Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Almost daily in my journal you can find the words, “Well, God I am still here.” Often times I cry my way through many prayers pleading with God to show me that “he” is still here.
My day begins each morning at 5am and today I saw the most gorgeous sunrise. It was golden as it shone in through our apartment windows. I stepped outside onto our balcony, the shop houses and other buildings surrounding me looked almost charming with the warm glow that was covering them. I turned my back a moment and the light behind me had changed to a pink grapefruit color. Another turn the other direction and the sky had turned a brilliant blue with a few black clouds dotting the sky. I felt like God was saying, “Yup, here I am.”
This weekend was pretty good. On Saturday we went to an area in the middle of Phnom Penh called Wat Phnom. It is a central park area with a big pagoda in the middle. There are big trees and shade. Sounds good right? But parks here are different. This is where most of the beggars and vendors come. So you can’t relax with friends or throw around a Frisbee. The overgrown grass has food wrappers and used diapers strewn throughout. If you’re lucky you can witness grown men relieving themselves there too. Yeah, there isn’t much greenery in Phnom Penh and what you can find isn’t the kind you want to run barefoot through. Either way, this is where the monkeys are. I took quite a few pictures at the request of my brother. I got really close to most of them. My roommates were making fun of me saying I was acting like those dumb tourists back home that get attacked by bears. They are probably right, but I am okay with it.
Sunday I got to chat on Skype with both my parents in Colorado and my brother in Tennessee. Isn’t that incredible? I feel like I am cheating compared to the SM’s who received one letter during their entire year. I keep a regular blog, I can call home, and I have email. I am so spoiled. Yet, I would not still be here were it not for support from all of you back home.
Later in the afternoon we got a volleyball game started at the school, then came back and did some work before going to bed.
Today, was the first day back at school after vacation. I came armed with a few new rules. From now on everyone will call me Ms.Bo. Most of them do anyway. But the problem comes when every teacher is simply called, “Teacher”. So every time a student calls, about 20 people turn their heads.
I also figured out that, of the 36 hours each week my 8th graders spend at school, only 6 hours is spent with me. So as much as they complain and complain about my “No Khmer” rule during my classes, they are only being asked to speak English 16.6% of the entire week. I told them that if they can go 5 days in a row doing their best to speak only English, I will reward them. I wasn’t specific about the reward because I have no idea what it will be. But today they did really well. I heard them helping each other, “Hey, please don’t speak Khmer! Remember what Ms.Bo said?” I’m worried. I may just have to actually have a reward for them by the end of the week. We’ll just wait and see.
Oh and lastly, no complaining! I am sick and tired of it. If I hear one single complaint the assignment immediately gets doubled, no questions asked. I already got to use it today as we were picking roles for the Christmas play. The first girl who complained about it, Tulip, will be playing Mary. Congratulations. Strange, she didn’t seem very thrilled at all!
In English class I had my 10th graders do presentations on books they had read. They could draw pictures and tell us about it, write me a song, or just give an oral presentation. I purposefully added the drawing option for a student named Vibol. He is an incredible artist but horribly, painfully shy. I was excited to see his art so I called him to go next. He walked to the front, looked directly at the floor in front of him and began to mumble. I asked him to please speak louder and look up at the class. He held his drawings behind his back. As soon as his hands were visible the students started laughing. His hands were shaking so uncontrollably we couldn’t even see his drawings. He seemed equally surprised. He was so embarrassed; his bottom lip began shaking as well. I thought he might cry. Still, he managed an uncomfortable smile and continued muttering something as the students tried to contain their chuckling. At one point a boy asked if he could go up and hold Vibol’s drawings for him because he really wanted to be able to see them. I stopped everything. I interrupted Vibol, told the students to be quiet, and asked Vibol to look only at me and take a big deep breath. We took a few exaggerated breaths together and I asked him to continue. His hands continued to shake, but he made it through. When he was done I applauded, thanked him, and reminded the students how hard it is to get up in front of their friends. I also gave Vibol, and no one else, permission to laugh hysterically at the worst of the hecklers when it was their turn to present. I doubt he will. But still I winked at him and he gave me a smile of relief.
After school I was grading papers and a very large rat scurried above me on the rafters. I secretly hoped it would fall and be chopped up into a hundred pieces by the ceiling fan below. Then I realized that that would be gross and I would just have to clean it up anyway.
Some days are more interesting than others. Regardless, for the first time today I actually considered staying here the entire 10 months. I am trying to relax. I am trying to just be. I am trying to trust that God is still here with me. I am trying.


Anonymous said...

Heather---I have NEVER doubted you! I know you are trying and I know God is rewarding your efforts. I am praying that He will fill you with His Courage and Joy...for each new day in Cambodia.
I Love You and I'm still here believing in you...Sandy

caitlyn brianne said...

Heather after reading your story today i laughed about your thoughts on the rat and felt sorry for Vibol! I loved it! I'm so glad that you are feeling somewhat better! Keep trusting, I'm praying for you! love you lots! Have an amazing week!

phil said...

Yep, it's all fun and games until somebody gets monkey rabies. [sigh]

And way to hit your students with some logic (and a carrot on a stick). 16.6% isn't that much time at all. Good luck coming up with a reward, though.

Good days are, well, good. Cheers.