“Yesterday Once More”-Team Cambodia
(Title: For some reason that we have yet to figure out this is the Cambodians’ favorite song, I mean all Cambodians, they love it. This one and “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.)
I will start with the fact that we all love it here, not to say that has been easy, but even dealing with what has been hard has been a blessing and an opportunity to learn. As time goes flying by we have been growing together as a team and learning to walk closer to God as we learn what it means to serve by watching the people we are here to serve. Their genuine interest and love for each other and us is evident in the simple things they do, such as remembering, from the first week we were here, which worship song Brittany mentioned that she likes, and then playing it during devotions. Or locking me (Carly) in a room, literally I couldn’t escape, and making me take a nap after tucking me in with a towel and positioning pillows around me for maximum comfort. And holding our hands when we walk across the six lanes of traffic because it is terrifying. And sweeping the floor and setting up a bed for Lael when she shows the smallest sign of being tired, and physically dragging us away from doing our dishes because they want to do them for us. Everyday we are left in awe of the love that radiates off the people we get to work with and the true likeness to Christ that they show. Their genuine compassion and grace for each other is pulling us closer and closer to Christ. They are teaching us to be servants, everyday, not because anyone deserves to be served but because that is the example Christ gave to us. We love them!!!
We are still uncertain what exactly our purpose here is, and teaching has not come easily to all of us, but we are learning to focus less on trying be excellent teachers and more on making connections with our students and the Young Life student leaders that hang around the centers all day. We are trying to “earn the right to be heard” by meeting the students where they are and building relationships before we ever bring up God, even though that is all we want to do! We all get called “Teacher” in soft Cambodian accents and now have papers to grade and lessons to plan, just like real teachers!! Lael has been able to start building a good relationship with four of her students and is hoping that through that she will be able to earn the right to be heard. She has been actively involved with contact work by helping a student make a Facebook, learning to enjoy Korean music videos, and going to a student’s house for coffee. She is also looking forward to starting a small Bible study with three student leaders three days a week and being able to connect with them through that. Brittany has had an awesome time being able to encourage and build up the student leaders that are at Center 1 and being a part of all their impromptu worship sessions and Bible studies. All of her students have started calling her “Sompoa,” which means “beauty” but is meant for someone with really dark skin, so we are a little unclear why they picked that one…. She has also taken to signing herself up to lead everything, such as performing a Khmer pop song at club and lead an all night prayer vigil and plan a “Girls Day” at her center. I have a class of 28 students and love being able to teach them and answer all their questions and try to act out their vocab words and conversations, although with that we spend a good portion of the class just laughing at me. I have also been teaching a woman who teaches at a nearby high school one on one English classes and hanging out with her, once again, earning the right to be heard. It is so much fun, she is hilarious and eager to learn about American culture and English so she can teach it to her 3 year old daughter. We all get the opportunity to join in Bible studies and worship and pray with our different centers every week and have loved being able to share and listen to the perspective of our Cambodian friends on God, life and love.
The longer we are here the more we have noticed that God placed each of us in the Center we are in for a reason, and He did a really good job with that too. Lael has been handling the difficulties at her center with grace and patience that Brittany and I have discussed we would not demonstrate. Brittany’s tenacity for trying weird food, such as pig’s blood and lung has won the heart of her students, and I have learned the art of being the perfect target for all jokes and teasing, which has allowed me to settle in well at my center. We have come to enjoy our centers more everyday and love what God is doing in each different place and in our own lives as well.
The language barrier is an ever-increasing difficulty that makes for long days, so prayer for better communication would be much appreciated! The cultural differences have gotten us in trouble a few times and we continue to have a hard time knowing exactly what is acceptable behavior, but we are trying.
This past weekend we also got to visit Angkor Wat! We were able to travel with a staff member from each of our centers, through 6 hours of gorgeous green countryside on an incredibly bumpy road to the ancient ruins of 1,000 different Buddhist and Hindu temples. It was stunning. The huge temples were tucked away in the lush jungle, surrounded by a moat, with monkeys and elephants all around; it truly was surreal.
We feel so blessed that God chose us to go on this adventure with Him and we are excited to see what He has in store for the future. We appreciate your prayers and hope you all are having an awesome summer!!!
We have also started a picture blog if you want to actually see what we are up to! The link is: http://team-cambodia.tumblr.com/
-The Cambodia Team