As I type this, the hotel staff is watching some Cambodian karaoke channel on the T.V. directly above my head. Not really sure what the draw is, but I just thought I’d let you know in case this post seems unduly random and somewhat disjointed.
It’s been an interesting couple of days in Cambodia. Several of us have become more closely acquainted with the local strain of stomach-bug causing bacteria than we ever wanted to. But, before any mothers reading this begin to worry, let me reassure you. The diarrhea and vomiting seem to have subsided for now. Everything is, at least on the digestive side of things, quite well.
Before I continue with chronicling the day’s activities, I think that I will take some time to do something similar to what Matt did yesterday. But, instead of introducing people, I’ll try to describe to you the two locations at which we have spent the majority of our time – the Bamboo House and the Center.
As HollyAnne mentioned earlier, the Bamboo House was recently purchased by Words of Life and will most likely be used for some new endeavors in Kratche, such as hosting computer classes and also kindergarten. Like most other houses in Cambodia, it stands on stilts and is constructed of wood. By Cambodian standards, however, it is quite a large house. It is situated on about an acre of land and the entire lot is surrounded by a high concrete wall.
When we first arrived at Bamboo house, the driveway and the area beneath the house were just dirt. But I am very pleased to say that now, after several days of very hard work, we have finished laying a concrete slab underneath the house and today we completed the driveway. I must mention that when I say “we”, I am not just referring to our team but also to the Cambodians who have worked alongside us. In all honesty, a lot of them have worked harder than any of us. Or, at least harder than I have.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. The Center, where we have also spent a considerable amount of time, is located in a rural area about ten minutes away from our hotel. The Center is primarily composed of the Big House (a large Cambodian house, similar to the Bamboo House), a kitchen building, and four “houses” (sort of like dorms or bunkhouses) where the kids sleep. There is also a fantastic playground, a volleyball net, a field used to play soccer in, and a few other buildings. A lot of the tutoring we have been doing takes place in/underneath the Big House or in one of the surrounding buildings.
I suppose I should at least try to get to more of what actually happened today. In the morning, I went with the group that worked at the Bamboo House. As I already mentioned, we finally finished laying the last section of the driveway. It is quite a relief to be done with it. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be entirely rid of it, though. Despite multiple showers, my arms are still gray from all the concrete dust. Besides completing the driveway, some of us also dug drainage ditches and mounted a rickety scaffolding to scrub mildew off the sides of the house.
After lunch, I went with the afternoon group to the center, where we continued tutoring. I’ve spent the past few days helping some of the kids with reading English using Hooked on Phonics books. It’s really cool to see how eager all of them are work and how much effort they are willing to put into it. Tutoring also tends to lead to uniquely amusing moments. One such moment occurred today, while I was working with Srei No, a shy and adorable little girl who’s about seven years old. We were working on spelling a few simple words using cards with letters written on them. When I asked No to spell “shut”, she began sifting through the pile of letters. Finally, with the peculiar and great gravity that little children sometimes exhibit, she confidently spelled out her word – but with a “i” instead of a “u”! I did my best not to explode in laughter. While we certainly have been doing our best to expand the kids’ English vocabularies, I don’t think this was quite what any of us had in mind!
Finally, after heading back to the Bamboo House and eating dinner there, we finished off the night with a group devotional and then took a walk to the nearby Hor Bunny Hotel, where we got some ice cream and other snacks.
So much of what we have been doing in Cambodia has been phenomenally joyous. But, there have also been frustrating things. Strangely, I’ve found one of the biggest sources of frustration to be one of the things that I have simultaneously loved the most – tutoring. Even though I know that it’s really incredible that these kids can read English at all (I don’t even want to think about how difficult it would be for me to learn the Khmai script!) I still find myself getting impatient with them when they make mistakes. I’ve really had the hardest time with one boy in particular, named Yaw. He’s extremely eager and very excited to have someone tutor him, but he has a hard time retaining what we go over and we end up repeating material again and again. I really hate having such a bad reaction like that. I guess, ironically, I am frustrated by my frustration. I shouldn’t be having this problem! It has been a bit of a disheartening reality check for me.
But in all of that, I think God might be trying to teach me something. As I was mulling over some other things that have been frustrating me this morning, I sort of out of the blue recalled something G.K. Chesterton had said. A newspaper reporter once asked him what he thought was wrong with the world. Chesterton simply replied, “I am.”
On the typical short-term mission trip, the focus is usually on taking the gospel to a broken world in some way. But I am broken and am in need of the gospel too. So please pray that I, and the rest of us, would remember that and be humble. And that we would keep renewing ourselves in Christ.
Well the T.V. has switched from karaoke, to Robocop (subtitled in Chinese), back to karaoke, and now finally off. And the guy behind the hotel desk turned the lights out in the lobby. So I guess that means I should be signing off now and heading to bed. Thanks so much for reading and praying.
All for Jesus.
- Wilson Ricketts