There's a couple phrases that were ruminating in my mind this afternoon when I was walking back home from one of the office supplies stores near my home. One of the phrases I believe is a quote from William Hickson that says: "íf at first you don't succeed, try, try try again.'' The second quote is one I heard at church this past Sunday taken from 2 Peter 3:8 With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. In the ministry of the mundane that I have alluded to in a previous blog, these two phrases are becoming synonymous with my experiences in setting up the Ratanak office or anything related to administrative issues. Its interesting to see the patterns and one of my intercessors a couple weeks ago emailed pointing out that he had a sense there was a spirit of harassment and a spirit of irritation that was part of the challenges I was experiencing with some of the administrative aspects of what I am doing. His email was quite timely as I had sense that myself and was just praying about it when his email arrived a few hours later in my inbox.
So what is with these two phrases anyway. Well on Sunday the pastor at ICA was asking us if we ever had a week or day when it felt like a thousand years---there was no progress in anything we did while at the other end of the spectrum, there was so much going on in a day, you could barely keep up. I'd have to say I have experienced both of these in a week and so when she said that I couldn't help but laugh knowing that this is the 'new normal' in Cambodia. You see over here, it takes at least 2 but on average 3 or 4 times before things are working as they should. Patience is a virtue that is guaranteed to be cultivated here---there is no debate in this area.What do I mean by this? Well, in the ministry of the mundane, I discovered that the office filing cabinet was missing a part which meant that a 'letter size' hanging file folder was too small and a 'legal size'hanging folder was too big. I wouldn't bore you with all the details of why this happen, but let's just say the manufacturer is at fault here. So the question was how to rectify the issue. Someone suggested taking a photo of the inside of the filing cabinet drawer which was a great idea especially when one's language ability is limited. One has to learn creative ways to communicate! So after 3 visits to the furniture store, they sent a workman over to my home and viola in 15 mins it was fixed.
The next thing to rectify was the hanging file folders themselves. That involved 4 visits to the office supplies store and today the final visit was amusing in and of itself. The last time round the store had given me a credit note after I had returned the original legal size file folders and some power plugs that were not the right size. So when they saw me again today, they were not too happy. If I was in their shoes, I wouldn't be too happy either seeing the same person coming in 4 times who keeps exchanging and returning items. It is times like this I am grateful for working with guys in the trading floor as you cannot take peoples reactions personally. In these circumstances being a thinker has its advantages. In fact, I was told I had to use the complete credit note today as it was no longer valid for another trip. Now you need to know, there is nothing on the credit note that says this. But here in Cambodia, the rules are different. You can't argue or disagree. I am learning the art of smiling. It's amazing how the spirit of self control and calmness can be manifested in such situations if you ask the Lord for it during such times. I know in North America, my sense of justice would have risen to the surface and I would have asked to see the manager but here, one learns humility when one does not have the language to communicate effectively.
But the silver lining in all of this is, if at first you don't succeed try, try, try and try again and when you do, it works, you finally succeed! So today, my file folders fit perfectly into the filing cabinet and every thing works!!! Progress has been made as I can finally organize the files! Of course, I haven't told you about the wireless router and the new laptop either but let's just say, the experience was similar. But in the end, it all worked out. Thank you Jesus! As I was reminded this morning in my readings this morning in Isaiah 14, what God has planned, so it will be, and what He has purposed, so it will happen. His plans cannot be thwarted, His purposes will stand. These verses give me great confidence and comfort as I learn and adjust to this new environment. I am not just learning a new language, but a new culture, a new way of life, a new way of thinking. a new way of working but ultimately a new way of walking with the Lord as He navigates me through these different encounters. Indeed one can sense a spirit of irritation and frustration at times but I am thankful to the Lord that He is also giving me a new sense of spiritual awareness and alertness to deal with these challenges. Putting on the full armor of God takes on a whole new meaning here. No wonder the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:10-18 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
There are valuable lessons being learned in the ministry of mundane: patience, humility, self control, cultivating a sense of humor and most of all learning to stand firm in the power of Christ and to continually put on the full armor of God. In the end of the day the battle is the Lord's.We are called to simply stand firm in Him and He promises to make a way when the way seems impossible or non-existent.