In one of my recent posts I shared about my growing interest in Cambodia. I believe the Lord put the country and its people on my heart years ago, then suddenly started feeding and growing it within the last year. I’ve been reading books, watching documentaries, searching websites…. I joke (semi seriously) with Keith about us moving there long-term….
A few weeks ago my Love Without Boundaries superior mentioned me going on the next Cleft Exchange, which will be LWB’s first in Cambodia. I didn’t know if she was serious and tried not to think about it too much, not wanting to be disappointed if it wasn’t a real invite. Within a few days I learned it was a real invite, and it all started to make sense. The Lord was growing this passion in me and guiding me to go on this cleft exchange. This is a rare opportunity for someone like me – a stay at home, homeschool mom with no real medical background, but with a desire to love on and help change the lives of orphaned and impoverished children, especially in this area of the world.
Although I’ve been on several mission trips – including a 9 month stay in Siberia, and the 2014 Cleft Exchange, I know that this trip will expose me to poverty I’ve never seen before. Although this excites me, it also brings fear up within me. I worry about hygiene and safety, my own heart breaking…. and of course leaving my family for almost two weeks.
So, here’s the plan:
Step 1 – Fund raise. LWB is partnering with Smile Cambodia to provide surgeries for more than twenty children during one very busy week. Funding is needed to make this possible – from travel for the families and their little ones hoping for surgery, to medical supplies, to medication and more. If you would like to donate, I have a campaign on LWB’s site. Donations through this link are tax-deductible.
Step 2- Gather. We will be gathering no-nos (arm restraints), handmade bibs (cleft kiddos drool a lot after surgery), and other items to take with us.
Step 3 -Immunize. The CDC website recommends the Typhoid vaccinations, along with Hep A and B. I’ll also ask about Malaria pills.
Step 4 – Learn Some Cambodian (Khmer) Phrases. I had been working on my Mandarin, but I don’t think it’s going to do much good in Cambodia.
Step 5 – Pack
Step 6- Say Goodbye to my Family (dreading this one!). This won’t happen until after I’ve written each of my children special notes should I die on this trip!
Step 7- Pray my way through 20+ hours of travel on October 9th and 10th. This will bring me through Taipei (where I will meet several other team members) and into Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Step 8 – Travel to Poipet. Our small group will travel northeast by plane, bus or boat, to visit LWB’s programs in the rural villages near Poipet (which is on the border of Thailand). This is a high trafficking area, where poverty is intense and children are in great need. I am excited to visit the beautiful children in our foster and education programs, but this is also the part of the trip that will confront me with harder things than I’ve seen before.
Step 9 – Visit Siem Reap. This isn’t set in stone yet, but our small group may visit the Temples of Angkor and do a little sightseeing for a day or two before heading back to Phnom Penh.
Step 10- Cleft Exchange – this will take place October 15-21, with 5 days of surgery and two days of intake and discharge/visits. We are partnering with Smile Cambodia and already have four children on our list for surgery – adorable little ones. I will learn more about my role as the team comes together, but I expect to be documenting the happenings of each day, and taking photographs of all the wonderful children, in order to share that info with LWB’s sponsors. I expect to help soothe and care for children, and to build relationships with our Cambodian staff and volunteers. We may even get to visit some local hospital, boarding schools and orphanages in the area to continue to build partnerships for LWB.