Arun Sua s’dei,
Hope your 2010 has started off with some fun new adventures. I think I should have buckled in a little tighter because these last six or seven weeks have been quite the ride. Let me first say that Christmas and New Years with the ‘3Fs’ – Family, Friends and (holiday) Food, just can’t be beat. How can you not love a warm hug, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, or a glass of champagne raised with close friends to toast in a new year. Okay, so I might have only made it to 12:02, but the love was still there, and every minute home was thoroughly enjoyed. And, to sweeten the time, I brought a suitcase packed with the bags sewn by the girls here and was able to sell every one, which raised over $1,000 and translates to putting two more girls through their first year of university. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Now, I don’t what your trick is for dealing with jet-lag, but I’m still recovering from the one I tried this time. So, the flight from SF back to Phnom Penh is about fifteen hours including the two hour layover in Taipei. I arrived back home here a bit after lunch, unpacked, showered, sat down for a minute, and repacked. Then, I drove to the Center for a Youth meeting and some dinner, went to sleep on the couch in the office around 11:00, woke up a 4:00AM and piled into the back of our two-ton truck with the sixteen members of our Youth team, and we started our fourteen hour bounce down the red-dirt-road to Ratanakiri. This team is incredible! They go to school six days a week, but when they can pull together a few days they load up and head out to the provinces to share their school knowledge, their love for the Lord, and their words of encouragement with the orphans and village kids in some of the most remote parts of the country. We added to the adventure by searching out some waterfalls even further into the mountains. Only six hours or so round trip…ouch…bump… bang…, but the falls were definitely worth it. And they provided a chance to wash or scrub off a few layers of the red dust skin that covered every square inch of everything. Okay, so this was not the way to recover from jet-lag, but it sure was a lot of fun, and I think most of my bruises have healed.
All right, are you sitting down? You might not believe this. But, the Cambodian roller coaster ride is going into a loop-the-loop. What does that mean? Well, just before I came home in December; I tried to follow a bit of a Cambodian tradition, and I went to Pastor Ted to tell him that I was interest in dating a particular young woman. There’s no “hey, do you wanna go out for coffee?” over here, at least if you are trying to follow custom. He took the next step; conversations were had and there was an interest on her part as well. Yeee Haaa… we can now date, go out for coffee…. well not exactly.
Christmas arrived, and I jumped on a plane to come home and enjoy time in the comforts of California.
Now back,I learned that tradition states we needed to make a formal announcement in church so we could be cleared to date. Okay?! Now, things get got a little crazy, but I was pretty sure I could see where they were headed to some degree. Well the announcement is not just a “Hi all, we are dating now.” No; fruit and snacks were bought, a dress was cut, and I tried to figure out what I was supposed to wear. Kouch, the director out at the Center, gave me the thumbs up on what I picked out. Now, somehow a ring also came into play. Okay, gulp, so maybe Cambodian tradition is just a little more formal. Hold on and get ready for the loop. Back home, you might date for a while, decide to get engaged, and then married. Well, here they have the same three, but the order is a little different.
So, yes, on Sunday the 24th, the fruit and snacks were presented, pastor Peter led us through some words of commitment, rings were exchanged and Naomi and I were engaged. I did ask at the beginning if you were sitting down. And, Naomi and I did buckle-in a little prior knowing that “Sunday announcements” over here are more than about someone leaving their car lights on, or their ox cart double parked. We have a lot to get to know about each other, but at least now, we can go out for coffee…. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s good.
Naomi’s mother died when she was born and her father died when she was about ten years old at which point her grandparents brought her to the Chom Chao/the Center because they couldn’t afford to send her to school. Sadly, her grandparents have also since passed away. So, Naomi grew up here and is now in medical school. She is smart and she has a very quick wit. But she is also soft spoken, and definitely a very traditional Cambodian woman. I guess that means I might be having less coffee and pastries, and a lot more mango juice and fermented fish.
Is this what they call immersing yourself in a culture? Anyway, she and I have a little time now, but Cambodia operates in two ways ‘full-stop’ or ‘full-speed’. So, the next newsletter may have some dates in it. Okay, so are you on the floor yet? Did I surprise you? Yes, I’m a little surprised, but like I said, it’s good. I will keep you posted on the any up coming loops or barrel-rolls.