Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Building a Network

Today one of our corporate donors from Canada was in town for a 1 day visit with her husband and so we did a world wind tour visiting the Newsong centre, Bloom Training Cafe, Daughters Cambodia shop and Svay Pak. Initially the plan was to give them the 'Cambodian experience' of using a tuk tuk to transport us all over the place but given the location of where each of these places were it would have been a bit more difficult to do such a one day whirl wind tour given the distance, the traffic and the heat, so we opted to rent a van. I am often amazed at the timing of how God provides for our needs on this end. For it was only 3 weeks ago, I happen to be in Svay Pak when I was talking to a young Khmer man who was visiting Svay Pak with a team from the U.S. He told me that he worked for a Christian company that rents vans for people who visit Cambodia.

Over here, networking is the key so whenever I meet people, I'm always interested in getting their contact info especially when they provide services that we most likely will need. Its all part of 'building' our resource base as we connect with organizations that can help support our ministries here. So last night, I called my rental van friend to make the arrangements and this morning his driver arrived to pick me up at home before we headed off to a hotel in another part of the city to pick up our guests. The van rental staff are all Christian who speak English and this particular driver is actually a young man training to be a pastor. He is working to save money as he will be going to study at a seminary in the Philippines for 2 years. He was such a blessing as he knew all the places we were visiting. It was like having our own personal 'Ratanak' driver as I did not have to worry about telling him the directions to get to the different places. When you find drivers that are knowledgeable,  it is one less thing to think about because you don't get lost, you save time and you can then focus on hosting your guests without being distracted. I will definitely be using this van rental service again especially since we do not have our own vehicles.

One of the challenges here is that not everyone knows all the places we go and in the case of tuk tuk drivers, over the past few months I have been collecting a list of tuk tuk drivers and trying them out. Some are Christian and others non-Christian. I now have a team of '6' tuk tuk drivers some speak various levels of English and others only Khmer. Why do I have so many? Well, they are not always available when I need them and so I go down the list. But it also is a way of testing out who is reliable and how well they know the city. In essence, one has to go through a few 'training session' with each tuk tuk driver. This can be time consuming in and of itself as you have to expect that they may get lost or in other situations, some of them have a habit of keeping you waiting after you have finished your meetings so I'm always looking out for time conscious tuk tuk drivers. Thankfully God continues to provide more than we often expect as my Christian tuk tuk drivers who are students, also happen to attend the Khmer church that I have been visiting recently.

All this to say, this is all part of the adjustment to a new culture and new modes of transportation when you do not have your own wheels. In many ways, it is a loss of independence as you have to rely on others to help you. But more than that, it is ultimately trusting the Lord and leaning on Him and this in and of itself is a good thing!

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