I sit here in Cambodia, a mere 12 hours from departure, and all these moments from the week keep wandering through me mind.
Yesterday we took the kids to Angkor Wat. I don’t know why in my head they were going to stop and ponder and study and meander the way we grown-ups do. They are, after all kids. It was actually kind of funny and precious to see the same glance-and-go reaction to monuments as I had as a kid. I kept pointing out features I found really neat, like all the faces sculpted on every surface of the face temple, and Sieng Hai, in his sweet quiet way, gave me that, “Yeah, its another face that looks just like the last one,” eyebrow raise.
I think they enjoyed it, they just did it a lot faster than I anticipated. But I’m really glad that they’re kids, and they get to be kids. They are so mature in some ways, so giving, so good (at least while we’re here–they are kids after all) that in some ways I forget they’re still children.
The worst part was coming to the end of the third temple. Not because I really wanted more time out in the Cambodian sun, but because I knew we were only one meal away from goodbye. We all felt it. The smiles were still there, but more hands were held, and hugs lasted a bit longer.
After lunch, it was time. For me it is easier to be left than to leave, so watching Pichhing, Sieng Hai, Mom, Rathanak, Ry, Kim, Davan, Pony and all the others climb up and wave from the windows wasn’t nearly as hard as last time, when it was us driving away from them. Don’t get me wrong, I was a teary mess. It’s so hard to say goodbye to people you love, especially when you don’t really know when you’ll see them again. They’ve grown so much over the last two years, and I pray I can come back, but I don’t know that for sure.
What I do know is that I will love them wherever I am, wherever I go. I will keep writing to Pichhing and Sieng Hai and probably a few more. I will pray for them and feel so lucky to be prayed for by them. I will follow the blogs of other trips to see pictures. I will print my own pictures and make everyone I know look at some of them, at least. I will tuck the little bead bracelets I got into my jewelry shelf and see them and know that the pieces of my heart that are here in Cambodia have blossomed.
That Shakespearean line, “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” makes sense right now. I love them and they love me. I can leave with only the sweetest grief because I know they are loved, by God and Vanak (the orphanage director) and his wife Hanna, by each other, and by so many other brothers and sisters in Christ in the States. I know they will be okay. I came to tell them God loves them completely and perfectly, and I got to do that. I came to show them, to be His hands in theirs, His hugs, and His smiles, and I was. And, they were the same to me as well. Since the kids are so spiritually rich, I might ask them to pray that Cambodia and the US can be closer together so I can see them more often. For them, God just might do it. For now, I will dwell on some of the bright moments that continue to float in my heart and mind.
Getting to look Rathanak, Samnang big, and the others in their eyes and tell them how much God loves them.
Ry poking me in the arm to wake me up on the 10.5 hour bus trip, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
Srey Mom’s big smile when I gave her a bead bracelet
Seeing Jim rock out as the chief at the cultural center while our whole team and 30 kids whooped and laughed and applauded.
Pichhing patting and holding the hand I had draped over his shoulder.
Pony, who was timid at first running up for a hug with her shy smile.
Playing who-can-poke-who-in-the-side with Rathanak, a 16 year old boy who is just the definition of sweet with the world’s biggest smile (even though he probably wouldn’t love hearing that)
Devotional time with my team
Getting to know Kristie, who has moved here, and is the older sister the boys have longed for and now finally have.
Sieng Hai grinning as I took his hand and we walked hand in hand through the ruins. And then telling a tourist, when asked, that no he is not my son, but he is the son of my heart. And knowing it is true.