Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cambodia, Days 8 & 9

Would've posted this yesterday, but a storm knocked out the power and the WiFi. The power came back on almost immediately, but the WiFi stayed unavailable until about fifteen minutes ago, give or take.

Tuesday, we visited Rapha House. I went in expecting to have Habakkuk's question on my lips, and Paul's instruction for my entire to-do list, and that was about right.

We started by joining the staff devotional. We sang "What a friend we have in Jesus" and "Shout to the Lord," with some singing in English and others in Khmer. It felt a little like this; our words were different, but the message was the same. Afterward, the associate director talked us through the center's work, fielded questions, and took us to meet the kids. The males among us held back, and the women took point in playing, singing and doing crafts with the girls. "Down by the banks" and "duck-duck-lobster" broke the ice pretty thoroughly, but I have to say that they once again found the song bewildering. We all worked on the craft, which was a cross made from beadwork. Joe helped me out several times when I got confused about which way to thread the cord back through to get the shape right.

Nothing about the girls gave away what had happened before; they were cheerful and friendly. But each of them is on a long road to mitigate the effects of the unspeakable, and needs prayer and safety. The center's work is complicated by its relationship with the Cambodian government, as well as the entanglement of trafficking and prostitution with the poverty and cultural norms of this community. Providing care and counseling isn't an undertaking with a simple beginning and end; the goal is to engineer options that make more sense than returning to sex work, which, sadly, is not straightforward. But better to show up, plunge right in, pray every step of the way, and not get discouraged.

In the evening, we went to watch Cambodian dance, so I don't have to end this day as a pure wall of text.

Wednesday, we visited a place I first decided almost twenty years ago that I wanted to see before I die: Angkor Wat. We actually stopped at the Angkor Thom south gate, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Wat, in that order. The artisanship was incredible, and the vandalism and tourist shenanigans were pitiful. We watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat at 5:41 AM, and I saw hundreds of people take the exact same picture. That rubbed something in me the wrong way, so I made up my mind on the spot that I was going to spend the day looking at the site, not composing shots of it. I didn't take a single picture, but I saw some beautiful things. Good day.

Tomorrow, we get back on the bus for Phnom Penh. Pray for safe travel, if you would.

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