In true Cambodia style, all 10 of us squished into a van and headed to the YWAM Siem Reap base where we will be staying for the next seven weeks. Along the way we gazed out the windows taking in all of the sights, as we swept the increasing sweat off our brows. Tuk-tuks, rice fields, dirt roads and many street vendors selling corn, pastries, and BBQ meat were in abundance.
We arrived at the YWAM base, a beautiful three story guesthouse with two large balconies overlooking Siem Reap. We were shown around the base which has 17 rooms and hosts many YWAM teams from all over the world. As Cambodia is a developing country we can't drink the water straight from the tap so have to be very careful to only have filtered water wherever we go, including at the guesthouse. We also can't flush paper down the toilet and have a scoop and bucket for our shower...for most of us, it has taken some getting used to.
As most of us hadn't got much sleep on our two flights, we spent the rest of the day exploring our surroundings by foot before going to bed around 7pm. The next day one of the YWAM Siem Reap leaders, Yang, took us to Old Market, where we will be buying our fruit for breakfast every morning. We had our first experience on a Tuk tuk, which was so much fun and such an amazing way to take everything in. As we explored the markets we got lost in the endless Alibaba pants, Angkor Wat mini statues, jewellery, elephant paintings and many more Cambodian souvenirs. After the market we spent the afternoon relaxing and at a nearby Coconut Cafe where we have discovered free WiFi, something the guesthouse does not have.
Thursday and Friday were our first official work days where we spent the mornings at a local village. Part of our time here will be spent building Bio-Sand Filters which create safe drinking water for communities. Justice Water is the organization we have patterned with and has an ongoing ministry with YWAM Siem Reap. Our time at the villages was really amazing, as we met a number of different families and just spent time hanging out and building relationship with them. As a team we have been trying to learn the language, so we practised our Khmer with them even though there were many moments where we had no idea what each other was saying.
We then went to an English school in the afternoons to help teach. We partnered up and each joined a class, from pre-school, to elementary, high-school and adults. Some of us jumped straight in and led the class, as well as shared our stories and testimonies with the students. Again, although there were some language barriers, our team loved this and can't wait to keep teaching next week.
On the weekend we rested with a Sabbath from lunch time Saturday to lunch time Sunday. Every morning the entire guest house has to be cleaned at 7am, so we all got the morning off from our duties. After our daily morning worship and devotionals, we all headed back to the Old Market by Tuk tuk to do some shopping. $1 Coconut and passion fruit shakes, fish spas and Alibaba pants were enjoyed by all. Some of us then spent the afternoon at the pool next door for a small fee to try and cool off. On Saturday night we went to the famous "Pub Street" with all the other foreigners, and took in the bright lights, the streets lined with restaurants, the smell of Khmer BBQ meat, shaved ice-cream vendors, and the many many massage parlours.
On Sunday, we finished our first week in Cambodia by celebrating Amy's birthday. After breakfast we all had a our quiet time on the balcony, then some of us went to the pool next door again and others got a $9 hour-long massage. That afternoon we journeyed to the country side to visit an International Church. Arriving at a huge building in the middle of nowhere, we soon felt right at home as we worshipped with people from all over the world. After church we treated Amy to a Korean BBQ for dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Please keep us in your prayers as we adjust to Cambodian way of living. We are all in good health right now, but will be starting a full week of work next week.
Stay tuned for week two!