My Reasons for Returning.

My Reasons for Returning.

Oh Cambodia. I remember leaving for the World Race completely and utterly terrified of the journey I was getting into, yet also extremely excited. When we discovered our ministry would be spending the day loving on children, I was ecstatic, but I never thought Cambodia would capture my heart the way that it did.

My month took place in a tiny town called Kampong Thom, Cambodia. Before we got there, we’d been told we were going to sleep on the floor of a room at the Shelter of Love Center– a children’s shelter that takes in children who are abandoned, or whose families couldn’t care for themselves. However, when we got there, they said they had a new little one staying in the room, so we found a new place to stay.

That little one was Lydia. The kids at the shelter stole my heart, but Lydia was one of my favorites. Many have heard Lydia’s story and followed it along since October 2016 when we met, but for those of you who haven’t-

When I met her, Lydia was nine months old and weighed less than 10 pounds. Her father is an alcoholic who abused both Lydia and her mother. A few months before, her mom ran away from her abusive husband, leaving little Lydia to fend for herself with her alcoholic dad. After a few weeks of being left with her dad who both abused and severely neglected her, neighbors from the surrounding area called the Shelter of Love Center, asking them to consider bringing the child in. Her father eventually agreed that he was unable to care for his daughter, and Lydia became a member of the SLC family. She has a lazy eye and scarring up and down her body due to physical abuse. She was strong enough to lift her head up, but she couldn’t sit up on her own. We later found out she has a severe heart condition. With the help of many connections and some of the best Cardiothoracic Surgeons in the United States, we were able to make more headway on her treatment. However, due to her size and the depth of the damage, all physicians, Cambodian and American, have deemed her conditions inoperable. Her size has continued to grow, and Lydia is doing well. These are pictures that show October 2016 versus August 2017- our little girl has gotten so big!

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Lydia is just one of the little faces I fell in love with… Here’s some more just for you to love as much as I do!!! (Click on their names to see more of their stories, or see all the children and learn more about the Shelter of Love HERE!)

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Here I’m holding Minh again, but these twins are Champei and Champa!

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Ratana (Minh’s sister!!)

This summer, I have the awesome opportunity to lead a trip back to Cambodia with the help of my lovely friend, Katie Rhodes, to reconnect with these sweet ones again. Looking for anywhere to donate to this holiday season? Look no further because your girl is back on the fundraising train. Today I’ve launched the fundraising website for the Cambodia trip! the link is riiiight here.

Thank you all for your support of both myself and the Shelter of Love Center! Questions about the shelter or Cambodia? Interested in coming with me to Cambodia this July? Reach out and let me know!






  1. Win
    December 7, 2017 / 10:45 pm

    So so precious!!! I can see why you love these kids so much! I love them and I just read this post. I can see why the Lord has called you and Katie back… Where the Lord has called He will provide! Philippians 4:19 So impressed and so proud of you Hayden!!!

    • December 8, 2017 / 8:37 pm

      Thank you so much Win! You are awesome!!

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