Glory Reborn took our first adventure outside of the Philippines! Eighteen of Glory Reborn staff nurses, midwives, social workers and volunteers traveled from Cebu City to Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a week long outreach that changed so many lives. It all started with a pulling in Davidâ€™s and my heart to take our staff outside of the Philippines to expand their world view of health care, the gospel, cultures and hopefully for them to realize the need for Glory Reborn, not just here in Cebu but in other nations. It has been our aim to raise up and train our staff to send them into the nations as healthcare providers, life savers, and ministers of Jesus. In September we began to feel the pull towards taking our staff and then one day in Starbucks it all came together. By chance we began talking to a local Filipino pastor who was telling us of Filipino missionaries in Cambodia. These missionaries, we would later find out, have been in Cambodia for fourteen years doing incredible work- from schools, to churches, to orphanages. The pastor said that they would be trying to put together a team from Cebu in April to go visit these local missionaries in Cambodia. We knew that this was exactly what the Lord had planned. Filipino missionaries who speak the same language and come from the same town as our staff working and ministering in Cambodia; it couldnâ€™t have been more perfect. We began in â€œwinterâ€ months to get passports and visas for our staff. For most this was going to be their first trip on an airplane, their first time off the island of Cebu and their first time into an entire new country. The staff organized fund raising events and began to pray and plan for April. It seemed that before we knew it April was here and all 18 of us were boarding an airplane to a country none of us had ever been. Despite all of our preparations nothing could have prepared us fully for the hardship, tragedy, and need for hope that the nation of Cambodia experiences daily. A country that experienced such horrific genocide just thirty years ago needed a message of hope and peace. We also learned that Cambodia has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in Asia with 100 new cases every day. This mortality rate produces around 40,000 orphans every year. We were so inspired by the work of two orphanages that are raising these children as their own. I couldnâ€™t help but think of the Bible passage in Matthew 19:14 â€œJesus said, â€˜Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as theseâ€™. When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from thereâ€. Being in the presence of these orphans, playing with them, praying with them it was a moment I will never forget. We even sang together and what was most precious was that the children themselves had written their own worship songs to play for us! It was beyond touching, it was truly the kingdom of Heaven on earth for that moment.I was in awe of the passion, love and faithfulness of these couples who for fourteen years have taken in hundreds of orphans, with or without AIDS, and showed them a family, a home, and a hope in Jesus.
As we continued our stay in Cambodia each day was filled with pregnant women who were waiting for a free check up. We were able to give health teachings and free prenatal check ups and vitamins to women in several villages and dumpsites. We did prenatal exams on law chairs, school desks, and mats on the floor but the reactions and responses were always similar, huge smiles as they heard their babyâ€™s heartbeat for the first time. From our previous letter you may know that Cambodian women are 19 times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications as women in the US with one out of every 110 women dying in Cambodia of preventable maternal deaths. What we learned was that in order for a woman to see a healthcare professional she would have to ride by motorcycle or by bus for four hours just to see a professional. She would have to do the same when she was in labor. A four hour motorcycle ride in labor is too difficult for laboring women! Most women make an even longer ride into Vietnam for delivery of their newborn where the hospitals are of better quality. Many go their entire pregnancy not seeing anyone for a check up until they arrive in labor. We certainly saw our skills being put to work each day we were there. The midwives and nurses on our team were so compassionate towards the women and eagerly shared life saving tips with them. In Cebu we pray for each mother after her check up. We did the same in Cambodia but I found myself praying â€œLord preserve, sustain and guard their lives!â€ Knowing the statistics and interacting with the amount of women we did the statistics of maternal death would begin to run through my head and I would start to feel so saddened and hopeless and then hope would rise knowing that we have a wonderful savior who doesnâ€™t know statistics! Jesus knows life and life abundantly and our prayers would be victory in the lives of these mommies and babies.
We also want to say thank you to those who came to Cebu to work with our staff and took care of the patients at Glory Reborn Cebu while we were away. Thank you for your service that allowed us to take this life-changing trip. Certainly the body of Christ is truly that, working together in all its many perfect functions for the same goals. Thank you!