About one week. That’s how long I have left in Des Moines. On August 19 I fly to Chicago for a week of training. On August 26 I will travel with the other six yagm volunteers to Cambodia. I have been looking forward to these two dates for some time now after I accepted the call to serve in Cambodia in April.
For those that don’t know, I am traveling to Cambodia with Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM), a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). For more information about this cool program check out the “About YAGM” page on this blog. I will be joining 73 other young adults in mission this year. We will be spread across the world in 9 different countries. The other yagms are some truly incredible people – passionate, kind, compassionate, interesting, etc. I am just beginning the journey within this community and I can already sense that it will be a remarkable experience as I join others others who are concerned with discovering more about others, the world, and themselves.
I guess I should also talk about where I will be living and working. My placement is in Phnom Sruoch, which is in the Kampong Speu Province located about 80 km (50 mi) SW of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. I will be working with the NGO Life With Dignity (LWD) in their area office in Phnom Sruoch. In addition, I will be teaching English to grades 4-6. I am really excited about this placement with LWD. It seems like I will have the opportunity to become familiar with many of the programs of the NGOs and also find my own niche while there. I am excited to work with the staff to learn more about the programs and live in community with them.
I have spent the last few months trying to prepare myself for the journey ahead, although I have discovered, as I could have expected, that “preparing” is more difficult than I can convey. There are not enough books, websites, language apps, packing lists, etc. that would make me feel “ready” for the journey. If I ever really felt “ready” for anything in life I wouldn’t do anything or go anywhere. So – I am embracing that insanely uncomfortable feeling of not feeling prepared. I am trusting the coordinators when they say that everything will be fine as long as we come with a great attitude, our passport/visa, and the motorcycle helmet we will receive while in Chicago (yes, you did read that correctly – If you know about my bike riding fear, I will be forcing myself to overcome that very quickly). Although I should spend a good amount of time this week thinking about packing and running errands, I am trying to be more focused on tying up loose ends at home, spending time with friends and family, and reflecting on the upcoming journey. My emotions seem to be across the board, changing each hour of the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the little things when getting ready to leave such as finding one more skirt or determining if I need another box of band aids. Worrying about packing has been a frequent material distraction. Needless to say, I am excited with a lot of terrified, nervous, anxious emotions mixed in.
Many friends and community members have been more encouraging and supportive than I could have imagined. I spoke with a some retired members of my home congregation, Windsor Heights Lutheran, last week about my experience and continue to speak with other members of the congregation when I get a chance. I am looking forward to speaking during worship next weekend and sharing about the program after the service. I have felt so much love from individuals in the congregation, Roanoke, and all friends scattered in between and I look forward to sharing more about YAGM with my supporting communities throughout the year.
Please keep myself and the other yagms in your thoughts as we prepare for this journey. I’m sure will need lots of lovin’ in the upcoming weeks.
If you are interested in supporting my YAGM year financially, please see the “About Haley” page on this blog for more information or you can send me an email.
I hope to keep this blog updated while in Cambodia, although I am unsure still how frequent electricity and wifi will be available where I am staying. I’ll be able to update more once I am in my community and know more about where I will be living.
Peace be with you,