Cambodia 2011As 2013 is rapidly drawing to a close I’m getting bombarded by end of the year “stuff” and find myself marveling at all the changes in my life that have happened in 2013 and wondering how I got here.

And something I can’t overlook is how much one child, that isn’t even my own, has affected my life and is now (I pray and hope) affecting the lives of many more children.

This young girl was one of the first kids I ever picked up and brought to church. Her smile is infectious, always is. Everyone who meets here seems to fall instantly in love with her. But back in April of 2011, I could not have imagined the trajectory she would send me on after learning to love her as such an energetic and wonderful child of God.

When I first met her I knew very little about her and what her life was like, but every day she was excited to get into our truck or tuk-tuk, and her mom would smile and say, “Thank you Greg.” When I first heard she was going to school I was excited, but then a month or so later I heard she had stopped. Apparently there was some kind of issue with her attendance. Later that year she would start again but dropped out when her mother took her to visit her grandmother. Again the next year she started again but dropped out when the government forced her family to relocate and the sponsoring organization didn’t know where to pick her up. And suddenly I found myself thinking about what needed to happen to keep her in school, to get her through the 1st grade.

And so the idea for Crossing Cambodia started to take shape. We would go where these kids go when they move, we will support them when their families are unable to, and we will love them as God loves them.

She has now been attending school for 4 1/2 months, the longest stretch she’s ever done, and with no sign of giving up. She is at the top of her class and may even be able to skip up a grade in the next year to start catching up with her peers her same age. Even on the coldest days with little to no sleep, she is up early and waiting for our truck with such excitement because I think she finally knows that good things are coming.

As this year draws to a close, I thank God for introducing me to her and I hope that one day I will be able to convey to her how her smile changed my life and hopefully the lives of so many more.