When’s the best time to write a blog post?
How about five minutes after you wipe the tears out of your eyes from a big ol’ meltdown?
As good a time as any, I say.
Today was really hard. Our first “official” day of being open as a center. I wanted to quit (like really, really just quit everything somehow) about 17 times before 10am.
“If I cannot survive Day 1,” I thought to myself, “how in the heck will I survive any of the remaining days?”
(I forgot–Gabe reminded me–that actually the reverse is true. “If you got through today,” he said, “it’s just going to get easier from here on out.”)
I mean, maybe not EASIER, but probably not way HARDER.
And here’s what I forgot. I did not start today on top of my game. I did not start today at 100%. I started today barely functioning.
I cannot possibly go into it all here, but if you’ve been following along on Facebook and Instagram, you know that we just moved to Siem Reap a month ago and spent one whole week of that month back in Phnom Penh for training and a wedding.
You know that Friday was the Grand Opening of our new center here in Siem Reap. You know that a WHOLE WHOLE LOT of work went into this thing in the weeks leading up to it.
You know that we had lots of people staying in our home last week (and helping make the Grand Opening a SMASHING success). You know that almost 300 people came which was AWESOME but also whew.
You know that we live out in the middle of nowhere and getting what we need and getting where we need to go is kind of exhausting (and often expensive).
You know that we deal with things like dead lizards and thousands of mosquitos and spiderwebs everywhere and two broken toilets and very low water pressure and not-so-hot drainage systems and a huge house I cannot possibly keep clean with all this dust and the aforementioned spiders (and, as of an hour ago, a busted shower head in our one working bathroom).
You know that we had THREE teams from America visit us in three days (2 on the day before the Grand Opening and 1 the day after), and even though they were kind and wonderful and really, truly a blessing, it meant leading tours of the center and sharing our story over and over and over again.
Or maybe you didn’t know all of these things. (I sometimes can’t keep track of what I share and what I don’t.)
On Saturday my sister had a baby. A beautiful baby girl named Jovie Love. I have prayed for Jovie more than any other baby (besides my own). Her big sister, Jubilee Kate, was stillborn in June 2014, so we prayed extra hard for Jovie to be okay. And then we got some news a few months ago that something was wrong with her umbilical cord and labor and delivery could hurt, possibly kill, her. We cried a lot and begged God to let her be okay.
She’s more than okay. She’s perfect. THANK YOU, JESUS!!
But I’m half a globe away. And it hurts my heart.
The teams from America blessed our PANTS off with snacks and things for our family and lots of books, toys, and supplies for the center. I’m in awe of everyone’s generosity.
And completely overwhelmed with where to put it all, how to ration it, etc.
I have this humongous stack of receipts from the Grand Opening and I don’t even want to go through them, because I’m afraid of how much money it cost to put on this big thing, and it’s better if I just ignore it a little bit longer.
One of my daughters had a meltdown of her own on Saturday, right before one of the team members, a photographer, was ready to do a family photo shoot of us. We had to turn her down (she photographed me and Gabe–we’ll see if she was able to work magic).
This sweet daughter was exhausted. And missed all of our wonderful friends from Phnom Penh who spent a few days with us. We keep seeing them again, bonding with them even more, then they get ripped away from us. Again.
This is not an easy way to live.
She was also DREADING our trip to the States this summer. She’s super sensitive and I can see her mind and heart swirling with all of the transition and hellos and good-byes and questions she doesn’t know how to answer. With saying good-bye to her friends here for two months, then having to say good-bye to loved ones in America all over again. With feeling scared that “no one is going to understand us, Mom.”
Today at 8:45 (we don’t open until 9:00, but they saw us outside trying to clean up the trash that got blown everywhere off our burn pile), we had kids streaming into our center (it felt like a hundred, but it was really just 29). We’re supposed to be open for one hour in the mornings (for now), but we had to register all the new kiddos and that took two hours. Sitha and Channorm did a thorough and amazing job interviewing all the parents about their kids.
Keeping them entertained felt really, really hard. Keeping them from fighting over toys felt really, really hard. Keeping them contained in an area where we could watch them felt really really hard. Communicating in Khmer felt really really hard.
I was sweating and exhausted (and trying not to cry) at the end of the two hours.
The afternoon was better. A few less kids. Most were already registered. Gabe was able to help (he was in bed most of the morning in a lot of pain from his moto wreck yesterday).
After the kids left, I cleaned out our fridge which REEKED of curry and garlic and spices left over from the Grand Opening. We wasted a ton of food, but there was nothing I could do. We couldn’t eat it fast enough, and we were sick to death of it. And every single thing in our fridge (even our ice) tasted like curry. Yuck.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I don’t know.
To get it off my chest.
To process it.
To just let you know, in case you were thinking to yourself, “wow, what a charmed, purposeful life Marla and her family lead–lucky ducks!” that our lives are purposeful, yes. Charmed, no.
Beautiful, yes. Easy, no.
I wouldn’t trade this life for the world. But I’m struggling right now.
I’ve got to figure out what to let go, where my expectations of myself are too high. When to swallow my pride, what to prioritize.
Because, as it stands right now, I’m heading for a mental breakdown. Exhausted. Frustrated. Overwhelmed.
It’ll all get worked out though.
You know why?
He’s the one and ONLY reason we can do ANY of this stuff we’ve done.
And he hasn’t failed us yet, so I don’t reckon he’s going to leave me high and dry and completely fried this time either.
But it doesn’t mean that I can just take a deep breath and everything’s fine. I’ve got a lot of well-meaning people in my life who like to say things like, “Oh, you know everything always works out perfectly for you guys!” Or, “You really have no business being in a bad mood!” Or, “Why do you worry about things? Where is your faith?”
(I sometimes want to smash those people in the face.)
You want to know what I’m thankful for right this minute?
The sweet people who say things like, “I’m so sorry things feel so hard right now.” Or, “Aw, friend. That’s a lot. I love you.” Or, “I will carry that burden for you, okay?”
I have a lot of those kinds of friends. I’m a lucky girl.
Thanks, God, for this hard and beautiful life.