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you know you’re in Cambodia when…

{a recap}

+an entire calf hangs in the street for people to rip off pieces to eat as they please

+there are 5 people riding on 1 little motorbike

+no one’s outfit matches

+there are $.50 pedicures

+aromas of fish are nearly everywhere

+women are sweeping everything, always

+you see face bleaching billboards

+dressing up includes lots and lots of sequence

+mannequins in shops are terrifying and look reused since the 1950s

+people drink unidentifiable liquids out of grocery sacks

+you wash your clothes and dishes repeatedly in the same bowl on the ground

+your shower is a hose in a tile room




oppression and injustice have a tempestuously violent internal physiological affect on my body. especially when it involves innocent little girls and boys, point blank, in my face. the best visual i can provide without x-ray vision is the typical bruce banner to green hulk scenario. my heart immediately leaps into my throat, its maniacal beat a fierce kick drum between my ears. my blood fiercely changes temperature and i can feel the hot wave wash over my body. i’m pretty sure my eyes could burn a hole in anyone my dilated irises fall focus upon.

but i’m a lady and when did violence ever build a bridge or improve a relationship for further work or provide a credible reputation? I beg God to give me grace, eloquence, and wisdom, because there is nothing good in me, there is nothing good in me, there is nothing good in me.

passing through the streets of phnom penh at night makes me shiver, even in the thick humid 90 degree air. Dimly lit, shanty doors are lined with plastic chairs where girls aged 7-17 sit. motorbikes line the side of the street where shirtless men loiter and laugh. i heard a story tonight of an 8 year old girl whose virginity was sold for $10, then her hymen was sewed up and she was sold as a virgin again, and again 9 more times. she was electrocuted, beaten, and starved, all before she even celebrated her 10th birthday… and thats not a rare case, its pretty typical here.

I kind of try to ignore it, especially working at a safe house. I want to focus on the girls that are rescued and protected, but fact is, there are still girls being destroyed all around me, and I feel it. I know darkness is the most cliche literary metaphor for evil, but its so thick here I can smell it and it penetrates my skin. What filth doesn’t reach my soul, rides my back. A daily reprieve, a daily intrinsic war, is completely necessary for positivity to survive. And we must survive and continue to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves. #its a marathon not a sprint.

*these photos are mine and may not be used without my permission- thanks!




{as i write this a little girl plays with my hair}

she kind of marvels at the coconut scented blonde silky streaks that fall arbitrarily around my shoulders. She knows very little English, but its much more than the 2 words I know in Khmer. She tells me I am beautiful. I whisper that she is my sister and she is altogether beautiful also… but, she shakes her head and scrunches up her nose. My world crashes down Compliments are a dime a dozen, but I am telling you, this girl is gorgeous and not because she resembles some barbie doll. Allow me to introduce you to Ava.

Our tuk tuk zipped around the precocious streets of Phnom Penh until we navigated toward back streets and entered an unassuming gate where we were met by a wave of elation. Girls aged 6-13 live here {i will keep the safe house mission’s name anonymous for safety} and have stories that will melt you to a puddle of tears, but you would never know by the looks their faces volunteer. 

Ava is fair skinned and periodically nods to the left encouraging her capricious side swept bangs out of her eyes. Her delicate hands carry a constant slew of pens, markers, and other means of sketching the scenes in her mind. Beautiful pictures despite the hurt that has shaped her reality. Her mother is dead and so is her only sister. She tells me that she prays to God every night for a sister… and that is when the words come with difficulty, she chokes on her words for a second and you can sense the burning in her eyes, a tear falls, but not without her brushing it away frantically. I immediately grab her in my arms and hold her so tight. She exclaims ‘i am ok i am ok!’ as if a tear is a crime. I rock her in my arms and already dread the day I have to say goodbye. 

This little darling is fantastically talented, she can author images that no 7 year old can conceive, my mind is reeling with ways to empower her. Today I bought her a notebook with money from my supporters and told her to leave no blank pages. She is a cage of potential and talent, she doesn’t even know how to complain, she works hard, she does her chores, she has so many dreams, her name is Ava.

…internet is scarce here, but I will try to introduce you to more of these darlings and keep you up to speed with the happenings of phnom penh. Just know that I love it here and see poems around every corner, so I will try to queue more posts to publish while I am unable to be at a computer! xoxo kristin

** I have renamed the darlings to protect their anonymity

*these photos are mine and may not be used without my permission. thank you!



Against All Hope

Do you remember the holocaust of WWII? I remember freaking out in history class, that it took us (america) so long to intervene and stop such corrupt twisted behavior. How can so many people be killed and it go unnoticed? You can’t pretend that kinda stuff is not happening and look the other way.

For so long I also maintained the assumption that Nazi Germany and their concentration camps were a one time tragic event against one people group… such an ignorant thought. Holocausts and genocide still plague our world. Struggles against severe cultural prejudice still leave bodies in heaps and piles, or worse, surviving people are subject to prisoners of the most  dehumanizing acts.

Genocide in Burma has left hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to jungles and across borders to Thailand and other neighboring countries (some even to America with the help of World Vision, my parents even adopted a Burmese family).

Hope keeps these desperate people alive. Aid from struggling organizations and missions might sustain them a little longer. The people that are not eliminated are sold as commodities, many of them as factory and field workers, and many, many more into the sex industries of Thailand, Cambodia, and elsewhere.

I have such a hopeless feeling myself, but the relentless smiles and struggle for survival that these people possess draw me toward their redemption. Not to mention, what kind of people are we if we just look away?

Against all hope,

Abraham believed…

Deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do.

But on what God said he would do.

romans 4:8 (NIV & The Message).

I am going in January, I want to be a voice for the people that have none…

**these photos are not mine