That is how long I have resided in the Kingdom of Wonder and even as I type, it feels surreal. So many feels that I am feeling. I feel like I have been here a long time. It shows in how things that once seemed so foreign seem completely regular, like taking my moto out everyday and embracing Cambodian culture. It also shows in the way I have mastered some (and by some I mean very little) of the language, and can find my way around the city. At the same time I feel like I have been here only a hot minute, because as regular as things feel, there is always an air of irregularity. I will always be surprised at the Cambodian peoples’ ingenuity and boldness in reference to many things, particularly transportation of objects and humans. I will never be able to embrace parts of their culture, and if a Cambodian starts speaking fast my months of language lessons go out the window. These past eight months have been amazing, and horrible wrapped into one. I love it here, and love the people and know that God placed this passion in my heart. I know that if I was anywhere but here right now it wouldn’t feel right.
That isn’t saying that being here always “feels” right– no many days since i’ve been here I have hit walls, thinking to myself “I can’t stand it” (It being whatever is most presently nagging at me). Whether it is the driving, or the heat, or missing home, or getting dissed (it is culturally appropriate to point out some misgivings), or a number of all those things…I often feel misplaced. As stated, there are a fair share of hard moments, but there are so many good ones that it is hard to count. In my circumstance I can’t weigh bad against good, because truthfully I’ve probably had more tough moments than ecstatic ones. Even with the hardship though there is no place I would rather be, because God has drawn me to here. That is this strange lover affair I have with Cambodia- I at times can’t stand it, but I can’t leave it either. It is hard to explain to people, especially family back home. They think if you are not always happy throw in your towel! You tried! But even when I sigh and feel like throwing in a metaphorical towel, I still know I just can’t. Because ultimately this isn’t about me, or my current discomfort. When God put this passion on my heart he never said Cambodia would be a joyride, or that I would love every second. He never said following him would be easy. He did promise me certain things like his steadfast love, and he has delivered even when I don’t acknowledge it. I am surrounded by awesome people, foreign and Cambodian who show me his love in little and big ways.
I have learned an incredible amount about myself since living here. I have seen parts of myself that I would’ve rather never confronted- but confronting them allows me to grow. That process is a painful one, but a beneficial one. I feel like Cambodia has presented a lot of growing pains for me; growing pains in my faith, in my journey into adulthood, into shedding certain traits I shouldn’t cling on to. I know that as hard as any moment feels, there is relief in God, and there is hope.
I am no longer ashamed to admit my shortcomings and difficulties that i’ve experienced the past eight months, and look forward to the good times and hard times in the next eight months (and God knows how many more) here. I know God will use all of those moments to make me who I am. So whether you are feeling lost, found, happy, sad, confused…know that God uses all of those moments. And all of those moments make you the fabulous person that is you.
Here are some little pictures to remind you what I look like modeling fried bananas, and some pretty scenery.
P.S. If you would like to holler at Jesus in regards to my spiritual and physical health I would appreciate it. Also pray for wisdom and clarity and that my heart would be open to growing with God. And if you can pray for everyone I work with to be emboldened in their faith. Amen, Hallelujah.