Hey, this is Caleb, the Smith’s MTW intern for this Summer.
For half of every year, the Country of Cambodia is exactly twelve hours ahead of eastern time (eleven hours ahead during EDT), which means that I am about as close to being on the other side of the globe from home as possible. Weird thought. Anyways, here’s some interesting stuff that’s been happening!
The four connecting flights were a good time. If you’re remotely curious, please read my Open Thank-You Letter to Qatar Airways for some thoughts. It was too much to write in one post.
PFT is a brief conference at Georgia State University where many of Mission to the World’s Summer interns meet to discuss a variety of topics related to our work for the Summer. Though I was aware of some things I will be experiencing in Cambodian culture, I hadn’t even considered many of the moving pieces regarding immersion in such a radically different country. Our time was spent discussing a plurality of topics including culture shock, adaptation, conflict resolution, child protection, how to ask the right questions, and much more.
What is that culture shock thing and how does it work, you ask? Frankly, I would be lying if I pretended to remotely know the answer before I’ve even spent a week in Cambodia, but I can tell you this: While in Hamad International Airport in Qatar, I experienced the desire to listen to country music. Like to actively seek out country music… and listen to it. If you don’t want that to happen to you, I can’t say that I would suggest traveling alone to the other side of the globe.
Undoubtedly, the best part of PFT was the chance to meet a lot of really amazing people going to places all over the world to do similar work for MTW and the gospel. Just from my group, there were people going to Japan, Canada, Belize, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Cherokee Nation. It was so exciting to meet so many people who are passionate about God’s work all around the world.
What’s up now?
Luke and Sokha Smith’s baby was born! They’re baby boy, Asa, was born yesterday in the afternoon about an hour before I arrived. Please be praying for Sokha’s recovery and the transition back to the village.
Personally, this week is a crash course in Cambodian (Khmer) language and culture before I get to go to the village with the Smith’s. This morning, I was given a short lesson by a Cambodian team member on the do’s and don’ts of general interactions. I also had the opportunity to visit S-21, a prison used to by the Khmer Rouge to carry out genocide in the late 1970’s (the Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of over one quarter of Cambodia’s people during its reign; visit http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/history/cambodian-history/khmer-rouge-history/ if you would like to find out more).
This afternoon, I also had one of the three Khmer tutoring sessions that last two hours each. I never realized how consistently I zone out during my classes until today. With tutoring, you markedly do not get that luxury. I imagine language tutoring is kind of like being interrogated by a foreign customs officer, except they’re not suspicious of you, but they are deeply concerned about the way you keep on using your throat to pronounce the “dteh” sound. Shout-out to Nara for an unbelievable amount of patience.
Lastly, tonight I had the chance to grab dinner with almost the entire MTW Cambodia team. They are pursuing the Lord in an incredibly inspirational way and are so passionate about learning from and giving back to the people of Cambodia. Joyfully, they are welcoming me with open arms, taking me into their homes, supporting me, and are laughing along side me as I make a fool of myself here.
Thank you all for your prayers and support,