The Market {A Story}

Last weekend Kristin and I met the sweetest lady in the market. She carries around a basket of books and hand-painted cards in our local market to sell to tourists. I had seen her before, talked just briefly with her. She was not like the other sellers in that part of the market, pushing their products as you walk past: “You want to buy a scarf, sister?” “Perhaps a shirt, miss?” Instead, she said hello, asked how we were.

It was obvious there was a joy within her, despite the fact that her face was covered with scars from severe burns. We browsed through her book collection, picking one out to purchase. We chose a couple of different sets of cards too. “The envelopes come with them”, she wanted to make sure we knew. She didn’t have any on hand, but she trusted us enough to leave our purchases in our hands while she went to stock up on envelopes.

“Tomorrow will you go to church?” she asked us as we paid for our items. “Yes!” we exclaimed and shared about our Cambodian church. She smiled too and shared about her church, one we knew about because two of our language teachers attend there.

Today I was back in the market and ran into this sweet woman. She stopped to talk to me, and asked where Kristin was today. I went on to complete my errand and on the way back she was just sitting down for a late lunch (or mid-afternoon snack, I’m not sure). “Child, have you eaten?” she asked me. Here I am, the foreigner who can barely speak her language, with plenty of food in my cupboards, and she is thinking of me, unselfishly willing to give of what she has. I was humbled, and wanted to sit down and thank her but a crowd of people pushed between us and I could not. I look forward to her smile and greeting her the next time I am in the market.

God never ceases to amaze me in how he encourages when my heart when I need it. A few other examples:

– Bright pink gerbera daisies are my absolute favorite! This week Kristin and I discovered the most amazing store- Office Max, Hobby Lobby and Barnes & Noble (or at least the Cambodian equivalent of these) all in one- and they had a variety of silk flowers. We replaced the single red rose that came with our apartment with these beauties.

– On Monday we went with a group to a workshop on Cambodian life and culture put on by a ministry here. At one of the stations they taught us how to write our names in Khmer. Last night I decided to see if I could find it in my Khmer Bible. After locating a verse that had “Sarah” several times, I figured out where the verse was in my Khmer Bible and there it was! My name in Khmer! So special.

– Also at the market today I stopped briefly at a grandmother’s stall to look at her t-shirts. She spoke to me in English first but it didn’t take much Khmer on my part for her to get excited. I asked her about sizes and colors and she happily pulled out what I asked for. When I asked her the price, she pulled me close and whispered in Khmer, “You are my friend so I will give you a special price”, and then named a price less than half of what I normally hear when tourists buy the same shirt in the market. I had to smile.

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