(In the fall of last year, we crossed the 4 year marker & are now well into our 5th year in Cambodia. I really wanted to share some reflections on crossing the 4-year mark & all the lessons we've learned, but somehow (or more likely, someone.... eh hem, ezra sparrow!) its taken awhile to collect my thoughts & now here we are, nearly 6 months later. But I think the reflections are still relevant, so here are some thoughts on spending four years here.)
[4 years: 4 talstras: picture by savady photography]
We aren't changing the world & that just might be ok. Maybe, very few people are called to change the whole wide world after all.
We're trying to make small changes in the lives of Cambodian returnees & Cambodian women. & that work is not glamorous For us, to use our talents here, means we can most often be found working behind the scenes at a desk, or in a meeting room somewhere working on strategic planning, in board meetings, dreaming up new ways to work & to connect with supporters. it means we spend a lot of time writing to ask for funding (because Cambodians have the skills & the passion to change their communities, just not always the means), monitoring that funding, then reporting on that funding .
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
But even that small contribution is not a good measure. Funders can be fickle Projects can fail. Staff you trust can betray.
So maybe, in the end, success is measured in the process. In the means, if not always in the ends.
Did I speak to that person with love? Did we go about our daily tasks with joy? Did we contribute to peace in our conduct? Were we patient with that colleague? Was our kindness evident to all? Did we focus on the goodness of those around us? Did our lives & how we worked testify to the faithfulness of God? Did we remain gentle in the face of violence & injustice? Self-controlled in all the moral brokenness around us?
[painting by christina of alepka arts]
Isaiah 58: 10-11 says that if we spend ourselves on behalf of the oppressed that we will be like well-watered springs. We're still grappling (& often failing) with what it means to spend ourselves for others, especially now with 2 sweet little ones in tow.
But somehow in His mercy, God has already given us the well-watered garden.
Against even our own expectations, our little family has thrived here. & so when I look back on 4 years in the Kingdom of Wonder, my overwhelming reflection is deep gratitude. To the Lord, who has so faithfully guided us, protected us, & given us the garden. & to you, our community, spread wide, who have watered us by supporting, encouraging, & even visiting us.
4 years in & many hard lessons later - we.are.so.blessed.
& as we look forward to 2 more years, please pray that we would live here with our eyes wide open & that we would see. It is all too easy to walk/ride through this city, thinking of "to do" lists, whats for dinner, weekend plans, & in doing so, to miss the seeing.
Seeing the children digging through garbage, the recycling ladies carrying naked babies in their carts, the beggars, the real poverty, cruelty & squalor. But also the LIFE, the smiles, the commitment for justice, the solidarity, & the kindness.
Please pray that our eyes would be wide, our hearts brave, & that despite the distractions, for us to