We can’t go "back to normal"…

…but perhaps we can go forward as people changed by the experience we’ve shared. Hello. My name is Jennifer Perlick and I’ve just returned with the Phnom Penh team from my first mission trip. When I applied to be a part of this team in November 2012, I was coming off a personal low and I was looking to serve as a way to forget about my own situation. I’d heard Andy preach many times about serving in our local and global community, and I figured it was time to see what it was all about. Many people who serve and volunteer in various capacities will tell you that serving does more for them than they are able to do for others. Oh how true! As I acclimate myself back to Atlanta time, I can’t help but look at the clock and think about what we would be doing at that point on Cambodia time. I’m reminded of being greeted by the smiling faces as we got off the bus each morning, the sweet voices of Srey Lin, Srey Mom, Pony, and Chea as we held hands in a circle and shared our prayers in both English and Khmer, and the laughter of Peanut, Narin, and Samnang as they would run and play. These moments stop me in my unpacking process as I prepare myself to return to my regular routine next week. I had the luck of being roommates with Tiffany on this trip. She and I are both public school teachers (she teaches 5th grade and I teach 8th grade special ed math). She reminded me while in Cambodia that she and I are privileged to get to work with kids every day. How lucky are we?! We get to do what we did in Cambodia, every day back home! So as I prepare to start another school year with Georgia teenagers, I can’t simply go back to my usual teaching routine. The loved shared by our kids in Cambodia must be paid forward to my kids here. Perhaps the biggest lesson that the kids in Phnom Penh taught me was to love others the way that they need me to love them. The teens in my classes here may not hold my hand and talk to me as our kids in Cambodia did in new situations. In fact, my kids here will likely act out in times of unfamiliar and uncertain situations. So I may not show my love for my kids here in the same way that I could love our kids in Cambodia, but I can love my kids here in the way that they need me to love them. Maybe we could all do that…love those in our daily lives at home in the way that they need us to love them.

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