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(Sw)eat, Pray, Love

Hello world! I’m back on the map after a week of roughing it in the Cambodian jungle. This week I successfully

1. Ate fried grasshopper. Very leggy.

2. Encountered more than one scorpion in the grass beneath the light of my headlamp at night.

3. Rolled three-deep on a motorcycle every day for almost 40 kilometers to visit neighboring villages.

4. Awoke to the sound of roosters and went to sleep to the sound of tree frogs.

5. Rode atop a mountain of cow dung on a hand-tractor through the jungle, then used shovels to fling said cow dung all over a rice patty field to help fertilize it.
I also successfully survived without

1. Hot water (not that I wanted it)

2. A shower

3. A bed

4. A Western toilet

5. Wifi

6. Air conditioning
But these are small feats compared to what actually has been accomplished in my heart this week.

Wow, if I could only express how much I am learning and being stretched here in Cambodia. I think I have sweated, prayed and laughed more in the past week than I have in the past month. Every day presents its own challenges, whether it’s teaching 15 eager students English without a translator or fighting dehydration and heat exhaustion while a jungle microbe wages war on your intestines. (True stories.) The glorified view of the life of a missionary that I once held has been completely wrecked in the best way. Ministry is hard. Life in the village is hard. It denies every comfort that my Westernized body and mindset are used to. Sleeping outside when it is raining but also 8 million degrees Fahrenheit and you have mosquito bites and a stomach bug and a heat rash all over your body is less than easy. But, praise the Lord, because He is teaching me that He is enough. Each day has provided me with an opportunity to preach the gospel to others, while also preaching it to myself.

I am learning the power of prayer and have been reminded to “pray without ceasing.” When you are as far from society as we are in Po Peyl, there is such a sweet lack of distractions that prayer is always the most obvious and best answer to any obstacle. If someone’s feeling ill, we pray. If we are heading out on the motorcycle, we pray. If a teammate is feeling anxious, we lay on our hands and pray. Prayer is an integral part of our ministry here, and it is ministering to my heart as well.
Here is a little taste of the glory. A day in the life in Po Peyl:

I wake up each morning around 5:45. Yes, I realize that is heinously early, but when the roosters are up, you’re up. I crawl out of my tent and put on my muddy Chacos to greet the morning. I spend about half an hour with the Lord, reading the word and praying for the day. Then my teammate Sydney and I head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast with Deb and Rosalin, two of the leaders of our ministry.This week we prepared soup, Cambodian hot dogs and toast, egg rolls (omelettes), noodles and fried rice for breakfast – different then my typical oatmeal or yogurt routine, but equally delicious. I really enjoy my mornings helping with breakfast prep. It is a sweet time of fellowship among us women and I really relish the time we spend sharing stories and testimonies, and also gleaning really valuable relationship wisdom from Deb. Time with them is the best. I leave the kitchen every morning smelling like spices and with a very full heart.

After our team has eaten breakfast, the morning might consist of making lesson plans for our English class, going on walks on the village roads or pumping water to wash yesterday’s very, very sweaty clothes. (Have I mentioned that it’s hot here?)

Then we eat lunch as a group before my teammate Annie and I hop on the back of a moped with Bunna, a Cambodian pastor and our fearless translator, and speed off to neighboring villages. Annie and I teach an English class in two different villages, where the children are at a wide variety of ages and skill-level with English, which makes teaching them pretty challenging. On Fridays we share the gospel with these children, and Bunna helps to translate a Bible story to them.

Bunna himself first heard the name of Jesus through English classes when he was 14 years old. He always reminds us that “Faith comes through hearing.” Even though he did not accept Christ for himself until he was 21, he reminds us that while some may plant and some may water, God does the growing. Teaching at these classes fills my heart. The children are BEAUTIFUL, and have such an eagerness to learn. Instructing them is hard, but I am encouraged because they are getting exposure to Truth.

After teaching our two classes, we head to a shop owned by a sister in Christ named Bong Lu to do a Bible study. She is one of two believers in her village, so our time with her is precious. She does not have community or familial support for her beliefs, and is persecuted and mocked by neighbors for following Jesus. Annie and I are leading her in a foundational Bible study, going through Genesis. Afterwards we have the opportunity to pray for her. We have been able to pray for her husband to come to faith, for pain she was feeling in her mouth, for sick friends, for her nephew who ran away from home and for one of her pigs who was having a bad bout with diarrhea (I really had to bite my lip to not laugh at that one). Studying the Bible with her had been so COOL because all of her customers who come into her store are getting to hear the gospel while they are stopping in to shop. Even though only two people in her region believe, I am confident that God is doing a good work there. Cambodia is one of the top ten nations in the world where Jesus’ name is spreading, and I am asking Him to allow His light to spread to all those who my sister Bong Lu interacts with.

After this Bible study, I head back to our village, Po Peyl, where I do another Bible study with the believing women there. (My FAVORITE part of the day.) We sing and study God’s word and pray for each other (through the help of Bunna.) I have been so humbled by the faith of these women. One of them was once possessed by evil spirits, but has been set free and is a follower of Jesus. They have strong faith and are seeking the Lord, but are daily mocked for trusting Jesus. When they pray and don’t see immediate results, the other villagers, including their husbands, persecute them for believing in the Lord. Yet God has a strong claim on their hearts, and through this small community of believing women, he is touching other women and their children. Bible study gives me goosebumps. I love singing with them and praying with them and seeing how the love of the Father breaks down communication barriers and lets us love one another. The only things I can say in Khmer are “Greetings, how are you today? It’s good to see you.” “My name is Teacher Darby.” And “Pray to Jesus.” But despite my limitations, the love of the Lord allows us to communicate through Him. It’s really, really beautiful.

The rest of the night is usually filled with singing and laughter, sitting under the stars with my team, Bunna, Rosalin, Deb and Roger, eating supper, laughing and telling stories and fellowshipping, before we collapse in our small tents in the dark around 8 p.m. for a night of sleep.
There are so many more events, activities and stories I could write about, but my thumbs are tired of typing (iPhone problems.)
Here’s how you can be praying:

1. That Annie and I would be able to teach English effectively to the children in our villages, while teaching them about the Lord.

2. That through our ministry with Bong Lu, others would come to know Jesus in her village.

3. That my team would serve the ministry and pastoral staff that we are working with, helping to encourage them in their work.

4. For me, as I preach on the topic of prayer at a village prayer meeting this week.

5. For health for our team (6 out of 7 of us were sick this week, so pray that we adjust to the hot climate and food here.)

6. That we would keep Christ at the center of our mission.

7. For the broken and lost husbands of the women in our village, most of whom are addicted to alcohol and gambling. Pray that they would know the freeing love of the Lord.
Two weeks left in the jungle. See you on the other side!

Peace,

Darby 



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