Earlier this week I spent a rainy afternoon reading a fantastic blog by a fellow globe-trotting traveler, https://expeditionhobo.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/the-end-of-the-road-santa-monica-pier/.
Whoa, I actually visited a few countries mentioned, and Jem…they are truly, truly, truly outrageous! He asked for reader suggestions, and I hoped to offer some place special where he could make memories of a lifetime. My travels have taken me many, many places, across five different continents. I finally settled on…Cambodia.
What! Wait, why? Here’s the background:
My grandmother, God rest her soul, was known to be generous to a fault. Not the here’s a buck until you get on your feet generous. She was the real deal growing up people! The stay at my house, let me feed you dear, accompany you to the doctor and pray with you until things get better type of generous woman. Growing up there were people constantly staying with us “for a while,” and it didn’t seem odd at all that they came and went until I married and started my own family.
As a young wife and mom I changed, and became laser focused on my immediate household. If it didn’t concern the individuals within the four walls of my home I didn’t look twice, but during one family visit I noticed my Grandma was sick and it terrified me. She was dying, and I selfishly was not ready. When what I later describe as a complacency fog slowly began to lift off my life, I started praying for her and noticed she was also praying for me! My memories of Grandma were always of her serving others, praying for them and praying for me. She would sing soft, sweet songs of praise and worship while cooking and cleaning, and talk to me about being humble and thankful for God’s blessings. As I grieved her passing, I became closer to God by asking for forgiveness for living such a closed and selfish life. One day during housework, I began to sing songs of praise, smiled and thought, Grandma’s here!
Shortly afterwards my travel for work increased, and I hoped for opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. During my travel throughout SE Asia, God answered every one of my prayers, and I returned home fundamentally changed.
Before arriving in Cambodia I knew its basic history, involvement in the Vietnam War and the genocide that claimed up to a quarter of its population. Nothing prepared me for the realization of actually visiting and working with men and women one generation removed from those events and elbow deep into rebuilding an entire government to modern day standards. From the humbleness of the medical students I worked with, to the gentleness and shyness of the children playing in what we would sadly describe as garbage dumps, I felt calm even in the midst of the many apologies everyone gave ME for arriving during the wet, rainy season. As if I controlled the weather!
Experiencing life through another’s eyes, and seeing how other cultures, faiths and norms exist just saturated the already deep and abiding love I have for my Grandma. I come from a long line of amazing women, and through faith and God’s grace can pass on the legacy of generosity to my children. My Grandma taught me with her life to pray, love and give. Cambodia opened my eyes to the reality of what man is capable of: heartache and resilience, beauty and redemption. Hopefully that makes it worthy of the Bucket List.
My prayer is that each of you has the opportunity to visit that special place, your Cambodia, where life shocks your socks and you’re forever changed. You are valuable, so special, and created for a purpose. You were created to live The Exceptional Life.