I left Battambang today for a few weeks. And it's a very good thing that I am leaving. I am in the process of traveling to the first place I called home. It has been quite some time since I've been there and it has been a hard twelve months, so I am grateful for a chance to step out of all of the daily chaos and breathe.
I like to think when I travel which is good because I have lots of hours to fill with little conversation.
The first part of my ride today was one that reminded me of so many of the hard things we often see here. They are other places as well, but seem much more evident here. The driver in the taxi was talking with two of the other passengers about where they were going and why they were going there to the city they stopped in. I know pieces of their conversation were jokes, but combined with facts being shared it still left my heart remembering injustice needs to end. When they got out we picked up two other girls for the remainder of the ride. And I have to say that I am maybe more guilty than the other passenger in the back who asked them where they were coming from and where they were going after riding along for a little while, because she at least had the heart, the nerve, the guts to ask instead of thinking something that outward appearances may have suggested. It doesn't really matter who was right or what the right answer was. Once again though as I was preparing to cross the border I was thinking more.
I left the ride grateful that it was over and fighting the feeling of wanting to escape from it all. I crossed the border and wondered how many beggars I would see on the street and how much more direct poverty would I face before I found myself in the security of my nice hotel room and the plush and easy life I am returning to in the states for the rest of this month.
I don't want to run away from any of this. Not really. It's a beautiful mess that I've found myself in, and I would not change it for anything. Because the beggar just outside the Thai visa office had a beautiful smile that lit up her face when she looked at me. Because two of the guys working for the taxi company at the border knew where I worked when I said it was a Jesus organization. Because seven and a half years into this, Battambang is far more my home than anywhere else. So even in the past year of all the hard things. Of all the messes I've walked through, I've created, I've been part of - I wouldn't change it. And there are many, many moments when I feel like I have not loved my friends well, but maybe that's not the point. I may not have always loved them well, but I have loved them broken. And I think we are all a bit broken. I've come into each of the things going on in their lives carrying the brokenness and scars and the pain of all the things I have lived through in my life. Same as them. We're all broken. Our lives are all beautiful messes. The secret is that when you come together it is easier to stir up hope again, to speak those little words of life that light that little spark inside and give someone that little bit of courage they need to pick up the pieces and hope again, believe again, try again because they realize that maybe things look dark right now, but they're not really alone. And even when there's no words to speak, there's still to sit, to cry, to breathe, to know there's someone else who cares.