This week has marked our first Khmer New Year in Cambodia. This is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in Cambodia, with lots of celebrations and parties. And games — they love to play group games! Many aren’t too different from those we played as kids. In the games we’ve played so far, I’ve recognized elements of spoon races, shuttle races, bocce, even one that’s a lot like a piñata.
There’s also dancing — some serious, some silly — and a lot of good food of course.
Cambodia has a lot of public holidays (28 this year) — but KNY is special for us. Opposite of the Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) in November, many Khmer return to their ancestral home villages to celebrate the new year with their families. And in a culture that values working really hard (most work between 5½ and 7 days a week), KNY is set aside for rest (even if one told me “rest so that you can work hard next year”).
Rest. When we were preparing to come to Cambodia, we were told several times that rest was critical. As in “ignoring rest will either burn you out or kill you” critical. And as we’re approaching a more normal lifestyle after living in Cambodia for 6 months — that same draw to just add one more event to the schedule, just help one more person, just postpone rest for a few days has come back hauntingly.
Thankfully, the warnings stuck. And we have come to understand what rest really means. Rest is trusting and honoring God. When we rest, we acknowledge our place in the world. When we rest, we re-affirm our relationship with God. When we rest, we rely on Him to be more than we can accomplish on our own.
So this weekend — we’re resting.
And celebrating! Happy New Year!