I have just finished the last day of the school year at HOPE International School Siem Reap, and I am now sitting directly under the fan with a hot cup of tea, thankful for all the children and families I’ve had the privilege of spending my days with over the past six months.
I came to Cambodia in 2010, not exactly sure what I would do here, but I was sure that this was where God wanted me to be. Through a sequence of ‘God-events’, I came to know about this (very) small school that was about to open in Siem Reap. Little did I know that as I prayed for direction, the school committee was praying for a Preschool teacher. And God made the partnership happen. It still seems miraculous to me!
Here I sit, nine years later. A lot has happened in between. I’ve taken time off to be involved in other endeavours and other ministries, but, through it all, HOPE School has been a constant. Even when I wasn’t officially on staff anymore, there was volunteer work to be done, maternity leave to cover, and celebration nights to attend. In January of this year, I returned to HOPE School to teach part-time and it really has felt like coming home.
HOPE School has two campuses: one in the capital, Phnom Penh, and a smaller campus in Siem Reap (where I am). It is a Christian school, catering primarily for missionary families and Christians working in business here. God really is at the centre of this school — He is not just talked about in Christian Perspectives classes, but is part of Mathematics, Science, English and Art. What a joy to be able to teach openly about Christ! And what a joy it is to partner with these parents as they seek to share the Good News AND raise their children here!
I have come to realise over the past nine years that, although my service may have looked quite different at times, it really has all come from a vision to encourage and support other believers as they raise their children here in Cambodia.
And as I serve in this capacity, I’m humbled by the fact that God uses those to whom I seek to minister (even the youngest of children) to teach me more about Himself and to grow in
my faith. I am blessed to be here.
by Fiona Thomas