Out to the Village

Yesterday I had the chance to finally break out of Poipet and go out to the villages. A patient from the thyroid clinic needed a follow-up visit in his home, so I joined up with Om Suong and Laalin, two of the clinic staff, and we drove out to the village on our motos, Laalin hanging on to the back of mine. This week and last, Dr. Rusty and his family have been out of town, and I've had a lack of activities. In Poipet in general, there is definitely a lack of diversions. In KC, on a day off, I'd have wandered down to the Plaza or Westport, checked out the library, wandered around Target scrounging in their sale bins. Here in Poipet, there is one small store - blessedly, with air-con - whose merchandise really doesn't change much and never goes on sale. You can only look at the same Thai imports so many times. So, when we don't have work, and when everyone else is busy with other things, it can be hard to find a creative outlet. Which is why, if we come back, I'm buying a sewing machine.

But, I digress.

I was somewhat nervous about being the driver out there. Most of my moto driving has been in the city on sealed roads, with a little bit of dirt roads here and there. As in, the 3-minute drive to and from our house every day. Mud makes village roads even more treacherous. We haven't had a good solid rain for over a week, and I prayed all last week for God to send some rain to cool things off and help the crops along here in Cambodia. Then Sunday evening, my prayers turned to, "Ok Lord, if you're going to send rain, can you hold it off til after we get back from the village so I don't kill someone sliding around on all that clay? Thanks." And, he did. Actually it still hasn't rained, so I guess I need to go back to my previous intercession.

 Laalin thought the trip would take about 30 minutes each way, but it ended up being an hour - which actually goes by quickly when you are using 100% of your concentration to make sure you don't hit a pothole or swerve into the moto coming up on you out of nowhere going twice as fast as you, or avoid getting run over by the cars that seem to think that as long as they honk their horn full-blast, they can go as fast as they like.

But really, being out of the city is incredibly refreshing. Cambodia is so beautiful this time of year. The rains turn all the brown, dry landscape into lush, green vegetation, and even with the blazing sun, a cool breeze followed us all the way to the village and back.

When we finally arrived at the village, the patient's daughter met us on bicycle and led us to his house. Most Cambodians live in houses raised up on platforms, with bamboo slats for the floor. We sat with the man and met his family as well as the neighbors who tagged along to see why the barang (foreigner) had come. We talked about how he was doing on his medicines, and I drew his blood for a test the doctor had wanted. The woman next to me was chewing betel nut, an addictive cousin of tobacco, and she occasionally spat out the juice through the bamboo slats onto the dirt floor below us. We asked him and his family if we could pray for them, and we did, knowing they were a Buddhist family, with a spirit altar and incense set up in the corner of the house. It was a bit discouraging to see how much he had deteriorated over the past few weeks, as he has cancer with probable metastasis (spreading) to the brain and elsewhere.

Then we took our leave, and I mentally prepared myself for the drive back. Really, it wasn't so bad as all that, and Laalin was my very helpful passenger, reminding me to change gears when we hit a steep hill or started to have trouble. When I got home, everything was covered in dust - my clothes, my arms and neck, my helmet so dirty I could barely see through the faceshield. Yet somehow, I felt better than I have all week, being able to travel and hopefully encourage someone who needs it.

And as I write this, the rain has started coming. Thanks, God.