So, I have been pretty homesick lately . . . I think it started when my parents’ time in Cambodia came and went in the blink of an eye. Then it progressed to all out crying at the drop of a hat as the Christmas holiday came nearer and nearer. There have been several triggers, like missing snow at Christmas time. Here it is just consistently hot. There is no drastic change in seasons, so things like holidays can sneak up on you and then come and go without you realizing it . . . like thanksgiving did.
I have also missed the “season” of Christmas! I don’t know how it happens in Ohio, it just does, Christmas is in the air. It’s a feeling in the heart. It’s a special time of year. Here, it is one, not very widely acknowledged day, and a program at church.
Also the fact that this is the first Christmas in my entire 30 years that I have not been in Ohio with my family has made that feeling of homesickness extra fresh.
But despite all that or maybe in response to it. Bibi and I have made the absolute most of this season! We had our tree up on December 1st. It has been Christmas in the Leang household for practically a month now. The warm glow of the Christmas lights have reminded me of God’s faithfulness as I have done as I would normally do in the States- woken up before the sun with my glass of hot tea and sat before the warm glow of the tree and thought about all this season truly means- each time God has met me there.
The Lord has drastically turned the temperature down for us here in Cambodia. Most nights Bibi and I have had to boil water for hot showers, close all the windows and turn off the fans. I have had to sleep in long sleeves and pants. I have also worn cardigans and three layers for the last 2-3 weeks! . . . . It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! . . . .
I was not able to spend Christmas with my family in Ohio, but I have absolutely felt surrounded and loved this Christmas season! My housemate Beth and I spent all day cooking on Christmas Eve, then we sat together with our husbands and shared a meal with our landlord and her daughter. Then we went to a Christmas Eve service kind of like the Methodist services I grew up going to. It was a new experience for Bibi as he has never been exposed to liturgical readings and prayers. The next morning Beth and Brian, Bibi and I shared Christmas brunch together. Then Bibi and I spent the whole day preparing the house and a feast! We received his entire immediate family into our home that night; his siblings and their families, his mother- we were all there! 14 people packed into our little 3rd floor apartment! It was such hard work to prepare, but it was so worth it once we were all gathered on the floor with a delicious meal in front of us.
This Christmas season has also been filled with receiving carolers, teaching a Christmas lesson for our Sunday school kids, hot cocoa, dinner with friends, Christmas cocktails, and desserts with wine, classic Christmas movies, and quiet moments with Jesus.
Last night we were at a friends’ house and we watched It’s a Wonderful Life. This is first time I have ever seen the film, and Bibi’s first time too. I can relate to the main character George Bailey, especially in my 20′s. I was going to conquer the world. I wanted to travel, I wanted to get out and DO things and GO places. I had so much spirit, and so much adventure just wanting to bust out of me. The idea of being “tied” to Ohio and just having a “normal” job made me cringe. But in the film, George sets aside his spirit and his desires to travel and go to school in order to take over the family business, and eventually one thing leads to the next and he is married, with four kids, and starts to feel “stuck”. He is discouraged and needs a new perspective. So an angel is sent to help give him that perspective and he does it by showing George what life in that little town would be like if George Bailey would have never been born.
George realizes his life is not wasted even though it didn’t turn out how he wanted it to, and in fact, not just that it is not wasted, but the life he has is actually A WONDERFUL LIFE!!
As I watched that movie, I began thinking of my own life . . . my life in Cambodia . . . maybe I was not exactly where I wanted to be this Christmas season. Maybe I have felt a little “out to sea” these last two years as things have not turned out exactly how I had thought or planned. Maybe there have been times that I have wanted to throw my hands up, pack it all up and go back to the States. . . .
But last night, as I laid on my bed, I just opened my heart and let the Lord fill it with his truth. In fact, my life here in Cambodia is not wasted. I began thinking of all the relationships I have made, the lives I have come in contact with, the friends here who I hold dear, the family I have here. Nothing is wasted. I am a difference-maker. I am a light. I am His child. I am not a disappointment to Him or anyone. This life here in Cambodia is in fact, A Wonderful Life!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
From Kristen and Bibi Leang.