It seems as though we paused for a week to go to Cambodia and now we’re right back in the hectic Singapore pace again. I have been moving a little slower since coming back but I miss the simplicity of a life without a mobile phone or computer readily available.
Our flight to Phnom Penh was relatively uneventful except that our main piece of luggage with all mine, Ed’s and Zack’s clothes and some of my teaching materials inside didn’t seem to make it on the plane we were on. So right away our team had an opportunity to practice what the believers did in Acts 4, i.e., sharing everything in common. Ironically, that was part of the passage that some of us were going to talk about in the children’s devotion that week. And so began our week of living out what we were going to be teaching in staff, children’s and youth devotions.
We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Phnom Penh and then boarded the mini bus for the long ride to the town of Prey Veng in south eastern Cambodia. It was a 3 hour drive on paved but not always smooth roads with views of rice paddies, cattle grazing and wooden or thatched houses on stilts. When we reached the Mekong River, our mini bus drove on to the ferry for a short and smooth crossing. At the ferry point we saw lots of people selling food, fruits, chewing gun and even mussels and shrimp. We saw others, mainly children begging for food or money.
Not long after crossing the river we reached Hope Village, the compound where we were to work and stay for the week. The children of the orphanage there (ranging from 6 to 18 yrs old) were all thrilled to see visitors. They were waving and smiling and waiting to greet us. After a short introduction to the facilities and the rules, we all washed up and got ready for dinner. The showers were cold water only and full of mosquitoes at all times, so I tried to keep bath time as short as possible for me and the kids. We had to use the bathrooms when the kids from the orphanage weren’t using them since there were 100 of them going through the showers everyday.
Dinner (and all the other meals) followed a typical Cambodian diet–rice and one pot of food (usually a soup with some kind of vegetable and a little meat or fish or eggs). Sometimes the dish was just fried fish. Except for me, our team was all made up of Chinese Singaporeans, so rice as a staple was not a big issue for most. Some of them, however were more used to eating bread, especially for breakfast, and struggled with rice for 3 meals a day. My kids were ok for some of the meals, but I brought out my cans of tuna for them when the soup didn’t seem too appetizing or the meat was too tough for them to eat. They had Cheerios that I’d brought for breakfast most of the days.
The first evening we had a storytelling session with the children, which they enjoyed. We told the story of the lost sheep with dramatization and read some other story books I’d brought along. The 2nd day was soapmaking and English teaching. I had one class of 11 students in the morning and was free after that. Ed helped with soapmaking for part of the time with the rest of the team. The boys and I rested int he afternoon. The 3rd day was our venture to the village….(to be continued in the next post)