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God gives us the best presents!  Find out more about what's happening and how you can support Crossing Cambodia.
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STEPPING OUT ON FAITH, TRUSTING GOD TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.
~ Romans 8:28
Birthday Presents 

So for the past few months I’ve been struggling to write a newsletter and I’ll touch more on that later, but today is my birthday and God gave me a present that I just had to write about for you all.
 
If you know me, you know my favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28 and many of you may also know that last year was a very difficult year for me.  Sometimes we want to assume that bad things happen for a reason or we wrestle with why God allows hard situations to befall us.  Last year 4 students dropped out of our program for various reasons and every one of them felt like an emotional punch in the gut.  In fact, a while after he dropped out I saw one of the boys from our program on the side of the road inhaling the fumes from industrial glue inside of a plastic bag and that was like a sudden emotional sucker punch.  It hurt so much that it sent me into a very negative place for a while and I seriously questioned what good could God possibly bring out of what to me felt like an abject failure.
 
But today was my birthday and while I was at the center celebrating with the kids we still serve I had a small conversation with Sokly about that boy’s younger brothers.  They too have been struggling to keep up with our program and their family is not able to be the support necessary for them to make the right decisions, and so this year Sokly and the staff at Crossing Cambodia have become pro-active in looking for kids whose family and home situations may lead them to drop out and are actively seeking out foster homes within the local community to take care of them, temporarily and - in some cases - possibly long term.
 
After just a short time in a stable home we are seeing improvement in health, attitude, and school performance.
 
While we can’t solve every problem or save every child, we can learn from what didn’t work and look for ways to better reach out to and care for the children we serve.  And while I personally would love some new fitness gear or big meal, knowing that now children less likely to drop out of our program and that we’ll have more opportunity to bring Christ into their lives is perhaps the best present I could have asked for today.
 
Please keep praying with us as we seek ways to keep kids in our program longer, that they will keep going to school, and that we’ll be able to share God’s love with them.  For each child we place in foster care it can add up to $50 or $100 a month to our regular budget, and as a small ministry that adds up quickly, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a small investment to make for the life, wellbeing, and faith of that child.  Please pray with us and support us as we seek to make the love of God known, sometimes just one child at a time!
Street Kids Ministry Update

So a lot has happened that I really should be updating everyone on.  In July our ministry wrapped up a 5th year of school and now we are into our 6th year of ministry!

In August we hosted a team from St. Paul Lutheran church from Grafton, Wisconsin who then helped us to take 17 kids to the beach this year for our annual school break trip.  Suffice to say it was an exercise in organized chaos as we attempted to have a VBS on the beach with lots of rain and construction all around while the staff went off for some learning and relaxation time with Pastor Scott.  But the kids had a blast and we can't possibly express how grateful we are to the team for doing everything they did with us.  In fact, we had the opportunity to baptize one of our staff!  I'd just assumed she had already been baptized and when it came up with Pastor Scott we were blessed to baptize her in the sea.  While this is an awesome celebration of God's grace, it also meant that the older kids in our program had the chance to witness a baptism and are now asking seriously what baptism means and whether it is a decision they want to make in their lives with Christ.

We've also been hard at work getting a formal Memorandum of Understanding established with the local government, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Affairs.  New laws in Cambodia require all organizations working with children to set up an MOU like this with all the various government ministries associated with what we do and meet very strict requirements for operating in Cambodia.  It has been a gruelling process for our staff to create all the necessary documents and sit through hours of government trainings and meetings.  However, as of this month we've finally finished all the documentation and have received formal recognition from the government!  This means that we can not only keep working and look towards growing our ministry, but it also means we have the ability to request visas without long-term volunteers also needing work permits and gives us access to government social workers.  This is just one more step on the road to ensuring our ability to continue serving these children long-term in Cambodia.

Finally, this year we are now once again aiming to grow our program.  After a lot of discussion we decided we'd start adding small groups with the goal that in 2-3 years we will have enough staff and children to split off and start another small center.  Ideally we'll be able to rent a building attached to our current facility.  Sadly, there are always children and families we have to turn away when we do applications in June and July and so we're trusting that God will help us build up the sponsorship base to reach out to more of these children.  This school year we are enrolling up to 30 children and have brought on 2 new staff members, Sopheap and Rotha, to help us out.  Please pray with us as we seek God's direction for this ministry and that He will guide Sokly and all the staff as they put God's love into action on a daily basis for these children.

HOLZ FAMILY UPDATE

So its been a while since I got a newsletter out to everyone.  Back in June we had a team from South Dakota and then our family went back to the US to visit family and so I could try and get some fundraising in.  We visited friends and donors in central California and then drove all over the Midwest as we drove from Chicago to Wisconsin, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and over to our parents' home in Minnesota.  We thought perhaps this might be our last long family trip the US for a long time and then at the end of the trip things got complicated and this is what has been distracting me so much as of late.

Sinuon is not yet an American citizen, she has a green card and we've been using what is called a Re-Entry Permit to come and go from the US.  However, a few years ago the validity of Re-Entry permits was cut from 4 years to only 2 and with US immigration currently in the mess it is our request for expedited service to renew her Re-Entry Permit was denied and we had to delay our flights back to Cambodia just so we could get a 5 minute bio-metrics appointment taken care of in order to get a new Re-Entry Permit.  As of today the actual application is still in processing.

As this process has over the years become more complicated we sought out the advice of an immigration lawyer who is strongly suggesting we commit to getting citizenship and a US passport for Sinuon and that is what has been absorbing my thoughts for the last couple months.  Doing so may require us to spend at least 6 months if not a few years back in the US to get it all taken care of and I'm lost wondering what that means for our ministry and our family.  I have no clue what kind of job I could do to support us in that time frame, I really don't want to spend six months or more in my parents' basement with my whole family, and how will all this affect my ability to raise the support needed for Crossing Cambodia and the kids, youth, and families we serve?

As God seems to enjoy reminding me, every time I think I have an idea of where His plan is leading He throws me a curveball.  Thankfully we have a couple years to figure it out and look at all our options.  It does have me thinking more strategically about new ministry opportunities in Cambodia, but it also means we've had to make some changes in our family routines.

This year our children are not attending a local Khmer school, but are going to Cornerstone Learning Center which uses a Western curriculum and is run out of the local YWAM base as we now realistically need to consider how a long stay in the US will affect their schooling.  So far they are enjoying the new classes and have quickly made new friends.  Sinuon is looking at getting back into English classes to improve her reading and writing skills.  And Elena is a toddler who wanders around, steals my keys, smacks me lovingly in the face, and is finally starting to get some hair; I guess she's the only one who doesn't need to change up her routines.

We ask that you would please pray with us as we consider this challenge, how it will affect our lives in the future, how it will affect ministry here in Cambodia, and what opportunities it may open up for us to continue reaching out with the love of Christ.

PRAYER
REQUESTS
  • Thanksgiving when God gives us good gifts!
  • God's blessings for our kids and staff as they head into another year of school.
  • Thanks for the St. Paul mission team and their awesome efforts to make our beach trip special for the kids!
  • Blessings for Hoeurp as she has been baptized into the family of Christ!
  • Thanksgiving that Crossing Cambodia is in good standing with the government as we plan our program for years to come!
  • God's guidance for Sokly and the new staff at Crossing Cambodia.
  • God's guidance for Greg and family as they consider the long-term challenges before them.
  • Sufficient financial support for both the Lobato Family and the Holz Family.

SUPPORT US FINANCIALLY:

MINISTRY SUPPORT
Supports center operations such as rent, utilities, transportation, repairs, etc.
CHILD SPONSORSHIP
Supports a child's tuition, meals, supplies, etc.
(Click here to learn more.)
THE HOLZ FAMILY
Supports Greg Holz and his family with their costs of living as missionaries here.
We're trying again for a visa for Sokly to come visit the US!  Please pray that she gets it!
Just wanted an excuse to share this picture because sometimes I really do think our kids could be superheros.
A Closing Note

A toddler who shall not be named may or may not have been involved in an incident where a very important piece of paper with many emails gathered over the summer might have been submerged in a tub of liquid H2O.  If you would please be so kind as to share this around if you are from St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Stockton, CA, St. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton, MI, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Excelsior, MN, or St. Paul Lutheran Church in Grafton, WI it would be seriously appreciated.

Thanks,
Greg
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