Karol Boschung - March 24th
We just keep on pluggin' along, making way more progress than we thought possible at the beginning of the trip. At first we thought we'd be really lucky if we finished floors 3,4 and 5. Now we're mostly done that, and on floor 2. Some of us are even on the ground floor! Praise God for the work we've accomplished, it way surpasses expectations. The workers continue to warm up to us and we now get frequent smiles and laughter. There are still interesting moments, though. Today I was rolling a ceiling, and I soon had an audience. This in itself was not usual, as we've long since gotten used to the workers standing and watching us as we worked. However, the guy who was watching me soon called over another, and they stood together watrching me roll this ceiling, talking in Khmai and laughing. I suddenly realized that they were so fascinated because, at approximately 6'2", I was much taller than they were used to - I was rolling the roof without standing on anything! While I've gotten comfortable painting in Svay Pak, I realized that I am still quite out of place - the crazy tall Christian barang!
Another episode that stands out today was less symbolically fraught and was instead, simply funny! Mary and Graham were painting in a classroom on Floor 2, with the door closed to keep out the dust from the grinder in the adjacent stairwell. Graham had to visit the men's room, and upon trying to open the door, found that it wouldn't! Open, I mean. After a bit of banging and shouting, they got Grant's attention, and soon there were 4 or 5 people gathered around this door, trying to get it open. Pastor Chantah brought keys, and tried several, including the master key, but it was soon apparent that the problem was with the mechanism itself rather than the door being locked. There was no danger to anyone stuck inside, so instead of being nervewracking, this whole process was, for me at least, hilarious! We realized that if they could jimmy the door from the other side, they could easily open it, but the space under to door was much to thin for us to fit anything of use through. After about 20 minutes of trying and failing, Grant and I had an epiphany worthy of MacGyver! We went to the room directly above, and attaching a screwdriver to a rope fashioned out of duct tape, we lowered it down a story to their window. While Grant held the erstaz rope, I went down and tried to communicate to them over the sound of the grinder that they should look at the window. All my pointing and gesturing to the window behind them only served to make Mary move away from the door, thinking that we were going to ram it in! Meanwhile, the screwdriver swung tantalizingly in front of the window, above the Svay Pak garbage dump. Eventually Graham looked out the window, got the screwdriver, and within seconds, the door was opened. Then it was time for break, and for Graham to visit the long-desired promised land of the washroom!
Tomorrow's our last day of work in Svay Pak - somehow I'll miss this funny little village, with its monstrous evil and its seeds of joy. No more working with (and sometimes against) our friends the contractors, and no more MacGyver moments. The Lord has blessed us greatly to be able to be here, and I am glad that we could do our bit of work here to further His Kingdom!