacts were able to tell us where to send him and I was able to tell the family what treatment he would need. I think us missing our photos saved his life. God is sooo good! That's the first time I have been able to really help someone in a traffic accident. My first year here I helped clean a wound, but nothing serious. This guy would have died. A few years ago, I think I wouldn't have had the confidence to know what to do and to take charge, but now I felt so blessed to have michael there to make the phone calls and me to just have no problem trying to take charge to help this guy out even though no one understood me or listened to me. It was kind of scary when he almost made it to the road and I had to run after him, but I was so happy when he came back with me. All I could do was pray the whole time. I was so focussed and kind of excited as I helped him and made sure we did everything we could for him, but after we got into the tuktuk, I wasn't really happy as I realized that there was a good chance he wouldn't get the treatment he needed. I even prayed for him. But praise two days later although initially I was told they hadn't drilled a hole, I found out later that they did and he was talking and back to normal! YAY God!
We went off to the lectures from there and they were sooo good! I learned so very very much. They wanted to see a temple after lectures and we walked there to find out it was closed :( but the next day guess where we ended up having the camp - in a temple! not next to it as we have had in the past, but in it! It was wonderful! :) So beautiful! We woke up that morning and Tiffy wanted to pray. Her last day at prayer team. This was the day that she saw a lot happen. She has 16 pictures of people who got healed and others gave their lives to God. Some had already been going to church but with her made a decision to follow God forever. One guy was brought over by the myotherapy team because they couldn't do anything for him due to his high blood pressure. He had a leg discrepancy - meaning one leg was shorter than the other. She had seen legs grow out before but when she prayed it actually happened and she was amazed! He came with a came and left without needing one!!! I love God!
This trip has been full of things happening that I have wanted to see for some time. We have a prayer team that has started. Still have to work out the kinks but it has started. We have someone who wants to do the ktv outreaches. Now I just need a doc who is interested. We did our first feeding program and have money to continue it. We have a bunch of donated stuff we can start a clinic with. We just need docs who want to do it. My students graduate this year! And we are starting secondary school outreaches! God is sooo good! So amazingly good!
Life is sooo good, but sooo busy. Today I have to say I was dragging :) Woke up and hour earlier than my alarm and got a lot done in the morning. It's incredible but it takes over and hour just to check email, facebook and blog hehe!
I was worried about Tiffy on a motorcycle and Michael changed the plan to a tuktuk! So I didn't have to worry at all. Next we went to the meeting with the korean missionary. I thought we were meeting a woman but we met a man and he was sooo great! I thought we needed to get rid of all our stuff in a month or two and find a new place, but he has graciously agreed to 6 months! And he won't take any money for electricity even. He encouraged us a bunch in having vision and thinking big and when I look at what he has done I am rather amazed in the last twenty years. Also, I was so glad michael was there. He was the star of the meeting, asking all the questions and making everything so easy.
From there we went to lunch and talked and then to the office to pick up meds for the ktv outreach. From there we went to the government official's house and when I got home, I heard my name and Theary was there and I got to see her and she was so happy and so was I :) I thought I wouldn't get to see her or work with her but there she was. When I got inside there was a huge team there and the ones heading it were Dr. Dale and Nancy, so got to see them too! I was exhausted by now and so was happy to be able to rest for a while. YAY God!
Went to our KTV after that. On the way we invited 3 sisters to join us. Waiting for me were Christine and Tiffy outside the KTV. We went in and while they cleaned the room I introduced myself to all the girls. When we went in, at first just one girl came, but just when we thought we might have to pack up, a whole bunch came and it was great. I wanted one girl to get prayer and she was shy but one of the other girls encouraged her and even prayed while I prayed. When I was done she asked when we were coming back! Then when we talked to the other girl she said she was christian and unable to go to church. She wanted to go, so the three girls with us took her to church today with them! God is sooo good. Also the three sisters helped translate and one (the one I wanted to meet and did) wants to help regularly! so YAY! God is good! Everyone was happy and excited leaving.
After that we were off to my favorite cafe - three days in the making and Pert wowed us with his magic skills
And then a massage and finally it was time for the airport. Michael and I got there right on time only to discover the flight was late and we had to wait for over an hour and 1/2 for them to come out :) But it gave us a chance to talk and as tired as I was, talking to michael woke me up. We end up meeting a wonderful person that michael knew and talking to her as well and then the wonderful dental team arrived! Save Each One's first ever real official medical team!
We got settled in by about 2 and then I was up at 7:30 - sooo tired - trying to pack stuff and have it ready to ship to michael's house while we were going to be off in the province. I kept thinking I should have just put everything in a room instead and kept one. Well as we have everything ready and it's so inconvenient, the manager asks her boss if we can put everything in one room! God is sooo good! So now I can even do this while I wait.
So michael helped set up everything in the next few minutes - sandals glued, phone sim card, tuk tuks arranged for church! And off we went. Arrived 20 min late but it was still good, a lot of good worship and a great message. Saw Chandra at church and it was great and then we went to russian market and came home at a reasonable time! :) So I can finally rest and catch up with things! YAY! God is sooo good! Everything is just perfect! I'm tired but sooo happy!
So got up early and changed rooms and headed to the airport! Rithy came to get me and michael and christine joined. We got there on time but the flight was early so poor tiffy was waiting for 1/2 hour! :) Pretty scary for a little girl traveling on her own, but praise God despite having been asleep almost I had told her we would be there at 8 and so she knew she could just wait :) I love how God puts those thoughts in our minds! :)
We headed off to Kompot with 4 in the back seats. I haven't seen Ratana for a long long time, but it was great. It made me realize how important it is to stay in touch. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but really after a while we forget to realize how much we love people! So it was great to reconnect. We stopped for coconuts along the way
And then headed on to two huge rooms full of equipment - expensive equipment that we could start a hospital with. Last year I was thinking it would take forever to be able to get even a fraction of this stuff and now we have so much that we need to give it away! So we brainstormed and came up with ideas of what to do and today we are off for a meeting to figure out what we can keep at that place and for how long. A nice missionary is letting us keep stuff there for free, but it's costing them 100 dollars a month. As we sat there and discussed things I was really just thinking how great it is that we have 4 minds that can talk and discuss about things and all feel free to share our opinions as differing as they are.
We had extra time so we went sightseeing in a place 1/2 hour away. I had wanted to do it, but I didn't want to make Rithy drive far hehe! But YAY! First snacks at a little fruit stand with hammocks
And then we went to a moutain that is famous and saw a waterfall. Hehe! let's just say it's dry season. We climbed up behind the waterfall barefoot and the good pics are on other people's cameras but are a few.
And then off to a pizza party which we showed up 2 hours late for, but wow, it tasted so good! hehe! Just yesterday I had heart about a girl I wanted to meet and I met her at the party! God is sooo good!
Life is grand! heheh! I had planned a full day with Christine, but of course there are so many last minute plans and so I wont be able to spend time with her till 5 but we did at 10:30pm manage to get into the KTV for day 3! hehe!
I arrived yesterday! I didn't have a seat on the plane but got the best seat available because of it - the aisle exit row! God is sooo good! So I slept, slept a lot. Which was perfect, because when I arrived it was noon and I needed to be awake for the day. People to meet, places to go. Busy busy life :) I got out early and waited for Michael to show. Was afraid that he thought I was coming at night but pert, christine and michael showed up. So we caught up and AHHH! I just love cambodia! Being back I feel more alive than anywhere else! Just landing made me soooo happy! Maybe it's the total freedom and acceptance, I don't know what it is, but I love it. After catching up the medical students came by. I love them! They are sooo great! I found out a little more of the plan. So apparently all the equipment we have inherited needs to be moved and stored. It's crazy but it's enough for an entire small specialty clinic! It's rather crazy. I want to use so much of it!!! But I don't even know how to use it. Then I waited and waited and my next appt didn't show up so I got to sleep for an hour and would have just slept through the night but michael came to get me for dinner. And I had wondered when I would see Rina, but she was there cooking!!! So i got her delicious cooking right away and got a chance to hug her and catch up. It's pretty crazy but so much is happening and the possibilities are endless. So one of the team members had money and somehow a feeding program was brought up and although it was thursday yesterday and wednesday we need to do it, michael is going to make it happen! God is sooo good! I have been wanting to do this since my last visit and now it's just going to happen and the funds are there and Michael is on board and life is sooo good and I am so blessed. We'll run it out of michael's center! hehe! gotto love God. Off to pick up our first medical team member at 7:30 am :) and then off to kompot!! and then a pizza party today! God is great!!
We all got up bright and early for saturday's medical clinic. I didn't realize it but Kompot is on the water. It was a great drive - Cambodia is sooo pretty! We had breakfast once we got there at a little restaurant where they had incredible vegetarian fried rice! I loved it! Then we went to the site. I didn't realize it but it was on the mosque grounds! It's been so interesting - we had a medical camp on the Wat grounds and now on the Mosque grounds! How cool is that! :) It was one big room and my students quickly made a registration vitals area, the clinic, waiting area and pharmacy in no time! :) As we saw patients and precepted them (YAY! tharanga was able to join us so we had two preceptors instead of one) we realized that there still needs to be a lot of training done and a lot for the students to learn. We saw a few great learning cases - a man who might have interstitial lung disease, a man with a murmur and lots of derm stuff - clear case of scabies and so much more! We got to make our makeshift spacer and I loved it! At lunch we got to go to the village. I didn't know but this is the village they have come to before and it is filthy because of flooding from the sea. The host had prepared the crab,shrimp and prawns for all of them and I had my vege breakfast! We had stolen a papaya from the government officials house (with his approval) and so had that for dessert and then we took pics while looking at the sea and then off for the afternoon to see more patients.
then off to Sihanoukville. We arrived at the place and went directly to a restaurant where we sat on the beach and eat while a hotel was found :) End up playing uno, walking the beautiful beach and having fun till we all were exhausted and then off to the hotel! I have to say - um, next time I'll have to give them a budget for their retreat because our hotel room was um... not ok :) but anyone can do anything for a night :) hehe! The hotel was soon forgotten as we got to the beach! the beach was pristine, the water warm and I could have stayed there forever. however after lunch and more crab/shrimp/prawns (apparently they bought a bunch when we arrived and so they had that for breakfast lunch and dinner for 5 meals straight! Sometimes it's great it be a vegetarian. :)
Came and home we went to our favorite cafe as a treat to us :) hehe! monday we were up bright and early for the next medical camp. We got there and there were a ton of people already lined up and waiting. There was a ceremony to give away the equipment and then the medical camp started. It was really sad. The medical camp was being held in the health center and people were so desperate for care that they were climbing through the barbed wire instead of coming through the front door. I was trying to keep them back but some made it through anyways. Soon we had a crowd of people surrounding us and I was so thankful for having worked with crowds in india. I sent them all back to the covered area where they had seats next door and we did registration there. There were the most aggressive patients I have ever seen and even though I was a little annoyed at their belligerence and refusal to go back and do things as we asked them to, like 2 patients I had to ask to leave 5 times and wait in a seat in a seated area instead of right outside our pharmacy. They kept refusing until they realized I wasn't going to stop till they left :) But honestly in hindsight I guess even though the health center is right there, they must get such bad medical care that they are so desperate. :(
So we had 1/2 new students this time. I was a little worried, with a crowd that was already so much and new students, all the training from the past was going to have to be done again :( but hehe! they were so good, I was actually so glad they were there by the end of the day. I was talking to one of them and he is the younger student being trained by Rithy (our leader in cambodia) to start taking over the medical school portion or recruiting students and do our school outreach in the countryside. When I heard that I was so happy! I am soooo blessed by working with such great people. A lone girl went to cambodia with a desire to follow God and look who God has put her in touch with. I have michael who I can trust with my life and now these medical students who I can trust not only with my life, but to take care of everything and keep helping the people of cambodia long after I am gone, because of their great love and passion for their people. Pray that they find God so that all that they do isn't just in their strength but leaning on God. The medical camp was great. Saw great patients and had teaching moments and although I had asked to stop registration at 100 patients, we saw 180 despite starting late because of show of giving (heheh! Can you tell I hate that kind of stuff :)) that was made in the morning.
We came home late and exhausted and of course we went to java to celebrate a well deserved hard work day and an early goodbye dinner with michael and pert just in case. One thing I have learned is that you have to seize every moment because you never know what will happen at anytime and your best laid plans fall at the wayside, especially when it comes to your freetime. :) hehe! And even the dinner was cut short because Michael had a patient he wanted me to go see in the hospital. So off we went. Didn't come home till 11. 6am-11pm was our day :)
So the next day was supposed to be a free day, but just while sitting having dinner my day started getting so packed I had to say no to some things because I didn't have time. In the morning however the plans all changed again. I had to cancel the goodbye head massage with pert because my friend came late and the medical student meeting got cancelled because they got called away to do something, but it was all so perfect. My Cambodian friend came over and she really needed to talk and honestly in all the years I have known her, we have never had a serious conversation, but she came wanting to be mentored and talk. We usually spend our whole time laughing, but today we actually talked and she cried and we prayed together at the end. I love how God's timing and ways are so perfect.
Then we were off to prepare for the two ktv medical camps (fronts for prostitution). We went to the new one and they weren't expecting us but when we told them we had prearranged it they suspiciously let us sit in the front waiting area and see three people and slowly more as they realized we weren't dangerous! In the beginning they said they needed to ask for permission for us to come back. By the end they said i could come back anytime. They weren't open to anyone else coming yet, but next time, I'll take students with me.
For the next camp, we prepped, went to gateway to get our volunteers and off we went. Theary -one of my favorite medical students. I apparently taught bible study to her back in the day when I lived here and last time I had the privilege of her going to a medical camp with me, she ended volunteering to pray with patients and they were saved, healed and it was what I have been praying for. This time having her there was a blessing as well - like what I have been dreaming of! So first of all patients didn't come with just the usual problems of heartburn and vaginal discharge. It's super sad but these girls drink 20-40 beers a day and its no surprise they all have vaginal discharge. The first girl Theary took aside after I was done and she talked and prayed with her, led her to God and the girl was crying and wants to come out of this life! YAY! She talked to another who didn't even get to see me because she got called away, but not before she found Jesus :) Claire on the other side started talking to patients as well and Rang Sey - one of my original 4 medical students came and he helped out as well. He drove 2 1/2 hours to see me and all for 30 minutes of which only 5 minutes of it were with me alone :( I was sooo touched and again I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such great people who love me so much!
As we all gathered at gateway to say goodbye to each other the head girl there came over to me after I had my 5 minutes with Rangsey and asked if I wanted a coffee. I said no, cause I had been called to have dinner with the government official (and had to cancel dinner with pert and michael), but she got all teary eyed and said she wanted to treat me to a coffee because of all I do for the cambodian people! :) I couldn't refuse that! And the coffee was so good too! I really don't know anyone who is so blessed with so many people who love them so very very much.
So I was sad to be missing dinner with pert and michael but when a government official who is helping you wants to have dinner with you, you dont say no :) But it was such a blessing. I love this couple. As soon as I walked in the wife took me by the hand and took me back to the kitchen where I saw R - one of our original students there cooking food. After hugs I found out she has been working next door for a year :) and they hired her to make food for me today. I had seen her at the center learning english (which made me so happy because she had dropped out after a year and it had made me sad because she had so much potential. When I originally met her we said good morning to each other only. When I met her a year later after she had been learning english in our center she could translate for me!) and then she had dropped out. Last time I had been in town I had encouraged her to go back and start learning and hehe! I was happy she was back) Now R is a great cook and last time I was here she had cooked for us and when we were coming back on monday from the medical camp Michael had asked me if we wanted her to cook for her and I had said no, but later on I was thinking, I should have said yes and look at God, even that desire was fulfilled. What I loved was instead of treating her like the help, they had her sit with us on the table and eat dinner! :) I went with the wife to drop her off at her "house" (a one room rental) and the wife and I got to talk a lot. I didn't even realize she spoke so much english and so it was great! Got back and we all chatted a little longer before I left.
There is a doctor they were working with that I really didn't want to work with but they seemed to be so excited to be working with him that I didn't want to say anything. That night the whole night was them and the government official talking about how they didn't want to work with him and the reasons why and I was so happy that they didn't want to work with him, but at the same time felt I was defending him all night because
Save Each One
Updates about Save Each One and the Women's Center in Cambodia