Let the Little Children Come

Thursday nights are chaotic around here.

The neighbourhood kids start showing up around 4:30 for English class and usually stay til around 6:30.  We can keep their attention for studying for about a half an hour so the rest of the time is games, sports, crafts and just all around craziness.  It’s perfect.  I love having a house full of children; laughing and chasing each other.  It’s awesome for our kids too; they’ve made some great friends and I love hearing them trying out their Khmer as they attempt to communicate.

I know each of these kids by name.  They call me “Ming Ashley” – Aunt Ashley – and come running to hug me when they arrive.  They love to watch me bake or sew or do just about anything.  They always have lots of questions and I am happy to chat with them.  They are patient when I mispronounce a word and helpful when I don’t know one.

I’ve always been a “kid” person.  I volunteered and led Sunday schools and kids groups as a teen and young adult so I’m not the kind of person you have to remind about how precious kids are.  Except that it just kind of hit me again.

 

I guess I found myself measuring success by other standards and I got a wake up call today.  There’s a push in our “work” for results.  We have to relay what is happening in our ministries to supporters and partners and there should be some evidence of “fruit” – or some indication that something is happening.

I listened to a teaching this week from Francis Chan about “The Vine”.  At one point in the video, he says “the branch/vine does not have to work to produce fruit; it simply stays attached to the tree and fruit happens”.  I don’t know if that hits you like it hit me but I was really struck by that.  I am a doer by nature.  I kind of love projects.  I always have a list of projects on the go – sewing, painting, rearranging the entire house (Chad frequently comes home and asks “WHAT did you do?!”)

Sometimes, I want to approach ministry/serving the same way.  “Ok God, this is what I am going to do.  These are the results I want.  I’m going to make this list and raise these funds and do this and that and etc etc….”.  I’ve learned quickly that God’s timeline is not always our own and the things that we characterize as valuable are sometimes not what He sees as such.

We had visitors here recently and while we were talking about what we do and the presence we have in our neighbourhood and the neighbourhoods that we are involved in with Asian Outreach, our friend remarked that it’s a long, slow process – a life journey if you will.  It’s not flashy or glamorous; it’s every day life lived with intention (with a cow crossing here and a fried frog on a stick there).

We’ve always kind of known this;  that we’re in it for the long haul.  But to hear it said brought to mind two things for me.  One, our journey is relational in nature.  We will be involved with projects but it’s the relationships that we develop that truly matter.  Those relationships will give us the opportunity to speak life and hope into people’s lives.  Relationships take time.  And two, we need to constantly be searching our hearts to make sure our “results” are the ones that God wants.  Not ours, not even our churches, supporters and friends…but God’s.

To bring it all around again, the push for success or results can sometimes bypass the little things that are important.  Like kids.  I was reminded tonight about what every children’s worker already knows….kids are precious and the chance to speak into their lives should never be taken for granted.kids

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Family blog time….wanted to share some pics of the fam; we’ve decided to homeschool the kids and Thursdays are our “field trip day”.  This Thursday we went to a wildlife sanctuary about an hour south of the city.  IMG_6649

Checking out the sun bears

Checking out the sun bears

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The monkeys were the highlight for sure; they are free to wander and you can buy bananas to feed them which they will take right out of your hand.  The kids were completely enthralled…except for Ethne.

After a monkey grabbed her shorts, Ethne was not so sure that she liked the zoo!

After a monkey grabbed her shorts, Ethne was not so sure that she liked the zoo!

Hanging out

Hanging out

Tigers!

Tigers!

It’s a little daunting to be responsible for your children’s education but it was something we knew was probably going to be necessary.  Chad & I take turns doing the special projects; this was Chad’s turn:

Learning about things that grow

Learning about things that grow

We also celebrated Evie’s first birthday this month.  It’s times like these that we really miss family and realize that our children are growing up without those close relationships.  We consider ourselves very blessed to be a part of a great team though and it eases the heartache somewhat.

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

Lovely cake courtesy of Ms. Lisa

Lovely cake courtesy of Ms. Lisa

The boys

The boys

Enjoying her cake IMG_6930 IMG_6939

A Lesson from 3 Hot Guys

My kids are really into story telling these days.  I confess I am not great at thinking up off-the-cuff literary adventures so I usually fall back on stories I remember hearing as a kid.  Bible stories are great because a lot of cool stuff happened to people in the Bible.

We are still making our way around the city by tuk tuk and since Chad was teaching this morning at the Bible college, I decided to take the children, yes all four, out with me as I ran errands.

Aside from the regular incredulous remarks of buon, buon (four, four), the tuk tuk also provides a good time to tell stories and no sooner were we on our way than they chimed in chorus “Tell us a story”.

We started with David and when I had run out of stories to tell about him (it takes a really long time to get anywhere in Phnom Penh!) and the kids were still begging for a story, I remembered I had always enjoyed the story of the fiery furnace as a kid.  Ok, mostly I just like saying Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego – but who doesn’t?  There’s something about the way it rolls off the tongue but I digress and there is a point to this post which I will get to now.

As I was telling the story, I got to the part where Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego were going to be thrown into the fiery furnace and I paused.  The bible says these men were young but they did not hesitate when faced with what to do about bowing before a God not their own.  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

These three young guys refused to follow a king’s command even when they knew it meant imminent death.  Now that is faith I admire!  But more than that, I admire how they didn’t require things to go their way.  “Even if he does not”.  Even if God did not rescue them, did not vindicate them….they would still hold strong to their faith.  We are in an age of answers and proof.  If you can’t show it to me, then it doesn’t exist.  But these three; they didn’t require proof.  They didn’t require God to show Himself all-powerful.  They simply believed regardless of the outcome.  Critics would call that blind faith.  I call it heroism.  To believe in something so completely that you don’t need to have all the answers; that is a true feat.

That is the kind of faith I want to have.  That I strive for.  After all, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of things we do not see Image