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They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23


Are you a risk taker? Most cross-cultural workers are by nature. Why else would they leave behind the security and comforts of family, excellent health care, toilet paper always available in bathrooms, and predictable utilities and services and paved roads with footpaths… Not too many cross-cultural workers however are quite in the same league of risk taking as some of the drivers and motorbike riders in Cambodia. Most Khmer have never completed a driving test or studied road rules. This doesn’t prevent them from getting on a motorbike up to 125cc capacity (totally legally) or even behind the steering wheel of a car (somewhat illegally without a licence).

Living for over two years in Cambodia we have come accustomed to dealing daily with risky driving manoeuvres. Driving on the right side of the road (as opposed to the wrong side which is on the left in Cambodia) is an easy adjustment, but not so easy is facing oncoming traffic, finding a path through multiple spontaneous ‘lanes’ of traffic at intersections, and our favourite, making space for vehicles pulling out into traffic at full speed without looking to see if anything might be coming! These are everyday occurrences on the increasingly crowded roads, also shared with pedestrians, cows and dogs. We have mostly become accustomed to the traffic with a sense of humour and managing to smile back at most of the crazy near-miss situations we have encountered, but there is a serious side to Cambodia’s roads. The Cambodian accident and death rates significantly exceed Australia, despite a smaller population. The government is seeking ways to address this situation through introduction of laws and education. We came across the below road education sign that a computer spell check hadn’t picked up and had us scratching our heads a little when the phrase ‘don’t take a risk’ was accidently written on a sign to read “don’t take a rusk” in English. Some of the English translations in Cambodia help to keep us in good humour if nothing else.
Of course, there are some activities that are worth taking a risk over. While preparing this newsletter we came across this article on the Global Interaction web site. It is a much better written article than ours on the ‘risky-business’ of mission.
This past month we successfully escaped a little of the extreme hot season weather with a break close to water. Rob’s language nurturer found it hard to believe that we could consider more than three days of holiday at the one time. It also felt a good break from all of the local festivals and weddings of this season. Our local Khmer friends tell us they are exhausted by the frequency of the local festivals at present as well. Before we left though there was Khmer New Year in Khmer script ចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី pronounced Jhoul Chnam Thmey, literally means enter new year, it is the biggest festival of the year. Celebrated in the hottest season of Cambodia between rice seasons and a quieter period when the Khmer can gather with families in their homeland. We celebrated this festival in different ways with our Khmer friends and their families. Part of this at our village level was the washing of the elders. Somehow we qualify and we were invited into sharing as elders for these family ceremonies. This tradition is called Sraung Preah ស្រង់ព្រះ and entails all the elders lightly dressed sitting on chairs with the younger generations together pouring perfumed water, others shampooing our hair, some soaping us up, some scrubbing our toenails, rinsing us off and later putting fragrant powder on us. The elders respond saying blessings and sharing wisdom verbally over the youth. We are privilege that with your support we can share in these traditions with our Khmer friends and share God’s love in ways the Khmer can understand. Our Khmer friends are grateful for your supporting us to live among them.

Interpreting what is a rusk and what is a risk?
Washing of the ‘elders’
We have had some refreshing leave.
For the change of seasons and some needed rain.
For new opportunities of team families moving to nearby neighbourhoods to us.
For team families as they explore options for platforms to meet visa requirements.
For safety for all team members on the road.
For each of our children as they navigate life whilst we as parents are a long distance away.