I had a great plan. I would finish up my two weeks at Khalibre and take a few more weeks to relax before starting my role at the school. I wanted to travel through Cambodia a little bit and through different parts of Phnom Penh, riding and exploring as I like to do. But my plan didn’t happen.
In early April, Jeanine and I took a few days of vacation in Kampot, a small city in Southern Cambodia. We go there to get out of the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh to rest and enjoy a bit of nature on the outskirts of the city. A few days of kayaking, swimming, and lots of relaxation was what we needed. We decided to go out to dinner at a restaurant we were familiar with inside of the city. This decision ended up changing everything.
With less traffic than Phnom Penh, Kamot traffic tends to go a little faster. Consequently, the drivers are more careless. A simple left turn resulted in a disastrous problem. We turned left while the guy speeding past us was going straight. He struck our moto hard, forcing us to hit the ground. I remember seeing him flash briefly in the mirror, then the mirror itself was gone. The next thing I know, Jeanine and I were both on the stiff, dirty asphalt. Not quite yet feeling the pain, I was on my feet panicked that my wife was hurt. She too made it to her feet, somewhat in shock trying to figure out what happened. She was a little dizzy, but alright. A few scrapes on her knees and some bruising were the result.
Then my pain struck. I realized I couldn’t breathe. I leaned onto my knees gasping for air, which hurt when it filled my lungs. I didn’t even notice the skin was torn from my foot and elbow from skidding across the coarse road. My foot was numb, and I could see my big toe turning blue.
Determined to finish our vacation, I went a few more days with a numb foot and home-dressed wounds. Eventually I made it to the clinic to confirm from x-rays my toe was in fact fractured. The road rash cuts were deep and needed consistent care and bandage changes. The pain was significant and was bearable only when elevating my foot.
Consequently, my last two weeks working at Khalibre were done from my bed. I was angry. So much time and investment with the staff there, and I wouldn’t be able to spend my last days with them side by side. Only from the impersonal methods of Zoom calls and live chats. Although I dreaded saying goodbye to them, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my dear friends there, my mentees. Not being in the office was like I had already gone.
After my last day, I was looking forward to a few weeks to explore. But that didn’t happen. I couldn’t ride a moto. I was dependent on crutches to stand or walk. Simply going to the clinic for new bandages and checkups was difficult in a tuk tuk. I was not happy that my plan was spoiled. I was asking God why this happened, bitter about my circumstances. But I didn’t get an answer.
Five weeks after the injury, I was convinced I could be free from the crutches and be able to start my new job on my own feet without aid. One last x-ray showed I was not yet healed, and that I had a few more weeks to go with the walking aids. I was disappointed, but it was easier to accept the fate and embrace my reality. Perhaps because I expected it, or maybe I was used to having to live that way. Still wondering, I asked God again why this happened. This time, I got an answer.
I realized that by not having the last two weeks in the office at Khalibre actually made things easier. I didn’t have to go through the anticipation of counting down the last few days with the staff. I was already very emotional about leaving and it would have been severely difficult to endure the heaviness of those emotions. The time spent at home instead of travelling and exploring gave me real rest. It was a complete disruption of my daily life, forcing me to create a new process. The change allowed me to walk away from my previous job and all the emotions that were with it, good and bad. It forced me to walk away from routines and start fresh in the new role at the school. It was like I was starting all over. That time was a true sabbatical: no agenda, no timelines, no pressures. Without knowing it beforehand, it was what I needed.
Sometimes things happen to us that we don’t understand. Pain and suffering is difficult. Our plans don’t always work out. Our lives can turn upside down. But our Father in heaven knows us, better than we know ourselves. We can trust Him.
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