Our journey began the 5th of January, when seven excited young DTS students and staff boarded a plane leaving Norway. After thirty hours of traveling, we arrived in Cambodia, where we would stay for nine weeks. During our layover in Bangkok, we spent three hours at the airport where we arrived, and at the last minute (technically hour) we realized we were at the wrong airport. Where we needed to be was a 45 minute bus ride away. But thanks to God (and our fearless leaders), we made it to the right airport on time and arrived in Siem Reap safe and sound.
We spent our first week in Cambodia in a hostel not far from the city center in Siem Reap. Our time here was used on team building, which included lots of prayer, worship and seeking God together. Not to mention getting used to the city, food and the heat (the transition from Norwegian winter to Cambodian dry season was harder than we thought). One day, we even had a prayer walk in a temple in the city center and did some street evangelism.
After our week in Siem Reap, we traveled to our first ministry location, Po Peyl, which is located an hour outside of the city. We worked with a missionary couple from the Philippines and their church planting ministry. Our responsibilities for the next three weeks included teaching English class, Bible studies, and sharing testimonies and devotions. When starting to prepare for the first week, we thought that there were only six classes. When we got to the village we learned that there were 24 classes every week. We were not expecting it, but we all joined in the preparations and teaching and had lots of fun with the youth and children.
With some of the missionaries and children in Po Peyl village
Outside of teaching, we were involved in community fun-nights, prayer meetings and feeding programs with the children. During the feeding programs, we played games with the kids, removed lice and washed their hair, cut their nails and helped serve them a big meal. We have also gone on “house visits,” where we got to visit and talk with the locals and where we learned a lot about Cambodian culture and traditions. Plus, we were always offered coconuts during these visits! We had a tight schedule everyday, so when there was time off it was always a race to reach the two hammocks.
In addition, we also helped build a fence around the property where this ministry is located. This has made for a funny story. We found that many ants lived here. The first day while clearing the area where we would build the fence, we helped the “The wall of Jericho” fall down, and then we conquered the Kingdom of Ants. In other words, we cleared the area of land where we were preparing to build a fence. Let’s just say the ants were not happy about us cutting down their home. Just imagine seven white people jumping around and yelling in the bushes, while the locals were laughing.
Every Saturday morning, we all traveled back to Siem Reap for a small house church service of eight members (plus our team of seven). All in all, we were five different nationalities. Being in such a small and humble church was very inspiring. Often we think we need to be in large congregations to have powerful worship. While we worshipped at this church, we sang the lyrics “every tongue will confess you are God” in five different languages at the same time. For many of us, it was a very powerful moment and we really felt God’s presence. It was meaningful to all of us to be a part of the everyday life of these missionaries and to truly experience how it is to be in long-term missions (as short term missionaries ourselves). It is inspiring to see how they rely on God for everything and how they include God in everything.
We are excited to see what the rest of outreach has for us!
– Kelsey Lersbak and Elin Iversen (DTS students)