Greetings in His name!
As usual, we have to start with an apology for this long-overdue-update of Gateway Cambodia. We have just checked and found that our last newsletter was sent out in Feb 2011. Please, accept our deepest apology.
Our biggest news this year is that we will be moving to Phnom Penh together with our children. We had never thought of leaving our current location in the local province until December last year. However, when Christina and our daughter Senoka got seriously sick, and we continued to experience our usual staff shortage and problems all together, we found it very difficult for us to run Gateway and continue to provide our care to the children. This could happen again anytime in the future, and we came to realize that we should not run Gateway where we could no longer be responsible for the care and safety of our children in case of personal emergency. We started looking for a suitable property in January, found it, and already completed the purchasing process in March. We are currently preparing for our departure here in Bos Knor and receiving the children in Phnom Penh.
The merit from this move will go well beyond our current abilities in that we will be able to respond to emergency situations more effectively. We will no longer have to travel back and forth between Gateway and Phnom Penh, with one of us having to be absent frequently. This will produce far more luxury of time; time we can spare for our children.
Over the last four years, we have been trying to take care of our children, not in the way that we are merely the ones who are responsible for an orphanage and its children, but in the way that we are like their parents and they are like our own children as much as possible. Yet, we have repeatedly had to be confronted with the fact that we cannot even become “like their parents.”
There are children, who express their desire to go back to their families or relatives just because they do not appreciate small punishments we give out of love due to their wrongdoings. Some even want to quit their studies and start working. In any case, the very root of such problems is that unfortunately there is always a retreat where they could possibly run away. Families and relatives carelessly send a message that either remaining at Gateway or going home would be fine, and that they (the children) could choose. To make matters worse, the Cambodian society, which does approve child labor and receives those who are at certain ages as their work force, only endorses this option (i.e. quitting school and working as a child laborer). The thought that all the children regardless of their gender and age should be given an opportunity to learn at school is present but regarded more as a suggestion rather than necessity. Children also do not seem to think of it as a big deal as they often see their classmates drop out of school and start working.
It is always heartbreaking and unbearable for us to have to let them go, especially when we have poured our love in our humble way no matter how long or short they stay with us, and we know the kind of future that might be waiting for those with no education. However, we are powerless to those who are strongly determined to drop out of school and leave Gateway. We do have an authority to raise them; in other words, an authority to keep them with us. But we always find it difficult to decide how far we should use our authority to hold them against their will. It is such a time when we are reminded that they are not our children and we are not their parents because this would not be an issue if it were with Lin or Senoka, our own daughters. We have been troubled so much by this possibility of losing children, whom we have been caring for, and most likely will have to face it again even after we move to Phnom Penh.
Such a possibility, or danger we would say, will not be taken away immediately just because we will have more luxury in time for the children or the addition of various programs for them. But we have to acknowledge that there are matters beyond our capacity, accepting them as they are, and leaving them to the Lord. Whatever kind of things or problems we face, it is always relational. Directly or indirectly there are always people involved. Instead of being troubled by such things we have no control of, we are to put our entire trust in Him, leaving outcomes to Him, and continue to learn to maintain a positive attitude while we continue to faithfully pursue precious tasks given by God, which unfortunately we have not been very good at.
We will unceasingly try to improve the quality of care we provide to the children. This is what we can do. It has been a few years since we stopped hiring staffs to take care of our children, and we started taking responsibility personally for their wellbeing (i.e. discipline, care, education, etc.). There is one thing we are determined not to do: we will not just receive underprivileged children, provide them with just enough care, materials and education, and then push them out of Gateway when the time comes just as if they are factory products. We will continue to seek the means to transform our “orphanage” into a “Home for Children.” We want them to receive as much love as possible, to learn precious and countless lessons through their lives at Gateway as well as their study at school, to grow up beautifully, and then we can send them out one day equipped and able to thrive. We will continue to love and support them together with our sponsor families and our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. And whether they remain with us or leave us, we have to accept this as it is.
In Phnom Penh, we have to be more aware of our own spiritual health and status. No matter how powerful God’s leading and guidance are, if we, the leaderships, of Gateway have no ears to listen with no room in our hearts, and lack obedience, we could spoil all the merits and blessings prepared for our children in this upcoming move to Phnom Penh. In case of emergency on the plane, we need to put an oxygen mask to ourselves first before helping children. In the same way, we ourselves need to maintain our spiritual health in order for us not to spoil the blessings (oxygen) God has prepared for them, but to help them to receive abundantly. When it comes to caring for children, it is 24/7. We always appreciate your prayers and encouragement. Thank you so much.
“…kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…”
—1 Timothy 1:6
Taka & Christina