That may or may not mean “good morning” (or hello or greetings) in Khmer (kuh-MY), the Cambodian language. I am in the beginning stages of fluency (cough, cough). Just ask my friend Panha.
Panha and I were supposed to Skype on Friday, but instead I met with some Jehovah’s Witnesses for an hour in my living room (their 3rd time here–they’re starting to lose hope in me) and then I got to meet with DaShawn, my reading buddy, a day late.
Anyway. Panha and I chatted last Friday and he filled me in on all the latest tuk-tuk news. The new gates are up, there’s a safe and secure place to park it, and it is shining and beautiful and his family is sooooo thankful. He had a friend from church take all the pictures so he could show everyone who gave money and/or prayed. They received a total of $2011.00, and Panha told me, “This is God’s money. We took one out of ten to put in the offering at church, so $201.” Then he laughed and said, “And 10 cents.”
God’s Money, God’s Tuk-Tuk (courtesy of Gabe Taviano) is his family’s new motto. I think we should put it on t-shirts.
I don’t know if they’ve done this already or not, but Panha told me again that they’re going to anoint the tuk-tuk with oil in the name of Jesus. “We will praise God and thank God and let God protect our moto and tuk-tuk,” he said.
Then he told me that the organization he works for doing translating work has hired his dad and his tuk-tuk for the whole month of January from 12:30-5:30. Now, that’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.
And then we moved on to the Khmer lessons. Panha would say a phrase in Khmer, and I would try to repeat it. But I’m a visual learner, so I made him type it in English (in the Skype chat box), which can be pretty tricky since the Khmer language has its own characters (like Chinese and Hebrew). But he did an amazing job.
Sok saby te = how are you? Then you’d answer sok saby = I’m fine.
Ter nak jmos ey = what is your name? And then kynom jmos Marla = My name is Marla (I name Marla).
I was a completely lousy student, but Panha was a very patient teacher. At one point I said, “Panha, how in the world did you learn English so fast? I will never learn Khmer!”
“Because I had a white guy around me all the time,” he said with a grin. “You do not have a brown guy around you.”
I stopped laughing long enough to say, “Actually, I have a lot of brown guys around me! But they are not any help!”
I asked Panha how I could pray for him, and he said, “I am still praying for enough money to go to uni.” (university) I asked him what he wanted to study, and he said “management.” I asked him what he wanted to manage and he said, “I dream of opening my own translation organization.”
“Panha!” I said. “I could come work for you since I know so much Khmer! Mouy, pe, bey, boun, pram…” (one, two, three, four, five)
He laughed and said, “I will give you a test over Skype. If you pass, you can come work for me.”
I told him it was a deal, and I was sure I’d pass. Then he said, “I will pray for God to send your whole family back to Cambodia.” Be still my heart. “When you come back, my dad’s tuk-tuk will take you for free!” Now who could pass up that kind of deal?
We’ll be there as soon as we possibly can, friend. And I’ll anoint that tuk-tuk with my tears.