The last two mornings I have woken up around 3 am thinking about the kids. Our time here is going quickly and at some point we are going to have to say good bye. My eyes are filling with tears just writing this and I can't see the iPad screen. (Brief pause to clear eyes)
I've been a Christian my entire life, attended church every Sunday, and went to Christian schools for my education. At my church, Central Vineyard, we use the term "Kingdom of Heaven" often. The simple definition is that it is where we, on this earth, amid all of the brokenness, genocide, abuse, and corruption, see a glimmer of heaven here on earth. It's where heaven and earth collide and heaven wins. I thought I had experienced it before but in retrospect, I had no clue until I came to Cambodia.
Amid the poverty, sexual trafficking, prostitution and hardship, you will find the Prek Eng 2 orphanage. Even as I write this I cannot find the earthly words to describe this heavenly place. It truly is heaven on earth. Children who once lived in poverty, disease and abuse are now cared for and given everything they need and more because of the generosity of a small church in Columbus Ohio. They didn't do anything to deserve it. They didn't pass a test or have some moment of awakening, they were lost and now are found. It's the perfect illustration of my faith.
When we are with the kids, the joy and affection is so thick you can cut it with a knife. The gratefulness is so sincere.
As Americans we have all seen the tv commercials about how a dollar a day can save a child--as they proceed to show pictures of sick children with flies landing on them in horrible conditions. We have to look away or become emotionally detached in order to move on. Asia's Hope is different. The story is not about living in squalor, it's about the redemptive love that comes through Jesus and how Heaven crashes down on earth with it's redemptive story. These types of commercials give us this false idea (and I'm guilty of this myself) that if we could place these kids with a loving adoptive family in the U.S. that they would be so much better off. I'm here to tell you that is not the case with Asia's hope. Prek Eng 2 is the closest knit family I have ever witnessed, including my own. Each kid feels like they belong here and have an important role to play. When activities are going on, no one is excluded, regardless of age or gender. Everyone knows their role and feels like a productive member of the family. And most of all, they are loved. Narun and Sopal amaze me. I can't put it into words. They make each child feel so very important.
I'm dreading the last visit to see the kids. I'm going to be a hot mess when hugging them goodbye. Meanwhile, I want to enjoy the limited time that we have to be with them. I'm hoping that what they have rubs off on me. I can honestly say that these children have done more for me than I could have (or have) done for them. They have changed my life and my faith. I'm a better person because of them.