Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life Is A Squatty Potty

      We’ve been living in Cambodia for nine months now and surprisingly no one has asked us, “What’s it like to be a missionary?” But I was thinking about that today- what I would say if someone asked me that. I think they would be surprised by my answer. When people think about missionaries I think they picture big revivals, masses of people getting saved, miraculous signs and wonders. The faces of dirty homeless kids in rags, smiling as they’re handed a piece of food. At least that’s what went through my mind when a missionary would speak at our church. Those were some of the things that drew me to this lifestyle.
I’ve always wanted to do something big for God. Make a big difference. Change the world. And then we moved to Cambodia. Talk about a wake up call! So after living for nine months as a missionary in Cambodia, if someone were to ask me what life is like I would say:

Life is frustrating. Life is hard. Life is living as a minority where every day communication is a difficult task. Life is 108 degrees. It’s holding my breath through a hot and stinky market while buying food and going to four different stores just to find a box of crackers. It’s being drenched in sweat all day long, even in my house, because the only room that is air-conditioned is my bedroom. 
Life is hand-washed clothes that never really get clean. It’s being overcharged for something because I’m white, and being stared at everywhere I go. Life is having running water for 2-3 hours a day (on a good day), and going two days without a shower because of it. It’s having to take deworming pills every 6 months(just in case). Life is a squatty potty(which I’ve gotten quite good at using). Life is not getting to sleep until after midnight because the wedding across the street is blaring Gangnum Style on repeat, and then waking up at 4:30 the next morning, and almost every morning, to Monks chanting. 
Life is forty mosquito bites and power outages. It’s a little boy knocking on the window of a restaurant, begging me for food as I sit to enjoy my meal. It’s being laughed at when I try to speak Khmer and I say something wrong. Life is skype dates with friends and family and watching my nieces and nephews grow up through a computer. Life is rice. Lots of rice. It’s taking a shower with a pail and a bucket. 
Life is not being able to call up my best friend to meet for coffee when I’ve had a bad day. It’s lonely because the only friends I have live on the other side of the world. Life is losing $900 of monthly support in our first 6 months of being on the field. Life is sacrificing the things we want more than anything- like starting a family or having a successful career. 
And let me reiterate: Life is hard. Really, really hard. There are days when it’s difficult to find joy in where I’m at and what I’m doing. There are days when I resent this lifestyle for the sacrifices it requires me to make. And days when I’m ready to give up, pack up, and go back home. There are days when I miss my family so much it hurts and skype dates just aren’t enough. There are days when I can’t imagine doing anything but this, and days when I can’t help but think about doing anything but this. 
I’m sorry if I’ve completely squashed your idea of what life as a missionary is like. I’m just trying to be real. I’ve never heard missionaries talk about this part of the job. It wouldn’t have made a difference in our decision to come here, but perhaps we could have been a little more prepared(if it’s even possible to prepare for something like this). For those of you who feel called to the foreign mission field, you need to know that it’s not all revivals and healings. It’s a beautiful and amazing thing when that does happen, but you can’t expect it 24/7. That can’t be your only goal or you will be sorely disappointed. And for everyone reading this, I’m sure you may be thinking, “Why are they still over there?” Well, let me end with this:

This life is worth it. This life is a smile and “Hello!” from the village kids. It’s a sweet little Cambodian boy dancing and laughing while wearing my sunglasses. It’s going to church and witnessing Cambodians worship God with arms raised high in a country completely consumed by Buddhism. Life is seeing the excitement of a Cambodian as I speak Khmer to them, and then being told I speak it very well. It’s having a conversation with a local and actually understanding what they say. It’s an unexpected rain shower on a hot day and a cool breeze in the evening. Life is getting a coconut from our neighbors to welcome us to the village. It’s a chance to pray with a Cambodian. Life is saying “God bless you” in Khmer to my vegetable lady as I buy some veggies.
Life is hearing, “I go pee on the potty now!” from my niece while skyping. It’s opening a care package that’s filled with snack cakes and velveeta cheese. Life is an unexpected gift from a friend- just because, and an email saying, “thinking of you”. Life is finding a Cherry Coke at the store for 50 cents and finally perfecting the art of cooking rice. It’s a skype date with my best friend. It’s another day of language class and learning a Christian song in Khmer. It’s a day of running water and a nice cold(yes I said cold) shower. It’s walking into my air-conditioned bedroom after a long hot day.
Life is knowing that despite all the hardships and struggles, we are doing what God has called us to do and even though sometimes(well, most of the time) it doesn’t seem like it, we are making a difference in His Kingdom. We are blessed and honored that God would choose us to be His hands and feet in Cambodia and we are thankful for this experience and opportunity we’ve been given.
Even when life is like a squatty potty...

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