The past ten days have changed a lot about the way I see the world. We got to spend time getting to know some of the most genuine people I have ever met. The people in the villages of the province of Svay Rieng live in the midst of chaos, trouble and defeat with a zeal and a zest for life unlike any other. Their lives are centered on generosity, simplicity and honour, and it's beautiful to behold.
We worked with an organization called Kone Kmeng, which translates to Little Children. Their mission is obviously children-focused, but the way they are going about changing the lives of young ones is fresh. It is the belief of those involved with this organization that change in circumstance is brought about by change of heart. They focus on community development/ standard of living, community awareness, education and spiritual growth. They are involved with everything from running community workshops on human trafficking and hand hygiene to drilling wells and providing water filters. They are in the business of saving lives.
We helped out by teaching english at their dorm in Svay Rieng every evening, and by visiting the surrounding villages, encouraging the leaders of the churches there. We also mixed and poured concrete as part of building latrines for the villages.
We had the priviledge of getting to know the students living at Kone Kmeng's dorm in Savay Rieng, and it blessed us so much. There isn't one person on our team that didn't learn tons just from being with these people. There is something about meeting people who have every reason to complain, every reason to be upset because they don't have things - but aren't. The young people at the dorm are regular young people who just love life God, love each other, and love life.
I don't think I'll ever be the same. There was one night, after english class, when the students decided it would be fun if they drove us home on the back of their bicylcles. Clinging on for dear life as we raced along the main street of the town of Svay Rieng, passing Jeremy who was glued to Soytry (our translator) I realized that this is what life is meant to look like. All at once, it was like my brained checked in.
I am living in a place where you can't drink the water because you'll SERIOUSLY regret it later, but it doesn't really matter because even THAT builds community for it's comedic value...
I get to spend my days meeting and interacting with people who may or may not know what a western toilet looks like, who don't believe in toilet paper, who know what it is to work for next to nothing and who know, in the rawest sense, what it is to rely on the Lord for everything.
My friends are people who love each other with thier whole hearts, who know each other inside out, and who think it's fun to terrorize white people by riding their bikes the wrong way on the street as they ride us home.
I came on outreach to bless the people I meet. In an unexpected twist of events,however, I have found myself being blessed by a life that I somehow know I was made for.