Hey everyone! My, oh my, after a long, very crazy week of packing, catching up with friends, shopping at the last minute, unpacking and packing again and then crying about it, spending some time with my beautiful church family for part of the annual church camp at Kedron, praying for healing with some wonderful friends from Northwest, selecting a new, more reliable laptop for my journey, unpacking and packing again, eating filthy greasy kebabs in the western suburbs of Sydney as a final hurrah to life in Austraila, and what seems like endless hugs, by the grace of God I actually somehow ended up on this plane.
Unfortunately I found out that by some mistake, my coworker and I ended up not being on the same plane after all, which was rather disappointing. I spent longer waiting to get through customs than I expected, so I had to hurriedly shove everything back into my carry-on bags and run pathetically to the other side of the airport as I was paged a few times over the PA for a final call for my flight to Singapore. My family saw me run past the observation deck and began waving frantically and trying to catch a photo of me waving back at them, but instead probably got a blurry image of me with my palms pressed together and my lips mouthing, “PRAY FOR ME” as I kept running.
I was the last passenger to board the plane, I heard the airline staff say over the walkie talkie as I handed over my boarding pass. Thankfully, my flight was slightly delayed, so although it was due to leave at 5:50, I managed to board at 5:57pm, coughing and almost hysterical. I felt my body get pushed back into my seat as the plane left the tarmac and watched as the spectacular Vivid light show in Sydney Harbour faded into the distance, and I was reminded again of God’s loving presence in Australia, in Cambodia, but also right there with me on that plane. Amidst the drone of the plane engine, I found myself singing a song that I had earlier been playing in my father’s car on the way to the airport.
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
This one thing remains
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I’ll never, ever have to be afraid
‘Cause this one thing remains
This one thing remains
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.
In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.
My debt is paid, and there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love.
As I write this I am safely in Cambodia, in my newly unpacked room. Two of the Christian Care for Cambodia staff who I am working with – Pern (Pip’s fiancee and self-confessed muffin addict) and Makara (my Khmer language tutor who I found out is also somehow able to fall asleep on the back of a motorbike; thankfully not while he’s the one driving) – insisted on disassembling the front of the wardrobe so they could squeeze it into my room and I could have a wardrobe. My first impression of my two new workmates was them climbing up the front of the wardrobe and squatting on the top, bashing at the front panel with a screwdriver handle. They have certainly gone to a lot of trouble for me this week and I’m so thankful to be working with such kind and thoughtful people.
Pip Miner and Cate Rogers from Global Interaction have been fantastic housemates and workmates, and because they have lived here a number of years they not only know all the good places to shop in the area, but they also speak fluent Khmer and have been patiently explaining a lot of cultural things to me. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better team to do life with here in Poipet.
I was really blessed this morning as we met together for a bible study (mostly in Khmer, but thankfully Cate translated for me) and we opened up to Psalm 121, to read a message on such similar lines to the song that has been on my heart ever since I left Australia.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
This is a traveller’s Psalm that people would remember on their journeys as God protecting them and remaining with them, and Cate related it to our own life journeys as we remember God’s loving hand over us. Our great God is the maker of all things, he never sleeps, he never fails, never gives up on us and never runs out of love for us. I found it so helpful to remember that this week.
Since arriving here yesterday morning I have begun Khmer lessons with Makara (more language blunder stories to come), and I have started visiting the ABC English School around the corner from where I am living to observe how the teachers are structuring their classes and scoping out what to expect when I begin teaching. The teachers at the school are really excited to be having a barung (foreigner) teaching English here, and it has also been great to be able to practice my- very minimal- Khmer knowledge on the students. They were thrilled to hear me at least attempting to respond to them in their own language, although I have now earned the nickname “Eleven” because I told them I was bee darp moi ch’naam, or “two ten-one years old”. They thought it hilarious that I said I was two and eleven.
For those following on with language lessons, I quickly learned that the correct word for “twenty one” is in fact mupai moi. Apparently they’re not going to let me live that one down!
Tomorrow I am accompanying some of the CCFC staff as they make their fortnightly visit to the Drug Detention Centre in Serei Saophoan, the capital city of the Banteay Meanchey province where I am living. Please pray that the visit goes well and that God will bless the people we visit. In all of this I wish for people to see the hope that we have in God, that they might seek after that same hope.
Please also pray for me as I will begin teaching a short English crash course at ABC School starting Monday next week. I’m not trained as a teacher so I’m hoping that my efforts to convey my English knowledge will be helpful and informative anyhow!
EDIT: Prayer request from my previous post – ANSWERED! I turned up at the transit hotel and inquired about whether there were any last-minute cancellations, and there was one budget single room available for exactly the six-hour slot that I needed! Ever so thankful for the good night’s sleep I got while stopping over in Singapore! God is very good!