We were recently blessed to have our niece, Setia, stay with us for a little while. She wanted to do some volunteer work on a gap year before pursuing her master’s degree and found some opportunities in Cambodia. She has had some experience with international travel and witnessed many cultures before, but she found some unique aspects of Cambodia that she had not seen before.
It was a treat for us to be able to see Cambodia for the first time again through her eyes. She asked questions about or commented on things she saw as we drove along the busy roads lined with vendors and shops selling assorted items. She noticed the overloaded tuk tuks, motos carrying families of four or five, including small babies, and street dogs lounging on oil-stained asphalt next to mobile food carts with featherless whole chickens hanging lifeless from the cart umbrella. She saw markets with tables holding an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables lined neatly to each other, alongside layers of whole fish, some still flapping about on the tables. Every once in a while, she would see a whole pig’s head on the table with the seller diligently trying to shoo the consistent flies away.
I found myself thinking about how interesting it was that I rarely notice these types of things anymore. Perhaps I should instead say that I notice them, but I do not see them with foreign eyes. They are no longer strange or unusual to me. They have become common surroundings that are familiar. I thought it was fascinating how fast we as humans adjust to lifestyles and environments. Sometimes I wonder if God designed us this way so that we can adjust to cultures and diversity quickly so that discomforts we may have are brief. Maybe it is so that we can focus on our service to Him when He calls us to foreign lands instead of the peculiar cultures we are sent to. On the other hand, do we become too complacent and lose our sense of awe in the diversity of cultures and environments that God has created. Shouldn’t we always be fascinated by His creations and recognize Him in all things we witness daily?
I was grateful to have had the time with our niece, not only to soak up the joy she brought into our household, but also have my sense of wonder renewed again for Cambodia, the “Kingdom of Wonder.”
My challenge to you as we head into a new year is to ponder on what kind of things you have become complacent in. Are you still seeing God in all things in your daily life? Do you find fascinations and peculiarities in the environment around you, showing God’s imagination? Our God is a glorious God, with so much creativity that we are privileged to be a part of.