so… I had originally typed out a sizeable post but then alas! technology occurred! and then everything was lost. Perhaps that in itself is a lesson, considering that my title is about taking things a step at a time.
I’ve been back from Cambodia nearly a week now, and have tried to sort my thoughts out into some kind of coherent post with logical flow but we all know how mrs-d-mrs-i-mrs-f-f-i (1000000+ points if you get that ref) that is for me, so here’s my best attempt (take 2!)
Will you sell yourself to buy the one you’ve found?
Before we landed, I was getting really psyched up: I knew God was going to show up, I just didn’t know to do what. And He did, in ways that were completely different from my expectations. But more on that later.
To be honest, from the start the trip was a little frustrating. Our trip coincided with a big group of …. older Singaporeans (try like… qualifying for Pioneer Generation old, if you know what I mean hehe ) which meant we went around and did almost everything with them. Thank God I had R with me, like two cousins stuck on a cruise full of our grandma’s extended relatives ;). It worked out fine in the end, but we were both like the two crazy teenagers in the backseat secretly whispering and laughing about things no one else found amusing hahaha.
There were so many things I learnt! Where to begin… I recently met up with my friend S, and I was telling her about how the trip is so different from what you can imagine: it’s so real to be there, it’s so different from what you’ve envisioned in your head.
this may look quite idyllic and might conjure nice ideas of ‘simple countryside living etc etc’ but the area covered by duckweed is actually a cesspool. You get the idea that it doesn’t smell very good. On top of this, there are huge houseflies buzzing around, giant ants swarming their way along your foot, and mosquitoes looking for food. This was right next to where R and I worked – you should have seen her face when we saw kids chuck rubbish so nonchalantly off their backyard into that cesspool.
And that’s how life is I suppose – you remember the best parts, you think ‘oh wow can’t wait to go back to beautiful Cambodia (because it is beautiful too) and bless its people’ and you show up and you’re dealing with 35 degrees and flies everywhere and the smell of sewage that clings to your hair and your clothes. It’s real, and so much harder and uglier. But the world was such a mess, and Jesus chose to leave the comfort of heaven for earth, and He came to pursue us and fix it. If He could leave HEAVEN, surely I can leave the comfort of my air-conditioning and my nice meaty meals? Is that question rhetorical? I don’t even know anymore. See, the thing is, I know that the answer is yes, if God has called me to that life, then surely, I can! But in practice, it is so much harder – I wrote in my journal ‘the idea is so compelling but the reality is that I’m spoilt and it’s hard’. To quote my soul friend (who I am eagerly waiting to skype but I guess God really wants me to finish this/He really wants her to explore some part of Southern France?): Empathise completely about how different it is to be there, on the ground, versus thinking about it. Challenged by this all the time. Sitting in this comfy room in France, it’s easy to say I want to be back in Nepal/India. But it was so tough at the time!
I don’t like being sweaty and smelly, I don’t like only eating vegetables (I don’t even like eating vegetables).
I’m ashamed to admit my face was perpetually like this
when we ate at this restaurant… even though we were seated in the small air-conditioned section, and the majority were seated outside. And the majority of Cambodians can’t afford to eat in restaurants.
But to quote her further: Let God take you apart… take these things to Him and let Him ruin you for ordinary things…. the two of us, with our expat lives stretched gloriously before us… Is He worthy of us giving up rainy afternoons at Dao Paolo? Is He worthy of us not being able to afford musicals and plays and the rest of it? The answer is always going to be yes 🙂 He’ll strip us down and take us apart, to show us what’s most valuable in life. After that, expat living won’t be all the appealing anymore… – for some much needed context, Max and I have a track record of chilling out in cafes in Singapore full of expat mums waiting to fetch their kids from school.
Max was responding to the biggest WOAH lesson I had this trip, taught to me in the scorching sun in a tiny section of Deum Sleng slum.
(so raw and gritty, but it’s so easy to keep things in your mind as the first picture)
I had borrowed a pair of walking shoes from my mum for this trip, and only noticed when I got there that the soles were coming off, but I thought it would last me three days. It was at Deum Sleng, walking in blinding light, that sand started pouring in that bit between the sole and the base of the shoe, dragging the sole down, making it flap, and making it nearly impossible to walk. I was so irritated at myself, for being in this situation, at the sun etc etc and I was walking while looking down, stumbling my way through. And then one side broke and instantly God just pointed out to me that He’s stripping me of these ties to worldly things. He pointed out that I was preoccupied with my shoes breaking, when I can easily replace them any time, while the kids in the slums don’t even have shoes. #fixmyeyes
Look at me, stumbling my way, looking only at my problems. It struck me hard then why Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 19:21 “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” because if we hold on to these things, they will weigh us down. And I could literally feel Him stripping me down, starting at the very bottom, the very humblest part. My other side broke really quickly too, and walking actually became very comfortable.
He’s going to strip me apart till I don’t even feel sad at the thought of not being able to afford musicals.
I think there’s so much still left to say that I’ll have to do a part 2!
Be good eggs,