Friday, March 16, 2007

Thoroughly cupped

It’s Friday night in Phnom Penh, and I’m enjoying a lonely night out on the town. There are few activities available for foreigners alone at night in Phnom Penh that will not contribute the early demise of one’s marriage or one’s life; blogging is one, so I’m going to spend the next hour or so attempting to do so.

I’m at the bar in KWest Steakhouse, an upscale and well-airconditioned restaurant on Sisowath Quay. I’ve exchanged the sounds of street hawkers and motodops for those of cocktail shakers and cappuccino machines, and I must say, I’m enjoying myself. In about an hour, I’ll be hitting the road again, making my way through the batpoo-loony traffic, back to our big, empty guesthouse.

I had a great day today, by the way. I can’t go into details here, but God is giving back some of what our enemy has stolen. I visited the site of our new orphanage in Prek Eng, a few kilometers outside of Phnom Penh. I was greeted by Sopang, our orphanage director who had, in a previous life, worked for us at our first orphanage in Phnom Penh. He was joined by his wife, his son Victor and two girls I thought I’d never see again, Srey Pet and Ti-da. He told me, Sophat will join our orphanage soon. Again, I can’t go into details, but I love Sophat, and I never thought I’d see him again.

“Sophat is at school,” he said. “Oh, I wish I could see him!” I exclaimed. “My wife will go get him now,” Sopang offered. A few minutes later, Sophat arrived, his eyes and smile as bright as I had remembered them. “Hello, Daddy John. I love you, and I missed you.” “Oh, I missed you too, Sophat. I am so happy to see you!”

For the next hour and a half, Ali and I played with the kids. We chased them, wrestled with them, and played whatever games we could think of. Before I left, I promised Sophat that he would never again be without a home, and never again go hungry. I would rather die than break that promise.

Feeling a bit exhausted and under the weather, we returned home after a short lunch. Pheakday, Srey Mom, Srey Houn and Sana met us at the guest house. They took us to a small shop offering traditional Khmer health remedies. Ali and I both received an hour’s worth of cupping (Look it up. It doesn’t hurt, but leaves some great marks), while the Khmer ladies all got massages.

Feeling dazed and thoroughly ‘cupped,’ we went to find a place that Pheakday had heard was roasting coffee. We wound ourselves through busy streets and alleys and found ourselves in front of a small open air café. A man sat on the ground and turned the crank on an old, manual, wood-fired coffee roaster. I negotiated a price for half a kilo, and returned to the guest house. I immediately ground the coffee and made a cup. It was terrible. Awful. How on earth can fresh-roasted and well-brewed coffee taste so bad? I have no idea, but I’m more and more convinced that we need to start a roastery eventually to support our café.

We then drove to the orphanage and ate dinner with Narun and Sophal. After dinner, the kids had a Bible Study. Understood about 8 words, but was blessed beyond measure. These kids are great. Their parents at the orphanage are great. They’ll do just fine.

Tomorrow we’re going to spend the day playing with the kids. In the morning, we’ll hang at the orphanage. After lunch and a nap, we’ll go to the stadium to play soccer and badminton. After that, I’m having dinner with Leakhna and her brother Nera, and Ali is going with the students to minister at a state-run orphanage.

Our days are full, and I’m getting a lot done. On Monday, I’ll sign some papers with the Ministry of Social Affairs. It’s a big deal, and I have to wear a suit. It may end up on the evening news. Good stuff – Dave never gets to do this sort of thing; he always leaves town right before the papers are ready, and I get stuck wearing the big boy clothes.

I’ll be leaving on Friday. I’m ready to see my family and get back to work, but I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye to these kids. I’m as close to them as I’ve ever been to a group from our other orphanages. It’ll be hard, but it’ll be time.

Well, I should go. I want to get home and get some sleep. Much love.


Anonymous said...

wow, sounds sweet. Jeff and I made it back fine; no issues traveling at all.

I'm at my parents now...wish I were there now, oh well. Sounds like you are doing well...I'm praying that you and Ali stay healthy for the remainder of the trip...and the kids and the students at the center. Remind the kids for me that I'm thinking of them :)

alright john, i'll see you soon.

- Jordan

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John, for such a wonderful journal ...........

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you and Allison soon.

Great to hear that Jeff is back and well, isn't it.