First Mission – Cambodia 2016
By Amanda Byliefeldt
I thought it would be appropriate to pen down my very first experience on a missions trip. I was so blessed to be invited along with Pastor Nicky of Ignite Ministries, on a trip to Cambodia. I will ever be thankful to God and Ignite Ministries for this life changing opportunity. I will mostly share on my experience as a first timer and leave all the testimonies and miracles for next month’s blog.
I was invited a few months ago. At first I was unable to go, but then God made a way so that I could. Nicky had already asked Pastor Petro to join the trip and the two of them bought their tickets. Then, a few months later, God made a way for me to go with them. I was offered a place on the team and after talking to my husband, I accepted it. My ticket was booked months after theirs, but on every flight my seat next to them was still open. We never got separated…how amazing is that?
I did not know what to expect from this missions trip. I had no previous experience of missions. God comforted me by reminding me that moving from South Africa to Australia was also part of a missions trip, so I was comforted, but still nervous. I never thought of myself as a missionary. How wrong was I?
As the day of our departure drew close, I felt so uncertain and nervous, not knowing what to expect. I was uncertain of what to pack and what to leave behind. What would be important and what would be just a waste to take? I was worried about leaving my family behind; my two sons and husband would have to survive without me.
We had been interceding for the trip for weeks…followed by five days of prayer and fasting just before we left. God revealed to us that He was doing something new. These words: “I am doing something new” came up a lot, so I started my journey knowing with my “knower” that I will not return the same. When the ONE and only God of the Universe shares with you that HE is doing a new thing you better start believing it and He will start with you first.
I had to drive the seven hours to Perth on the Friday to catch the plane with them the next day, Saturday. I was worshiping all the way, with loud music, just praising God for this amazing opportunity. We left on the Saturday evening and when we arrived at the airport we started to giggling like little school girls. The joy of the Lord was just so present from the beginning.
We arrived in Singapore and had a nine hour lay-over. What would have been a very boring and long lay-over, changed into a time of sharing and more laughter. God just poured out His joy over us in an abundance fashion, which is just like our Daddy Yhwh – everything in abundance.
We arrived in Cambodia on the Sunday morning. The weather was warm and humid. The joy of the Lord has not left us, we were still chirpy and fresh, as if we only traveled for a few hours. We had a very limited amount of sleep during our journey, but God sustained us all the way, by filling us with that abundance of joy.
The three of us shared a room with three beds. Under normal circumstances we would probably fell over each other’s feet, but this was different. There was a unity…we worked as if we were one.
After arriving at the hotel, we unpacked and then we worshiped and prayed to rid the room of any unwanted spiritual visitors. For lack of space, Nicky, with her flags, worshiped on her bed and I grabbed the little space in-front of my bed to worship with my flags. Petro (who is like a jukebox…a song for every occasion) worshiped, also standing on her bed.
We were in a country that is so full of idols, but still the spiritual atmosphere did not feel as heavy as I thought it would. I did not feel oppression or depression in any way or form, which I thought was interesting, because where I come from, the atmosphere is heavy. Our nation does not have all these visible idols, like Buddha statues and temples on every corner, in every shop, which probably amount to thousands of idols.
There was a power that moved with us. Everywhere we went, we were so aware of the presence of Holy Spirit around us. The joy of the Lord did not leave us, we carried it everywhere. People would stop and look at us with a smile on their faces. I can only guess what they were thinking…
On the Monday morning we met the new students of Arrows School of Ministry. We saw very reserved students. They were shy and maybe even scared of these three very “crazy” ladies that came to teach them. The worship was very reserved. No flags and almost no voices. We did what we do best…we worshiped. God started revealing to us that He was going to break down the walls that was keeping them from stepping out…HE did in a mighty way.
I experienced the traditional Cambodian way of eating for the first time. A table cloth was laid on the floor, with the food put in the center and everyone sitting down on the floor, eating traditional Cambodian food. For someone that is very fussy when it comes to food, it was sometimes very challenging to eat the traditional food. I am not a lover of chilies and almost everything is spicy (Cambodians eat chillie as if it is just another vegetable). I am fanning my mouth even thinking of it.
I tried various other foods, like frog and quail. Various fruits were on the menu, which I mostly liked. The strangest fruit I tasted was the Snake Fruit, which I felt very reluctant to bite into, but was surprisingly good. Dragon fruit was one of my favorite fruits, I could easily eat that regularly. The most surprising fruit, which I would probably never eat again, is durian. People who are familiar with it, know that it has a very pungent smell, which is hard to describe. I am convinced that I do not have an Asian pallet and taste-buds (said with much respect). For most Cambodians this is a favorite fruit. My feeling about durian is: “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and burned it”.
The hardest part of the whole trip was a visit to a slum area. My heart was just broken, shattered for the people who had lost everything in a fire, yet had smiles on their faces. I had to bite my lip to keep me from crying in compassion…needless to say, it didn’t work. It was so noticeable, even though they have so little, that they still had HOPE and that hope made a difference. We took some clothes to give to them. Among the clothes were underwear for the children. The boys immediately ran off to their shelters and stripped their clothes and came running back, showing off the new underpants, they didn’t care as much about the T-shirts and pants, the underpants were gold. The joy on their faces for receiving these small gifts warmed our hearts.
We also spend some time in a beauty salon. Who would think that we would visit a beauty salon on a missions trip? But this was no ordinary beauty salon. The salon is run by Christian missionaries, who operate this salon, called Hands of Hope. The aim is to get young, at-risk girls off the streets, so that they do not become a statistic of falling prey to human trafficking. The girls are offered accommodation, education and has the opportunity to learn to cut, color and style hair, give massages and to do manicures and pedicures, among other things. There is also a cafe, run by the girls. The money you pay for the service in this salon goes toward supporting these girls. It gripped my heart knowing that these girls were saved from the streets and saved from human trafficking. While the beautiful Cambodian girl was massaging my feet, I was praying blessings over her and as her face captured my heart, I meditated on how she captured the heart of Jesus.
I returned to Australia with a feeling (actually it’s more a knowing) that I would never be the same again. I was stretched beyond anything I have ever experienced before. If I were a tent…my tent pens would be so wide, that the tent would be flat on the ground. I was so humbled through this experience. I have learned more about our God, and how amazing He is. The things I have seen and experienced with God, through the Holy Spirit, changed me forever.
I have seen the Trinity (Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) in action more than ever before, I saw Holy Spirit move more powerfully than ever before and I felt Jesus’ love in a new, touching way; more than ever before. I have experience angels helping us on more than one occasion. I have seen the transformation in the students at ASOM, reserved and shy in the beginning and then on fire for God, unreserved and open to whatever God wants, ready to step out of their comfort zones.
By the last day I have already decided that I will go again, God willing. I love the Cambodian people, their positivity and their loving nature. Because of this experience, I vow to seek the positive in every situation and most of all, I will seek God in everything.
I have learned more about unity…we were three ladies, all with different gifts and anointing, yet we operated as one. Petro reminded us often that “where there is unity, God commands His blessing” and these words will stay with me always.