On going to Cambodia with my sister

I have the wonderful opportunity again to join with Samaritan’s Purse on an overseas trip that will enable me to tell important stories. This will be my third writing trip with them, first was to refugee camps in South Sudan, then an Operation Christmas Child trip to Senegal, and now a water filter installation trip to Cambodia on May 15.

Each trip has been so different from the other and such a gift to me personally and professionally. My undergraduate degree (oh so long ago!) is in International Development Studies. I care about the Majority World (who doesn’t?). And I love being in the Church there. It is alive and breathing and stretching and growing, and it picks you up and holds you close and says: “Thank you for being here, and allow me to remind you that all that stuff that you are so freaked out about back home doesn’t matter all that much.”

When I am overseas, especially when I am there for the purpose of writing, I feel like the lamp in the corner that someone thought to plug in to the wall. Click. I am fully on.

There are some things these trips hold in common, no matter the spot on the map: vehicles stuck and schedules thrown out the window, baking like bread (puffy, moist, white bread) in the unrelenting heat, the incredible fun of meeting children, the new friends you make in the group you are with, the stark revelations to near-strangers about what is happening with your bowels, the disbelief and exhaustion when you get home that you have been and back. How hard it is to describe and how brief the moment to share to your slightly impatient listeners — who love you, but “Honestly, enough already!” they are quietly thinking.

But this trip to Cambodia? This one will be forever different from all others because my sister Miriam is coming with me. She has signed up and is raising funds to help pay for the water filter. This will be a new kind of adventure for her, and for me too with her beside me. I anticipate a level of fun that will at times probably be inappropriate. I will ask her to massage my legs on the long plane ride, I just know I will. I’ll do the same for her. I can’t wait to watch her play with the kids who will be at the school where the water filter is going, because she is a kind kid magnet and I smile to think of it. Hopefully we won’t get in a big yelling fight where we chase each other around pulling each other’s hair and stuff. But that hasn’t happened for 40 years. We’ll be fine. Better than fine.

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