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First Week in Cambodia

First Week in Cambodia

Laura Conning is a Volunteer with WGM serving in Cambodia. Her passion and call led her on a short-term mission trip a year ago and, from there, she was moved to serve the people of Cambodia again. Laura explores questions about life, calling, transition, travel and much more in this interview with staff writer Micah Metz.

What conversations did you have with family and friends before you left?

The majority of my conversations went along the lines of me just saying, “I’m supposed to go back,” and then making the plans. My parents made sure I thought out everything and didn’t forget any details while also making sure I was aware of what my surroundings would be like and how to stay safe. At the end of the day, my parents were just proud that I was obeying God’s will for me. Some of my friends didn’t understand why I was going when I could just stay home and continue doing what I had been doing, while others were really proud that I was following God’s calling to return to Cambodia.

Angkor Wat, the 7th Wonder of the World, was built in the early 12th century.

How long did it take to raise funds for your trip before you left?

Raising funds was, for me, the toughest part of preparing for this trip. I really struggled with putting my ego and pre-dispositions aside to ask for financial support. In the end, God really came through and showed me His faithfulness, even though I prolonged the process.

How hard was it to pack and to fly there?

I found it fairly easy to pack to fly to Cambodia, mainly because I had just gone last year and had a better idea of what I needed to bring. Packing for my first trip was a bit more difficult because I didn’t know what kind of clothes to bring or what would be easy to get once I was there. I always think overpacking is a good option when going somewhere different.

The busy city

What has your first week been like?

My first week was really good. I was able to rest my first day and then slowly get into the swing of things throughout the rest of the week. I moved into my apartment on my third day, and on my fourth day, a medical missions team arrived, and I was able to join them at their clinics and help out. The missionaries, Titus and Jewel Romdenh, showed me around the city and where different stores and restaurants were. They helped me get everything I needed to be comfortable in my new apartment and have been great with helping me get used to the different ways things are done here. I spent a lot of time soaking in my surroundings and acclimating myself to the new way of life.

My heart has always been for children.

What ministries are you excited to get involved in?

I’m excited to get involved with children’s ministries. My heart has always been for children, especially children who don’t have the same opportunities and advantages that I had while growing up.

What drew you back to Cambodia?

What drew me back to Cambodia were both the people and their need for our God. With such a small Christian population (2%), I saw a beautiful group of people who were wandering through life missing their true purpose. Watching so many Cambodians offering so much to their Buddhist altars and knowing that their hope is so misplaced, really opened my eyes to their need for Christ and a living hope. Cambodia is filled with such kind people who have had such a tragic history and [so much] rebuilding in the past few decades that it’s hard to not want to show love and hope to them.

A market

Do you have a favorite part of Cambodian culture yet?

I really like the respect they have for their elders. The older people get, the more respected they are. It’s better to see and treat someone as being older than they are, as opposed to the American culture of people wanting to be seen as younger than they are. I think that’s a really cool concept that has been lost back home.

What advice would you give to anyone who might be on the fence about missions?

Go for it! A short-term mission trip can really show you things through a different lens and make you see God in a new way. If you’re debating going deeper into missions, really make sure you understand and know what is motivating you towards that. If it’s not God putting it on your heart for His purpose, it might not be where He wants you right now. My biggest piece of advice is to not let staying on the fence become your decision. Seek God’s guidance and make a choice.

When Laura had the opportunity to go on a short-term mission trip, the answer was yes. This softened Laura’s heart and helped confirm her call to be a volunteer for a longer stay in Cambodia and pour love into the lives of people there. What might God do with your yes?

Visit and find out more about joining a short-term mission trip.

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