Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SEASONS ARE A CHANGING

As we mentioned on the blog last week, rainy season has started here in Cambodia.

So far, I like rainy season for lots of reasons, but one thing in particular has surprised me. I like rainy season because it brings a change. The months leading up to our move to Cambodia and our first months here were overflowing with unending, life-shifting changes. Yet, after 8 months living here in Phnom Penh, while our lives are still unpredictable in many small ways, there are not too many changes.



Almost every weekday we go to Khmer language classes. Each Sunday we hail a tuktuk to head to church on the south side of town. We end each day falling into bed with heads full and bodies tired. And the backdrop for it all: hot, sunny skies and dusty roads.

This sameness throws off the rhythms and seasons we are used to in North America. There are no leaves changing colors in the fall reminding you that Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner. There’s no first or last freeze of the season. No afternoon light shrinking or stretching into the evenings—it’s like equinox all year here. The equatorial sun goes up and goes down at the same time each day. There aren’t any winds of change reminding you it’s the time of the year for spring cleaning or going back to school.

Here in Cambodia, we had a hot Christmas and a hotter Easter with lots of language learning in between. It’s been a lot of the same.

In some ways this sameness has helped us to acclimate to our new lives, but this backdrop of sameness, along with the slow nature of the progress we have been making with language and partnerships, means that we haven’t always been able to notice the accumulation of small changes. No matter how many months have passed, I sometimes feel like I am always some combination of hot, confused or tired.

I had prepared myself for this sameness to continue on. I didn’t actually expect rainy season to be an actual season. After all, “cold season” here lasted about a week and a half. Drought, El NiƱo and climate change have considerably shortened the rains over the last years, and I was trying to accept that Cambodia was just hot and dusty all year long. For about a month now, though, cooler winds and storm clouds have rolled in almost every afternoon. We are told this rain and cooler weather will continue until September or October.

I’m sure we will get tired of the rain and the flooding and the mosquitoes that come along with the standing water, but for now, I am reveling in this change. I’m planning my late afternoon activities closer to home—with the windows open watching storms roll in. I’m always carrying an umbrella in my bag, but I’m enjoying walking around the city now that it's cooler. I’m studying on the balcony instead of in front of the fan.

I'm enjoying all of these lovely new developments, but one of the most striking things about this new season is the way it has allowed me to think about the time I have spent in Cambodia in a new way. On the edge of this new season I can look back and feel like things have changed. The small accomplishments of the last year seem to pop out: We made it through our first hot season! We made it through the first half of our language program! We learned how to write in Khmer script—the consonants, the vowels and the complicated reading rules! We have lived here for over 8 months! While our network is still quite smallwe actually know people here!

It’s good to feel this change—both in the weather and in our mindset—and it's exciting to look back and see where those small acts of faithfulness have led us. So, here’s to a new season!