The month of August is usually the decision-making month for missionaries whether to extend or end their term in Korea. After praying and fasting to know His will, my partner and I decided to finally go home for good and finish our term. We’re excited and busy packing our stuffs before the big farewell.
But God has another plan for me.
I started to feel things were not going my way when our church school booked my partner’s flight but they didn’t book mine. When I asked them, they simply told me that I could not go home just yet. Our Pastor and I had a very serious talk and he asked me to stay for at least 6 months more to train the new missionaries who will replace us. I went home sobbing even in the middle of the street. I felt so bad. I took comfort in the thought that I told God I wanted to go home but I would accept whatever His will for me is.
I told my best friends what happened and one of them suggested that instead of going home for the holidays, why not go to Thailand since my previous partner in the mission field is there. That seemed to be a good idea and I was happy my school allowed me and would pay for my ticket.
A lot of preparations were made since this would be my first time to travel alone in a foreign land. My friend in Thailand told me about border-crossing in the neighboring countries. When she mentioned Cambodia, I was reluctant because I didn’t know anyone from there. She then told me about the orphanage in Wat Preah Yesu.
The FIRST Bird.
It has been my lifelong dream to do an outreach for the less fortunate kids, especially the orphans. Going to the orphanage in Cambodia would mean the fulfillment of that dream. But what should I do and how should I start?
One of the members of our Bible Study group gave me lots of ideas and advice on how to do a fundraising program. In a matter of days, Facebook was flooded with posters for the fundraising project. Solicitation letters were sent to my friends and even to strangers, praying that they would somehow be touched by the Holy Spirit to help. A few responded positively while majority were silent.
The first donation I got was 10,000Won, rounding it to the nearest dollar rate, it is equal to $10. The next day, someone gave $50. I was so happy that I had $60 that time. Then days passed, even weeks and nobody gave any more donations.
The missionary working at the orphanage assured me that it doesn’t matter whether the donations are big or small. What’s important is that the kids would receive something very helpful for them and that would make them happy.
But I just couldn’t be at peace…
Deep in my heart I know that God is “able to give more abundantly than we could ask for.” I was convinced that if He called me to do this, He would get me through it.
A few days later I got the list of the exact number of kids with their ages. They’re over 400 with ages varying from 1 year old to 23 years old. I was so disheartened and discouraged thinking how would I be able to help them with only $60?!
That night I burst into tears kneeling and agonizing with God. I just can’t get the kids out of my mind and felt their pains and burdens of not having even the basic necessities in life. I wanted to do something for them, to make even a small difference in their lives. But then I felt my utter helplessness. There’s just NOTHING I could do on my own. I was afraid the fundraising would not be successful. I felt that if I fail, I also failed the orphans. I was not prepared to face disappointments. Instead of asking God to touch people’s heart to give, I was compelled to ask Him to forgive my sins. I know that the “LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:1, 2.
I prayed to God to show me my sins that cause Him to hide His face and help me to confess and repent of them. I prayed that if what I was doing would only cause me to exalt myself or that people would praise me instead of Him, then let it not be blessed. I told Him I don’t want people to see my efforts but let them see His providence instead. I prayed that the children would know that they are not forgotten. I told God my willingness to be an instrument of His grace and blessings for these children, a broken vessel that I am.
The next day, when my kindergartens were playing, I struggled to hold back my tears thinking of the orphans. How my students are ever so blessed to have more than what they need! They have nice clothes, toys and parents to provide, care and love them, while alot of kids don’t even have clothes, toys to play with or parents to hug them in the orphanage.
That afternoon I received a message informing me of the money transferred to my account, $200! Not only that, the generous giver even promised to give a second time or even a third time. The following day I got another message from a fellow missionary telling me of the money he sent to my account. I was at peace knowing that $300 would be enough to buy gifts for the kids.
But God is not yet done surprising me…
God impressed me with the thought that I should not limit what He is able to give. A missionary couple donated another $200. Just when I thought that would be the biggest surprise of the week, another member of the Bible study group donated $500! Even on the day of my departure, some missionaries were still sending messages informing me of their donations. I wouldn’t be able to raise that amount of money, not in a hundred years, hath God didn’t interfere. God is so awesome!
Wat Preah Yesu orphans and students.
Buying and Preparation of gifts.
Distributing the gifts.
The orphans, full of excitement, gathered around the pick-up truck with curious eyes to see what we have for them. There are 11 houses each with 16 to 21 orphans with their house parents. We found out that the exact number of orphans in each houses didn’t match the numbers on our list. Meaning, there were more kids than the gifts we bought! While distributing the gifts, we were praying that God would multiply the gifts to be enough for all the orphans. I was praying for a miracle similar to how God fed the 5,000 people with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
And the miracle did happen! We got 2 boxes of “left-overs” which were then distributed to the SDA families around the orphanage. Not only were there extra gifts but also only half of the amount raised for the outreach was used. The other half was given to the director of Wat Preah Yesu to be used for other necessities.
All throughout the experience of the outreach to the orphans, these lines from the song “Miracles” by Sally Deford, perfectly describes my feelings, reflections and lessons learned:
Amid the countless blessings the Lord has given me
The light of truth and goodness; the Holy Spirit’s peace
I see the many sorrows that his children must endure
So much hurt I long to heal. How can I change the world?
There are hands I cannot hold
Hearts I cannot comfort
Tears that only miracles can stay
So let me love and serve and teach
Those who come within my reach
For miracles begin that way
The Savior walked in Galilee, unknown in many lands
Yet touching every nation by the labors of his hands
Giving light to all the world by teaching but the few
He is my example in the work that I must do
I will bear the burden of my neighbor in his need
I will share my Savior’s love in every kindly deed
He will magnify my efforts, and I’ll understand at last
That by these small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
The SECOND Bird.
Not only did God bless the outreach program, but He also blessed me with a chance to travel to three wonderful and interesting countries. He put the right people, at the right places and time to guide, help and be with me all throughout the trip. Even my accommodations and transportation were all miraculously provided by God.
CAMBODIA. Who would have thought that a missionary like me would be able to visit one of the world heritage and largest religious shrine, the Angkor Wat. I’ve seen the temples in photos and TV but I was not really fascinated, not until I saw it in person and be surrounded by walls of stones with its glorious history engraved all over them.
I learned a little about their past and experienced a bit of their culture and met new friends along the way. I hope to be able to go back their again to see the famous “Killing Fields,” which I didn’t get to see.
THAILAND. My simple dream of riding an elephant came true, with a bonus of ostrich-riding. I was reunited with my former partner in the mission field. The highlight of my stay in Chiang Rai, in the Northern part of the country, was our motorcycle trip on the long and winding road going up the mountain called Doi Mae Salong. It was an exhilarating experience that I would never forget.
MYANMAR. The most unforgettable 3-hour visit in a country with an equally interesting history and culture. We visited the missionaries who are faithfully working in the mountainous region of the country. We were warmly welcomed with smiles and delicious foods.
I’ve seen lots of interesting and awesome places, tasted different foods, rode an elephant, an ostrich, commuting using motorcycles for two weeks, met new friends and had a stress-free vacation. What could be better than that?!
The THIRD Bird
I got to help my church school and new partners by extending for 6 months more. I got to see my students of 3 years as they graduated in kindergarten. Got a new Bible Class with new students who are so eager and enthusiastic in studying; More time to make memories with my friends and fellow missionaries while I’m still in Korea; Witness some changes in our church school and the change of pastors in my church.
Indeed, I was humbled contemplating the thousands of ways God provided for me. No genius play of words could describe how thankful I am for what God has done for me. He gave me an opportunity to experience His graciousness and goodness and taught me a very simple, and yet most neglected truth…
“Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
It is when self is denied and set aside to give way for God’s glory to be seen that the work wrought becomes a blessing to other people. It is when He is lifted up that people are drawn unto Him. God is not looking for people of great potentials or capabilities to be channels of His love and grace to other people. He only needs a willing heart. In our weakness and helplessness His strength is made perfect.
I often decline whenever I’m asked to give a testimony thinking that I have no amazing or exciting stories to tell. Now God has given me a story worth telling, not because it’s my story, but because it is HIS story!
To God be the glory!