Making Connections with Ignacio Companions

Campus Ministry | Campus Ministry’s Ignacio Companions program offers immersion trips focused on three pillars: faith, social justice, and community. Participants are challenged to expand their worldview, open themselves to the reality of the people they encounter on the journey, and find God in all places and things. Kim R. Harris, professor of theological studies, sent this note from the IC trip to Cambodia on May 24, 2019.

Hello IC Cambodia family and friends.

Somehow the days are flying by and we are packing our belongings and saying our goodbyes. As always, there is much to report about our journeys.

To our delight, Michael Norman LMU ’06 returned to NHCC [New Hope for Cambodian Children] after a few days away. “Teacher Mike,” as the children call him, shared stories about his time as an LMU master’s student in pastoral theology and told of his decision to move to Cambodia. He is much beloved here. It was his connections that initially brought the Ignatian Companions’ experience and the New Hope for Cambodian Children community together.

In addition to assisting NHCC teachers each day, on Wednesday, we visited nearby Banteay Prieb, one of the Jesuit ministries in Cambodia. This residential and vocational school is a place of encouragement, training and support for Cambodian youth and adults facing the challenges of physical and mental disabilities. We observed students repairing smart phones, designing and sewing clothes, rebuilding scooter engines and becoming excellent cosmetologists. Iced coffee and green tea lattes from the student-run coffee shop enhanced our day as temperatures soared into the high 90’s by mid-morning.

Thursday began with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call and breakfast at the airport before flying to Siem Reap. Our tour guide, Ms. Oum Soksan, met us at the airport and escorted us to the iconic Angkor Wat Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site. Oum offered us incredible history, as we climbed many stairs, stepped up and over obstacles (“as is true in life”), stopped for moments of quiet at Buddhist shrines and mingled with often noisily exuberant tourists from all over the world.

Our day in Siem Reap continued with visits to several more temples and a great lunch, including delicacies such as cashew shakes, green curry soup, watermelon shakes, fresh spring rolls and French fries. Arriving early for our return flight gave us ample time for ice cream and conversation at the Siem Reap airport.

Today, we continued work on the LMU mural at NHCC. The mural will remain to mark our visit as we journey home. We also spent one more day in the classroom, sports pavilion, library and movie night with the students.

As always, our IC Cambodian community evening ended with time for individual and shared reflection. There were tender moments, giggles, music, storytelling. Deep appreciation for each other was expressed. We also prayed for Cambodia, the NHCC community, all of you and for each other.

Kathy and John Tucker left yesterday for their annual trip to visit family and to raise additional funds in the U.S.A. We said goodbye and thanked them profusely before leaving for our tour of the temples. We are bidding fond farewells to NHCC students and staff today and tomorrow morning. Perhaps our most difficult farewells will be to each other as our IC Cambodian trip comes to an end….

We look forward to seeing you all very soon and pray for your patience as we bubble over with many new experiences in our hearts, on our minds and in our conversations.

Blessings and peace to all.

Ignatian Companions Cambodia

Dr. Kim