A few years ago our pastor from our home church came to Cambodia. One of the questions he asked us was what would be one thing that would cause us leave Cambodia. At the time, our answer was traffic. Of all the things that we could have answered, that was one of the daily hassles our Western minds couldn’t fully grasp. I have talked about traffic here on this blog before and one of our close friends previously described it like a river. The water flows down the path and if a rock gets in the way you just go around. It doesn’t matter if going around the rock is on the side walk or the wrong side of the street into oncoming traffic. The water also flows at a variety of speeds between a person walking on the street to a large cement truck barreling down the same road at 40mph. I say barreling down the road at 40mph because the normal speed limit on a majority of the streets I drive on daily is 40kph (25mph). Stop lights and street signs are also optional depending on how important you think you are that day or what type of vehicle you are driving. Part of that discussion also centered around things that we could find easily or things that were hard to find. It’s still very common for me to visit 2-3 grocery stores to find all the things on my list.
If you asked me this question 2 years ago, I would have said power cuts. The country was grappling with a loss of water to the hydro-electric dams on the Mekong river. A certain country decided to decrease that supply dramatically and the down stream countries had to deal with the consequences. For us, that meant daily 4-8 hour power cuts that lasted for several months.
If you were to ask me that question today, I am not sure how I would answer. The traffic hasn’t changed, but we have become used to it. The availability of random products hasn’t changed, but again, our family has worked around that. The power cuts still happen, but on a dramatically decreased scale. We still lose power 1-3 times per week, but now it ranges from 5 minutes to 2 hours.
Many things have made it easier to live in Cambodia. We have a 23 year old truck, but a wonderful mechanic that keeps it running. Our home is connected via fiber optic so we have fast internet at a reasonable price. Our cell phone coverage isn’t amazing, but it’s only $5 a month (take that AT&T). Large modern malls have opened with a wide variety of brands from all over the world. Western food choices have become abundant. I can get a Krispy-Kreme donut then a Starbucks coffee, grab a Burger King Whopper or Carl’s Jr. burger and finish it with a Dairy Queen Blizzard or Cold Stone Creamery ice cream all in one place ( I don’t recommend doing that all at the same time, but at least you can if you wanted to). We even heard a rumor about Papa John’s coming to Cambodia soon.
My wife has a job she loves. My son has friends all around him that he can play with daily. I have a job that is flexible so that I can help my family when needed and help Ya with her jewelry business on the side. We have family, friends, supporters and an A-Team (hyphenated?) that pray for us continually and support us financially. Cambodia has largely been spared the wrath of COVID and beyond schools and churches having restrictions, everything is open as normal.
All of that to say, our perspective has changed over the years and we are happy to be in Cambodia serving the Lord.
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