I Fell into the Mekong River (or, The First Three Days of My Missions Trip)

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So I went on a missions trip to Southeast Asia. It was the best way to start off my summer! I made many new friends, saw things that stirred my heart, and gained some fresh perspective on life. And was blessed to be able to shoot a plethora of pictures from my trip 😉
IMG_9696We set out on Sunday evening, June 11. Ours was quite the group—more than 30 people, including seniors and juniors from our Christian school, chaperones from our college, leaders, and even a few parents.

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I think this was landing in Taipei, our first layover after about 11 hours of flight.

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Then a connecting flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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The two things that slapped our consciousness in the first five minutes were the swarming crowds and the swampy heat. Praise the Lord for an air-conditioned bus!

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I loved our hotel. It had so many quirks…like a pygmy sized elevator with doors that closed on one whether one was ready or not, having a window of about 10 seconds between opening and closing. It became a game to see how fast we could get four average-sized people plus luggage crammed in and then out again without getting stuck in that inexorable door. One unfortunate young man had the adventure of getting stranded alone in the elevator when that door malfunctioned, but was rescued after a tense quarter of an hour of being surrounded by the sound of tools and the clamoring deprecations or comforts of his friends.

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And opening the locks to our hotel room reminded me of Mr. Frederickson in the movie Up, freeing the score of ancient locks on his front door with a racket of epic proportions.

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Above is a picture (pardon the quality) of a shower in aforementioned hotel, in which someone seems to have installed the shower curtain backwards. Although this allowed water to soak the rest of the room quite liberally, we were relieved they put the curtain where they did, as it covered a panoramic window view of the bedroom and helped make matters slightly less awkward than they could have been. This was one of the first instances that reminded us how vital a sense of humor is no matter what situation one finds oneself in.

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Praise the Lord for the bathtub…it came in handy at the end of the week when we needed to do some laundry! And the gigantic bedroom window drapes served as our clothesline, with safety pins for pegs. We felt quite exotic and resourceful.

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Our first full day in Cambodia began early with a walk through the market to a prayer meeting at church.

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I cannot describe the thrill of listening to the murmur of prayer around me in several different languages, the blessings and praises being offered for God’s lovingkindnesses great and small. It felt like a tiny Pentecost.

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We went on a marathon of landmarks that day. Historical sites from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, grand Buddhist temples still in use, the grounds of the royal palace.

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By the end of each day most of us looked like this. Catching a nap in between destinations.

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The next day held village ministry for us all. We split into smaller groups, and my group was small enough to all fit inside a tuk tuk for the hour or so ride to a Vietnamese fishing village. (Tuk tuks are amazing, just saying; they’re like horse-drawn buggies minus the horse, plus a motorbike.) We ladies visited some Christian women and their children; one lived on the riverside and another in a houseboat on the river. It was in our attempts to reach the houseboat that my first real adventure (and my camera’s last) occurred.

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IMG_0939.JPGWe were clambering into this boat when it tipped over and the missionary wife and I fell into the river. After a few numb moments of clutching the dock with all our might and wondering if it were too late to learn to swim, we found the water to be shallow enough to wade through to the shore. And that’s when I realized I still had my Canon strapped around me. And that there was probably little hope of it ever reviving after such a murky splash.

But we got into a different boat and completed our visit to the lady out on the river. It was perhaps the most blessed hour of learning and sharing and encouraging that I have ever witnessed out visiting another Christian sister. It made up for the soggy state of our clothes and the lack of pictures I could have taken at that beautiful spot.

So although I had been designated the official photographer for the trip, I only shot about three days of it with my good camera. But I took pictures with other people’s devices and borrowed photos from other people so I do have some pictorial memories more to share. I’ll make that another post, though.

—Libby

 

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