The team finished up in Siem Reap yesterday and caught a plane out of town, arriving in at our hotel in Phnom Penh about midnight. Yesterday was an emotional day for all, as the last day of teacher training and/or vacation bible school always is. Although not home yet, today we begin the sometimes difficult process of assimilating back into our normal lives. It seems to me that we walk so close to God during these trips that there is a sense of loss when the mission is over. I can only imagine the overwhelming feelings of loss Adam and Eve must have experienced after making the choice to sin.
The message being delivered is the central focus of Fifty5five's mission trips. It is the one and only reason for our being here. The Word of God, and leaving it in the hearts that hear. Listening to young voices repeating back the prayer of salvation was sweet incense to my ears. But, it isn't the message we walk away remembering. It's the feelings and the relationships. The sound of those voices is already beginning to fade, however, the feeling I felt hearing them is growing stronger. I will never forget the feeling of four kids running through the gate at the start of the last session and jumping on me. I was sitting on the concrete ground and it was "dog pile" time. That could never have happened a couple of days earlier. It seems strange, however the word compliment means opposite. As the perfect compliment to the dog pile, near the end of the day, a young girl of about four crawled up into my lap, closed her eyes, and fell fast asleep. One of the most profound compliments I have ever been paid happened yesterday. After all was over and the team was saying it's good byes, a group of four staff members that happened to be female came over and each in turn gave me a hug, followed by a group hug. Nothing much unusual in that, until one of them explained to me in broken English that Cambodia women do not hug men. A relationship had been established, trust had been built, and they were willing to step outside of their normal behavior to show me.
Next time you read Acts, while learning about Paul's missionary journeys, look for the relationships he built. Paul was all about spreading the good news to a world in need. But he also developed lasting relationships with those he met and preached to.
Tomorrow, I hope to convince these seven powerfully spiritual women that I have had the pleasure of traveling and serving with to capture each of their favorite moments for the blog. As you read it, I believe you will see most, if not all of their favorite moments are based in the relationships they have built here in Cambodia.
Today is Saturday, a day of rest which we will be observing. Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and will attend services here in Phnom Penh. Monday we fly home. Even though our mission to the kids of Siem Reap is complete, it doesn't mean you are free to stop praying for us. How knows, there may be more Christ centered relationships to be built.