They said it would happen. They said I would fall out of love with Cambodia. Some said I would go through phases of hating it. “They” being others like me who live here, displaced from their home countries living in Phnom Penh who were all speaking from experience. I said they were wrong. I’m different. I love this place! How could that ever change?
And while, no, there isn’t a single fiber of my being that “hates” Cambodia, or anything close to it right now, I do find myself not as passionately in love with it at this moment as I was just a couple weeks ago. We’ve passed our 6 month mark and something about that has left me a bit tired. Ok, not a little bit tired. No, I’m really, really tired. That’s the best way I know to describe it. Tired. Or, perhaps, exhausted.
I’m a minority. I’ve never been part of a minority before. For over six months I’ve been a stranger in a strange land. I’m the foreigner. I speak a foreign language. My skin is a different color. I worship a God they do not know. I am a minority. And it is exhausting.
My body is tired from sleeping in a bed that is not my own and my feet are tired from walking in flip flops every day. I have to wear flip flops because it’s 85 degrees in January and I have to take my shoes off to go in some places so I don’t bother with socks and shoes. My hair is falling out. I thought something was really wrong with me because it’s coming out in clumps all day and night so I went to the doctor to have some blood tests run at the lab. I figured it was my thyroid or my iron or maybe even cancer in my lungs from riding in tuk tuks breathing in all this vehicle exhaust, but no. It’s the heat. I’m shedding. Like a dog. Seriously. My body is so confused it doesn’t even know I’m a person!
And my head is tired. I try to speak in Khmer but seem to have forgotten everything I learned and absolutely cannot jam anything else in my brain. I spend time preparing homeschool lessons every week and then other lessons for the adorable kids at the boy’s center each week and my brain is just full of stuff. Where in the world will another Khmer word fit? A couple months ago I desperately wanted to learn the language so I could understand the people talk to me in their own familiar words, but now I find myself indifferent to the language lessons. My brain is exhausted.
And the emotions. Wow. How do you look at these sights day in and day out and not wear yourself out? How do you try so hard to help the people and then, poof, 6 months have gone by and you don’t see any visible changes in this place? It’s tough. It’s so hard. I’m thankful that I still care, because this is one thing I don’t want to just shut off though it would be easy. I do sometimes find a reason to dig through my purse on the tuk tuk so I don’t have to look at the sights and the people around me. But that’s only sometimes. I pray it doesn’t become more often.
Yes. I pray. That’s the good that’s come out of this. As my feet and my back and my head and my heart grow tired, my God just pulls me closer. He is with me. He brought me here and He hasn’t left me for even a moment. This is just a phase.
It’s just a phase.
It’s just a phase.
This is totally normal.
But I pray it passes quickly. Because I’m so, so, so tired.
Will you pray with me, friends? Will you pray FOR me?