It’s kinda like that bar on tv.
Except it’s located somewhere around kilometer 37 an hour outside Phnom Penh in the middle of nowhere Cambodia.
There’s no fancy bar stools waiting for you, but they offer blue plastic chairs that are stacked double for extra strength and tied together with rusted wires. There aren’t any cocktails and the only percentage you’re questioning is for the amount of sweetened condensed milk poured into your coffee.
But when it’s fifteen till seven and you pull up on a moto after a year of being gone; it’s like coming home.
Cause it’s a place where everybody still knows your name.
And as I climbed off the local transportation and walked under the low hanging ceilings strung with bug-swarmed lights, I was greeted with innocent pitched shouts of my name and the pitter-patter sound of bare feet racing to be the first one hugged.
You can’t beat a feeling like that.
My heart has never been so full, my grin reached from ear to ear as I sat and watched these beautiful children interact with one another, seeing how a year has aged them and made them so much wiser despite their youth, thinking back to the days when I taught them English and attempted to learn Khmer. My memory was painted with the days I played with them in the dirty streets and the sunset colored rice fields of this foreign land.
But I never thought I would come back.
And I never knew that they would remember me. That they would call me by name and recount all our interactions.
I never knew that I had an impact on their life.
And I thought back to the other months, to the moments I shared with those I came in contact with; the good and the bad. I thought back to the months I didn’t give my all, to the months I didn’t love to the fullest or choose to pour out my life. I remembered the months where I didn’t see those around me; where I chose not to be fully invested and fully alive.
Because I knew I was leaving. That my one month in that one location would be over and that after eleven of them I would return to the place I called home; only looking back when the pictures were uploaded on Facebook and the reminiscing of stories were requested over meals that didn’t include rice.
And with each face that came to mind, my heart broke a little bit more. I saw the look in the eyes I quickly darted out of contact with, and I felt the sadness of people I walked by; pretending not to hear their silent cry to be seen. My shoulders were straining under the weight of all the times I saw them hungry and finished my second helping, thirsty and refused them drink, naked and kept the shirt on my back, a stranger and lock the door behind me, sick and rejoice in my own health, in prison and deny them company.
I went. I saw. I left.
And that’s what you’re doing too. You’re going out, you’re being sent into people’s lives to love in a way that you’ve never experienced, to be challenged and to serve with everything you have. You get one month with people you may never see again. And you live your life accordingly; either choosing it, or not. And then you leave, just as suddenly as you came.
But what if you went back?
How would they remember you? Would they run towards you, shouting out your name with arms spread wide, or would they sit in the corner remembering more about you than the posed pictures and the over elaborated blogs you posted for your supporters? Would they be excited for your presence to be back in their lives, or see those white headphones hanging out of your pocket and remember the times they walked by you longingly; hoping for a little attention or even a catch of your eye?
What are you choosing to leave them with?
Because whether you like it or not, you have an impact on their life. Whether you believe it or not you are more than the hands and feet of God; you are the actual face of Jesus Christ our Lord and every action you make or don’t make, every look you throw their way, every hug you embrace or “no” you speak will change everything they know, everything they believe and everything they hope.
So will you keep sitting there, stuck in your own comfort and false pretense of unawareness to that voice in your head nudging you to pour out more, or are you going to run; with arms spread wide in the hope that you can scoop up more people than you can tally and show them a Love that the world says shouldn’t exist? Are you going to hold tight to the hope beneath your feet and truly believe that the more you lay down your life, the brighter your light will shine, the deeper your fire will burn and the more abundant your life will be?
The choice will always be yours.
But it’s time to decide.