It’s interesting to see what our hearts start pining for when we’re so far away from the old normal. We all miss different things. Mom misses cream cheese and sudsy Palmolive dish soap. The boys wish for their guns and hunting season and the shop with its abundance of wood and tools. The younger children miss friends that speak their own language. We all miss having our friends nearby. I guess it’s a strange, unimportant thing to miss, but I miss the South Carolina summer wildflowers. It was so relaxing to walk out to the garden for a fresh bouquet of cosmos or zinnias, or to wander down the back roads gathering daisies, bachelor’s buttons, and Queen Anne’s lace on a summer evening. Here there just aren’t many wild flowers suitable for bouquets.
While we were in the states for Grandmom’s funeral, I picked up some seeds of the flowers I miss the most, and when we came back I could hardly wait to plant them. Finally I found a spare morning to carefully put them in the soft dirt. And then was the waiting to see if they would be happy with the sandy soil and pounding rain Cambodia has to offer. I prayed over those little seeds. Doesn’t God care about the smallest desires of our heart? Couldn’t He at least let a few of the seeds grow?
A few days ago I went out to check the ground for signs of life again, and there they were. Tiny green shoots. Not all the varieties have come up yet, but God definitely did let at least a few grow. I know it’s probably silly to be so excited about little green things sticking their heads out of the earth, but I can’t help but go out to my flower garden several times a day just to see if they grew anymore, or to make sure the torrents of rain didn’t drown them.
I’ve been thinking about the seeds I’m planting in the lives of people around me. The last while I’ve been feeling discouraged with what I’m doing here. Teaching English day after day – am I accomplishing anything more than just teaching English? Am I even accomplishing that? I struggle daily to come up with lesson plans, and feel so unequipped for this job. And I don’t want to just teach the children English – I want to plant seeds of God’s truth in their hearts, and yet I struggle to do that. How can I, when I can only hold the most basic conversations with them? I struggle with discontentment. Why did God bring me here when there are so many others that could do a better job?
And then the little green plants taught me a lesson. Well…I guess they are teaching me a lesson. I want to learn to be content and fulfilled right where God has planted me. Like those seeds, God brought me halfway around the world, to a place much different from where I usually ‘grow’. He brought those seeds life, and if I let Him, He will bring me life in this soil. He will equip me for wherever He takes me, and He has greater plans for me than I could ever dream up. Pray for us as we continue to try to bloom, and that we would have opportunities to share the seed of truth.
Okay, enough philosophizing. Pictures will tell the stories today instead of so many words.
Rain, Rain, & More Rain
Yes, we have entered rainy season. The landscape has taken on another look entirely. When we arrived in December, everything was dry and brown and dusty. When we came back after Grandmom’s funeral, the rain had transformed the country into a lush green. The rice fields are now flooded and thriving, and the once dusty roads are now rutted and muddy. The mud makes for interesting times on the motos!
One of the first times it really rained, we were all so excited. It was just pouring down like we hadn’t seen for a long time, and the yard was a developing lake. The younger ones of course thought it looked like perfect swimming. We all stood around and watched in amusement, and I think we were all thinking what fun it would be to be kids again. Then Dallas couldn’t help himself. Why not jump in? And then there went Austin…Frank had been sitting in the truck, (maybe trying to convince himself to behave like an adult) but suddenly he couldn’t help himself either, and he joined right in with the children. They had a grand time! It was a joy just to watch them, and to feel the cold mist blowing through the windows. After it stopped raining we drove into town, and the roads were flooded. Definitely not something we experience in SC very often.
One day I arrived at school, and my little classroom was flooded. The students perched on top of their desks, and I tried to teach…but it’s hard to concentrate when you’re constantly in danger of slipping on the slick concrete, the bottom of your dress is soaked, and your flip flops float merrily by. Finally one of the other teachers told me there was an empty classroom in the school building that I could use for the day, so we moved everything over there. It was entertaining while it lasted!
I wrote a bit in a previous post about the much enjoyed visit from the Dad’s cousin, Marvin Mast, and his wonderful family. It was a short visit, but we packed it full of fun times. Their family had booked a photography tour of Angkor Wat for one day, and invited whoever wanted to to tag along. Everyone wanted to go, but in the end only Luke and I went. Several hours into the day we were all glad the younger children weren’t along. It was warm, we had to walk quite a bit, and the hoards of tourists around didn’t make that easy. Btw…one perk of coming to see us is getting to see one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”. I didn’t even realize until after we got here that one of them was located right here in Siem Reap. It was very interesting to see the temples up close and to hear about how they were made. To be honest though, after awhile they all started looking the same, and so my favorite part of the day was just getting to know the Masts. Thanks for coming y’all! Don’t wait so long for the next visit!
A Trip Across the Sea…
The day after my last post about Grandmom’s passing was a blur of activity and planning. There were plans to be made, packing to be done, and tickets to be bought. Mom, Dad, the four youngest children and I left for the States Monday evening already, and the four boys followed the next day. The next week and a half were filled to the brim with family, friends, tears, and laughter.
I was able to fly to South Carolina to get some things out of storage for our family and to renew my drivers’ license (PTL!). An added benefit of going to SC was the time I could spend catching up with some dear friends. The time spent with them was just what I needed. And the ‘real’ hamburgers, fresh peaches, and sweet tea they served me were simply amazing!
I caught a ride up to Tennessee with friends then the day before the funeral. It was so wonderfully bittersweet to see all my uncles, aunts, cousins, and Granddad again. It was a busy time, but good…crying together, sharing precious memories of our dear Grandmom, and laughing like only Helmuths can. Like one of my aunts said would happen, we left feeling like we’d seen so many people and being happy about that, but feeling sad that we hadn’t been able to spend much quality time with so many of them.
*Random insert* At the visitation and funeral, I was happy to hear from many of you that you enjoy hearing about our life in Cambodia through this blog, and in the newsletter ALAM sends out. After a number of such comments though, I did begin to wish that more people would think about how much WE would enjoy hearing from THEM! =) You might think your lives are boring and that no one wants to hear about your daily ‘stuff’, but you really have no idea how much the emails we get from home mean to us. We love to hear from you – to know that we are remembered. Those emails and comments make the time and effort that goes into this blog worth it. *End of rant* =)
After the funeral we travelled to Kentucky to mom’s sister’s home, and spent the remainder of our time with them. We were able to do some shopping for things we can’t buy in Cambodia, so that was nice. Mom, Dad, and the four youngest flew home on Wednesday and arrived home the following evening, and Granddad took my brothers and I to catch our flight in Nashville the following day.
Our flight from Minneapolis to Seattle was delayed due to mechanical failures, and then delayed again, and then canceled. The airline was asking for volunteers to be ‘bumped’ to a flight the next day in exchange for flight vouchers. We quickly called home to ask dad about that possibility, and he said, “Absolutely!” So we talked to a representative, got five tickets home for the next day, and five $1300 vouchers in our pockets! Those will be a huge blessing the next time we need to fly home. Then we found our way to a motel, and tumbled into bed for some wonderful sleep. Once we were rested enough think straight, we got a shuttle to the gigantic Mall of America to find some food and to occupy ourselves until bedtime. (Minneapolis is a great place to have an extended layover!) Thankfully our flights the next day were all without delay. By the time we got home, we were all feeling pretty drained, both emotionally and physically, and a lot of the next week was spent getting our nights and days straightened out and catching up on much needed sleep.
We as a family would like to thank you all for your support during the time of Grandmom’s sickness and death. Your kind emails, phone calls, and prayers of support meant so much. So many people went out of their way to help us with tickets, food, and lodging. Thank you, too, to those of you who helped with the cost of flying home. Your support and friendship means so much.
And….that’s all for now!
Coming up next…
Sunsets, snakes, crocs, class trips, and a new classroom! =)