Sunrise over a “wretched shanty town of poor construction workers and the stagnant backflow of the Tonle Sap River.”  How is it that Sheila could describe this familiar Phnom Penh sight as one of the most beautiful places on earth?  Perhaps the answer lies in the wisdom found in Proverbs 8:34: “Blessed is the woman who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.” She recognized right from the start that her job at Beyond Interiors was a small part of a much bigger picture.

Not surprisingly, Sheila remembers intense need for an extra dose of courage in the early days of her new job.  The almost immediate departure of Bronwyn, the business owner, for a period of market research in San Francisco left Sheila essentially in charge, although God’s faithfulness to her needs was clear in the efficient expertise and work ethic of the 25-person staff.  Constantly buoyed up by the Spirit, she set about bringing order to the Human Resources department with attention to labor issues and organizational structure.   She oversees finance, production, design services and project management work, adding that “problem solving, pinch hitting and redirecting resources where needed” fills her days.  Sheila’s high regard for Bronwyn’s capabilities and experience has brought the extra blessing of a growing interdependence and trust to their working relationship.

Many a new step taken in faith brings one to a point of asking the question, “What exactly am I doing here, anyway?!”  Like the blind beggar who beseeched Jesus, “Rabbi, I want to see,” Sheila needed fresh answers to this question.  She learned to look for them in the everyday opportunities for having conversations about Jesus, often resulting from difficult adventures.  Even more soul-expanding was the realization that she was involved in a deep exchange of universal heartaches, fears, and frustrations with the local people.  And best of all, just at the point where novelty typically fades away and harsh reality steps in, a visit from a team of workers from home created a serendipity moment between cultures, opening Sheila’s eyes to see God’s snapshot of what unity among all his peoples might look like.  Could new fruit be flowering?...

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