We are now in the hottest month of the year and it definitely is hot. Recently the daily temperature seems to be hovering around 100 degrees with the humidity. Typically each morning at around 7am I like to open our front office doors to the balcony to get some fresh air but today I got a whiff of humidity instead. It was like stepping into a sauna. In the evening it doesn't really cool down either and the heat generated during the day, means a hot house during the day time.
One of our staff told me that Khmer New Year is deliberately planned around April because the hot temperatures make the land so dry that the farmers stop working, and end up sleeping and eating during this time because its too hot to do anything else. Not a bad strategy at all! Then, when rainy season starts again, they will start to plant their rice. I can see the logic in this because at these temperatures you only need to be walking outside for about 5 minutes and you are sweating and it is easily to feel physically fatigued.
The heat here is debilitating and while we are thankful to have an air condition office and I have the option---now a ''requirement'' of using the air condition in my bedroom, not many people have such choices. The Khmer who live out in the rural areas are subject to blackouts during this time so even if they had a fan, there is no electricity. So with no lights, no fan and no power how does one stay cool when it is so hot. Some of my Khmer friends pointed out that they will wet a towel and hang it over their windows because the wind apparently changes direction after 12am and so the breeze against a cool towel creates a cooling effect in the room. This is just another example of how creative the Khmer people can be with what little they have! My language instructor has a different plan. He keeps cool at night by getting up at 1am to have a shower and then going back to sleep again!
Recently my friend Marie Ens told me don't sacrifice for the sake of sacrificing. Many missionaries here have limited funds and so do not use the air condition at night because the electricity cost is high. However, as Marie said, ''for the sake of longevity, rest and refreshment if you need to use the air condition, use it because if you don't get sleep what's the point, you can't function properly and it will affect your work.'' She's right. I'm thankful that the Ratanak office apartment is located in a part of the city that has less blackouts as we are near many UN offices, government offices and NGOs.We tend to have rolling blackouts during this time of the year because Cambodia uses far more electricity than it can provide for its people. However, some areas of the city are subject to more blackouts. One of the reasons that may be so is that there is no one important living in that area.
So as you think of the Khmer people who do not have the benefit of air condition and that is really the majority of the population, pray that the Lord will preserve them and keep them cool in the midst of these scorching temperatures and the blackouts. For those of us who have the privilege of living and serving here in such weather conditions, it is my life verse from Isaiah 58:10-12 that I find myself claiming for all of us: 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Indeed we are living in a sun scorched land but we trust that the Lord will not only satisfy our needs and strengthen our frame but in the midst of this heat and humidity, He will enable us to be a well watered garden each day!