The Adventure of a Lifetime

Note: This was written by some of students of the 2015/2016 DTS chronicling their outreach to Cambodia and Thailand in Winter 2016.


Hello Everyone!

We are the one half of the DTS 15/16 from Skjærgårdsheimen (YWAM Kristiansand) and we traveled to Cambodia and Thailand on the 6th of January 2016. After three months of teaching, a Christmas break and a YWAM conference we set out for our journey to Cambodia. The outreach started with a few days at a guesthouse in Siem Reap, one of the richest cities in Cambodia. At the guesthouse we got over our jetlag and adjusted to the new culture. We tried the new food, visited the markets and got our first touristy feelings put to rest. After a few days we hopped on a Tuk Tuk – the Cambodian answer to a taxi, and went to a nearby village called Puok. This was our first place of ministry.

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A tuk tuk on a Cambodian road

Our First Ministry

The people of Puok live in bamboo houses with a lot of dogs, chickens and even cows walking around. The landscape is covered with palm trees, bright green rice fields and here and there you see water buffaloes grazing. Here in these beautiful surroundings we stayed at a school run by YWAM. At the school the main focus was to teach English, since English is the major gateway to a better life for the Cambodians. During the 3 weeks we were there, we stayed at the school. The head teacher Mariele, one of the missionaries, was leading us during our stay. Our main job was to teach English to the local kids and youth, encourage the staff, and help the teachers. Besides the ministry at the school we played with the village kids and taught them about God and hygiene, planted new corn for a woman who needed help, gave clothes away to the villagers, and shared the gospel about Jesus with them.

We believe that God cares for us in every area of life and that he wants to bless us even with the simple daily things. So in all the things we did, our hearts were to bless and love the people where they were at, because God did that first.

“During two days of our stay in Puok we helped an old lady in the village to plow her cornfields. With Hoes and Shovels we were digging the dry soil for hours in the burning sun while the sweat was running down our backs. While I was standing there in the field God suddenly spoke to me. He asked me if I was willing to serve unconditionally like Jesus did? Was I willing to set aside my own pride and feelings to really serve this woman with joy and a loving heart? God reminded me that this woman was his daughter and that she was very important to him. As God revealed this to me I could feel a big joy in my heart for the opportunity to serve one of his children. The joy grew even bigger when I saw the thankfulness in the woman’s face, as she looked at the cornfield. I also got to know that our hard work in the cornfield had made other people in the village ask questions about “these Christian people” and that they suddenly were much more interested to hear about God and the Gospel. Afterwards we got to pray for some of the women that had gathered and we came back and had bible studies with some of them. As I left the village for the last time, God reminded me that in the same way he makes the corn grow, he will make the faith in their hearts grow as well.”

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Tilling the soil… and hearts

Thailand

After finishing our ministry in Puok and saying goodbye to our new friends, our journey lead us to the YWAM base in Way Ta Loo, Thailand – a village on the border to Myanmar (Burma). Because of the history and situation in Myanmar a lot of people had fled to Thailand, specially the Karen people group. Therefor we were living with Karen people and experiencing their culture. Together with our new friends from the YWAM base, we drove to a mountain village to share the gospel. Our approach was to visit people in their homes and talk with them. We used the second week at the base in Way Ta Loo. In this time we encouraged and taught the staff about working in teams and leadership.

Here is a story from one of the team members experience in the village:

“One day we visited a Buddhist grandpa, who welcomed us into his home. We talked with him and got to know parts of his story, and we also got to share from our lives and about Jesus. The more we talked, the more interested he became in knowing the difference between the God we believe in and his god. He wanted to hear the whole story, all the way from the beginning. So after sharing about God’s plan and love for us, and how he saved us through Jesus and his death on the cross, the grandpa asked if he could see the story – with his own eyes. Luckily we had the Jesus-film with us. So the next evening we came to his house, and to our surprise his living room was packed with people, and we got to show them the movie. It was amazing to experience how God gave us the opportunity to share his love to all these people. After the movie we gave him a bible and he seemed eager to start reading it. We pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to him, and the other people in the village, so that they one day will get to know God for real.”

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Encouragement was a major theme of outreach

Going Back to Cambodia

Sadly our outreach was coming to an end and at this moment we were staying at the YWAM base in the heart of Siem Reap. Going to the city was a big difference from the quiet remote village life in Thailand. The packed streets, busy life and tourists everywhere challenged us to do ministry in a new way. Luckily our previous experiences of teaching helped us, since we were to teach English again, but this time at a bigger school than the one in Puok. The school staff had been dreaming of a new and better version of the school for the next term. So in order for this dream to come true, our job there, besides teaching, was to clean, paint and decorate the classrooms.

We are thankful for what God has done through us these two months and we are excited to see what will come in the future. God has taught us a lot through this outreach; here is one of the student’s experiences:

“On outreach I did a lot of things that I’ve never done so much before. I tried out being a teacher, having devotion, sharing testimony, singing with the kids and leading games – Yes, I was in charge of something. I experienced that God was with me and gave me what I needed in the situations. Even though I sometimes was tired, or maybe not feeling prepared enough, God showed me that He could use me, anyway. I learned that I didn’t need to be perfect, but God wanted my willing heart, and through that, He could do great things.”

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God can indeed use everyone

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from YWAM Kristiansand! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Everyday life in Cambodia

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.

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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)