Prayer Points

Dear Friends and Family,

What was I thinking? I mistakenly thought that after all the government requirements needed for our three youngest children to travel with us to the States for home assignment the hardest work would be behind us. No, now every single day is full of details that are required to be handled and taken care of in order for us to leave the work on this side of the ocean and step into the work awaiting us there.

We appreciate all the emails and notes from friends and family that are filled with excitement and anticipation of our visit. Many have asked what our plans are. The schedule is still in the formation stages but we do know some significant parts of the plan.

Family needs: Unless you have kept up with us through our newsletters and updates, our three youngest children will be “new” to you. We have grandparents, siblings, and extended family that have yet to meet the newest members of the family face-to-face also. So we are excited about the upcoming months as “over the river and through the woods” so to speak…to Grandmother’s house we go!

Medical needs: Four of our children have medical issues that are in need of immediate attention in the States and we have been unable to address these issues in Cambodia due to the lack of specialized care. Praise the Lord that almost all of the medical expenses have sponsorships!

Ministry needs: As with every home assignment, our “job” doesn’t change. It is only a location change as we shift from being hands-on in Cambodia working with the children of Bykota House to that of being advocates and representatives of the children as we share in America. We are happy to have this opportunity to update our present partners and we are praying that the Father opens many additional doors for us to share about Bykota House.

Prayer points:

  • Travel expenses…we rejoice that all the fees associated with travel has been covered up to this time. Three plane tickets have been sponsored! Please pray for God’s provision of the remaining six.
  • Open doors…please agree with us in prayer for many open doors of opportunity to share about the Lord’s work here in Cambodia through Bykota House. Write us back to request to be included in the schedule.
  • Financial needs of Bykota House…we ended the year with positive contributions, we believe that God will continue to pay the bills.
  • Details, details, details (and peace in the details)…please pray for all these loose ends that must be completed and for our family, staff, and team to be wrapped in His peace and presence as we work through them all.

We so look forward to seeing you all this summer!

Mango Heat

mangoA fellow missionary ex-pat posted on Facebook today that she was in mango heaven at the market.  The mangoes are sweet, plentiful, and oh so very cheap over here in the Mekong Delta this time of year.

This is on the tail end of some temps that had even the veterans among us and the Cambodian populace dripping with the heat.

The heat isn’t just something that you walk through.  It affects every part of your life.

Are you late for an appointment?  It may be because you are so sapped of strength that you can’t even make your body move faster.

Are you having cold sandwiches AGAIN for dinner?  It may be because you can’t bear the thought of turning on the stove.  OR you can’t make yourself enter the scorching sunlight to get to market for supplies!

Are you having any family time?  Well, that depends on if you call looking at each other across the room while you are each sitting in your own sweat “family time.”

The heat pushes us until we find that we are snappy…we find that we are grumpy…we find ourselves day dreaming of central air and its availability almost everywhere that is just a plane ticket away.

It makes me often wonder about Jesus and His time of wandering in the desert place when Satan tempted Him.  He wasn’t the only one that wandered.  Others spent long stretches in the dry, desert places or endured long famines.  What caused them to keep putting one foot in front of the other?  Their faith was not of the fast food and air conditioned variety.  It was one that was deeply rooted in and completely grounded.

In response to my friend’s facebook post, I responded with a short memory of our first year here.

When I say that the heat was so intense during our first “hot season” in 2005, I am not exaggerating.  It was not only our first time to walk through one so we were not used to the heat physically, but it was widely documented and reported as one of the hottest seasons on record.  So for us it felt like a double whammy.

A co-worker told us “Plan to get one thing done each day.  Only one thing.  If you accomplish that, it is progress.  But don’t beat yourself up over the fact that it is only one thing.”  In my prideful heart I thought to myself…One thing?  Well, he’s never met us.  We are going to get this thing whipped and start forward motion.

Aw…the fall that comes after the rise of pride!  We all found ourselves zapped each and every day.  That “one thing” that we would get accomplished???  Sadly, many mornings it was simply getting a breakfast on the table…sad…sad…sad.

About half way through that first scorching season, I was sitting at our homeschool co op and feeling like I could lay down on the floor and just cry.  I didn’t care who knew.  I didn’t care who saw me.  I was miserable.

A veteran mother from Australia came over to sit beside me and apparently took pity on this battered shell of a person.  She asked me how was I doing.  There wasn’t any pride left in  me…I just spewed about how miserable I was…it probably wasn’t very pretty for her to watch and hear.

She gently asked me what did I feel “was the hardest thing I was struggling with today?”  I told her…it was the heat.  Not the struggle of living in Cambodia with developing nation culture shock.  Not the language barrier or the struggle to communicate even the most basic thing with our preschooler level vocabulary.  Not the heartache of homesickness.  It was the heat.

A look of knowing and understanding passed through her beautiful eyes that had seen so much.  She leaned ever so slightly towards me and gave my arm a comforting squeeze.  She assured me it would pass and that one day I would notice that my focus had changed from the hot temps to the mangoes.

“The mangoes are sweetest when the temps are the hottest.”

That has held true.  I still feel the heat.  It still takes away my breath at times and I find myself in my fourth shower of the day wondering how can a body possibly sweat while taking a cold shower???

Yet, the mangoes are sweetest when the temps are the hottest.

It is during the times of intense battle that the Lord’s grace is upon us the most.

It is during the exhausting times of struggle that we find yes, indeed, His mercies are new every morning.

We learn the sweet taste of peace when we lift our hearts in surrender when all is shaking around us and yet we praise Him for His will to be done in all things.

If you find that your are in one of these hot seasons now, I pray that you will find that image that the Father is holding up for you to look upon and see the truth of hope.  Hope in His goodness…hope in His faithfulness…hope in His sufficiency.

The mangoes ARE sweetest when the temps are the hottest.

Breathing in, breathing out,


Seeing Victory Over Temptation

A friend of mine recently posted a devotional from Joyce Meyer.  She didn’t state which devotional it was but I want to be sure to credit JM for the foundations of the following.  It blessed me and I pray that it blesses you. 
We all face temptation, it’s an unavoidable part of life. The question is not, “Will you be tempted?” The question is, “When you’re tempted, will you be ready?”

I really want you to get this: You can beat temptation. Stop saying, ‘Joyce, I just don’t think I can.’ Take ‘I can’t!’ out of your vocabulary.

In your own strength and by your own ability, you’re right. You can’t. But when you put God’s Word in your heart, when you lean on His strength and trust in His promises, there’s no temptation you can’t overcome.

Over the years, I’ve noticed five things that make all the difference in overcoming temptation.

  1. First, you’ve got to be wise. Think about the choices you’re making and the consequences before you make them. Wisdom looks ahead.
  2. Next, you have to believe that you can resist temptation. Condemnation, guilt and shame work off of momentum, if you stop them early, they lose their power, but once they get rolling, they’re hard to stop.
  3. Third, think of facing temptation as normal life. If you’re expecting a fight, you’ll always be ready.
  4. Fourth, avoid areas of weakness. Don’t put yourself in situations where you can easily fall. If you struggle with managing your money, don’t go to the mall when you can’t afford to buy anything!
  5. And finally, don’t give yourself too much credit. We don’t graduate from being tempted. It’s so easy to think you’ve matured beyond stumbling, and once that happens, you make yourself an easy target.

God wants you to trust Him to bring victory in every area of your life. By His grace, you can!

Thank you, Joyce M., for a nugget of great wisdom and practical application to our lives.

Breathing in, breathing out,


Brennan Manning

You might not have ever heard of Brennan Manning but here is a quote of his…

“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9),

I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask.

Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There *we* are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”

This man has entered into his reward today. He has heard “Well, done, good and faithful servant.”11117_10151708674133054_1152711232_n

Blue for boy/Pink for girl

So…I am working on a Sociology Lit. Review for one of the college classes that I have found myself in.  The Lord has blessed me in that my professors almost always allow me to modify such assignments in such a way that it can be useful or applicable to our life and work here in Cambodia.

My paper is on Gender Preference in Adoptive Families.  This is something that I heard MUCH about during our first adoption.  Many adoption agencies have policies of not allowing a family to choose gender.  They do so because most agencies are concerned with the totality of the orphan situation and these professionals find that they are fighting against a cultural bias in American (and actually this bias holds when considered worldwide) families.  These can be very serious for baby boys.  Time and time again, even when it means they will wait much longer for a girl, families will refuse the referral of a boy.  These children remain in the orphanages and year by year, month by month, more and more male children age out of the adoption programs and then have no chance for adoption.

It is documented and out there for everyone to see…the bias of adoptive families to prefer to adopt girls rather than boys.  It is the exact opposite of the cultural bias that we have when faced with the birth of a biological child…in that case, the proven preference is for boys.  There are some studies that indicate Americans like a “balanced” family that contains one of each child.  However, it is hard to duplicate those results and it is suggested that the reason lies in cultural preferences are constantly shifting and being remodeled.

However, when researching for this project and pulling together the studies and findings, I wasn’t surprised, as probably no one else is either, to find that one social cause of the adoption numbers being in favor of female children is the rate at which girls are adopted from China.  China is a popular country for adoptions and given their One-Child policy, baby girls are adopted at a higher rate.  When that societal cause is accounted for, we still see a very high preference for girls.

As internet research will do sometimes, the One-child policy stuff led me to gender-selection abortions which are prevalent in China, India, and other countries as well.  These abortions are skewing the population balances in these countries and the tip of the iceberg with problems is just being seen now.  There are now great shortages of girls for these boys who were not aborted.  They are unable to find wives.

Then a couple more waves of surfing and BOOOOOM!  My little surfing keyboard crashed down upon finding that sex-selection abortions are a serious problem in the U S of A!  This is not a problem in Asia…this is not a problem in those “other” countries.  Nope!  Right in my own country.

Do a little reading of your own at:

It is only illegal in four US states…but at least 9 states have bills pending and North Caroline pushed that number up to 10 just yesterday!

I don’t know why I am surprised…I don’t know why…

It was only a matter of time that their slogan, “My body, my choice”…expanded to “My Child, my choice.”

How sadly ironic that in fighting for “so called” reproductive rights, legal abortion has killed more girls than boys.

This quote from Planned Parenthood kinda got me as well:

“What this means is that PPFA will happily perform – for a profit – a sex-selection abortion, except where it is illegal. And, of course, PPFA is absolutely opposed to making it illegal, and will work to defeat any congressman who votes in favor of doing so.”

These people will one day find themselves in the hands of a Righteous Judge.  The blood of these innocents will not fail to cry out for justice.

Breathing in, Breathing out,


Ministry Myopia

Yesterday marked the first day back to online college classes for Mark and I.  Our break in school was not nearly as long as I wanted it to be.  However, we did have to pack a whole lot of things into those weeks off of school…Christmas for Bykota House is always a load of work…but we were again so richly blessed and I believe Jesus stayed the focus of our season.

Today I was reading in chapter 1 of one of my textbooks.  It is a marketing class that highlights many particular needs for non-profit organizations.  So it is likely to be another class that will be very useful here with the Lord’s work in Cambodia.

I was buzzing along in this first chapter and came across this section on marketing myopia.  “Marketing myopia is management’s failure to recognize the scope of its business.”  I stopped right there.  Why?  Well, because that is something that I have learned is a weakness that I personally have in my life and work…I get ministry myopia.

Because of the great amount of work that it takes to care for, provide for, and LOVE on 26 children and do all that it takes to run my own household, be Mark’s bride, and parent my own children in the home and keep up with those back in the States…I can really tend to develop a short-sightedness.

I can easily get focused on “Are the kids eating enough/right?” “Who has immunizations this month?”  “Is so-and-so going to school or playing hooky instead?”  “Are we providing enough English skills to equip them for their future?”

Or I can get too focused on the “desk work” that I have.  “Am I expressing enough thankfulness to our sponsors?”  “Am I praying enough for our sponsors?”  “GADS! It is time for annual/biannual/quarterly/monthly government reports!”

My pastor recently emailed and asked, “Rhonda, do you ever feel like a juggler?”

Yep, I do.  In fact, that is how I feel much of the time.  But that is because I forget to keep the one thing that is most important in the center of my radar.  That most important thing is a person…Jesus Christ.

I am/was created to be a worshiper of Him.  When that is my focus and all that flows out of my life and the work of my hands is simply an expression of my worship of Him…all is well.

When the juggling starts, more often than not, it is because my gaze has slipped just a tad bit off of His face and onto some other task.

Today I am praying for perfect 20/20.  How about you?

Breathing in, breathing out,