Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back Where I Started - One Year Later

So it’s been a long while since I’ve posted any thoughts or updates here, so I figure I’m pretty well overdue. Naomi and I enjoyed a wonderful 3 weeks back in the States over Christmas and New Year’s, and we (somewhat reluctantly) returned to Cambodia about 3 weeks ago on the 6th.

When we first arrived just over a year ago, I did not know how I was going to spend my year. I started by spending the first couple weeks getting our house settled and furnished, setting up phone lines,  buying a motor bike, etc. After about a month, Naomi and I started studying Khmer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, I started volunteering with AGAPE and started teaching English and computer classes at our church (New Life Fellowship), and at the Ministry of Public Works, while concurrently applying for jobs. As posted here before, I was overjoyed when I found a job with a top Korean engineering firm working on one of the country’s premiere projects.

My employment with GS E&C was a great experience, where I learned many things about Korean culture, the construction industry, and Cambodia. Unfortunately, this project was put on hold and all local staff were laid off (including me) about 2 months ago due to the global financial crisis – which hit Korea particularly hard. I had about 3 weeks of unemployment before our trip to the US, which I used to train for the Angkor Wat half marathon – Naomi beat me by 2 minutes, but we were both very pleased to finish around 1:50 – and then to prepare for our trip back to the states (and to get pretty good at crosswords).

Since returning, I have once again found myself seeking the most productive and valuable way to spend my time. I have begun to study Japanese – something I have always wanted to do, but never had the mental energy to do it. It has been REALLY nice to get to practice with Naomi, and I am thankful for this one great activity to help direct my mental energy – not that crossword puzzles are a complete waste of time, just that speaking and reading Japanese might provide more long-term returns.

I have once again started looking for jobs and volunteer opportunities… but I am hesitant to jump into the first volunteer position that I can find. After living here a year, I am more skeptical of NGOs than ever – questioning whether the sum effect of their overwhelming presence here in Cambodia.

Naomi continues to pour her energy and heart into her work with IJM, and I know that one of the best things I do here is to support her in this season. It’s definitely a blow to my ego, but we both know that God is doing some truly significant work through her, and it is my pleasure to play just the smallest supporting role.

OK that’s it. Just a quick update on what I’m up to. I’ll try to get another post up in the following weeks. I’ve been taking a lot of photos these days with my free time, and will try to get some links up soon.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia