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Learning to Love

I’m having a hard time choosing the words to use to describe my experience so far.  I will always believe that pictures can explain much better than my words, so I hope you can find the joy in these.  At this point, I can’t post any pictures of the women who I am working and living with day to day for safety purposes.
 
After long days of traveling, we arrived in the capital city Phnom Phen. We were instantly greeted by 4 tuk tuks, which we soon found out would be our transportation not only to the airport, but also for the next 2 months.  We drove through the heart of Phnom Phen where I quickly saw devastation, brokenness, and hard faces.  Everyone in site was staring just as if we were some kind of celebrities.  I saw boys carrying crops, children of all ages lying on the side of the road, and 3-5 people on every motorcycle-like transportation (including women, men, children, & babies).  While in Phnom Pen I was able to start getting acquainted with this culture that I had so quickly been dipped into.
 
A few days later we traveled 2 hours to our final destination in a squished wagon- an old truck more or less…with wooden bench seats lined in the back.  Our luggage crammed in the back, with all of us piled in was a site for everyone to see, although that’s seemingly normal here.  I was not expecting to see what I did, nor did I prepare myself for the rural areas in Cambodia.  Little huts aligned the road and hammocks were strung up almost every step of the way.  This is not SU style hammocks strung up for ‘hammock weather,’ but their home, their bed, their everything. 
 
The moment we pulled into my new home, I saw some of the women sitting under a big tree.  My heart dropped for a second, I had to take a deep breath and tell myself ‘Come on Lauren, you are finally here. ‘ I was able to exchange some genuine smiles back and forth and a few waves.  Oh and I could say Hello in Khmer, Sou Su Dae, but that was about it considering the language barrier. 
 
I can’t write everything out but I wanted to give a list of some things I am experiencing and am excited to share about in the future:
Mosquito nets, bucket shower, beautiful women, beautiful people, joyfulness, learning Khmer language, fish eggs, laughing, and a down-syndrome boy named Sam, rain dancing, learning to make my own clothes, scorpions, spiders, snakes, washing my clothes in a bucket
 
I can already feel my relationships with the women here starting to grow; they are already trusting in us so much.  I get to teach them English every day and they are so excited about learning!  I am determined for these women to learn a great amount of English before I leave this place to help them in their future, but I am even more determined for them to know the love that I know in Jesus. 
 
During my first week here, I know one thing for sure.  I thought I was coming to show these women what life is all about.  I can already see that they are actually showing me what this precious life is all about.
 
I found out that I am not only mentoring some women of their worth in Christ, but I am living life with a community of broken women, their babies, and orphans that live here as well. They are teaching me how to love, they are teaching me to serve, they are teaching me what life means without air, without a shower, without a mirror, without toilet paper, without life ‘necessities’ that I’m finding out are not really necessities. 

    

            

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