Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Vulnerable: Life in Community

"Are you happy?" she asked as she dumped rice into the folded banana leaves.

I assume she must have heard me crying. She is here for the holidays and the making and selling of a "bread" made from mung beans, sticky rice, and pork. She loves to take a break under the jackfruit tree that is right next to our house. Maybe during one of her siestas she heard me crying or, worse yet, complaining loudly to my husband about nothing working right or how overwhelming this village transition is.

I gritted my teeth. The Lord had burdened my heart before we moved here with the idea of vulnerability, being real even when your

  • superhero missionary image will be destroyed 
  • and you are worried your neighbor will thus find Jesus completely worthless and unappealing
  • because the privileged white missionary living in a Khmer-style castle is crying over having to hand wash a few clothes ... 

Ministry over. No one is coming to Jesus in this village. Maybe we should move.

I digress.

Teeth gritted and pride humbled, I told her it was hard to live here: hard to do all the things she does every day, hard to make new friends while missing others, hard to deal with cultural differences like someone cutting down branches on our tree to get ant eggs which, in turn, means said giant red ants will be mercilessly biting my children for days...and they are mad when I ask them to stop...


She nodded, tying off the bundle of stuffed leaves and putting it in the pile for steaming. Half of me was screaming out excuse after excuse in my head while the other was making a pretty good argument (if I don't say so myself) for being real:

My friend
1. God doesn't need me to be perfect to reach the lost.
2. My weakness and sin show how much I need Jesus.
3. I choose to cease attempts at hiding my imperfections in order to reach the lost.

Thankfully, the Lord helped me hold back the excuses and explanations. My friend handed me a steamed "bread" with the banana leaves pealed back like, well, a banana.

"Are you happy?" I finally was able to ask, hoping to share a deeper moment of friendship.

"No." she replied. I held my breath in anticipation as she looked soberly past me toward the mountains.

"Why not?" I whispered.

After a long pause, she grinned. "Because I hate making this bread."


  1. I subscribed to your blog after reading this post. God used you in a great way today! You wrote what I have been feeling the past few days! I'm not living in Cambodia but a pastor's wife in Key West-an ungodly place to live and far from family. But I've been feeling the same way as you wrote but God showed me that I'm not the only one. I love to see God a work! Thanks for sharing. Hope we can further communicate!

    1. So wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for taking the time to write such encouragement. We all need it, don't we? =) I just prayed for your life and work in Key West. I remember visiting there as a child - definitely not a holy place. I'm thankful you are there even though I am guessing it is not the easiest nor the largest of "harvest fields." I'd love to hear more from you.

  2. Hi Casey! So good to see you today. Not sure if you got my email with the Classifeds attached. Can you send me your actual email address? ;-) Let us know when you want a date! ;-) Sarah

  3. Sweet Sarah! It was SOOO nice to catch up with you, too. Our week got insanely busy right after we saw you guys. I'm so sorry we could not get back in touch. We leave early tomorrow. We've made a commitment to come here once a year to refresh, so I am looking forward to seeing you next year already. We'd love to keep in touch. Our email address is