Sunday, February 18, 2018

The rest of the story

Okay, so I didn't tell you the first part of the story - that I was able to go back to Cambodia and work remotely for three months, while staying with my friend Seyha and his wife Sotheavy. I got to help start a little evening English school on their porch and get to know many, many new people. But here is the other part of the story I didn't share as much. It was just as life-changing and inspiring for me though, watching Seyha exude his faith in God to these people who came on a nearly daily basis. Here is the rest of the story...

In Siem Reap with a few friends from Austria, Switzerland, and Australia.

Goshen Adventures (January 2018 update)

Seyha’s house is rarely empty. As an independent tour guide, he runs a business called Goshen Adventures, which ranges from cycling through Angkor Wat (the largest religious monument in the world) to dirtbiking through the countryside or jungle, to touring local villages and schools. He has his home listed on Warm Showers, a “couchsurfing” type of website geared toward cyclists, and he also knows several other people who often come and stay at his home. There are always new people coming through, and it’s been enjoyable for me to meet them. Some of them have been on the road for a year and they have lots of fascinating stories about the places they’ve been!

Here are some of the people that Seyha has connected with while I’ve stayed here for the last three months:

Jason flew in from England, as he does nearly every year. He always comes to spend time with Seyha, and this time was no different. He shared with us how he had found an Adventist center of influence close to his house in England, and he’d visited some. He hadn’t yet told them that he already knew a Seventh-day Adventist in Cambodia! Seyha was encouraged to hear that Jason has been seeking for truth even back at home in England.

Pete (second from the right)
Pete was a cyclist who visited us from Australia. He was only here for a night, as he was on his way to Sri Lanka for a race, but he watched the kids sing and study, and he seemed to love the opportunity to be here with us.

The family from France
A young French family on their way cycling across Asia stopped in for a few days. Their three children were cute and sweet, and we had fun playing with them. The family was not Christian and chose not to join us for evening worship, but when I played the guitar and sang in the evening, one of the little girls came and was happy to just listen and watch. Seyha shared his testimony with them and talked with them about spiritual things. When they left, they surprised us with a whiteboard full of goodbye greetings and pictures. I still keep track of their journey as they continue to travel.

Jordan was a young cyclist from Texas who planned to stay for two days but ended up staying with us for a week. He weaseled his way into our hearts and we very much appreciated his smile and helpfulness as he helped to teach the kids, worked at the butterfly garden over by the nearby Adventist school, and went to the market every morning to buy us bread for breakfast. Jordan is not a Christian, but when he found out we were Seventh-day Adventists, he did some googling to find out more about what we believe. He read through one of our copies of Steps to Christ, and asked us plenty of questions that showed his curiosity. We still pray for him often. I offered him a place to stay if he ever comes through Washington, and he said he would probably take me up on it - so we may get to see how God has affected his life as he continues to travel! After he left, this was part of the review he left on the Warm Showers site: “I was seriously impressed by the amount of trust that Seyha placed in me and his honesty and conviction in his beliefs.”

The Belgians, Sotheavy (Seyha's wife), and I
During the week that Jordan was with us, three Belgian cyclists also arrived. They weren’t Christians either, but they enjoyed watching the kids learn, and also came with us and some of our students to church on Sabbath for a special Christmas program. On Christmas Day, they did a tour of Angkor Wat. After they’d finished their tour, the two young men in the group told Seyha to go on home; they needed to do a little shopping. We were surprised when they showed up back at home with an extra bicycle! They presented it to Seyha and told him that it was for our kids to use in case they wanted to ride to church with us again (because there hadn’t been enough for all of the kids).

The family from Pakistan/Cambodia
A Pakistani family who lives in Phnom Penh came by on their vacation to the other side of the country. They belong to a different Christian church, but they were so encouraged to see us teaching the kids about God, and they also got to see the school, orphanage, and butterfly garden nearby, which they were very excited about. Their young son and daughter were enthralled with our dogs and my friends’ horses. I still keep in contact with their daughter online, and she still chatters on about the cute dogs!

Another group of three young cyclists/engineering school graduates from Switzerland (no picture) stopped through for a night. We didn’t get to spend much time speaking to them about God, but we chatted about other important things like politics and relationships.

Seyha received an invitation to travel with a Swiss man, Joerg, to the border of Thailand. They quickly became friends, and Joerg later told Seyha that he’d been to Cambodia many times but had never met a local he felt that he could trust. He had fallen away from God, but after spending time talking with Seyha he realized that he needed to turn back and reconnect with God. Joerg told his parents about this experience, and his father emailed Seyha to thank him so much for encouraging his son spiritually, as they’d been praying for him for a long time.

Cal with all of us on Friday evening (he's the tallest in the pic)
Cal was a young American guy on a short vacation from his military position in Japan. He didn’t even plan to meet Seyha, but God worked it out for them to connect with each other and do some dirtbiking together. Cal actually had just contacted his Adventist pastor back in the States the day before for some advice, even though he doesn’t usually consider himself much of an Adventist. He came with us to church on Sabbath and had a great time chatting with us over our potluck lunch. He decided that he wanted to make his relationship with God more of a priority, which was exciting for us! After leaving, he wrote on TripAdvisor that this was the “best time [he] ever had.”

It’s a simple ministry that God has used in big ways to change peoples’ lives. I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to watch God work through Seyha over these last few months! (Oh and if you ever want to go cycling or dirtbiking in Cambodia, I know the perfect person for you to talk to!)

Photo credits: Seyha, Raffael, and Facebook

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