The day started innocently enough. I slept well, and felt ready to head out to our last day in the Angkor Thom District. I walked down the hall from our room towards the hotel restaurant, skipped down two stairs, and took a whiff of breakfast. It smelled good. Bacon, sausage, French baguettes, eggs, coffee … my favorites.
The day before, Mike, our team leader, had made the announcement that Craighton, one of the men serving as our logistics coordinator, would now be known as “His Excellency” or “Ambassador Craighton.” Craighton was responsible for being our “ambassador” and working one day ahead of us, traveling to the next district, meeting with people, government officials, and pastors there, and hand out tickets in preparation for the next day. I thought his new title was hilarious. Don’t get me wrong, we couldn’t have been effective without Craighton’s help, but whenever I heard “His Excellency” or “Ambassador,” I couldn’t stop from chuckling.
Most of the tables were already full – oops, I was a bit late to breakfast. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a table occupied by only one person.
Good – it’s Craighton! I think I’ll sit by him and address him by his new title.
I pulled up a chair, sat down, and greeted him with a cheery “good morning, your excellency!” He looked at me with an odd expression and quickly said that he wasn’t “His Excellency. ”
Hmm … did Mike forget to tell Craighton of his new title?
“Aw, C’mon, Craighton, you’re our ambassador!”
As I sat there, a bit puzzled and confused, with my steaming breakfast in front of me, Marty poked me from behind, and whispered, “I made the same mistake – that isn’t Craighton.”
Uhhhh … what?
A little embarrassed, I apologized for my mistake. Thankfully, he was “ok” with it. In fact, he was definitely amused by the whole identity mix-up. It’s crazy how similar he and Craighton looked to each other! You have to understand that Craighton has a very unique beard and mustache, white hair, glasses, and always has a jolly smile on his face. This guy met every single criterion! When he later stood up, it was clear that he was much taller than Craighton, but if they both sat down it would be fairly difficult to tell who was who. He looked so similar to Craighton that I just assumed he was Craighton.
Over breakfast, we talked about the GHO team, my plans for the future, and why he was here in Cambodia. Because I got there a bit late, we didn’t have too much time to talk before we had to clean up the lunch materials and load up into the buses.
At least we parted on a friendly note!
We pulled out of our hotel, and headed out for our second day of work at the Angkor Thom District. The sun was already up, and the air felt humid and hot. As we drove over country roads, our bus threw up clouds of dust behind us. I felt sorry for the people riding their bikes or walking. Most of them use their scarves as a mask, but it still can’t be too much fun to be a pedestrian on those roads.
I sat in the back of the bus with Ra Ty and Dad. There was this one seat in the back whose padding had worn almost completely away and when you sat in it, a metal pole poked you in the back. You can imagine the discomfort it gave an individual when the bus navigated bumps in the road. Well, I was one of the last ones to get in the bus, so I was gifted with the privilege of sitting in the metal-pole-chair. If you sit forward in your seat and put your hands behind your back, it isn’t too bad.
It was great working in one location for more than one day, because the majority of our equipment was already setup. I could see that most of the kids I played with yesterday had come back again!
The work went by quickly – I quickly nailed down a system: while the instruments boiled for at least 20 minutes, I was free to hang out with the kids and play. They brought their marbles with them, and wow, I am seriously impressed with their “marbeling” skills. I “attempted” to play, but they can shoot their marbles much more accurately and with much more power than I can. Even a 3-year-old can play better than I can.
My Dad let them borrow a ball of his, so during another break, we played volleyball in the sand. A monk was watching us from a window for a time, and then he wanted to play. Well … not really. If the ball came in his direction, he would quickly catch it, and then lob it back to us.
Most of the children there are really outgoing and friendly. From my limited experience, boys seem to be more talkative while girls are more reserved and quiet. For the children who didn’t want to play marbles or volleyball outside, I made a few “water gloves,” rubber gloves filled with water. That made even the quiet ones laugh. 😀
While I prepared my lunch bag (customary PB + J and snacks,) I brought along a couple of extra snacks that my Mom had packed for us. The kids and I ate lunch together over a game of marbles. They were a bit hesitant to try the Rice Krispie treats and candy bars, (I guess I would be too – they had partially melted,) but they devoured the nuts!
One of the boys climbed up a coconut tree, grabbed one, used a machete to hack it open, and gave it to me to drink! Wow, that was so kind! I definitely needed it – I sweat a lot, and the air outside was only getting warmer by the hour.
After lunch, I headed back inside to tackle the pile of trays and instruments that had stacked up while I had been away. Even though I couldn’t exactly communicate verbally with the group of children intently watching me, I tried to explain what I was doing and what certain instruments are used for. (Haha, I don’t really know since I’m not a dentist, but I have a basic sense of what certain ones do – this one is used to pull teeth out, this one is a mirror, etc.)
Each batch of instruments needed to be boiled for 20 minutes – today, I was working with two burners, so I wrote the in/out times on a piece of paper. One of the boys realized what I was doing, and would point to his wrist to remind me to turn off the burner every so often.
I had brought my English/Khmer cheat sheet, so I practiced speaking a few phrases again, and it seemed (to me at least), that I was making some sense.
During some of my other breaks, I was able to walk around the building we were working in and see everyone else on the team work. The eyeglasses clinic was crazily busy! It seemed like everyone wanted to get a pair of glasses. Scott and Lucy were doing a terrific job. During lunch, Lucy was showing a couple of kids pictures of her family on her phone, and later, with the help of a translator, taught them how to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”
We headed back to the hotel after saying “goodbye” to all of the people we met and interacted with over the past two days – I’m really going to miss all of the friends I made. It’s tough to realize that you might never see them again on this earth. ::sigh:: I guess that gives you even more motivation to share the gospel with them, right?
This is going to end the post abruptly, but I thought I might add that for dinner, we devoured fish, rice, fruit, and a spicy stir-fry.
most of them get really shy when I try to take their picture …
… so I say this picture is a minor success for sure!
this one is pretty good too. 🙂
blurry lunch break picture.
on our way to clinic!