Today marked the first day that my 'house help' arrived to take over the domestic reins. This is one 'hat' I am happily relinquishing! Now in case you are all wondering about the kinda lifestyle we live here, having people to cook and clean is quite common even among missionary circles and the NGO world. In fact, I was even advised by my Khmer friends that not having a cleaner implies to them that we Westerners are full of pride and we don't need any help and can do things independently. Given that there are many people looking for a job, we provide a source of employment for them. My house help Lily actually turns out to be the sister-in-law of Bunthan (Pastor Chantha's wife). She has worked before for foreigners so that makes things much easier. While she lives in a suburb of Phnom Penh, she attends the church in Svay Pak on Sundays. She will come twice a week (Monday and Thursdays) to clean, do my laundry and yes even cook for me so that I can freeze the food and microwave it at my convenience. While this all sounds good in theory, I have not yet learned in Khmer the words for 'cooking, cleaning etc.' Basically, I have not had any lessons regarding the house work which is not surprising as I am not inclined to be a domestic diva! So Lily (who only speaks Khmer) and I learned to communicate in a whole new language today---its called 'sign' language! Thankfully, my tutor was here so he helped translate a few things but after he left, well, I had good exercise using my arms and hand signals! Here are some pics of the Ratanak apartment that I am staying at in which Lily did a great job cleaning. Here the floors are typically marble so its very easy to get dirty with all the dust etc.
A view of the kitchen and my bedroom to the right
The Dining area and the 2nd bedroom to the left
A view from the office/living room
The office where I have my language lessons
All this to say, Lily has saved me a lot of time and for those of you who are interested to know how much one would pay for this service, well it varies. My OMF missionary friends pay their cleaners about $0.80 per hour and the other day I met the cleaner of our apartment complex. She makes about $2.50 per day for cleaning only, which works out to about $0.50 per hour for a 5 hour work period. I will probably pay Lily the OMF rate since she is cooking and cleaning which will translate to about $8.00 per week.
So after lunch, it was back to 'work.' Given that month end is coming up, I had to put on my 'Finance' hat and started working through the financial spreadsheets sent by our staff in Canada and documenting all the receipts and invoices and making sure they all are expensed to the right accounts. Its a good thing I have a finance background. God never wastes any thing He has equipped us in. Shortly after that, it was time to put on my 'Human Resources hat' as I got a phone call from a Khmer young man who is a security guard in the evening at the OMF complex. I have known him when I used to stay at the OMF team centre years ago and he had heard from one of my friends that I was looking to hire a tuk tuk driver for Ratanak.
Well by the time all this was done, I realized there were a couple other 'hats' that I had not have a chance to wear today one of which is being a 'landlord' for The Sanctuary building in Svay Pak. It seems there is a new tax policy in place for properties over here and the tax is based on the size of the building and the floors. However, all the documentation is in Khmer but I am thankful for our partners at Chab Dai. They are an endless resource for me and are always willing to help at a moment's notice. Tomorrow I will be off to visit them again to discuss this and of course some legalities regarding our operations---oh yeah that's the other hat ---the lawyer! :-)
So being a Country Director at this time is quite a unique role. In many ways, I see the Lord's hand in all of this as He is giving me much insight about all that is required to set up the operations here as He teaches me about all the different roles that will be needed as we hire our Khmer staff in the future. Certainly I feel like a Jack/Jill of all trades and master of none! But while at times, the multi-tasking and schizophrenic mindset can seem overwhelming, the Lord has shown me during this time, He is not only in control, but when everything else around me is changing, He never changes. Where there is much uncertainty, He is the one certainty that I look to, for He is the same yesterday as He is today and He will be tomorrow. He is the One who is absolutely reliable and trustworthy and who always follows through on His promises. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Cor 1:12). He never gets overwhelmed and so too He calls us to walk the same path, with the same attitude. For as Lamentations 3:22-24 reminds me: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” I remain so thankful that He is in control of all my circumstances here. With Him as my portion, there is much hope, much joy and most of all much peace in the midst of competing priorities and ongoing demands!