Wednesday, November 28, 2012


“When are you going to come back home?” That’s the question Moria asked me this morning, as I we rode to the airport together, and after a week of trying to hold it together, my eyes split open, and filled with tears. I’m going home today. That’s what my calendar says. But I’m also leaving home. Then in three weeks I have to leave home in Japan to go home to Wheaton. And four months later I’ll be moving on to a new home again. Leaving a place is never easy for me. I’m so excited to see my family and community, but I will miss Cambodia.   
There are some things I won’t miss: Like the drunk karaoke bar neighbors, or mud flicking up from my bicycle, or the cars cutting me off on the road, or guys making kissy faces at me as I bike by. I won’t miss the cats on the roof, spiders on the toilet, rats on my dresser, or dogs snapping at my heels. I won’t miss the sour bony fish soup or the smell of durian mixed with urine on the streets. I won’t miss the headache from banging my head on the doorframe, or the perpetual itchiness. But I'm thankful for the bad with the good here.
I will miss family Bible study time, wrestling around with Yosue and Moria, and hearing Mala’s voice project across the neighborhood when she’s trying to get Moria to wash up. I’ll miss the crazy and kind-hearted World Relief staff, who love to goof off and who worship with such passion. I’ll miss fun times in the office with Nhaca and Cris. I’ll miss hanging out with Sineath, Chanthea, Seyha, and Kevin. I will miss the driver, Uncle Sovan, and his weird jokes that nobody gets. I’ll miss biking around the beautiful Phnom Penh or riding on a moto as the city whizzes past me. I’ll miss the neighborhood kids that always greet me, chase my bicycle, and play games with me when I come home from work, little Hang, who usually forgets his pants, but never forgets his smile. I’ll miss Khmer food and Khmer coffee and Laikin’s coffee stand. I will miss Bible study and all of the wonderful people in that group, and the fun fellowship we’ve had together. I’ll miss the Riverside and the church, and my home. I’ll miss speaking Khmer and worshipping with Khmer people. I’ll miss warmth, sunshine, amazing fruit, and the sound of pounding rain on a tin roof. I’ll miss hanging out with my family and my co-workers and my grandparents, and friends.
I hate to leave, but I love to move on to the next adventure. You know all about it—the plight of an international or “third-culture” kid. I like to call myself a Kanja: A warrior between lands--but right now I feel like the back bridge between cultures has torn an ab muscle or two. I planted a piece of my heart in the soil under the mango tree at home. I hope I can return to it some day, but even if I don’t, I will not regret planting it there, where it might make a few sprouts and call to me across the ocean every once in a while. I have learned so much here about the culture and language and people, and about poverty and simplicity and the God who is with us, and the kingdom of justice and peace. I want to see, (as I hope we all do), the world redeemed from problems of oppression, poverty, slavery, racism, under-representation, and apathy. That’s why I know we need to continue to try to be kanjas. We need to keep creating bridges between people and lands. When we open our eyes to another culture, we hold the world in our grasp. We can catch glimmers of hope for miscommunications and clashes to be eradicated. We can all be like TCKs, aliens, and warriors between cultures. All it requires is listening ears, open eyes, and arms that construct paths between differing perspectives. This isn’t just about hopping between continents. We all have to create some kind of communication-bridge to interact with each other, but we avoid building bridges to some people. Who are we neglecting around us? Why?
There is something programmed into all humans that makes us long for an unattainable sense of home. I know that my true home is not the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it is where the fear of God makes us brave and free. It is not the land of the rising sun, but the land of the Risen Son. It is not the Kingdom of Cambodia, but the Kingdom of Heaven. And it is that which captures my gaze through all of the uncertainty and turmoil.
My heart has been changed by this adventure and I hope to retain and apply this transformation for the rest of my life. But I know there are many more adventures to come. As I wave goodbye to my host-family, then turn to face the airplane, I am facing my next adventure, with memories of God’s faithfulness behind me, and with my damp eyes set on eternity.

This City...Khmai City

Now what if I told you this city was the best--
That this city was a threat to the rest...

From every market, to every road block, yeah
Whether it's warm or pouring rain or right stupid hot, hot, hot!
From the problems all the way to the solutions
Forget all the drugs and gangs, corruption and pollution… no

Cause this city: Khmai city
We love it, yeah we love it...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Give us this day our daily fish paste

I've held back from making too many "foodie posts," because I always make fun of people who post about food every 40 seconds on twitter or facebook. (Thanks for letting me know that your cereal this morning was a bit soggy, you made an amazing sandwich at lunch, and you're going to post a photo of every course at dinner).
BUT what a hypocrite am I...I'm going to show some of my favourite cuisine from the past 5 months, so if you get annoyed by food posts, (or easily grossed out,) I suggest you turn back now. Don't say I didn't warn you...Bon Appetit!

1. Dragun

One of my favourite dishes here--if not for the name that sounds like a mythical beast, then for the rich source of iron within these dark green leaves. 

2. Kaffai- Coffee Khmer style on the street, feeaturing ice and sweet condensed milk 
Make me go (o_O) 

3. Chicken Feet--Came home to my little sister gnawing on this the other day and she was generous enough to share. 
4. Jek (Bananas) 
deep fried with seseme, grilled on a stick, or steamed in rice and wrapped in leaves

5. Tarantulas--I already posted about these little buggers, but I've grown to love them. 

6. Sea Snails --served with pepper--requires some amount of slurping to eat

7. Crabs- usually pretty good, but sometimes pretty hard to get out of the shell
8. Every part of the pig- ears, snout, organs...

9. Doang (Coconut in many different forms). Coconut in red curry the best!

10. Palm fruit dessert-- Reminded me of the crocodile tongues in James and the Giant Peach

11. Aaaaaaaall kinds of soup

12. Fried Crickets and beetles


13. Dog 
(while working on the field in Pursat--the staff called it the neighborhood watch--I later found out that it was dog meat, and they all cracked up and started howling like dogs). 

14. Moringa seeds from World Relief's nutrition program

15. Green mangoes in chili salt, and many other mango dishes

16. teeny popcicles from an ice-cream cart--good way to make lots of friends

17. Mystery sweets- kind of like eating pudding-flavoured erasers. 

18. Rice every night. Dinner by candlelight when there is a blackout. 

19. Mien--means "rich" in Khmer, so its good luck to eat this lychee-like fruit

20. Pong tia Kohn (Eggs with the baby chick), usually served with lime and pepper, and eaten with a cute little spoon straight out of the shell, or just popped it into your mouth. 
This one was a little difficult to manage the first time. Be thankful for the PG picture. 

21. Salmal (Rambutan)-- wins the award for food that looks most like a muppet character 
22. Wine pudding--Don't tell Wheaton, but apparently there's a whole cup of wine in this thing, along with red beans and who-knows-what. Not the best. 

23. Green papaya salad- YUM. 

24. Snake meat...

25. Prahok- fermented fish paste sauce. The Mexicans have salsa, the Koreans have kimuchi, and the Khmer equivalent would be prahok, which they put in a lot of dishes, or use as a dip for cucumbers, and each Mama has their own secret recipe. 

26. I've enjoyed eating all of these things, and the one thing I did not enjoy at all was surprising to me- durian fruit. Tastes like an onion-flavoured banana soaked in gasoline.

...And much much more.