Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Kate Withrow, Physical Therapy Student
This morning we attended church at the Phnom Penh Church of Christ. What an experience! As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted with open arms and friendly faces. We found our seats next to the English translator, which was key, and service shortly started thereafter. Let me just tell you, these people are on fire for the Lord. The music was full of energy and life and it truly felt like the God we were praising was in our midst.
The passion in that room brought me to tears. A phrase that stuck out to me from the sermon seemed so appropriate for the occasion; He said following Jesus allows us to fellowship as one body, regardless of nationality. How great is it that we are all gathered together, different cultures and nationalities, under one roof praising the same God:
After church, we had lunch at a French restaurant down the street from our hotel. The restaurant was outside, as seems to be a reoccurring trend in Cambodia, in a covered patio surrounded by lush tropical trees and shrubs. The heat was (almost) bearable in is such a pretty setting. Following lunch we packed up our things and boarded a bus bound for Kampot, Cambodia. About 3 miles from our hotel our bus broke down, smelling strongly of gasoline. As we waited on the side of the road for a second less smelly bus, a girl in our group took out her guitar and we all sang songs campfire style. Nothing beats singing and bonding over Jason Mraz songs with the roar of tuk tuks in the background.
Once we got our new bus we took off for Kampot. It took about 3 and a half hours to get to there. On one side of the road were future rice paddies that would soon fill up during the rainy season. On the other side of the roads were homes of all kinds, with dirt floors, tin roofs, or up on stilts to avoid the rise of the waters during the rains. It seemed that even in the countryside, motorbikes outnumbered the people 2 to 1. The countryside of Cambodia was beautiful with palm trees, rice paddies, and mountains in the distance.
We finally arrived in Kampot and had dinner on the water at a restaurant on a dock. We had traditional Cambodian food, family style. Maybe it was the long bus ride or the heat from the day, but that food was some of the best food I’ve ever had. The string lights and tap of the tide against the dock just added to the ambiance. It was wonderful to share food and stories with new friends in a picturesque setting:
After dinner we went to the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital in Kampot, where we will be staying and working for the next two days. Though we were exhausted, per the usual, there was an eagerness to our group for the days to come. We will finally be getting to treat patients! We can’t wait to see how God works wonders through us for the people of Cambodia.