Nearly 400 young single adults from the Phnom Penh area in Cambodia gathered at 4:00 a.m. to give service. Ten large touring buses carried the crew and their leaders to Sihanoukville, where we were scheduled to clean about eight kilometers of beachfront. The night before this project, a small group of us had traveled down to Sihanoukville to meet with the governor’s office and the Ministry of Cult and Religion to finalize our plans and verify that we would be able to move forward with our task.
I was ecstatic to wear my first yellow Mormon Helping Hands vest! We had some vests in English, some in Khmer, and some in Chinese. On the day of our project, it was raining as we loaded up the buses, and it continued to rain for our entire drive to Sihanoukville. Rain had been predicted for the whole day, but it stopped as we pulled into town. It was a beautiful day with only a few sprinkles throughout. And although the provincial minister of cult and religion had told us during our visit the evening before that he would be too busy to attend our project, he and his deputy both ended up coming and speaking to the group. They thanked us for our willingness to serve their community.
The young single adults used rubber gloves and large tools that resembled tongs to pick up items, and they filled bags upon bags with trash.
Many members of our cleaning crew had never been to the beach before, so they were eager to get the cleaning done and head to the water. The waves were great, and some of the young single adults swam wearing jeans, long-sleeved shirts, and hoodies. Those who had been to the beach before had other clothes, soccer balls, and volleyballs ready to go. It was an absolutely glorious day to be at the beach: the temperature was in the high 80s, and the water was warm.
Please don’t wait as long as we did to wear a yellow Mormon Helping Hands vest. Organize an event in your neighborhood or for your next family reunion. When you have a good crew, they will have fun doing service!
*Story from Lori Thurston, an LDS Charities representative serving in Cambodia.