Tourist vs. Pilgrim

The question regarding my stance as a Tourist or a Pilgrim is not so clear cut. In order to give a valid reasoning to my own choice the two are defined; A Tourist is one who is going to take what is available, judge what they find and hope they get their monetary value out of the trip. A Pilgrim on the other hand is one who is going to use the experience they gained on the trip to influence their lives and evaluate their culture. Continue reading "Tourist vs. Pilgrim"

How exposure to the Khmer Rouge impacts Cambodia today

After exploring much of Cambodia, it's tough to imagine what it would be like without the Khmer Rouge. It's currently a developing country with the vast majority of the population peasants working as rice farmers. The Khmer Rouge wiped out all the educated: lawyers, doctors, teachers - three million lives wiped from the face of Cambodia. And after four years of genocide, two years of famine followed - all occurring after 10 years of occupation in then country. How can an economy bounce back after that? How can orphaned children learn skills and obtain jobs? Survivors cannot seek psychological help without doctors and therapists. How can they forgive after such chaotic brutality? Continue reading "How exposure to the Khmer Rouge impacts Cambodia today"

Blog Post 4

A few days ago our group visited International Development Enterprise, IDE. It is essentially a cross between a NGO and a business. It is a secular organization that is proving food security for families and a better source of income, as well as, being a fair seller. Their goal is to teach farmers better and more intuitive way to farm their land. They as a whole, they have a very effective and efficient method of farming, financing, and record keeping. They keep detailed records of every harvest and then IDE buys the crop from the farmers to sell in the market. Where as before, many farmers had no idea what their profit margin was. Continue reading "Blog Post 4"

What it all means

I'm seeing a lot of things that are changing my life on this trip. Whether it's the people I meet or the places I visit, I have been impacted in many ways. The past few days especially, we have done a lot of sightseeing. This is a huge contrast from seeing the slums of Bangkok or picking up trash in the school yard. In a way, this brings on a lot of guilt. One of my friends, who is not on this trip, often shares many deep thoughts with me. The other day, she messaged me contemplating if life actually means anything at all. What if the works we do here on earth have no value? It's a tough question. As Christians, of course we believe that God calls us to do good works to further his kingdom. But with all of this brokenness around us, is it even possible to make improvements? After we go home, what happens then? We will all return to our nice homes, private school education, and portions of meals that are so big we don't know what to do with them. The people we've met in this beautiful country will stay here in their non-air conditioned, one room homes. Have we helped them? Whether acting as a tourist or a pilgrim, I am I am here in Cambodia representing myself, my college, and my faith. That continues after I get home as well. I pray that God will use this trip to open my eyes to the work he wants me to do. I pray that my heart will break so I can see what I'm supposed to. I want this yearning for justice to continue when I get back to Grand Rapids. I hope the compassion I've felt here flows into my everyday life and the people I encounter regularly.