The Complete Guide to Coming Home

Oh, you’re going back to America for a holiday huh? Kinda, sorta.

While we do get to visit briefly with our precious family, but t’s a work trip: fundraising, human trafficking awareness events, donor functions and church visits. It’s exhausting…

Here’s what it takes to”COME HOME” from the mission field..

*Make airplane reservations six months in advance: Seoul, Taipei,Gangzhou, Bangkok, Hong Kong which way to go?
*Acquire housing, transportation and meals for all the six locations you will be living in.
*Wife gets out suitcases and begins to pack one month in advance.
*Wife gets out husband’s suitcase day before the flight and he still hasn’t packed 6 hours before flight time.
*Go to nine different local Cambodian pharmacies to acquire all necessary “just in case” medications.
*Crack a tooth 2 days before you leave and have to get it repaired where?
*Travel to far off remote small strip mall to find your airline to choose your seat assignment.
*Because you’re coming home for six weeks you have to pay your rent and electricity two months in advance so..
*Go to an ATM machine every day for two weeks to get enough cash because the limit here is so small.
*Fill out countless forms because your visa expires when you get back.
*Fill out those same countless forms again because your drivers license will expire before you get back.
*Purchase 24 passport photos and 12 thumbprints later you may or may not get your visa or drivers license.
*Have long sad tearful temporary goodbyes to all your Cambodian friends and coworkers (miss them already).
*Fill an entire suitcase of Made27 artisian products, coconut balls for gifts, countless scarves, and birthday and wrapped Christmas presents for the rest of the year for all family members.
*Completely empty and clean out refrigerator in case the power goes off while you’re gone.
*Wrap or put in plastic tubs any food products left in your cupboard so the ants don’t take over.
*Clean apartment top to bottom, strip all the beds, clean mosquito netting.
*Put mothballs in all closets and drawers where clothing is kept.
*Bug bomb the whole place before you leave.
*Give your 22 plants to your friend so they can water while you’re gone.
*Pray your moto is still here when you return.
*You experience 3 different currencies on the route home- make sure you have enough?
*Try to remember what time zone you’re in?
*Deep breathing as you ponder the 30 hour flight and swollen ankles- pack compression socks.
*Pack 19.9999999 kilos in each suitcase (20K max) see photo yeah!
*Don’t forget your old 110v curling iron you use once a year in the states.
*Pack an entire bag of phone cords, outlet adaptors, car jacks, battery packs, kindle chargers, iPad chargers, computer chargers, small speaker.
*Notice you need a whole new wardrobe after living in SE Asia 4 years- it’s all falling apart after being cleaned and air dried outside in the sun.
*Disconnect internet, swap out Cambodian SIM card, remember to go on airplane mode, buy a $1 phone scratch card to have minutes on your phone when you return in the middle of the night and need to book an Uber.
*Quick mani pedi ($12 here) with your sweet expat friend you’ll miss.
*Remember to say “thank you” in English instead of “សូមអរគុណច្រើន” in Khmer.
*Oops – last-minute T-shirt order came in for Made27 for 440 shirts! *Again have to go to three different ATMs to get enough funds to cover the T-shirts. By the way did you know our human trafficking survivors can make your company or church T-shirts?
*Your 80-year-old mother again reminds you she’s counting the minutes until you are “safe” on US soil again.
*Have beef lok lak, sour soup and fresh coconut juice one more time.
*But can’t wait for chips and salsa, diet Dr Pepper, Tommy’s Pizza, Captain Curt’s and red Twizzlers!

And it is worth every step. Hello family and friends!

One Cell Phone, One God

I must brag.  I am so proud. 

They call me “Mom” – my 8 teachers who daily I get the privilege to mentor in the Christian faith, train teacher skills, drill English and model before them a life centered on Christ.

They are young.

For the past year, I have spent many hours teaching and hanging out with this awesome group of young people prodding them to read their Bibles daily, act on what they’ve read, go to church, involve themselves in Bible study, teach their students the beauty and the faithfulness of our amazing God.  Most days I’ll be honest I wonder- do they hear me?  Am I making a difference?   Do they want to grow in the Lord?   (big sigh)

And then Wednesday happened.

Unbeknownst to any of us, a local drug dealer in the village had threatened one of our first graders that if he did not steal one of the teacher cell phones at school, he would kill him!

The child stole the phone, delivered it to the dealer but broke down in sobs when he got home and reported to his parents what he had done.

The parents marched their son right back to the school to confess to his teacher what he had done.  The child was mortified, scared to death and knew expulsion and condemnation was due.

But instead, grace ensued…..

My precious teacher hugged him, forgave him, ensured him of his love for him as Christ had loved him in his vileness (the teacher) and vigorously invited him back to school the next day.

This part-time teacher makes $90 for a half day teaching, attends university on his own dime in the afternoon and evening, buys nightly dinner and lives in a quiet corner of a church empty room.  A Samsung phone is a big deal, but His God was bigger!

Both parent and child were stunned…shocked…amazed!   This doesn’t happen in Cambodia.  Stealing would have been sure termination from the school and an unbearable shame to his family.

These Buddhist parents were overheard saying, ‘This school is different, it’s the Jesus school!”

As I was rejoicing in my quiet time for this young man and his Christian walk, God gave me this verse of praise for that teacher,

“ Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12).”

Way to go VanSol!  This “Mom” teacher trainer could not have been prouder!    

 

 

We are in “banner days”

To you, our followers, donors and senders, we have so much to say and hope that you can accept that for security reasons, we can only tell part of the story of this last year and these present weeks.  The fruit of your faithfulness in keeping us going is beyond our expectations.  Beyond a simple thank you.

May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!  …..(Psalm 10:5 ESV)

These are “banner days” as we see both educational initiatives and business initiatives taking hold.  As these take hold, the local Christians gain influence.  They can raise the banner and find new levels of leadership.   It is slow but it is really happening, one life, one place at a time.   These Cambodian friends are taking ownership of the work they are doing and the opportunities they are finding.  Some do it well quickly, some need more encouragement.  Whatever they choose and whatever pace they choose, they own it. They are the emerging leaders.

We will be home in July for rest and meetings and we encourage you to call us while we are stateside so we can share more openly and face-to-face whenever possible.  Ask us about the school growing so fast there are 30 kids in a classroom and the waiting list to enroll.  Ask us about the sisters.  Ask us about starting a business to repair roofs made of scrap steel.   We have some banner stories.

Host an Awareness Event.  We are scheduling in-home Awareness Events for weekdays and weeknights in July now.  Gather your neighbors, friends, small group and we will open your eyes to modern day slavery and how you (and we) so often walk right past it.   Oh the difference open eyes and an informed mind can make.  Oh the joy of freedom fresh on the face of a new freed man or woman.  You can be engaged in setting captives free.  Do it!

Support.  If you support our work on an ongoing basis we cannot express strongly enough our deep appreciation.  If you have not yet had the chance to join with us as partners, perhaps that time in now.  Click here for donor information and tax deductible giving.

Rise Up or Shrink Away.

The battle of modern day slavery is growing and we must rise to meet it or shrink away and allow it to consume millions more.

When we first entered the battle of modern day slavery and child sex trafficking, our community of friends was shocked.  Not at our entry but by the extent of the atrocity.  Now, nearly 4 years in, the atrocity is growing rapidly.  The US statistic for 2017 was up a whopping 13% (Polaris Project).  Where the Gospel is largely absent or silent, this plague appears to be growing even faster.

PolarisProject.org

Missions is about sharing the Gospel.  The Gospel is about changing lives.  Changed lives don’t enslave others.  The formula is simple on the surface.  But the work is far from simple or over in the field.  Look at the picture, this plague has become widespread even in the US.  Can we simply pretend it is only “over there”?

We offer our deepest thanks to you our supporters for making it possible for us to work to change the circumstances of modern day slavery and specifically child sex trafficking. Teaching those who are most vulnerable to become teachers instead of victims and owners of honorable businesses instead of sellers of humans. We cannot be here doing this unless you are there at our backs.  You sending is as valuable a link as us going.  There is just no way we can secure an income from the already impoverished people we work beside for their advancement.  So whatever sacrifice you are making to engage with us please know that the impact is powerful and you have our most sincere appreciation.  Spread the word about what YOU are doing to fight back.  Begin to be identified as a modern day abolitionist.

Host an Awareness event this summer in your church, community or neighborhood.  Be observant in your community.  Report suspicious activity.  Set captives free!  Join us in this fight for our sons, daughter and grandchildren.

“Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom  (James 2:12 HCSB)”

We did not casually enter into this battle.  We knew it would be hard, at times ugly, at times beautiful but always right.  We knew we were leaving behind secure and familiar circumstances – safety, but we knew it was right to fight for those bound in slavery.

Is this your battle too?  Join us by clicking here

For more information on hosting an Awareness Event:  pete.livingston@gmail.com

For information of distributing products made through victim/at risk community work programs:  pete.livingston@gmail.com

To view and purchase goods directly, visit Made27

 

Hitting “Reset”

Pete & Debbie Livingston

Hitting reset.  Then what?  It is what we get to do.  Human trafficking does not simply end with “reset”.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”  (Matthew‬ ‭28:19 ESV‬‬)

I have come to realize that in many places where we send people to “go and tell and make disciples”, where we work now thanks to a slew of supporters, the hearers need a lot of mentoring to shift from being hearers to being trusters and doers.

This step is not automatic. Nurturing and mentoring is needed.  Is this not the role of believers and the church to new believers?   What if the church has little generational depth in believing and following?  This is where the missionary who is sent steps in.  Encouragers who help new believers hit “reset” in their lives.

I have learned that when you teach someone to hit the “reset” button they will need to know the hows and be mentored in the new way as it unfolds.  There is no familiar path and very few to follow or lead the way.

“…. teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Hitting “reset” in American culture affords many opportunities through churches, small groups, para church groups and multiple resources for the new believer to become  trusters and doers.

Hitting “reset” in a foreign culture does not often afford the same support groups and materials.  Except when there are “senders, supporters and goers” who can become the resources for the new start.

Our focus is those lost, trapped and often unseen in the world of human trafficking.   When they decide they want to to reset their lives the things they must shed are often dark, heavy and so discouraging that hitting reset will only begin a loop back in a very short time.  Sustaining the reset takes mentors.

That is what we get to do.   Set the captives free and walk with them in “reset mode”.

We say thank you to our senders, supporters who make it possible for us to be goers and mentors.

We pray 2018 will bring Good News to those around you. Help someone hit “reset” in their life.

If you are interested in helping to end modern human trafficking, we would love to have you on our support team.  Visit our donor page at Click  here  

4 Steps Forward

Changing their own lives.  Working to change a sex-trafficking culture.  In this quick video we give a glimpse of the first steps forward to enter honorable work.  All for the well-being of their families and communities. Catch this short video and see a sample of what we do.

Poverty to sustained income.  Slavery to Freedom. Lost to the Truth.

If you support our work, this is a grand day with a big step and you are helping it happen.  If you are not yet a supporter, please consider joining the team with your sustaining support.  Click here for tax deductible giving.

Who’s teaching whom?

Today I told those 8 eager faces (my Cambodian teachers) that we were going to study the ខួរក្បាល (in English this means brain).  Four times a week I tuk tuk out to a local village to lend my love and support to 8 elementary teachers who range from ages 16-27 and minister to 145 students 3-year-old until 2nd grade.   Two are currently in Cambodian university, 2 have not completed high school and ALL have no teacher training.   This has been my most daunting task since arriving in Phnom Penh almost 3 years ago.  While this is my fourth round of teaching at schools, it never gets easier.  As I first walk onto their school sites, most have NOTHING!  Few supplies, cramped spaces, untrained personnel, very little English, but one thing I have consistently seen in all 4 schools I have worked in:  A RADICAL LOVE FOR JESUS AND CHILDREN!  This passion brings me to my knees every time as they pour out their untrained hearts (both in educational models and Biblical understanding) in changing the landscape for Cambodian children.  

In this, they are my heroes.  They teach me.  

To encourage educational growth and stimulation, I taught my teachers this…

1. Teachers need to help their students by stimulating brain growth (I called it “exercising their brains”).   Children need to exercise their brains to boost cognitive performance, memory and thinking.  Just as I said these things, a lightbulb went on over my head.  

Duh!  This applies to my 62-year-old self.  You try learning a new language at 60.  You try navigating impossible traffic in Cambodia. You try driving a moto for the first time.  You try teaching teachers with absolutely nothing but what I create.  You try teaching Biblical applications to non-Bible readers.  After “liberation” day from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, there were only a few hundred Christians left and 3 pastors!  The whole Bible was not translated into Khmer until 1954, thus Biblical illiteracy is widely evident.   Most don’t own a Bible!  Yet, the few stories they know, they teach.  They pray.  They fast.  They attend church faithfully.  They worship.  

These are my heroes.  They teach me.  

2.  Teachers need to help their students by creating new and exciting challenges for them.  (Instead of doing things the same old way, change it up!  Get creative!)  Hmmmm….

Duh!  Again, this applies to my 62-year-old self.  When God saw in His good mercy to give us a passion for human trafficking, he gave us a whole new work.  In 40 years of marriage, we have had many exciting new experiences:  parenthood, marriage ministry, adoption, 10 moves).  But who gets a new call to go half way around the world at 60 to fight the atrocity of child sex trafficking in Cambodia?   He knew what we needed.  What a challenge! We pray daily for creativity in reaching the lost here and rescuing and restoring as many children as possible.   As I watch these precious teachers really try to be creative and change it up, I am challenged as well.  

These are my heroes.  They teach me.  

In this season of giving, if you would like to contribute a teaching item to our precious school, please click on the following Amazon Wishlist link and choose an item:  

If you would like to support the ongoing work we do in Asia and America to fight trafficking of children, we would be honored to have your support.  Tax-deductible Donation here.

Christmas shopping that changes lives

 

 

 

 

Our market partner, Made27 is proud to announce our new line of wrapped bracelets.

These beauties measure almost a meter long and wrap five times. At $35 these make an excellent gift.

What a pleasure to work with these Asian Artisian’s who work towards a better life for themselves while sharing the gospel in their communities.  Your purchase changes their lives.

The pressures that lead to human trafficking mount quickly when education is poor and jobs don’t exist.  Selling one child to feed the rest is an atrocity but becomes understandable on a level of desperation only understood by those who live it.

 

Your purchases support their work to change their lives and regain a future.

To purchase visit Made27.com!

 

For information incurablefanatics.org

Helping folks help themselves works!

Helping folks help themselves works!

Tha’s why we do it.

Subject: To our supporters & friends

As supporters and interested groups, you deserve to know about our work and our projects. We remain focused on programs and communities actively engaged or highly prone to child trafficking.  Prevention, Recovery and Rehabilitation remain our primary driving purposes because we believe human trafficking is more than a social cause, we believe it is a Gospel cause.

Please, allow me a quick summary of how our mission works. We are decidedly Evangelical and SBC grounded and work largely with similarly aligned and planted Cambodian church leaders. Our visas are thru a locally organized NGO. Being a local based NGO we have great latitude and less government interference. This is a joy to us. While many other groups are facing increasing government interference, we are not. So, we take advantage of this opportunity and open door while it is still open.

We do not “fund” ongoing work. We have no employees. We have no buildings. We work into communities thru the local church and local Christian leaders. The “work” is theirs to own and we simply mentor. For example, many NGOs have opened schools, have large staff commitments and building upkeep (and now more government interference). We mentor local people to become the teachers in their own schools. We teach teachers. On the business side, many NGOs have opened workshops and small factories and employ workers which now results in significant overhead and more recently, government interference. We instead, mentor entrepreneurs who own and operate their own businesses and we help them commercialize their product outside their village, and outside their country.  Products based on materials they can source and labor they can hire from their village.

We believe this presents a sustainable model. Marketplace Missions is a term now being tossed around as a model that fits third world missions. We have been at it for over 3 years. We believe it works.

Therefore, our budget is small and primarily involves our support on the field and travel to conduct our work. Our Advisory Board approved budget is about $70,000 per year for everything: Ministry materials, living allowance, insurance, vehicle rental/maintenance/fuel, travel, government documents (visa, permits, drivers license, taxes), phones, internet, and ongoing language training/assistance.

These are our current in country needs:

* Media. Development of a series of short video clips and interviews with victims/ at- risk workers telling their story of recovery, reintegration, and the power of the Gospel in changing their lives. Also cultural context video for “B” roll
* ESL training. Participate in ESL training both as “Train the teacher” and in actual evening classrooms in churches. Specifically methods of instruction for teachers and phonics in classrooms
* Graphic design training. Making fliers, promotional handbills, etc several enterprises we are developing involve the sale of local services such as travel/tour operators. Design of promotional materials is rather rudimentary. Printing is cheap here but design is challenging.
* Teacher workshops. Instructional methods in a classroom. Teachers here rarely have a solid educational background themselves. Private schools are financially out of reach for most people and government schools are poor. We assist villages in training locals by weekly training classes and holding centralized multi day conferences in the city.
* Sewing. Simple pattern use and design for beginners and intermediate
* Jewelry design. Simple Pinterest styles and YouTube styles of cord and beads. Training also for what designs are more desirable in US markets.
* Financial planning. Home budgeting and small business budgeting. As income develops there is very little thought beyond spend. Savings is a foreign concept and debt becomes a trap as it becomes available.

In US needs
*. Continue brand awareness for Made27 and develop retail placements for items made in village development programs.
*. Bring together a network of churches recognizing and willing (dare I say desiring) to enhance awareness in the US of this issue not merely as a social issue but more importantly as a Gospel issue.

Seems like a bunch of stuff. I hope this continues to be a fit. If you know a group interested in working with us in any of these areas, please help connect us with them.

Interested? Engage   If you already support us with donations that support this work ongoing, we express our deep appreciation.  If you have not yet joined us with a donation, please, as you are able, donate here. 

free27.org

made27.com