Thursday, June 27, 2013

One year ago today - Willing hearts - Changed lives // Cambodia

((warning, long post, but I think it's worth reading))

Last year, around this same time, Steve and I were on a plane headed to Cambodia for a two week trip to serve alongside a mission group In His Steps International (IHSI). We were eager to go, ready to learn and unaware of what it would really be like. You could say we limited our expectations, and rightfully so.

The land was unfamiliar. The homes were not your typical one-story ranches. Driving? Well, do it at your own risk. And Beauty was found in every person we met and we will be forever influenced by our experience.

We spent days teaching English to kids in the village where ISHI was located. Steve made some amazing connections with young men and women eager to go to college. We also painted a government fence. Doesn’t sound to cool, but it helped IHSI a lot. Having positive relationships with the government in Cambodia gives IHSI much favor: In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (1Peter 5:5) 

Then we spent a few days in smaller farming villages. Here, we put on a children’s program with songs, dancing and all sorts of activities. The children were so excited to play with us but we were blessed more! As a group, we put together a short program illustrating basic health care procedures. In some of the smaller villages, women and men would hold a baby upside down shaking them when they were choking they never learned the proper ways to take care of burns, cuts and choking. It was a great feeling leaving the village Pastor with a first aid kit and a demonstration on how to use each item.

Cambodia reenergized and helped me to prioritize my time and influence. It has helped me to call out my passions and skills and use them. Use them to bring Glory to my God and to change someone's life. 

The missionary team, made up of both Americans and Cambodians taught me what it really looks like to love community, people and to serve radically. Seriously, they never stopped serving. They influence so much change in their own community. How do they do it? They love purely and deeply. Seems simple enough, but I know that my day-to-day life pushes out the needs of others and highlights my own wants and desires. God teaches us to love others the way we love ourselves. That means more to me now. I make sure I am clothed, fed, entertained...what about my neighbors?

I am forever grateful for my time in Cambodia and I am forever changed! 

Steve teaching
((From my husband, Steve)) Cambodia changed my outlook on short-term mission trips. I have heard some people have a negative outlook on these trips and I, myself, somewhat did as well prior to going to Cambodia. However, I learned first-hand some of the valuable outcomes. Here are a few:

  1. The encouragement, knowledge, wisdom and connection any short term missionary shares with just one native person (and vice versa) can have a lasting, life-long positive affect. That aspect alone makes short term missions worthwhile. I had the privilege of guest-teaching the most advanced English class every week day I was there (10 week days) and shared this very experience with three of my students. Their names are Tuo, Chantha, and Sreymom. We always found ourselves staying together at least an extra 30 minutes after class, just sharing life experiences with each other. They even came to class an hour early to play a game called "oouu", which I joined and played with them once I warmed up to the rules. Tuo was in tears when I left, and I even left him my favorite Denver Broncos ball cap. I really miss them.
  2. Short-term missions are a great way to sample what long-term missions would be like. It is like an internship of sorts and allows you to obtain a better understanding of what long-term missionaries do day in and day out. It may even spur somebody onto devoting their lives to this work, and that indeed happened with several of the workers with In His Steps International.
  3. It re-energizes and encourages the missionaries that are there full-time. Just a simple conversation about sports and what’s happening in the U.S. is exciting for them and gives them a taste of their prior lives back home where they grew up.
  4. Never under estimate what God can do with a willing heart. Even if it is only a two week commitment, a lot of progress can be made.

To view our photo album here.

with joy,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

200 Sales // You know, just celebrating

I love a great party and of course a great deal! So, I am pleased to announce that as I celebrate 200 sales, I am giving you a little gift: a sale!

Here's the thing, hitting 200 sales means that people are sending out #HappyMail to their friends, family, neighbors...people they just met. And that makes me smile. Hopefully this little sale will encourage you to stock up on some snail mail items!

Shop now!

And thank you thank you for supporting my little shop and allowing me to do what I love!!
You're the best!!

with joy,