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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

It was Saturday. Amber and I were both feeling a little off. We wanted to get away for a few minutes and refresh, so we walked up the street to what we call “the coconut place” to get an iced coffee. We ran into Dara, one of the boys we live with, who was getting some food. He asked us to sit with him and hang out. We ended up staying far longer than we expected, just hanging out and talking. It was getting close to dinnertime though, so we attempted to head back, but Dara wanted to stay just a little longer. As we finally made our way to the path to walk back, Soppanet’s sister came up to us, anxiously speaking in Khmer. Amber and I exchanged a confused look, wondering what we could have done wrong. We already paid, didn’t we? Did she see us eating her peanuts and want us to pay for that? Did we put the trash in the wrong place? What? What’s the problem? Times like that, I really wish we could understand Khmer.

 

Dara translated; we were way off. Apparently, there was a woman who wouldn’t wake up, and Rus wanted us to come see her. We walked back behind the store to the stilted house, and they ushered us up the little wooden ladder. Neither of us showed much hesitation as we took off our shoes and ducked into the house. The woman was lying on her side on the floor right inside the entrance. There was a bed to the left with clothes hanging above it on a line. There were bowls on the floor that looked to be full of blood and vomit. We carefully stepped over her and came to our knees, unsure of what the family wanted us to do. They were standing outside the doorway, looking at us expectantly. We gently shook her and felt her wrist, checking for a pulse and noticing how very fragile this old woman was. However, she was still very much alive. Amber and I asked Dara to see if it was okay for us to pray and place our hands on her. In Cambodian culture, touching the older generation is often not allowed and chances were high that all of the people around us were Buddhist, including this woman. Her family ushered their hands forward as if to say, “of course, of course!” So that’s what we did. We prayed, and we prayed hard, not only for her health but also for her salvation. By the time we were finished, the woman had started to sit up. The men moved her from up in the house down to the ground and over to one of the bedframe-like platforms. We prayed for her again and asked Dara to join us. They thanked us, said she was feeling much better, and asked us to return with our whole team the next day to pray again. We left feeling encouraged, seeing her yawning as wide as she could and speaking quiet Khmer as we walked away.

 

Confession #1: This little old lady sort of stole our hearts without even speaking a word. We had hope she would make it through. We told the team about her and planned to go back the next day.

 

After lunch on Sunday, we made our way back up the road. I had heard earlier in the day that the lady was in worse shape than when we had left the night before. When we arrived, she was asleep. She had a tube in her nose and was connected to an IV. We surrounded her and lifted her up in prayer. We sang to her, asking the Holy Spirit to fill that place with His presence. We read to her, hoping that God would display the Gospel to her, even in her sleep. We prayed and prayed and prayed. We invited the boys who were with us to pray as well, hoping she could hear the Khmer, even if she couldn’t acknowledge it. We were ready for God to work, and we can be confident that He was, even if we couldn’t see it with our eyes. Even if it wasn’t in the way we expected.

 

 

Confession #2: We were so ready for some kind of miracle, and so not ready to go to another funeral.

 

We heard the music in the night, but dismissed it, hoping it wasn’t what we thought it was. But it was… In Cambodia, when someone passes away, they play music on a loud speaker constantly for multiple days and nights. Our assumptions were confirmed when we woke up; she was taken to the hospital in the night and passed away by morning.

 

I (Marylou) went with Vuthy and Lacey to where the funeral would be held to help out. As I was there, holding a butcher knife in my hand and cutting up raw fish with Lacey beside me, I looked up and saw women all around me laughing and smiling. I’m sure it was partly because of how helpless and inexperienced we looked trying to cut that fish, but I think it was mostly because of the evident presence of the Lord.

 

It was obvious Saturday night that this woman’s family knew we have something in us that they do not, that our God is a mighty and powerful God, even if they don’t believe in Him. And it was obvious that today, we were able to carry a little bit of joy and love amidst an atmosphere of loss.

 

Whether God chose to save that woman or not, we will never know. But we do know that God is in control, that He will have His way, that His glory will be made known, and that there is significance in these past events, even if we don’t see the fruit of it now. We’ve been given this opportunity, as well as so many others, to mourn with those who are mourning and to share the light and love of Christ to those who don’t know Him.

 

(Mini update): We attended her funeral on Monday night. Possible blog on that later.

 

Yours truly,

Amber & Marylou

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