It’s 2016: the start of another promising year, and for me it started in the county I fell in love with – Cambodia. The year here started with love and laughter. Just being here has helped me grow in areas I never knew needed development! New Year was a big lesson for me. The Cambodians have nothing, yet they forget about their worries and celebrate the New Year, the years to come and the good times past. We had a very large barbecue with special fried rice, dancing and games, and then the good old countdown.
The following day we went to Sihanoukville for the Bible school. The passion involved in the studies and the sharing of fellowship was inspiring. If we could have stayed longer, we would have.
One of the things I learned from the Bible school was meeting new people. I know this sounds very easy to do, but in Western culture and Bible schools I tend to find myself staying within my group of friends, not really extending myself and getting to know others. With the Cambodian Bible school, you have no choice but to meet others. You feel welcome, and everyone loves to talk. Each meal is around different people and you have a much closer relationship with everyone by the end of the weekend.
Bible Education Centre
Teaching in the Bible Education Centre is a something I highly recommend. While you may not feel you have enough knowledge or you may feel too inadequate to teach, after getting into the groove you will find that you not only know more than you think but that you are also learning. I learned so much more from teaching than from sitting and listening to a talk. In Cambodia I get the best of both worlds, to sit and listen but also to teach. Both are important for my spiritual growth.
Spending time with the students is the highlight of my time here. Getting to know them and the dormers feels like making a new family here, and it is getting very hard to leave. At first I felt very different, separated by the language barrier and the skin colour. However, the more time I spend with them, the more I see I am just the same: the same thoughts, likes and dislikes – except they are much smarter than me! Their passion for the Lord puts me to shame and the questions they ask as they study make me notice how much I just skim over my Bible when I do the readings.
Life in the provinces
Some students have become my best friends. It is lovely to get out of the city and visit their homes for a day, weekend or sometimes even a week. Meeting the family can be daunting, but they treat you like royalty and you never need to be afraid of being left alone for a second. Out in the provinces we climb mountains, swim in lakes and waterfalls, kill our food and barbecue it.
No one tells you how hot it is, how many flies there are, or about the rats, the cockroaches, the smell, the lack of power or internet, the stares as you walk past, the food troubles, or even about the squat toilets. But all these things make up Cambodia, and it is a country to fall in love with. The people, the growth and the good times make it all worthwhile and get you addicted to coming back.
God is working in Cambodia; he can work in you too. I pray you will come to see this country of blessings.