3 November 2011

on knowing another culture [3 years in cambodia]

beautiful family

somewhere along the way, i wrote this quote in my journal under the heading 
"on knowing another culture"

When you've been in a place for two weeks you feel you can write a book, 
once you've been there for a few months you're happy if you can get a few coherent paragraphs together 
and after you've been there for many years you're not sure if you can write anything at all.*

little boy blue in kampong chamthis season has been a time of reflection for us, as we've had a break between travels & have also been intentionally trying to carve out more time for rest in our lives. 

as we've come our three-year marker (really? already?) we've been processing a lot.  when we left home, it felt like our 3-year commitment was large & looming & that we would come away from the experience so changed, so different, having learned so much about what it means to go, to follow, to serve, to be among the poor.  

well.... yes & no.  our time here has passed in the blink of an eye, life here has been much easier than we expected - filled with such joy, friendships & travel.  but also harder too as we've had to un-learn a lot of the things, beliefs, assumptions, & cultural certitudes we thought we knew. & we thought were solid docking points & that sort of education can be quite unsettling.    

so, while clarity will likely always elude us as we encounter life in all its complexity, what have we learned after 3 years here in Cambodia? 

o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o 

that a masters degree in development doesn't mean you know to respond to a child begging you for food.  that we are not the ones we've been waiting for. 

that Joy comes with the morning.  

amanda in kampong cham
that here & there & everywhere, beauty & brokenness cannot be un-twined.  that genocide, atrocity, violence is not a sudden, distinct evil - its your childhood friend wielding a farming tool & following orders, too afraid to disobey, to risk the consequences.  its us too afraid to speak out & challenge oppression, to risk the consequences.  

that we all, all, all need mercy & grace.

daniel in kampong thom

that even when we don our best results-based-management-theory, the outcomes are hard to measure.  that maybe transformation can't be written into a logframe.  that the process is the development.  

that faith is the substance of things hoped for & the evidence of things unseen.

o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o    

however, one thing we do know for certain is how unbelievably supported we have felt these past three years.  we have been grounded & blessed by our rock solid communities both at home & our new community here.  thank you for all of your support, encouragement & prayers; our cup has & continues to, overflow.

*i'm not sure where this quote comes from & google is no help - sorry to whoever first said this!
** a disclaimer - actually the bulk of our work takes place in an office, but those pictures are not interesting, so i'm posting the field visit ones!