Though we have been in Vietnam for a couple days now, I want to get these notes out. The first written by a good friend's daughter, Marissa. She's a 3rd grade teacher. Seeing heart swell and eyes fill with tears has been... can I say a joy? I see her feeling and caring. A very special young lady. And the second by long time and gibtk activist Kathie Michie:
"It is only day three of our trip and I have to continue to remind myself where I am and what I am doing here. I am living out a dream.
It must have been close to seven years ago when I first met Robert. My dad told me of all the amazing work that was being done by Giving It Back To Kids and I immediately knew this was an organization that I wanted to support. The seed was planted that day and never has left the back of my mind. Fast forward seven years and here I am sitting on my hotel room's balcony writing from Cambodia.
Yesterday was one of those days that I know I will remember forever. We started the day by going to the Killing Fields and walked through this horrific site where so many were unnecessarily killed. As I walked though the paths, I tried to take in each story from the audio guide and immerse myself in this experience. Take a deep breath, say a prayer and reflect on resilience of this country.
We took a long journey to Battambang. I stared out the window and saw the country side. Beautiful rice fields stretching far and small villages filled with people, memories and hope. This was a great experience to see a side of this country off the beaten path and get a glimpse of life outside the city.
As we arrived at Vera and Marlene homes, I was filled with the emotions of the day. We pulled up and there were 25 girls waiting outside for us to arrive. I was greated with the most warm hugs. Girls I have never met hugged me tighter than even my closest friends. They smiled and the warmth from their hearts radiated throughout my visit.
We were greeted with a dance and song. We laughed and found common ground through dance, games and our love of pizza. As the night went on, Sreynoch taught me a dance and we began chatting about and she told me that it was her cousin, Sreyneang's birthday. We sang Happy Birthday to her and her smile quickly turned to tears. After speaking to her cousin she said she was overcome with joy. She hugged all of us and thank us for the birthday wishes. I had to continuously hold back tears as I looked at Sreyneang and saw so much gratitude, love and hope in her eyes.
We had the opportunity to come back to see the girls this morning. All of the girls spoke of what they wanted to do when they grew up. We heard many dreams of becoming doctors, teachers and travel agents. Sreyneang wants to become a singer. A small group of us asked her to sing and listening to her beautiful strong voice made it hard to believe she only just turned 15. Her cousin told us the song was called
"Missing Home". Sreynoch expressed that they are from very far away and miss their families, but have built a family in the girl's home here too and have many dreams for their futures. Sreyneang wants to become a doctor and has two more years before she can attend university. The opportunity, love and most of all hope that Giving It Back To Kids has given these girls is profound. The hope and warmth from these girls will never leave my heart and my thought and prayers will always be with them."
With Love Marissa
"It's been one week since we left home and it's been such an incredible journey already! Lots of travel and our friends have already shared about this trip so beautifully! Cambodia is hot and the roads are rough to say the least as we dodge motorbikes, cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes.
Then just when we pull up to the girl's homes, the joy begins! For the first time, Don, my husband gets to meet all 25 girls, who fill the houses with smiles and laughter. We have two new house moms too! Songs, games, smiles, more laughter and our fun time of coloring, and making necklaces!
It's hard to say goodbye, and we know even more how important these girls are! It's worthwhile! Every moment of travel well spent for time to share our love, and to encourage the hopes and dreams of these beautiful girls!
Now we are in Vietnam and today was one of my favorite times when we get to spend time with Carmella's house, Light House and Hal's home! Hugs for all!! We talked, shared names, played games, face paint, Legos, matching games, dress up for the girls! So fun! It's never long enough for me!!
A dream come true when Don and Diep, the girl we sponsored, met in person. Such big hugs and tears of joy to see her in person and deepen our relationship! Diep is married now, graduated school in May, has a good job and is expecting a little baby girl at the end of October.
Just having time to talk, be close and share more of our lives is an incredible feeling! What a blessing to see her and how happy she is! Yeah God! These smiles say it all! This Is GIBTK in Action!