An Answered Prayer And A Blessed Little Girl

 A few months ago we posted about Sokchea, a young girl with cerebral palsy in our area who we have been ministering to for about 7 months now. We shared that we were praying that someone with a background in physical therapy would be able to come and work with Sokchea, and also train our staff how to help her grow strong and more independent. That prayer was answered last week when not one but two lovely ladies from the U.S. came and spent a very busy seven days doing above and beyond what we could have hoped for!

After connecting with a friend of our Sak Saum ministryand hearing about Sokchea’s situation, Jennifer, a physical therapist, and Jen, her co-worker (who is also pursuing her degree in P.T.) took time out of their busy lives to make thejourney over to Cambodia. When Sokchea met them and was told they were to be her “exercise teachers” for a week, her eyes lit up and she smiled in response. Little did she know that not only would she be exercisingshe would experience whole new world of physical motion and stimulation that she could never have imagined.

Touching new textures, feeling the weight of her own bodyagainst her joints, learning more natural ways toaccomplish certain motions, batting at toys and a drum, practicing activating muscles in all areas of her bodySokchea had more variety in a week than she probably hashad in her entire life! Naturally, some aspects of what she was experiencing proved challenging in both physical and psychological ways. Yet there were many moments each day where she responded with interest, excitement, and even joy.

Jennifer and Jen gave a crash course in physical therapy for several of our church and Sak Saum staff, explaining the reasoning behind the many techniques they employed and helping them practice, first on each other and eventually with Sokchea herself. We feel so thankful that not only would Jennifer and Jen take the time to pour into her with love and their God-given abilities, but that they would also invest in our staff by providing a daunting amount ofteaching so well in such a short time!

It was such an incredible blessing for Sokchea to have this time with trained professionals, and even in such a short time we already see her moving differently, responding in new ways, even seemingly trying to vocalize more. In fact, when it was time for goodbyes, she rolled over and supported herself on her elbow for a moment without help.This is amazing progress for her! As we help her practice what she has been learning we are looking forward to many more moments of personal triumph for her.

Please join us in praying:

- That Sokchea will continue to progress as we implement what we have learned, and that having these new opportunities for her body’s development would also awaken more hope and more healing in her heart.

- That Jennifer and Jen would eventually be able to return to Cambodia to work with Sokchea again and provide even more training for staff

That those around her in her home and neighborhood would have their eyes opened more fully to the treasure that Sokchea is and the compassion and faithfulness of God as He expresses them to her in these practical ways.

- In His Steps

Fun and Games

For Children’s Rights Day this year, we wanted to do something that would allow kids of all ages to have fun and practice teamwork. So we invited kids that attend our weekly Children’s Program and daily English classes to an afternoon of sports activities and races, and encouraged them to bring their friends and siblings to sign up as well. They all formed teams in different age categories, and had a lot of fun in the days beforehand recruiting friends to come play, choosing their team names, and practicing sports together.

On Sunday afternoon the air was filled with excitement as kids started arriving. Despite the heat that day, over 100 children packed into the church sanctuary to watch a drama about common family issues, hear an inspiring message from Eric, and cheer loudly as each team was announced and led out to the playing field for sack races, relay races, throwing games, and more!

It was great to see the kids enjoying themselves and working together. Below is a gallery of photos so you can catch a glimpse of the fun. Be sure to click through so you don’t miss any!

May Update

A few months ago we brought your attention to the situation of Sokchea, a beautiful young girl with what appears to be cerebral palsy. Since our last post, we were able to find a wheel chair for her to grow into! She had been getting used to it little by little and it's been very helpful for allowing her to experience more at our church services. This is an answered prayer!

 We also have continued to see many small steps forward with Sokchea's strength and motions. She can sit with support longer than ever before, and continues to show a strong desire to exercise, often lifting her arms and legs to practice movements even when we are not there.

A recent team visit was great for Sokchea because a team member who is experienced in caring for the disabled was able to give us a lot of pointers on how to help her more. Another friend on the team also helped connect us with a PT who had great advice as well. We are so thankful that God who knows Sokchea's needs is putting people in our path to help. Please keep her in your prayers!

-

Recently we had the opportunity to celebrate the life of an amazing and special woman: Yay Phait, a 100 year-old member of the church and an inspiration to many. She has seen so much history, lived through deprivation and abuse, and knows firsthand God’s faithfulness. Yay is not at all shy about telling anyone she crosses paths with about Who her trust is in!

For Yay’s 100th birthday, we wanted to gather together so that we could honor her and express what a blessing she is to the church and community. Volunteers, visiting team members, and staff from every part of IHSI ministry pitched in to barbecue two whole pigs, make side dishes and tea, set up chairs and tables, and serve food. Yay Phait was seated at the place of honor with her children, grandchildren, and friends.

Yay Phait blew out her birthday cake candles for the very first time in one hundred years, surrounded by so many who love her! She also received some beautiful portraits as a gift from the Hansons. Then we had a time of testimonies where people young and old shared about how Yay has inspired and encouraged them.

It was a privilege to celebrate Yay Phait’s centennial birthday and see in a small way how her life and character have rippled out to influence so many. Join us in praying that Yay has many more years of health, provision, and joy ahead of her!

We hosted a church team from Illinois for an outreach this month, our second team from Rockford First! This all-women team was a great mix of individuals from all seasons of life, and they did a great job making friends with Sak Saum, local kids and youth, and the children in our programs. During their outreach, they taught English classes, did church/Sak Saum visitations to the sick and elderly, taught our staff new songs and games for ministry, shared in church and with our staff, did art projects with Father’s House and neighborhood children, helped with Yay Phait’s birthday, attending a Sak Saum anti-trafficking seminar, and more!

Below are some photos from their outreach. And if you or your church group is interested in learning more about doing outreaches with IHSI, please click here!



Equipping Youth for Success

Cambodia has a youth-skewed population and a fast-growing generation of teens and young adults who are looking to develop marketable skill sets. In rural areas like Saang they are often painfully aware of the flimsiness of their public school education, and are always trying to “catch up”. Although we are limited by some factors in how we can help them, we at IHSI do our best to provide opportunities for learning, character development, and skills training, through discipleship, community involvement, English classes, our Reading Room, cultural arts opportunities, and more. We are always looking for ways to sow into young people so that wherever they find themselves in the future, they will be equipped to do well.

That’s why this month we are very excited about our newly expanded free computer classes! Computers are such an integral part of so many different parts of modern life, and having basic proficiency in technology skills is a key to accessing a greater world of learning as well as a major plus for young people looking for jobs. We’ve been offering limited computer classes to some extent for a while now, but are now adding new classes so that twenty-four individuals can receive this training daily in our four-computer classroom. They will have five days per week of classes during each semester, something that most of them would never be able to afford if studying elsewhere.

Cambodia’s young people need parents, mentors, and churches taking active interest in their development both spiritually and academically. Whether or not this happens at home or in the larger community, IHSI is blessed to play a part in equipping this generation for success! God has good plans for each one, and we are excited to see where He leads them.

-IHSI