To Thailand With Love


Today Socheatha, an AIM counselor, and I will be leaving to Thailand for two weeks with Savry and Kahna (but without Stevee, Arella and James) for their heart surgeries. All the funds were raised and now these girls will be able to get the medical help they need. Thanks to all who contributed!

I ask you now to continue to pray for:

  • Safety as we travel and peace for the girls as they leave their country for the first time
  • Guidance of the doctor’s hands as he performs the surgeries
  • A quick recovery with no complications for the girls to deal with
  • A safe return to our families

Thank you, again, for all of the love and support you’ve shown financially and through prayer. You have truly been a blessing in the lives of these two and many more in Siem Reap.

3Strands: Why Sustainable Employment Matters

Perhaps over the last week or so you may have seen Lygia and me tweet or facebook about 3Strands.  3Strands is a fashion brand that is being developed by Agape and a US-based retailer called Apricot Lane. Apricot Lane’s designers have begun to hand over apparel items to our Agape Training Center in Cambodia where a team sources materials for the girls whom we’ve rescued throughout Cambodia to assemble and package for sale in their store fronts (and online) in the United States.  The first items that actually shipped stateside were the bracelets 3Strands and Apricot Lane are now selling. As the girls continue to train and develop a broader skill-set, 3Strands’s item inventory will grow.

First ATC Shipment

Isaac Saur making sure the last box of the first Agape Training Center shipment to the United States is packed neatly.

With this post I want to get into (a little) detail as to why this type of sustainable employment matters.

Having studied the politics and economics of developing countries at university, the question “why do some countries develop while others stagnate?” has come up in my mind a few times. Many people theorize about the reasons and develop complex answers. Some of these answers have merit; others, not so much. Naturally, living in Cambodia for the last nine months, this question has come up many times in my mind.

During our time here, Lygia and I have made several trips to Thailand (for visa runs, McDonalds, Starbucks, and Tesco) by land as it’s only 150 km (93 miles) away. The minute you cross the border, you know you’re not in Cambodia anymore. This realization comes not from the climate, natural surroundings, or the people; instead it comes from the roads, buildings, cleanliness, and development. Thailand and Cambodia share similar boundaries, similar natural resources, and (while they won’t admit it) similar people. Nevertheless, Thailand is decades ahead of Cambodia in terms of development.

Map featuring Siem Reap

We live in the northern Cambodian town of Siem Reap, which makes Thailand (as opposed to Vietnam) the most convenient country to go to when we need to renew our visas.

I cannot hope to breakdown all the reasons for Cambodia’s poor development in a single blog post, but I can say that I have made a rather unpleasant observation during our car rides to Thailand, one which I believe sums up the problem on at least a superficial level: the majority of big, cargo-carrying trucks travel loaded in only one direction.  The direction in which loaded trucks carrying cargo travel is important because it vividly demonstrates the import-export ratios between the two countries. Here is the problem: the full trucks come from Thailand and the empty trucks leave Cambodia.  That means, Thailand is able to produce enough stuff to satisfy their own demand and export to Cambodia.  This means money is traveling out of Cambodia and into Thailand. The same problem exists on the Vietnam border only I don’t live there so I’m not able to see it.

I’ve seen Thai trucks entering Cambodia carrying any range of goods starting from Styrofoam serving trays to tractors.  This is because Thailand has developed industry and a government that is friendly to businesses. If an outside company wants to choose between the two countries to supply their labor force, they will almost always choose Thailand. Don’t get me wrong, Thailand’s government has plenty of issues and they’re certainly not spot on but they have secure land rights, they invest earnings back into their education system, and they respect copyright laws more stringently.

Cambodia's Curse

Cambodia’s Curse by Joel Brinkley

If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the problem with Cambodian government, society, economy, etc, you should consider purchasing Cambodia’s Curse. Joel Brinkley does a fantastic job cataloging the problems that exist within Cambodia and the outside forces that play into it as well.

Inevitably, one problem we’re facing after rescuing our girls is reintegrating them back into Cambodian society. Just because we’ve taken them in and provided counseling and put them through school doesn’t eliminate the overarching social factors that contributed to their trafficking to begin with. Without a  stable income, they cannot find a safe place to live and provide for themselves and are therefore prone to falling back into the same societal traps that imprisoned them to begin with.  Thankfully, we’ve had several organizations whom we’ve partnered with over the last few years (Bloom Cafe, Daughters, etc) that offer training and employment to rescued girls but as AIM grows and the number of girls we rescue and reintegrate grows, and so must our ability to find or provide viable employment options.

That’s why we’re so proud of and thankful for Apricot Lane. They are a company who went against all odds and defied business principals to help give these girls another chance at life. Girls whom often times were sold into sexual slavery by their parents can now earn monthly salaries that double the Cambodian national average wage. They are developing the skills and gaining the education through Agape Training Center to overcome all odds and flourish into empowered members of Cambodian society.

You can help AIM and Apricot Lane launch this brand by buying a bracelet from 3Strands to show your support and encourage others to do the same; you don’t even need to leave your house.

URGENT: Help Heal the Heart of a Genuine Heart Healer


Kagna was diagnosed with a hole-in-her-heart and now she needs surgery.

Here is a direct link to the AIM blog post.

Some of you might recall Kagna, who we wrote about many months ago. I’m happy to say that she is still with Rahab’s House and nearly at the completion of her studies to be a beautician.

Several weeks ago, we found out Kagna has a hole-in-her-heart, a condition which if left untreated will result in death. Worst of all, it is congenital, meaning she was born with it and had her parents sought medical treatment sooner, it would have been much easier to operate on.

Since her diagnosis, we’ve been doing all we can to make sure Kagna gets the surgery she needs at a trusted medical facility.

Savry, our Assistant Director, has been taking her to weekly appointments since her diagnosis to monitor the condition and make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn for the worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). At one of these routine visits, Savry mentioned to the cardiologist that she, too, had been feeling week for most of her life and that sometimes she has trouble breathing. So the doctor took a listen to her heart and found that it beat irregularly. After performing an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound), he concluded that she, too, has a hole-in-the-heart.

Savry is a true Cambodian hero. She works tirelessly every day to restore the hearts and lives of the girls we rescue through our program. She has shown unparalleled commitment to the fight against sex-trafficking since day one.

Can you help these two girls out? Please donate to their health fund today.

Savry and Kagna's Mom

I took this picture about a week and a half before Savry found out about her diagnosis. Here she is walking with Kagna’s mother to the village leader’s home to get approval for AIM to help Kagna with her heart surgery.

Job Description

Celebrating 5 years of marriage

Lygia and I celebrated five years of marriage on July 7, 2012.

People have consistently been asking us the question: “So what do you do there (in Cambodia)– what’s your job description?”

That’s sort of a trick question; and honestly, it changes day-to-day and  month-to-month.

When we released our update video in February, we had just opened the school one month prior and were preparing for a lot of major changes. In hindsight, we didn’t even realize back then how huge these changes would actually be.

In March, two girls who grew up on brick factory grounds near our Rahab’s House in Svay Pak moved up to Siem Reap to help us open our salon. Brick factories in and around Svay Pak are practically forced-labor camps and the children of the workers often end up as trafficking victims; the transformation in these girls’ lives has been amazing and now they’re doing awesome work here in Siem Reap.

Brick Factory at Svay Pak

Svay Pak brick factory/labor camp: ovens (left), bricks (center), shanty housing (right).

Soon after, Jayme Moffard along with a girl who graduated from Agape Restoration Center (ARC), moved into Rahab’s House of Siem Reap to help with outreach and education.  The month of March itself saw some huge transformations with the opening of the salon and the beginning of our outreach program. It was also the month where we started to take in girls to live at Rahab’s House.

Jayme and Brittnay riding elephant

Jayme Moffard and Brittnay Knight riding an elephant in Thailand.

In April, Brittnay Knight moved up to Siem Reap to help with outreach and to teach English. She was welcomed to Siem Reap a bit crudely as our whole family had Dengue fever at the time and it seems she would fall victim to the same fate during her first week.

Despite the shaky start, we filled up our emergency housing bedroom early in April and had to add beds in an open space on the third floor to fit more girls. Here is an excerpt from a budget proposal I wrote some months ago about the situation:

Emergency Housing: Our last bed was filled on 7 April 2012. Three of the beds are occupied by RHSR staff and three by girls formerly in the employ of T** T*** KTV (karaoke club). In mid-April we bought 2 new bunk beds to house four more girls in an open space on the third floor that we plan to convert into another bedroom by May 25, 2012.

Also in April, Dr. Carla Kaczor began regular visits to Siem Reap to host clinic sessions. At introduction, she would see about 10 girls over the day-and-a-half she was in town.  Today, she sees more than twenty people a day on average and holds clinic for three day intervals every two weeks at our center.  She sees girls from local massage parlors, karaoke clubs, and some members of the general public (many of whom are relatives of the massage/karaoke workers).

In May, Alla and Michael Nagy took a month off of their work/travels in Europe to visit us and to help in any way they could with the ministry. Thankfully, Mike is quite the handyman and Alla is an excellent assistant so together they helped with the renovations we needed to expand the housing room to accommodate more girls.

Framing walls

Alla and Lygia helping Mike frame a wall at Rahab’s House.

After the renovations, we took in our last two girls into Rahab’s House. They were two sisters who we got to know because the younger of them was attending our morning school sessions. Only God could have orchestrated such a perfect series of events. The younger sister, 13, started coming to my English classes in January. When the girl from ARC moved up in March, they became friends and the younger sister even started to attend church with our staff. One day, we noticed that she hadn’t been coming to class. Our attempts at calling her and her sister were to no avail. Savry, our Assistant Director, and I went to the building where we knew this girl lived, asked around to find which room was hers, and found the girl inside crying with her older sister unconscious on the floor (probably intoxicated).  It turns out her mother had forced her and her sister to start working in the karaoke clubs. This girl is thirteen!  We immediately intervened and took them both out to live at Rahab’s House.

It was around this time when Don Brewster (Director of AIM) and I realized that what we had initially identified as a need for “short-term emergency housing” was actually greater. At inception, we thought that short term housing might be needed as a means of transitioning the girls into a proper job or something of the sort. However, we found that what was actually needed was housing for the duration of enrollment in vocational training or educational programs because most of these girls had little or no education, and certainly no other job training.

We decided that it was time to stop taking any more girls until we could really iron out, in more detail, the program that we were running and hire staff to handle the girls we had already taken in. In June and July, we worked extensively on handling this issue. We drafted a Plan of Care and revised Budget along with dozens of other operational documents.

Jimmy and Andrey fixing a curb in front of RHSR

Heavy rains, shabby construction, and careless driving ruin many roads and sidewalks. Andrey and Jimmy fixed ours and setup permanent planter boxes to dissuade drivers from needlessly driving over it.

Also in June, we were visited for about three weeks by Jimmy Munteanu and Andrey Burachek who came to serve the ministry in any way they could. During their time in country, they handled a number of small construction projects to beautify Rahab’s House.

We discovered that thirteen girls living in the same house doesn’t come without its share of problems. More than that, Jayme, who was acting as temporary House Mom, was leaving back to the States on July 8.  Luckily for us, God is good and he provisioned two wonderful ladies to take her place. We sent them to Phnom Penh for a week of training at ARC and they took turns settling in with the girls at Rahab’s House during Jayme’s last couple of weeks in country.

I spent many days during the month of July driving to the homes of the girls in our care to visit their families and village chiefs to complete paperwork and assess the previous living conditions of the girls. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that most of the families live in dismal conditions.

Phnom Khrom Village

The father of one of our girls (left) and Savry, our Assistant Director, (right) walking towards the home of the village leader in Phnom Khrom. In September-October, this village floods and becomes a fishing village. The homes on stilts are generally safe from flooding but the others need to move their homes uphill during rainy season to avoid being inundated.

In short, it has been quite the busy last few months. We are incredibly happy with what God has done in Siem Reap so far and cannot wait to see where he takes Rahab’s House in the future. We have an awesome staff that will continue to grow and serve this community.

Here is a list of prayer items for Rahab’s House:

  • One of the girls in our care and Savry, our Assistant Director, both have the same heart condition known as hole-in-the-heart where they quite literally have holes between the chambers of their hearts. As they’re both technically adults (over 16), they don’t qualify for the free treatment at the children’s hospitals in Cambodia, so we need to send them to Thailand for surgery. We anticipate this will cost over $44,000 for both girls.  Please pray and give if you’re able.
  • Over the last month, we’ve had two short term missions teams from South Korea visit Rahab’s House. During these two visits, which consisted of community outreach (mainly the children and the working girls) by way of fun educational and recreational sessions (guitar/keyboard/music lessons, dance lessons, jewelry making, sports, etc), we’ve seen a large influx of community children coming into Rahab’s House. This is an awesome thing: it means the community is starting to trust us.  However, it does put strain on us both financially and in terms of staff.  We want to serve these children in the best possible way and affect their community for the long term. We’ve started a sort of Kid’s Club type program like they have in Svay Pak for the moment. We’re not sure how long it will last or how consistently children will come, but it could mean expanding the scope of Rahab’s House even further in the future.
  • Lygia and I are transitioning home in November and Laura Linner, who has worked for Agape in Phnom Penh over the last few months, will be coming to Siem Reap to take our place.  Please pray for us as we catch her up on all that’s going on here.
  • We want to open a second Agape Training Center in Siem Reap in the coming months to both expand our program here while at the same time being able to provide good jobs for the girls we rescue from these vile places.
  • Bloom Asia is also hoping to expand to Siem Reap next year. They have been an excellent resource to our organization for the past few years, providing vocational training, healing, and education for girls rescued out of sex-trafficking. Siem Reap is in dire need of places like Bloom; they help facilitate the life-changing transformations these girls need.

So, you might ask: “What’s your job description?” and I would answer that it depends on when you ask. Some days, Lygia and I are counselors. Others, we’re construction workers. Still others, we’re clinic assistants, cooks, salon managers, ad men, teachers, janitors, party planners, social workers, book keepers, coffee runners, ambulance drivers (well, if you consider our old Camry and ambulance anyway), fund-raiser,  etc.

The one thing we can say with certainty is that God has big plans for Rahab’s House and the young ladies of Siem Reap.

Desperation in the Land of Smiles


Sometimes Cambodia is referred to as the “Land of Smiles,” a name it often shares with its northern neighbor, Thailand. While I don’t disagree with its classification as such, I think it should be prefaced with the context of the Cambodian experience before its used. The implication derived is that people are always happy; believe it or not, many times this is the case. I see people each day who have every reason to frown yet still find ways to smile.

It takes me back to my childhood when I would see my mother laughing at a situation that would’ve seemed to merit crying; I used to ask her why she was laughing and she would respond, “well, what’s the alternative, son? Should I cry instead?” I eventually understood this reaction to mean that there wasn’t time to cry; at the same time it was an admission that there were far more important things in life than how she felt at that particular moment and an implied sense that she’d previously dealt with far greater burdens.

I’ve begun to gather that the smiles these lands are filled with are those of people refusing to let emotion dictate how they will react to their circumstance and the implied sense of having overcome far worse. It’s something I notice in the shop keepers I frequent, the drivers I’ve hired when we had no car, and the girls we’re working with. In situations like these, where people smile to cover up emotion, it’s difficult to get a true sense of what someone is thinking or feeling. The smiles, in this case, are also sugar coated with lies they must tell to save face (a common Asian practice).

Reading people here has proven to be more of a task than I would’ve previously thought. I often have to wait until the person thinks I’ve stopped paying attention to possibly catch a glimpse of what they really think.

Today I was coming home from my weekly trip to the market and, as has become habit, I slowed down while passing the Buddhist statue in the city center, which people believe to be an actual God, to see the people coming to worship. Usually Lygia and I sort of smile sheepishly as we see various people trying to feed flowers to, burn incense in front of, or leave a shot of liquor for the statue to gain favor from it. It usually seems more ceremonial than anything else.

but today I was struck with something I’ve rarely seen in this Land of Smiles: emotion; desperation, even. A woman (not the one in the picture as I took the picture after) appeared to be in tears as she was rubbing the idol’s face and then rubbing her own. Usually people bring things for the statue like as an exchange but this woman had nothing. She looked as if she was hurting and desperately reaching out for some “luck.”

In the Land of Smiles, this type of desperation hides in plain sight. If you aren’t paying attention you’ll walk right by it, you’ll look right through it, and you’ll have gone by completely unaware. I’m sharing this to say that one of my biggest struggles has been adapting to cultural differences. But day by day I’m trusting that God will help me understand and empathize more and more. While I feel terrible about the woman at the statue, I rejoice in the knowledge that God set her in my path to do just that: feel.

It took my surprise, even. I usually pass by the statue with nothing more than I mildly curious indifference, hoping to spot people doing something I find funny, like taking pictures of each other feeding flowers to the statue. While I still maintained control of my fine motor skills, I was baffled. I drove forward to the next safe point to turn around but really I have no idea why I turned around. I wanted to interact with her. I wanted to talk to her. In hindsight, I have no idea how I would’ve done that but still, I turned around. By the time I got back to the statue she was gone and all I was left with was the usual quirky group of tourists/locals burning incense and feeding the statue random things. I scanned the sitting park but she was nowhere in sight.

I never pretend to fully understand the Will of God but on other hand I never hesitate to point people to Romans 12:1-2 where Paul tells us that we can know the will of God through rational thought in many cases if we have the renewal of mind that comes from knowing Jesus. However, that’s not to say that we should make ourselves void of emotion; on the contrary, I believe we cannot. God gave us emotions for a reason but He also have us reason so that we could prioritize and understand the emotions we feel. As I remember that woman’s face, I cannot help but feel sad for her sadness, but at the same time, as the day has progressed, I’ve begun to realize that God may have placed her in my path to serve as a reminder that hidden behind the many smiles I see every day, there are very likely hidden a number of other feelings.

It’s been one interesting journey so far, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Rahab’s House of Siem Reap

Check out this video update we made. It has been an incredible journey thus far and we’ve seen some seriously amazing progress in our short time here. We wanted a way to more fully convey what is happening here so we’ve put together this short video to give you guys a glimpse into the ministry.

As we continue, please pray for guidance and that God would make clear for us each day what it is that we need to do. Pray for Siem Reap and especially for the girls we’re working with.

Benefit Dinner for Cambodia (February 11, 2012 @ 5pm)

If anyone is in the area and interested, the awesome folks over at the Romanian Baptist Church of San Leandro are putting together a benefit dinner tonight February 11, 2012 at 5 pm for the girls that we’re working with here in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Over the last two months with your generous support, we’ve gotten this mission started. We’ve leased a building, furnished it, and have run begun classes in English and Computers. So far we have about 20 children in our morning session and as many as 10 girls who come to study in the afternoon from a nearby brothel/karaoke club.

It’s amazing to see God’s plan unfurl. So far we’ve successfully removed three girls from the brothels and we’re currently working adamantly for four more who have begun to open up and reach out. These girls have the opportunity to start fresh and in the process, come to know God.

In the last month, we’ve held two clinic sessions and done numerous over the phone consults with our organization’s doctor, Dr. Carla, who has dedicated the next five years of her life to working with the people of Cambodia and especially to the girls we are helping.

Please come to the benefit dinner as they’ll be showing a video we put together with what has happened so fat and what is planned from here on out. Also, we’ll be attempting a live Skype!

The dinner will be held at 14871 Bancroft Ave, San Leandro, CA 94578 at 5 pm. All proceeds will go directly to helping the girls.

Thank you all for your support.

Lygia, Steve, Arella, & James

Teaching English to Cambodians

PDF Handout for Teaching English to Cambodians

I’ve been teaching English with Savry for the last couple of weeks and have come across some roadblocks the Khmer have to successful pronunciation. Even Savry, who otherwise has a relatively stern grasp of grammar and vocabulary, falls short in pronunciation.   The main problem she’s brought to my attention is the lack of proper pronunciation in the schools. University professors are often Khmer or Filipino, thus, their ability pronounce words correctly is shoddy at best and their ability to identify incorrect pronunciation in others is far worse.

This leads to the sorts of problems we have communicating with Khmer students. A second year university student studying English, to whom I’m also teaching English through the New Testament, couldn’t understand me when I said the word girl. I said girl. Then I slowed it down: giiirrrrllll. Nothing. Finally, in disbelief, I wrote it down and her face lit up almost as if to say, “Of course I know that word!” Then, in a demeaning voice she said, “giiiiii…” As if, all along, I had been the one saying it wrong!

Savry and I have tried sorting out the biggest problems in this one page pdf. If anyone out there is teaching English to Khmer students, please feel free to print this out and use it. To access the pdf, click here or on the picture above.

A Big Thank You to the November Bayside Team

This is long overdue, but it must be said. We’re finally settled in (well, almost.. hehe) and it seems like just yesterday we were with the team, hanging out over dinner. We want to thank you guys all for helping us with this move. You guys really came through for us– from keeping an eye out on the kids to helping load a heap of our luggage to and fro all the places we stayed.  We know that operating amidst a family with young kids while trying to do God’s work wasn’t precisely what you signed up for but we are absolutely grateful to all of your for bearing with us.

Andy B: You always managed to crack us up. Day or night. Thanks for keeping the mood lively and for having a great sense of humor that lightened things up even when they got tense (as group dynamics are often complicated). And like the other guys, thanks for consistently breaking your back with our stuff.


Caity C: Thanks so much for always helping out with the kids. Even though we know you helped coordinate so much of the kids club stuff, you still managed to put an awesome amount of effort in helping our family out.  We’re really glad to have gotten to know you on this trip and hope you’ll be returning to the C before long!


Lindsey R: Thanks for keeping things lively and for also helping to keep an eye out on the kids.  I know you also had a lot going on with doing worship during kids club and teaching a guitar class, etc.  I know it wasn’t easy, especially the last few days but thanks for hanging in there with us and jumping in where you could. (Insert caffeinated jelly bean joke here)😉

Liv B: You need to have an army of kids or something! Haha jk (unless you want to). But seriously, you were awesome in the van rides doing Arella’s hair and keeping them entertained with songs all the time. Like Caity, and Lindsey you had a lot on your plate and we really appreciate you stepping in with the kids.


Robi Q: RCHQ, always a pleasure.  Thanks a lot for keeping things in line and looking out for everyone. You, like Andy, were awesome stepping in to help with luggage (even though you were a little more trusting of the tuk tuk drivers than me lol). Dude what can I say? It was fun getting lost in PP and running into Cambodia’s most flamboyant man ever.


Sash H: The man. I could write volumes on you, bro.  Aside from being a great friend, you’re one of the best coordinators and group leaders one can ask for. You kept your cool for the duration of the trip even though I’m certain your head was spinning at times (what, with Roby to deal with and all…).  Dude, all I’m saying is Bayside should take notes from you. You have a way of motivating your crew. Show me another short term trip leader who has such high turnover rate of short to long term missionaries. Love you man.


Kaitlin Dunn, Jayme Mofford, (Sorry Andy), Isaac Saur

The Triad: As always, you guys are awesome. You guys had your own stuff to deal with and still found time to hang and help us as well.

This doesn’t even begin to encompass the level of praise and thankfulness we have for you guys but we hope we at least scratched the surface here. Love you all and thanks!

My First Clinic Experience With Karaoke Girls!

We started a free clinic at Rahab’s House Siem Reap! It is exclusively for the karaoke girls in the community. We do not treat anything major, just common digestive issues and STD’s. Nothing that requires a physical exam or anything invasive.

Two girls told Savry, our Assistant Director/Translator, that they were interested in getting some help at the clinic so we scheduled our first visit! I was so excited to see some of the Karaoke girls that were trusting enough to come to our place. I know the clinic is free but many of the locals that have heard about our place were turned off by the fact that we are a Christian organization and would rather not have anything to do with it. At the same time I was also pretty nervous because they were the first girls for me to see by myself and although I helped Dr. Carla for a few hours at the clinic in Svay Pak, I absolutely did not feel prepared. Thankfully Dr. Carla was not busy at the moment so I was able to call her with the details and get her orders/recommendations.

When the girls came in we went over their symptoms/concerns and with Savry’s help, I was able to explain the problem, why they were feeling the symptoms, and even give out prescription medication for their problems (with Dr. Carla’s approval, of course). What I couldn’t help but notice during all of this was Savry’s reaction. I noticed she became teary-eyed during the translation and I could tell that she was hurt by what the girls were saying about themselves and it was difficult for her to hear and then pass on the information.  Cambodian culture largely believes these girls are trash and that includes Christians, often times. While Savry has been helpful and kind towards the girls (even gone so far as to house two of them with her), it has been hard to tell whether she was mimicking our behavior or whether she genuinely cared (we’re inclined to believe she genuinely cared but we are biased because she tries very hard to appease us at all times). But in this particular incident, she seemed to humanize them more than ever before. Our prayer is that if there are any preconceptions about these girls in her mind, that God would truly dispel them.

Because of these girls’ condition and medication requirement, we told them that they really need to stop drinking in order for the meds to work properly and for them to get better.  Both of them shared stories about how they are forced to drink despite their medical conditions. They both laughed nervously and said they couldn’t stop even though they wanted to. If their boss saw them go throughout the night without drinking, it would result in them being fired, if not worse (threat of violence, physical abuse, placing debt on their family, etc). That is so frustrating! They cannot up and leave their job despite their health. They know it’s doing them harm, yet they are in psychological chains, bound to the club.

“Three rules in dealing with Cambodians: Be patient. Be very patient. Be extremely patient” -Reaksa Himm (a survivor of the Khmer Rouge who was buried alive with his dead family, author of two books, and devoted Christian). We met with Himm today and this was the best advice he gave us about Cambodia in every sense. He explained how we can no longer think about life the way we did back home. This isn’t the fast paced life where everything gets done instantly like we are used to. Everything takes time. A lot of time. This is most important to remember when thinking about the girls in the community. It will take time for the locals to trust us. It will take time for the girls to trust us. It will take time for them to see change and believe there is hope for them and put effort to make a change. Our job is to offer an opportunity and do our best to show that they are loved no matter what and there is hope and to do it patiently.

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