Halfway There...

South Korea never looked so good, especially after spending 15 hours in a plane! Of course, Andrew and I have never been through the Seoul airport, so this is a new experience for both of us. 

Our week of training and orientation in Boone went by like a whirlwind. We learned about the different departments and aspects of Samaritan’s Purse work here in the US and around the world. Our group of fellow orientees was comprised of marrieds and singles serving for a range of time from three months to two years, in Africa, Haiti, and Southeast Asia (yours truly). I think it enhanced our experience to have such variety of past experience and future jobs in our group. Below is a photo of our group on our last day. 

Much of the information we learned about Samaritan’s Purse (SP) impressed us, so we wanted to share with you some of the highlights of their ministry. Many of you have been involved in or heard of the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry, which does indeed comprise about half of their donations and programming. But SP does so much more than just shoeboxes all over the world. 
Info Flash on SP

  • Samaritan’s Purse was started in 1970 by Bob Pierce, the same man who had also already founded World Vision. SP is now comprised of various programs, described below.
  • The current CEO and president of SP, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, took leadership of SP in 1978.
  • In 1993 Operation Christmas Child (OCC) began with 14,000 shoeboxes distributed to Bosnia and Croatia. For OCC, shoeboxes are packed by volunteers from the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK for age and gender appropriate gifts, sent to SP, and distributed in-country by local church leaders.
  • OCC continued to grow over the years; in 2010, OCC’s biggest year so far, 8.1 million shoeboxes were received by SP and distributed to children around the world. Since its inception, over 86 million shoeboxes have been donated.
  • World Medical Mission (WMM) was founded in 1978 and currently supplies 33 mission hospitals with medical supplies and technology, training, and volunteer staffing of physicians and other medical professionals.
  • Children’s Heart Project (CHP) was founded in 1997. CHP functions in two ways: by bringing children with congenital heart defects from developing nations without access to cardiac surgery to the US to have corrective surgery; and also taking volunteer medical teams to those developing nations to perform one-stage cardiac surgeries and provide surgical education for national surgeons.
  • In addition to the above projects, SP also has approximately 250 field staff in locations worldwide who are leading relief and development projects, such as relief efforts in Japan, food distribution, water sanitation projects, hygiene education, agricultural and animal husbandry programs and education, and many others.
  • For more information on Samaritan’s Purse, check out their website at http://www.samaritanspurse.org.
On Wednesday, we had the special treat of touring the entire Samaritan’s Purse base in Boone. I was able to snap some photos of the different facilities, including one of the Operation Christmas Child. The headquarters are set in the beautiful Smoky Mountains surrounding Boone, North Carolina.

Friday evening, we drove to Charlotte, did some last minute shopping at REI (can’t get that in KC!), gorged ourselves on chips and salsa at On The Border (can’t get that in Cambodia!), and caught a few hours of sleep before getting on our flight to Atlanta and then to Seoul.
We have one more flight to go and hopefully will be sleeping soundly in our beds in Phnom Penh by the time most of you read this. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. We certainly do need prayer over this upcoming week for a few things -
  • Continued patience and flexibility with the curves inevitably thrown towards us during overseas travel
  • Adequate rest both on the plane and when we arrive in Phnom Penh
  • Preparation of our hearts for Cambodia, the people we will be serving, and love and patience with each other as we start adjusting to our new life and our new “normal”
Stay tuned - we’re almost to Cambodia!

P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos - we're on the free wi-fi at Seoul, and it's a bit slower than we used to, and we only had about 15 minutes to load up photos. Hopefully we will have more time later to give you guys some snapshots!