Tuesday, October 9, 2007


This has been an incredible week. So much has changed since last Tuesday. If you need reminding, last Tuesday was a very low day for me, I cried most of my way through it. But since that day, I have been praying and I know that others have been praying for peace. I am beginning to feel it. I am beginning to see it. I am slowly learning how to live here.

I got an email from my brother, Chris, the other day and I wanted to share:(Copied and pasted directly! Christopher, your English teachers would be appalled!)

"heather bohlender!! I just going to come out and say it, im angry at you... I was looking at your pictures... YOU SAW A MONKEY UP CLOSE!!! are you kidding me?? hello? and a elephant!!! really?? how come you have not been writing about that?? I want to hear about the MONKEYS!!! Heather I know that things are not going as well as hoped. but lets not forget that you are in a spectacular place doing amazing things!! MONKEYS!!! I found that the things i remembered most where the good times and not the bad. those will be the memorys you will treasure! Heather you saw a elephant walking down the street and did not mention a thing... thats so cool!! I never got to see that!! so chin up sis!"

Mr.Practical himself, that is my brother. I have been wondering if men are just better cut out for the mission field. Because, in general, men are practical doers and women are emotional feelers. I am not about to say I have been feeling "too" much or thinking "too" much, but I think he has a point. I have not turned into a pessimist since I have been here. But reading my journal I am reminded that I came here to see and experience and live and ADJUST! The adjusting part has been the hardest. Because really, what is the ideal or recommended "settling in" period of time? It takes awhile to feel comfortable in a foreign country, surrounded by foreign people, doing foreign things! There is nothing comforting about it. Still, I am beginnging to see glimmers of hope that make the day to day a little easier. Thankyou God and thankyou all for your earnest prayers.

Today I have no school. This week we are off for the annual Pechum Ben holiday. Most of the holidays here are Buddhist. So Pechum Ben is this: at 4am every morning all the Buddhist people wake up, walk to the pagoda (temple), and throw rice at it. Yup, they are feeding their dead ancestors who are hungry. They come out once a year to feed and if they are not fed, they will curse the family they came from. At staff worship yesterday, the principle recommended staying close to home and she was serious. Pechum Ben is a holiday to worship the dead. The spirits are invited into Phnom Penh and worshipped. This morning as I took a walk in the rain and it was eery and quiet. I wondered if I really would've noticed had I not known about this holiday. Either way, it was eery. Most of the shops close down and there were very few people outside. It was a noticeable difference and a bit unsettling. I realize there is no shortage of spirit worship everywhere in the world, but feeling surrounded by it is just different. A teacher at the school told me about a woman just last week who vomited up a diamond for him. She was proving that through the spirits she can have anything she desires. Some of the children here wear spirit strings around their wrists, ankles, and waists, to ward off evil spirits.

From what I can gather, being Buddhist here is alot like being American. You don't have to know the 14th president, the Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance backwards to be an American. It is just where you live. Cambodians are born into Buddhism. Out of 27 students in my classroom there are 5 Christians. When I ask what Buddhists believe, none of them know or really care. In the same way, my students ask me about places in America that I have never even heard of but they show me and they do exist! So the kids just see this as a break from school and I'll bet they throw rice at eachother at the pagoda when their parents aren't looking!

Down time, weekends, and holidays can be hard. So I am praying for peace. I am making plans. I am trying to do things I would normally do at home. I wasn't always so uptight and stressed out all the time. I am really trying. At home I would watch Oprah, cook, read, spend time with family and go to Barnes and Noble with friends. So obviously, a few of those things are impossible for me to do here. But I'll find something. Hey, I have written emails to Oprah before. Just a thought: If I sent an email from Cambodia, wouldn't that make me a much better candidate to get on the show? I think so. You watch. I'll let you know how it goes.


Dad said...


I continue to be amazed week by week what you are learning and experiencing! I'm glad to hear that big brother Chris's perspective was helpful to you! Sometimes it helps to hear from someone else, like another SM to help you see things differently! You are growing in so many ways, and unfortunately the little girl I sent to Cambodia will never be the same! I say unfortunately selfishly, however I should say "fortunately" becuz I can now see how much you are learning about yourself, about the world, and most importantly about your relationship with God! Dad

ashley said...

Oprah Winfrey show here you come! :)

My prayers for peace continue...

Anonymous said...

heather, when you're on oprah will you take me to be in the audience?
love, rach

Anonymous said...

When you get on Oprah...I will be so jealous! (Notice I said WHEN...
'Cause if I know anything about you it is that you make things happen!)

Missing you and praying for you---