Leaving

A fantastic rotating of the earth to all of you earthlings! (I was feeling spacey today)

     I left Cambodia with a full heart and list of things the team accomplished. We were able, through God’s provision, to get bikes for the kids going into 10th grade this November (it’s at a different school farther away then the rest of the kids), finish the space mural, and dig up an old playground set that needed to be gone (in involved a LOT of smashing concrete with a sledge hammer).
     On our last night, we held a goodbye bonfire with all the kids. The boys kept trying to keep the fire going with gasoline but after some helpful/shouting advice, we got a constant flame to get the marshmallows a roasting. Do you know how hard it is to find marshmallows and gram crackers in Cambodia? We ended up using “fat-free” marshmallows (basically just super) and chips ahoy for the crackers and chocolate. All the marshmallows burned but the kids seemed to prefer them that way. Burned marshmallows paired with chocolate chip cookies was not a bad combination at all, I might just take that trick back to the states.
     Along with the s’mores, there were lots of last minute selfies, hugs, and prayers being passed around by both the kids and my team. To know I might not be able to see their faces again was a sadness I had not quite experienced before. Tori, a girl on my team, made a video that sums up what we did and how we impacted the kids and how they impacted us. If you want to watch it email me at [email protected] and we’ll figure things out.

     The next morning we all piled our bags into the 15-passenger van to head for Siem Reap. (We often try when traveling to get to a plane/bus/scheduled ride a day earlier so that if anything happens we have some wiggle room to figure things out.) Just getting to Siem Reap was an adventure in and of itself. Within 30 minutes of leaving the orphanage we popped our rear tire (how many people can say their first popped tire was in Cambodia, hmm?) and were stranded for a good hour before our wonderful driver could find a place to fix the spare and bring it back(it wasn’t the end of the world, a kind lady offered us a spot to sit in the shade while we waited). Once the tire was fixed it should be smooth sailing from there, right? Wrong, God had other plans because our van started to overheat. Apparently, it was from North Korea (?) and needed a special coolant or something like that. That took another hour or so to figure out. Our awesome did eventually figure things out and we were off again. We got to our hostel a little “late” but it all worked out.
     Because we did get in a day early we got to explore the city a bit. Some people got tattoos (planned, not spontaneous), some people got massages, and all got relatively good food. Lots of lights, lots of people, lots of noise. I went in the early afternoon with some of my teammates to get some grub, rolled ice cream, and fish massages. We went back to the hostel around 3 pm and I decided to take a nap. “I’ll just sleep till 5 pm, that should give me the energy boost I need,” I thought as I set my alarm. My head hit the pillow and I remember nothing until 8:52 when I woke up. I had somehow disabled my alarm in my sleep. I did end up missing supper and time with my team, but I took it as healthy introvert time and Team 2 fed me some leftover pizza.
Next day was travel to Thailand day! We got on a bus for 3 hours (I didn’t have breakfast and we left right away in the morning) were at the border for 2 (ish) hours, and back on the bus for another 4 hours with a stop at a gas station which had a 7/11 where I finally got some food that wasn’t Oreos. (I really need to rethink my snack choices.)
     The border itself was a bit stressful because it wasn’t contained in one building. You had to check out of Cambodia, then walk down the street among vendors till you got to another build where you needed to give someone your passport and smile pretty, then you need to walk some more until you go past the bus stop where they scan your bag for drugs (fun I know) and finally walk past the police border and you’re in the country of Thailand!
     There was a lot going on at the border so the people around me who started to get stressed so I started to get stressed and the snowball effect started to happen. That is, until I remembered, “if God wants me here, he will open the door, if not, he will slam it in my face”. That helped me refocus SO much and I was able to use the stress as a mind sharpener and not as a hindrance.
      After the last 4 hour stint on the bus, it dropped both teams off on a corner of an intersection and left us. The leaders quickly figured out to take tuk-tuks the rest of the way to the new hostel, Siamaze. It must have been a sight to see, a fleet of foreigners riding on tuk-tuks through Bangkok. Racing and tugging with traffic, skyscrapers, and shacks flying by. In the moment, it might have been because I actually got enough sleep in Siem Reap, I felt giddy. Excited for what lay before me, a new city, new people, perhaps a different life for the next two months. Whatever it was, God was in control, not I.
     When we all got to Siamaze (one tuk-tuk got lost) we got food and slept. Spending 5 nights in a bed? That didn’t sound bad at all. The next day was the only other stressful day because we needed to get our visas for the next 2 months. Thailand only allows U.S.A. residents to stay for 30 days without a visa and since we are staying for 2 months, kinda needed to be legal. The rest of the days in Bangkok were well spent fulfilling our “Tourist” visas. Visiting Terminal 21, an airport that has now been turned into a mall with different “countries” on each floor, see what types of food I could eat at 7/11 (they have good cake, milk, and kimbop{a meat wrapped in rice and seaweed to hold it all together}), and getting clothes washed in an actual washing machine. (To be fair though, it stained my shirt yellow in 2 spots.)
     Then on the 7th my team went on a night bus to Chaing Rai in Northern Thailand and arrived on the 8th. (It’s not as glamorous as the one in Harry Potter, they didn’t even have any drinks!) So now I sit on my bed (yes, I get a bed!) in my team’s room, getting ready to start to work tomorrow, and writing down these thoughts.

     Emotions have been interesting this past week and a half. The kids at New Hope were more attached to my heart then I realized. It was almost harder saying goodbye to them after a month then saying goodbye to high school after 4 years. Everything is simmering in a weird kind of purpled, bubbly, emotional stew. I haven’t cried yet, I’m starting to wonder if I even express sadness in that way anymore. It’s taking time to process all thats happened and all that will happen. And that’s ok. It might take me longer then one bonfire night to say goodbye to what happened in that special place in Cambodia. It might even take a couple weeks, but saying goodbye to that place should not negatively effect what God has planned for me here in Thailand. Wether I’m still saying goodbye or not, the Holy Spirit is going to work in ways I still don’t fully understand. It might be to strike up a conversation the with lady who attends me at checkout, it might be to hang back from the main group and chat with a certain teammate who is struggling with something that day, or it might be to keep trudging ahead and keep digging out a pit in the stinky mud.

     So with a feeling of ambivalence, I start this time in Thailand. Don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing but that’s ok. I am ok with God leading, I’m ok with not knowing everything, I am ok with not being the expert. I am ok, and that is enough for God, and that is enough for me.

       For those of you who still wish to support me for the rest of my gap year, the YWAM link is up and running again! It took some finagling to get it all figured out, but it should be much simpler than the previous one. (For those of you who don’t know, I am taking a missional gap year. This passport trip is one part but I am also doing a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission and am still fundraising for that leg of this journey.)

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When you help support me you get access to some more behind the scenes stories through an email list and the choice to trade prayer requests with me. I want to make it a two-way street, not just a one and done thing.

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