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Stories from the Field // Chapter 3

Boots on the Ground

Boots in Cambodia look like this...  

Boots in Cambodia look like this...

 

Nine months ago, two young men from Colorado jumped into a whole new world.  They decided to leave everything they were familiar with and follow God's call in their lives to become our first-ever 'boots on the ground' in Cambodia.  After raising support and moving across the world, they used the first three months to dive into the deep-end and completed an intensive language school in the capital city of Phnom Phen.  They then loaded up their meager belongings and moved across the country to the LightBridge ministry locations near the border town of Poipet.  

Upon arrival in Poipet, these men then had the responsibility of setting up a new team center from which to host several mission teams that arrived within weeks of their move to Poipet.  They took charge of leading five different teams as well as one group of interns during the summer months -- all with great care and thoughtfulness.  

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To watch two young adult men navigate a new world, new culture, new language, new job, new home, two new cities...new everything has been such a joy.  They are men with a mission and are leaning in with strength and purpose.  Often, I have found myself sometimes so excited by the realities and possibilities now open to us as an organization.  Before this year, we operated simply with the tools available to us -- pretty amazing indigenous staff, intermittent trips with our LightBridge staff to the region, lots of Facebook calls and messages, strategic leadership plans that seemed to sometimes get upended once on the field, and an enormous amount of prayer asking the Lord to cover, provide and protect what we couldn't possibly fully oversee from across an ocean.  The addition of these two young men on the ground means:

  • the first male staff members on our LightBridge team -- yea, we've been an all-female team for ten years strong...I'd say it's about time to add some men into the mix!
  • the opportunity to navigate difficult conversations on the ground any time it's needed
  • the ability to develop more local training, research, discipleship and education
  • the potential to open new ministry opportunities as God leads us to expand

What I'm also amazed by is the realization that we probably don't know half of how God is planning to utilize these new 'boots on the ground'.  And that...well, that just makes me smile!! 

Zach and Dante...we couldn't be more excited to see how God uses you to continue and expand His Kingdom in Cambodia!!  Proud of you, young men! 

So proud of and thankful for these fine young men...our first Boots on the Ground!!  And that Milo puppy isn't so small anymore! 

So proud of and thankful for these fine young men...our first Boots on the Ground!!  And that Milo puppy isn't so small anymore! 

Prayer team, would you take time right now to pray over these young men?  Pray for God's protection over their minds, bodies and spirits.  Pray for clarity and discernment as they seek out the best roles they should fulfill on the ground.  Pray for wisdom beyond their years.  Pray for their working relationship and for great building of brotherhood with each other and those with whom they are working. 

Thank you for praying and for reading...

Karla

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Theology 101

Stories for the Field // Chapter 2

I sat with the women employed by our job creation program this past June.  Normally, when I'm there, they want me to teach lessons from God's Word.  I love teaching and sharing truths about God through His word.  This time though, I sensed I was to listen to what they had been learning in the past couple months.  We sat on the floor in a circle, like we always do.  I asked each one to share with all of us what they had been learning about Jesus and their faith in Him.  To say their responses completely floored me, would be a massive understatement. 

The Landmine Design circle.  I can't help but notice the children at the door listening in on the powerful works of God in the lives of the women! 

The Landmine Design circle.  I can't help but notice the children at the door listening in on the powerful works of God in the lives of the women! 

Right off the bat, Lee shared how she had been learning about prayer.  Through teaching from our in-country director, Leakhena, Lee learned how to pray and how to pray with power.  Lee shared about a night when her daughter had a very high fever and was a pretty sick little girl.  Worried like all mothers, Lee felt she would have to find a way to get to a clinic the next day so she could get medicine for her daughter -- not an easy feat when you live in a remote village.  Then, she remembered the teaching about prayer, specifically prayer for healing.  She knelt beside her daughter, placed her hands on her daughter's head, and began praying, in Jesus Name, for healing.  She asked Jesus to come that night and miraculously heal her daughter completely.  Within the hour, her daughter's fever broke and she was able to finally sleep.  There was no longer a need for a doctor.

Bath Time!!  Lee giving two of her kids baths! 

Bath Time!!  Lee giving two of her kids baths! 

After Lee finished, Te jumped in to share .  She too had a sick child and decided she would lay her hands on him and pray, by the power and blood of Jesus, that he would be healed.  Again. his sickness seemed to just vanish and the Healer did some powerful healing. 

Couldn't find a picture of Te and her son, but here's one with the two of us (along with a cute school girl)! 

Couldn't find a picture of Te and her son, but here's one with the two of us (along with a cute school girl)! 

Another woman shared a similar story of healing as the stories continued. 

The uneasiness in my mind grew as each woman shared about healing.  I found myself smiling on the outside, and even saying: "Praise Jesus".  But inside a battle was forming as I desperately felt the need to protect.  I fought the urges to tell the ladies that sometimes Jesus says 'no'.  Sometimes, He decides to allow the sickness for His glory.  This battle in my heart wanted to shield them from the possible disappointment and heartache that might come if Jesus did not heal.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit did not let me speak these things. 

What happened next is a powerful life lesson God used to break my prideful heart.  Another lady, Peap, began to share about her crops.  She and her husband had planted seeds and were waiting for rain so they would sprout.  Peap decided to pray and ask God to send rain, just for a day or two, until the seeds could sprout.  Her husband mocked her and said:  "Why do you pray to God for this?  He won't listen."  Peap's response changed me.  It taught me a huge lesson on the theology of God.  Peap replied:  "I am the daughter of God.  As His precious daughter, I am asking Him to send rain.  He is able to do that.  But even if He chooses not to send rain, I will still trust Him.  I am asking Him as my Father to send rain for His daughter, and I will trust whatever He decides.  He is God and He will decide what He wants."  Hours later, the rain fell. 

The tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to Peap share.  The Holy Spirit used her words to confront my own heart.  Who was I to think I needed to protect these women from their loving Father?  His plans are for their good, not for evil.  Why did I think I needed to protect any of them from His answers, His gifts, or His choices?  Peap's theology, and the theology of the women in the Landmine Design program was something God was teaching them.  He didn't need my help to educate them about His heart.  He certainly had firm control on it all and would continue to care for them way better than I ever possibly could. 

I learned theology -- the study of the nature/character of God -- is something that God is doing with and without my help.  In fact, He's using women in a remote village to challenge my heart and my own theology.  What a good Father!  All praise to Him. 

Thanks for reading...and for joining in prayer as God continues His work! 

Karla

Here are our Landmine Design women praying and laying hands on sweet Chan who was very sick and carried an IV to work with her.  The power of prayer at work among the sweetest village ladies!  Oh, and Jesus healed her! 

Here are our Landmine Design women praying and laying hands on sweet Chan who was very sick and carried an IV to work with her.  The power of prayer at work among the sweetest village ladies!  Oh, and Jesus healed her! 

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Stories from the Field // Chapter 1

Every few months, I am on the field in our LightBridge locations in southeast Asia.  This summer marked my 3rd trip so far this year.  After six weeks on the ground, I returned home late June tired but so thankful.  What an honor to be able to go; to see what God is doing out there...truly such an honor! 

As is often the case, the number of stories I want to share from the field are many -- stories that have often deeply impacted me.  My time in our locations is jam-packed from early morning til late night so the opportunity to post blogs is limited, at best.  In an effort to simply remember the stories, I typically list the topic of each in my journal, hoping it reminds me of the complex, intense, and often amazing things I saw Jesus do.  Sometimes after trips, I'm able to write a few of the narratives; the rest lay dormant in my memory and have never been formed into words. 

This summer, I hope to change that pattern.  Starting with this post, my desire is to take time to write about the incredible things God is doing.  I look through my list and am truly so stirred by the stories God is weaving.  To write them allows me the honor of sharing about God's handiwork.  Oh how He deserves so much more than my meager words, but it is what I hope to offer as I share the tapestries of His stories with you.

Stories from the Field // Chapter 1

Jonathan called me one afternoon in April with an idea.  Having been accepted as an intern for our summer teams, the time for his trip was approaching.  His excitement was easy to hear over the speaker on my phone.  "Karla, I have this crazy idea!  What if we hosted an evangelistic music camp in the village this summer?"  He went on to explain his heart for music and how he longed for the children in the village to understand part of God's creativity gaining a small vision of the world of music.  He unpacked his idea, which included raising enough money to purchase recorders for each child and teach them how to play songs. 

After hearing his idea, my first internal reaction was a tad on the negative side, if I'm honest.  I mean, how many squeaky songs did my own children learn to play on recorders they brought home from music class in elementary school?  The squawks and incessant practicing of 'Hot Cross Buns' echoed in our house for weeks!  Pushing those funny memories aside, I listened as Jonathan shared and couldn't help but join in his excitement.  We decided to move forward with the idea. 

Jonathan was able to raise enough funds to purchase 250 recorders, a slew of egg shakers, and a handful of harmonicas.  Not only that, his sweet mom, Joyce, wanted to be sure those recorders would last and be protected. She spent hours sewing cute little individual bags so each one would have a place to be stored. 

Just a few of our interns this summer...Jonathan is on the far right! 

Just a few of our interns this summer...Jonathan is on the far right! 

I wish I could express the joy on Jonathan's face the first day of music class in the village.  His lesson plans were simply to introduce the recorders and teach kids to blow into them and make squeaking noises.  As I walked by his first class, I listened to the children blowing loudly into their recorders.  Their honks were immediately followed by outbursts of giggles.  Then, I looked at Jonathan and saw sheer joy spread across his face.  It wasn't just a big smile; it was joy!  It was a moment where Jonathan saw his dream begin to happen in a dusty village in Cambodia. 

Sweet smiles filled the classrooms as children received their brand new recorders with covers! 

Sweet smiles filled the classrooms as children received their brand new recorders with covers! 

Jonathan's heart was to offer something to a village where luxuries, like musical instruments, are not normal.  Through the squeaks of noisy recorders, played by children lacking any musical talent whatsoever, we could hear the faint sound of actual songs played by those gifted with a skill of music they never knew they possessed.  And the music being learned is just the beginning of another thing God is doing in a remote village on the edge of Cambodia.  

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing...even for just reading about His stories!  Thought you might enjoy a little video Jonathan put together below.  Yea, the guy has crazy talent! 

Grace,

Karla

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The Cavalry...

Just six days ago, the cavalry arrived in Cambodia!  This group of missionaries from Japan and Korea (along with a college student and a US marine) jumped on flights to Cambodia, answering our cry for help.  You see, we are building a team center near Poipet Cambodia and needed some serious help building 26 bunk beds.  Learning of our need, these eight men decided to pay for their own flights and on-the-ground expenses to come out here to help us.  Their labor, gifts and attitudes have been nothing short of amazing! 

Working in the intense heat all day with hard and heavy wood, these guys have pulled together to build 26 solid bunk beds that will probably last until Jesus returns (kinda kidding, but mostly serious).  They came to serve us and to serve the teams that will work here in the years to come.  By doing so, they have completely overwhelmed my heart.  I feel so deeply humbled and honored by their willingness to join with us in this hugely needed way! 

One of the bunk rooms complete with all bunk beds! 

One of the bunk rooms complete with all bunk beds! 

The team of interns as well as folks from Colorado are busy now with hosting a music and arts VBS at the Minefield.  They are already doing a fantastic job and the children are loving every minute of it!  I'm excited to share more about the sweet things they are doing next prayer blog...

Thanks so much for continuing to pray for us.  We still are not in the team center and are praying the builder finishes this week.  Pray with us!! 

Thanks for your hearts and care for us! 

Karla

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Building in Cambodia

Hello Praying Friends...

I returned to Cambodia over a week ago, along with my oldest son, Caleb...such a blessing to have him see our world out here! We came help our on-the-ground staff, Zach and Dante, get things ready for teams we are hosting this summer.  It has been a hard and often pretty discouraging trip.  Some of you might know that Todd and I (along with dear friends, Dan and V Bragassa) partnered together to buy land here in Cambodia and build a team center.  It was a dream God gave to us over a year ago.  It is a scary dream in that a lot could go wrong, especially building and serving in a country like Cambodia.  Todd and I had to come to grips with the possibility that our meager savings and retirement could go up in smoke.  Trusting God’s leadership in this, we decided to follow, even with the trepidation. 

The plan (and building contract) has been that the team center would be fully complete by May 30.   We were planning to set things up inside, prepare the space for teams (making bunk beds, IKEA furniture, setting up the kitchen and oh-so-many things), and just be ready for when teams started to land. 

Yesterday, our first group landed.  They included eight interns and three sweet people who came early to help get things set up.   Unfortunately, we are staying in the hotel.  As of yesterday, there were no windows or doors on the team center.  There were no bathrooms, sinks or showers, and no electricity or running water. 

Hoping to have working toilets today!

Hoping to have working toilets today!

Being here early has given me a few opportunities to have some very hard conversations with the builder.  Walking humbly, acting justly and loving mercy has been my prayer focus as I seek to put those things into practice in new ways...and I’ve failed plenty, by the way.  Yesterday’s conversation was the most difficult one in which I had to simply hold the builder accountable for the contract and for the ways he hasn’t met the deadlines. 

It seems like something sparked for him.  I’m praising Jesus because late yesterday, there were a bunch more workers at the center.  It looked like they were putting in bathrooms and windows.   I’m more than excited to go back today and see what has been completed. 

The Kitchen...waiting on a faucet, windows and door...

The Kitchen...waiting on a faucet, windows and door...

Would you pray with me as the month of teams begins?  Here are some specific things to pray for:

1.     Pray that the team center would be completed in the next week.  That’s a tall order and will definitely take a miracle from God. 

2.     Pray for the training of the interns happening now.  My son, Zach, is leading that training and we’re so excited about the interns who have committed to serve for the entire month.  They will work in a variety of capacities and their primary role will be leading and caring for all the teams this summer.

3.     Pray for the group of Cadence missionaries who arrive in country today to help us build bunk beds and work on the team center for the next week.  I just can’t begin to tell you how honored and thankful I am for their willingness to come help…more on this later, but it feels like the cavalry is coming! 

Thanks for praying dear friends.   I'm excited to update you as the work here continues! 

Grace,

Karla

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Delinquent

The burning thought running through the back (and front of) my mind for several weeks has been the issue of my delinquency in drafting prayer blogs.  For reasons very frustrating to me, I seem to have gotten way out of the habit of writing these.  And then I get bogged down with the thought processing of where to even begin to catch up.  For those of you who follow and faithfully pray for the work of LightBridge, Thank you!  Seriously...thank you!  Please accept my humble apology for being so incredibly delinquent in keeping you up to date.  Your prayer covering matters more than I can articulate...and it matters way more than my delinquency would indicate.  

So, today I begin again at working to keep you updated.  I deeply want you know how to pray and how to join in deeper ways with the work God is doing in the various LightBridge locations. 

Much has happened in the past few months.  Since my last prayer blog (sigh) in November, we have seen God do many things.  One of the most exciting has been sending our very first LightBridge missionaries to live in Cambodia.  Dante Baca and Zach Tillapaugh arrived in Phnom Penh in early February and have been working hard in language school.  They have also battled lice, worms (Zach ended up losing almost 20 pounds his first month in country), and a few stomach issues.  Thankfully, de-worming meds work, and lice shampoo helps.  Both seem to have leveled off and are really doing well!  They will wrap up language school in the next couple of weeks and then will move to our new team center near Poipet Cambodia.  This will be their home as well as the new home for teams who will join us for years (we hope) to come. 

Would you please join me in praying over these young men?  Pray the language they've learned will be cemented into their minds as they begin the next stage of ministry in Cambodia.  Pray for the upcoming move to the border town of Poipet and for all the logistics required to make this move.  Finally, please pray for the many things they will need to do to prepare for the influx of teams coming the end of May through June, and beyond.  These next few months will be a busy and full season as these young men begin their ministry in Poipet.  

Thank you for praying!  Thank you for reading!  I'm excited to be more consistent in sharing the ways God is working and the many ways I long for you to pray with us! 

Grace,

Karla

 

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Election Perspective

This week, our nation is processing news of our election.  The divisions have been deep and even vicious.  As much as I am surprised/fascinated/shocked by what has happened, it pales in comparison to other news that has broken me to the core.  Today we are sharing news of a little orphanage in Burma.  

Jury’s Orphanage has been in existence for over 20 years.  It has resided inside a refugee camp in Thailand where 50,000 refugees from war-torn Burma have fled after enduring horrific attacks by the very army that should protect its citizens.  Thanks to the generosity and compassion of many sponsors, LightBridge has supported Jury’s Orphanage inside the refugee camp for 10 years.  

Two years ago Ga-Bleu, the orphanage director, sensed God leading them to a new location back in Burma.  We joined with Ga-Bleu in praying over this bold decision and helped support the establishment of a new home for Jury’s Orphanage inside Burma.  The location chosen had not experienced attacks from the Burmese Army for over 25 years so it seemed to be an ideal location to establish a new home for Jury’s.  In these two years, LightBridge has provided funds, support, care, and ongoing sponsorship as Jury’s built a new orphanage building on this property as well as began the building of a new school.  As a staff, we’ve visited this new location and prayed with the people there.  We had such hope!  We are deeply thankful for the donors who joined with us in providing the funds for this new hope and new home.  

One of Jury's new buildings in Burma

One of Jury's new buildings in Burma

Todd and Zach traveling to visit the new location in Burma during peaceful times

Todd and Zach traveling to visit the new location in Burma during peaceful times

Jordan holding one of the sweet children from the nearest village in Burma before the attacks

Jordan holding one of the sweet children from the nearest village in Burma before the attacks

Just a few days ago, we received tragic news.  In the past few weeks, Jury’s new home has suffered six major attacks from the Burmese Army.  The very army that should protect helpless children has been systematically attacking their new home as well as the village nearby.  We are deeply grateful to report all children and staff were able to evacuate their newly built home and property and have made it back to the refugee camp in Thailand.  With great anguish, we also report that the Burmese Army has overtaken Jury’s new property and is occupying the land and all buildings.  

Just one of the precious children who have now fled

Just one of the precious children who have now fled

As I type those words, I must be honest.  My blood boils.  What kind of people attack a helpless orphanage seeking a new life in the jungle of Burma?  What kind of people force children to evacuate their new home for fear of their very lives?  What kind of people invade that very orphanage by force and settle in as if it was their’s all along?  I know brutality and evil is all over the globe.  But, this is happening to people we dearly love.  This is happening to people we join in hoping for a future.  This has happened to land we helped clear and build upon.  This.  This makes me sick.    

Me holding one of the disabled children inside the new orphanage in Burma...during peaceful days that are now gone

Me holding one of the disabled children inside the new orphanage in Burma...during peaceful days that are now gone

So today, in the midst of the fall out of a peaceful election and transfer of power in my country, I am brought to a different perspective.  I’m so thankful for an army that protects its citizens — all of them.  I’m so thankful for an election process that is fair and orderly.  I’m so thankful for a country that can argue, stand on principles, fight with strong words, but also submit to the laws and live at peace.  I am thankful for the USA and for the privilege of living here and helping in places where such privileges don’t exist, like Burma.  

One thing we've learned in our time with GaBleu and the children is how incredibly resilient their hearts are. How hopeful they are when tragedy strikes because their dependence and their trust is in Jesus. And we join them in that. We're reminded of the scripture in Proverbs 13:12 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

And today, I am asking you to join me in praying over this entire situation. Will you continue to hope with us for Jury's Orphanage?  Our hearts are breaking over this tragedy for Jury’s.  Will you stand with us in prayer that the longing for peace in Burma, for safety for the children, that their dream of returning to their homeland WILL one day be fulfilled like a tree of life?  

GaBleu didn’t have time to sit in the space of heartbreak very long.  You see, her responsibility is to parent the children through this; to help them understand that although the new orphanage won’t be their new home anymore, it belonged to Jesus first anyway.  Gableu is already on to the next step.  She’s praying, discussing and searching for where the next location will be.  She has to.  For the lives and for the future of these precious children, she presses on.  We press on with her!   

Boat ride to the former location with Ga-Bleu during safer days

Boat ride to the former location with Ga-Bleu during safer days

Thank you for joining us in prayer.  We believe prayer will make the difference in this difficult situation.  If you’d like to help with the support for Jury’s, you can donate here:  lightbridgeonline.org/the-orphan/#jurys-orphanage.  

Karla

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Difference-Makers

What a treasure it has been to spend a couple days with our orphanages in Thailand this past week.  Spending time with the children at Huen Nam Jai and Blossom Home Orphanages often astounds me because I see the way the Lord is bringing His vision to life.  A vision the Lord led us to establish early in this work:  To raise children (& empower adults) to grow into quality adulthoods where they are sustainable and become difference-makers for Christ in their corner of the world. 

While I realize the children in our orphanages are growing up, I’m always a bit surprised to see their growth, hear of their dreams, and witness the profound ways God is moving His vision to reality in the lives of these quite amazing orphans…oh and by the way, His vision is happening in the midst of a 99% Buddhist culture – WHAT??!  So amazing!  Stories of orphans like: 

  • Japu – now serving as a dearly loved pasto

  • Chai – Newly married and seeking to honor Jesus in his marriage

  • Pae – Special education teacher who longs to find a godly husband

  • Lema – Working as a community developer and seeking Jesus

  • Maew – A pediatric nurse offering the peace of Jesus to children in her care

  • Momay – Spunky as ever and studying to be a nurse at university

  • Amee – A deliver nurse trying to grapple with the love of a Father for herself

  • Bay – A senior in the engineering university, teaching English and loving Jesus

  • Tao – A computer programmer who works pretty much non-stop

  • Nut – New high school graduate, beginning college this fall

  • Tiwagorn – A junior in high school with astounding English language skills…she wants to be a translator when she grows up

  • Abba – An amazing English-speaking high school junior who longs to be a missionary in her country teaching about Jesus to her own people. 

The sweet children and staff of Blossom Home Orphanage

The sweet children and staff of Blossom Home Orphanage

So tonight, my heart is deeply grateful for the ways God has been at work to accomplish His vision out here.  It’s funny because just last night, I felt the Lord compel me to lead our interns through Isaiah 55.  As we studied together, the passage just brought me to tears.  It talks about how God sends rain and snow to water the earth causing grain to grow and producing food for the hungry.  Then, the passage continues:

 “It is the same with my word.  I send it out and it ALWAYS produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper EVERYWHERE I send it.” 

Yep!  Those words sent me to unexpected tears, as I was teaching.  I realized that God has been and continues to produce fruit out here.  He has been sending it out!  And He promises that it will ALWAYS produce fruit! 

Can we just stop for a minute and bathe in that truth!?!  My heart is so grateful that He promises to produce fruit everywhere He sends out His word!  Tonight, that bath just feels amazing and gives me such hope and excitement for all the fruit just waiting to be produced! 

Thank you for joining me in this work…even just taking the time to read this prayer blog!  It blesses me and encourages me that you would read, pray and join in this work in this way! 

The next team arrives in our little village tomorrow afternoon. I’m so excited about the work these teams will do including:

  • Conduct two VBS programs for close to 200 kids
  • Host our second eye care clinics in two villages
  • Continue working in our various ministries out here

Thank you for praying!  The fruit continues to grow and His word is accomplishing all He wants it to out here…and EVERYWHERE!  Praise Jesus!

A few of the delightful children and staff at Huen Nam Jai Orphanage

A few of the delightful children and staff at Huen Nam Jai Orphanage

Grace...

Karla

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The Raw

Sometimes working in abject poverty is just raw.  It is this week.  We landed on this side of the globe a few days ago and spent the first day visiting the homes of ladies in our job creation program, LandMine Design. 

Pai and her daughter, Ganya, rolling beads in the LandMine Design building

Pai and her daughter, Ganya, rolling beads in the LandMine Design building

Pai was one of the ladies whose home we visited this week.  She is one of our newest hires in LandMine Design and lives about four miles from our headquarters.  Initially, she was so excited to have us visit her home.  Stepping into her hut, I looked at Pai and noticed her countenance had changed.  We sat together on her raised wooden bed (the only place to sit) and I asked her about the tears forming in her soft brown eyes.  As she shared, the tears escaped their pools and streaked down her dark cheeks; it didn’t take but a few seconds for them to stream down my white cheeks as well.  She pointed to the holes in her tin roof and to the ragged newspapers hanging as simple wall coverings as she confessed her humiliation.  Although initially excited for us to see her home, the condition of it stirred a deep shame inside Pai’s heart. 

Inside Pai's hut and the raised bed she and her daughter share.

Inside Pai's hut and the raised bed she and her daughter share.

The roof of Pai's home. 

The roof of Pai's home. 

There’s much I wish I could fully unpack about Pai’s story...

  • I wish I could share how Pai’s husband abandoned them when she gave birth to her disabled daughter.
  • I wish I could share the ways she seems invisible to her extended family.  They offer limited pity allowing Pai and her daughter to live in a hut not even fit for an animal, but provide no other assistance.  Pai must provide for all that she and her daughter need. 
  • I wish I could share that Pai lives further than any of our women and yet manages to show up on time even though she carries her handicapped daughter on a bicycle as she peddles four miles one-way to work each day.
  •  I wish I could share how Pai’s situation was brought to our attention over a year ago by one of the ladies in our LandMine Design program.  This particular lady used to be filled with jealousy and bitterness and has come to know Jesus.  He has transformed her life in such a way that she now sheds tears regularly over Pai’s situation. 
  • I wish I could share about the beautiful jewelry Pai produces in LandMine Design; she works diligently without ever complaining. 
  • I wish I could share how heartbreaking it is to see the ways her daughter suffers and how desperately I pray that Jesus heals her. 

Yes, there’s much I wish I could fully share with you about Pai’s story.  Just one bullet point above would take a full blog to share.  I wish you could hear them all…

But the sweetest thing I wish I could fully tell is how, as only God would do, a few people have learned of Pai’s story and offered to help with the funds necessary to build her a new home.  I can’t tell you how excited we are to be able to actively help Pai in this desperately needed way.   I hope our teams can help with the building process of Pai’s new home while we are here and I promise to send pictures as the building commences. 

Pai and Ganya in front of their hut. 

Pai and Ganya in front of their hut. 

We’d so appreciate your prayers over our teams this month.  I began this prayer blog three days ago and just haven’t been able to get it wrapped up!  As you read this, our first team will be preparing to spend their last day in the village.  I can hardly believe this team’s ministry in the village is complete already.  They have been serious champs hosting a VBS for the children in our school, going hut to hut to gather census information from villagers, interviewing children in our sponsorship program, and working with the sweet ladies in LandMine Design.  It’s been a full week with little time for much else. 

To those of you praying for our team, we thank you!  I so appreciate your prayer covering even when you’re not sure what to pray about.  God does!  And He has been active in this little village on the edge of Cambodia!  It is raw…and it is so very good! 

The best part of worshiping with the ladies of LandMine Design has been watching Ganya break into a smile each time.  How I long for heaven when the chains that hold her body captive are broken and she is free! 

The best part of worshiping with the ladies of LandMine Design has been watching Ganya break into a smile each time.  How I long for heaven when the chains that hold her body captive are broken and she is free! 

Grace,

Karla

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Miracles and Fruit

It starts out simple enough.  For every seasonal jewelry collection in LandMine Design (our job creation/education program in the MineField Village), our Creative Manager, Kristie, gathers paper beads (rolled by hand by the ladies in our program in Cambodia).  With these beads, Kristie creates prototypes -- necklaces and bracelets -- mixing metals and beads together.  What she creates is sheer loveliness.  Seriously. 

The Lana Necklace from the Spring 2016 Collection

The Lana Necklace from the Spring 2016 Collection

Using these prototype designs, the next steps are anything but simple.  This spring collection is nothing short of a miracle.  I just had to stop and write about these miracles because I'm stunned by the ways God works in bringing an entire collection from a MineField in Cambodia to our offices in Colorado.  As my prayer team, I'd love for you to thank Jesus with me about this.  I think you might be encouraged to read a little more deeply about the process and see the hand of God working even in something that may not seem super 'spiritual'.  I mean it is just jewelry after all...oh but what miracles happen when God is at work, even in a jewelry program.   

*  In January, We hand carried these lovely prototypes across oceans, highways and borders to southeast Asia.  Weeks earlier, we had made the decision to not purchase materials from our normal US supplier and instead took the dive to find a new supplier on that side of the ocean.  It was a pretty big risk.  Not knowing how or where we would find the supplies for this spring collection (chains, clasps, seed beads, etc), we spent the first two days in our fuzzy jet-lagged state scouring crowded markets in the bustling metropolis of Bangkok. 

We had the prototypes in hand, strong coffee in the other, and we asked the Lord to supernaturally lead us to just the right supplier.  We walked to countless hole-in-the-wall jewelry stalls.  And let me tell you, these are truly holes in the wall places that are intermingled with crowds, street vendors, smelly food, humidity, heat, and people pushing from every direction.  It's not the most fun shopping experience, but it is Bangkok.  

Not finding any possibilities before lunch, we stopped to refuel and ate some yummy noodles at a sketchy looking street vendor (thankfully, the boiled water kills oh-so-many germs).  Our search continued that afternoon and we knew God was leading when He directed us into a shop that didn't look anything like a jewelry supplier -- actually none of them look like what you'd expect a jewelry supplier to look like...again, it's Bangkok.  Once inside the narrow little space, we met Charlie who spoke fluent English and was a jewelry supplier for such places as Nordstroms and Macy's.  Yea, we were shocked by that too!  He led us to the back of his shop where we were blown away to find all kinds of jewelry supplies imaginable; they were stacked floor to ceiling.  We were overwhelmed and knew God had led us to our new supplier! 

Me and Charlie inside his incredible store! 

Me and Charlie inside his incredible store! 

*  Ordering from Charlie was easy enough; but the order couldn't be filled immediately, so we continued on the following day to the MineField Village -- without any supplies.  Those would come several weeks later...we hoped.  Once in the village, our team worked with the ladies to make sure they understood how to make each piece for the new spring collection.

*  While in the village, we also spent time with the ladies teaching about the names of each piece in this collection.  What isn't known on our landeminedesign.org website is that for this collection, each piece is named after the different fruits of the Spirit.  You see, our work in evangelism and discipleship is of paramount importance in all our programs, including LandMine Design.   What joy it was to teach these fruits of the Spirit to the sweet ladies of LandMine Design and for them to understand how God is growing these fruits in their lives.  You can see the pieces here and the names and meanings below: 

               Lana -- Peace

               Rae -- Grace

               Adora -- Love

               Elise -- Kindness

               Eden -- Delight

               Lily -- Beauty

               Adelaide -- Forbearance

               Maeve -- Joy

Teaching the sweet ladies about the Fruit of the Spirit [pc: Jennifer Elrod]

Teaching the sweet ladies about the Fruit of the Spirit [pc: Jennifer Elrod]

*  We left Cambodia and returned to the states without any jewelry.  The plans were set for the supplies (from Charlie in Bangkok) to arrive at the border a few weeks after our departure.  Although the plans were in place and payments had been made, this was completely new territory.  Would the materials actually arrive in our little village?  Would the supplies be of good enough quality?  Would the ladies understand the chain to be used for the different pieces?  What if something didn't arrive?  Oh, there were so many unknowns.  We returned to the states and just prayed that God would supernaturally eliminate all our concerns. 

*  Three weeks later, we received confirmation that the supplies had arrived at the border and made their way to our little village.  By God's grace, Charlie had prepared the order, packaged it up, sent it on the 4-hour courier ride from Bangkok to the border where our manager was able to somehow meet up with the courier and carry the package across the border.  To be honest, that feat alone was an absolute miracle.  Truly.  Only God could have safely delivered that package where it needed to go.  Praise Jesus! 

*  The ladies then went to work on creating all the pieces you see on the website for this spring collection.  Weeks earlier, they had carefully rolled each bead (from paper) to be used for these pieces.  With skillful fingers, their designs were woven together into the amazing lovely designs named after the fruit of the Spirit. 

Peap learning how to make one of the new designs. [pc:  Jennifer Elrod]

Peap learning how to make one of the new designs. [pc:  Jennifer Elrod]

*  Once completed, the jewelry was packaged up to begin its journey back to America.  Earlier in March, I 'happened' to meet new friends who just 'happened' to be traveling to southeast Asia and just 'happened' to be returning to America via Bangkok at just the time that our jewelry would be completed.  Imagine that!  They graciously agreed to be our delivery people bringing this entire collection with them back to the USA -- saving us hundreds of dollars in shipping costs.  The key was to get the jewelry to their hotel in Bangkok before they flew out...

I wish I could say we went online and scheduled a pick up and delivery with FED Ex, but it just doesn't work like that in those countries!  Instead, our manager on the ground packaged up the various pieces and carried them by foot across the Thai/Cambodian border.  Once across, she had to locate the courier -- whom we had frantically arranged hours before (a story in and of itself).  Waiting along with a slew of other taxis and couriers, she miraculously found him and handed over this precious package, trusting he would be a man of integrity and safely deliver it in a timely manner to a specific hotel in Bangkok.  It wasn't just any package.  It was filled with lovely jewelry handmade by sweet ladies in Cambodia, with materials that somehow managed to find their way from a hole-in-the-wall shop in Bangkok to a remote village on the edge of Cambodia.  Only God! 

Because of the time difference (13 hours ahead of the USA), we went to bed that night asking the Lord to protect that precious package and miraculously deliver it to the hotel in Bangkok.  There was literally nothing else we could do but pray, hope...and sleep!  I awoke the following morning to a phone call from our friends in Bangkok.  The package had arrived and was safe in their hotel room, packed up and ready for their flight back to America.  What an enormous answer to prayer. 

I know this email is full of details.  But I hope that you will join me in thanking Jesus for the incredible ways He provided, protected, orchestrated and delivered this entire collection.  We are affectionately calling it the Miracle Collection because bringing this collection from a muddy MineField in Cambodia to the marketplace of America is filled with miracle after miracle.  I hope you'll take some time to visit landminedesign.org and see the lovely things that miraculously have arrived and are now being sold to empower and sustain women in poverty in remote Cambodia. 

Miracles are happening; fruit is growing.  And we are so thankful for His care in it all! 

Thanks for praying and praising with me! 

Karla

 

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Third Grade is Not Enough!

Hello Prayer Partners! 

Third Grade is Not Enough!  We've been making that statement for well over a year now and it feels even more significant today.  Six years ago, God graciously provided the funds (through many of you!) to build the very first school in the MineField Village!  It has been incredible to see the transformation happening in that remote village...and it all began with two little school buildings! 

Within the walls of those buildings, we have been honored to introduce sweet village children to the concept of learning for the very first time.  I'm not an educator, but my heart is so overjoyed to see the lovely things happening in kid's lives as they begin learning for the first time.  Within these same walls, we have been delighted to share the life changing message of Jesus with these children as well.  

One of the sweetie-pies in front of the current school building...she will begin school in the next year or two!

One of the sweetie-pies in front of the current school building...she will begin school in the next year or two!

Six years ago, with limited building space and resources, we enrolled 120 students -- all of whom started in first grade.  This year, over 160 children are receiving a pretty stellar education in first through third grade, as well as receiving a nutritious meal each school day.  However, it's always been hard for us that the education in our village stops at third grade.  That has meant children who wanted to continue on to 4th grade and beyond had to travel a couple miles away (by foot or bike) on a busy and dangerous road, to the local government school in order to continue.  For some children, continuing on was not an option so their education completely stopped at third grade.  That has been so troubling for us as a staff.  The past couple of years, the villagers have been asking if we would build and continue educating past third grade.  We joined with them in asking the Lord to provide for such a wish! 

I'm beyond delighted to say that the Lord has heard the requests of these villagers and has provided the funds (again, through many of you) to build the next school building so we can increase education to include 4th and 5th grades.  Today, we began the process of building that new school building and I simply couldn't be more excited! 

Building supplies began to arrive this week! 

Building supplies began to arrive this week! 

Thank you to those of you who gave sacrificially, so that fourth and fifth grade can become a reality.  I can't wait to share the pictures as construction continues.  Would you join us in thanking the Giver of such good gifts for providing for this next phase of learning in a deeply loved village in Cambodia.

Thanking Jesus! 

Karla

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Jewelry Supplies

Hello Prayer Team...

Thank you for praying for us and the team that ministered in the new village last week.  Wow! They were an incredible group of people who worked hard, played hard, processed well, asked great questions, and saw the Lord work in some pretty big ways in their hearts!  Such a great group!  The Lord used them to help begin tilling the soil in this new village for the work of the Gospel.  What joy to see His tilling happening as He advances His Kingdom...and we have the privilege to be a part of it!  Really so grateful! 

The Okinawa team and some of the kids who had a blast in Bible school this past week! 

The Okinawa team and some of the kids who had a blast in Bible school this past week! 

We were able to send the team back to Okinawa on Jan 2 and then the four Tillapaugh's traveled from Cambodia to Chiang Mai so we could have some time with dear Cadence missionaries here (two birds with one stone kinda deal).  We've so enjoyed reconnecting with these folks and Todd has had some good time with the staff he oversees here.  It's also been good to have time together as the Tillapaugh's (minus Caleb) before Todd and Jojo head back to the USA tomorrow night.  Would appreciate your prayers for safety in their long travel back. 

Photo with leaders of the new village.

Photo with leaders of the new village.

Zach and I will remain on this side of the ocean to meet some of my LightBridge staff and next team coming this week.  We will spend a couple of days in Bangkok before the team arrives, gathering jewelry supplies for our job creation program, LandMine Design.  We're a bit nervous about this as we've never sourced from here, but have instead brought all supplies from the states up until this point.  We've got a lot of work to do in a very short two days.  Would you please pray for divine connections with wholesalers who have just what we need for this next round of jewelry production...and for incredible pricing too.  Spring 2016 is knocking at the door and we will need these supplies to carry to Cambodia on Jan 8 to work with the ladies in the program for this next round. 

If you haven't already checked out the winter collection, please take a gander at our site:  landminedesign.org.  The pieces are lovely...and I think the spring collection will be just as beautiful!  As you probably know, God is using this program to feed families in the MineField Village and also providing an education for the sweet ladies in our program.  We are so grateful for how He has continued to provide through sales and gifts from many (including many of you...so, thank you!). 

And thanks for continuing to pray over us as we move forward with the next team this week.  Your prayers are such an encouragement and really are impacting this work.  I just can't express how grateful I am for you! 

Grace...

Karla

Andrea Hutchings and I enjoying a moment during all the Bible school chaos!   

Andrea Hutchings and I enjoying a moment during all the Bible school chaos! 

 

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New Year, New Village, New Hope...

Hello Prayer Team! 

What fun it has been to host a Bible school for 100 children in a village near the MineField Village these past few daysFor those of you who have been praying about this new village and the building of relationships this past week, Thank YOU!!!  The Bible school has been really wonderful; the children are incredibly receptive and endearingly sweet; the team hosting the Bible school has done an amazing job sharing the stories of God as our Creator.  For children who have no knowledge basis of God, the lessons have been incredibly on-target.  Their work at teaching about a Creator who loves us is laying a strong foundation for evangelism to continue in this new village...hopefully for years to come.  

One of the boy monks was in class the first day.  I prayed often for him as he wasn't allowed to participate in the Bible school activities. 

One of the boy monks was in class the first day.  I prayed often for him as he wasn't allowed to participate in the Bible school activities. 

Just a few of the smiles we've seen all week!

Just a few of the smiles we've seen all week!

Such endearing kids who won our hearts from the moment we met!

Such endearing kids who won our hearts from the moment we met!

Today, we had the opportunity to meet the village leaders and learn more of their heart and desires for their village.  Inhabited by refugees from Laos, this village has a rich history spanning decades.  The leaders are deeply eager and open for help in teaching their children.  Just five years ago, a Christian couple moved into the village and built a church right in the heart of the settlement.  From what I understand, the reception to the gospel was strong and drew many villagers.  I'm not clear what happened exactly, but somehow the couple had to move out of the village and the doors to the church were closed and have remained closed since.  The village leaders seem willing to open the church again if they had a leader who would come and teach them.  The sheep in this village have been without a shepherd for a long time and are yearning for a new shepherd to help them understand the truths of the God who loves them.  

Todd with one of the village leaders.

Todd with one of the village leaders.

Would you join me in praying about this new village?  Please join us in praying about our involvement in this new village.  The doors are wide open; the villagers are eager for help in teaching their children; they seem to be ripe for harvest.  Would you pray with us about our involvement in this village in the months ahead.  Pray for clarity and wisdom for the Lord.  If we are to begin working in this village, please pray for leading to find the right person to begin shepherding this village and for the right people to begin teaching the children. 

We were also able to visit the MineField Village yesterday and share with the team about the incredible things the Lord has done there in the past six years.  Such joy!!  The picture below was taken in our new LandMine Design Headquarters.  The beauty of this building is something to behold and it is indeed SUCH a gift from the Lord!  What joy to share about His work from this new space! 

Several of the ladies in our program came to greet our team and share a bit about their lives and the impact LandMine Design has had upon their families. 

Several of the ladies in our program came to greet our team and share a bit about their lives and the impact LandMine Design has had upon their families. 

Thanks for praying with us, friends!  We're excited to see what the Lord does and how He expands His territory in this part of the world! 

Grace...oh, and Happy New Year!! 

Karla

Photo credit:  David Hutchings -- love your amazing shots, David! 

 

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Wrapping up 2015

Hello Prayer Team...

As we prepare for the coming celebration of Jesus' birth, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for you!  You are an encouragement to my heart in the ways you join with us in caring for the Orphan and the Poor through your faithful prayer support, encouraging words and sacrificial gifts.  Before the year comes to an end, I want to celebrate the work God is doing through you.  Here are just a few of His workings this past year:

  • Building of the new LandMine Design headquarters -- With profound gratitude, the Lord burdened a new friend's heart with the need for a proper workplace for the ladies in our job creation program (for the past two years, we had been meeting/working in the village's small medical clinic).  We can hardly believe the beauty of this building and pray that the Lord would expand the program in mighty ways so we may employ and educate many more women from within this new space.  Currently, we are so blessed to employ 12 women in the program as well as two indigenous managers and one driver/security guard.  How thankful we are to see this program growing and excelling. 
The new LandMine Design headquarters getting painted in September! 

The new LandMine Design headquarters getting painted in September! 

  • Diminished failure to thrive -- Thanks to many of you who sponsor kids in the MineField or give to the ongoing work, we have been able to provide lunch each school day to the 135 kids enrolled in the LightBridge school.  Not only are these kids receiving a top-notch education, they are doing so with full bellies, able and eager to learn.  Failure to thrive used to be so common in the village.  Today, we see kids growing into healthy bodies that empower intelligent minds to learn.
Failure to thrive was seen in this picture from 2012 when both our daughter, Jordan, and sweet Nik were 12 years of age.  The difference in body size was shocking to us then.

Failure to thrive was seen in this picture from 2012 when both our daughter, Jordan, and sweet Nik were 12 years of age.  The difference in body size was shocking to us then.

What a difference proper nutrition makes.  This picture was taken this past summer of the same two girls.  Due to increased nutrition, Nik's body is growing fast.  Both girls are now 15 years of age and the size gap has lessened significantly.  How grateful we are to see the amazing ways God has been at work! 

What a difference proper nutrition makes.  This picture was taken this past summer of the same two girls.  Due to increased nutrition, Nik's body is growing fast.  Both girls are now 15 years of age and the size gap has lessened significantly.  How grateful we are to see the amazing ways God has been at work! 

  • Orphans growing up -- Thanks to faithful sponsors who lovingly pray and give, the orphans in our LightBridge orphanages are growing up to know the love of their Creator, enjoy the safety of a loving home and receive an education through college.  Orphan care is an ongoing ministry that happens over years and years.  How grateful I am for so many of you who give and sponsor to see this ministry continue each and every year. 
  • Refugees returning to their homeland -- This year, we have been honored to continue providing sponsorship funds from many of you for Jury's Orphanage as they prepare to return to their home country of Burma to live in the jungle.  We trust the Lord to protect and continue to provide for Jury's Orphanage, through you, as they plan to move in the next few months.  Our hearts are burdened for their safety, but also challenged by their vision and obedience to bring the message of Jesus to their own country. 
Accessible only by boats (like this), Jury's new orphanage will be situated remotely in Burma.

Accessible only by boats (like this), Jury's new orphanage will be situated remotely in Burma.

I hope these snapshots give you a glimpse of the work God is doing through you in the LightBridge locations just this past year.  Would you continue to cover the work of LightBridge in your prayer support during this holiday season?  Here are some specific things to be praying about:

  • We will be leading a team of military members/families to a new village in Cambodia the day after Christmas.  The stellar education happening at the LightBridge school in the MineField has gained a strong reputation among other local schools, including the school at this new (to us) village located near the MineField.  As an organization, we seek to lead with relationship first before becoming involved with finances or resources.  Thanks to this team of military folks from Okinawa, Japan, we will begin to build relationships with this village by hosting a VBS for the children in the school.  Would you please pray for the Spirit to work through this time as it will be the very first time this village has heard the message of the Gospel?  Pray for clarity in teaching, safety for the team members and great movement in the hearts of the team as they love on the children of this village. 
  • Our family (Todd, Karla, Zach and Jordan) will be leading this team.  Please pray for all the logistics to fall into place, for our communication and working together as a family working together, for safety in all travel, and for a keen sense in leading this team well into understanding more of the heart of God for the Poor.  We are excited for the truly incredible privilege it is to return to Cambodia as a family and to be a part of leading this team into the new village. 
  • Shortly after the team from Okinawa returns to Japan, we will meet a second team from Colorado who will be working with us in all of our LightBridge locations.  We will also be doing a lot of sourcing work for our job creation program during this second team.  Please pray for covering from the Lord during this time as well.  I look forward to sharing the stories on that side of the ocean!

Finally, would you pray about the financial need at the year-end for LightBridge?  We are trusting the Lord to provide for the ongoing work during the final days of 2015 so that we may reach our budget goals for this past year.  We also are praying for the Lord to provide the remaining funds needed to build two schools: one in Cambodia and the other in Burma in 2016.  I know there are many places, people, and ministries you may give to; if the Lord is leading you to give a special year-end gift to LightBridge, I'd be so grateful for your investment and involvement in this way.  I hope you will join us in praying during this Christmas season and also consider giving a special gift, as the Lord leads you.  All gifts postmarked or given online by January 31, 2015, are tax deductible for this year. 

Thank you for standing with us again this past year!  I hope each of you has time this Christmas to savor the season with the Lord and with your loved ones.  I also pray that the celebration of the birth of Jesus holds many beautiful surprises for you...kinda like the many surprises His birth brought 2,000 years ago!

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Karla

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Two New Schools

Hi Prayer Team...

Starting tomorrow, we will be hosting The LightBridge Non-Event.  How I'd appreciate your prayer covering over this entirely online fund raising endeavor which will happen each day from October 20-27. 

Last year was our first try at such an event.  God was so faithful and galvanized an online army of individuals joining together and sacrificially giving to carry on the work He has been doing in caring for the Orphan.  

This year, we felt the Lord leading us in this direction as well and we are very excited about all that He has in store.  Instead of investing in a one-time banquet in one location, we've created a space online for partners, donors and friends from all over the world to participate, saving valuable resources and maximizing the opportunity for many people to join in the work God is doing to advance His Kingdom.

Each day, we will post stories (and videos) written by our staff unpacking and redefining the words "armed and dangerous".  Hopefully, the words alone are intriguing and draw you to join us in finding out their redefined meaning and how God is working to utilize these words in very different ways.  We believe He is asking us to partner together in raising the funds to build two schools in two different countries at two of our LightBridge locations.  Would you join us each day starting tomorrow, October 20 and ending on October 27?   

And would you pray?  We've been working for many weeks writing the stories, preparing the videos, and updating our Website in anticipation of this week.  I can't tell you how excited I am for you, and many others, to read and watch what God is doing and how He is directing for the coming months.  But, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't share the nervousness in my heart wondering about how these much needed funds will come in.  Our goal is $50,000...yes, it's a very ambitious goal.  In all honesty, my heart struggles to just simply trust His provision and faithfulness all the while knowing He is the Faithful Provider.  The tension is so real in my heart.  So, would you pray?  Pray for my heart to rest and trust.  Pray that many would join in the Non-Event; that many would read and watch the stories; that many would choose to give in surprising ways; and that God would provide exactly what we need to see these schools be built in the coming months.     

It's something I believe in deeply and think you will truly enjoy!  Again, the event runs from October 20-27 (I think I've mentioned this a few times) ;0).  May I also ask you to invite your friends to follow along as well.  I hope you enjoy reading a collection of stories that have the ability to touch your heart in a new way and participate in advancing God's Kingdom on the earth.  

Simply click this link each day starting tomorrow:  http://www.lightbridgeonline.org/

You can also follow and share our FaceBook, Instagram & Twitter posts each day, inviting others to journey during this week.  Simply type in LightBridge International and follow along. 

Thank you for praying and for joining us October 20-27! 

Grace,

Karla

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From the mud of a MineField...

Hello Prayer friends....

If you've been following my Facebook posts, you know that I'm back in Cambodia this week working with the sweet ladies in our job creation program, LandMine Design.  It has already been a very full week with lots of things happening, lots of difficulties, and lots of ways that God is faithful...again and again!  Thank you for praying over several things already during this trip.

Caught a ride on a villager's tractor this morning...what a blessing! 

Caught a ride on a villager's tractor this morning...what a blessing! 

It's rainy season here and that means mud...lots and lots and LOTS of mud!  The mud prohibits vehicles traveling from the main road into our village.  We instead have had to walk the mile into and out of the village (or catch a ride on a villager's tractor).  I don't think I can adequately describe the muck of trudging through mud that is never ending.  Each time I think about complaining, I look around and realize that I will leave the village in a few hours, return to my hotel room, and take a shower washing away the mud until I return the next day.  The sweet villagers who call this place home, don't have the privilege of washing the mud away in a clean shower.  It is a constant and never-ending battle until the sun reappears and dries the ground again.  Perspective. 

The main reason I am here this week is because of an order we received from a company called Sevenly (www.sevenly.org).  These amazing folks learned of our work and contacted us a couple months ago asking if they could include our little organization into their 'Causebox'.  The Causebox is sent out to 4,000 subscribers every quarter filled with various items from social enterprise agencies, like LandMine Design.  These subscribers receive their box and learn about so many organizations that are doing good work in all kinds of locations around the globe. 

We were absolutely shocked and honored that Sevenly wanted to partner with us in this way.  Of course, we said 'yes!' and began the preparations for the ladies here to create 4,000 (gulp!) lovely pieces of jewelry.  It has been quite an undertaking, to say the least.  But, what an incredible blessing from the Lord as we see His hand at work blessing our ladies with such an order and giving this program the opportunity for such visibility.  Our LandMine Design piece will be included in the Holiday Causebox...yet another huge blessing from the Lord!

Srey Roth working from her home to complete her assignments this week.

Srey Roth working from her home to complete her assignments this week.

I'm deeply thankful that the Lord allowed me to be here during this week as I am also able to see the nearly completed new LandMine Design headquarters.  This past summer, a generous donor was burdened that the ladies in our program didn't have a headquarters of their own.  She graciously gave the funds needed to build the amazing building you see below.  It is the newest building on our 'campus' and will be the home for LandMine Design.  To walk into this space is really like a dream.  I just don't think I can express how excited I am for what this means for our current ladies and all the ladies we hope to employ in the years to come.  What a gift from the hands of our Faithful God! 

There's much more I could write about while the rain continues to pour down outside my window this afternoon.  Let me close up with a few prayer items:

~ Praise the Lord with me that my co-worker, Amreitha, has recovered fully from a bout of food poisoning that happened our first day in country.  Amreitha is pregnant with her first baby, so we're deeply thankful for the protection for both her and her baby.  She's now able to work with me as we continue this week.  We won't be eating anymore omelets though...

~ Please pray for the ladies in our program as they work tirelessly this week to complete the 4,000 necklaces we will carry back with us on Sunday.  This is the largest production round they've had to do, and they are doing so well.  Please pray for their stamina, clarity, and joy even in the midst of the rain, mud, and endless crafting of jewelry.  They will be excited to be finished on Sunday and receive the pay for their incredible work! 

~ Please pray for the many conversations we are having and will continue to have.  So much is happening and there is so much we need wisdom about and clear thinking on as we consider things that could have effects for a long time. 

Thanks for praying with me and joining me on another journey to Cambodia! 

Grace...

Karla


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Deeper Meanings

Many of you know that we run a job creation program called LandMine Design (www.landminedesign.org). The sweet ladies from the program in the MineField Village roll beads out of paper and create lovely pieces of jewelry that we bring back to America and sell at various events and online. These sales generate the funds from which we are able to hire more women as well as pay the women a monthly wage so they may feed their families. This program is part of the holistic development God has graciously allowed us to do in Cambodia.

We began by employing six women two years ago, and have now grown to 12 women, two managers, and one driver/security guard.  In total, 15 Cambodian nationals are now employed and are able to feed their families through the sales of LandMine Design jewelry.  Even more exciting is how we are able to share the gospel and disciple the ladies in the program each week.  We are seeing Jesus change their hearts and their lives; we just couldn’t be more thrilled about all He is doing!

While LandMine Design is a program of LightBridge, we have many customers from all walks of life and from all religious belief systems.  Our heart is that customers experience a taste of the goodness of the Lord from what the jewelry represents as well as what is happening in the lives of women in a minefield.  The responses have been incredible; customers have purchased jewelry and have been so touched by the story that is happening out there.  How grateful we are for them!   

Since the beginning of this program, we’ve had several requests from men asking if we would produce a men’s line. We realized that men really want to be a part of the story God is writing for women through this program. So just last week, we launched a two-piece item that we’re calling The Fellow. We’re so excited about it! The Fellow includes a bracelet handmade by a woman in our program as well as a leather pouch which protects the bracelet. The leather pouch was handmade by a local leather craftsman and friend of ours who wanted to use his God-given abilities to help the work happening in LandMine Design.  

We decided to pair the leather pouch with the bracelet because of what each represents. The bracelet signifies the woman who created it, and just as the pouch protects the bracelet, so does the purchase protect a woman’s life. We began an initiative with The Fellow called The Fellowship of 52. For every 52 Fellows purchased, we are able to hire one more woman into the program in the MineField Village. You can read more about all of this on our website:  www.landminedesign.org.  

As a Christ-centered organization, I want to ask you to join us in praying over this new initiative. While we choose to not delve into the deeper spiritual meanings on the LandMine Design site, there is deeply rooted meaning behind the work of LandMine Design, including The Fellow and the Fellowship of 52. Our hope is that men rally around this initiative in earnest ways that go beyond just wearing the bracelet and using the case. I hope men who love Jesus purchase The Fellow and spend time praying over the woman who made the bracelet as well as the women we are able to hire because of the Fellowship of 52. The idea of a Fellowship of 52 men who band together for one woman is powerful to me and, again, has such significant spiritual meaning. Would you pray over this initiative with us? Pray that many would band together so that we are able to hire several women in the coming months. Also pray that God would be glorified and that many would come to a saving and life changing relationship with Him through Jesus!  

I also want to invite you to consider becoming a part of the Fellowship of 52. Perhaps you're a lady who knows of a particular gentleman you'd like to gift The Fellow to, we'd so love that.  We're well on our way to the first Fellowship of 52 being reached giving us the ability to hire one more woman in the village.  

Thanks for praying with us!!  

Karla

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Waiting...

Several of you have emailed or asked about Srey Mom.  First off, thank you for checking in and for praying.  I've waited to update you on anything as I've wanted to share progress and ways that the Lord has answered prayer.  Unfortunately, it seems that nothing has changed.  Srey Mom is still gone; no one has seen or heard from her. 

How I wish I could share great news of ways God has specifically answered our collective prayers.  There is no new news to share.  So with heaviness, I simply am writing to ask you to continue praying.  I sense that this is not over.  And I believe that our prayers still matter in Srey Mom's life. 

Thank you for continuing to pray with us.  I trust God's faithfulness and love for Srey Mom and am fervently praying that He works in powerful ways in her life!  And I'm so thankful for your faithfulness in praying with us!

Grace...

Karla

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A Prodigal Daughter

Srey Mom is on the left, and is pictured with Volek, another young woman in the program.

Srey Mom is on the left, and is pictured with Volek, another young woman in the program.

Thank you for praying for our sweet Srey Mom.  I'm writing to give you an update so you know how to pray as this saga continues. 

This week. we learned that Srey Mom went through with a shot-gun wedding and married her 17-year old boyfriend.  Sometime in the past week, Srey Mom decided not to wait for a month or two and has also left with her now-husband to work at a banana plantation in a remote part of Thailand.  As you can imagine, news like this is so hard to hear and process for us as a staff as well as for our in-country managers and ladies in our program.  We are all deeply saddened by it.

Today, our in-country program manager, Leakhenna, visited Srey Mom's parents in the village.  We were so thankful to learn that they are terribly upset about the situation and were not in favor of the marriage or Srey Mom going to Thailand to work.  Don't misunderstand me;  I'm not happy that they are so upset.  Too often, families in poverty situations such as this don't see the bigger picture.  They typically simply follow the same pattern that has been deeply rooted and the cycle of poverty is replayed over and over again for generations.  What I am thankful for is that Srey Mom's parents see a different future for her.  They hoped for something far beyond repeating the cycle of poverty. 

Srey mom on the left and her new husband on the right.

Srey mom on the left and her new husband
on the right.

Srey Mom's new husband.

Srey Mom's new husband.

We also learned that they are trying to contact Srey Mom and push her to return to the village.  Our in-country manager, Leakhenna, also will try to contact Srey Mom and let her know that we will hold her job with LandMine Design, if she will return. 

Now, I'm asking you to pray with us in this next phase.  Honestly, I just have a sense that God isn't finished with this story.  My son, Zach, shared that it feels like a Prodigal daughter story.  It does feel that way.  Would you pray with us about these things specifically: 

  • That Srey Mom's parents and Leakhenna are able to contact her.
  • That Srey Mom is seeing the reality of her choices and that she would desire to make different ones.
  • That the Lord would be her Protector (and her new husband's).  The ladies in the program informed us that they are very worried about the safety of these two.   Whether it's rumor or true, we've learned that the plantation owners often are cruel and create problems with their migrant workers so they don't have to pay them.  From what the ladies say, sometimes, these owners take drastic measures and injure the workers, or worse.  Please pray for Srey Mom and her husband's protection from harm. 
  • Srey Mom doesn't have a passport so is traveling illegally.  Without such documentation, she has no rights in Thailand and therefore can be easily taken advantage of. 
  • That Srey Mom and her new husband would return immediately. and seek to remedy the situation that they've created. 
  • That their hearts would be convicted of wrongdoing and that they would desire to be made right with the Lord, with their families, with their schools, and with the LandMine Design program. 

To be honest, I have great hope for what God can do...and I'm praying that He will!  The ladies in our program have been gathering together to pray over Srey Mom as well and that gives me such deep hope.  They are praying on their own, without the leadership of our staff or in-country managers.  How incredibly hopeful is that? 

So would you join us in continuing to pray?  Thank you for walking this road with us...the road of the Prodigal Daughter!  Together, let's pray her home! 

With Great Hope,

Karla

Srey Mom with Amreitha, our Director of Advocacy

Srey Mom with Amreitha, our Director of Advocacy

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ONE VOICE

Hello Prayer Team,

Today, I'm sending you an email from my dear friend and co-laborer, Amreitha Jeeva.  She is our Director of Advocacy for LightBridge International.  This week, we learned some difficult news about one of the ladies in our job creation program, LandMine Design (www.landminedesign.org).  We're asking our collective prayer teams to join us, as one voice, and pray over the situation.  We're asking the Lord to intervene and would so love for you to join us in this prayer covering.  Would you?  Read on for the story, and thank you for being a part of what God is doing.

"Wow, she is so beautiful!"
"Have you seen her smile in this photo?"
"It's like she's a natural model!"
"And beyond that smile, she's just so sweet and joyful!"
Srey Mom during our very first shoot.

Srey Mom during our very first shoot.

These are the comments made by our team during the very first photo shoot of the women in our job creation program, LandMine Design, two years ago. We were talking about Srey Mom.  She's 17.  When we met her she was 15.  Believe me when I say, she's a bombshell.  Absolutely gorgeous.  She has beautiful long black hair, straight like most women in Cambodia. Her smile is met with dimples on each side of her cheeks that just don't quit!  And most importantly, her personality is one that our team has fallen for.  Srey Mom is silly.  She likes to laugh and sometimes in the most awesome way, she can even be mischievous.
Two years ago during our first photo shoot, the women had completed their very first collection - one that feels ancient to our team now.  We wanted the women who spent hours rolling paper beads onto toothpicks, glue to seal, and lacquer for finish, to be the very first women who ever modeled the jewelry they created.  Srey Mom was a natural.  She hardly needed to pose, her natural physique was enough for such stunning photos. 

Since then, Srey Mom has been working at LandMine Design so faithfully.  Each week, she works hard, receives an income that helps provide food for her family, and most importantly she's receiving an education.  As one of our high school girls, she was required to attend school in order to be in our program.  We believe that education at her school and through our program is one of the greatest gifts we can give her as we work together toward full economic and holistic sustainability for her and her family.
 
Today across the world, 600,000 million girls in the developing world are not receiving an education.  The cycle of poverty continues.  Statistics say that girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to be married at a young age. The reality is, educated girls are a powerful force for change in their communities and their countries.
 

This is a photo of Srey Mom from June. The young man with his head turned away from the camera is her boyfriend.

This is a photo of Srey Mom from June. The young man with his head turned away from the camera is her boyfriend.

We recently got news that our dear Srey Mom is planning on leaving our program and quitting school.  She plans to be married and in order for that to happen, she and her future husband intend to move to Thailand where they will work menial jobs that often include some sort of slavery.  Culturally, this isn't a big deal to them.  This is what you do when you're poor.  You get married and work.  You have children, they work, get married and the cycle continues. The part of this mindset and lifestyle that's so difficult to swallow is that education is not important, and often non-existent. But, education would break that cycle.  Srey Mom could break this cycle for her family.  Education gives her opportunities for work without putting herself in danger.  Education gives her the ability to teach her own children in the future that there's more to life than merely surviving. Education gives Srey Mom a sense of deep value and purpose; that her life means something much more than what she's been told. 

In a moment of deep anguish over the reality of the choice Srey Mom is wanting to make, our fearless leader and boss Karla Tillapaugh suggested we pray.  Honestly, I was so sad that it hadn't crossed my mind yet.  But it's absolutely what could change everything.  Srey Mom is a believer!  Jesus lives in her heart and she is learning about who He is and what that means for her life during her time at LandMine Design.  Praying unceasingly that God would intervene and change the course of deep cultural realities is really what can turn this situation around.  At the end of the day, only Christ can save a life.  Our team can only do so much.  We recognize our deep dependency on the Lord to do the impossible.  

Our team at LandMine Design invites you to pray with us for Srey Mom.  The reality is, we've got two months to get on our knees on her behalf before a possible move to Thailand.  Will you join us in prayer that Srey Mom will change her mind?  Will you pray with us that Srey Mom would realize how important she is and that fighting for her education is worth it?  Pray that our dedicated in-country managers can have meaningful talks with Srey Mom that would persuade her to make a different decision.  

A single, handmade bead.

A single, handmade bead.

So to all of us who believe in the mighty powerful name of Jesus, let's humble ourselves and pray.  For God can heal a land!  And now I'm crying because this promise is true.  It's real.  It's for today.  It's for Srey Mom.  Her life could alter because of our diligent prayer.  2 Chronicles 7:14
 
If you would like to partner with us in prayer for Srey Mom, would you let us know?  Simply reply to this email and add your mailing address.  We would like to send you a bead from LandMine Design, made by the women in the program, that would remind you to pray for her each day. We believe that this one bead represents each of us joining together as one voice praying for one woman to end her cycle of poverty.  Today, this one woman is Srey Mom.
 
With love,
Amreitha Jeeva

Thanks for reading about Srey Mom and for considering being a part of the team of folks that prays over her faithfully in the weeks ahead.  I can't wait to see what God will do through the committed prayers on her behalf! 

Grace,

Karla


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