I am so behind on this blog. There are at least 10 posts that I need to catch up on! Between the power going out all the time, being gone helping the orphans, cooking for 15 people with no oven and a camping stove, doing laundry and hanging it all out to dry, homeschooling, doing seminary, teaching pre-school, and hand washing dishes--there's not a lot of free time! But, we are loving every minute of it. I mean, really loving it.
I want to take a minute and just share some of the feelings I have felt here in Cambodia. It is hard to put into words how being here, surrounded by so much need, affects you as a person. I have always had a soft spot for those in need. I remember being very young traveling somewhere with my family and seeing beggars and not being able to eat the food in front of me because I felt so sad. I remember sneeking away and buying a couple hot dogs and running it over to a man who was begging. I remember being at In N Out Burger and seeing someone begging on the corner. I said I had to go to the bathroom, but I took my food outside and gave it to the man on the corner. My appetite would just disappear. I still have to hand out money to people on the street whether the sign they are carrying is true or not. I don't say that to have everyone think I am some Mother Theresa, because I am nothing close to that. I say that because I think that feeling of concern, a yearning to help, and a desire to make a small difference in someone's life is innate. We all have it.
One of the most endearing traits of the Savior to me is how he ministered to the people. He lifted up the downtrodden. He spend so much time with those who had no hope but in Him. He taught so perfectly by the way He lived His life that the purpose of life is to help others. It is about being present in the life of someone in need. It is about forgetting our own needs and focusing on others. Life is all about relationships. Relationships with family, neighbors, friends, strangers, teachers, grandparents, acquaintances, co-workers, and little ones. For the Savior it has always been about "the one."
Being here it can be overwhelming because everywhere you turn someone is in need. It is easy to get discouraged and say, forget it. I'm not going to do anything because it won't make a difference. The other day we were driving home from the market after getting food to feed our hungry kiddos at home. They were all hungry, but they would get food that night. We stopped at a red light and there were cars and mopeds speeding all around us with not much order. About 3 children came up to our car and were begging for food. They were barely dressed and dirty and were so incredibly cute. I got out some baguettes we had just bought. I handed each of them one, and before I knew it there were 15 kids all with their arms in my window saying "Please sister, please sister." We had bought 15 of them so I was handing them out as quickly as I could but then the light turned green and the driver started moving. The children were running next to our car still wanting something, anything to eat. I kept handing them out until they could not keep up with the car, almost getting run over. My heart broke as some went away empty handed. But, we did help some and I knew I would help again. I just have to keep telling myself that so my heart will recoup after an experience like that.
It makes me want to really do something to help the many children here. I found out that there is a man here who everyday serves breakfast and lunch to 350 homeless or needy children. Those children most likely do not go to school because they can not buy a uniform or the needed school supplies. That is what is stopping them from going to school and being able to change their life. When I think about putting a foundation together to provide such basic things to help these children, I say to myself, "Why not?" Maybe that is why we were led to Cambodia in the first place. (I'll write the story of that when I get a minute.) I feel like in America we have so many resources to be able to make it happen. We can combine forces, share contacts, and find philanthropists who want to help, but don't know where or how. America has been hit by the economy, especially where I live in Idaho, but when you contrast it to what you see here there is absolutely no comparison. There would never be children wondering the streets begging for food.
We met a boy yesterday named Kavich who came to the orphanage. Matt spent some time talking with him and assumed that he had come from a wealthy home because he was attending the University here and knew English. Matt asked why he was at the orphanage and he said that he likes to volunteer there because he had been so blessed by others in his life--he wanted to give back. He came from poverty and a lady from Vermont sponsored him and sent him to school. Her gift of sponsorship to him changed Kavich's life forever. One person blessing the life of another person. Who knows how far reaching it will go, because he is now an educated Cambodian giving back. I love it. Couldn't we all do something like that? Botevy said that it costs about $150 to sponsor one of her orphans for a month. She only has 2 sponsored, there are 28 more.