Hello Hot Season – February 2018 Update

Hello from Jenna (and Bullet) in Cambodia! February was such a huge success in so many ways. For starters, I only teared up a few times. Other successes include: completion of the Sponsorship Updates, passing my Khmer Language 1 Final, making new friends, strengthening relationships at Daughters, and a retreat to Kampot!

Meet (most of) the Staff of Daughters of Cambodia! Countries represented: Cambodia, Germany, France, England, Denmark, America, Indonesia, and Philippines.

Lino and I have finally wrapped up all the catch up Sponsorship Interviews! It feels good to finish up this project well and get into a normal routine of updates. It is truly an honor to hear these ladies stories and be able to speak into their lives. For example, one of the ladies we interviewed kept apologizing for doing sex work. Her story is a common one. She lived in a rural providence and her father was very ill. Her family didn’t have money to pay for his hospital bill so she came to Phnom Penh to get a factory job. In order to get a factory job, you need to have a certificate of education. (Think of a GED but for 8th grade education.) Since she didn’t have access to school growing up, she didn’t know about the paperwork and therefore couldn’t get a factory job. Desperate she turned to sex work to provide medical care to her father. During her interview, she kept saying she was sorry and that she knew it was wrong and that she was doing better. Because of the intimacy that Daughters has built over the years, Lino and I were able to pause the interview and speak to her about forgiveness. I explained that wanting to provide for your family and caring for your father was a honorable thing to do. That no one at Daughters, myself, Lino, her teammates or her sponsor hold that she did sex work against her. That God has already forgiven her and she doesn’t need forgiveness from anyone else. We were able to pray with her and strongly encourage her to forgive herself. Lino and I were able to point out all the good things going on in her life now. That she isn’t doing sex work anymore and can provide for her family back home and her children here in Phnom Penh. God is moving in her life and blessing her for being faithful. It’s these small shifts in mindset that are truly freeing to the women and a joy to witness. If you (or your church / friends) would be interested in learning more about our Sponsorship program. Please let me know!

Lino and I enjoying some relaxing time on our River Cruise in Kampot during the Staff Retreat.

Thank you for your prayers. I was able to pass my Khmer Language 1 Final. Here is a photo of the group of other seh (students) I was with for five weeks every morning. It was truly a blessing to be able to learn with them and take the words I learned back to Daughters and put them to practice right away. At the retreat, I was able to tell some Khmer Staff “In fifteen minutes we are going to the beach.” Every time I communicate something in Khmer I feel like a child, so proud of myself and think “I’m kicking butt at this language thing!” It’s super rewarding. (Don’t worry, I mess up all the time. A few days ago, a waiter asked if I wanted steamed rice and just stared at him blankly like he had grown a third eye right in front of me.)

My Khmer Language 1 Fellow Students at School

Another blessing of Khmer language class was meeting Stefani. The woman in black next to me. She has quickly became one of my closest friends here in Cambodia. During our first week of language class, I mentioned that I was thinking about getting up at 4AM to ride my motorcycle to a sports bar to watch the Super Bowl and she just looked at me and said “I’ll go with you.” Not only that, but three other ladies agreed to ride with us. This was a huge blessing for safety. While we were on our motorcycles, I almost started crying. If God would have told me in January that one person would get up at the crack of dawn to ride their motorcycle to watch a sports event with me. I wouldn’t have believed Him, yet a few weeks later THREE girls joined me. This group of ladies has been such an answer to prayer.

Stefanie, me, and Danielle, my flat mate at the Super Bowl party.
Worship and prayer time during our Staff Retreat.

It has been such a blast to relax in Kampot with the Staff at Daughters and be able to really strengthen friendships through prayer and playing.   We were able to pray for one another in various languages, Khmer, English, German, French, Danish and Indonesian. I feel like I got to see a slice of Heaven during those times of multi-language prayer. On the bus ride home, one of the women pulled me to her side so I could fall asleep on her lap. The barriers we see daily – language, personal space, job title – seem to fall away when you are part of a team looking to make a change for vulnerable people.

A friend passing through Cambo!

Finally, I had a friend of a friend swing by Phnom Penh. It was great to have an American friend to show around Phnom Penh, answer questions and show off my new apartment. Plus, Bullet had a blast with another snuggle buddy (not that you can tell by this photo). Word on the street is I’ll be having another American visitor coming shortly so if anyone wants to send anything / order anything from Daughters – please let me know. Below are some prayer requests. Again, I really love hearing from everyone back home.

Bullet and the Grand Palace.

Hugs from Cambo,

One final shot of our Staff Retreat in Kampot. I’m in a kayak with Phally, the Head of Daughters Social Work Team. Lino, who is Head of Medical and my faithful translator for Sponsorship, is right next to me. Malory behind her helps in Social Work. The next boat is Sokon, who helps in Finance, Sokun, our Tuk Tuk Driver, and Samy, who is in Graphic Design. Finally, Lin, the Visitor Centre Manager and Pastor Ambrose. Just a few friendly faces, I’m blessed to work with!

I would really appreciate you joining me in prayer in the following ways:

  1. Thank you so much for praying for my language final.  I really appreciated all the prayers, checkins and digital celebrations I received.  I’m starting Level 2 in April.  I’m doing this session part-time to make it easy for my work / language / life balance.
  2. Please continue to pray for the relationship between my sending agency and myself.  Things are strained and I’m really struggling with feeling hurt by their actions.  I’m praying for a smoother process and hopefully that things with my finances will be less stressful in the upcoming months.  I also need to release this grudge I’ve got against them.  It’s not helping me at all.
  3. Finally, that I will continue to seek and hear God’s voice on my time here in Cambodia.  Now that I’m settled, how do I enjoy this new found freedom?  What does He want to teach / lead me to next?

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