So what is it like living as a missionary in a developing nation? I’ve been wanting to write a blog that highlights what life is really like for us here in Cambodia for quite some time. I’ve actually started it a few times but the subject is so vast that I get overwhelmed and put it on the back burner. So….I will now attempt to give an accurate picture of what it’s like for us and maybe even debunk a few myths along the way. Here we go!
First, life, in many ways, is not so different (at least it shouldn’t be). Regardless of where we live, as believers, we are to love our neighbours, care for the less fortunate in our cities, and be ready to give an account of why we believe what we believe. That, in a nutshell, is what we are doing here in Cambodia. The same thing we were doing in Ontario, Canada. To be real, I struggled when we first felt we were called to Cambodia. It’s not that I didn’t want to go but I felt we could serve where we were and that we didn’t need to move halfway across the world to live out the mission of God. And it’s true. You don’t have to. Mission happens right where you are. God eventually revealed to us that this was His perfect plan for our family and gave us peace that this was the right thing to do but I wanted to say all this to point out the fact that if we are living the way God wants us to live…than life serving overseas in a developing country shouldn’t look that different at all, spiritually, from life “back home”.
In any given day, we study language for a few hours a day with our tutor and than try and find time to study on our own. Chad goes to the cafe (a student ministry run by friends of ours that are also with the PAOC) a few times a week to chat with the students in English and build relationships. I go out to the Teen Challenge women’s centre to do bible study with the ladies and crafts with the kids. We go to Abraham & SreyRohm’s a few times a week to teach sewing and English. In between these times, we make it a point to do things together as a family and as a couple.
Practically speaking, we still have to wake the kids up for school, go grocery shopping, do homework, run errands & cook dinners. The biggest difference is that while it might take you an hour to go to the post office, pick up some things for dinner and pay the electrical bill…it takes us about four! Culture stress is a real phenomenon. We are continually grateful for the training we received in this area; it helps us to have a flexible attitude and to recognize when we need to take some time to de-stress.
We live in a house, not a mud hut, and we haven’t eaten grasshoppers….yet. We sleep on beds and have a pet dog; though our Khmer friends don’t really get it! Sometimes we don’t show patience with our children and sometimes we yell at each other. And we even struggle at times to put meaningful, personal time aside that we can spend with God.
Can I admit that I didn’t want to put that last line in? You see, even though we know we’re just ordinary people…there’s a pressure to be or to at least appear extraordinary; to not let anyone know of your struggles. The truth is, we’re just regular people that are trying to be obedient to God. There’s a beauty in this that is unsurpassed. It’s all God. We are not here on our own merit at all.
Having said all that, I don’t want to downplay the incredible honour we feel to be a part of what we believe God is going to do in this country. And I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t take our role here seriously. Knowing that we are here for a purpose and that we have people around the world praying for us and supporting us is great incentive to be better, to strive harder. It is our prayer that God will continually mold us and shape us to be people that He desires us to be.
So that about sums it up. There’s still so much more I could share. The challenges. The testimonies. The thoughts. Another blog for another day. Thanks for reading!