BC Juniors Global

Join Barclay College students as they learn about Christian life, service, and leadership in the global classroom.


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Last VBS Program For The Kids, Heading Back To Bangkok From Phnom Penh, Cambodia (June 3)

Yesterday (June 2) we did our last VBS program for the kids here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was alittle bit sad knowing that this was the last one of the trip before we head back to Bangkok today, but also a feeling of accomplishment and completion. Our team leader from the college, and  also our guide for the trip (Seth), decided to combine the last three children’s homes into one, in order to save time, so this visit was much larger; instead of having about 10 kids, we had close to 40!

When we arrived at the home, all of the kids and parents were lined up along the road and driveway, cheering and screaming that we had arrived. It made me feel like a hero who was being welcomed home by everyone after being gone for a long time. All of the kids enjoyed the program and thanked us many times for coming. Great experience for them as well as me. God is really working in their lives to help them come from bad situations and start better lives.

Earlier in the day, our group went to a mall just to look around and eat some food. I had Sushi for the first time. It was very good. I have enjoyed all the food we have eaten and all of the people feeding us have been very nice and hospitable towards us. I believe that I have made some lifelong-friends on this trip and will continue to stay in contact with them even after we have left.

Even though the trip is almost over, please continue to pray for myself as well as the team, as there is still alot of traveling/plane flights to do before we arrive home early Monday.

Thank you and God bless!

– Rune.


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My Heart is Full

Man, each day here has made me want to stay all the more in Asia. So much in short amount of time. I can’t believe I am heading home Sunday already, it surely has gone too fast.

 

The other day we visited the Killing Fields and S-21 in Phenom Penh. Such tragic events took place in both locations, words are not enough to even begin to explain the heartache that took place. The killing that took place is 7x’s more deadly than 9/11. Let that soak just for a moment, can you imagine it? If you have time, research some testimonials from the S-21. There are only 2 of the 14 survivors left alive now. Just a small sample of what went on in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and started a genocide of it’s own people. Even tourists, educators, ministers, monks, their own soilders, everyone was a target and sent to prisions where they were tortured and later killed.  Being a college student, would have made me a target, even wearing glasses did. Meaning, I would be one sent to S-21.

 

Saw the last of the homes today, and my heart was saddened, but filled with joy seeing the kids. They were smiling, enjoying life, much like my last post, you know they are much happier and filled with God’s love.

Heading home in short two days and I feel as if there needs to be more time had here. I’ve always had a heart for Asia, being here has made that greater. As it is hard to be still, I am reminded of the words from Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Lord has surely done amazing things in their lives, and my soul is full knowing He will continue to do more.

 

In Christ

Ryan

 


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June 1: Visit to S21 Prison and “The Killing Fields” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Today (June 1) our group decided to take some time and visit two very famous sites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: S21 torture Prison, and Choeung Ek, or “The Killing Fields.” S21 (now known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum) was a high school in Cambodia that the Khmer Rouge (communists) took over and used as a torture prison in the mid to late 1970’s. It is believed that over 20,000 innocent Cambodians were tortured and killed inside of it. It was very interesting, but also very sad to see what the people had to go through. The people at the museum have hardly changed it from when it was used, and in many rooms, there is still blood on the floors. There are hundreds of pictures of the prisoners and what they had to go through during when they lived at the prison. It was a real eye-opening experience. It felt and looked like a concentration camp. While walking through it, I asked myself “how could one person do this to another?”… Hopefully this type of thing will never happen again.

The other site which we visited today was one of many “killing fields” that the Khmer Rouge regime used to kill over 3 million of Cambodia’s 8 million people during the 70’s. It is now a very beautiful place, with flowering trees, a pond, gardens, etc. It was an amazing visit that I will always remember.

Even though we have only been gone for about 2 weeks, it seems much longer than that because of everything we have seen, all the programs we have done with the ministry and kids. Tomorrow is our last day of VBS programs, so please pray for us as we come down the home stretch. Also pray for travel back to Bangkok on Saturday, and than flying back to America Sunday night from Tokyo, Japan.

Thank you to everyone at Westside Bible Church and also my family for praying for me and helping me to be able to come on this trip. Will update again soon hopefully!

God bless!

– Rune.


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Context

Today we spent time at S21–a one-time high school turned Khmer Rouge detention center (think WW2 concentration camp)–and Choeung Ek Genocide Center, aka “The Killing Fields.” 

These indentations are excavated mass graves. Over 20,000 people were killed at this site.

I had already heard about the Khmer genocide under Pol Pot, and had just finished Tears of My Soul, a survivor’s account of the genocide, but even then my understanding was academic and without emotional context. Our experience today changed that. 

When the communist Khmer regime came to power, they wanted to begin a new self-sustaining Cambodia, resetting the country to Year 0. The party recruited poor rural people, young men, mostly, to fuel it’s rise to power. These groups of people were the first to be “liberated” by the Khmer as they moved from the jungles to the cities. The Khmer Party, or Angkar, regarded intellectuals as suspicious, more likely to resist the revolution and support the old regime. Indeed, those who wore glasses, had soft hands, and lived in the cities were among the most heavily targeted for detention and execution. These groups were liberated last, we’re labeled “New Liberated” people, and were often ridiculed by the “Old Liberated.”

Detention building at S21, a one-time high school.

Under the Khmer Rouge, all social structures were torn apart in an effort to eliminate class destinction: banks destroyed (finance/economics), temples and Buddha statues smashed (religion), schools closed or turned into prisons and warehouses (education), cinemas shuttered and movie stars killed (entertainment and the arts), and families separated. 

At the killing fields, there was a tree labeled simply, “Killing Tree” with a shallow pit a few feet away. Here, soldiers (Cadres) snatched babies from their mothers and killed them by swinging them by their ankles against the tree and then tossing them into the pit. Babies and young children were often targeted so that they did not come back to seek revenge.

There is a monument on site dedicated to the victims. There are several tiers in the monument, many of which hold these skulls excavated from the graves.

Here’s how I started to process all of this: I teared up thinking of my own children. But I also thought about my family growing up. The Khmer Rouge took power in 1975 and ruled for 3+ years before falling apart and being overthrown by Vietnam. At this time, my dad, halfway around the world, was finishing his PhD. My mom had a bachelor’s degree. They were teachers. They both worked extremely hard, but I’d bet their hands were relatively soft. My siblings were born at this time. My parents were active in their local church. The reality is that had God seen fit to put us in Cambodia instead of the US, we’d be exactly the kind of people targeted for execution. My sister or brothers could have been smashed against that tree. 
My parents just celebrated 50 years of marriage, and the turnout for the celebration is a testament to their legacy. My siblings have beautiful families, have crafted meaningful, impactful lives. I can’t imagine a world without them. 3 million people were killed by the Khmer Rouge; countless children. The thought of so much promise snuffed out before being fulfilled is heartbreaking. What impact could those children have had on the world?

I want to be careful not to appropriate someone else’s story or colonize someone else’s grief, but putting the genocide and what I saw today in the above context helps me realize just how senseless and tragic this was, and is a good reminder of how broken our world is. It’s a good reminder that I must respond to God’s great love for me and Jesus’s great sacrifice by bringing light into darkness and by doing what I can to usher in His kingdom here in earth. 


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Seeing the country!

The first thing that comes to mind on what to write about on this trip, was “travel”. On the way here to Kaimosi, Kenya, we spent about 30 hours altogether travel time. The first two airplanes, culture didn’t seem to change much. By the last flight from Switzerland to Nairobi, Kenya however, there was a realization between Shawn, Katy and I that we were all of a sudden the minority. English had gone from the first spoken language to the 3rd or 4th. And that is when the charismatic attempts to get people to understand you and you them, began. As we arrived in Kenya, and began our travel to Kaimosi and within the surrounding “towns” and cities, life we had seen in America drastically became but a memory! Looking around as we weave in and out of different “lanes”(there’s actually no lines) to pass slower vehicles, the sides of the roads were crammed with small hut like structures for selling produce and merchandise. Early in the morning and then coming back to where we stay in Kaimosi, we often see the same people in the same spot selling the same things. I asked myself to “imagine sitting in the hot sun all day only to get a fraction of what you have worked so hard to feed/provide for your family.”

The sight of a “mzungu” or a white person, brings big smiles and waves especially if we wave back. Kids often yell “Mzungu!!! How are you!?!?!?” In which Kevin then yells back, “I am fine!!” We are easily the center of attention a lot because again, we are the minority. Kenya is such a beautiful country, and the people are just as beautiful! They love Americans! As we travel also, they love to teach us their language which has been amazing and really interesting at the same time because there are 43 tribes who all speak different dialects. Fortunately for us Mzungu’s, Swahili is a commonly understood language here so knowing the basics like “hi, how are you?” of “What’s your name?” “My name is…” and “thank you”, has helped a lot. They find it very funny when we speak their language which is just one more way to make them smile. This experience in Kenya has been eye opening and has allowed me to eat up every bit of culture I can, which is so beautiful. Overall our travel time has been quite long, every mile we traveled has been well worth it<3

 

P.s. We were gifted another Chicken!!! We named this one “Maria” and three hours into our drive back to  our temporary home, it she pooped on Katy.

Katy and Maria

Katy and Maria Sleeping on the way back home:)


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Who is The Greatest?

Greetings from Kenya!

A lot has happened this past weekand a half, Lots of traveling, eating, seeing animals, learning and experiencing a different culture. One thing that we have done practically everyday (and sometimes a couple times a day) is visiting widow groups. The widow groups are always located on the outskirts of the community and they are always ostracized and overlooked by the community. It is believed that these women are now cursed by their recently deceased husband or other bad spirits. These women are very poor and don’t have jobs, they often are living with AIDs and are learning to live “positively” with the disease while raising children. Their children are considered orphans and often cannot go to school because there mother cannot afford to send them and/or they are needed to work to help support the family.

Friends Bring Hope and Rural Service Programme have a field officer stationed in different areas of western Kenya. They identify widow groups that are most in need and report back to the home office to give us assignments to visit, bring gifts and blessings, and the resources to build a home for a single widow they find who is most in need. When we go to help “mutope” or mud a house, we are greeted by the widow group singing and dancing around our vehicle. To have American “muzungus” come to your home is a great honor and one that will elevate their status in the community and will lift the curse off of them and their home.

Because these women have literally less in their home than I can pack in my suitcase, the greatest gift they can muster to bless us back is sharing a meal. To American standards it is a humble snack, but to them it is a feast, a thanksgiving dinner. It is important for us to accept their gift(s) because according to the culture you shouldn’t let anyone enter your home without treating them hospitably, also if you are given a gift the standard of reciprocity is strongly upheld. If we are lucky we might also be given a chicken (Paco Paulita will forever be remembered in our hearts) or have a tinsel garland placed around our necks. These may seem like small gifts but to these women, and to us, they are worth their weight in gold

Another important aspect of meeting the widow groups along side giving and receiving gifts and helping mud the new house is introductions. This entails us all (visitors and widows) to say our name title and where we are from. For me this looks like, “Merembe! (shalom) My name is Katy Vanderploeg I am a nongraduating senior at Barclay college and I study Elementary Education. I live in Haviland Kansas with my husband but my parents are missionaries in Belize Central America.” Listening to the widows share is very meaningful and a personal way that expresses that they are people worthy of an American “muzungo” coming to their home and listening to them. This not only honors them as humans and peers to us, whom we and God loves and sees, but also elevates them within their community as a human again worthy of friendship and respect.

Visiting with these widows and orphans and showing them love and respect and empowering them to be self reliant, strong, and to feel human again is really teaching me how much more God knows and loves me. How much He wants me to grow in faith and maturity. These widow have also taught me, when we go to visit them, how much more God celebrates us and welcomes us into presence and community with Him.

When I go to these widows and orphans in their place of suffering and destitute I see Christ. When I am welcomed into their communities and homes and lavished upon so generously I see Christ. When my spirit weeps for the unfair treatment of women and children Christ weeps with me. When I look into the wondering and amazed eyes of an orphan child I see the wondrous love and innocence of Christ. When I see the faithfulness of the old mamas to her grandchildren and children I see the faithfulness of Christ.

I pray that my eyes will continue to be open and willing to see God at work and in Kenya. I pray that my heart will be soft and moldable for god to continue His work in me. And I pray that God will ever bless the people and ministries here in Kenya and around the world.

Mungu Abarete Wote.

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Our dear chicken friend Paulita


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Love 

Tomorrow we will be leaving Myanamar for good. Thinking about that makes me sad because we are leaving and I don’t know when I will be back. I am excited to go back to Thailand and even more excited for Cambodia. I’m going to miss all the families we have met here in Myanamar, I’m thankful that we got to hang out and meet so many people here. I’m also going to miss our friend Pa Kep. He has been so awesome and he is always there to make us all smile and laugh. He is a joy to be around. He translated for us while we have been in Myanmar. He has ordered our food at restaurants and he has translated everything we wanted to communicate to the kids for our program. I’m glad I got to meet such a fun, God loving guy. I’m happy to call him my friend. Its not a stretch to say that our ministry or time in Myanmar wouldn’t have been possible without Pa Kep’s willingness to help. 
Constantly being around new people, new sights, new foods, new smells, and new surroundings is challenging in many ways. I am challenged to see these new things as different instead of wrong. Everything around me is not wrong just different. It has honestly been difficult to see it that way. When we see things that we are not used to we automatically think that it is wrong. That’s not the case, it is not wrong just different. It is easier said than done to think like this, and it has been quite the challenge for me. I am thankful that God called me out of my comfort zone to see these things that are so different because it has helped me in my own life. 

When we experience new and different things it is our tendency to automatically judge someone or something for being different. It is not our place to judge, we are all called to love. 1 John 4:11 says “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” It is so amazing the amount of love we receive from God. I am guilty of judging someone instead of loving them even when I’m back in the States. I have realized though that while being here I am judging people because what I see is wrong. It is not wrong just different and I should love them. I could pray for them or even offer a nice smile. It is hard to do this being in a new environment, but I am working on it and I am hoping that I will learn to love more and judge less when I’m back in the States. 

Thank you all for your prayers and encouraging messages. Continue to pray for our travels and health and also the kids that we reaching at these houses. Some of their stories are hard to believe because they are so tramautizing, yet they love life and are some of the happiest kids.