3.9.13 CAMBODIA – eight abolistionist beyond LAUMC

THE FLOATING VILLAGES 

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THE MARKET PLACE

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BREAKING THE POVERTY CYCLE

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OUR HOTEL, THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY VILLA

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   Suor Sdei and welcome to our first post from Cambodia.

The evening has settled in and although it is only 7:00pm we are all ready for bed.  Our traditional Khmer dinner was amazing even though I did eat a whole red pepper by accident.  Good thing they had milk to chase my mouth-on-fire. Funny, the milk is watered down sweetned condensed milk. Kinda surprised me when I had the first gulp. And to think all of this happened just before the song “California Dreamin” came on the radio!

Today we hit the outdoor market and got lost in a swirl and abundance of vibrant color, aromas that wrapped around our hunger, and sounds that could only be heard walking through the maze-like- aisles of a covered market. It was increcible. Shopping in places like this is an experience like none other…one that makes you know you are somewhere else is this big world of ours.

We spent the afternoon out at the floating villge of Chong Kneas.  The lake, Tonle Sap, which is incredibly big, has entire villages that float year round.  Although the villages are all divided between the people of Cambodia, Viet Nam, and Indonesia, all get along we were told.  How cool is that?  Anyway, we took a boat trip out to see the villages.  Because it is the end of the dry season the water was extremly low and muddy. The shallow areas of look like thick chocolate milk..  We had a driver who  told us all about the lake and it’s people. Needless to say, it was facinating, as we maneuvered through the dredged canals out to the lake.

So, everything is out on the water.  Gas stations, pig farms, retirement communities for the aging, orphanages, schools and on and on. Its pretty incrdedible. They live that way because the goverenment doesn’t charge them for land use since they are just floating. So they float in villages made up of poorly constructed structures that can barely weather the typhoons.

Tonight we are going to sleep to get a grip on this jet lag. Ok., Dyaln and Andrew are going out for a while to check out the night life of Siem Reap.   I continue to fall asleep about every 10-15 seconds so i think it is time to stop, but I have one more thought…

We saw some things that challenged us in our wanderings today. The thing that caused us the most concern was when we were asked to give money to an orphanage out in the lake.  We went to the community store that supplied the orphanage/school with food bought almost exclusively from foreigners.  It was a hard sell and none of us felt comfortable with what was happening so we decided not to make any donation.  We just felt like the money wasn’t being distributed honestly, or at least not in a way that made us feel comfortable giving.  But when we went to the orphanage, I believe as their last ditch effort to get us to donate, things got uncomfortable in our hearts.  We just didn’t feel like the children were the primary interest when it came to the donations being made.  Could we have all been off base?  Perhaps, but something was off.  As we returned back to the docks on our 30 minute trek, the guide, once talkative and funny, sat quietly at the back of the boat.  So, something was wrong….

I couldn’t help but wonder what Jesus would have done as he sat with the hungry and outcast preaching along the Sea of Galilee.  Would he have gone with his gut or gone with what God called him to do?  Was feeding the hungry children what we should have done or were we right to have listened and said, “not this time?”  What I have come to know on this Lenten journey is God is always calling us to care for the oppressed and those who have less, but God is also telling us to listen and discern and find Him at the center of it all.  We didn’t see God at the center of this request to buy rice for these children.  I can’t help wonder though, even though I believe I know, will the children be hungry tonight because of our choice?

We are pondering, searching, asking, and reflecting on all that is happening around us. I pray our hearts, minds and hands are all prepared to act as God is calling.

To all of you ready our blog, continue to surround us with clairty of vision and sense of real purpose as we move forward on our journey.
Carol Damonte