Saying goodbye to our new extended family in Cambodia was harder than I thought. The orphans wanted to come with us to the airport so they picked us up at Botevy's house in their school bus. It was so great to be with all of them. It was a tender moment as they walked through the door to help us load the luggage. A huge lump formed in my throat as I looked at all of them amidst all the noise and hustle and bustle. I watched them all instinctively hug and help. They were laughing and playing and I wanted so much to pack them up and bring them all with us.
We gathered together for one last prayer and some words of gratitude. It was a neat experience for all of us. We got loaded in the bus and I couldn't hold the tears back any more. I just wanted to stop time somehow, or rewind time. Our time with the children went so quickly and I wasn't ready to leave yet. There were so many more things we wanted to do with them. I remembered so clearly the first few days we were there and how I kept getting all of their names mixed up. I had to ask them over and over again what their names were and then I would slaughter any attempt to pronounce them correctly. But now, even though we could not have long conversations together, I know them all. I know their little personalities. I know who likes to tease, who likes their hair done which way, and who likes hugs every couple minutes throughout the day. I know who is artistic, who is a hard worker, and who is quick as a whip in school. I know who likes to make bracelets and who loves soccer. I know who is quiet and who can dance really well. I know who is funny and who likes to work with their hands. Each one of them is so precious to me.
Last week we had a Family Home Evening together. In our church every Monday night we get together as a families. We try to pause from sports, homework, and other activities to have time just as our family. We teach them a value or something from the scriptures, play a game or do an activity, and then close with a yummy dessert. We did this with the orphans as well. When we were out shopping that day I asked Botevy what the children would like for a treat. She said they would love an apple. I know I had a funny look on my face because fruit is not considered a treat at our house, it should be, but it's not. Ice-cream, Coconut Cake, Magic Layer Bar Brownies, etc...that is what I call dessert :) Here apples are a delicacy because they are imported. So we bought some apples.
The night was one to remember. Botevy gave the children a chance to stand up and share their feelings about the last few weeks while we were there, their feelings about God, and about being able to visit Angkor Wat (something she said they prayed for every night for years.) It was so neat to be there, all of us sitting in a large circle under the moonlight, and hearing their tender feelings. Botevy translated for us and it was wonderful to be able to hear the feelings in their heart. These are some incredible children.
All of them expressed their gratitude to Botevy and Vanneth to be able to live there. They shared their love for them and for their 30 brothers and sisters. Our family learned so much from watching how they treated each other. There was NEVER a moment of selfishness. Infact, my children always commented on how if one child was given something, they immediately wanted the other children to have it as well. If there was not enough, they would give up what they were given and give it to the other child. They were always more concerned for the other person's happiness than for their own. This is fascinating to me because they had so little. You would think that they would hoard anything new or maybe even gloat about it to the others. You know the old "Look what I have and you don't." Just last night at the orphanage in Thailand Kate made us the most wonderful dinner. She made little pieces of fried chicken just for our 2 families. (She is the most amazing cook. Lucky are we.) She knows that is something we Americans are known for. It was so sweet of her. We felt uncomfortable eating it ourselves, but they will not even think of eating until we are done. They are the most giving people. Sam was sitting with all the orphans and he had one piece left over so he handed it to Pat, about 12 years old. Pat then looked at the other children and they all passed it around and each had a bite. It really impacted Sam. He shared that experience with us last night and said, "You know, I don't know if I would have done that. If it was something that I really liked and I never got it, I don't know that I would have instantly turned and given it to someone else." That my friends, is why we are here. They are learning things that can not be taught. Examples are everything.
Back to our Family Home Evening night. I was so touched by their simplicity. They have so much gratitude for a home, food, and family. They know what it is like not to have it, and they do not take it for granted. The feeling at that orphanage is how I want my home to feel. They all pitch in and help each other. There is no entitlement. They are loyal and look after each other. They entertain themselves. They have a great time with a worn out soccer ball and a couple of bamboo sticks to sword fight with. They are happy with a new coloring book and crayons. Having less frees you from wanting more. It frees you from always looking for the newest thing. The latest iphone, the newest Xbox, the latest brand. I have a brother in law who always makes his kids wait for a year after everybody else has whatever the latest and greatest is until he gives it to his children. Some might say that that is mean, others will think it is brilliant.
I've got to go, but I have a lot more to write so I'll end with "to be continued." Here are a few pictures of our goodbye... :(