Some people may be wondering why it took me so long to write my blog for this trip. I wish I had a deep answer that would suffice, however, the truth is I have been to busy enjoying Cambodia to write it. This does give me an opportunity to reflect on the trip as a whole and analyze things that have changed within me as a result of nearly three weeks in the Khmer culture.
This trip started out as a nursing trip, but quickly shifted into a mission from God. We were able to do tremendous things on this trip including building a house for family in need, going into utter poverty to take food and medicine to those who would otherwise be without, and observe some amazing work within the hospitals and churches of Cambodia. There was a myriad of emotions running through us as each new challenge arose. A bit of pride in the things we were able to accomplish quickly resolved into humility as we realized that the impact Cambodia would have on us far outweighed the impact we had on it.
This was a paradigm shift for me. We as Americans think that God sends us places to spread his Word, help the poor and save souls. Kevin, one of the Americans living in Battambang, shared with us on the last Sunday we were here a difficult and life changing truth. He said, “you may think you are coming here to change Cambodia or that God is going to use you in some way to save their souls. But it is your soul and my soul that needs to be saved.” His expression of how God had used Cambodia to change him rang true for most all of us. We slowly begin to realize that despite the terror from which this country has grown. The Spirit of God is alive and well here, and God is calling many of us to partake in the springs of living water flowing from the hearts the Kampuchean people. Our return to the states is bittersweet. Though we miss our families and friends, the time we were able to spend here in Cambodia will forever leave its mark. My prayer is that the Lord will be able to use us to share our stories, and we will be open to his Spirit as it reveals His will for each of our lives.
Our last day in Battambang was very bittersweet. We are all excited about the upcoming return home, but we have all fallen in love with the people of Cambodia. Personally, I also fell in love with the Handa Emergency Hospital in Battambang. People in Cambodia ride “motos,” or motorcycles almost all the time. And the traffic in Cambodia is terrifying. Because of that combination, there are way too many moto accidents. As we walked into the hospital for the first time, we saw many legs in traction, head wounds, broken pelvises, etc. Trauma injuries. Unfortunately, we also saw some children who had found something in the ground and began playing with it, only to find out it was a mine. As an earlier blogger mentioned, the rainy seasons bring old mines from the 1970s back to the surface, and can even wash them into new areas. Somebody can be walking the same path for 20 years, and one day there could be a mine waiting for them. I can only imagine how it must feel to know that there could be bombs beneath your feet at any moment, just waiting for someone to step on it.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Talitha Jones
Along the paths of the chaotic local markets where various bargain matches are heard amongst the fortress of booths filled with colorful scarves, bracelets, and decorative carvings of elephants and Buddha heads you will see long rows separating the venders. These rows are lined with t-shirts galore, often with funny Cambodian sayings. One of my personal favorites is “same same but different.” In Cambodia same same means different so when English people say “same thing” Cambodians often think they mean different. You see the confusion. But however you say it “same same” or “different”, that pretty much sums up me on this trip. Being the only non-nursing student, I had very different prior medical knowledge, a different major, different expectations and as a result a very different overall experience. My name is Talitha and I am a Pre-med biology major crashing the nursing party and loving every minute!
We woke up refreshed in a hotel that God planned for us. A place where we could sleep without waking up with nightmares about bugs crawling in our beds, a place where we felt cool because our rooms are air conditioned, and a place that we could truly feel comfortable.
I went for a run with Lacey, Emily, and Mrs. Taplin then it was time to go get ready for the day. We went to meet for breakfast and had a great devotion that talked about God’s faithfulness, so great.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Leighton Eby
I woke up still feeling exhausted from the long and hot bus ride home from siem reap the day before. At this point in the trip I am missing my family and friends back home and the constant change and uncertainty of the entire trip is really wearing on me. I'm learning to adapt quickly to whatever is thrown my way and to just go with the flow but that is definitely something that I struggle with. With all that being said about how I felt before we even left the hotel to what I am feeling now after the day is over is a complete 360 degree change. We started out the day by hopping onto tuk tuks to ride over to the hospital. Once we got there we split up into groups. Some helping with nursing check offs, some observing in the hospital and some catching up on journaling. I chose the group that was catching up on journaling since I hadn't even started the journals for community health.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Catherine McMullan
This whole trip I have been noticing "the little things", most of which have broken my heart. The personal items in store bathrooms indicating that people both work and live there. The cardboard lying on the street where people slept the night before. The pain in the eyes of children who have had to grow up too quickly. The angry, upward-thrust jaw of a prostitute who has had to defend herself over and over again. This country looks like paradise until you get close enough to see the reality for many Cambodian people. After seeing these things for a few days I was beginning to feel helpless and hopeless. However; today at the emergency hospital in Battambang, I noticed the power of some other "little things". Smiles, bubbles, play-doh and coloring books brought relief to suffering children. Some teaching about pain assessment and documentation will help nurses at the hospital to better control their patient's pain. Donating blood will help save the lives of some patients. All of these things reminded me of the positive influence a single person, who is willing to serve, can have on a group of people. With two hands and a willing heart we can provide relief. The power of the little things I saw today sparked a new passion in me. It helped me to realize that I am not powerless as one person. I can still inspire hope.
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of The Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail." Lamentations 21-22
We got up, packed our things, and ate a breakfast of fruit, bread, white rice, and hard boiled eggs with a spicy noodle dish. Then we boarded the Mekong Express bus to ride a 6 hour drive from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. The Mekong Express is titled “Limousine Bus Express.” There is a bus stewardess that wears a dressy uniform and serves us Wet-Ones packets and snacks in a box. The snack consists of two pastries and a bottle of water. The bus is wired for wifi, however on this trip the wifi wasn’t working. It is also considered a limousine because there is a bathroom on the bus. We set off driving down the main highway which happens to be the only two lane paved road that connects Siam Reap with Phnom Penh.
It was a great day. We woke up by going on a 3 mile run along the river in Cambodia with my professor and friends. We proceeded to get ready for the hospital’s annual nursing check offs. They do this to check up on the skills of the many nurses and doctors of the Hope hospital. It is something that Belmont provides for the hospital every single year. There were five stations: Nursing Process, Drug calculation, Drug procedure, Wound care and Diabetes teaching. Not only did they recite us the entire procedure, they also had to recite it to us in a language that is so hard for them to speak: English. Many ask why they have to learn this all in English considering most of the citizens speak Kamahi. It is because they do not have Cambodia nursing textbooks, they are either in English or French making the hospitals here either English or French speaking hospitals. It was so strange to be on the other end of things, because myself and the other 21 nursing students have felt the nervous feelings and butterflies while we do our check offs.
Dr. Renee Brown, Professor of Physical Therapy at Belmont, has been appointed as the new Physical Therapy Department Chair as of June 1, according to Dr. Cathy Taylor, Dean of the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing.
"We are indeed fortunate to have someone with Dr. Brown’s extensive academic preparation, and her notable teaching, clinical and administrative experience, assume this important position," said Taylor in making the announcement. Brown takes the place of Dr. John Halle who is returning to the classroom full-time.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Lacey Luttrell
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1: 2-4
My day started with a lot of questions. I questioned why am I here, what am I doing, and God, what is your purpose? We have reached that point in the trip where everyone is tired, people are ready to see a change in the work we are doing here, we are all wondering what our purpose here is, and we are needing strength and positivity again. It is something that we have heard will happen during the trip, but never thought would actually happen. It did. I knew I wasn’t alone with my feelings. Even though I had all these questions, for some reason I felt like today would be different. It was. I had been praying all this time that God would open my heart and let me see what I need to see in Cambodia that will make all this time worthwhile.