Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanksgiving - Khmer Style

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and family! Yesterday I celebrated my first Thanksgiving holiday in Cambodia. My dear friend Marie Ens invited me to join her and the other Canadians volunteering at Rescue, as well a the 5 young women from Rescue who are part of the dance troupe that are going to Canada shorthly. Marie's driver Nyok came to pick me up at 4:30pm in a torrential rain storm. When it rains in Cambodia, these are not little drops, but it comes suddenly and powerfully. In a short space of time the roads flood as not all of them have drainage systems and if they do, they are very small. As we are in rainy season, it rains everyday around 4 or 5pm---yes the rain here is very predictable. Needless to say, our travel journey to Biek Chan which normally takes about 45 minutes, took over an hour because of the rain and rush hour traffic. It was however fun driving through the streets. I felt like I was in a boat as the water levels had risen and you could seek the wakes in the water as we drove by. This is one time it pays to be in a car or better yet an SUV as the motocycles who were driving beside us got stuck because  the water was at least 1 foot deep.

When we finally arrived at Biek Chan, the meal was still being prepared. Some of the teenage girls were ├žarving the turkey Khmer style by peeling up the remaining bits of meat with their hands and there was a few people helping out in the kitchen.
Turkey carving Khmer style!

I actually didn't think Cambodia had turkeys but at Place of Rescue they grow their own free range turkeys and I have to say, it was not dry at all but very delicious and tasty. I discovered another side of Marie---the homemaker, as she had made several dishes along with her helper----carmalized sweet potatoes, stuffing, home made dinner rolls, squash, ham (from a pig at their 'farm')homemade pumpkin pie and all the assorted vegetables. It was all so good and I think I've gained a few pounds from these recent visits to Rescue! Thanksgiving Khmer style is pretty good! We definitely do not starve!

The five Khmer girls who are part of the dance troupe were invited so that they could practice their English in preparation for their Canadian visit. So I had the opportunity to ask them questions in Khmer and they had to respond in English. It so encouraging to hear what their dreams and hopes are for the future. Three of them want to be doctors and two of them want to be bankers. Of course, when I heard the word 'banker', I had to ask 'Why'? Their reasoning was that bankers have a good job so here at Rescue we have young people who want to help the poor and then you have others who want to be captialists! :-) I think its great that young women want to go into business and so I shared with them that I too used to be a banker and if they ever wanted to learn about banking, I would be happy to talk to them more about it.

As the girls sat with their Canadian English teachers, they were being taught western table etiquette ---what to do with a serviette, how to hold their knives and forks----in Cambodia, the Khmer use a spoon and fork to eat-----how not to talk with their mouths full. They are all quite cute, typical teenagers who are full of laughter and gigles and at one point in the meal, Marie asked if each of us could share one thing we were thankful for. It was so touching to hear them share that they were so thankful for Mak Yeah (Grandma) Marie, for Rescue, for each of us, for their English teachers helping them to learn English and of course they were thankful to the Lord for His goodness to them. Marie shared that at times it can be lonely here and during Thanksgiving everyone back home in Canada is with their families. She was thankful that this evening we could be a family to one another. It was certainly a fun time just hanging out. As I thought of her comment it was the words from Psalm 68:5-6 that came to my mind5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families. In deed this evening we were all away from our biological families and for these special 5 young women, they had lost their parents a long time ago and yet here together as we share a meal, as we spend time with each other, Jesus had ordained that He would set us all together as a family in Him for this evening.

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