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:

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