There are many things I love about Cambodia and I hope to devote blog posts to the fruit, the present-ness of people, the eagerness to celebrate and many more things. But I have to start with the rain.
It’s rainy season here. 6 months of nearly daily rains that sweep across the tin roofs of the city, drumming their beats and pouring out of gutters onto more tin roofs and finally courtyards and streets. The sheer volume of rain here is a whole other scale from my suburban North American life, where hard rain melted quietly into soft grass most of the time. There isn’t much grass here and the rain bounces off of cobblestones and concrete in a cacophony of sound. I love that I can hear the rain coming. Baking in my kitchen I’ll hear a distant roar starting and I can look out the front or back to listen for it. I then race around the house to close the windows as we’ve had several mini-floods from water pouring inside. Then I wait. I sit and watch the sheets move closer across the roofs until huge drops, more like clear ropes sail down onto our house. The moment it touches our house, the air changes. It feels like there’s more oxygen and I breath deeply as the birds and mosquitos dive for cover. My favorite place to watch the rain is from our front porch. Most times this gives me a vantage point of watching the girls run around in it and the sound is incredible. I love to just sit and breath and listen as God works God’s washing of the world. The dust settles, the world is green and I feel deeply refreshed. Sometimes I play in the rain with the girls. It’s the coldest we’ve ever been here, standing under the cool rushing water, and afterwards we strip off our wet clothes and bundle up in blankets for stories.
As much as I love the rain, I have become keenly aware of how my love for the rain is rooted in privilege. There are many people here who do not love the rain. The longer I’m here, the more I learn how difficult the rain is for people with less money than me. While MCC encourages us to live simply, we are also clearly expected to live a “middle class” life that ensures our safety and health. Part of that is related to the rains. In many parts of the city, rain means flooding. Roads are frequently flooded. Homes become flooded. Sometimes people can’t get out to go get groceries until the water subsides (Cambodians do not typically have refrigeration, but tend to shop for each day). In traditional Cambodian architecture, all houses are built “up” on stilts, like ours is, allowing for the air to move around the house and minimize damage from flooding. But the slums here contain houses on the ground, made of tin boxes or just pieces of tin leaning against each other. And when the water rushes through them it brings dirt, garbage and sickness.
And so as I sit on my porch in awe of the rain, aware of God’s presence with me, I pray not only psalms of thanksgiving and praise but also petitions of mercy for all the people here who do not love the rain.