“You lop lop”
“No, you lop lop”
“No, YOU lop lop”
“You lop lop”
“Lop” is the Khmer word for crazy. Coincidentally it is also my name to many of the girls at Rapha House. One girl called me “lop lop” and our guide, Theara, told me that it meant I was crazy. I called her “lop lop” back. She laughed. Instant rapport. She convinced all of the other girls that I actually was lop lop and it became my name. It is how they know me, and they reminded me of it every single time they saw me, pointing and laughing. “You lop lop.”
On a side note, I much prefer that they call me “lop lop” than Brad, which bears uncanny resemblance to the Khmer word for ghosts that reside in Hell. Their mouths are only big enough to slurp rice noodles, and they get the chance to come up once a year with hopes of being reincarnated, giving themselves the chance to create better circumstances for themselves. They thought it was hilarious.
Anyway, two girls in particular spoke impeccable English. The rest spoke very little. They only knew maybe a few words, completely unable to make sentences and certainly unable to understand ours. However, knowing this one Khmer word, “lop,” allowed me to create an instant connection with the girls there. They knew that we loved them, even if I called them “lop lop.” I think they loved us, too. As we were leaving, many of them told us that they did. They gave us letters, gifts, hugs, parting words and thoughts, etc. One girl (who I must protect by not disclosing her name) gave me a letter, which on the envelope was addressed, “Father.” The fact that this girl had known me for all of 72 hours and addressed me as father got to me a little bit. Maybe it is a cultural anomaly and I am over thinking this entirely, but could I really be that significant of a male influence in her life that she would address me as “Father?” Has her childhood really been so depleted of fatherly male influence that I, for all intents and purposes a stranger, stand out to her as a father figure?
These girls need Jesus. I told her that I love her. I have loved her for a long time without knowing her. I will continue to love her. After loving her for so long before I even knew her, 3 days was not enough. I don’t know if any amount of time would be enough. Saying goodbye last night was easily the most unpalatably difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life, with no close second. However, something amazing happened this morning, just hours later. We joined the Rapha House staff devotion, but we were told the night before that we would not see the girls. Therefore, last night I had convinced myself that it was the last time I would ever see these girls, which was painful. Especially saying goodbye to three girls that I became particularly close to. We were surprised to find many of the girls there to greet us after the devotion. Saying goodbye the second time was hard, but it was easier than the first time. I realized that I had been foolish to think that I would never see these girls again. Because of the work that Rapha House does, I will be able to spend eternity with them. It might be a while before I see them again, but this life is such a short time in the scope of eternity. I told the three girls that I grew to know the best that I love them and that I would never ever forget them.
I do, and I won’t. The word “love” has never carried more weight as it left my lips than it did this morning.
Thank you for your continued prayers.