Do you know Ryana DeArmond? She manages CGI’s Culinary Training Center and the Green Mango Café in Cambodia. She is a teacher and mentor, a trainer and friend, a protector, a pioneer and so much more.
As CGI looks toward the future of its projects in Cambodia, Ryana is boldly trusting that the Lord will equip her—as well as those around her—with the courage to step into new, more expansive roles. Below is an excerpt from her most recent update:
“In life, we all walk in many different shoes. Two years ago I make the choice to step into a pair that were quite big for me as I made the decision to move to Cambodia. Once I started down this path, I realized how big these shoes truly were. Many days, I wanted to take them off and run back to older, more comfortable shoes from the past. I felt I was lacking in teaching skills, patience, and so much more as I began the journey in Cambodia.
Now my feet have grown. God has pushed and stretched me. After returning from my most recent trip home, things have been so much easier. I have finally gotten the hang of walking in my “new” shoes. It is nice to know what to expect and not have to struggle, as a child learning to walk.
You may have heard that we are in the process of opening a new building that will be an advanced training center. The building will host a Mexican restaurant and a Western-style coffee shop. You might be thinking (just as I have) how in the world can more fit onto my plate? After lots of planning and meeting, the outcome is this: its time for a new pair of shoes. Not just for me but for many others.
Currently my job consists of managing the Green Mango and directing the Culinary Training Center (CTC). The plan is have the Green Mango operated by a leadership team, which will be headed by Ponleu. The hope is to have a Cambodian young lady who just finished culinary school at Ivy Tech to take over the culinary training. Ly Phalla will move into overseeing both the CTC and the Green Mango, as well as continue to assist me. Then I will move into setting up and getting the new building opened. There’s a possibility that one of the girls from the first culinary class will work along side me, and be mentored in the process. I will still be around for help if they need it. Everyone involved will be stepping into shoes that seem way too big for our feet to fill at this point. We are confident that God will help us grow into these shoes and find our footing.”
Let’s continue to pray for the growth and success of the Culinary Training Center, the staff and participants. God is faithful to help us grow into the roles he calls us to.
By Ryana DeArmond/Caroline Mosey
The events of that day are still clear. I was scheduled to leave Cambodia on a flight later that night. But before the work day was over I wanted to visit the workshop, pray with the women, and say goodbye. As they began to move into their version of a prayer circle I noticed that Riyon was walking with a noticeable limp. I asked her what was wrong – but honestly I didn’t get much more than a comment that might have been translated “my leg hurts.” Sensing an opportunity, I asked her to sit on one of the cheap plastic chairs and then called on the entire group to connect together and pray for her leg to heal. But now I know that I should have done more. In a few short weeks I would receive word that Riyon had a stroke. The pain in her leg had been a sign and maybe had we gotten her to a doctor all of this could have been avoided.
It was only a few months ago that I heard Riyon had been brought back to the city. After months away, receiving “treatment’ in the village, it was only when I saw her then that I realized the truth.
Riyon’s family had simply given up on her and now she had been brought back to die.
Angie Harris, a nurse from Indianapolis and a part of the team from Center United Methodist Church, was with me last summer when we made that first visit. She quickly realized that Riyon was being given the wrong medication and encouraged her family to start simple physical therapy. My job was to encourage the caregivers and to let them know that giving up on Riyon was not an option and that CGI would help them as needed with the cost of food, medicines, and even adult diapers. It was obvious that our willingness to share the burden was enough to encourage the family at least for a little wile. Then we prayed. We prayed from a deep place. And we prayed specifically for healing and for restoration. We asked for nothing short of a miracle – and God said “OK”.
Now for those of you who have a hard time believing in modern day miracles I have both photos and video clips of Riyon before and after. And while I know that there are ways to reduce or expand just how “miraculous” this event has been all I can say is that on the following day Riyon was actually standing on her own and taking a few steps. Within another day she was eating better and could recognize people around her and even smile. In recent weeks she has begun walking down the street to a neighbor’s house. She has gained back her weight and is regaining both strength and confidence every day. So much so, in fact, that I did not immediately recognize her when I arrived at her home today. She looks so much better. Her recent photo shows that life and hope have returned.
Before I left today Riyon said that she was hoping to soon return to the byTavi workshop. That may actually take longer than she would like but I, for one, believe that she will.
If you have read this far I want to thank you but I would also like to ask you to do one more thing. Would you say a prayer specifically for Riyon asking that she regain an even greater use of her left arm and hand?
Until ALL have heard,
For those of you who read our blog, you will remember that in early August, we posted about Ly Phalla, our dear friend and manager of the CTC & Green Mango in Cambodia. She had just received news that her house was destroyed from an electrical fire sparked within her own house, and had caused her neighbors’ houses to also burn to the ground. By Cambodian law, Ly Phalla was responsible to pay for the damage to all three homes.
At one time, we shared with you the response of those who were moved by this event: American individuals and churches drawn to give financially to Ly Phalla, but so were the Cambodian women of the byTavi program, who gave despite their own need. We praise God for the hearts of the women that showed the love of Christ to their sister by doing this.
At that time, we, as CGI staff, thought that we had learned so much from our Cambodian family. However, this story continues to get better. A few weeks ago, Ryana DeArmond, the Resident Chef of the Green Mango Café and Bakery, was telling us about the following moving experience.
One night after Ly Phalla had surveyed the wreckage, Ryana was there for her to process with. Ly Phalla shared that 40 years ago, she had lived through the Khmer Rouge genocide, that drove her out of her home and murdered many members of her family. She was able to rebuild her life after that. It took a while, and she worked hard, but she did it. And now, she had lost it all once again in a single moment. Ryana extended sympathy as much as she could, understanding that she had never endured a loss like Ly Phalla is now living through for the second time in her life.
Then Ly Phalla said something extraordinary. “But this time,” she explained, “it will be easier because I have Christ, and I have hope.”
There are so many lessons for us to learn from our Cambodian friends. Whatever you are going through today, know that because you have Christ, you have hope.
By Whitney Vance
This week Alan (Beringer) and I met with Mark Kelly and Kimbra Smith of Destiny Rescue. Destiny Rescue does some direct interventions in Karaoke Bars to “rescue” girls and then provides a safe house situation. Their current facility is actually only a couple of miles from where the cgiDaughters house was formerly located.
Currently they are caring for close to a hundred formerly trafficked girls. As is common to nearly all safe house based ministries they excel in the area of care but struggle in the area of reintegration. Their interest in CGI is to see if there might be a possibility to partner. The meeting was very productive and I feel that the possibilities are pretty strong that we will come to an agreement in the next week or so. If that happens we will sign an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that will identify specific roles and responsibilities. Basically the MOU will say that they will be responsible for the residential side of the program and we will be responsible for the vocational training, spiritual formation and life skills components.
It is likely that eight girls from Destiny Rescue will enter the Imprint Project on December 1st. The program will be for 12 months. At the end of 12 months the girls who have successfully completed the course will be offered the opportunity to contract with byTavi as a seamstress or move out on their own.
Thanks for being a part of CGI. You ARE making a difference.
Until ALL have heard,
We hope and pray for a future in which those we serve experience the freedom, dignity and fullness of life that comes when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ.
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