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So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7

Can you stand on one foot for more than 9 seconds? Can you walk up and down stairs without help, or draw a person with a body? Congratulations you have passed some of the age milestone tests of a four-year-old child! This month we passed the milestone of four years since making our home in Cambodia.

For the past four years we have been learning to speak and read the Khmer language, understand the social cues and rules of relationships of our host culture. The Khmer people are extraordinarily patient and complimentary of our often-awkward efforts to ‘grow up’ in their world. We have also had a few lessons in life perspectives.

One of the most important lessons has been to grow in humility. In our lives before Cambodia, we had some challenges along the way, but on the whole, we had been praised and encouraged in the day-to-day exercise of our competencies professionally. We could give advice and have our egos stroked regularly. Then four years ago we came to Cambodia and we didn’t even know how to ask where the toilet was!

Another life lesson has been to treat our inter-cultural lives with respect. It is an honour to be invited as a guest into another person’s home or another country. As Westerners with a set of qualifications and skills, it is easy to act as if people are fortunate to have us. We may have definite skills, but we are not God’s gift to another country. We are reminded in this season that we are not the gift, but God is. We are thankful in this season for the many privileges we have and even for the numerous ‘growing pains’ that remind us to respect what we have been given and the gift that we can share together.

One of the privileges we have as an accepted outsider in the village we call home is to be invited into the celebrations of people’s milestones like weddings, rice harvests, festivals and funerals. This month we participated in the largest funeral we have ever attended.

The elderly local Buddhist monk from the village where we live passed away. On the day of his cremation at least 2000 people gathered (all wearing COVID-19 safety masks) for the funeral procession. Over 500 monks lead the procession followed by hundreds of school children and the rest of the gathering of people from all over Siem Reap. Sharing in this walk through the village provided a way to express our care for our Khmer friends and seek to honour and respect them and what they see as important in their culture.

What an honour to be a four-year-old in this intercultural life in Cambodia. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged us, supported us and prayed for us through this growing process.

We are blessed to live with the people here.
These ancient temples are wrapped in jungle beauty.
Monk Om B last time sitting to share with us.
The funeral procession complete.
Everyday Deb’s friend Mrs J prepares several batches of filtered coffee ready for customers to her families rice shop.
For the Cambodian community cluster of Covid-19 currently being contained.
For this season to reflect on the true gift in our lives.
For your support over the past four years; sharing lives and love among the Khmer people.
For all team families to meaningfully share Christmas far from family.
For Cambodian team as we stretch in flexibility to meet both Australian & Cambodian governmental parameters.
For Godly wisdom in all our relationships, conversations and attitudes of the heart.