Life along the Tonle Bassac River is hard…real hard by most standards in any modern society; however, for many of the poorest of poor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, the river and its banks provide the only place of refuge. On the river, homes made of sticks and hay provide little to no protection from the wet tropical monsoons and the sweltering heat that make life on the river immensely unbearable. Constant threats to home and safety by an unforgiving river that rises on whim, the indefensible spreading of Dengue Fever by swarms of terrorizing mosquito agents, and the desire of Cambodia’s wealthy real estate barons to build luxury condominiums with river views, make the difficulties of living through each day on the river incomprehensible for most people.
For Tevy, a desperate resident of a squatters village on the river, hope for a better life seemed nonexistent…until Patrick and Carol, Australian missionaries to Cambodia, showed up one day with a heart of compassion and a determination to “never succumb to the enormity of the problem and risk failing the one.” This day marked the day of new beginnings for Tevy and her neighbors along the Tonle Bassac River.
With a vision to break the poverty cycle among Cambodia’s poor and needy, Patrick and Carol started a Community Relocation and Development Project to relocate the displaced and homeless families on the river to safe communities of love and compassion. Tarsha’s Legacy Centre is the community where Tevy and her family moved, embarking upon an amazing journey of faith and hope in Christ offered to them by the Australian missionaries and their faithful partners of love.
On one typical hot summer day at the centre, a short term missionary team from the United States completed their day teaching the children in the community how to maintain and exercise good hygiene. Basic life skills such as proper bathing and brushing of teeth as well as the importance of wearing shoes help the children in the community to live healthy and stay well. With such labors of love demonstrated daily at the centre by the staff and traveling missionaries, living in the TLC community is a stark contrast to living along the river for Tevy and her family. A school for the children, well cooked meals every day, fresh clean drinking water, and even a sewing job for Tevy from Sew Empowered now provide a hope and a future that was totally inconceivable not that long ago.
Extremely thankful for her new and dry one bedroom brick home in the community, Tevy invited one of the traveling missionaries from America to see her home. Though they couldn’t speak the same language, the smiling heart of one homemaker to another from worlds literally half apart, spoke volumes to the missionary homemaker on her first ever short term mission trip. However, words cannot express what was spoken when Tevy reached under her bed, grabbed a little tattered jewelry box, opened it, pulled out a beautiful handmade bracelet, and put it on the wrist of her invited guest as a blessing of love from her grateful heart. Owning very little in the eyes of many, Tevy, in the eyes of the Lord and her new American friend, possessed the true riches of the kingdom of heaven – a cheerful giving heart and a desire to be a blessing as a true “Pearl of Asia”!
True Pearl Of Asia is based on a true story, although the real name of the person characterized as a true “Pearl of Asia” is not Tevy. The name Tevy means Angel.
True Pearl Of Asia Short Story Copyright 2009, Gary J. Borgstede. You have permission to reprint the True Pearl Of Asia Short Story, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.
Gary J. Borgstede is the published author of the leadership development book titled, The Make It Happen Journey, and the free faith-based leadership education e-mail series, The Make It Happen Moment ® www.makeithappenbooks.com