Today we traveled from Siem Reap back to Phenom Penh. Our time in Siem Reap on Friday night and Saturday was a relaxing break from the busy three days at clinic. On Sunday morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and then all loaded onto our bus for the trip back to our Cambodian home, the Golden Gate Hotel. We started our bus ride with a devotion, as we do most days. Dr. Taplin quoted Mother Teresa about giving ourselves and our time to individuals and organizations rather than just giving only money – although both are so important! This was impactful because it related to our trip in that we have been giving our time and our hearts to the people of Cambodia, even if we sometimes feel that our efforts aren’t making much of a difference.
Many of us, including myself have struggled with feeling we aren’t making an impact. With the vast amount of help we can’t provide and the presence of bad, it can be difficult to reframe how we view things, and focus on the good. The positive we have experienced is that in only three days, we were able to work together to serve over two hundred people at clinics. That was hopefully impactful for each of the people who were able to come and was all due to God. His hand was evident in partnering with organizations here and bringing people to the clinics. On the other hand, I feel as if we aren’t able to do a lot for many of these people. Many come dehydrated. While we provide oral rehydration solution and teaching about clean water, the fact remains that clean water can be difficult to come by. Our translators are incredible, but it can still be difficult to communicate medication and teaching, so at that point we simply have to trust that God is in control. All this to say, this devotion was encouraging that we were making a difference – however big or small – on the people we interact with daily.
Since it was Sunday, we worshipped together after the devotion. We began with a song led by Dr. Taplin and then continued to worship for another hour. It was a really meaningful time for many of us, even though it wasn’t your traditional worship service. We just sang with our voices as we drove through the small provinces and looked out the windows, which was a unique experience. After a time of seeing much heartache and little time to process, this was an encouraging time to be reminded that God is in control and has His hand on each of the people of Cambodia.
Daily we do highs and lows, which is a really growing aspect of our group. Even though we spend the majority of each day together, we each have different experiences and perspectives. Since the last few days had been busy, we hadn’t had an opportunity to gather and share. Hearing about everyone’s experiences with our last clinic, visit to the temple, and all the in between moments was so insightful. By the time we had finished our devotion, worship, and highs and lows, it was already time to stop for lunch! After a long lunch – serving twenty people always seems to take a bit of time – we were back on the road.
A few hours later, we stopped at a market from the recommendation of our bus driver. As you can see from the pictures, it wasn’t your traditional market and had assorted bugs. Four of us brave souls ate a fried tarantula. This moment was one we had both looked forward to and dreaded for months coming up to the trip. Some also enjoyed fried crickets and rice filled bamboo. Others stuck to the comfort and coolness of ice cream. Each experience has been unique, and this market was no exception! The delicious treats aside, we were back on the road! We arrived back in Phenom Penh and had a relatively uneventful evening back at the Golden Gate. We enjoyed being welcomed back by Heim and the fellow staff and had dinner at the Blue Pumpkin. We feel rested from the weekend and are ready for this next week in Phenom Penh – the last for many of us!