I am home now from Cambodia, but I wrote this while there:
It’s been a long few days.
We flew for 22 hours (not including layover time in Atlanta and Korea) and arrived in Phnom Penh about 11 pm Friday night. Having lost 12 hours of our lives, our bodies were confused and tired. But mixed with the confusion and tiredness was excitement and anticipation for this new place and the adventures/work to come.
So far we’ve worked a medical clinic in a school, traveled 3 hours to another town, worshipped in a multinational Christian church, and completed 3 work days including medical clinics and community health outreach in far our villages.
Though the hours don’t sound especially long (8-4 each day), it is physically and emotionally draining. We are pouring out our sweat and energy and love on these people and praying that they would somehow be blessed by it all.
The hardest part so far is the language barrier. We can’t talk to the people we meet nearly at all. And while we are trying to learn some Khmer, it is SO different from English and our American mouths physically can’t make the sounds. So we conduct medical clinics, spiritual counseling, community health teaching, and any conversation all through a Cambodian translator.
Using translators slows things down, but things are already moving slowly most of the time because this culture is not so time-oriented. They are much more concerned with their friends and family and neighbors than being somewhere on time. This is both frustrating and beautiful to our group of Americans.
The heat is the next hardest thing. It literally sucks life out of us. The locals are used to it and they pull on a sweater in the heat of the day. But my team and I are dehydrated, overheated, and weary. And we smell like bug spray and sweat all the time.
But aside from my complaining, I LOVE this place. I love the culture, I love the people. There’s no way to describe how beautiful they are inside and out. I am so thankful to be able to spend time with them and get to know each person. The people make it all worth it.