I am a baby.
I do not know Cambodia like I know the States.
I do not know the language. Or how to count the money. Or how to order food. Or how to get around town. Or how to navigate charades with the sellers in the market.
In Cambodia, I am barang. I am a foreigner with light skin and a tongue that cannot hide my western roots. I pronounce Khmer words with a certain Floridian twist and forget to bow when chume reap sour is spoken to me. I say ahkoon all too emphatically and enthusiastically. My awkward attempts at chumuah aye do not usually produce the name of the person I want know. My chume reap lea is often said as an afterthought and as the person is already well on their way.
The one thing I would say I am somewhat good at is driving my moto between 40-50kmh and not dying. I’ve gotten pretty decent at dodging the cars and tuk tuks, and sometimes I have enough gall to brave the intersection where the market meets Street 3.
Slowly I am sifting through all of my thoughts and beginning to figure them out. There is so much tumbling through my brain that often I lie in bed for an hour before sleep, only just considering all that has gone on in the day. I look back in my journal from a week ago and cannot believe what I have experienced already. Moving here has been such a challenge, such a blessing. I was driving home the other night and stopped on the dirt road leading to my new home and just stared up at the full moon.
“This is my life. I live here.” The stars and the moon and the breeze all heard me and I said to them again, “this is my life now.”
Often I sit and wonder, “how did I get to this place?”
When I was in middle school, I was a servant leader in our youth group. A requirement for being a servant leader was that the individual must give a communion thought at least once a month. The week before it was my turn, the youth pastor approached me and said that I was up next, to which I replied “nope.” He reminded me of my responsibility and gave me the ultimatum: give communion thought or give up leadership.
I told him right then that I quit.
Now I look at me now and remember all of the times in the past two years where I have stood before hundreds or thousands and spoken into microphones. Somehow, somewhere, between middle school and now God’s good graces found me. Not only did Grace find me, but Grace took my hand and led me through the fire, through refinement, and to this third world country where I am, of all things, a missionary.
A missionary. Me. Shy little middle school me turned into bold, brave me who packs up bags and says goodbye and kisses cheeks and gets on planes and flies alone to the other side of the world.
Me. The good graces of the good God fell on not-so-good me to make me good. In all of my brokenness and bitterness and lameness, His good graces have used my life to make good in the world and make good for others.
Me. He chose me. He chooses me. He chooses me to be His witness, His hands, His feet. He chooses me to go and play charades with the ladies in the market, to hold up thousands of riel in hopes of not being cheated. He chooses me to fumble over chumuah aye and chume reap sour and chume reap lea and khnom tweu ka: chea moie puak kei now Kampuchea. He chooses me to look like a fool, sun kissed with a western tongue and teva sandals.
He chooses me to share His love and extend His heart to the least of these, and it’s in this extending heart and hand that I realize sometimes I am the least of these, I am the undeserving.
Yet He still chooses me to be His missionary.