Mar 2, 2015

CAMBODIA [Feb 15-20]

My cellphone beeps at 3:30 in the morning and having slept a bit late the night before, I fumble through the sheets to look for my phone, half irritated and mostly groggy, to hit the snooze button. With eyes still closed and hands gripping my phone, I think, "I do not want to go on this trip. What if I dare to miss my flight and sleep in? We can do everything by Skype and email." Mad, right? And selfish.

Here is another opportunity to travel, to meet and minister to new people, and I feel utterly unmotivated to even get out of bed. Good thing I had packed a few days before the flight.

I decide against the snooze button, get up, and prepare to leave. Money, passport, clothes, and documents for the research. All check. Courage? Still working on that. 

Perhaps it's just the fear that so gripped me a couple of weeks ago that is holding me back from doing what I was supposed to. I had such an irrational fear of flying because of all the aviation accidents from 2014. It will seem silly to some, but the fear was real to me.

I was afraid of dying, of failing, of failing before dying. And as the voice of fear plagues me, a gentler but much stronger voice tells me:
Okay, so what are you going to do about it? Who are you going to turn to? Who is your Lord? Who sits on the throne? Will you trust me enough to get you through this?

At 5:30am I'm in the airport bound for Kuala Lumpur. I have this overwhelming sense of peace after walking through NAIA Terminal 4's passenger entrance. (This terminal is so small everything is within a few feet of each other). You are doing this. Everything will be okay. I had to leave my engagement ring temporarily for safety reasons. At this moment before departure, all that matters is the fulfillment of God's purpose for the trip.

My faith was tested when obedience actually cost me something and I was acutely aware of it. Obedience seems easy at first until I actually had to act on it. Fear exposed what's in my heart, what I held most dearly—getting married, doing the things I want, but not delighting in the Lord. 

I arrive in KL at 11am twenty minutes ahead of schedule. I walk towards the carousels to pick up my baggage, waiting until the last bag arrives only to find out that it's already loaded on my next plane. I grab a cup of overpriced coffee and find a spot near my gate until my flight to Phnom Penh. KLIA2 is one huge airport. After almost two hours, my plane lands smoothly in Cambodia.

I'm greeted by our Cambodian staff and driven to where I'll be staying for a few days. The next three days would involve two hotel switches, long car rides, and interviews with an NGO, teachers, children, and a handful of families in the province.

With Dr. Savat Mao of Clear Cambodia
Bio sand water filters

I gleaned so much wisdom from the people we interviewed. Really? That's what it cost to build a water filter? My monthly salary can construct how many latrines?! As much as I'd like to interact with more locals, time was too short as the city was busy preparing the Lunar New Year when I arrived. 

Elementary school in Kampot province

Bike country

A giant horse crab! :) The coastal province of Kep, where seafood abounds and the sunset takes your breath away.

Clouds loom over the Killing Fields stupa built in the 80s.
On my last full day, I did "touristy" things. I went and saw important places in Phnom Penh such as the Killing Fields museum, where I bawled like a child. It was a lot to take in. To see the faces of the victims staring at you from the past made evil so real. The rest of the day was spent at the market and one more interview with another teacher from the city.

Street art | Central Market, Phnom Penh

All things considered my trip was a productive, eye-opening, faith-building experience. The Lord has taught me so much in such a short amount of time—things about Himself, myself, and the world around me. I'd love to go back.

Soli Deo gloria.

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