Greetings from the Long Thaily Guest House in Beautiful Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I am writing this from my room and it is currently 1:10 AM local time. I am told that I will meet up with Curtis and his cohorts in the morning at 8:00 AM, so I will make this as brief as possible.
My trip began when the Shuttle Bus arrived to pick me up from my Brother-In-Law’s house in Whittier California. It was still morning, 9:00 AM, California time. Supershuttles have two options, you can either pay a low fee to ride to the airport with as many as seven people and their luggage in the van, or you can pay a larger fee to get the bus all to yourself. Of course, I opted for the cheaper route. The bus showed up at 9:05 AM. I kissed Monica and grabbed my luggage and went out the door. The driver had already come around to the rear of the bus and had the doors open for my luggage. After loading the luggage, he opened the side door for me, and I noticed something strange. There was nobody in the bus. It was just me and the driver. It turns out I was the only one leaving for LAX that morning at that time. The driver, whose name is Let (not sure if it is spelled right) is Burmese. I noticed a Buddha picture on his dash board and we began to speak about Buddhism. It was great that God arranged a Buddhist driver from Southeast Asia to drive me to the airport on my way to a Buddhist country in Southeast Asia! We had a great discussion about Buddhism and about life. He was interested in what I believed, so I naturally shared with him the gospel – it is not works of righteousness that saves us, but it is the precious blood of Jesus that does. We owe a great debt. Jesus not only paid the debt, but also fills our account with righteousness! Let seemed very touched by what we talked about. I will keep him in my prayers.
We arrived at LAX’s international terminal early and I was able to get through security without any issues. You know, just a thought, this has been the easiest flying I have ever done. I wore sandals and only carried a small backpack with me as my carry-on. It made it so much easier! The strangest thing I saw was that there were police in tactical gear with automatic weapons at the ready, not shouldered, index finger forward, ready to fire at a moments notice. I thought about taking a picture of one of the guys, but then thought better of it. Didn’t want to make the 6:00 news.
The plane was huge. A 747. It is amazing that something so big could actually fly. I guess it is a testament to modern engineering and the awesome power of the Creator God who made men and women’s brains to think about such things. Anyway, I took a couple of snapshots and waited for the boarding announcement. First D, then C, then ME! Yes, I was in B group. But they were simultaneously boarding first class people as well. There were two sky-bridges, one for first class and the other for peons. I wonder were Jesus would have flown? We sat down, readied ourselves for the 12 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. I slept some, which was great, and I read some, which was awesome. 12 hours in a seat is a lot of time for just sleeping and reading. So, what else to do? Watch movies of course! What is great about Asiana Airlines is that all their movies have been edited for content. Every moves was at least PG-13, however, all cussing and sexual content was cut out. I wish I could get these movies for home use! I found out that The Lone Ranger was not as bad as people said. In fact, it was actually quite entertaining. Okay, Armie Hammer’s version of The Lone Ranger was extremely wimpy and at times he got me annoyed. But overall, it was a good movie.
Argo was a pretty good movie as well. But enough about movies. I got to spend some time in prayer and some time in the Word which is always awesome.
For hours and hours the only thing to look at was ocean and cloud cover. Then, Japan. Cloud cover blocked our view of Tokyo, which was kind of annoying. But I did get to snap a couple of shots of the west coast of Japan. It was awesome to see the famed Island nation. Then, before we knew it, we were landing in Incheon, Seoul’s International Airport. Ever notice in America that foreigners look lost as they mill about aimlessly through airport, malls, or other public places? Well I was that guy. Everything was in Korean. Everyone spoke Korean. It was like I was in Korea or something. Well, I guess I was. I asked someone where gate 42 was. He briskly pointed back 200 feet to a sign that said, “International Transfer.” And said, “There, go there.” In broken english. It was almost as if he was upset at the fact that I didn’t have the courtesy to learn Korean before I dared enter his soil. Hmmm. I know how people feel now. I guess we are all like that, aren’t we?
Well, before long I went through security again and was on my way to Phnom Penh (pronounced by locals, P-Nom Pen). The flight from Seoul to Phnom Penh actually seemed longer than the one over the Pacific. Probably because I didn’t get much sleep on that flight. Or, was it that I watched the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. I don’t know if I was tired or what, but it bored me so much that I only got through the first 45 minutes of it, and that was because I feel asleep a few times through it. As we landed I had to fill out three forms – customs, Visa application (I wanted MasterCard, but they wouldn’t let me…), and arrival and departure card. I wasn’t exactly sure what would happen when I applied for the visa. I had watch a couple of documentaries about the Khmer Rouge and had just finished watching Argo and thought, what if they detain me? I paid them a $20.00 fee and I was on my way. As I left the air-conditioned airport, it hit me. I was home. Not that Phnom Penh was my home now, but what hit me was a thick wall of humidity. Yep. Left that all back in Arkansas, where it is cooler now, but picked it right back up in Cambodia. It actually felt good. Met up the the missionaries. Curtis, his wife, Bre, and the others were wonderful greeters. So looking forward to getting to know them.
What a blessing this day has been! Praise God, I made it here! Looking forward to seeing what God wants to do and open to whatever doors he opens for serving the people here in Cambodia. Pray for us. The work is just getting started.