“Most of the deportees entered the US as refugee children fleeing the Khmer Rouge with their families, and many have never been to Cambodia and don’t speak Khmer.”
The largest group of deportees arrived today. We are going to try and visit some of them tomorrow. It is the single largest group of deportees in the history of the 15-year repatriation program. Since 2010 Hope Now has been involved in helping these men who find themselves lost in a strange and foreign land. This fresh crop of deportees is not only the largest, but is made up of men with chronic mental illness and poor physical heath conditions. We have our work cut out for us.
Even now we struggle to help men who have lost hope. Piseth is one of those. I have known Piseth for several years. Our staff has helped him over and over. For a brief moment we thought he might be getting his life on track, but the alcohol proved too much for him and he could not overcome it.
We found him on the streets today, sitting on a curb drinking cheap and deadly rice wine. He is resigned to sleeping on the streets. We bought him food and he accepted our invitation to pray for him–there was nothing else we could do. He doesn’t even know if he wants help, but until he believes he can pull out of his tailspin, we can only pray.
Will you please pray for our staff here as they are burdened with the new arrivals and the continual help of those already here?
Saving money is key when traveling. My usual lodging is a hotel, but the price doubled where I have stayed for the past couple of years. I came across an apartment on Booking.com for only $30 per night.
There are not a lot of amenities, but I do have an electric water kettle for coffee (what more does a man need?), two bathrooms, even a washing machine (which I probably will not use). Other than a rooster crowing down below it is quiet. There are tradeoffs in life: A/C is good, wifi is bad.
For the most part, it is clean and comfortable (Remember, the Internet can make anything look good). We will hold our Hope Now staff leadership conference here next week. I save money, have a meeting room, and get a good night’s rest.
Without getting political, let me simply say, one does not walk into a country without going through a process which includes paying money, and being scrutinized.
Take my visit to Cambodia for example:
First, I needed a passport. I can’t remember how much mine cost, but it was not cheap. Without a passport I would be stuck in the fifty-nifty United States. Passports need to be renewed every ten years. Nowadays a passport is even needed to get into Mexico.
Second, in order to get into Cambodia I had to apply for a visa. Eight years ago it cost only about $20. This time I paid double that. The visa is what approves me getting into Cambodia. I applied online and it took about 3 days to receive it. Mine is a (T) or tourist visa which means it’s only good for 30 days.
Next, is the Arrival/Departure Card. It’s free and I fill it out on the plane before entering (Note to self: Always carry a pen otherwise you have to try and bum one off your neighbor. He doesn’t have one either). This form asks questions like “Length of stay”, “Purpose of visit”, “Address in Cambodia”, etc. The Khmer government wants to know what countries I came from before arriving and when I depart, what country is my final destination
Finally, there is a General Department of Customs and Excise form. That form wants to know if I am bringing any goods or large sums of money into the country.
Four steps/forms needed along with some money to get in. Oh, and I can’t forget one more thing; Standing in front of the unfriendly Khmer customs agent as he snaps my photo, takes fingerprints, and scrutinizes the paperwork, never once making eye contact, until finally he endorses my passport with an arrival visa stamp and I walk happily through the gate.
Getting into a country should be a process. That is what makes a country a country. It also makes me appreciate being in that country as a visitor because I realize it’s a privilege not a right.
Process, money, scrutiny. That’s how it’s done throughout the world. It’s been that way for many millennia.
Wandering the Taiwan airport and waiting for my next flight. Clean, modern, and busy!
Momentum is the key to travel–just get going. I boarded my shuttle to the LAX terminal and with boarding pass in-hand made it through TSA quickly and smoothly. I have been airborne for about ten hours and got a few hours sleep. My flight is currently located just off the north east coast of Japan.
37 36′ 49″N 148 46′ 54″ E
We are at 36,460 ft elevation. All that is from the compass on my iPhone. Pretty cool.
I feel Mr. Momentum pulling me closer to my destination. Breakfast is about to be served and the coffee is smelling good. All is well. Stay tuned.
Several hours from now I will step through the door of a plane that will transport me on the first leg of my sojourn across the Pacific. Seventeen hours later I board another flight to be delivered to my final destination, Phnom Penh. The day will be long (over 24 hours of travel), but the anticipation of meeting up with my brothers there makes it all worthwhile.
I take this journey seriously–It is long, Cambodia can be dangerous, and it is a place where men are in great need. But I am traveling as an ambassador for Christ, God making his appeal through me for those men to have hope, and to exchange hostility toward God for a friendly relationship with him (2 Corinthians 5:20).
A couple of the brothers prayed for my mission yesterday in church. Now I ask you to pray for those who are in need. Pray that as an ambassador I will carry the Lord’s message and only His and that it will all bring glory to God.