So for us at Ratanak here in Cambodia, we took a small but scheduled time out from all the doing to enjoy a day of reflection and a day of rest and replenishment with some good food and a time for fun. We had a staff BBQ where everyone made or brought food. The two men on our team Sathya our Finance Manager and Sambath our driver, got the fire going on the BBQ.
|Lois and Sina making an apple pie|
|Sereyrom and Nary making Vietnamese spring rolls!|
|Noodles made by Sina|
|BBQ Shrimp and Squid!|
We had quite a feast with so much food that we had tons of leftovers which we have decided to keep for next week and have for lunch---given all the food we made, this can feed us for two days:-).
|Salads provided by Sophea our home advisor|
Even in events like this there are cultural lessons to learn for those of us who come with our Western mindsets. As is typical of many tropical countries, where there is food, there is flies. Am still trying to figure out why the Lord created flies as personally, I don't see their use---they just harass us and buzz around us but I digress...that's another story in and of itself. Nonetheless, as we were more of less finished eating, and just chatting when the flies decided that they also wanted to be a part of our activities, so I decided to get some Saran wrap to cover the dishes to keep away from the flies. But in doing this, one of my staff mentioned to me that I am signalling it is time to stop eating and can create an awkwardness as the rest of the staff cannot relax if I am busy covering the food. So my good intentions of trying to be hygienic was signaling something different to our staff. These little cultural innuendos are cues that we as Westerners need to constantly navigate. I am learning daily more about this and continue to be appreciative to my staff who are helping me to understand more about the Khmer culture.
One other observation from this BBQ was that it was a mix of Asian and Western food----a fusion of two food groups and yet, my Khmer sisters and brothers naturally gravitate more towards their Asian foods. It is not a bad thing, just different. Yet, some of our staff are more adventurous and are discovering the joy of eating salads. They want to know how to make the ''sauce'' for the salad---translation---how to make the salad dressing! For those of you who are more creative cooks, you are more likely to make your own salad dressings. But for me, I simply told my staff, ''oh you just buy the salad dressing from Lucky supermarket and mix it over the salad.'' So now they want to come shopping with me to see what I buy and how to make a Western salad!
At the end of our BBQ, everyone pitched in to help with the clean up and we decided to go bowling for an hour. Yes folks, there is a bowling alley here in Cambodia and its not expensive. For eight of us for 1 hour including the rental of shoes it came up to $20.00
|Three Western men bowling beside us with their dates!|
It is so fitting as I thought of what we saw at the bowling alley that the Lord would remind me of His words that I had read the day before in 2 Chronicles: “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful. ” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 14:11, 2 Chronicles 20:15-22)
This will not be the first nor the last time that we will see scenes like this in the midst of our times of fellowship. These scenes are a reminder to us that the darkness is never far from us no matter where we go or what we do. But it is important for us to acknowledge constantly that the battle is not ours but God's! We are simply called to be faithful to the process of taking up our positions, standing firm and not be discouraged by the visible reality of the darkness but engage it as we seek God's face. So before we left the bowling alley, we formed a circle and just prayed that the Lord would frustrate the plans of these men, that whatever their attempts to abuse or harm these girls, they would not be able to do such activities. He would ambush them in their attempts to do anything that would cause pain to these young women. We asked Christ to protect these young women and to keep them safe. We committed this whole situation into the Lord's hand knowing that He is mighty to save, mighty to protect and mighty to deliver us from all evil and those whom He brings into our midst! It is a faith journey in Him like no other! As we left and headed back to the RAP home, despite the darkness, our staff were singing worship songs! How appropriate it was to worship the Lord in song, rejoicing and praising Him despite the darkness, we were declaring, blessed be the name of the Lord, He is good all the time!