Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sweet sorrow

Well, I haven't written much over the last few days; I've picked up a little flu or soemthing. Last night I had a pretty bad fever, and felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Tonight, I just feel a bit weak, and have sort of mushy intestines.

Today was our last day at the Battambang orphanage. Parting is always difficult, but this time, a little more so. I know I'm coming back, but this may be the last time my dad gets to visit Cambodia and the girl he sponsors, Chanthea. As we said our goodbyes, there were lots of tears. Little boys who were, a few moments before, playing football and striking kickboxing poses were wiping hot tears from their eyes, and clasping at our hands. "We love you, Daddy" many of them called out as we pulled away from the orphanage, down the long dusty road back toward the city.

I really can't say enough about how wonderful these kids are. I have a special place in my heart for the Battambang kids -- they were our very first orphans, and I really feel like I know many of the kids, understand their personalities and appreciate their differences. The staff is wonderful, and they love each of the children as their own. The local church is heavily involved in the care of the kids, and the kids are integrated at many levels in the church. The older kids are now taking positions of leadership as Sunday school teachers and childcare workers.

The orphanage really is one big, happy family. It really may be the best place on earth.

Battambang itself is pretty amazing right now as well. In November, rowing teams from all over the country descend on Phnom Penh for the annual Water Festival. This week, Battambang is having its own provincial festival, celebrating the local teams with races, fireworks and special activities. I've never seen the city so active and so festive. The streets are overflowing with revellers, their floats and their processionals. The floats actually do float. At nightfall, the celebrants put their candle-festooned handiwork on the river, which is lit up like a sidewalk full of Christmas lanterns.

Speaking of the river, we'll be heading up the Sangkre at 6:30am, and arriving (we hope) in Siem Reap at around noon. We'll be visiting Angkor Wat, the Bayon, and a few other significant temple ruins. Angkor merits its own post, and I hope to have pictures to you soon.

But now, I need to go to my hotel room and pack. And sleep. I'm beat.


dee said...

As usual your word pictures are wonderful, can't wait to see all the pics and the videos. We are praying for you all the time, feel better.


Sarah Sweigard said...

your pictures and entries have been amazing to look at and read. I have fallen in love with so many of those children just by the memories I have and the pictures you've taken. Thanks for going and loving on them. I wish I could have joined you. I hope you feel better tomorrow for your trip to Siem Reap. I'm praying for you.

John McCollum said...

Sarah, I am feeling better, thank you.

I hope you do come with me on one of my next trips.

Sarah Sweigard said...

Count me in. Please email me anytime you know about future trips at SS7YR05@yahoo.com or post on my blog: www.rippleeffect112.blogspot.com. Looking forward to going back