Cambodia Mission Trip—October 2023
Chng Eng Ching give thanks for how God has given her a bird's eye view of doing mission work through His lenses as she reflects on her first mission trip with GBC to Cambodia.
On 2 October 2023, I went on my first mission trip with GBC. It was a five-day mobile dental clinic and the group would travel to three different PKH centres located in Chbarmon, Aoral and Trang respectively to provide dental services to the students, workers, and their families at these centres.
PKH stands for Project Khmer H.O.P.E. which is an NGO set up by St Andrew’s Cathedral. One of GBC’s supported missionaries, Deborah Teo, serves at the PKH Trang Centre. For more information about Project Khmer H.O.P.E, you may access this website and if you would like to understand more about Deborah’s work, you may access this link.
On this trip, God assembled a team of nine people.
Clockwise from left: Daniel Ng, Dr Benjamin Wee (St Andrew’s Cathedral), Colin Tan, Jeannie Cheang, Cheng Sui Yoong aka SY (Susan’s friend from Queenstown Lutheran Church), Chng Eng Ching, Dr Wee Thiem Heng, Susan Tan and Tan Kim Cheng (our leader and engineer).
Our flight was 7:40 am in the morning on 2 October (Monday). Compared to the other mission trips that I participated prior to my church membership transfer to Grace Baptist Church, I felt insufficiently prepared in spite of having gone through two briefings with the group. This could be partly because I hardly know the people I am travelling with let alone working together. Also, I have known best friends who are no longer friends after travelling together once. So, I was extremely concerned about the cohesiveness and unity of the group. So, one of the prayers I made to God was that God would grant us a united spirit to serve Him in Cambodia that we will not reflect Him poorly and that we as "pampered" Singaporeans would be prepared to serve and not to be served.
Perhaps God sensed my nervousness. So, prior to our departure, His warm sunshine greeted us in the morning and the Lego like airport luggage trucks whisking away seemed to carry my burdens away too and I immediately felt positive about the trip.
After half an Indiana Jones movie and breakfast, we arrived in Phnom Penh at 8:55am. Our first dental clinic stop was PKH Chbarmon. In this centre, the students can speak English and because they are trained in Hospitality and would have their job placements in hotels, the place and the rooms are very well kept.
After lunch, we set up to provide dental services. Our mobile dental clinic team set-up for this trip comprised of the following roles and tasks and the same roles were replicated at each centre unless someone like me requested for breaks or role change:
- two dentists: Dr Wee Thiem Heng and Dr Benjamin Wee (although they have the same surname, they are not related);
- two dental assistants: Jeannie Cheang who was paired with Thiem Heng and Chng Eng Ching who was paired with Benjamin. Other volunteers like Daniel and SY had to help Eng Ching by Day 3 and 4 of the trip as the standing hours were long and Eng Ching was physically unprepared for such long standing jobs;
- one person to clean the used dental tools;
- two persons to manage the Dental Autoclave Steam Steriliser; and
- two persons to keep those waiting for dental services occupied. (So, we see Daniel screening videos and Colin playing games or teaching Math to the youths and/or children waiting for the dental services.)
Thiem Heng and Jeannie at work with Chendamon, the translator.
Benjamin and Eng Ching assisting with a tooth filling job.
Are these all the dental tools to clean? Nope. Susan has cleaned them all!
Left: SY and Kim Cheng manning the Dental Autoclave Steam Steriliser. Right: Daniel (not in the picture) screening video using his portable projector to the children waiting for their dental services.
Colin engaging the students in a number game.
With these pictures in mind, I recall the Bible passage Kim Cheng shared on Day 2 of our trip during group devotion. He shared from 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. Since I also heard a sermon a day before on the same passage, 1 Corinthians 12:18 immediately resonated with me—
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
So, I firmly believe that God put each one of us in this trip and each of us has a unique role in this team. Therefore, even though this team has people with different preferences, different personalities, different political makeup, and is intergenerational with people of different age groups, God was faithful and He answered my prayer for spiritual unity.
I also noticed that each time we visit a centre, we spent only a night or two at the centres. Yet the amount of time the hosts needed to clean the centres and prepare to Singapore standards for our stay may be onerous. I was concerned that our presence burdened the missionaries and Cambodians residing at the centres. After all, we should not come to be served but to serve. So, I pray that when we go from Singapore, where we are comfortable with cleanliness and minimal bugs, may we be prepared to be uncomfortable, especially in rural places in Cambodia. And when we are uncomfortable, we may want the things that make us comfortable, may we then remember to pray Mark 14:36, “Not what I will but what you will.” This is God’s words to me on Day 3 of this trip.
I also observed that if we go to a country and if we have the “colonial” mentality that we go there to teach our host country natives, it may also not necessarily be effective missionary work because there is an element of pride. But, if we go there to learn something from God and the natives, we may expect less physically but we would subject ourselves to a deeper appreciation of the place and the natives whom God has called us to serve. And, 1 Peter 5:5 came to my mind, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” So, I think it is this grace that He gives to the humble that allows our missionaries to be tolerant to conditions that they are not used to while serving.
As I reflected on this first mission trip with GBC, I realised there are much to be thankful for. God has blessed me with new spiritual friendships. He helped me experience His protection by keeping us all safe. He demonstrated His faithfulness by keeping us spiritually united. He blessed the Cambodian people at PKH with the skillful hands and faithful care of our doctors. But, God gave me much more—He gave me a bird’s eye view of doing mission work through His lenses. Thanks be to God.
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