Why Thank You, Mr Rooster...

"I feel like we're living on a farm."
"That's because...we are."

That enlightening conversation is the way many of our mornings begin. If it's not the dogs barking, the door below swinging open, or the neighbor kids starting off the day with a loud game, it's the roosters crowing at 5 a.m. that often wakes us from our sleep. Or, just as frequently, the loud buzzing noise our air conditioning unit makes when the amps fall below the required amount - about 10 - needed to keep it running. Sometimes this happens at 2 a.m., sometimes at 4 a.m., or 5 a.m...no matter that it happens every night, it never fails to wake us up and force us to find the remote, turn off the unit, drag a fan into the room, plug it in and turn it on, and then try to grab a few more minutes or hours of sleep.

So we crawl out of bed, eat a bowl of yogurt and muesli (read: granola, for Americans), drink our required cuppa tea to start the awakening process, then pull onto the treacherous dirt road on our little Honda Dream moto-scooter, hopefully in time to make it to morning devotions at the SP office. Andrew has the enviable job, as the driver, of navigating around school children on bicycles, flocks of hens with their chicks, dogs sitting in the middle of the road scratching their ears, and the ruts and crevices in the road that make the ride so invigorating.

At devotions, songs are sung in Khmer; but fortunately, they have songbooks with both Khmer and English words. There is one songbook that floats around that has the anglicized Khmer written in it. Once in a while we get that book and then get to sing in rhyme with our Khmer coworkers. After devotions, Andrew begins work in his office, and I ride out to the clinic with Dr Kent. The clinic is only about 4 kilometers, or 2.4 miles, but it takes 15-20 minutes to get there, because the road looks something like this...


As if we'd be so lucky to get paved roads someday...There's a reason they call it a "Cambodian massage" when you've been flopping around helplessly in the back seat of a Land Rover while driving over dirt roads with a surface like the moon, then wonder how you got two ruptured discs in your back... Fortunately, you get used to it and learn to grab onto anything bolted down to keep from being hurled into someone else's lap. 

Evenings here in Cambodia's Wild West aren't so....wild. At least, not for us. The unofficial "missionary midnight" falls around 9 p.m., when everyone is sure to be red-eyed and yawning, ready to turn in for the night. Some nights we are able to spend with friends and coworkers. Other nights, cooking, eating, and cleaning up after dinner consumes most of the evening, and bedtime comes quite early. Especially with the knowledge that, come 5 or 6 a.m., Mr Rooster will be crowing once again.