Behind Hardened Faces

As I looked out the window as we flew into the capital city of Phnom Penh, my first thought about Cambodia was: muddy water and colorful roofs.  An interesting contrast, but before I had much time to think about it, we were riding away from the airport in these things called “Tuk-Tuks.”  Cambodia’s version of a taxi, this is definitely my new favorite way of travel.
Riding around in the Tuk-Tuk!
Riding around in the Tuk-Tuk!

As we were riding around in our Tuk-Tuks, it hit me that I was actually in the country I’ve been reading about for the past couple weeks.  Within the first two days of being in Cambodia, my eyes were already seeing the reality of the depravity of this country accompanied with the hard-stoned faces of the Cambodians revealing the devastating and recent history many of them had been through.  While we were in Phnom Penh, our team got the chance to see first-hand some of the places that hold so much history for this country.  To give you a brief review, from 1975-1979, a communist group called the Khmer Rouge reigned and was responsible for the genocide of 2 million Cambodians.  We visited the S-21 prison that used to be a school but was turned into a holding facility and interrogation/torture place for thousands of Cambodians.  We also visited one of the 300 plus mass grave sites aka “The Killing Fields,” where thousands of men, women, and children were inhumanely murdered.  Reality is sinking in as I’m starting to understand the reason behind all of the hardened faces.

Part of the S-21 Prison where thousands of Cambodians were interrogated and tortured by the Khmer Rouge.

After two short days in the city, everyone on my team all packed into a small truck for a two hour bumpy ride until we arrived in Kampong Chhnang, the city where we’ll be for the rest of our trip.  The place where we’re staying is quite lovely.  It’s full of beautiful palm trees and vegetation, but even more beautiful people, which is the best part.

The view of part of the center from the balcony of our room (:

  We are staying at the actual center where the girls of whom we’ll be teaching English and forming relationships with live!  Although I don’t know each of their stories, I do know that in some way these girls have been hurt from either sex trafficking or abuse, and it has already been a humbling week of getting to love on them.  But what’s been even more humbling is how we expected to be the ones serving them, but they have been the ones serving us.  I’m so thankful God has given me the chance to get to know these beautiful girls.  In addition to the girls, there are also about ten orphaned children who live there and are cared for.  And I’m not lying when I say they are the cutest and most adorable children ever.   

This is Che Oun — one of the orphans who instantly became friends with all of us.  So adorable it's ridiculous.

Although the girls and the children don’t speak English and we don’t speak Khmer, you’d be surprised of the connections and friendships that God has already started forming; thankfully, we do have one translator.  But I have learned already that with God there is no language barrier.  On next week’s blog I can’t wait to tell you all about what my schedule looks like for a typical week!
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10    

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