The missionary and expat community in Cambodia is pretty close knit. I’m sure that’s the case in many places, but I think the number of expats/missionaries/NGOs in Cambodia in addition to Phnom Penh being such an urban hub might make that even more the case here.
As our team have been living and making friends here for the last several months, and as we’ve told others about our goal here (to serve using our engineering skills), some great opportunities have come up for us to do just that.
The wrinkle — we’re all spending our first year learning Khmer before we start engineering work. It’s part of the commitment we made to be here for the long haul — both for our day-to-day lives, and to be able to function well as an office in Cambodia. (That’s proving to be a wise choice, as you will see in our upcoming post about learning Khmer!)
But at the same time — it’s hard to say no when a great ministry comes to us and asks questions about a project they are involved in right now.
Thankfully, when we explain our commitment to learning Khmer, they’ve all been very understanding — some projects aren’t time critical, and we’ve been able to delay those until the office gets rolling next year. And a few projects we’ve been able to get involved on a limited basis — just a few hours here or there answering questions without getting so deep into the work that we don’t have time to study language.
Ian has been working on a new dormitory for a ministry in town. Chris, another of our teammates, has been helping a local church on their new building. Laura is preparing to help with a big-data type project (don’t quote me on that… can’t say I understand it). And some of our other teammates have been working on projects around town.
I (Ian) have to admit it. I’m glad to have this time set aside for language learning, but some days it just feels good to get back into crunching numbers!