The A Team

Year after year God assembles a team to go on the annual Kingsland Cambodia mission trip.  Each year we have those that have been year after year and have fallen in love with the Khmer people along with new teammates who often are experiencing international missions for the first time.  I love that Kingsland gives us the opportunity to get involved in a short term mission trip with a long term ministry partner.  Omar Garcia, Missions Pastor at Kingsland, has intentionally partnered with men and women around the globe who are already making a difference in their country for the gospel.  We are able to take short term mission trips and not only serve for the week we are in the country, but also learn more about another part of the world, the people there in need, & how we can get involved in an ongoing way.

Talk about the A Team!  This year I was thrilled to take Dr. Joe Estes, Dr. Derek McKaskle, Dr. Cindy Anthis, Charlene Herman, RDH & Janie Boldt, RN.   During our week in Poipet, Cambodia we had a medical clinic and a dental clinic who provided much needed care to the poor in this area.

IMG_3438.jpg

IMG_3449.jpg

I have asked Cindy time and time again to go on this trip, but this busy Katy mom of four spends her days ministering to the poor in our very own community as well as traveling internationally to do the same.  Cindy currently serves and the Medical Director of Katy’s Christ Clinic whose mission is “providing help to those living without access to affordable healthcare, preventative services and prescription assistance”.  She works tirelessly to offer medical care here in Katy to people who are overlooked, cast aside and denied healthcare for a variety of reasons.  I have loved and respected Cindy for years and was thrilled when she agreed to go on this mission trip with me!

IMG_7786.JPG

Cindy & Janie, Poline & Reken, our talented Cambodian interpreters & our fellow teammate, Keith Caldwell, retired Murphy Oil executive, saw 181 patients in 3 days ranging in age from 4 weeks to 86 years old at the Hope Center in Poipet.   They encountered medical issues ranging from muscle pain and arthritis to heart failure and diabetes.   They had the opportunity to pray for every person that they cared for.  Cindy shared, “We were privileged to have a small part in the ongoing ministry of the Hope Center”.

IMG_7782.JPG

Joe Estes has been to Cambodia with our team the past 3 years and this year he recruited his Katy friend and fellow dentist, Derek McKaskle, along with Charlene Herman, long time Kingsland friend who works as a dental hygienist for both dentists here in Katy to be part of our ministry team.  These Katy professionals partnered with hand-picked teen orphans from Imparting Smiles and ran an unbelievable dental clinic servicing close to 100 patients, mostly from villages with no access to dental care.  Our dental team allowed the Cambodian teens an opportunity to get practical experience in a dental clinic with the hope that they will choose dentistry as their career path when they enter university this upcoming year. IMG_0242.JPG

IMG_3547.jpeg

IMG_0055.JPG

Jesus spent his life ministering to those in need while offering spiritual healing that only He can bring.  I am deeply thankful for our A Team of Katy professionals who spent a week living like Jesus and offering physical help to the most destitute while praying for spiritual healing for each person they met.  Only in heaven will we see how this story plays out, but I for one, can’t wait to see how their sacrifice made a difference in the lives of others.

IMG_0254-1.JPG

Posted in January 2019 Trip | 1 Comment

My Village

Yesterday we started our day with a time of team devotions in the sunny coffee shop in our hotel. Over iced lattes one of our team dentists, Joe Estes, shared an encouraging word with our team. He read an excerpt from Crazy Love by Francis Chan in which he reminded our team to treat everyone we meet as though we were meeting Jesus himself.

In Matthew 25:35-39, Jesus responds to the religious people who were grappling with understanding His message to love people with His crazy, life-changing love. He tells them that those who will inherit the kingdom of God give food to the hungry, give water to the thirsty, give shelter for the weary traveler, clothe the naked and minister to the sick.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sister of mine, you did for me”. Sobering thoughts. How I treat people that I come in contact with is how Jesus says I am treating Him. That includes the person who is driving slow in the passing lane, the person with 30 items in the express check out lane At H-E-B , the family member that drives you crazy, the person at work that continues to do sub par work, the kid in school who takes every opportunity to make fun of you, and the hungry man on the street corner who uses a sign to show his most obvious need. How I treat them is a reflection of how I treat Jesus? Yep. That is exactly what Jesus said.

Our team spent yesterday ministering to men, women and children who came from villages all over Poipet for medical care, dental care & to hear the message of hope from the pages of scripture. Joe Estes, Derek McKaskle & Charlene Herman provided care to orphans, poor women and people without access to regular dental care. Dr. Cindy Anthis & Janie Boldt, RN provided much needed medical care to the sick while our VBS team showed extravagant love to children and our Women’s Conference team used our voices to share the life changing love of Jesus.

We come to Cambodia to show people the love of Christ, but I am proud to say that these same men and women are in my “village” back home in Katy, Texas and they seek to show the same love to people right where they live. While in Cambodia the needs are more obvious, this is a team of men and women who love Jesus and seek to minister to those in our community at home on a regular basis. I am proud to call them not just teammates on this trip, but friends, and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use them to minister to those in need in Katy, Texas and around the world.

Posted in January 2019 Trip | 2 Comments

A Glimpse of Heaven

I think a lot about heaven. Before September 2 I only thought about heaven once in while. It seemed really far away and really exciting, but it did not consume my thoughts. In the aftermath of my son’s death, I think about heaven daily. Hourly. Often momentarily.

As I ponder what scripture says about heaven I have settled on a few truths.

#1 – Heaven is a real place. On the night before he was crucified Jesus said in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Now that is something to look forward to. Jesus, the Creator of all the extraordinary things on this earth, is preparing a place for us in heaven where we will live for eternity. I can only imagine how remarkable heaven will be!

#2 – Heaven is going to be so much fun! Does that shock you? I think too many believers think that that heaven will be a place where we sit in a really long, boring church service for eternity. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The greatest adventures of our lives will be waiting for us when we arrive in heaven!

C.S. Lewis penned the pages of The Chronicles of Narnia and he used the following words to remind us to look forward to the heaven that awaits us. Lewis writes at the end of The Last Battle, “the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

It is true that we will spend eternity serving & worshipping God, and we will do it with our friends and family who know Jesus. I think mission trips give us a tiny glimpse of heaven. We get the luxury of spending a week or so serving God as a team somewhere in this amazing world. It is so much fun to connect with other believers around the world and share stories, laugh & talk about what Jesus has done in our lives. I have had the biggest belly laughs of my life on mission trips! We get away from the busy-ness of our regular lives and we have time to see a new part of the world, connect with friends, meet new friends, share stories and worship with abandon. Sounds a little bit like the heaven that awaits us.

#3 Heaven will follow a lifetime of hurts, suffering, disappointments and death, but none of these will travel with us to our eternal home.

Revelation 21:4 states “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

#4 Heaven requires advance preparation. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” To enter heaven we must make a choice here on earth to choose Jesus. To believe Him to be the one and only God. Believe that he lived a perfect life and died on a cross as a substitution for the eternal separation from God that each of us deserves due to sin. To place our faith in His resurrection and believe that He is coming back for us.

It is that easy. Faith in this life ushers in eternity with God in the next life.

As I enjoy a week in Cambodia seeing old friends, connecting with new friends, and getting to be a small part of the work God is doing here, I will use this tiny glimpse of heaven to motivate me to tell others about what is ahead so they too will be on the Great Adventure that awaits each of us who puts our faith in Jesus.

Posted in January 2019 Trip | 3 Comments

First Impressions

By guest blogger Keith Caldwell

As we moved amongst the people In the villages, the Church service and the Hope Center a number of things became clear to me on my first opportunity to serve with the Cambodian mission team from Kingsland.

The physical and spiritual needs of the people in this area are great.  Medical care in the area is scarce and most often extremely difficult to receive.  Spiritually, the country is torn between Budism and Hinduism and worship of the spirit world.  Kingsland has chosen to invest and come alongside Steve and Noit Hyde to meet these needs in the name of Jesus.  The Hope Center staff work tirelessly traveling to remote villages to provide nutrional education and share the message of Jesus.  Ministering to these physical needs opens opportunities to talk with the people about Jesus.

The team that Steve and Noit have recruited are amazing.  Each of the team have families they care about and miss when traveling in the country.  This week we are their adopted family.  I cannot begin to put into words how they serve us and go beyond to make our visit as smooth and meaningful as possible.  They help us get from location to location without incident, they translate for us as we teach or give medical and dental care, and communicate with the local people while always wearing a smile.  They are quick to open a door, to give us the choice seat in the van or truck and make sure we have been served before they begin to enjoy their meal.  Their service to Jesus and us is a shining testimony of Christ’s words in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Pray for these brave men and women in Christ who are committed to serving and making a difference for their country.

I understand firsthand why my wife returns each year.  This is her sixth trip here and others traveling with us have more Cambodian stamps in their passport than her.  When you look into the faces of the people in the village, the children at Imparting Smiles, and the women and men that attend the conference you are changed.  I wish I could describe the love, excitement, and joy on both the faces of the Cambodians and the old-timers when they are reunited.  Hugs and long embraces are plentiful all around and the air is alive with compassion.

Thus far, my most memorable moment occurred tonight.  We traveled back to Imparting Smiles to spend some fun time with the children and serve them some ice cream.  After they completed dinner and cleaned off the table, they came together in groups and opened their Bibles and began reading scripture aloud to each other.  These boys, girls, young men and young women have been forgotten and discarded by their family and the world; however, they are precious in God’s sight and not forgotten.  He loves them, values them and provides them a sanctuary to grow and learn.  I am an eyewitness to part of the hope and future of Cambodia for Christ.

It is a privilege to serve together with the group that made the journey this year.  We are most certainly a diverse group in age and occupation, yet Christ’s love has knitted us together in our hearts to love the Cambodian people.   I am being stretched by serving with these men and women of Christ and will forever be profoundly thankful that I could be a part of this magnificent group of believers.

In Christ,

Keith Caldwell

Posted in January 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

Planting Trees & Planting Seeds

By guest blogger Lindsay Osborne

Today, our team had the wonderful opportunity to help our Cambodian partners plant a mango tree orchard. Together, we were able to plant 110 mango trees on the Imparting Smiles property. The vision is for these trees to bring food and income to the children for years to come. As we worked, the rain started to downpour. We were absolutely drenched. But we kept working, full steam ahead, until all 110 trees were planted. It brought to mind so many of Jesus’ New Testament teachings on working with seeds and soil. This type of work is hard labor and takes great perseverance. We relied on our hands and teamwork to plant the trees, but ultimately we rely on faith that God will truly allow this orchard to grow and bless these children.

The best part of this day was that timely reminder: though we plant, God is the one who sees the greater picture and brings the best growth in his timing.

1 Corinthians 3 says, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

This scripture was so true in our planting of the trees and it has been so true over the course of the last 7 years as our team has watched the Lord’s hand moving in Cambodia.

Over the last 7 years, our team has been able to witness different stages of growth in our Cambodian ministry partners and in their ministry. This became clear today when our dental and nursing teams were able to treat the orphans from Imparting Smiles. Both our dentists and our nurses commented that these kids are in the best medical condition they have seen thus far in our ministry here. The kids are even significantly healthier than they were this time last year. This is huge! Not because our team is coming once a year to treat them, but rather because the people who have their boots on the ground year round at Imparting Smiles are learning how to take better and better daily care of these beautiful children.

When we realized this, it immediately made us praise the Lord for his vision, his planting, and his growth. Kara Potts made the true comment that, “As Americans, our idea would have been to send young American missionaries to run this orphanage and take care of these children. But God knew that was not the best plan because he sees the bigger picture!”

Instead, two Cambodians who come from incredibly hard backgrounds have been able to rise up as leaders who have purpose and dignity in taking care of so many precious orphans day in and day out. Their daily work is making an eternal impact and it has changed the children’s lives, as well as their own. Only a sovereign, all powerful God could have seen them, known them, and placed them in this position to bring growth in their lives and the children’s lives.

It all comes back to the bigger picture that only God can see and only God can weave together. He is the one bringing growth and changing lives, here on earth and for eternity.

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

If you feel stuck or confused or discouraged in your life, take heart. God sees the bigger plan for your life and he is weaving together the intricate details to bring the growth that only he can bring. We simply have to wait for his timing to see it all come together. You might be planting in the downpour today, but that means you will be standing in the orchard soon! By all means, keeping on planting. All glory be to God for the growth.

Posted in January 2018 Trip | 2 Comments

Left Alone

The tiny girl in red caught our eye. We were in a church service with 750 people and about 650 were village children, but this little one caught our attention. She looked so small, so malnourished, so unkept & all alone. It is strange to our American eyes to see one so young just wandering around with no supervision.

Our team nurses found her later in the day hanging around the children’s center, but belonging to no one and they started asking questions. Through our interpreters, we learned from a group of elementary-aged girls from the village that this little girl has no family. We pushed for details and found out a story that is the story of so many children in Poipet.

The little girl is around three, though she appears closer to one. Her father had diabetes and died of a stroke and her mother left to work in Thailand shortly after she was born and has never returned home. She has a grandmother that has left for another village, so a neighbor girl around 8 years old keeps an eye out for her. She spends the night in the home of a village family, but when they work from 7am-7pm, there is no one keeping an eye on the child. She is left to wander the streets, hungry and alone.

This is the story of so many thousands of children in Poipet and places like it around the world. Her story leaves us unsettled. Her story leaves us wanting to fix the situation, but knowing our limitations. So what do we do?

We must continue to walk towards those who are hurting, those who are poor and those who are in need. If we don’t help, who will?

Tomorrow our nurses will return to the village and find the little girl. They will offer her what help they can and after that we will pray. We will pray for protection for her and those like her. We will pray for others to see her and meet her needs. We will pray for “thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”. And until the day when that comes to pass, we will do what we can each and every day to serve the poor that God puts in our path.

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4

Posted in January 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Encounters With Strangers

Have you ever been in just the right place at just the right time for a chance meeting? I know I have. In fact they happen quite often. One such encounter happened in the airport in Doha, Qatar as we waited for the next leg of our long, 30 hour journey to Cambodia to work with our beloved ministry partners. This will be my sixth trip to Cambodia and my eighth overseas mission trip and one thing I know when I leave the United States is to get ready to see God work in ways that I often don’t take time to see in the States. Part of what I ask God each day, whether in a foreign country or Katy, TX, is to have eyes to see what is really happening around me and to see people as He sees them. Although I know the Lord is faithful to answer my request, often the busyness of life keeps me from slowing down enough to have such encounters. But once in a while, in God’s providence, I get to see Him work and I watch in amazement and I again know that He is a living and active God who in constantly interceding on our behalf.

So, back to the story in the Doha airport. My teammates, Leslie, Patricia, and I were enjoying catching up with our new friends, Tesha and Sherri who live in Jacksonville, FL but traveled with us last year to Cambodia to do medical mission work and returned this year to do the same. It has been a year since we were face to face so we had so much to talk about! During our conversation, we noticed a woman sitting close by us who was listening to us quite intently.

It was time to head to the flight to Bangkok, so we stood to leave and the woman who had been listening to our conversation walked over to us with tears in her eyes. Her name is Funmi Oguntoye and she told us that she is from Nigeria and was flying home from Houston after visiting her sister who just lost her husband and her brand new baby. With tears running down her face, she told us that she could hear us talking about going overseas to help others and she told us over and over again how wonderful that was. She said that when she got home she was going to talk to her pastor about ways that she could get more involved in missions. In that moment, no words were needed. We knew just by looking in her eyes that she is a believer, that she was deeply hurting for her sister and that she was encouraged by hearing us talk about serving others.

The conversation was over in minutes and we hugged tightly and prayed with her. We prayed for comfort and peace for her sister, and encouragement for Funmi. One thing I love about women is that we can know each other for three seconds and we can hug, pray together, and totally understand each other!

My good friend Pastor Omar recently wrote a blog about chance encounters with strangers that really are not chance encounters at all. Hebrews 13:1-2 reminds us “not to neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. ”

Now, I don’t know if I have ever entertained an angel, but I do know that I have had many divine encounters that I could have missed if I had not been watching. The challenging part about serving others though is it is rarely convenient or easy. It always comes with some personal cost.

Scripture reminds us in Ephesians 5 to live wisely and make the most of every opportunity and that should propel us daily to watch for those “chance encounters” that God has laid before us that are ours to engage in or not. It is our choice.

As for me, I will continue to live with the advice of Pastor Omar; walk slowly among people. Look in their eyes. Listen to their stories. It is then that God can choose to use me or use you to bless, encourage, pray over, and love those that He puts “by chance” in our paths.

People are worth our time. Next time you are in the airport, sitting at work, picking up your dry cleaning, or waiting in carpool, take a minute to look around you. Ask God to give you eyes to see people the way He sees them and the courage to act on His behalf.

Posted in January 2018 Trip | 2 Comments