Today is my brother, Anthony's birthday and as much as we'd love to have him with us, eating some cake and playing zookeeper together, we know he's dedicated to a good cause right now. He is currently on a church mission in Cambodia right now and will be there through next year, doing service and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the 10 months that he's been there, he's written home about how he's helped with floods, helped people move homes, ridden his bike miles on end to visit people, and been rejected again and again to find the one person at the edge of the village who will listen to the gospel. With each letter, I can see the change in him through these experiences and how he's growing into such an amazing young man. I am so proud of his dedication to the Lord's errand.
This past week, he wrote about going to visit the Killing Fields for the first time. These are sites were the Khmer Rouge soldiers held their own people captive, tortured and killed them. Anthony wrote,
" One of the most powerful things said was that slaughter and persecution WILL happen again, and when it does, remember us. That was extremely powerful to think about the world as it is now. Are we standing up for human rights and civility? Are we doing our part in order to help fight against the inhumanities that are happening? We can't fix everything all at once but we can slowly try to make this world a better place through the little things."
I remember going to the Killing Fields feeling so sad and depressed to know that so many people suffered. It still haunts me to this day, listening to a story of how babies were thrown against this one particular tree at Cheung Ek and brutally killed in that manner. I've thought of that quite often since Boston was born. As I look at his innocent face and think of the loss many mothers had to bear to see their children killed like animals, I mourn over the excruciating pain they must've felt. To think of a life that could have been, opportunities gone, innocent lives lost. There's nothing is comparable.
How could such evil be among men? There was such darkness that caused all of that misery. It was a reminder that Satan was present then and is ever so present now. It made me think twice before I ever used the word "hate" again. It made me second guess whenever I thought ill of someone else. It made me more conscious of what I do and how I act because all of these things could become another Khmer Rouge in my life, and I would never want to cause so much pain to someone else. Everyday is a struggle for each one of us. What are we doing to fight Satan's temptation? What are we doing to strive to be better than the person from the day before? What are we doing to live the gospel and let it radiate through us? I'm so imperfect, but because of the gospel, I know how I can become who I want to be - a goddess who deserves to live with our Heavenly Father again.
As Independence Day approaches, let us remember the freedom and agency we are granted and enjoy each day of our lives. I'm grateful for a nation that understands and protects that freedom of speech, religion, and press, so I may freely choose, which is what I believe God sent each of us here to do. We need to make choices so we may learn, grow and prepare but Satan wanted just the opposite which is to take choice away from us and the Khmer Rouge was the just same. I can't imagine a life of having no choice and living in fear of what I say and believe. Sadly there are so many others in the world today who still lack freedom and living fear because of corrupt officials, druglords, pimps, gangs, drugs, etc. It seems overwhelming, but I believe as Anthony said earlier. Little by little, we can make the world a better place for others to live in. We've got to keep trying. It seems a difficult task now, but I hope that one day, all nations will grant the freedom to all of their inhabitants and that we may live happily together. One day, I hope that my little Boston will be able to go on his own adventures and travel to any nation in the world without fearing for his life, nor have to see the sadness that comes from a lack of freedom. Viva America!
I guess being alive for 22 years does grant some more wisdom. Happy Birthday, Anthony!