Tuesday, April 29, 2008


“By 2010 Prime Minister Hun Sen say dat Cambodia be the exporter of rice, number 1! He is good minister of Cambodia. If you Cambodian, how you feel?” As Vitya finished a long speech I didn’t much understand, he looked at me expecting a response. I opened my mouth to talk, he cut me off. “America start many war. President George W. Bush is ok, but prime minister Hun Sen is best. He talk to all people and he take his helicopter to get their fast. He shake their hand like this”, as he abruptly shook my hand, “and he a good, good man”. I got a word in, “Vitya didn’t Hun Sen cheat on his wife with several different prositutes?” He wouldn’t look at me and said, “I dunno what you talk bout!” I continued, “I read in the newspaper that he cheated on his wife and then his wife became jealous and had acid dumped on the woman so she wouldn’t be attractive anymore.” He just stared at me in disbelief, “Yeah, well I want to bomb America!” and stomped away half-bothered, half-jokingly as he grinned back at me over his shoulder.
This was lunch time today and very similar to other days when I believe Vitya just wants to talk to anyone who will listen. As he talks he illustrates as best he can and draws pictures, and does actions, and gets louder for emphasis. He may hate me tomorrow for some reason, but as moody as he is, I’m going to miss Vitya.
Today was alright. I was more tired than usual so I will be going to bed soon. But I taught my usual classes and the added 12th grade English class that was dumped on me last week. Either way, I made it through. Still after 8 months here, I sat in the library grading papers and thinking way too hard. I had to stop, close my eyes, and whisper, “Relax. It is going to be ok. Just breathe. Take a real rest.” Last week in bible study we practiced the spiritual discipline called, Lectio Divina. We read the same verses of scripture several times, noting words that jumped out at us and asked questions as a group, such as, “What is God trying to tell me through this verse?” and “How will what I have heard change today?” After reading Matthew 11 this way, the words, “I’ll teach you how to take a real rest” attracted me as I was reminded how difficult it is to relax in an environment of constant chaos. I am actually quite good at it by now. But I have had help.
Meeting Polly Yoder is the 3rd best thing to happen to me since I arrived here in August. Number one was having Tim and Fay Scott here. Number two was moving in with Tim and Fay back in January. Polly and I met at the end of February and she has been a blessing to me ever since. For example she stopped by a few minutes ago on her way home from school just to see how my day was! This is the kind of friends I have back home and have missed dearly since I’ve been here. She is an incredible answer to prayer. She comforts, she challenges me to think, she prays for me and means it. She invites me over to do absolutely nothing, but knows how much I just need company. She listens, she is honest, and she is funny. We are going to Vietnam together in 2 weeks with another friend of ours Megan. There is whole community of great people she has introduced me to from the school where they teach. The principle’s wife invited me for coffee the other night. Marie, another bible studier, offered the help of a counselor friend of hers. One of Polly’s roommates offered me her English lesson plans to help with my classes. Polly brought me along with her to ICF, or International Christian Fellowship, the church she attends. This is community. This is having more than one person to talk to. This is comforting. This is what I have needed for so long. This is the closest thing I am going to get to home. This is what will carry me through.
Christian churches are different here. The needs are more prevalent and in your face. There is instant community because we all face the same struggles every day. We all look so tired and burnt out. But even amidst the chorus of old hyms, people raised their hands in praise, closed their eyes, and worshipped God. It seems that the praises and the prayer requests flow more easily because we all have them. No one ever says, “I’m peachy. Not much going on here!” Yeah right. We all live here. We all see the same pain on the road every day. The message is more direct and applied because that is the only way people will make it through another week. I suppose all in all, it feels more real, honest, and absolutely necessary.
Today I was giving an example of the prepositions “to” and “from”. I was thinking of examples to help them better understand and I said, “I am from the United States. I came to Cambodia. But in 2 months, I will leave from Cambodia and go to the United States”. The room got really quite as if they hadn’t ever considered what I had just said. They all looked at me, like, “You don’t really mean that do you?” I was aware of the feeling, I sensed it, I got it. Whether they will feel the same way when a new, fun student missionary arrives in August, I don’t know. But I won’t have to witness it, so I’ll just remember this moment and remember it often to get through the rest of my time here.
Because indeed, come August, a new SM will have to listen to all their obnoxious stories about, “Ms.Bo this…” and “Ms.Bo that…”, just like I did. Muah-ha-ha!