Friday, February 02, 2007

Settling In

Settling In

So we've been here a week now. This week has been somewhat long ... orientation and going through the handbook is never the most exciting part of a new program. We did have our first guest speaker -- Darlene Cunningham, the founder of YWAM. She was very good. We're reading her husband's book "Ís that really you God?"about the founding of YWAM back in 1960. It was good to hear the stories from the person IN person. I'm very much of an "I won't believe it unless I put my hand in his side" sort of person. It's hard for me to take someone's word for it. I'll publish a summary of her talk once I finish editing my notes -- oh how I love taking notes. I'm getting to be a bit notorious about my notebooks. I have my mini-spending log, my Khmai book, my Lectures book, my Lewis quote book, my Quiet Time journal, my personal journal, and the DTS journal we give to our small group leader once a week (feels a bit like AA that part). If Miles was worried that I'm not writing enough...

Teri! I forgot to tell you. Last week I went to the Assembly of God church. Our Khmai is bad, so we thought we were misunderstanding when people kept telling us, "It's Christmas today." After the service they took all the kids out to the classroom, and brought out the Operation Christmas Child boxes. (I looked, but I didn't see any of ours...I was hoping God would do a joke on us that way) I saw them get handed out, Teri!

A few days ago I asked Phally, my roommate to go to the market with me. It was my first extended one-on-one time with one of the new students. Phally is from Phnom Penh, and it is her first time in Battambang. I needed to go to the bookshop to get a new pen, and she wanted to buy some shoes at the Psah (market). True to Cambodian form, as we walked down the street together, she reached over and took my hand. "Oh my," I thought, "This means something totally different in my country." And we walked together, hand in hand. It was odd how it didn't feel odd. And no one was looking at us. I got a little uncomfortable with the close proximity after a while, and sort of shifted my big carry-all shoulder bag I bought so it was between us. Didn't stop her...she put her arm through mine and we walked, purses clunking, all over town. I am trying to adjust. I really am. I'm trying to get used to total strangers hugging me. I have not, yet, had anyone crawl into bed with me (Jessica has), or, for some unexplained reason, had someone pat my posterior for several minutes...Alissa still can't explain that. I think they know that Westerners are very private, but that doesn't seem to phase them at all. Wow, guys, by the time I come home I might actually be affectionate...wouldn't that be a nice change for my family?

Oh, and more lessons on food. Why is it FOOD is the hardest thing about being here. It's like the little girl with the curl. "When she was good she was very, very good; and when she was bad, she was horrid." I know I can plan on lunch of fruit and bread if someone uses the word 'delicacy.' Code word for - unpalatable for the Western Tongue. But, rice porridge with sugar and cinnamon, excellent for breakfast. Rice with sugar is a good dessert. Almost any soup can become a sauce when poured over rice. Avoid any dish where the meat has been chopped up with the bones in. Fish is not often deboned. Fried egg and fried rice days are always the best. Ramen with Chili powder is our Sunday Morning breakfast treat. Banana chips are a totally different animal when dried fresh and sprinkled with sugar. 'Se-yung' sauce (sweet chili sauce -- coined with the name of the person who won a contest last year of who could drink the most straight out of a cup) makes every meal great. And if push comes to shove, there's always fresh fruit and num-pung from the bakery.

This week we finally will be in our 'regularly scheduled activities' so we should start feeling at home here. I already do. Minus the dirt and the occaisional whiff of I-don't-want-to-know-what from the street.

Oh, and I've been assigned teaching an English Class for my work duty. We've been observing (Alissa is my co-teacher) but we'll start taking over the class after next week. 30-40 students at the intermediate level. How cool is that?