“Somehow distance has a way of making time seem longer.” Thus said my dear cousin Cassandra in our phone conversation today. I agree. Tomorrow it will have been two months since we started our trek around the world. Two hard, wonderful, lifechanging months. It seems like our last moments at home were such a long time ago…in a way like it was in another lifetime. I’ve been amazed and almost bothered sometimes how it just feels like we’ve been here forever. But it has been so good.
Y’all enjoy your cool/cold weather for us. I think we all struggled a bit with homesickness when we heard about the snow our part of SC got. We loved the cool weather while it lasted, but it’s finally starting to get HOT. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so humid and sticky, but after awhile all a body feels like doing is retreating to an air conditioned bedroom. And I am told this isn’t even hot – “Just wait until April!” Hopefully someday we’ll be able to say that we truly enjoy the hot days here. Until then we’ll thank God for air conditioners, fans, and cool days!
Since we’ve come, I’ve been realizing how much I enjoyed my independance at home. Not like I did a lot on my own, but it was so easy just to hop in the car and go wherever I needed to go. Here though, we don’t have a car, and after awhile I started feeling rather trapped and frustrated that I had to ask someone to drive me whenever I needed to go somewhere. I knew that I wanted to learn to drive the moto in town, but it looked pretty scary to me – much harder than the back roads I’d been driving on. But one night Jasmine and I both wanted to go to town, and it was late enough that we felt bad to ask Sen to take us. So Miriam said, “Why don’t you just drive the moto to town?” Hmm. Why not? So we finally set off together. And we made it, with no close calls or scary incidences! I was so excited to have finally conquered that first trek, and ever since then I’ve been enjoying taking myself places on the moto. I’m thinking I might want one of those when I go back home…
I guess I didn’t tell you about my new routine in the last post. I think it was over a month ago that I started teaching an English class at the Vessvan School in Prasat Bakong. Matt gave me his class and is now helping Miriam teach hers. So far I have had nineteen students between the ages of nine and twelve. They don’t all come every day so usually the attendance is more like fourteen. I love each one already. From feisty little Kandya, to sweet, quiet Soklath, to Samuen, a charming little gentleman… each child is so special. I wasn’t sure how I’d like teaching, especially with the language barrier, but I love the challenge. It’s a great opportunity for me to try out my limited Khmer as well as learn the Khmer words for the English words I teach them. Sen sits in on my class and helps if I can’t explain things in English to their understanding.
Every Friday we meet in the pavilion where Miriam has her class and have a Bible class before English begins. After we sing some songs Matt and Sen usually have a flannel graph story. Most of the time the children sit and listen attentively, but a few weeks ago I noticed that several of ‘my’ girls were sitting off somewhere else. I motioned for them to come over, but they shook their heads. So I went to talk to them, but they still refused to come. I asked if they wanted to sing there instead, but they shook their heads emphatically when I sang “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” in Khmer. So I just left it and went back to the Bible story. When it was time for class and I was waiting for everyone to settle down, Kandya started singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” in Khmer with a defiant little gleam in her eyes. But instead of “Jesus” she used another word…I asked Sen later what the word for Buddha (or Buddhism) is in Khmer. He said it and I’m almost sure that’s what she was singing. “I have decided to follow Buddhism.” That just put a heavy burden in my heart – to think how these children are taught to worship the idol of some fat, dead man who cares nothing about them, and to despise the God who died for them and loves them more than they could ever understand. Pray that all we do at school would only point them to Christ, and that the parents wouldn’t interfere with the children’s coming.
One day when we got back from school Carissa, Anisha, and Deanna came begging me to come visit their ‘store’ for a treatment. I agreed, and was taken over to the ‘store’ and seated on the ground. They proceeded to cover my face with chalk, loving every minute. Forrest saw what was happening and came over with a distressed look on his face. Nearly in tears, he plopped into my lap and asked if I would just take it off! He doesn’t like it! I guess I just didn’t look like Lori. When the girls were finished with their decorations, I went inside. Alaina had just woken up. She saw me and a scared look came over her face. Everyone laughed at her expression, and she started bawling. I tried holding her and she just cried all the harder. It took quite awhile to get all that makeup off!
After a week in the hospital Veasna finally came home. The day we had planned her baptism was long gone though…so two weeks after her baptism was supposed to be we held that very special service. Her testimony of coming out of the darkness of sin into the light of Jesus’ love is amazing, and her cheerful outlook on life and love for her Saviour is an inspiration to me. That afternoon Shaila, Veasna, and Jon wanted some pictures taken, so we, along with Jasmine, headed for a nice park in the middle of Siem Reap. We had lots of fun. I’m so thankful for these lovely young ladies who have welcomed me into their circle of friendship.
Ken, Ronnie, Wes, and Jon decided to go on a three day moto trip to the Laos border, and invited Frank, Chum, Ryan and Luke to go along. I promptly turned a pale shade of green. I wanted to go along sooo bad – ever since we got here I’ve had an itch to explore the country. But it was a guys’ party, and I unfortunately am a girl. (That was only unfortunate for three days. Don’t get me wrong – I really am glad I’m a girl.) So I watched them drive off Monday morning, very sad to be left behind with ‘so little adventure in the horizon.’ We all missed them while they were gone, but they had an absolute blast. Maybe I’ll have to let them tell you about their trip sometime. I was really glad that Ryan and Luke had some guys to do ‘guy stuff’ with again.
Last Saturday Veasna invited Jasmine and I and (of course) Jon to come with her to her mom’s house in the village. It was about a twenty minute moto ride to her house. We picked up her mom and little siblings, and went for a picnic ‘by the lake’. I was expecting a river or a moat like they have around the temples. Veasna told me the road went up a big hill ahead and asked me if I could manage the moto. I thought I would be fine, and I was. But I was shocked once we got to the top of the hill. Spread out before me was a huge lake. I had no idea there was a place like that in Cambodia. We parked the motos and walked past the market selling all kinds of food for picnics, and down a long flight of steps to the edge of the water. I was in for another surprise then. Along the shore was built a long hut like structure, with two different levels. You could rent a little section for the day. The sections were divided by hammocks, and had mats on the floor to eat on. We had a lovely afternoon chatting and eating, and the children loved the water. I tried frog legs for the first time for lunch. Not bad…actually pretty good!
Thursday Wes, Ken, and Ronnie left for home. It was sad seeing them leave. We all enjoyed having them around, minus the midnight “BANGS” they scared us with. =) It was lots of fun to have ‘youth activities’ together – with them along it somehow felt more ‘youth groupy’, and I know we’ll miss that a lot. Jon is leaving Sunday evening, and I can’t imagine that it will be easy for a certain young lady to see him leave.
Mike and Esther Sensenig and their family arrived the last part of January to visit Matt’s. Miriam is loving having her sister here, and the rest of us are all enjoying having them around as well. Last week Matts’ and Mikes’ left together to visit some friends in Laos for a week. They also went to Thailand. We sure missed them around here, especially Jasmine and Veasna. They bused back to Siem Reap on Wednesday night. This morning Matts’, Mikes’, Veasna, Jon and our family all piled on the truck and went to visit the Angkor Silk Farm. It was so interesting seeing how silk is made…what a long, tedious process! At this place it was all done by hand, but most other places the process is more streamlined with machines. By the end of our tour I understood a little more why silk is so expensive. The $95 scarves in the gift shop sure didn’t tempt me though, no matter what it took to make them. After we were done there we drove around to see some countryside, and stopped at same lake that I was at last Saturday with Veasna.
Well, it’s time to get this house ready for church in the morning! A lovely weekend to one and all!