Leading something for the first time in my life was definitely a stretching experience. It was like lifting weights every day, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. But I'm awfully thankful for all the lessons God taught me. Here's what happened:
After the team went through boot camp training in Florida, we took the 14-ish hour plane flight to Hong Kong, then flew to Myanmar's capital (Yangon). We stayed in a clean, air-conditioned guest house and then took an eight hour bus ride over the mountains to the roughest, poorest, most violent state in Myanmar, the Rakhine state. We moved into a less luxurious guest house and received the unwelcome news that the local officials would not allow the team to do their building project. The end.
Our head leader suspects that the local Buddhist monks were a bit suspicious of us. For one thing, Myanmar has been closed to foreigners until the past year. In that country, it is illegal for foreigners to spend the night anywhere except a registered guest house. This is so the government can keep a good eye on them... er, us.
So we packed up and flew to Cambodia instead!
There, the team started a building for Cambodia's Teen Missions Boot Camp, just like camp we'd just come from. The teens erected massive concrete pillars, poured a floor, and watched the funds they'd raised pay for a bright blue metal roof to be constructed above. Meanwhile, I helped cook for the team every day, using a metal box of an oven and a one pot cooking fire. I also got the chance to lead the team's daily Bible studies and girls small group. During those days, we lived in tents, filtered our water, tried some exotic fruits, and learned to use "squatty potties" like pros!
The highlight of every day for me was to be driven in a tuk tuk (a typically Asian conveyance consisting of a three-wheeled "buggy" hitched to a motorcycle) to the local market to buy fresh produce, sugar, etc. I learned some greetings in Khmer (pronounced Kih-MY) and got familiar with Cambodian currency.
Before returning to the U.S., we got one sightseeing day in Hong Kong, and that was glorious! Seeing the city lights over the harbor by ferry, exploring the night markets, eating at a Hong Kong McDonald's... it was a good time :)
It was hard to say goodbye to the team, but it's been good to be home at last. College classes start Tuesday and I'll keep you all updated.
My beloved team :)
The beautiful Gwa orphans.
Please pray that someone will be able to build for them.
20 plus orphans live in a thatched house half the size of a typical one story home.
They have nothing but the clothes on their back, a toothbrush, and a bed roll.
They play in the dirt and with a flea-bitten dog.
They live on nothing but daily food and the love of the home's staff,
but they are being taught to love Jesus.
We will never forget them.