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Sparkling Bathrooms

This week I'm in Cambodia working on several expansion projects the Lord has so graciously set before us this year.  I'm beyond humbled by His work and His plans.  That we even get to be a small part of it, truly amazing!  I'll be sharing more about these in posts to come.

Last summer, we were delighted to open our new team center.  Some dear friends of our family partnered with us to invest in building this space from which we have hosted several teams last year.  We hope to host others for many years to come.  It is also the home where Zach and Dante, our on-the-ground missionaries, live. 

When we opened the team center last summer, we hired an older unemployed Cambodian man, named Paul, to be the cleaner and care-taker of the property.  He loves Jesus deeply and is just as sweet as can be.  I mean, come on!!  Just look at him! 

  In front of the team center with dear Paul

In front of the team center with dear Paul

I walked into the team center when we arrived this past Friday night.  It was late.  We had traveled all day.  And we were tired.  But that didn't stop my dutch upbringing to go into full effect as I noticed different things around the center.  Zach and Dante had been out of the country and Paul had been staying at the team center in their absence.

I had spent some time with Paul last summer explaining how we wanted him to clean.  I thought by now he would have it down pat and that every counter, sink, toilet and floor would be sparkling.  Well...it wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't gross or filthy.  But, it wasn't up to my standards and certainly no where near the standards of my 100% dutch mom who keeps the cleanest house in all of Colorado. 

I decided I needed to spend more time this week training Paul on exactly how to clean to my satisfaction. 

As the Lord would have it, today, we visited Paul's house in the slums of Poipet. 

  Paul's house

Paul's house

Paul has asked us to help him build a bathroom behind his home.  Right now, he and his family go behind their house in the field anytime they need to use the bathroom.  They have no where else to go. 

  Paul's bathroom behind his house

Paul's bathroom behind his house

I stood talking with Paul in the space where he hopes to build a bathroom and was struck by the reality from which Paul lives.  His home is like many here.  It is built on the outskirts of the slums.  It is meager.  It is simple.  But, it is his home. 

  Space behind Paul's house where he hopes to build a bathroom

Space behind Paul's house where he hopes to build a bathroom

And then I thought about our bathrooms at the team center.  For Paul, cleaning a bathroom is foreign.  He's never even had one before.  Making the sinks sparkle, floors shine, and toilets crystal clean in our team center is as unfamiliar to him as his field bathroom is to me. 

The stark comparison is not lost on me.  Here I am, an American who has been part of building a beautiful team center.  I am accustomed to a level of clean.  It's not a fault of anyone's.  It is the reality of where God has placed me as an American and where God has placed Paul as a Cambodian.  But the comparison between Paul's lack (never having had a bathroom) and me (wanting him to clean our bathrooms to sparkling) is confusing and convicting.  There is a tension here for me.  It is one that I don't want to dismiss and one in which I desire God to continue the wrestling in my heart. 

As with all of our work out here:  It is messy, hard, convicting, and hopeful all mixed together.  And I am so deeply thankful to be in the mix of wrestling about how we work out here....even how we have our bathrooms cleaned.  

Would you pray with me for Paul and his family?  Pray that we would be wise in knowing how to best help Paul.  Pray that I have much grace and understanding as I teach him something he never has known. 

And here's to a new year with clean bathrooms, sparkling floors and crystal clear toilets in Cambodia.  May I never loose sight of the real world in which so many people I deeply care about live with everyday, including our dear Paul. 

Grace,

Karla

  Paul and the bike he rides from his home in the slums to our team center -- a mere 5 miles each way...

Paul and the bike he rides from his home in the slums to our team center -- a mere 5 miles each way...

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