Thursday, October 9, 2008


Tonight, I sat at the Art.Music.Justice tour concert with great artists such as Sandra McCracken, Sara Groves, and Derek Webb. There was wonderful music, moving stories, and pleas for support and activism to help solve the world's problems.

I am overwhelmed by what I've seen overseas. I've seen the bumpy roads, the injustice, the garbage infested streets, the fear, and the hopelessness. I've seen the naked children sleeping on the side of the road. I've looked into the eyes of a 12-year-old prostitute and been unable to look away.

The progression from Cambodia to Union college has been stark and unnatural. I'm not sure what the easier or better solution would've been. There are completely different circumstances depending on your part of the globe. I'm still having the hardest time wrapping my mind around how Cambodia and the United States exist at the same time. I don't understand.

I watched pictures flash across the screen tonight of young girls in brothels in India, sick children in Africa, and victims of sex trafficking in Asia. I cried, hard.

I was sad for those people, but I was mostly thinking of what I saw in Cambodia. You see, now it's personal.

I've heard concerts, mission stories, and seen movies like Invisible Children before, but have never been moved the same way I was tonight. As Sara Groves sang "When the Saints", I cried some more. I just kept thinking, Well, this is all well and nice and actually quite inspiring, but how does this song you are singing do anything for Ratanack who sits with his mother at their fruit stand hoping to make enough for food? How does this song keep Kagna safe from the men on the street? How does this song keep Oknha from getting deep into drugs and crime?

It doesn't. So I cried.

I feel so helpless to do anything to protect my kids. The fear of getting some awful email from a student telling me about one of my girls getting raped or her parents forcing her to marry a rich, foreign stranger, tempts me to break all ties with my kids. Then maybe this won't hurt so much.

I want to do something more than go to classes tomorrow. I can't see how I'm going to get through 3 more years of this. But I can't up and leave, hoping to save the world, I already tried that. And as fulfilling as I'd hoped it would be, the reality of being far from home, ED support, and familiarity, left me...broken. I feel like I tried, but maybe I'm just not cut out for the harsh realities of mission work, or else I would've really thrived.

If I'm not meant to work overseas, how can I live with myself knowing I'm doing nothing about it. I want to go, but I'm afraid to go.

Bono said, "God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."

It's 12:30 am in Lincoln, Nebraska, which means it is Friday 12:30 pm in Cambodia. My kids have all been out of school for an hour and are bored trying to figure out how they'll fill their time until Monday morning. They have just finished eating lunch, rice for sure, in their hot, dusty kitchens. Fay is probably braving the dangerous streets headed to the market. Polly is teaching kindergarteners how to read. Sabbath approaches in Cambodia and really, there is never any rest.

I wonder if I'll ever have rest again.


Katie said...

i sponsor two kids in third world countries. last night mostly made me want to go visit them. but then i felt guilt--do i want to go visit my kids in a third world country because i want to help them and know them, or because i want to be that white girl like sarah groves surrounded by dozens of adoring little faces who think i'm wonderful? my motives are probably not entirely pure.

i sponsor two kids, and that's my only comfort when i face feelings like the ones you wrote about. it is true that i am not doing enough. but i am doing EVERYTHING for two children on the other side of the world. grace and james would not say to me, "katie, you are not doing enough!" they would say to me "katie, you are doing SO MUCH!"

and your kids in cambodia would tell you "ms. bo, you did SO MUCH for us!"

that is beautiful and good and if you ask me, for now, it is enough.