I am going to Cambodia!!!

I am going to Cambodia! It’s like a dream come true.

I’ve been wanting to visit Cambodia since I don’t know when. But this year in February, on the plane back from Surabaya with my sister after we visited the ministries in Surabaya, we were talking about our dreams for God. I asked her, “So, where do you think we should go next?” We don’t even know if we can take another trip together. That was actually our first mission trip together although we have gone on different trips with different teams. We both thought for a while, and then I remember we looked at each other and said, “Cambodia.” Ok, maybe it wasn’t so dramatic. But it was something to that effect.

Time passed and I still had in my mind that I wanted to go to Cambodia. However, with me going back to work in June this year, I didn’t think I could take another trip. The trip in February was planned so so that I could go on a trip before going back to work.

And then Cambodia started to come up. Over and over.

Our church didn’t have any partners or churches in Cambodia, so it wasn’t easy to just plan a trip there. What were we going to do? However, over the last few months, different ministries have been visiting our church and extending invitations for us to visit and partner with them. Then one day in September, my sister sent me a text message while she was in church, I was at home and Cameron was in Africa. She said, “I want to give 3 months of my life to serve in Cambodia.” That was after Ps Yang was talking about Cambodia in the church service she was attending.

She has a good job with the government, but she wanted to take 3 months off to give the best time of her life to the Lord. She just turned 25 (last Saturday), so she’s already a quarter of a century old! (yea like that’s very old) But I was excited for her and encouraged her to do it! I told Cameron about it and he said if she was serious, he could look into getting her connected with a ministry she could serve.

In October, two of our dear friends in church got married. They decided to give all the ang bao (wedding gifts) money they received at their wedding to a ministry in Cambodia. (you can read about their story here: http://kitesong.sg/iloveyou/)

And just before the wedding, we met up with a missionary friend who has a great ministry in Cambodia training pastors and saving children from the sex trade. Cambodia kept coming up. We were serious about visiting by the time we had dinner with Sis. Liney. So we started planning for the trip.

We were going thinking about taking a family vacation. But I told my husband, honestly, I’d rather go on a family mission trip. So we were thinking of taking the kids to Surabaya, since my husband has not visited the ministry before (it’s http://www.pondokhayat.org/ by the way, a ministry that provides shelter to unwed moms and runs an orphanage and children’s home for the children these young women can’t provide for. These babies would have otherwise been aborted. But now, many of them get adopted.)

Since then, our plans have changed. Now, we would be going to Cambodia with my sister and spend 5 days there while she’ll stay on for another 9 weeks. And since we’re relatively unfamiliar with Cambodia (both Cameron and my sis have been there once before), we couldn’t take the boys. We have prepared them for this trip though and they know why we are going there and why we can’t take them. They are very precious and sensible little boys. And we are thankful for my mom who will be taking care of them. And to all the other people whom I know will be taking them out and watching out for them. 🙂

So please pray for us as we go to Cambodia next week. 🙂

Delia

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Living with the Children at Simo

Last Friday, I went on my second trip to Surabaya, Indonesia. The first time I went was in December of 2010 with a Couriers mission team from church. I’ve always wanted to go back again and got to do so this month, as a birthday present from the best husband in the world!

On the plane

This time I went with just my sister. It was my first mission trip going with my sister! After all these years. It’s both our dreams to work with children and run homes to save orphans and unwanted or abused children. So it was a great opportunity to visit the ministry of Pondok Hayat in Surabaya.

Also, our church had sent out a volunteer to Surabaya and she’s in her third month there. I wanted to visit her and spend time with her. Alicia is only 19 and wanted to give time to missions before she starts university. It was a great encouragement to see what a blessing she is to the ministry in Pondok Hayat. Also to beat her in Monopoly Deal. Heh.

 

The most unforgettable part of this trip, that also made it so different from others before, is that we stayed at a children’s home with 11 orphans. So often we go on trips, minister in the day and then go back to our hotel rooms or guest homes. We kind of distant ourselves to what is happening in the third world countries. But to actually stay with the children and be a part of their daily lives was life-changing. When we came home, it was hard to focus on our daily lives, knowing that somewhere, someone is needing love, not just love, but loving guidance and teaching. And we long to be with them.

 

My sister texted me as she was sitting in a morning meeting at work, Why are we discussing these things that really don’t matter in the long run? And I wrote on my facebook, as much as I’m glad to be home with my family, I also wish I was there with the children, making a difference in their lives simply by loving them and letting them know they are loved. If only I can ‘commute’ there to work! I can live with that as my day job. 🙂 I know my kids would love to go with me too. I asked Evan what he will help me do there and he said, “I can help you cook, Mommy!” 🙂

 

These 11 children were unwanted by their mothers who got pregnant before they were married. No one in the organisation helping these unwed mothers know who the fathers are. But the shelter, Pondok Hayat (Hut of Life), gives these mothers hope, and these babies a future. It saved the babies from the clutches of death through abortion and gave them a chance to be born into this world. Many of the babies get adopted (thank God for the favour on the ministry), but many also get left behind. When they grow to be 4 years old, they move to Simo Children’s Home, which was where we stayed, with these precious dear ones.

 

Each of them is special. Each of them is full of life, full of love. On the first day, one of the founders of the ministry already told me, “Please discipline them.” My reply, “I’m only going to be here 4 days! I don’t want them to hate me!” But we all know that disciplining our children is part of loving them. And with their main caregiver going home for the weekend (she must have timed it for when we are there!), I had to hold up my role! I’m glad I didn’t have to do much in terms of correction, just certain things they picked up from school that I had to explain to them are rude or not good. I spent more time hugging, kissing, praying for them, and playing with them.

 

We played soccer, went on swings, and did cartwheels. Yes, cartwheels. The boys are crazy over a current TV show called Madun, which is about a boy soccer genius. The stunts in the show are obviously fake, but the boys aspired to be able to perform them nonetheless. “Miss, can you do this and kick the ball?” What? Cartwheel AND kick the ball? “No I can’t. I’m too old!” “Miss, I know, you cannot do it because you are a girl.” What?! Trying to provoke me? Not going to work. I’m too old boys. But I can do a cartwheel. Here we go! And they’re only a little impressed… and went on to try their Madun moves. Staying with the children was also a good opportunity to practise my bahasa!

 

“Miss! Look!” “Miss! Tie my hair?” “Miss! Come!” “Miss!” All of them calling at the same time, while I was trying to get 2 girls to finish their food. By 8:30pm of the second night, I was beat! And after the kids were in bed, the caretakers had piles of folding and ironing to do! We offered to help, but our offer was turned down (not that we were that disappointed!).

Playing games
The boys doing their 'Madun' stunts
This is really funny. To show them what a girl can do, when they said I couldn't do the stunts because I'm a girl, I did a series of turns to show them something they can't do!
Giving Maria a 'princess' hairdo
Jack and I

 

Besides spending time with the children at Simo, we also had bible study with the mothers, spoke at a youth outreach meeting (they hold a weekly meeting for the teens in a poor community), helped develop an English curriculum for the pre-schools and elementary school, had a teacher fellowship/sharing, and played with the babies at Pondok Hayat. And these are what the staff and volunteers do everyday and every week. They have such an extensive and fruitful ministry. The schools are an outreach to the community too as they provide almost free education for a lot of children. By meeting the physical needs of the community, the hearts of the people are very much more open to the gospel and the people more willing to listen to the Christians share.

Spending time with the babies at Pondok Hayat

 

This is what I think we need to do. The church needs to rise up and let our light shine. We need to put the love we have from God in action and bring that love to the community. James 1:27 says, “True and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

 

(To read more about Pondok Hayat, you can visit their website at www.pondokhayat.org. But you’ll need Google translate coz it’s in bahasa. 🙂 Waiting for my sis to post more pictures of the kids on her facebook since we took most of the pictures on her camera!)

Myanmar

The trip report I wrote for our Missions Blog. www.missions.cscc.org.sg.

View from our hotel - Streets of Yangon

This was the first time to Myanmar for most of us on the team. In fact, only Pastor Cameron had been to the beautiful country before. It was a great cross-cultural experience for us and we really enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes there, besides the opportunities to minister to the people.

 

Weekend in Myanmar

We arrived in Myanmar on Saturday. After lunch and an afternoon of wrapping gifts for the children in the orphanages (yes, we hand-wrapped all 70 of the gifts), we went for the Youth Combined Cells meeting. It was beautiful to hear the Burmese translation of Burn, a song written by a dear brother in Cornerstone. 4 members of our team took turns to share testimonies and exhortations. We ended the meeting with games organised by Jeremy and Addison which got the youth roaring in laughter.

On Sunday, the team split up to minister in the main church and one of the daughter churches. While Ps Cameron and myself preached in the services, the rest of the team carried out the children’s program for more than a hundred children over the two locations!

Therafter, we went to the main church for the youth service in the afternoon. The youth ministry has grown since the last time Pastor Cameron was there last year. The youth leaders are vibrant, enthusiastic and on fire for God, and we had an opportunity to pray for some of them to commit their lives to serving God. Some of them spoke with us after the service and told us their desire to serve God in full-time ministry. It was a privilege to hear about what God is doing in the lives of these young people.

 

“Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”

Over the next two days, it was mostly teaching sessions in the mornings and afternoons. We taught English at a pre-school held on the premises of the main church on Monday morning. Led by Ezel, our kindergarten teacher, the team taught, sang and played games with the children aged 2 to 4.

In the afternoons, the pastors and leaders from the main church and the network of churches led by Pastor San Min gathered at the main church for a Pastors’ Training. Pastor Cameron taught from Hebrews 11, expounding the lives of the people who lived and honoured God by faith. The rest of us on the team also benefited from the precious lessons we heard. I wished at the end that we were going to have another day of teaching! At the end of the second day, we prayed for all the pastors and leaders for God to impart faith in them. God spoke to many of them and also to us about some of their ministries. Despite living in the midst of a predominantly Buddhist culture and difficult circumstances, these pastors were willing to serve God, making personal sacrifices and taking risks in order to spread the gospel. In the teaching sessions, Pastor Cameron talked about the ‘Hiding of Faith’, as Rahab hid the spies and God honoured her for that. Many times the local pastors have to ‘hide’ by faith – hiding their churches and their ministries – in order to carry on the work of the ministry and the expansion of the kingdom in the country. We believe that God will honour their acts of faith and bless the work of their hands.

 

 

“To visit orphans and widows in their trouble”

Departing from the church in the late afternoon, we went on to visit the two orphanages where Cornerstone is sponsoring some of the children. Our plan was to have dinner with the orphans and just spend time with them, loving on them. We sang songs with them, played games with them and Wai Jia illustrated the story of the Good Samaritan with a skit involving the children. We were really blessed at one of the orphanages when the Pastor/Director of the orphanage, who’s also the mother to the children, asked the children to pray a blessing over the team.

I felt myself immediately pulled down by numerous pairs of little hands so that they can reach me and lay hands on me as they prayed for me. Looking around, I saw that that was the similar fate of my team members. The children raised their voices in earnest prayer. Although we couldn’t understand their prayers as they were praying in their native tongue, we definitely felt the anointing and presence of God and received the blessings by faith. We left them with little gifts but we left with so much more.

Leaving on a jet plane

This is harder than I thought… and we haven’t even left yet!

Tomorrow, Cameron and I leave on a mission trip for 5 days. It is the first time we are leaving both boys behind. Last year I went on a trip without Cameron, and Cameron travels a lot by himself, but we’ve never both left at the same time before.

I am definitely looking forward to the trip. It’s such a privilege to be able to go to any nation on a mission. Our mission this time is to bless the church (our team will be speaking in the cells, services, Children’s Church and pastors’ meetings) and also to bless the children. We will be visiting 2 orphanages; we sponsor some of the children there through our church’s kids sponsorship programme. We will be spending time with the children over 2 evenings. That should be quite the highlight of the trip for some on the team as they are in the children’s ministry in church and feel called to minister to children in poverished parts of the world.

I knew it won’t be easy leaving the 2 boys behind, but I thought I won’t really feel it till maybe the first night we are there. But we haven’t even left and I’m already feeling sad… 😦

Caleb wanted to pray for us tonight so we prayed together. His prayer was that God will fill us with His joy and with faith and that we would have a good trip. Evan’s prayer was “Daddy, Mommy, good trip… mumble mumble mumble… amen”. 🙂

So we’ve said our goodbyes, packed our bags and the boys’ things for their stay at Mama’s place and I’m looking forward to seeing them again on Wednesday! (I know… they’re just in the next room right now… but we won’t see them in the morning as we’re leaving real early)

So friends and family, please keep us and the boys in prayer as we’re apart. We know that God’s love binds us and keeps us together. Just pray that all will be healthy and safe and it won’t be too hard to be apart the next four and a half days…

The Peace Child – A Redemptive Analogy for the Sawis

This is an article I wrote for our Missions Blog. www.missions.cscc.org.sg

This is a story that shows us that in every culture and people group, God has deposited a hope for redemption. Most people believe in a Supreme Being. People try to reach God in whatever way they can. The story of the Sawi people reminds us to meet people where they are, in their cultures and belief systems, and bring them to an understanding of the gospel and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is the story of the Peace Child – the hope for redemption for the Sawi people.

   In 1962, Don Richardson took his wife and seven-month-old baby to work among the Sawi tribe, in what was then Dutch New Guinea. The Sawi were tribal people known to be cannibalistic headhunters. Don knew that God had called him to work among the Sawi people. A strong commitment was needed because the missionaries had to overcome the language problem, on top of being under constant threat of violence and exposure to various diseases. So the first task that Don Richardson had to undertake was to study the language of the Sawi people to a level of proficiency enough to allow him to tell them the gospel.

After months of 8-10 hour daily learning sessions, Richardson was able to tell the people about Christ. He told them stories about Jesus. However, he came to a dead end in his quest to tell them the gospel when after telling them about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the Sawi people started to cheer and hail Judas as the hero in the story! Richardson found out that in a culture that exalted treachery and betrayal, the people regarded Judas the hero, and Jesus ‘the dupe to be laughed at’. It seemed impossible then to bring the people to an understanding of the redemption and salvation of Christ, until he discovered in their culture what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to Christ. This was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.

When Don and his wife moved to live among the Sawi people, they were very well received by the Sawi and highly regarded as the ‘magical people’ with the medicine that could treat diseases and tools that could make work easier. Three Sawi tribes moved to live near the Richardsons. However, these tribes were warring tribes and had a long standing feud with one another. There was constant fighting among the tribes; fights occurring almost every day. The Richardsons considered moving away so that the tribes could go back to where they lived, separate from one another. However, the tribes did not want the Richardsons to leave.

To secure peace between tribes, there was only one way. A father from one tribe had to give his son to a father from an enemy tribe to be brought up by the enemy tribe. As long as the son was well and alive in the other tribe, there would be peace between the tribes. The sacrifice was too sacred to be looked upon lightly by the other tribe. They would ensure that they honour the sacrifice and the peace treaty. This concept was known as the sacrifice of the Peace Child.

To stop the fighting among the three tribes and keep the Richardsons with them, one father from one tribe took his son and went towards an enemy tribe to give him up to the other tribe as the Peace Child. He only had one son. This was his only son after years of marriage. He took the baby and ran through the tribe, trying to see if any other family who had several sons would give one of their sons up instead. But there was no one. None would give up their own son.

He had no choice but to keep going towards the enemy tribe. With tears in his eyes and a heartbroken wife back with his tribe, he handed over the Peace Child to the other tribe. Everyone from both tribes watched as the receiving father brought the child to the men from his tribe. Each man laid hands on the child and received the child into their tribe, and peace was secured for the two tribes. This was an even greater and more sacred sacrifice than usual because the father had given up his one and only son.

As this was unfolding before his eyes, Don discovered, in the most unlikely way, the key to the Sawi’s understanding of redemption and salvation! Don then began telling the Sawi about the great sacrifice of the Father in order to bring reconciliation and redemption. He told them about Jesus, the Peace Child. As they began to understand the gospel better, they told him if they’d known Judas had betrayed the Peace Child, they would not have hailed him the hero. Although they admire those who are masters of trickery and treachery, they would never condone someone who betrayed the Peace Child and the honour code of the peace he brings.

After this, many Sawi were saved and converted to Christianity.

Don Richardson has written books about his missionary experiences and one thing he believes in is that in every culture in the world, there is a Redemptive Analogy. God has left hopes of redemption in every tribe and tongue. And if we go to the ends of the earth, we can bring the gospel of the ultimate redemption the Father has provided for mankind and the greatest reconciliation between man and God.

Watch an interview where Don Richardson told the story of the Peace Child and his experience among the Sawi people.

(Part 1)

 (Part 2)

So hard to say goodbye when Daddy goes on the airplane…

 Cameron leaves for Africa today. We saw him off at the airport and had dinner there together.

Just exactly a week ago, we also had dinner at the airport but we were there to pick him up when he came back from KL. It’s a different feeling altogether.

This time, it is especially hard for Caleb. As he gets older, I think his emotions mature and he finds it harder to have his Daddy away from him. Last week, when we were having dinner the second day Daddy was away, he started tearing as we talked about where Daddy was. He really missed him. And today he’s also crying as he’s missing Daddy already.

The moment we got to the car after saying bye, he started tearing but was fighting back the tears because Daddy had told him he needed to be tough, for Mommy and tell Mommy not to miss Daddy. When we got home, we were going to make a schedule for Daddy’s trip like we did before, so we could see what he was doing and also so we could count down to the day he gets home. Evan tried to help with the colouring but messed up the picture so Caleb started crying because he really wanted to make it a good one. So we made another one. As he was colouring the schedule, he also started tearing at different points. I try not to say much because he would cry each time he talked about Daddy.

“Mommy, I have 3 more squares left to colour.” Thirty seconds later, “I’m almost done crying.” “Do you mean you’re almost done colouring?” “When I finish colouring, I’ll also be done crying.” Aww… it’s hard for me not to cry myself . (I know some of you who knows Caleb and his sensitive little heart will probably be crying now yourself as you’re reading this!)

image

He was cheerier when we finished with the schedule. So he was thinking where we should put it up. I suggested the refrigerator. “How about in my room, Mommy? So when I wake up every morning, I can see it.” Sure.

So we put the photo of Daddy on Thursday, 7 April, and stuck the picture on the wall of their room.

We get ready for bed. Read stories, talked, prayed and said goodnight.

“Mommy, before I sleep, can I also look at Daddy?” Aww…!!

“Of course you can! You can look at Daddy anytime you want. Goodnight little misters!”

Did I mention he choked up when he was praying for Daddy tonight?

(Happy crying everyone! I’m glad if this post made you cry. Because then I’ll have someone crying with me 🙂 )

The Story of Baby Lydia

 I’ve thought about writing about my mission trip to Surabaya last December and my sister-in-law suggested it so I’m going to do it before it becomes a distant memory.

This is going to be about the story of baby Lydia. I’ll write about the rest of the trip in another post.

I went with a team of 7 other people to Surabaya, Indonesia, from 1-4 Dec, 2010. We were there mainly to visit a home for unwed mothers cum orphanage/children’s home, and to distribute gift packs to the poor community. We worked with a Christian non-profit organisation called Pondok Hayat. They lined up the itinerary for us.

On the first night, we had a bible study with about 10 young, unwed mothers. The youngest there was 16-years-old. At the end of the bible study, we prayed with them, especially those with prayer requests. One of them asked for specific prayer for the childbirth as she was due the next month. She was worried about needing a C-section so she asked me to pray that she wouldn’t need one. I prayed with her and shared my own experience with her, assuring her that God will be with her during the process. We prayed that the delivery will be smooth and she wouldn’t need a C-section.

The next afternoon, we had a time of devotions with the staff. At the end of it, they were sharing testimonies. They spoke in Bahasa and Ibu Monica, the director of Pondok Hayat, did most of the translation. Some parts she didn’t translate. One staff member shared about one of their clients who just had her baby that morning and the miracle that it was. The baby was in a breech position and the mom got very scared about having to go to the hospital and having a C-section (the ladies had their babies at the shelter unless there are complications). The staff prayed with her and told her to be strong and trust God. The baby came out bottom first but was healthy! As she was ending her story, we started asking who this mom was who just had her baby because we had just prayed with them the night before! She told us the name and it was the lady I was praying with the night before!

2 of our team members said they passed her in the hallway before the meeting and were wondering if she’d had her baby because she looked different. She saw them and kept saying thank you for praying for her. We asked if we could go see the mom. The ladies went to see her and she was looking fine. (So amazing! We’re so spoilt here in Singapore!) She was even walking around earlier, just hours after having had her baby! We talked some and she thanked us for praying. I reminded her to thank God because He was the One who was with her and kept her and baby safe. God is good! The director then asked her if she had a name for the baby but she wanted the staff to name the baby. So Ibu Monica asked me if I had a name for the baby. The first name that popped into my head was Lydia. I didn’t even know the baby’s gender then! So I checked to see if the baby was a girl and it was! And that’s the story of baby Lydia. But it’s not the end…

I really, really, really wanted to see the baby so we quickly went to the nursery. But she wasn’t there! They had taken her for a bath. We went to the baby bathing area. Visitors are usually not allowed to touch the young babies in the nursery, to prevent the spread of germs. But I asked if I could put on her clothes for her since she was out for a bath. And they granted me the request, much to my surprise and happiness 🙂 It was such a tender moment. Renee helped me capture it on her camera. Even though she came a month earlier, she was healthy, all filled out, didn’t look premature at all.

Changing baby Lydia

Sweet little baby

 

Baby Lydia will always have a place in my heart.

These babies will be given up for adoption if the mothers are not able to bring them home and raise them themselves. God has a destiny for each and every one of them. He has saved them at the beginning of their lives from possible death by abortion. They are now in the care of Christians who love them and will teach them. Some of them will be adopted and given a chance at the life we all know, belonging in a family. The team prayed for each of the children in the home on the last day, that they’ll fulfil their God-given destinies. Please pray for the children of Pondok Hayat, and many millions of children like them all over the world. Millions.

This is Ezra.
This is Ben Ben.
This is Esther.
This is Gabrielle.