in no shape to be blogging

I know better than to blog when my emotions are raw, but you and I both know I’m going to do it anyway. I’ll start with a little recap of our last day in Cambodia and our trip home, and then maybe I’ll have enough brain cells left to articulate how I feel right this moment. As I stare out the window at solid white everywhere. I am so scared to leave this house. Still having nightmares of walking off the little hopper plane in Columbus in flip-flops to a windchill of 5 degrees.

So Thursday was our last day in Cambodia, and since our flight was scheduled for 11:50 pm, we had the whole day to wrap things up and say good-bye.

We started our day by taking a tour of the new Student Center that Narin and Quenie hope to start soon. It will provide free housing for university students in Phnom Penh who would otherwise have to live in a Buddhist pagoda or way out in the provinces, far away from school, or in not-very-good-at-all living arrangements. More on this later. It’s going to be incredible and an amazing way to reach out to the youth of Cambodia and share the gospel with them.

Then we headed to the Boys’ Center after two weeks off. The boys were soooooo excited to be back. The younger boys have play time from 9:30 to 10:30, then the older boys play from 10:30 to 11:30. It was so, so, so awesome to “help” them play with all the new toys and puzzles we brought. They tore through the giant floor puzzles and LOVED the mini etch-a-sketches and made great music with the maracas and tambourines and built cool things with the new blocks and played some mean games of Jenga.

Pure joy.

Then the staff gathered around us, laid hands on us, and prayed for us in Khmer. Well, Yvonne and Steph prayed in English, but I wasn’t close enough to them to hear. It was pretty stinking amazing to hear all those passionate voices praying in another tongue for our little family. Sigh.

We ate one last meal at Viejo Tonle (yum!) with Yvonne, Steph, and Panha. Then we skipped Kids’ Club so a feverish Livi could rest up for the orphanage. Gabe and I took a 2-hour pity nap with her while Ava and Nina played with Samantha, Daniel, Donna, David, and Dennis (Narin and Quenie’s kiddos) at the guesthouse.

Then we headed to the orphanage for a little good-bye celebration. Balloons, silly string, party poppers, glow bracelets, lots of hugs and giggles. We gave the kids (Sophan in particular) the new computer monitor we bought for them (with our Taviano Activity fund money–thank you!!). Theirs broke this week. We also bought some new drum parts for the older boys (Theara, Phalla) and some guitar strings for Somphors. They were so, so, so happy, and all the other kids were so happy for them too. It was beautiful. And we even had $20 left for them to get anything else they need.

The crying started before we even said good-bye. So sweet. I said a few words (Panha translated), then Gabe. Then, bless their hearts, Sophan, Sophy, Cheata, Pisey, and Savong all stood up and gave us a thank-you blessing (again, Panha translated) and Somphors gave his in English.

Then they all gathered around us and prayed out loud all at the same time (just like the Punlok Thmey staff). Sophan had his arm around my waist, and I held his hand, and the tears fell, and I thanked Jesus again and again and again.

Then we all hugged and hugged and walked out to the tuk-tuk, and our girls were crying and crying, and Ava sobbed the whole ride home.

Back to the guesthouse at 8ish, staggered dinner (outside in the courtyard with Narin and Quenie) with showers and frantic last-minute packing. Panha and Veasna, and their dad came in their dad’s tuk-tuk, Yvonne and Steph in Pu Heng’s tuk-tuk, and Savong, Pisey, and Sophan from the orphanage. Narin and Quenie drove all our luggage, and our friend Borey met us there too.

We snapped some pictures, hugged good-bye, and walked numbly into the airport. I do wonder when the enormity of all this is going to hit me. I still feel pretty floaty. Not too happy, not too sad, not really even here, just kind of in a fog.

Besides getting called back downstairs to security (the $4 tennis racket bug zapper we bought at the Russian market was a fire hazard and a no-go), everything was pretty uneventful in all the airports. And our trip was much faster coming home. They delivered the two suitcases that didn’t make the plane, and now we’re surrounded by all kinds of stuff.

Our amazing community group decorated our house while we were gone with huge tissue paper snowflakes and streamers and a little scavenger hunt. A stocked fridge. They are so, so, so good to us and make my heart swell.

I didn’t expect to feel such rage at the cold and snow. Seriously. Like I want to murder it.

Well. That was a lot of words, and I still haven’t gotten to my feelings (except the winter hatred). I’m a little bit afraid to go out and about here in this first world country. I’m a little bit afraid that I might bite someone’s head off in the grocery store because she dares to complain that there are only 14 varieties of Cheerios and none of them are the ones she wants.

I’m afraid that I will all-too-quickly settle back into my comfortable little life with my dishwasher and clothes dryer and soft couches and my lizard/rat/mosquito free house and my flat-screen TV and Netflix and my lightning-fast internet and any kind of food I could possibly want at my disposal and clean air and tap water I can brush my teeth with and my beautiful library and awesome thrift store and blah blah-bity blah.

And that I’ll forget what life is like for so many of my dear friends and the many, many little people (and their families) that I fell in love with in Cambodia.

So yeah. I’ll be back soon. With more brilliant, poignant thoughts. And if not that, then lots and lots of pictures.

10 thoughts on “in no shape to be blogging

  1. Kayla

    “I’m a little bit afraid that I might bite someone’s head off in the grocery store because she dares to complain that there are only 14 varieties of Cheerios and none of them are the ones she wants.”
    I was getting super annoyed at the grocery store yesterday because I was in a big hurry and they had rearranged the whole store and I coudn’t find anything. Then I remembered reading this and it whipped my attitude back to “Praise God I can even go to the dang grocery store!”

  2. Keri

    I was almost obsessed with your last day in Cambodia…so aware of it all day wondering what you were doing every minute and if you were sad or overwhelmed or what. I hate that you are now back to being really, really, really far away! I’m holding on to hope that you’ll be in Houston this summer……that would just make me very happy.

    Love you!

  3. ellen

    you won’t forget — the thing not to forget is how wonderful the blessing to live in this country – and to share that blessing as often as possible –
    I have truely enjoy reading your blogs and knowing that those ofdis sowed seed into your family where able to bless a few wonderful Cambodians
    Welcome Home

  4. Morgan Nameth

    Oh Marla, I just love your words 🙂 I remember one of the most amazing things was hearing prayers in multiple languages around me. How cool is that?!?! Love that your family took this amazing journey together!

  5. Sharon

    Marla, so glad to hear from you again. I’ve been praying for the transition back into “normal” life, but, also that this experience would be a life changing event for each person in your family and that the Lord would show you how he wants you to move forward and use it in your lives.

  6. Jamie Nygaard

    You won’t forget. You know you won’t ever forget.

    I’m just in awe (and jealous) of what your girls got to see at such a young age and how this will impact them forever!

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