Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frontline For Justice

As I go through care for cancer, a friend of mine has suggested friends donate funds to Frontline for Justice in my honor. I can't speak highly enough about Frontline. They give donations directly to CHO, Cambodia Hope Organization. As you are thinking through year end donations this month, please consider giving to Frontline for Justice, and help children to be rescued from the sex traffic industry!
Click here to go to Frontline's website:Frontline For Justice

Marcia with a rescued boy.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have had a bit of a setback health wise. I'd appreciate prayer for healing at this time. I sure would like to get back on the journey of art, faith and story, any prayer would be greatly appreciated. Blessings to each of you, and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reporting Brings Completion and Closure

Just like having the final show when an artist has produced a body of work, the Cambodian team "showed" a body of our work from our trip to Cambodia. It was fun to see several team members come together to share thoughts, memories and next steps. I was asked to consider a couple of further opportunitites to pass the art on to others as several of us chatted afterwards, and one woman shared she is taking "story ropes" to Uganda tomorrow. What great news! You go, Chris!

So, this closes out this chapter of The Creative Call. Check out my website:
The Creative Call to see where, art, story and faith goes next! Blessings to all of you! - Marcia

Friday, November 11, 2011

Final Reports For Cambodia

Our final reports on our trip to Cambodia will be this Sunday. Come see video, Power Point and other reporting.  Northshore Baptist Church. Hope to see you there! We will be missing a few team members who have some Sunday responsibilities elsewhere, but we will highlight their work as well.

2011 Cambodia Team

Let's Go Food Shopping in Cambodia

Really Fresh Market
In the spirit of preparing for a good, fresh Thanksgiving meal, I thought I'd show you food shopping photos from Cambodia today. There are outdoor markets in set locations in each town or city, and there are street venders as well. Let's just say, I never saw a "Safeway" or "Fred Meyer" type store while I was there. They might be there, but they were tucked away somewhere other than where I was!


One could buy fresh eels, many other fish from streams and gulleys, sticky 
treats and hot stir-fried type things with mounds of rice from the side of the road venders. We often saw pigs, strapped upside down to motorcyle back areas or even truckloads of pigs that were upsidedown. I guess when a pig is like this, he can't really move. 

Mango and Sticky Rice
I want to emphasize that as you are preparing for the eatingest holdays coming up, maybe you want to add some rice to the meal. I'd strongly suggest sticky rice and mango....that would make the best dessert you have had for Thanksgiving. It would be a wonderful, dilectible way of remembering all our friends in Cambodia. Now, does anyone know where you can get a really fresh mango in the USA? At least in the Seattle area?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chomno and Hope

Chomno completing the "Break the Cycle" bike ride.
When I think of a picture of hope, I think of Chomno in Cambodia. Hope is something you are certain of, but it may be something to see sometime in the future. Chomno and his wife, Kim, must have this type of hope if they keep advancing good and beauty and truth in the face of so much opposition and evil. 
And, they do! Today, may I ask, if you are reading this, will you take a moment to pray for Chomno, the most amazing picture of hope I know in Cambodia? Thanks.

Chomno at the opening of Hope Transformation Center.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere - and the Plight of the Girls

A Home Found Along our Travels in Poipet

We have been hearing about the flooding in Thailand. Many families have been displaced. That may mean more girls being forced by family members to prostitute themselves. This is not hearsay, I've heard about this practice firsthand. So, today, when you think of the water in Thailand, which then goes down to Cambodia, think what you can do and pray hard for the girls in these countries. Even the little ones.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grab your Coffee at Hope Transfomation Center

Destiny Cafe in the heart of Poipet, Cambodia
Miraculously, a really pretty cafe and bakery is tucked among the dirt, mud and oppressive heat of Poipet, Cambodia at Hope Transformation Center. Here, you can purchase special coffees and yummy cakes and breads, and sit around chatting about life, ideas, faith and dreams. If you have been following this blog or know anything about Cambodia, you know how miraculous this center is.

Grab your coffee and have a seat!

After picking your jaw up off the ground, you can head on over to the Redemption Spa, where you can set a spell and relax, clean up a bit and enjoy knowing you are helping young girls and boys get away from the sex traffic industry. I believe there is a dream for a beauty salon at the spa, one day soon.

Redemption Spa

You'll bump into Chomno and his wife, Kim, Thea, Sophy, Rosa, Angie and Mary serving the coffee, Hang and the New Bloom gang heading off to work, and many more amazing people who I can't remember the names of at this moment. I suggest you go sometime and check out the whole, beautiful scene.

Hope Transformation Center
Yep, this is an actual cup of coffee at Hope Transformation Center. Amazing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flowering Mural - Flowering Lives

Mural in a meeting room in Pattaya, Thailand, where the Freedom Stone Necklaces were being made.

I love the bright, vivid colors of this tree as the flowers and designed branches weave through the mural painting. I think it would be a great type of mural to paint in different locations around the world. I know, in Hungary, this way of painting the tree would be readily accepted and enjoyed. Maybe Nicaragua?

I don't know what the Thai words are saying below the flowers, and no one I spoke with seemed to know either. So, if you speak Thai and want to help translate, I would be very appreciative! 

We met and prayed under this flowering tree as we prepared to meet girls in the bars and along the beach. We were asking God for rescue for many thousands of children, both boys and girls, who are enslaved in the sex traffic industry there in Pattaya. We also sat with, and heard from, a beautiful young woman, who leads the work in the Pattaya Slum Ministry, as she explained what would be happening as we partnered with her when we would be visiting the ministry. After meeting under this "tree", we headed out joyfully to serve "the least of these."

Giving medical care in the Pattaya Slum

Our lives were flowering as we served, and, hopefully, their lives were beginning to flower in vivid color as well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Khimer Rouge - First Hand Account

Phnom Pehn
I've had the priviledge of listening to many women's stories. Each one is important and matters. Some are so filled with horror, I need to recover myself after being an empathetic listener. I sense I need to be encouraged after these times of intensive listening, particularly when the story is made using art. Today might be one of those times.

Hearing Kim, a refugee from Phonom Pehn, Cambodia, in her fifties or sixties, share her story last night after dinner, just about did me in. I was at a fund-raiser to help raise funds for rescuing and caring for kids in Cambodia who are enslaved. Chomno had flown in from Cambodia for the event. Paula had talked with Kim after the meal and ran over to introduce me to her. Kim was eager to share her story of escape from Cambodia when 9 others in her family were killed. 

Traveling from Phonom Pehn to Thailand might be like this.
Kim's husband was a teacher, she told me he had passed away, but he was the only teacher who was not killed by the knife. All the other teachers at his school were killed. Kim and her husband and one daughter, after loosing 2 children to starvation, ran through the Cambodian jungle and countryside, and made it to a refugee camp in Thailand. The horror of that journey is fresh in her mind.

Eventually, an American family adopted Kim, her husband and remaining daughter out of the refugee camp. It was nothing short of miraculous that all this transpired for Kim, actually surviving, during the horror of the Khimer Rouge and the rule of Pol Pot. I couldn't hold back the tears, and we all wept as she told of running past bodies that had been killed by the knife. 

Many years later, she recounted to us, she flew back to Cambodia to see a few remaining relatives. She said she was very frightened to do this, always wondering if someone would be coming to get her.

One of her daughters has now become a dentist in the United States, and she knows the Khimer language. She is writing down the history of the family before it is lost. It is really hard for the next generation to believe what happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot, so it needs to be written down. And, as hard as it is, we need to have the courage to listen to these stories and be a part of the healing process.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Come and Hear about Cambodia

Yes, it is a week away, but this is America, and we are always busy. I thought giving you a little heads up a week in advance might help in your preparations for next Sunday. I hope some of my readers can join us as we share.

Next Sunday, November 13, the team that went to Cambodia will be sharing about their experiences during the trip. The event will be in the AIM missions class at 10:45 AM at Northshore Baptist Church in Bothell, WA. /room 210.  Please come join us and hear what amazing things God is doing in Thailand and Cambodia with and through many people.

Come and meet some of the people you have "met" on this blog, enjoy a Power Point presentation, maybe a video and lots of eye witness accounts of the work God is doing in that region of the world. Hope to see you there!

AIM News:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Time For Prayer and Action

One Open Air Bar in Pattaya

Tonight, Chomno from Cambodian Hope Organization is flying into Seattle for a brief visit. I hear he is flying out again Monday morning. He is attending a dessert tonight, put on by Frontline for Justice(see on this blog's sidebar), and all in attendence will here about the latest happenings to help rescue sex trafficked girls in Cambodia. 

Many of the girls that are in the sex traffic industry come from Cambodia, but work in Thailand - often in Pattaya - where everything and everyone is for sale.
Prayer and action is needed in a variety of ways in both countries in order for this horrible practice to end. Many are getting involved, and some are being rescued, learning a new skill, and being cared for in a way that they can return to life outside the bars. (The photo above shows a bar just like the one our team went to when we played Connect 4 and Jenga with the girls.)

We have recently heard that a few girls from the bar we visited one night on our trip, have come to some meetings to hear about leaving the bar scene and getting training for other types of employment. This is a big answer to prayer and because of much action on the part of several, especially the ones working day in and day out in Pattaya.

There is all kinds of hope, in the end; all the helping hands are making a real difference. As the CHO (Cambodian Hope Organization) T-Shirts state: "the night is nearly over, the day is almost here." Romans 12:13 Let us continue to pray and act.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful for Gretchen

I've come through two weeks of recovery from a respiratory infection and jet lag. Still, once in a while, like today, my body thinks it's night when it is day. On the whole, however, I am on the mend and beginning to dream and hope for other times of travel. For now, I have workshops planned with my church family and leaders of others who need to tell their stories.
Gretchen in the Pattaya Slum

I have been thinking about my roommate for the Cambodian adventure. Gretchen, my roommate, and I, were paired up together for the 15 days the team was in Cambodia. This pairing was a huge gift. An instant, meaningful friendship of "iron sharpening iron" began for us. At least, she sharpened me. We laughed and cried together, prayed together, plotted for some free time together - and once took it:-), and had numerous thought-provoking discussions on what is happening in Cambodia and why. (I didn't know much.)

Gretchen suggested I read Cambodia's Curse which is no light read. I ordered it while on the trip and devoured it when I was resting back at home. It was sobering, and reading it brought greater clarity as to why Cambodia is the way it is. I am thankful Gretchen suggested it. I am thankful she has so enriched my life and my understanding of the world.

God often brings women as friends to me who are beautiful, are very well dressed (Gretchen's shoes are out of this world) and incredibly perceptive and articulate. After my time with them, I think I should wear more make-up and get some decent accessories that match my clothes. Seriously. I always want to grow when around friends like Gretchen. And yet, she seems to genuinely like me just the way I am.(Phew.)

When we'd come back to the hotel room, from some wild, jungle heat and dirt adventure in Cambodia, I'd prop my feet up on the wall higher than my head as I sat, well, laid, on the bed. I'd often be tapping out messages on my aqua blue covered Mac(Help! Get me out of here! - No, not really.), and she'd be doing something important and meaningful with all her film and photos on her Mac. (She is a videographer and has her own production company.)

So tonight, I am sharing a very special friend with you, who happened to be (all praise to God) a wonderful gift to me on the journey in Cambodia.Thank you so much, Gretchen!

Gretchen and I are next to each other kneeling.
As iron sharpens iron,
   so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Praying at Soldier Camp

Praying for a young woman after showing the Jesus video

Our team leaders invited anyone to stay for prayer after we showed the Jesus video. One woman asked for prayer. You might not be able to spot Nancy. She is the one praying fervently for the woman; she is on her knees in front of her, asking God to help the woman. (Nancy is another one of my unsung heros.)

When I was making a Power Point presentation on our Cambodia trip, I really, really had to look hard for pictures of Nancy. She was always in the thick of the work, and maybe hard to spot. However, I know, she was busy praying as she worked, and she was praying for those of us out in the "spotlight." She was doing the hard work of prayer, which often is NOT done in the limelight. She's probably happy that, here, there is not a photo of her....but you and I know she was praying.

Phillipians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus is strong...but He's also approachable. He is able to carry our load...but He'll never make us feel embarrassed or defeated for asking.
 - Joni Eareckson Tada

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unsung Hero - Rosa(Roza)

Rosa, our translator at various times, with Pastor Wayne

I first met Rosa when he was serving me lunch at the Hope and Health Cafe - the very first CHO restaurant in Poipet. I wanted coffee with milk, but that's not really how you say it in Cambodia. He was incredibly patient with me, and waited for me to fumble through my order until we arrived at "Hot coffee milk."

The next time I really noticed Rosa was when he was driving us somewhere, and then he became my translator. It started to dawn on me that CHO workers have to multi-task much more so than Americans. Driving is not easy in Poipet when slogging through  a foot and a half of muddy water while getting to Safe Haven, and neither is translating quick talking Americans. I am very animated when I am speaking, and Rosa is cool, calm and collected as he translates. His manner slows me down and we form a good pace for translation.

Rosa listening for translation
One of the last night's I was in Poipet, several of us went out to dinner to say farewell to Josh, an Australian who has just come upon CHO, Chomno and all the amazing things happening in Cambodia. (He wants to be a part of it, now.) For this dinner out, Rosa was not driving, serving or translating. I was glad to see him being able to relax a bit, and I was happy he was with us without working.(Well, maybe he was, and we just didn't know it!)

Thank you, Rosa, for all you do at CHO and for sharing the love of Jesus in all the ways you serve. You are an example to all of us! 

Rosa serving communion at Soldier Camp.

Rosa Translating for Pastor Wayne at the pastors' conference.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sophy - Not Lost In Translation

Sophy, translating the Prodigal Son Story - with our team member, Trisha

Have you ever tried to explain yourself or something to a friend, spouse, audience and they just don't get it?  Even in one's own country where we all speak the same language, we need other people to come alongside us to help "translate" what we are trying to say. I think of counselors, support group leaders, articulate friends and pastors who have tried to "translate" important matters of my heart and mind to others or even to me for understanding.

When I go to a foreign country and share the Gospel, my story and ask others to share their stories through art, the translator is key in having this happen. When using a translator, I have to have a certain level of trust and a bit of risk-taking ability in order to share the essence of my story and the Gospel. In Cambodia we had women: 1. share their stories through story ropes, and 2. we shared the Gospel through art tags and the collaged papers cards of The Prodigal Son. We needed excellent transation.

My first translator, the one who did all translation with the women's groups, was Sophy. I am passionate when I share my story or the Gospel. So was Sophy. I get animated. So did Sophy. I acted things out. So did Sophy. I grabbed her, she grabbed me. Let's just say, Sophy is an amazing, amazing translator, and nothing was lost in translation.

Sophy and my feet, showing our working in concert to share story.

Sophy and I had a couple of meals together along with Allison from Freedom Stones after my team left. Allison and Sophy got "fast food" off the side of the road for dinner a couple of times and munched on it on my hotel floor. Sophy (and Allison) are as nice as can be, funny and joy-filled. We had a great time together both while sharing story and just hanging out. I wish she lived next door. Thank you, thank you, Sophy.

The proud, older brother who did love the father's heart, just the father's things. From the story of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus Christ in the Bible.

Tomorrow - hear about my translator Rosa (Roza).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Water bottle, Altoids Container and a Slum

When an artist is making art or teaching art out and about in this world, it pays to have a water bottle with lid and an Altoids container of paints. Yep. A friend of mine, Karen, has put a selection of my paints in hand made compartments in a little Altoids container for me to travel with. She knows I have ended up in some places where paint is more important than Altoids. For this painting session, my team and I were in the Pattaya, Thailand slum/dump with kids and their families who live there.

I love to see the shear joy, no matter which country or setting I find myself, of each child when the water and paint rolls off a little one's brush on a fresh, white piece of paper. The child is creating anew, something they were created to do. I think they sense, feel God's presence when they make art. It's invisible, but really, really powerfully there.

Here is a picture of one little girl who really got into the painting. I knew right away that she is a fellow artist. I pray she will be able to use her gifting someday in Pattaya. I pray she will make it out of the dump and create beauty in her country.

There is an artist who has started a movement in Cambodia called, "Don't Forget About Art." I feel very strongly that he is onto something big. In Cambodia, with international aid, we can try to throw money on a road making project, and hope the greedy governmental leaders don't steal it. 
If we teach the next generation to create, invent, imagine and dream, produce while asking questions and make decisions using the creative arts, we are empowering them to carry that creativity into all areas of life. (And no one can steal that.)

It probably seems like fluff and even a little silly to some to put so much emphasis on the creative arts in a dump. But, our God is a creative, creating God, and what better way to bear witness to Him then in the making of visual art in a slum?

And the joy can't be beat! With a water bottle and Altoids a slum. I highly recommend it. And, thanks, Karen!

Enjoy a song about our creator God:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beauty in Cambodia

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: 
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
To behold the beauty of the LORD 
And to meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4
- David, pursuing God's beauty

Flowering Bush in Siem Reap, Cambodia

One thing I always try to do when I visit and work in another country is to be very intentional in seeing God's creative beauty, catch glimpes of His creativity -especially in the dirty, dark places where I go. I believe God is present in every day of our lives and every place in our stories. However, sometimes, especially in the dark places or parts of our stories, we/I have to look harder to see Him and His beauty.

One example of His beauty is in the midst of standing water and oppressive heat. What Chomno and the folks at Cambodian Hope Organization have done, is to make a path between the various buildings at Safe Haven. It is a gravel path, but the striking thing about the path is the row of flowering bushes on either side of the path. The oppressive humidity and heat that pummels you as you walk along that path, is softened by the beauty to either side of you, and it becomes less burdensome.

After walking down this path, you will find some more beauty. One of the first buildings you come upon is the sewing and jewelry making building. I had heard some children were making Freedom Stones necklaces, so I was eager to find the girls who were creating beauty after being rescued from the sex slavery industry. While at CHO, I was blessed to get to know Allison, the Canadian woman who is helping these girls make the Freedom Stones jewelry. 

A thoughtful young lady, Allison told me these girls would make no eye contact with her, heads down, when she first met them. They were quiet and somber. She recounts that four months later, they are smiling, laughing while working, making good eye contact with her and setting goals for their lives. The girls don't necessarily want to keep making jewelry; they have dreams for their lives that fit with how they were created. Rescuing them has set them free, redeemed them from slavery and set them free to dream, to be the beauties God intended them to be. 

Next, as you wander around Safe Haven, even though you are hot, parched and looking for a place to sit down and recharge with a cool, iced lemonade, if you can get past your own discomfort, you come upon God's beauty in the rows of towering trees along the edge that have been planted by CHO, as well as the flowering bushes, the fruit trees and the vegetables growing here and there amongst the buildings. 

Yes, God's beauty is evident in this safe haven for children who have been prostituted and enslaved. It sneaks up upon you, and you have to slow down and look. But, in the end, there it is, and there God is.

CHO is raising chickens and providing eggs 
for many children and workers at Safe Haven.

For more information on Freedom Stones, go here:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let's Give Away 800 T-Shirts!

Chomno and the Mayor of Poipet, Cambodia

I want you to meet the key men who led in implementing the giving away of 800 T-Shirts at the Cambodia/Thailand border. Here are the director of CHO(Cambodian Hope Organization) and the mayor of the town. My understanding is that they grew up together. They came together for redemption's sake. They planned to bring beauty and extend worth and value to the day labor workers who pull carts, like animals, to do their work. They wanted to give them a handsome T-Shirt that that had on the back the most important truth we can ever know: Jesus Loves You.

Day Laborers at the Cambodian Border

Some of the day laborers are children, some are mothers or fathers with young children or even babies alongside them or riding in the cart. This photo, taken by my roommate for the trip, Gretchen, an amazing photographer, shows a laborer who received a T-shirt as she was passing by with her children.

Cambodian Hope Organization has a machine that silk screens designs and logos onto T-Shirts, so with the help of many, both financially and logistically, the CHO staff, some of them "New Bloom" workers who seem capable of just about anything, began designing and implementing the silk sceening for both the front and back of the shirt. The aqua color is a special color for Safe Haven; all the wonderful, rescued children wear aqua school shirts. It was decided to put Cambodian Hope Organization on the front and "Jesus Love You" on the back in both Khimer and English.

Here is a CHO worker who silk screens T-Shirts, and he helped me cross the border when I left for the airport at the end of my stay. He knows English and is very kind. He helped me with some translation as I was working in New Bloom.
One needs to be a handy in all sorts of ways when working at CHO!

Here is a New Bloom worker and my translator working on T-Shirts.

The last day of our stay in Poipet, as a team, we arose before dawn, got dressed and headed to the border with a truckload of shirts. Chomno met the mayor, we all bowed respectfully, and grabbed a handful of T-shirts. Now, it was the mayors turn. We found the first laborer who was going to pass through the border, and the mayor was the one to hand him a shirt. The mayor did this for several of the first men, even having them put on the shirt. We all applauded respectfully as each man passed by.

Later, Chomno mentioned to me that the people who received those shirts would be saving them for a special occasion - perhaps a wedding or other event when they would need a clean, new T-shirt. I imagined a number of wedding guests wearing these shirts at a festive family gathering and smiled. There they would be, enjoying their family, good food and celebration, and they would be bringing the amazing, best message that Jesus Loves You on their T-shirts.

Two team members at the border with the day laborers. 
Yes; let's give away 800 T-shirts!

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16