Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm out of the Country but the Country's not out of Me!

We left Cambodia on Friday afternoon at 6pm. On the one hand we were glad to leave the oppressive, humid heat, but on the other, so sad to leave the people. When asked what I found most challenging about the culture, I mentioned the heat, the chaotic traffic and last but not least the piles, and I mean piles of garbage everywhere--even in the middle of the street. More than once our driver had to navigate around large mountains of garbage.

But all of that paled in comparison to what I loved about the culture. Number one, the people. They are sweet, kind, friendly and appreciative. We noticed the difference when we arrived in Hong Kong and the people not only ignored us but responded rudely to our requests for help. In contrast the Kuhmer people enjoyed their tourists and loved to practice their english. And they were frequently apologetic even when we made mistakes.

Second, although I found the traffic and non-existent traffic rules a challenge, I also found it charming. Motos are everywhere--short for motorcycles. This is the most prevalent mode of transportation. In fact, entire families travel on one moto--up to five or six. I even found mothers nursing infants while weaving wildly in and out of traffic. But to be totally shallow (which I can be once in a while:) ) one thing that is awesome in Cambodia are the cheap foot and back massages. $7 for an hour foot massage with reflexology, and $10-13 for a full body massage. I'm going to miss those.

I'll also miss driving in the tuk-tuks. These are open carriages driven by motos. They're everywhere, and are very cheap. About $2 for a ride around the city. They hold about 6-7 Cambodians, and 4-5 American's!
As I adjust back to the American time zone and culture, I'm continuing to process all that I experienced. I asked God to change me on this trip and He did. Not only have my eyes been opened to what a BIG God we have and to see His amazing work in other parts of the world, but He also opened my eyes to see and feel the pain and evil that others face every day, things I can only imagine. I'm not sure what God wants me to do with this now. But one thing is for sure...now that I've seen, heard and witnessed the miracle work of God even in the darkest places on earth, I can never go back to the way I was. How I live, pray, love and serve will all change. Someone said to me the other night that it was so good of me to sacrifice and go to Cambodia. Funny, there's never been a moment I felt that I was honoring or blessing anyone. On the contrary, I said, I'm the one who was honored and privileged to be able to go. I feel like God has let me in on a secret...one He never wants me to forget, and one that He insists I share with all who will listen. You may just be the next one God wants to share this secret with.

I have more to share next time...when I said goodbye to my Poea.

Until then...
Blessings, Barb

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