Saturday, October 13, 2007


Well, my break from school is coming to an end. It is Saturday night. We go back to school on Monday. I thought this holiday might be difficult. But I’d say it was good to, really good.

As I am learning to relax and just be here, the days are a little bit easier to get through. The first day, Wednesday, we had a relaxing morning and then we went to a place called, Russian market. We wanted to take Katrina’s friend there who is visiting from Thailand. His name is Phil. He is a great guy. On the tuk-tuk ride there we were talking excitedly about the clothes, the art, and the other gadgets they sold there. Turns out it was closed for the holiday and we were really bummed. So I suggested we just walk around the area because we had already come this far. We found this great little coffee shop called, Jars of Clay. Phnom Penh does not have cozy hang out spots like Barnes and Noble or Starbucks where you can just be. The area around the Russian market is heavily populated by NGO’s or Non-Government Organization workers. So this is where you see white people. Other than the Russian market area, we are the signature whites and we feel it everyday. In fact we have started playing “Who can spot the white person first”. Kind of a foreign version of slug bug! So we went into Jars of Clay. They had things like “sandwiches”, “iced tea”, and “muffins”! I know crazy right? You don’t see these things in Cambodia. There was nice modern d├ęcor and a few large chairs and couches. There was even air conditioning, a real treat! After we sat down I spotted, you will never believe it, an O magazine (the magazine Oprah Winfrey puts out). I dove for it. It was dated March 2005, I didn’t care. I read it front to back. We stayed awhile and talked about an upcoming break and how we may travel to Vietnam together.
When we got back we went and started a volleyball game at the CAS dormitory where at least 15 students were stranded with not much to do. It was fun to play with them. Being the sports fan that I am, I was excited. But they play volleyball differently here. I can be fairly competitive and very stuck to how the game “should” be played. I shut my mouth and just played.

Thursday, we went to Soriya market, a 6 story mall where all of the “cool” Cambodian teenagers hang out. We mostly just do grocery shopping. But I had a few things I needed. Every time we go, my roommates buy pirated DVD’s that cost about $2 each. We dropped Katrina and Phil off at the bus station and they spent the next few days in Siem Riep (where Pastor Rich and I went to see Angkor Wat). That afternoon, Fay Scott had invited me to come over and cook. Apparently she loves cleaning and hates cooking. I told her I would be thrilled to help. We went to the market to get a few ingredients, then came back and I made chocolate chip cookies, bread, and carrot cake. Some days I just hate food. I get a bit panicky. I hate being around it, smelling it, talking about it and especially eating it. Unfortunately, this was one of those days. So I was miserable, not much fun, and pretty boring. Fay was content just cleaning her refrigerator. So she did.
I got some fresh air by leaving and playing volleyball. But turns out a change of scenery doesn’t immediately make everything better. I take me with me, unfortunately. Sometimes I feel toxic to myself. That is a horrible feeling by the way. I can’t just run away from my thoughts. They consume me some times, as they did the rest of the night. I hid in our apartment until Liz got back later that night. I told her that I shouldn’t have left the group considering the thought of throwing up was first and foremost in my mind all night. I told her that sometimes I will need her to force me to stay around people. I will have to ask for what I need from her though. She agreed. Turns out she had a friend who also battled ED last year. That was incredibly encouraging to hear. It felt as though maybe I wasn’t so crazy because she has heard some of this before. We talked awhile and I really appreciated it.

Friday, I went to a wireless restaurant with intentions of just getting some school work done. But I saw that my sister was online so I said, “Hello”. I was in pretty good spirits and just intended on a quick conversation. We chatted for quite a while and an hour later I was crying as the waiters watched me uncomfortably. An hour later I was miserable. Why did talking to her make me miserable? She pointed out that I sounded fine when we started talking. So why the change? During the course of our conversation I had brought up the option the principle gave us of coming home a month early in May to attend graduations or get back for summer jobs. They asked me if I actually thought this was what I needed to do or if I was just looking for excuses to come home. I knew the answer to that question.
Part of me does not want to ever fit in here. I rarely think about staying here for the whole 10 months I signed up for. When I constantly compare Cambodia to home, home always wins, understandably. I have been here for less than two months. I am not patiently living, relaxing, or taking things as they come. Chilling out does not come naturally to me. I can be so uptight and I really hate that about myself. So I continue to try and live in two places at once. I lay my head in Cambodia, but I dream about home. I work in Cambodia, but I work even harder staying in touch with friends back home. I talk to God in Cambodia, but usually I am praying that everyone back home doesn’t forget about me. I laugh in Cambodia, but usually I am just reminded something funnier or better about my friends back home.
Picture this: two rugs. I am most comfortable with the rug I have lived on my whole life, my life in the US. This other rug I call Cambodia. As soon as I boarded the plane to come here, the US rug was ripped out from underneath me. Then, 20 hours later, I was plopped down on this ratty, foreign, ugly rug where I live now. As soon as I had email, I could just grab a hold of that old familiar rug the more people I kept in touch with back home. So I find myself daily trying to keep one foot on the “home” rug and one foot on this new rug. I cannot have both. I know I can’t have both because when I think I can, both rugs are swiped away and I land on my butt, hard. I have landed on my butt when there are days that I simply can’t stop crying. I have landed on my butt when I am so horribly depressed it is hard to breath and hard to just get out of bed. I have landed on my butt when I feel so lonely it physically hurts. I can’t live this way all year. It isn’t possible. I will never be fully here the more I desperately try to straddle both worlds.
I have yet to fully embrace this country, my work, my co-workers, the church, the locals, the environment, Cambodia. If I am so desperate to fight this reality, why did I come at all? Good question. I have been pondering that for the last day or two.
As a result my thoughts have been a little more content. I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone else. But this is my reality right now.


caitlyn brianne said...

oh heather! after reading today's blog i was racking my mind with what encouraging thoughts i could leave with you that I will encourage you.... and all i could think of was that so many people are praying for you! you, yes YOU are an amazing Woman of God and you have been an inspiration to me! I will continue to pray that God will help you embrace Cambodia and that you can live this adventure that God has put you in! Continue holding onto Him Bo!

love you lots!

Katie said...

oh how much it makes sense. feeling toxic to yourself... taking yourself with you... not being able to run from your thoughts, and being consumed by them. i know these things, and many others that you wrote of. you are NOT alone, and you're not crazy. you'll make it. i will too. we have to keep believing that.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Heather---Keep praying... keep growing...I love that you are sharing your journey - your whole journey, good and bad! Love & Prayers Always---Sandy

Anonymous said...

The US rug will always be here and probably never change much... but you will treasure the dirty rug forever! chris b

Livny said...

Hi Heather, I have enjoyed reading your last posts and also looking at the pictures you have shared with us. Thank you for taking the time.

I share from my bible devotional book:

TRUST... it is a command from your God... "LEAN NOT on your own understanding"... and then a promise: "he WILL make your paths straight"

There are many unknowns in life. a husband's job, our children's struggles, a tentative move, critical talk behind our backs, a search for our own identity, bills to pay, aged parents to look after. Let go completely, trust. live with it all in a open hand before God. Jesus promises he WILL WORK it all out. I do believe HE WILL. I am praying for you dear friend, Livny