More than 100 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in a Christmas service project to help clean the grounds of the Choeung Ek Memorial in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The missionaries from six countries donated 2,000 service hours scrubbing the park’s central monument, parking lots and park entry roads, as well as removing unwanted vegetation from the park’s protective walls.
The site is one of “the killing fields” where thousands of people who were victims of the Khmer Rouge regime died and were buried in mass graves in the 1970s. The service was described by one missionary as a “Christmas gift to the memory of the Killing Field’s victims.”
“This project reminds our missionaries that service and giving is a Christ-like attribute we all need to develop,” said David C. Moon, president of the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. “Serving one another in love and kindness increases our understanding of others and promotes peace.”
Various international park visitors expressed amazement and delight to observe a team of male “elders” and female “sisters” clad in white T-shirts who were cleaning the memorial.
Park manager Jour Sokty gave praise to the missionaries and all Christians for their efforts, especially at Christmastime, to remind all that Christ’s teachings can bring about peaceful living. “I hope we can make this cleanup event an annual affair,” he said.
The Church has supported more than 200 service projects in Cambodia, benefitting 3.5 million Cambodians. Church missionaries serve from 18 to 24 months at their own expense to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in more than 400 missions around the world.