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Christian Life School: On a mission

The juniors and seniors of Christian Life School spent their spring breaks on a mission trip to Cambodia. Above, they took a break from building bamboo walls for a home to have their pictures taken. The students brought home lots of pictures, but far more memories.

Is spring break really a break if you work the whole time? Ask any Christian Life School junior or senior, and they'll probably say yes. In fact, they'll probably say their spring break was the best they could have had. And who wouldn't think so, considering they got to sweat in 100-degree weather and eat cockroaches?

It's the stuff memories are made of.

The juniors and seniors of Christian Life School came home from their spring break with plenty of memories -- and perspective. They spent their spring break in Cambodia, on a mission trip.

The mission trip was led by Christian Life pastors Kent Boyum and Darin Kindle. Boyum set the arrangements with a Cambodian missionary, a fellow named Dareth Ly, who ran two schools. One, called the Dream Center, housed students in grades 7-12. The other, a floating village on a lake, housed elementary-aged students.

CLS students worked with both schools while they were in Cambodia. They did skits and organized a sports camp for the students. The Cambodian kids returned the favors by doing their own performances for the Christian Life students. While there was a language barrier, the students found they were able to communicate using hand gestures and smiles.

"We were using our hands and doing things to try to demonstrate what we were talking about," junior Mirada Cross said. "It's pretty interesting how you can communicate with other people when you're in a situation like that."

One day, students were put to work on a home on the floating village. The task was to craft wall boards from bamboo, then help install the boards in a home. It was hard, gritty work in the 100-degree heat. While some students helped with the building project, others played games with the younger kids to keep them occupied.

Most important, the students had the opportunity to share the word of God with the Cambodian students. They ran a vacation Bible school with students at the village's church.

The Cambodian students were very generous to their guests, which was a surprise to the Christian Life kids, because their hosts seemed to have very little to share.

"They had nothing, but there were willing to share what they had," said junior Rebekah Swanson.

Of course, the trip would not have been complete without sharing.

Heading to Cambodia, the team rounded up 400 pairs of prescription eye glasses to take to the church. Those will be distributed by the church. They also brought along puppets, toys, crafts and a sound system for the church.

Additionally, the Christian Life congregation donated money to buy a water filtration system, because the water the Cambodians drink comes from a lake that is also used for bathing and fishing.

"It really put things into perspective for me," said CLS senior Calvin Jackson. "I feel like I have nothing to complain about."

While all of the kids who went to Cambodia came home with hundreds of pictures and even more memories, senior Evan Kindle said he came home with something else -- a piece of himself he'd been missing.

Kindle was adopted by Rev. Kindle 15 years ago. He was born in Cambodia. Going there and being part of the culture, just for a little while, gave him insight into who he was and where he came from.

"Not being there for 15 years, I felt like part of me was held back, like I was missing a part of myself and my culture," he said. "I really didn't want to go home."

Each of the students who went on the Cambodia mission raised approximately $2,200 to pay for his or her own trip. Over the course of the trip, Christian Life School students worked with more than 1,000 Cambodian students.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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