Kagna: Beautiful Coincidence

Kagna (Top Left), Mother (Top Right), Siblings (Bottom) in their home made of branches and straw.

Savry, our savvy interpreter/secretary/all-in-one, is extremely thoughtful and on fire for God (and if you know me well, I don’t throw around the “on fire” tag loosely).  She decided to go visit a family in a village outside of town last Sunday because she hadn’t seen them in a while. She and her friend had gone to this village in the past to minister to the people there and pray for them. She arrived to find that the mother of the family had been injured in some sort of domestic violence by her alcoholic husband. On top of that, she recently had found out that her daughter, Kagna (pronounced Kah-nee-ah), who was supposed to find some reputable work in town had been doing rounds at a Karaoke club to bring in some extra money since her father basically drank what little income they had.

Now, call it what you want, but this is at the very least some beautiful coincidence because Kagna was not particularly fond of the Karaoke scene and her mother was not okay with it at all.  The two of them had been talking about her going to Phnom Penh, the capital city, in search of work as a waitress or something. The truth of the matter is that she probably would have ended up working in Phnom Penh as a Karaoke girl, as well, especially since she speaks no English and has no prior work experience or education to speak of. This is where we came in. Savry promised that if Kagna wanted out, she could help get her out. She talked them out of going to Phnom Penh, where her fate would no doubt be the same, and coming on board with our program. Now, instead of riding her bicycle for an hour into town each night, slapping on a ton of makeup, doing up her hair, and trying to put on a fake smile for some pervert, she has a much better living situation, access to proper eduction, and food delivered to her mother and siblings each month.

Kagna is 21. She’s a bit older than the girls we’re specifically trying to target but she was reaching out. She had shame in her eyes at the mention of her “job.”  We visited her tonight and I get the sense that she’s in a state of part disbelief, part anxiety, and part fear. I think she’s in need of some hope and consistent, proper love.  As we know, she’ll only truly find this when embracing Jesus, something we hope she’ll do at some point in the future. I also know she can benefit from your guys’ prayers.

Mr. Vanna


Meet Mr. Vanna.

He’s been our Tuk Tuk driver just about every day since our arrival in Siem Reap. He speaks a little English; just enough to understand where we need to go and for him to assist us in shops where people speak less than him. He’s very soft spoken: not the typical cheeky-type Tuk Tuk driver. His Tuk Tuk is simple. No flashy signs or gimmicky catch phrases. He’s always courteous and jumps at the opportunity to help us with anything but not in that expectant way like so many others. For example, we had some furniture delivered that needed hauling upstairs. He phoned a few other drivers and they came, carried the stuff up, and left without so much as even waiting around for a tip.

Earlier this week, Vanna had an accident with me (Steve) and our two employees (don’t worry Lyg and kids weren’t there). Our Tuk Tuk flipped on its side and we got a little banged up but we’re fine. It wasn’t his fault; some crazy kid was blasting down a bumpy dirt road and got way too close to us. As Vanna swerved to dodge a terrible pothole, they made contact and we went down. As we were in the other guy’s hood, and a bunch of witnesses came up out of the woodwork, Vanna was ‘proven’ at fault. I think he handled it with total class, even when being so terribly wronged.

Anyhow, the point here is that he’s a genuinely nice fellow. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his own dirty little secrets, of course. Nevertheless, as we hope to be acquiring a car soon, it seems as though we won’t be needing his services much anymore. We were thinking about that a lot this evening and it’s saddening because we don’t want to lose the opportunity to minister to this guy.

So we were thinking, how do we stay in touch with Mr. Vanna? While he’s friendly, I don’t think he’ll be hanging around just to chit chat. The man needs to earn a living. So we decided to offer that I teach him English for an hour 3 times a week free of charge. We genuinely believe God can change his heart and don’t want to miss the opportunity to be the catalyst for the gospel in his life.

More than him just being a good guy, Tuk Tuk drivers are some of the most instrumental assets to the sex-trafficking industry. That is, with no foreknowledge to the whereabouts of a brothel (or equivalent), a tourist can hop into any given Tuk Tuk and tell them they’re looking for a good time. The driver will give them options: do you want young girls? Older girls? Khmer? Vietnamese? Etc. And they get a cut from the owners for the referral. So for us to bring a Tuk Tuk in our area to Christ means one less avenue for perverts to get off, one less hand to be greased in corruption, and potential insight to the scandalous state of affairs in Siem Reap.

Pray for Mr. Vanna. Pray for us to be proper examples. And pray that God would have Vanna turn to Him. Ultimately it’s up to God.

Church in Siem Reap


The reality that we’re actually living in (versus simply visiting) a new country is finally setling in. We’ve been slowly developing a routine with the kids and tonight we even found a church to call home: the Christian Fellowship of Siem Reap.

The church is comprised primarily of the small Christian ex-pat community of Siem Reap. We congregate in what I understand to be a Korean church during other hours, which is nice because most of the Koreans we’ve encountered until now were weird, drunk men at our hotel who shuttled to the Korean karaoke bars and equally strange Korean women who took pictures in front of the foliage at said hotel and shuffled to and fro with obnoxious speed and volume.

Anyhow, I’ve digressed. I’m happy to say we felt really welcomed at church and while it’s not quite home, it is a community of devoted believers from around the world and we’re glad to be a part of it.

More to come.

Napping in Tuk Tuks


So, we’ve spent the last few days trying to secure the things we need for the next year (apartment, fridge, stove, beds, pillows, AC, etc) in Siem Reap. We’re finding that at home, what might’ve taken half a day to accomplish, here it takes days. Needless to say we’re adjusting to Cambodia time and I’m not referring to time zones but rather to their seeming indifference to time altogether. That being said, James and Arella have been spending many afternoons napping in the back of Tuk Tuks (think motorcycle hauling a covered diner booth without the table). It’s been trying and we’ve barely just begun!

However, I’ve written all of this to say that it is not in vain. Last week Don took a girl out of the karaoke bars and had her promise to never return in exchange for a proper job. That basically means I’ve now hired her! Well, praise God she’s been coming in as promised every day so far. I’d like to
take this opportunity to ask you to pray for her as it’s difficult at this point to say how she will fare.

Of course I believe God has big things in store for her. Pray that she will receive Him so she can receive true hope. Also pray that we will be the proper sort of examples to her.

We’ve also been blessed to be able to hire a second employee named Savry. She is an interpreter and Khmer teacher to us and a mentor and English teacher to the first girl. Her task is not an easy one. Please also pray for her safety and guidance. She has been a true blessing so far.

We’re here!

We made it! Thank you to everyone for your prayer and support! We arrived safely this evening and will be getting started early tomorrow morning. Continue to pray that we would accomplish the work set out for us here!

Nefarious Farewell Dinner

We’ll be hosting a farewell fundraiser this Saturday, October 22, 2011 at Grace Romanian Baptist Church located at 3832 Whitney Ave, Sacramento, CA 95821.  Join us as we screen Nefarious: Merchant of Souls courtesy of Exodus Cry.

We’ll be serving dinner at 6pm and showing the movie afterwards.  Check out the Trailer at www.nefariousdocumentary.com.

The event is free but we will be taking donations to support our year long mission work with Agape International Missions.

If you cannot make the event but still wish to support our ministry, please go to www.gherebean.com/donate.

Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to our family’s blog. Over the course of the next year, we’ll be updating this blog with information from our trip to Cambodia. We will be uploading as much content as possible to showcase all the awesome things God is doing through Agape International Missions!  Please bookmark us and check back frequently!

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