Well, if you notice the title above my blog here, it’s called “The ADVENTURE of following God.” I have to say, in the 11 weeks we have lived here in Cambodia, it’s definitely been an adventure. In fact, just a quick glimpse of the ups and downs of my last 2 weeks will prove that.
So here’s that glimpse:
About 2 weeks ago we bought bikes. Nope, not the cool moto kind everyone else here has – just the normal ol’ 2 wheelers that are powered painfully by my own calves. A bell was an essential add-on since apparently people honk (or ring) as they cross streets to warn others that they are crossing. Haha, as if my little bell could be heard on a loud motorcycle or in a car. But, I got the bell. And we got a baby seat on the front of my bike and a bigger seat on the back. Why? Because biking around the city with my two kids strapped on is part of the adventure! And yes, I’ll get you a photo of that soon. I know many of you are dying to laugh at me.
So we started getting around better using the bikes. The after school programs started at the International school. We’re doing school at home but have opted to put the boys into some of the fun activities like Karate and swimming so they can be around other kids and have a good time. And guess what? It’s been a great place to meet some new friends for them and, by default, for me! That’s fun and has made these couple weeks much better.
So when Stephen had to go to the beach town again for a trial, he asked us to go along and take a mini vacation away from the normal and spend a couple days there. We’d been once before, but it rained the whole time (read about THAT right here). We opted to stay here in Phnom Penh until Thursday afternoon, when we had finished the afterschool clubs and the morning homeschooling routine for the week and meet up with him later that day. It wasn’t until I had been in a taxi for two hours with my kids and a total stranger of a driver who spoke no English that I began to wonder, “When in the world did I become so adventurous?? Or was I just simply crazy?” Seriously, when did I become brave enough to plop my little ones in the backseat of a car and hop in the front with no map, and thus no clue which way to drive, and a gigantic impenetrable language barrier separating me from the driver just trusting blindly that we’d end up in the right place? Oops. Adventure? Maybe? Maybe not? I don’t know. Short story is that it turned out great and when we arrived at the hotel, Stephen was waiting for us outside. IJM had arranged the taxi so it wasn’t like it was totally crazy! If they trust the guy, why not me? Just trying to show you what was going through my head.
And then we had an amazing time once we got there. It’s a land of $20 per night hotels, tourists from all over the earth, papasan chairs right on the beach, critters plucked straight out of the sea and grilled and served right there on the beach, and some of the most gorgeous water and beaches I’ve ever seen. We spent the first morning at the local beach, where many Cambodian families make a living off of tourists like me. It was a Friday, a day kids should be at school and yet they were everywhere, trying to sell bracelets, hairbands, toys, and more little trinkets at outrageous prices. The ladies sold fresh crabs and lobsters or offered a foot massage and pedicure right there on the sand, and the men sold sunglasses to tourists. We were immediately approached by two little girls, who claimed to be 12 and 14 but probably weren’t over 10 and who spoke pretty much perfect English. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with them.
They sat beside me and commented on how young and pretty I was, no doubt trying to butter me up for their sale, but quite effectively, I must say. They had their honest moments, too. They tried to convince me to let them “thread” my arms, legs, armpits, or anything but that was easy to decline (ouch!). And when they pointed out that I have a few gray hairs I realized that they did hair coloring right there on the beach too. They played with the boys and we all had a great time. In the end, we bought some friendship bracelets and other things but left them with a message I felt God urging us to share… “If you ever get into trouble, take this business card (Stephen’s from IJM) and call him.” Because these little girls would be just the type to fall victim to the crime we are trying to fight. I hung up my bracelet on my prayer wall and committed to pray for them daily. I don’t want to jeopardize their safety, so here’s a discreet photo. You can pray for them and their friends also.
Anyway, more adventure. It was a day full of adventure.
The next day we went to a private beach at a resort. It’s gorgeous, and from these photos you’ll see it is like walking into a postcard.
We loved that place. Even there our little one made a little friend. Of course, you can see what motivates him to be “friends.”
And both boys enjoyed playing with each other and with the Cambodians at the beach.
When we got back to the hotel, Stephen’s computer wouldn’t turn on. Annoying, but we figured it was the power there at the hotel. It had gone in and out a few times so we didn’t get too concerned.
When we got home, though, Saturday night, we learned that my computer was also not turning on. We were left with no way to connect with the outside world and personally I don’t like that very much at all! It was quite frustrating. But we survived without the computers, though it made my homeschool lessons on Monday quite difficult when I couldn’t print the necessary papers. We took the computers in and later the next day got a phone call.
“We were able to repair one computer. Not the other.” In my mind I was thinking, oh no, which would be worse? Of course I didn’t want it to be mine that was broken, but I didn’t really wish that for Stephen, either, you know? Well, it was mine. The motherboard crashed. No solution except to buy a new computer. On a limited budget. In a foreign country. Where many electronics are stolen or already used. In a place software is almost always pirated. Adventure, right?
I decided to take that afternoon and leave the kids with my sitter, go get a pedicure, and try to relax. It was nice. I got my feet massaged and a pretty pink on my toes (all for just $6!) and then rode my bike back home.
And on the way home, in an act that I can only figure was motivated by sheer meanness, something not common here from what I’ve seen, a tuk tuk driver did a full circle in front of me causing me to make a quick stop and get a flat tire. He hit the tire, but thankfully I was just fine. Shaken up and annoyed that I had to walk home with a broken bike, but just fine.
The adventures continue. Every day is another one.
And despite the fact that white coffee, a drink I fell in love with when we got here, now seems to have disappeared off every shelf, I still get up every day and look forward to what’s waiting for me.
The Adventure of Following God.
“Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And … I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life.”
-Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase