I didn’t know what to expect when I boarded the plane to come to Cambodia. My entire being was filled with a nervous excitement that is incomparable to anything i’ve ever experienced in my life. It was a surprisingly easy decision to move to Cambodia. There were many decisions and heartache that went with it as I began the journey, but the initial decision was easy to me. It was joy that consumed me, and I knew with the most certainty that I was meant to live this next part of my life in Cambodia. It has been joy, or the hope of joy that has sustained me this past year.
I never thought I would end up in one place. The towns I grew up in within California seemed to small to handle the weight of my dreams. Suddenly, all of California seemed too small, and then the entire United States. The older I got the more I knew I wouldn’t stay. In my heart I understood my desire to leave to see the rest of the world. I didn’t know what that would look like, or how God would change my heart. He set Cambodia on my vision, and a passion for social justice on my heart. He had been preparing my heart for years with this restlessness and this need to step outside of the borders. I didn’t realize it would be a third world country in SE Asia, but I was so on-board, I swung full force into the idea. I tried not to have expectations, but subconsciously I was inevitably going to have some. I didn’t understand what I was about to step in to. I don’t think there was anything I could’ve done to prepare myself for this, it really took immersing myself in my surroundings. The choice to move, the choice to experience everything around me has changed me forever.
You see, in retrospect the decision to move to Cambodia was relatively easy compared to the constant decision I make to stay. To stay despite the struggles, to stay despite the alternatives, to stay for the good and the bad. All the reasons I moved to Cambodia don’t have a whole lot to do with me, and the reasons I decide to stay are for the same reasons. The reason being there is something greater than my discomfort. There is a hunger here for love, a need for light. I play no big part in this, I just ask God everyday to help me to make people feel appreciated. Deep down, I just want to give love and help spread the light. I think human kindness, even simple acts, can change lives.
I couldn’t have imagined getting on that plane all the things that I would have experienced. One year later there have been many laughs, tons of tears, plenty of moments of frustration and asking “what the heck?”, and lots of growing moments. There are days where I love Cambodia, and days where I hate it. A year later I still don’t know what to expect in life, but I do know I am a completely different person than I was before. I have learned valuable insight about life and adulthood in this past year, and most importantly I have learned so many things about myself (whether good or bad) that have helped to bring me closer to God and closer to the understanding of who I am. I have also gained a lot of perspective, and know that in the big scheme of things, everything is going to be alright. I am just going to keep staying true to my own course, and will trust in the beauty of hope and the power of God’s love.