Happy New Years 2020

One year ago we had no idea that we would be in Cambodia now. I remember that we felt stuck on New Years 2019. We had wanted to apply to an Occupational Therapy position working with Agent Orange victims in rural Việt Nam – despite some significant concerns about the girls – but the previous service worker had returned to the United States and after some months the position still wasn’t posted. It’s hard to feel a calling and believe you see the path to it, then have nothing to do but wait when things don’t come together.

This showed up on my LinkedIn feed in early 2019.

That feeling of being stuck – unable to respond to a clear sense of calling – persisted until we were on our first visit of the New Year to see my Dad. That’s when – January 12, 2019 – Chris Landes shared the Representative position with the MCC Cambodia Alumni group and we knew immediately that this was it. Of course doubts crept up later as we dove into logistics – it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to ten years of good life in Pennsylvania – but in that moment it was crystal clear.

St. Francis’ Prayer In Khmer

The last weeks my thoughts have often been on a man that I never met – Fred Kauffman – who passed away suddenly in early December. Fred and Minh came here to Cambodia (then Kampuchea) in the aftermath of unthinkable horror, while the world turned away, to channel God’s peace and love.

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive.
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

As we look ahead to 2020, I find myself praying the words of Saint Francis. Not only for me, our family, or even the team here – but for the world. I pray for all of us that we channel God’s peace in our unique ways in 2020. Our world desperately needs us to build peace in the special, personal ways only we can as individuals.

St. Francis’ Prayer In English

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Homer Wood says:


  2. Melanie says:

    Thank you for continuing to share your stories. I looked up on my office wall as I read your statement of “Sometimes it takes 10 years to get that 1 year that will change your life .” And smiled… 😊

  3. rose graber says:

    Thank you Charles! What a great way to begin a new year!

  4. glendalandis says:

    Thank you for sharing from your family’s experience & the lovely,touching rendition of the prayer of St Francis. A wonderful 2020 to you !

  5. Nancy Sharpe says:

    Beautiful reflection! Thanks for sharing!

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