23 Things I Have Learned

After living in Cambodia for almost a month and a half now, I have come to learn several things about the Cambodian culture, myself, and Jesus.  For this week’s blog I wanted to give you a recap of those things; so in no particular order, I have learned the following:
1. Rice.  Every day Cambodians eat rice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for the middle of the night snack.  I have gone to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle during the night and discovered some of the women eating you know what on more than one occasion.  They can never get enough of it.
2. Cambodia has two seasons: dry and rainy.  We are in the middle of their rainy season now; therefore it rains every single day without fail.  However, the rain is your friend as it waters the rice paddies and brings with it a coolness in the midst of the humid and scorching heat.
3. Just as Americans lay out in the sun in hopes of tanning their white skin, Cambodians on the other hand do the exact opposite.  They cover up their beautiful dark skin by wearing layers of clothing and apply whitening cream in hopes of becoming whiter.  For example, this is the typical clothing of choice that the women wear every day, despite the outrageous heat and high temperatures: pants, turtleneck, long-sleeved shirt over their turtleneck, jacket zipped up all the way over everything, with socks, and sometimes either a hat or their hood up.  It’s crazy!  Out of curiosity, I have tried to assimilate into their culture by wearing something similar to what they wear.  Although I pretended I wasn’t, I was burning up and could barely take it while their walking around saying they’re not actually hot.  I don’t understand.

Me with Orin!  Notice my patterned pants which the girls actually made for me, my long sleeve shirt, and my jacket as I try to assimilate.

4. I have mastered the art of hand washing my clothes and clothes-line drying, as well as the art of taking the bucket bath.
5. Motor bikes and bicycles are the main forms of transportation; cars are less common and are only for the few who can afford them.
6. The concept of a taxi in America is in the form of what’s called a Tuk-Tuk in Cambodia.
7. The fruits here are half the size that they are in America, especially the bananas, apples, and watermelon.
8.  Cambodia has some of the most beautiful and picturesque, lush countryside. 

9. Though I see my need for God more vividly here in Cambodia, I realize that I need God just as much if not more when I’m back home and it’s not as vivid.
10.  How to French braid!  This has always been a life goal of mine, and now I can finally do it!
11. Angry Birds.  Cambodia is OBSSESSED with it.  Angry Birds shirts, pants, flip-flops, back packs, pencil pouches – you name it, there’s probably an Angry Bird already on it.  The funny thing is they have absolutely no idea what Angry Birds is or that it’s even a game.

Angry Birds back packs!

12. To make the most of any and every opportunity, because things can change in an instant.
13. How to peacefully sleep under a mosquito net.
14. I love teaching English and watching the women learn something new.
15. A tiny bit of the language, which is called Khmer.  Three of my favorite words to say are “Srat” (which means “Beautiful”), “Somthos” (which means “Sorry” or “Pardon Me”), and “Kdav” (which means “Hot”).
16. Cambodia is a nation in search of hope and still in healing from the damage done to them by the Khmer Rouge.
17. How to form friendships without actually having a conversation.  The following are my favorite methods: dancing, singing, music videos, secret handshakes, talent shows, communicating with the eyes, teaching English, learning Khmer, sewing, doing dishes together, massages, going on a hike, painting nails, braiding hair, hugs, and worshipping Jesus.
18. How to climb up a coconut tree.
19. How to successfully maneuver my way through the maze-like market which sells everything from jewelry to fish to clothes to soap.
20. I love teaching the women about sports and exercise on Rec day, and I love that they laugh hysterically every time during warm ups – they can barely make it through doing high knees without falling to the ground and dying of laughter.
21. What a true servant looks like as I’ve watched the women here serve us and each other every day.
22. Declaring FREEDOM in the name of Jesus over someone is one of the most powerful and beautiful feelings ever.  You wanna talk about a rush?  Let’s talk about a rush that can only be given by the Holy Spirit.
And last but not least,
23. I have absolutely fallen in love with the people of Cambodia.
“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” – John 6:45
“This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it – the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” – Jeremiah 33:2-3

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