First Full Day in Siem Reap: Church + Pill Packing + Meet New People {Jan. 29}

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I never lived through Saturday, January 28th.

Haha, well, maybe for a few hours, but definitely not the entire day. With the craziness of time changes, we officially arrived in Siem Reap at around 8 am Saturday morning, but local Cambodian time reads 11 pm Saturday morning. WHAT?! Yeah, it was the first time I had officially “lost” a day.

Here’s a bit from my journal that day:

I only slept 40-something minutes over 26 hours. Slept 6 hours last night, so I feel somewhat better, although I’m experiencing dizziness from my malaria meds …

ย 

Today we attended the Siem Reap Church of Christ with the GHO team and the translators. Before the service began, we all took a group photo. I’m trying to remember all of these new names, but it’s a bit difficult. This morning, I met Farrilend, Leangmeng, Bory, Kimchhay, and other neat people … everyone is super-friendly! Btw, Farrilend sounds kinda like Fairyland. ๐Ÿ™‚

The church isn’t very large in terms of its congregation, but it’s clear that the people there love God. Their worship songs are in Khmer (kuh-my) but it’s in the same tune, so we can both sing together without clashing too badly. I think two people spoke (with translators) and then we took communion together.

Oh yeah, we ate breakfast before we left for church! I ate ham, eggs, and a mini French baguette to go along with my coffee and orange juice, which tastes a lot like Tang.ย 

After the church service, we walked back to the hotel. I got to meet and talk with Dr. Yaren, a bit. I forget what we had for lunch, (actually, I remember now. We went to a small, local restaurant.) After lunch, we started to work on sorting and re-packing thousands and thousands of medications. ย I’m glad I wasn’t the one in charge of what meds go in which bag because it looked pretty confusing. I just had to write labels on bags and pack them, not too hard, right? So that process took awhile. With all of those hands, however, we were able to complete everything within two hours, perhaps?

We were finally able to connect to the Internet with our iPod touch, and Dad wanted to send off an email to the family, so I decided to explore the city a bit and try to find some water. We weren’t supposed to drink tap water, only bottled water, and I was feeling dehydrated and dizzy.

In Cambodia, you have to haggle over the price of pretty much everything. I love it. It reminds me of a garage sale or something. Both the seller and the buyer usually come away from the deal feeling satisfied.

Finally, I found a nice stack of bottled water on the corner of a busy street. The streets ย can be really chaotic at times … there aren’t really any speed limits, lanes, or rules. I was a bit nervous about crossing these streets, but you get used to it after awhile. Most of the time, you cross half of the road and have to sit there until it’s safe to cross to the other side. Dad almost got hit a couple of times – fortunately, our Cambodian friends know exactly when to cross and how to cross safely. I just follow their lead.

Anyway, I found the water, and the man selling it wanted $4 for about eight bottles of water. I countered with $1.50, and after a bit of friendly arguing, we settled on $2. He spoke excellent English and was curious as to why I was in Cambodia. I was wearing my GHO shirt at the time along with my name tag (probably not such a good idea?) and tried to explain why we were here.

We actually talked for awhile, about all sorts of different topics, from Cambodian history to fish massages. Near the end of our conversation, we discussed religion – he doesn’t believe in any God, and he listed his top three priorities in life: money, food, and women. Pretty sad. I was able to witness to him and tell him there is more to life than the priorities he just listed, and life doesn’t end when you die. We parted on friendly terms, and I hope God will use circumstances or other individuals in his life to lead him to Christ.

I didn’t need all eight bottles, so as I walked back to the hotel, I chatted with tuk-tuk drivers and gave them some water. We all were pretty thirsty, it definitely was a scorcher that first day.

Dad and I went out to the Night Market that evening with a few of the medical students who would be our translators for the week. The Night Market was arrayed in all sorts of colorful, flashing lights, almost like Christmas lights … every vendor wants you to buy their product(s), and if you touch something, they take it that you want to buy it. They won’t take “I’m just looking, thank you,” for an answer, haha. I think I bought some bracelets for my sisters.

Going to the Night Market, talking, laughing, and taking pictures with the students and my Dad really started to help us bond together. Shared experiences, I guess. Tomorrow would be our first day of medical/dental/eyeglasses clinic.

Wow. Our first day is already done! We haven’t done the “hard work” yet, but it sure was a great first day, getting to meet some of the students, go to a local church, try some Khmer food for the first time, and shop at the Night Market! Yikes, I wonder how sterilizing instruments will go tomorrow? (My job was to clean & sterilize all of the used dental instruments). Jesus, please keep me and the rest of the team safe tomorrow. Thanks for such a great first day! I’m pumped for tomorrow!

And now for some pictures! If you are on Facebook, I posted many more – too many to put on here, unfortunately. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The local church we visited Sunday morning.

Everyone is slowly filing in …

Beautiful flower: Champ Pey

In search of lunch.

Coconut vendor! They’re definitely bigger than the ones in the States!

More walking …

Dad checking out the menu – they have a HUGE menu … it’s at least 30-35 pages long, if not larger!

mmm … I don’t think I’ll try the frog legs quite yet.

Tom and Mike

Portable vendor carts – when the business gets slow, just go somewhere else! ๐Ÿ˜€

I think I’ll get the stir-fry!

Organizing the pharmacy – thousands upon thousands of pills!!

We had to un-pack, sort, and then re-pack these pills … fortunately, we had a lot of helping hands!

LeangMeng and I – we became good friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

Group shot with some of the medical students! They were such a great group.

Dad and I, outside the Night Market

Inside the Night Market – lots of variety!

Hmm … should we buy that necklace? Is it a real ruby?

Sony & Kimchhay, two of the medical students

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