A little over five years ago, I showed up at the Global Ministries headquarters in New York and said in substance, "Here am I, send me." And they said, "Where we really need you is. . . Cambodia!" And I said, "OK."
And what a joy it has been! Cambodia Methodism is a "mission initiative," an emerging church on a path to autonomy, and it has been my privilege to share with you some of the indicators of this over the years. Five years ago, I was one of 11 missionaries in Phnom Pehn. My departure brings that number down to seven. This is a great indicator of the strength of the mission as more programming and leadership is picked up by Cambodian nationals. Though the end of my term of itinerancy comes as an emotional jolt, it is with great joy that, as I leave Cambodia, the ministry continues in the hands of my friends.
So Global Ministries said, "Where we really need you now is. . . Nepal!" And I said, "OK."
True, I am sad to be leaving Cambodia and at the same time tremendously excited about the challenges and opportunities in going to Nepal. I will write about the new work in future newsletters as I learn more. So far, I understand the work will be substantially focused on community outreach, like my work in Cambodia. I am hopeful that a significant essence will be on testing for drinking water quality, a passion I developed during my masters program at SacState which involved research in Ghana. In the language of missionary assignments, I will be "seconded" to the United Mission to Nepal, a long-established, inter-denominational Christian organization in the country.
I said good-bye on February 19th to the Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD) team, other members of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia and many friends I have developed over the past five years.
These past few months for me have been full of transitioning responsibilities to the capable hands of various Cambodian team members and the Social Concerns Committee. Mr. Thy will continue on as team leader, particularly overseeing the ongoing monitoring of project groups. Ms. Daneth was invaluable this winter as she picked up coordination of my former haunts in Kampong Speu and Takeo. Ms. Vannak has assumed much of the financial oversight for the program assisted by GBGM-Cambodia treasurer Helen Camarce. Mrs. Sophal will coordinate health access and advocacy ministries following the retirement in December of missionary Irene Mparutsa and her return home to Zimbabwe. And Mr. Ken will continue to advocate for holistic ministry throughout the church. I have great confidence that the program will continue to provide valuable support to the ministry of the church in Cambodia.
Please keep in touch with the ongoing work in Cambodia through stories on the blog http://chad-cambodia.blogspot.com. Mr. Thy continues to write powerful testimonials of changes experienced by Cambodians for this site. Also new in 2012 was a CHAD program Facebook page with the name CommunityHealthAgriculturalDevelopmentCambodia. Ms. Vannak has been regularly posting pictures to the Facebook page so I hope you will check it out.
More to come.