Tuesday, February 28, 2006

5 Loaves and 2 fishes

We all know this parable very well, God feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Yesterday during devotions, Nigel (an expatriate here) was talking about how God could easily come up with his own food, perform a miracle single handedly instead of using the 5 loaves and 2 fishes that was available then.

Am I available? Am I willing to surrender my little? If we give our 5 loaves and 2 fishes to God, it can be used by Him to touch more people than I can ever imagine. This is the first time that I am seeing this from this perspective. This story has always be told to me to show God's miraculous ways. Everything of this world screams to keep one's own for one self. Why do you want to share it? You need to survive in this big bad world! Invest what you have for yourself! ... But a perfect and amazing God would consider my small insignificant gifts and want to work along side me to bless people. Working along side God. Wow. :)

Yup. that's all the deep stuff you are getting today. Life in Cambodia is simpler. Less sophisticated and "cool".. More genuine, honest and sincere. Sure you get the fluff as you will in all cities of the world, but the majority of the people here are still very dan1 chun3 (pure and simple in mandarin) - expressing self in mandarin. gee. I am not sure whether I can live like this forever, I do enjoy my urban life, being able to go out at night without stigma, people that understand me for who I am without too much effort, great infrastructure etc.. But at this juncture in life, I am really happy zipping around in motordubs without constantly being judged by how I dress and look. :) Blessed I know I am.

So more about my beach trip. I think that as I visit more places, sights become similar in nature. A beach more often than not, has sand, some palm trees, water, (with luck it is clear), a horizon and some huts(that is if you are not at home). As such, what defines a good trip is the interaction that takes place at the site whether it is a solitary one like reading, drawing, muling, taking photographs or of a more gregarious nature such as this one.

We played many silly games that were played in primary school and I think that I have not grown up much since as I still enjoy these games till now. These folks enjoyed singing and joke telling for the whole bus ride (which lasted about 5 hours), another colleague asked what would it be like if the bus is filled with Singaporeans instead. I said that there will be little whispers and people will most probs be listening to their ipods or zen! :P

The lowest point of this trip must be falling ill. though I must say that I am spoilt at the present hotel that I am staying at and this has caused the one at the beach to be pale in comparison ...hee... ok. back to fallin ill. I think it must be the seafood that I ate at the beach... We had whole sotongs, crabs, payaya salad with preserved crab and rice... This was all cooked by ladies walking around with their mobile charcoal cooker. People who know me know that my stomach is probably my weakest link and after a long bus ride with insufficient sleep, I should have been wiser to choose something else to eat but everybody was having that and I didnt want to be difficult.(plus its the beach of course we will have seafood!) So,doing what the cambodians do, I ate the food, swam in clothes, (that's very hard to do. reminds me of swimming lessons, but I didnt want to draw attention, so nope. no bikinis and its likes though the sun was great) played ball and talked. It was good fun. Wholesome... till nightfall came and it was time to sleep...

Popped charcoal and parcetamol before i turned in. Woke up super hot and prayed really hard. Didnt want to be sick! Ate more paracetamol and in the morning, was feeling faint. not the kind that people pretend to have.. Was feeling really bad.. I was trying to wash up but walked out to lie on my bed instead.. Couldnt really move. :( Anyway, to cut the story short, went to the local doctors, was quite cute. I just kinda told them that I was feeling ill and the symptoms and they prescribed me some medicine. :)

Glad to say that after a while, I felt strong enough to play and was having fun again. :P It was a good trip and having colleagues attempt to speak to me in english has definitely helped!

Oh! I had my first ride on a vespa yesterday! Hee. Big grin! :) Went out for dinner with 2 other regional colleagues and it was good fun.

Need to pray for my colleagues. The devil comes to steal and destroy. Will not let him do it... Today is a "I am blessed day". But I need to be a blessing today. I will be going back end of next week and will come back here again in april for 1 month. cambodia is growing on me.. I am liking it! :P

Thursday, February 23, 2006

life in cambodia

Am sitting down at my table, going to start work soon. This week is a bit slower as I am still waiting for replies from people. And with none of them now, not easy to start anything.. Oh well. (I can always file my emails, reply emails of old etc...)Procrastinating.. :P ( But if i don't how are u going to get an update?)

This week has been a bit slower and less fascinating than the previous week. Well, good to settle I know but I need to start finding something to do in the evenings.

Activites in Phnom Penh follow the sun. At 6am (yeah I know, CRAZY! Why are people up so early), people are bustling around and work starts... I saw the sun rise today. Whenever I see that, I think, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning. So It is a great way to start my day...(though I will have aches from a crappy pillow,a hard bed that I am still not very acquainted to, irrational fears that somebody will barge into my room, yea, irrational)

After waking up and washing up and the most difficult task of deciding what to wear, I am finally sitting down for breakfast (it is a buffet, but the food doesnt change and it is mostly oily)- I have a hard boiled egg-white, a little baguette - I never fail to be intrigued to see baguettes sold on the road side (I associate baguettes with wealth for some reason), orange juice and fruits...

Breakfast last a whole of 7 min as I have a driver (Yeah, my own personal driver! - as if) to pick me up. Haha, on the first day when yi tse my colleague was still around, I thought our driver to be very good looking. haha. I think that Cambodian men are good looking. well more so than the girls here.. But thats just me.. and shhh... :P.

Back to my good looking driver. Quite funny la. Yi tse says he looks like Gurmit Singh. (ouch! Do I have that bad taste).. Hmm, perhaps the darker and more handsome version of Germit. but not tall. Okie, enough of that talk. (I do have substance too!...) He picks me up in the morning at 730 to reach work at 735. Feels like a school bus and this makes sure that I am NOT late. haha.. yesterday we tried to converse a bit.. and when I alighted. I wished him "have a nice day" but he did not understand me. So I said, have a happy day and he laughed. haha. Happy day. Today, as I was alighting, he asked me whether I am happy today. I said Yup and he said he is not.. awwww. :( But oh wells. I asked him to be happy and left the car.

Work in the office here stretches from 730 and 5. So long!!! Haha, I am not a workaholic. :) Oh wells. Writing this during work hours. tsk tsk. Naughty girl.. But but. waiting for people to reply. Will work again after this. Work best in stressful situations. So dumb, then I so stress I cry. Silly.

Haha. see how i glide through talking about work.. (nothing too sensational there).. Lunch time. Eating with the other HR colleagues here. Quite fun. Haha. we eat khmer food. (what else). Hmm. I think that it is an accquired taste. Not like thai where since young I was exposed to it... Khmer food has influence from Thailand and chinese. SO the outcome is quite funny. hah. I am still getting used to it...

My favourite activity so far is riding a motordub. This is their motorcycle taxi. So basically I am just a pillion rider. Haha.. So fun. (cheap thrill I know) the feeling of the edge (literally) etc. hahaha. sorry... I am confined in safe sterile singapore way too long.. haha. My dad better not read this. Else he worries. :) hee

I need to think about activities to do at night. Cannot sit and watch star movies.. ahaha. NOOOOO. Not good. Rotting away. But but. people here follow the sun. and we live in the tropics. So, no long days for me.. Hmm. think tonight I will go on a cyclo and tour the city or something.

This weekend,I will be going to a beach resort with my colleagues. Should be fun but I am a little scared. Just a little. Found out that there will be a few here who cant really speak the Language. So.. that's good.. I will have someone to talk to, :P

Was thinking yesterday whether I talk to everybody who talks to me especially when I am in a foreign place.(I don't mean polite meaningless chatter) But I realise that NOPE! haha. not that "loose", dunno how else to put it haha. People that I eventually "click" with are good people, one way or another. They contribute to, complement, a side of me which to me is very alluring. But yet I need to be careful to not let my heart "stray"... Not to be double minded. haha. if you are going "huh?!?!?". I would say well done, you are normal and not as crazy as me... But oh wells. Choices that you make results in the consequences you have to live with, but yet I am not to be afraid of these consequences and not be decisive. All that is asked of me is to Seek God and His righteousness.

Seek God = Submit everything to him. Put him first. (easier said than done).. Not to think, psycho self that "GOD WILLS IT", like Kingdom of heaven hee. Hmm. Sometimes so easy to think that.. hmmm..

His Righteousness = "Whatever is good, pure, holy.. Think of such things". (In Philippians) So difficult to think of such things sometimes. Well. Easier to think negative, complain etc.. Oh wells. Who says that this is meant to be easy?

I need to work, enough procrastinating. Sorry. Tried hard to post photos but but.. It doesnt work. I think my photos are too BIG! hah. Internet here not fast enough so it takes a loonngg time!

As I started out the blog entry with description of my day, may I end with the night stars.. As Phnom Penh has less light pollution, stars tend to be more visible.. Whenever I look at the stars, am thinking of that song, somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light ( and the twinkling stars), someone's thinking of me, and loving me tonight... And I am thinking of you too. Take care, God bless. Do Not worry about tomorrow as tomorrow will worry about itself (hah, this verse was told to me long ago by someone who used to mean a lot a lot to me.. hah. I hope someone is doing good...)

Back to work!

Monday, February 20, 2006

My first week in Cambodia

I know this is way past due. Had a very busy week. Busy with meeting people, places and creating new experiences. How do I like Cambodia? I am not quite sure yet, each day evokes different sentiments. This place’s economy is run by aid, which I find highly disturbing. If you work for an NGO, wages will probably be higher than if you work for a government body or a private company.

I started the week with dinner with my colleague Yi Tse and another colleague Neil. Neil is the Micro Finance Credit Director (I hope I got his title right) for the Tsunami office. It was quite fun I must say. He has had a very interesting life. Working for the royal force, the prison, publishing company, and now World Vision. We talked about the stability that a family can give you, and with this stability it gives you the opportunity to do more in life. We talked about funny life experiences too, and how it adds colours to one’s life. It was a good night.

The next day was our first day at World Vision Cambodia Office. Our first stop was with the Advocacy Manager. He talked about the work of World vision in Cambodia. It was a very meaningful meeting. The rest of the day was spent with different people and honestly, after the third meeting, I was not absorbing most of what was introduced to us. In gist, they shared about their Child Protection Policy, Children Sponsorship program, HR policies (Yes, I am after all in HR…) etc. At night, I spent a very nice valentines’ day dinner with Yi tse at a very romantic setting. The place was really quite nice.

I guess the action really started on Wednesday. We went to a Trauma Recovery Center where girls are brought. These girls have been trafficked or raped. They range from 6 to about 18 and they stay there for about 1 year before they are reintegrated back to society. It is quite a provocative place. It justifies the hard work of NGO stuff, but yet one wonders if this is enough. One of the biggest challenges in these shelters are that there aren’t enough of them around. There are still girls who do not have any place to go even after the social worker rescues them. Corruption is still prevalent. Some police officers are so corrupted that they go to the shelter and demand the girls back. Nevertheless, there are successful cases. Some girls have since tried to have a normal life with a new hair dressing shop, or a new tailoring job.

The next day we went to check out the HIV aids project that WV does. Our first stop is at a small village. There we see a group of women sitting together. This is one of the work that we do. Congregate the women and then talk about the different kinds of treatment that they can have. It is just like a care group for these women. We asked them how they got their virus and no guesses for the right answers… Yes their husbands went to the city to work and when they got home, they fell very ill and yes, the rest you know. Our next stop was to see a children’s club. They were learning about Children’s rights. Final stop was to a small village to see the children in the community. We went to 2 separate ones. One was a little boy who had the virus and was staying with his grandmother as both his parents are no longer around. I think this boy is very ill now. If I remember my biology well, I think it is Kaposi Sacroma.
The community was very vibrant and the children were the most endearing. They were very happy for us to take a photo of them. As they were from the village, they were not the most fully dressed and had to wear some clothes before we could take a photo. It was really quite a pleasant experience. After this little boy, we went to another family where the mother is living with her son and daughter. The mother has the virus and is rather ill. The land they stand on is away from the road and they do not have much support from their neighbouring villages. It is quite unfortunate as they were in a rather pathetic position if I can say. The boy has to catch frogs to make sure that they have enough to eat. How can one even begin to understand the magnitude of this issue? Can I blame the government for what is happening to the people? Can I blame men for being men? It was all very heart renching and I felt very small. I really do not know what is the optimum amount of help that should be provided.

The next day was spent in the office again. Not very much drama to consider… J We went to the Russian Market after that and really, should you not mind the smell, the heat, there is a real bargain for factory clothes… Today was spent on touristy things again! (It will no longer be today when I finally post it up)

First stop was the killing fields. This was where about 9000 people were killed, or known to the less informed travelers (like yours truly) as the place where there are many skulls. Stepping out of the car and one can sense the deep sense of sadness in the place. We bought the ticket and a tour guide brought us around and explained the history behind it. It has indeed made the visit a more rich, rewarding one. So how do I feel besides sad? The constant feeling that I feel here is that nothing is fair, and life without God is never in its fullest (and fullness does not mean perfect) After killing fields, we did the more light hearted alternative shopping. Yi tse left and I bummed the afternoon and spent the evening in Jomil’s place.

It is Sunday now, pardon this confusing blog entry, internet is expensive so I am doing everything on word first… Went to an International Christian Fellowship run by AOG. It is amazing to see people of different colour, shape and size praising God together. (Jesus Loves the little children, all the children of the world!) I think that this must be what Heaven is like. Was dropped at the riverside after this. Sat by the river and saw children taking a little shower, people fishing, people on little boats. Hmm., I think that I am painting a very romantic picture of what life here is like. Walked around little shops after that and walked into this silk shop that has products made by handicapped people (This is here as I need to justify my purchase- even after buying 3 other bags at central market. Hee) I had a very lovely chat with the lady at the shop as she was practicing her English on me and I was quite happy to oblige having nothing much planned for the rest of the day. And yes, I decided to indulge myself yet again and bought another bag!!! I cant take it, silk pretty bags are relatively cheap, clothes from GAP, Ambercrombie for like $2, 3, etc. What can I do? It is all quite tantalizing to buy these clothes from little markets where scents of pig, bananas and sweat are all rolled in one!
Ok, on with the day, as I walked down the riverside, I decide that I need to have lunch and as I walked down, I sat in an NGO food place. Just as I was about the sit down, I saw a lady asking for money. Another subject that is worthy of discussion.

You know how people say teach the man to fish and not give the man a fish? I realize that that this teaching process is very complicated. First, who do you teach? Corruption often takes away the money that is needed for teaching. Even if the money is intact, people often have very varied views on how should one teach? Different “teachers” have different ideals, different methods on what’s the best way to teach fishing. This creates so much mess, so much confusion. At the end, the man may not really know to fish at the end of all that training. Way too complicated to learn.

Hence I did the grave sin today and I gave the man a fish. Remember the lady asking for money? I invited her for lunch with me. She was very young, had a younger girl beside her and little baby on her lap. As she came, she ordered Coke and fried rice. (talk about globalisation: Coke?!? sheesh) This created quite an uproar and other street kids came running to me asking for a meal too.. Well not all, another little girl, who says that she is their sister wanted to be included in the party too. We all had the meal together. As we were eating, a very pretty young Cambodian girl selling books started talking to us. She speaks good English and this is a brief of our conversation.

PG (Pretty Girl): Where are you from?
Me: Singapore
PG: Oh, how old are you?
Me: 23 (I have learnt that it serves me well to kind of inflate my age a little)
PG: Do you have a boyfriend
Me: Yes
PG: No, not good to get man from same country! Must choose from America, UK or Australia, the men there are good.
ME: *giggles* Why?
PG: They are rich, good must choose from them.

It’s amazing how these little children are so sharp. I wonder where she got her information from. I told her that I thought the Americans proud (wondering if she knew what rich meant). She said that it was alright, as they were rich. I am a little sad that most of these children will not be able to have what I have (and I really do not have very much)… People argue about what Jesus meant when he said that the poor you will always have. Hmm, isn’t it all that obvious? Why is there so much argument? We live in a very fallen world. Stuff like these are bound to happen. What can I do? This world is so imperfect. I am sometimes frustrated because I cant further my studies NOW (hee) because of financial constraints, and yet these children are not able to get a basic education because it is too expensive.

Jomil asked what did I learn from my orientation. I told her that I learnt that people survive in their imperfect situation and make the best with what they have. Yes, I really wish for everything to be perfect. Yes, I know that people try their best. And I guess that’s sufficient for God. Wow if you manage to finish this entry. It is Sunday afternoon and I am not sure that I want to go out. I do not want to spend money!!! (Spent way too much today) Thank you Lord for this opportunity. Thank you for letting me see every facet of this imperfect world. I pray that you will show me more and more to be more like you. Teach me how to be friends of the poor, to give them their deserved dignity and the respect that they require.

Till my next entry, take care folks. I will be good and try my best to not get too rip off (yes I know that I already am, but but.. the children have a special way in my heart.. and I do not ever want to be hardened with the poor!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

How should One live?

Total surrender to God. Love compels us.
But a war is raging inside. A restlessness that slowly evades the soul only to leave one feeling desperate, seeking something that they cannot fathom.
Is this a healthy emptiness. For me to know that I am nothing without God? Or is this a too many worldly notions in my head,... that I will not be able to pass through the eye of a needle.

Dear God. Please help me to be content. I have many dreams. MANY. Hmm. Sometimes I wonder, are they given by God? cos all good and perfect gifts come from God. Or are they soulish, selfish in Nature.. Created by my fallen nature.. Hmm. ok. Wad are these dreams right? To be happy. Boss says she has given up on being happy. She is just joyful.. (peace in her heart). Hmm. Happiness. Is that a very selfish thing? Gah. So wad makes me happy? Silly things. Yes. I am a dreamer. I want to fly away.. perhaps to the moon?

Ok, gibberish I know. Sorry. Hmm. Watching Cayote Ugly.. Oh oh right. Something very worldly.. (thoughts of yesterday)

On a lighter chirpier note. Today was quite a happy day! :) Played board games with my fish's colleagues. Hee. Engineers are very different from my colleagues. (Fish cos colleague says he is a good catch.. that would make him good sashimi...) After that, I watched gilmore girls. (yes I adore that show. so querky, girly and funny)... :) Went for dinner and we just talked. Played with our laptops and all. Hmm. something very sweet and blissful in that. Just talks, listening to songs, laughing at the lamest jokes and even praying together. I have established that I desire loads of attention. hee. Thank God that he does not despise for me being like that.. :)

Many thoughts. Excited about Cambodia. I am going to Cambodia in 1 week. Pray that it will be a good time. I am a little apprehensive. I will be fine. I know. Each time I do something by myself. I feel that much more confident, that much more free.. hee. indescribable feeling. So hard to assimilate back to real life again after that! :)

To not be captivated by the things of this world.. the worldly things that charm me most.. Teach me to be focussed on the best things in life..

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.- Romans 12:1-2.

Amen amen and amen!

Friday, February 03, 2006

What I want...

I want to love God.
I want to be happy. To not feel weird feelings in my belly...
I want to be wise. To know what is the best thing to do in sticky situations
I want to be at peace. To know that all is good.
I want you to smile. I want my dress. I want a camera. I want to be more brave. More of God to help with my deep insecurity.

All these wants.. Ultimately I dont want the guilt that I want too much...

Haha. Be still and know that he is God i should! nite world. will write again soon!