These are the words that we use every day when we greet our neighbors and friends in Cambodia. Tommy will often put his hands together and add a little bow for this traditional greeting. We have lived here for over a year now and are blessed with an authentic community and believe that we are making an impact for the Kingdom of God and against the darkness of human trafficking.
A.T. has been busy with three new construction projects and developing a maintenance plan for all Agape International Missions (AIM) sights. Two of the projects are remodeling/renovating buildings while the third is for a boxing gym to teach men sports and what following Jesus look like as a guy. Men are usually the problem (demand) when it comes to sex trafficking and the gym teaches them that God created men to protect and not use their gift for exploitation. There are many programs that AIM operates and these days A.T. finds himself helping almost all of them in one way...
With so much happening in your lives and ours we wanted to send out a quick update about life in South East Asia.
My role continues to involve much time invested in research. Recently, I have focused on networking with other organizations around the world who also fight human trafficking to develop a better understanding of global trends and how other organizations are addressing similar problems. The other half of the week I have been using my construction management skills to help finish up the school. The school is a huge building with the capacity for 1500 students and will greatly help in prevention and equipping a community. There are some other projects AIM is hopeful about starting so I have been getting bids from contractors and working on designs as well.
In January I accompanied two other men for a research trip into Laos. Often times when looking into trafficking danger lies ahead but for this trip it was nothing but blessings for...
Two Fish Blue a media ministry came to visit us and put this great video together.
About Two Fish Blue: Great Adventure Productions’ mission is to bridge the gap between small missions organizations and their Christian supporters through digital media. Our desire is to create a greater awareness of God’s work around the world, using social media, communications, videography and graphic design.
Although living overseas if full of trial we can not help but focus in on some great things that have been part of our lives over here. We celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary in August! We are so thankful for God’s gift of marriage and are still amazed by how his love can be manifested in our relationship. It is safe to say that we are more in love today than any day that has come before.
We have been blessed by community in every place we have been so far and here is no exception. The amazing part is that it always looks so different, and here it often takes place in our neighborhood. We often find ourselves in deep conversations with our neighbors sitting outside on our patio or at the local park. Even Marigold has found a community with the neighborhood dogs.
How fast can a year go by? Tommy turned one year old on September 14th! Being parents has been on of the greatest gifts of our lives and our hearts could not be more full.
We wanted to send out a quick update to let you know how life is progressing. We are still adjusting to our new life here in a country that is so different than anything we have experienced before. We have both been to many different countries before, learned languages, had new job but this is our first time with a baby! Tommy (and Marigold) both enrich our lives and create such joy every day but we did not realize the cost of leaving friends and family would be on raising a child. With that in mind we have sought out the help of some people here in order to be able to live lives of mission and introduce Tommy to the world.
Crystal started language learning 3 days a week and we couldn't be prouder of her. She already sounds so Cambodian when she speaks and is starting to make connections in the neighborhood and a local coffee shop. Tommy's sweet demeanor opens many opportunities to meet others. God has also blessed us with many small groups, bible...
We began our travels on March 26th and arrived in Phnom Penh on the 29th, about 8,485 miles. God was gracious to us in our travels and there were not delays or hiccups. Marigold had to spend 38 hours in her kennel from LAX to Phnom Penh but the airline did insure that she had food and water. We were even able to see her in Tokyo and give her some medicine. Upon arrival three coworkers at AIM picked us up and took us directly to our new home, they even had dinner for us and bought us some groceries. The welcome was overwhelming due to the graciousness of those we are beginning to work with. We could not have felt more loved and taken care of.
We have only been in Cambodia for a week now but it is already beginning to feel like home. We are learning our way around the city slowly, finding stores to furnish our home, and how we can get groceries. Starting out in a new culture, new language, new environment, and different currency has its challenges but we have fou...
I wanted to write you to let you know about our current situation but also to thank you. Crystal and I are coming up to almost two years as missionaries! It has been an amazing experience full of adventure, culture, and God’s redemption. It has also been one of difficulty, stress, and at times loneliness. Your partnership with us has been so enriching to our lives and hearts. At the hardest times we honestly felt that you had our backs, that you believe in what God is doing, and that we can continue on in ministry.
This next leg is the scariest yet - moving farther away than ever before, new language, new culture, in a country with very real struggles. Cambodia is known to be very corrupt, and issues such as malnutrition and poverty are rampant. Christianity is almost nonexistent, just .4% in a 97% Buddhist country. There is dire need for hope!
We know and truly believe that God is going to do really big things in Cambodia, Jesus tells us that things are impossible...
What a great time of year we find ourselves in, namely a time of hope. This Christmas we have found the story of Jesus to be impactful in a new way, every time we look at baby Thomas we can’t help but think that God lowered himself in such a form as a baby. Going through all the things that having a baby entails makes the story come to life for us and we are yet again humbled. If God cares enough for us to let himself be known in such a way, if he beat death, then we have a reassurance of unity and joy. This brings hope even when we reflect on those who are not around, friends far away, and the empty feeling that can often set in by longing. Because we spent most of the summer in Arizona, we figured we would balance it out by spending part of the winter in Iowa. This has been a blessing to spend time with friends, family, and one of our favorite churches River of Life.
This last season has been a time of change, wonder, joy and even some confusio...
What an experience this last couple of years have been! As you know we have been back in the U.S. to prepare for the expansion of our family, adding a little guy, and preparing for what is ahead for us. This has been a time of learning about having a baby as well as refining what direction our life is most likely heading.
With much prayer and reflection Crystal decided that she would like to have a natural, unmedicated childbirth if the Lord wills. Through an amazing act of grace God provided a doula, Joni, who waived her fee. This was something that we really wanted but didn’t think we would be able to do. Joni is now truly part of the family and we could not imagine a more supportive and kind friend to help bring baby into this world.
On September 14, Crystals water broke at 8:00 a.m. and we promptly headed to the hospital. Joni met us there and we arrived in the first room around 9:00 am. By 11:45 the same morning Thomas Allen Holder II was born! Healthy baby...