What Was It All For?

 Cambodian schoolchildren during a hygiene class

Cambodian schoolchildren during a hygiene class

Recently, I realized I'd passed by an anniversary without even recognizing it. Five years ago in January, I started blogging - and we were preparing to move to Cambodia.

The past few weeks, as memories of Asia surface unexpectedly, I've wondered, "What was it all for?" 

We spent three years of our our lives in a small, dusty border town, building friendships, learning a new language, eating strange food, and having a baby. And now we're settled in KC, with a vague desire to return overseas but no definite plans. 

If we never go overseas again, I wonder, what was the point of our three years in Cambodia? What was the long-term impact of our lives there?

We can point to wells built and schools with hygiene education and patients living healthier lives. But somehow I always had the nagging belief that our time in Cambodia was just a warm-up for something bigger - a more permanent move overseas. That isn't happening right now. And it made me wonder why God would give us that experience if we wouldn't be there long-term.

And a thought occurred to me - maybe from God Himself - "It was preparing you for the rest of your lives right here."

Living in a poor, developing country changes you - your perceptions of culture and language, your eating habits, your reactions to poverty and need. And although I know I've acculturated pretty well to living in the United States, my mind still works a little differently than many people around me.

And maybe that is exactly what Cambodia was for - to rewire our thinking in ways that would be nearly impossible had we spent those three years living in America.

I would still love to move back overseas again, although I'm a lot less naive about what that demands from us. But right now, for many reasons, KC is meant to be our home.

Maybe our time in Cambodia was meant to prepare us for transformational work right here in America - to offer an alternative way of thinking to people around us. To encourage others to break out of unhealthy cultural norms. And to be more compassionate to the foreigner living among us.

What was it all for? God has his reasons - and maybe I'm finally catching on.

I'd love to hear your own story of realizing the 'why' behind the story of your life. Have you ever experienced something similar?