Going Again: Cambodia, the Conclusion

It’s early and still dark outside, but I’m getting up. I’ve been looking at the clock every hour thinking surely it is morning now, and it has not been. I’m going to call this jet lag and hope that it will resolve in a few more days. I’m home once again, suitcases are unpacked, everyday life has resumed.  I can finally see my ankle bones again after losing them during the 20 hours of sitting in an airplane. The journey to Cambodia and back is over.

The last few days of our trip were full of relational activities, decisions about our financial gifts, a medical clinic outreach to the Prek Eng community, and, for me, computer problems that made it hard to complete the story I was telling.  I had hoped my “devices” would last the trip without malfunctioning and they almost did.

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Flubber!

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The relational activites were our nights with the PE4 and PE5 houses. Traditionally we have spent an afternoon and evening with each house, talking and playing with the children and having dinner with them. It’s an opportunity to introduce a craft or a new toy. This year it was “flubber”.  One of Trish’s friends had sent along the materials to make this interesting, goofy stuff and she ended up making four batches at each house, and sending the leftovers around to all the other houses. Now everyone knows what “flubber” is. Laughing, talking, making music, coloring, paper crafts, eating, and the final act – a dance performance by the kids – made the evenings so full. We finished with our tuk tuk rides home, courtesy of Long our favorite driver, and gratefully tumbled into bed.

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As I mentioned before, one of the significant pleasures for me when I visit the kids, is to find a project not covered by regular monthly support and see it get done. It’s just plain fun to see 100% of the funds going toward a good end. The project of filling in the ditch started immediately after we agreed to it (always surprises me how quickly director Savourn can act), and I’ve since seen pictures of the finished results. All together, we were able to furnish seven bikes for each house for the children who have to ride to public school, closets for PE5 children and staff, and some furniture, a whiteboard, and guitars for the university student dorms. They move ahead without some of these conveniences and comforts, but are very grateful when they can be provided. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

You might wonder where the gospel fits into my trip to Cambodia, since I don’t mention it often. I don’t do a lot of preaching (not my strong point) when I’m there. I do loving. But I’m also enabling others to talk about their faith and present the gospel. One of those opportunities was the medical clinic on our last day. The word was out in the community and people began lining up at our location early on Friday morning. It is primarily a triage effort, sorting out problems that can be helped with an over the counter medicine, and ones that are more significant and need to be referred to a doctor. Everyone got their vital signs taken, their blood sugar checked, a consultation with our midwife nurse Bora or me, an offer of reading glasses, and a chance to talk with the Cambodian house parents about their faith. Since they live in this community and rub shoulders with the people in it, the house parents are able to follow up with those who want to know more about faith in Jesus Christ.

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The eyeglass station at the medical clinic

One of the people coming through our clinic was Long, the tuk tuk driver. We have had contact with him for a number of years and used his services almost exclusively for our rides to Prek Eng and elsewhere. We all have his telephone number and love to see his cheery smile and hear him saying “ba, ba, ba” when he understands our requests. He takes care of us, and last year when his moto blew a gasket, Hunsaders helped take care of him with assistance in getting a new one. This year, Long wanted reading glasses so he could read the Bible he had just gotten. It’s an example of how God works with some people through repeated, loving contact. It was encouraging to us all.

So ended this trip to Cambodia. It was rewarding, interesting, rigorous, thought provoking in many ways, and at its end, reminded me of how different life can be for those living in faraway places. I always come back with awareness of how much I have been given in this country and how grateful I should be, and also how much my blessings are taken for granted. Gratitude is a healthy attitude and feels good.

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