The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has affected everyone, all across the world. But according to Shannon Smith who is serving in Cambodia, where there have been relatively few cases, life is pretty normal.
Like most of the world, Cambodians were quarantined at home when the pandemic began, only venturing out for food and essentials. However, after time passed, Shannon ventured outside her home for walks in her neighborhood. After a few exploratory walks, Shannon started meeting families, families with a lot of children. She decided to start walking every day at 5 p.m. and the children were eager to engage her in play. Shannon explains, “We started by running down the street or playing frisbee. I really loved the hour every day that I was able to talk to people in the neighborhood and play with the kids there.” After a while, she started bringing more and more items to play with, and now packs an entire suitcase full of toys, games, and mats. The mats are laid on the ground and provide a portable play area.
Shannon engaged the community this way for several months until one day in June, she arrived to find one of the housing areas completely torn down. This was a place many of the families had lived. She remembers, “I was so upset because I didn’t even get to say good-bye to the kids who were living there. I asked those who were left how to find them, but they all just told me they had moved far away.” All she could do was keep those families in prayer.
Then a few weeks ago, when she went to play with the kids in that area, Shannon ran into the mother of one of the families who had suddenly disappeared. “She told me that the kids really missed me and she let me follow her to where they are living now. “ These families go and live wherever the work is. It turns out that all that time, they had been working only a 15- minute walk from Shannon’s house. She went home that day with a heart full of gratitude to God for the gift of reuniting with the kids and their families.
“When I moved to this new neighborhood at the start of 2020, I knew God must have a plan for moving me to this area, “ Shannon reflects, “I prayed for families and kids that I could meet, get to know, teach, and share the love of Christ with.” When she originally prayed this prayer, Shannon had the impression that God was going to give her two groups of families and kids to love–and now He has!
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“God is so good and I am forever grateful for every opportunity He gives me to share his hope and love with these beautiful Khmer children and their families.”