Reflections from Cambodia
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I wasn't really sure what to expect. But it was unexpectedly... touching.
I think the entire trip consisted of meeting such extraordinarily interesting people, I was just so amazed. I don't know why I did not expect that...

One of the first few places we visited was the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. The museum was pretty interesting, but depressing, of course. I tried walking among the "cells" that the inmates were detained in. Not only do you feel claustrophobic, but there's this feeling that if you peer into the cells, you'll find someone, just skin and bones curled up on the floor.

The Killing Fields was a totally different. I'm not sure how the others felt, but I think it was probably quite different for them. Now I know the Killing Fields ought to be a place that feels depressing due to the violence and cruelty that was shown to the Khmer people, but when I saw the place, I saw a lot of greenery. There were trees and grass that grew over the mass burial grounds. It was quiet and felt rather peaceful.

I couldn't help but think that truly God is an awesome God. That He should take a thing that was ugly and tainted, filled with the stench and memory of death, and give it beauty and life. The grass that grows over the sunken ground that was meant to bury the dead showed me that truly His Life has conquered even death.

We took a boat ride through a floating village called Kampong Phluk. Beautiful place. Just enjoyed the cruise, looked at the lotus plants, and the mangrove. Took some time to be still on the waters.

As we were going back, we stopped at the floating village to have lunch. It was the most delicious fish I've ever tasted! But God had a more important lesson to teach me than where to get good fish. =)

There was a blackboard at the "restaurant" which had the title 'Dictation' written on it. A friend of mine, who has written a very beautiful piece on what a beauty pageant in heaven would look like, asked the boy who was serving us if he could dictate, and the boy would write. With much enthusiasm, the boy said 'Yes!'.
So our friend taught him a song. 'I've got peace like a river'.

When he encountered a word he didn't know, or didn't understand, he whipped out a dictionary, much to our surprise! We later found out how it came to be that some of the children in this kampung could speak English so well. It's one of the projects under the UNDP, and they come every few months to teach English. And some of the members who come from YMCA Singapore know Lucy, who was part of our party of 6 during this trip. And this boy from the fishing village, Veasna, knows some of these individuals from Singapore. The smallness of the world reminds me of the bigness of my God. And how much smaller is one single human, and yet, He knows each and every one of us. Even 11-year old boys in small fishing villages.

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth [including Kampong Phluk]!
... when I consider Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
[and yet,] You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honour.
- Psalm 8:1, 3-5 -

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast....
[I can scarcely believe that] You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
- Psalm 139: 7-10, 13 -

We also met a beautiful hawker-stall waitress who sells the most delectable jack fruit shake, who really DOES remember you. (She could recall what one of our friends ordered the night before). A very handsome dancer (who used to work in a hotel front desk) in the cultural village who speaks fluent Mandarin. (He told us the best spot to sit for the show so that we would be sitting under the fan). We also met a French man who lost his eyesight due to an accident a year ago. He used to be a 3D motion graphics animator. He knows Kanji and thinks he's pretty lucky. (How many of us would be able to say that if we had been rendered blind?) He now manages the business although he cannot design, and has created job opportunities for those who are physically disabled, but have the necessary skills to become graphic animators.

A friend enlightened me as to what makes the human voice truly unique from any other instrument in the world. And taught me that a wise person learns to tell the difference, not otherwise. That I must be specific. And made me question whether what I do, whatever that may be, is done in love. Most of all, this friend makes me ashamed. Ashamed of my own cowardice. Wherever he goes, he brings Life so easily.

Oh, that it were so easy for me!

Lord, help me to be brave.
Brave enough to move out of the middle ground.
Brave enough to say 'hello'.
Brave enough to not settle for the status quo.
Brave enough to love You.
To truly love You.
Lord, help me to be brave.


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