In March 2011, we started a five-month internship with Samaritan's Purse that turned into three years working in Poipet. And what a crazy three years it's been. There are so many things I wish I'd known before moving overseas. But Cambodians here have extended us grace and forgiveness as we've stumbled along in our language and cultural adjustment, and we have learned from them about living in a country completely different from our own.
In the past three years, we've seen only parts of this fascinating country:
- the capital of Phnom Penh, with its temples, river, and Killing Fields
- Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, the largest religious building in the world and Cambodia's main tourist attraction
- Sihanoukville, Kep, and Koh Kong on the southern coast
- Preah Vihear on the north, where I survived my first full night without electricity in Cambodia
- Kratie on the border with Vietnam, on the opposite side of the country
We've also seen a lot of different sides of Samaritan's Purse's work in Cambodia, like handing out Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to children in the villages of our province and seeing the value of clean water to school children.
We've even had our first experience of political protests and the volatility of elections in a developing country.
The lessons we have learned since coming to Cambodia are almost countless, but these are a few:
- how to survive hot season when it's 100 degrees F (38 C) for 100 straight days
- how to ride in a taxi when one passenger ends up in the trunk
- how to have fun at a Cambodian water park surrounded by creepy statues
- how to navigate the local wet market to buy our groceries
- how to avoid getting robbed - and what to do if it does happen
- how to keep your sanity in a local economy that uses three different currencies
- what to do when a policeman pulls you over on your moto and demands a bribe
The most crucial lesson I have learned in Cambodia is that God is enough for me. When all the comforts and crutches of home were stripped away, I had to choose to give up and go home, or collapse into the arms of the Father, asking him for strength and grace to keep doing what he called us to do here. Life in Poipet can be difficult, although I have many friends working in far more challenging cultures and countries. But I have never been challenged in my own self-centeredness and narrow viewpoint like I have living here, facing the cultural differences that permeate every aspect of life.
But over and over again, the Lord has proven to me that he is enough. I don't believe in the saying, God only gives us what we can handle. I believe God gives us far more than we can handle on our own, so that he can come through and show himself mighty to save. And when we've passed through the challenges and look back, we know it was God alone that carried us through them. The past three years have taught me that self-sufficiency is not the answer. Jesus alone is enough for us.
I don't know how much longer we will be in Cambodia after this year. But I'm so thankful for every day God has allowed us to work and live in this beautiful and gentle country.