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On March 18, 2019, 42 students loaded onto the Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) bus to begin their long journey from Spangle, Wash., to Siem Reap, Cambodia. They were headed to an orphanage started and run by Tim and Wendy Maddocks, just outside the city.

The Maddocks are an Adventist family from Australia that dedicated the last 26 years of their lives to ministering to the children of Cambodia. They built the orphanage from the ground up at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and it is amazing to see how God has blessed their ministry. They now not only have an orphanage but also a 300-student K–12 school as well.

In addition to the students, our team included 20 adults. We were able to provide a dental clinic, a vision clinic and tackle painting and remodeling the orphanage homes. Our days began at 7 a.m. with a wonderful Cambodian breakfast and conclude at 8 p.m. with an inspiring worship from Tim Maddocks. Each evening, he shared with our students how God has challenged him to live a life radically dependent on Him. On the final night of our stay there, Tim issued a call for our students to rededicate their lives to Christ and commit to faithfully serving Him in all things.

On Sabbath, we divided our group into nine different teams and headed out to area churches. Churches ranged from established city churches to small buildings on stilts in the rural countryside. Our UCA students were able to preach as well as give special music for the local members.

Abe Ellis, a UCA sophomore, was able to be one of the student preachers. He said afterward, β€œIt was so awesome to be able to worship together with my new friends from Cambodia. It made me realize that I really do belong to a global church.” Many of our students were also struck by the fact that, even though the people lived very simple and often difficult lives, they exhibited so much joy.

While our team endured extreme heat and humidity as well as an extra-large helping of mosquito bites, giant spiders and some scorpions, they all agreed at the end they would not trade this experience for anything. Some insisted that this would not be the last time they came to serve in Cambodia.

Many of our students were in tears as they had to say goodbye to the children of the orphanage with whom they had formed such bonds. As we traveled home on the plane, the conversations centered on the fact that we went over to Cambodia to be a blessing to the people there, but in reality we were the ones who received the biggest blessing.



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