People have asked me what I liked about Cambodia or what I learned. It’s been hard to synthesize my thoughts because in part I was adjusting to being back in the states and also the stress of looking for a job.
The biggest thing that stands out in my mind is the sense of family and community. You’ve got a group of people that come from various nationalities and backgrounds yet have a common bond in Jesus Christ. Despite the cultural and language differences, they are a family. Our idea of family in the states has been skewed because of our frantic schedules and our geographic dispersion. This group in Cambodia eats together, works together, worships together and plays together. They care for each other and serve each other. This just stirred a longing in me for the same kind of community here.
Another thing is my insecurity around kids. Part of it stems from the fact that I just don’t know how to relate to them. My default is to speak to them like adults. This treatment often brings about a lot of blank stares. Other times I flashback back to memories of my childhood and the teasing and ostracism I experienced. I’m thirty-one and should move past this but it still comes up. Another component is I am fearful. Fearful that I will teach them something wrong and stunt their development. I also find it hard to be silly with kids because I don’t like to feel foolish.
I like structure and I like having a plan. This was driven home for me with some of the projects we worked on. We were told we were going to a school and were tasked with playing with the kids. I wanted to ask what that entailed but I didn’t. I’m more of a methodical, analytical type of person so just trying to think of something to do with kids on the fly is a struggle. Also, when I do get an idea I’m prone to over-think things and fail to act.
I took a book with me to read by Gary Haugen titled, “Good News About Injustice.” He writes of how we as believers in Jesus Christ are to respond to injustice in the world. He discussed what injustice actually is, how God feels about injustice, how others in the past have responded, and how we are to respond today. It was very appropriate because we went to Toel Sleng and the killings fields the last weekend of our trip. I have been before but this time I was struck with the question, “Who acted on the injustices perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge?” “What am I doing about the injustice that is occurring today?”