This past week, rainy season has begun in earnest.
It can be difficult to explain the mixed emotions I have towards rainy season - and in fact, what rainy season really means. The air itself changes into a thick, wet blanket that coats everything. Rain sprinkles down off and on throughout the morning, and by afternoon it turns into torrential downpours.
It's rain like you've never seen in America.
Yesterday afternoon, I popped over to my neighbor's house to have a cuppa (Australian for a cup of tea) to get Declan out of the house. She lives literally right next to me. But for two hours, I couldn't go back to my house because the rain was so heavy. And somehow, we haven't bought Declan a rain jacket yet!
So we sat on the veranda, sipped our milky tea that quickly cooled in the damp weather, and watched her two boys splashing around in the rain. Our Cambodian neighbors drove in and out of the driveway, on their way to errands, apparently more used to being sopping wet than I'll ever be.
In rainy season, you quickly get used to the idea of being a bit wet and muddy if you go outdoors at all - and sometimes indoors, too. If a wind whips up a heavy rain at the right angle, the water floods right in under our front door. Luckily, our floors are tile, and it just turns into a good excuse to mop.
I love rainy season because of the intense relief it brings after the awful temperatures of hot season. The bulk of May saw highs around 45C/110F every day - not exactly enjoyable. But now, the weather is like balm on my parched soul. The evenings turn noisy as frogs and crickets croak and chirp. And it gets almost chilly - the kind of damp weather you might experience during a cool spring rain.
But the rain also turns the roads into slush.
The road in front of our house (can I even call it a road?) turns into muddy slush. If I walk in it, I'm sure to be three inches deep in mud and might even lose a flip flop. It makes walking for pleasure...not so pleasurable.
And the rain also brings devastation.
Already in Cambodia this rainy season, six people have died, and over 4,000 families displaced.
Although it's not nearly as bad as last year's rains (when the yard around our house flooded in knee-deep water for a week), people are still seeing their homes and livelihoods ripped away, as river water spills over the banks and crop fields flood.
This morning, Andrew left at daybreak to drive to the opposite corner of Cambodia to Kratie, a province even more poor and destitute than the one we live in. We visited Kratie over a year ago, when Samaritan's Purse opened a field office there (you can see photos here and here).
Samaritan's Purse is now activating their emergency relief teams to help people who have been displaced by the flooding.
Andrew will lead the WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) assessment and ensure people have clean water to drink and toilets to use.
Disease can spread rapidly in floods.
People are forced to drink from water sources contaminated with flood water and to use the outdoors as their toilet, as bathrooms are flooded and unusable. They also cannot even wash their hands or perform basic hygiene activities because they may not have access to any water at all except flood water.
I really can't imagine having a home wiped away by the water, or losing my child to drowning.
Snakebites and electrocutions also cause deaths, when power lines become submerged in flood water and poisonous snakes (of which there are countless in Cambodia - including one we had a close call with during our first month here) are also driven from their homes.
So if you think of Cambodia or Andrew, or maybe even see rain in your own town, please pray for him and his team as they travel many hours today and start working to help those who need it.