Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 2013 Week of Firsts--Wk 14

This week was a week of firsts. I saw my first accident, I killed my first mouse and I was asked for the first time if I wanted a Cambodian wife.

For story time I think we'll go in chronological order. My companion has what appears to be a three foot long shoe horn hanging on his wall, but I've never seen him use it. I asked him about it last week and he told me, "Yes, it's a shoe horn, but it's up on my wall because I've killed 13 mice with it". We were cooking eggs later at night and suddenly a mouse came out from under the stove and darted under a shelf. He told me to keep an eye on it and ran upstairs to get his shoehorn. He scared it toward me and I hit it with a serving spoon, twice, before it stopped scurrying around. It then preceded to limp out into the middle of our kitchen floor where my companion beat it to death with a shoe horn. Somehow at the end I managed to get blood sprayed on me. It was totally gruesome.

Car/bike/moto accidents in Cambodia are really sketchy. I don't know about how insurance works here but I can guarantee it's not like America where everyone is required to have it. In any case, if you hurt someone or damage their car you have to pay for the damages, so almost all wrecks are hit and run (In some cases literally, there will be an accident and the man at fault will run away from the wreckage and leave it all) . However, if you are at fault in a fatal accident you are only required to pay the family $2,000. Sometimes if injuries are super severe, drivers will run over someone again on purpose so they only have to pay the relatively smaller fee. 

That is supposedly not very common, but we are told that if we ever get in an accident to get up immediately and out of the street. Having said all this, accidents in Cambodia are also very common. Think about how long it has been since you have seen an accident happen before your eyes, or even seen the results of one and now think that I have seen the results of about 5 since I got here and seen one happen right in front of me. Fun stuff.

 Anyway, two motos wrecked in front of us, one of them leaped to his feet and sped off and one got up very slowly (no helmet). We are not allowed to help people who have been in accidents because of how complicated the whole thing is but it didn't look like anyone was going to have permanent damage. Still pretty intimidating. Every time I see another one I think the next one could be me. On that cheery note, the fear of dying in the streets of Phnom Penh has actually dissipated pretty quickly. The streets are crazy but I can belong here.

We have spent considerable time in the neighborhood where we helped to move wood and build a house. The people have been extremely receptive and at times we sat down and taught more than 20 people at one time! The group as a whole wasn't very good at listening but they were there and willing to learn. Almost all of them are related and ideas like prayer and the Atonement that are very hard for most Cambodians to understand came fairly easily for entire families. We were super stoked and actually started calling it Pum (basically means neighborhood or subdivision) Zion.

 One day one of them came out with a picture of her baptismal day. She seemed really excited about it and when we looked we realized that almost every single person we were teaching was already a member and hadn't told us! Super strange situation. We changed our focus to reviewing and helping them come back to church and making sure they can get jobs where they don't have to work on Sunday so that they can come. Unfortunately, they haven't come to church in over a decade so it's been pretty tough. We're still meeting with whoever happens to be home every day around 4 and usually around 7 as well. Pretty interesting.

 In other news, one of them was testing my knowledge of the language, and at the end of this test she said something like, "You're pretty bad but you're learning. Hey, you can get by. Do you want a Cambodian wife?" to which my response was something to the effect of "I'm too young to think about that" and changed the subject. Or at least I hope that's what I said, because she laughed and walked away. It's considerably more uncomfortable when someone your own age is around and the person asking the question can just say "Like her! Do you want to marry her?" The Cambodian people are very blunt and sometimes it's pretty hard to answer them. Funny though.

If you didn't know before this time, my favorite hymn is 'If You Could Hie to Kolob' and in case you're not super familiar with it, I'll remind you that the last two verses of the song repeat the words 'there is no end'' 15 times. I was struck by that song in the kitchen the other day as I sprayed ants for the third time that day. Where do all of the ants come from??? There is no end to them! They come in through the cracks, through the holes in the walls, from the cupboards, out of the drain and pretty much everywhere except the fridge. Our apartment is super nice but it's built to Cambodian specifications, and one thing Cambodians do not worry about are bugs. They are absolutely everywhere. I've learned that, among other things, things that kill ants are: dish soap, boiling water, putting them in the freezer, bleach, and of course, simply smashing them.

Things are all great here in Cambodia and thanks for keeping me up to date with what's going on at home. Love y'all!

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