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IMPACT Justice Team Blog #2

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These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions. God has been doing a lot of things in my heart and through these girls here at Streetlight USA. I wanted to share with you about what we’ve been up to first and then get into more about how God has been moving through those experiences and the people we have encountered. 

 

Right off the airplane, we started off our trip with a hike at a local national park near Phoenix called Piestewa Peak. It was incredibly difficult for those of us less in shape (Elizabeth and I), but still tons of fun, with absolutely breathtaking, beautiful views. Later that day we were able to help prep dinner and meet the girls at Streetlight for the first time. It was one of those times when you have so many thoughts and emotions that you don’t even know how to process them. But God completely guided our conversations and the longer we stayed, the more the girls just started to open up. 

 

Friday morning, we started the day going to a place called Saguaro Ranch for tubing on the Salt River with the girls. What we thought was going to be just a lazy river tube turned into quite an adventure. We floated into some low hanging brush, which was both scary, yet super fun and hilarious. It was a moment where all of us girls were just being girls. 

 

Further along the ride, where we were passing these massive but gorgeous cliffs, the water was 20 plus feet deep and very slow moving so several of us actually got to take a quick swim in the river. But it was when we went to the end of our ride that the current took our feet out from under us and sent us downriver. We swam against the current and eventually got everyone back to shore with the tubes and nobody was hurt. This was truly a God miracle moment of the day. 

 

I led the devotional and craft later that evening that centered around God's constant presence and how we shall have hope and joy instead of fear and trepidation with Him as our savior. The girls painted around painter's tape and made their own crosses. Today (Saturday), we started the day with campus beautification projects. We were able to spend some time cleaning one of the empty cottages on the campus and then helping to re-organize the “choices” store. The “choices” store is a point rewards store Streetlight has for girls to turn in their points they earn for great behavior throughout the week for prizes or rewards. 

 

This afternoon, Elizabeth did a phenomenal job leading a devotional about the belt of truth God provides for the girls and we did an associated craft. The girls were able to create several mini belts to hang with the qualities God says that they are and decorate them however they wanted. The girls were so creative and produced amazingly beautiful mobiles. Later that evening, we provided cookout food for the girls and just enjoyed some great conversations! 
 

There have been so many amazing God moments with these girls that it is so hard to talk about just a few. One of the girls who were more closed off the first night has really continued to open up more and more each day we have been here. She is so intelligent and creative. You can see how intently and seriously she has taken her crafts and how much she cares for others with her constantly asking if we need anything. It honestly melts my heart every time. 

 

Another girl here specifically asked for a certain food for our cookout tonight. When it was provided, she showed more appreciation than almost anyone I had ever seen before. She even helped to clean up. There are just constant moments like this with these girls that show how God is moving in their lives and growing in them. 

 

God is continuing to change my heart throughout this trip. To be completely transparent, my fire was dwindling and I was losing my desire to fight for these girls as hard as I wanted to when I entered this fight initially. Seeing these girls, much like I did in Cambodia, brings it all back for me. All I am called to do is to love and share God’s truth with them. This life and serving God does not have to be complicated. This is not about me. This experience and my next steps are about serving and loving God and His children. 

 

1 John 3:23 – “And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.”

Heart Change in Cambodia

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These first five days in Cambodia have been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. It has been a journey that I will never forget. Whether it's a smile from a child or seeing the slums where families temporarily live, I have felt God move in my heart  like never before. 

I have visited parts of Cambodia that are beyond my wildest dreams, both in their size and beauty. As incredible as those places are, they are few and far between. Most of what I have witnessed on this trip has been the exact opposite of beauty. The conditions that people live in here are so heartbreaking and devastating. I have seen homes made of materials that a soft breeze could knock down as well as people walking around barefoot in the streets, littered with all kinds of waste. I have even watched as multiple people riding on a one motorbike attempt to navigate through horrible street conditions.

Through all this, I have felt God teach me humility and gratitude. I have never been more thankful for all the blessings I have received from living in America. This experience has taught me that being born a female in extreme poverty in Cambodia puts you at an extreme risk at being kidnapped and/or sold into human trafficking. 

God has also changed my heart to have a deeper compassion and love for others. I have felt God tug at my heartstrings for those hurting in poverty and at the same time rejoicing for those that have joy in all circumstances. God has taught me to be present, empathize and share in the emotions of those I've been around. There are still moments where I fall short, but being on this trip has allowed God to mold my heart. He has enabled me to love people regardless of their story, solely because they're God's children.

Throughout this journey I have learned to pray in a new and different way. I have prayed for those in poverty to seek the kingdom of God and to find hope in Him alone. I have even learned to pray for those who are trafficking and buying Cambodian girls. Praying those prayers is one of the hardest things I have done, but I am continually giving more grace to those people through God's help.

For the rest of my time here, my desire is to continue to grow in understanding of others and to love them right where they are. I pray that God will to continue to mold my heart to be more like His. I know that He is good and has a plan for all things. I will continue to revel in the freedom of trusting God and relying on His strength.