This picture makes me smile. It was our first night in our apartment, almost exactly 3 years ago. The adventure of life in Cambodia was just starting, and my cheeks were still plump (before parasites and stress and losing 15 pounds). My enthusiasm was high, and I suppose I was a bit naive too. I still got tired of rice back then if I ate it too much, and trying to take a Tuk-Tuk and navigate a new city was a stretch for my budding language ability and I’m pretty sure I always had a story to tell when I survived and made it home.
I had no idea as we made our first meal of fried rice, figuring out how to use a rice cooker and a gas stove, all of the lessons I would learn over the next 3 years. I didn’t know that language learning would be both a challenge and a blessing, or the beauty of understanding when you can communicate in another person’s heart language and they get what you are saying! The friends that came along side of us in that season are precious. They were patient, repeated things when I didn’t hear or understand the first time, pushed me to be brave and try new things. I can’t even count how many times they sat and listened as I shared a new story in my poorly pronounced Khmer, and asked deep questions that enriched our discussion afterward.
I didn’t know then that all the things I disliked about the big city would become longings once I moved to the village. I had no idea how beautiful the people would be in our new place on the border, how thick the spiritual darkness would hang over our home, our friends’ homes, and the amount of prayer and effort it would take to fight those battles. If I had known that first night in our apartment that I would come to the very end of myself in this country, that I would struggle to remember my calling and yet see God in spectacular ways, I’m not sure I would have kept saying yes to all of this.
But here I am, 3 years in, celebrating 36 months of God’s faithfulness. He has held me close as I’ve cried more tears in this country than in any other season of my life. He has opened up my eyes to the desperation of the hearts of people around me, filling my heart with His love for them when mine ran dry. I have stood in downpours in rainy season, sat and prayed for the dying, watched as miracles happened, laughed with friends because I could actually understand their jokes in Khmer, held hands and believed God for the impossible. This anniversary isn’t about me, because on my own I would be nothing. I might not still be here. No, this is a celebration of the God of the nations, the King who will one day be worshiped by every tribe and tongue including the Khmer people. He is most worthy of their worship, and of mine.
So many adventures in the last 3 years!