Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On we go

Sorry for not updating this in a while. It’s been a very challenging couple of weeks. But things are settled now, and I feel I’m able to write again.

I feel like I’ve settled into life here now. Weekly going into the office, where I have English and piano classes to teach, Sundays with church, and then the random shopping excursions at the market, or riding around town, or hanging out with expats or some of the people from here.

Sarah Chea, one of the Australian expats that was here for a couple months, left a week or so ago. We had a goodbye party for her at Pr Jesse and Soar’s house. I’ve never seen such a gorgeous house (although I’d seen it before 3 yrs ago when Pr Chuck and Cynde lived there). It’s surrounded by a wall, as all houses are here. When you enter, you see a small yard with green grass and beautiful flower and fruit trees and palm trees. There’s the most beautiful palm tree right in front of the huge entrance door. It looks like a Chinese fan. You walk in through the main door into this huge room with high ceilings which serves as living room, kitchen, and altogether living area. You can fit quite a few people comfortably in there. Yet it’s cosy at the same time. And they have a pool table in the middle of it too.

The outer walls are not closed walls. Instead, they’re made like a gate, with a mosquito screen as sole protection from the outer world. It keeps the house cool and airy. The other two walls are closed, but have doors leading into the 3 bedrooms and the most beautiful study room. It’s one of those houses that doesn’t seem that huge, but really is, and that looks so classy yet without being uncomfortable or rigid. You gotta see it to understand I think.

Last Friday, I went with Leap, Michelle and Marie (another expat) to the Russian marker, or Toul Tompong, for a bit of shopping. It was so incredibly hot and stifled in there. I tried on a couple brand name t-shirts over the shirt I was already wearing (no changerooms there) but nothing seemed to fit quite right, so I quit after only a few tries. Marie couldn’t be deterred though (she’s a real shopper girly girl) and she walked away with lotsa treasures. Brand name t-shirts that should cost $20 or more back home for $2,50. Right now, because it’s so hot, I prefer settling for Pink, a small store in the mall close to our house, where we can get the same deals, but with AC and a change room! Or there’s also the night market, where it’s much cooler. They have it every weekend by the riverside. I think Moo, Amber and I will be going this weekend, if all goes well.

The market is pretty amazing. Clothes and things are piled up high and tight, and with no apparent order to them. Yet somehow the vendors seem to now exactly where their stuff is. Only pictures can explain that properly. Some markets are really stinky though, especially where they sell food. There’s one near our house that’s open 24 hrs, so it never get cleaned properly. Rotten fruit and veggies (including Durian, the stinky fruit, which I have yet to dare try), fat and blood from the meat and fish, mixed in with sewage overflow from the toilets that don’t get cleaned properly. Even Cambodians often don’t dare to venture there, though it’s the cheaper of the markets, the wholesaler place. The mom where we live doesn’t like to go there. I’ve been close by, and some days you can really smell it. It’s known as the stinky market. Couldn’t imagine working there everyday!

Monday afternoon, some of us girls went for a traditional Khmer photo. It was awesome. Angie, Marie, Amber, Moo, Soar and I paid $15 to get all done up and have our picture taken. It was hilarious. Like a combination of 1980’s and asian style. They put little crease increasing stickers on our eyelids, and covered us in golds and reds, then put on the biggest fake eyelashes in the world – total eyelid workout – we call them spider legs, cause they’re huge, plastic and fake looking. You could barely see the white of our eyes by the time it was done.

Then the hair! Teased to the max, and with hair extensions too! Amber looked hilarious! She called her do a curled mullet. Several of us got crowns. Marie and I ended up with the same hairstyle, maybe cause people here think we look alike. I disagree, but definitely take it as a compliment. Marie is gorgeous.

Then we got our traditional Khmer outfits on. Definitely a work of art! The girls from the studio dressed us of course; there’s no way we could’ve done it ourselves.

It was such a fun afternoon; now we’re looking forward to seeing the pics!

Other than that, I’ve been focusing on my lessons, reading, and going swimming with Amber. She found a small pool at a hotel near our house that no one ever uses. It’s big enough to do a bit of a work out, yet really cosy and the water is beautiful. I got my first sunburn of Cambodia on Sunday there. No one is around so it’s really private. But it’s close enough to the stinky market that we can get whiffs of it here and there. Still, it was definitely worth it! Last time we went, on Monday, we got to swim with bats! They go there to drink the water. They didn’t bother us. It was after nightfall anyway, so it was their time I guess. It just made it interesting – never swam with bats before!

Personally, as I said, it’s been a hard few weeks. But I can see through it all that God is involved, and somehow He knows what’s best. Just this morning, I got an e-mail from Frances Coker back home telling me “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). Then I read an e-mail from Brianna that quoted the same scripture! Again I’m aware of God’s presence when things are tough.

Other than that, it’s fun to be here. Everyday is a bit of an adventure. My students are great. Some of my piano students are learning really well. A few of them come in to practice everyday. This morning, I taught my morning English class why it’s a bad idea to cheat. Simple things like that are just not taught in a culture where you can buy off marks and certificates. But they seemed to appreciate my concern and instruction this morning, even just the fact that I actually cared enough about their education to mention this... so hopefully those little seeds will bear good fruit. It's rare for teachers here to care about anything more than getting their paycheck. Most children haven't grown up with teachers who really wanted them to learn, and who believed in them.

Well, now I’m off to prepping for Bible classes tomorrow and Friday, and for one English class tomorrow. I have one piano student this afternoon. Onward we go!


Blogger saz =) said...

Noemie! Great to hear about what you've been up to lately! Swimming with bats? Sounds like an experience not to forget =)

And you girls DID get around to doing the photo! How funny and cute - can you email me the photo when you get it? I'd love to see it!

You are doing such a great job over there teaching - keep seeking God because he is all we REALLY have to rely on in an environment which is truly unpredictable! Not long to go now I believe, so make the most of your time and enjoy every moment (even the seemingly 'mundane' ones!) - because you remember them and have so many stories to tell once you get home =)

Sarah =)

7:02 AM  

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