Clerk: "How are you?"
Kate: "Eh, my throat hurts."
Clerk: "Oh, is your backpack too heavy?"
Kate (not sure how this relates): "Um, no, it's not."
It wasn't until after I had paid for my drinks and was almost to the office that I realized what happened. We were speaking Khmer, and the words for "neck" and "throat" are the same. Another fine example of how it's possible to have a conversation using the same words, but be talking about two very different things.
The average age of these women was probably fifty. There were some women there who were in their seventies. When I think of what these women have seen, individually and collectively, in their lifetimes, I’m astounded. They’ve lived through colonialism, through civil war, through genocide, and reconstruction, things I’ve read about and never witnessed. They are a testament to the resilience of the human race, and they’ve done it all while raising families, living in poverty, and with little education.
Before we left the meeting, we prayed for these women. One of them asked me to pray for her feet. I have to say, when I looked at the dirty, gnarled feet she put before me, I was a bit disgusted. But then, when I thought about where these feet had carried her, what they had walked through during her 70 years of life, it was easy to put my hands on those limbs and ask God for healing.
One of the women at the meeting was named Chel. She is 65 years old, and her story was pretty amazing. When she was 62, her husband died. For the next two years, she was constantly sick. Her son and daughter spent all their money on treatments and medicine, even selling their property to pay medical bills. She didn’t get any better. Finally, with nowhere else to go, her children brought her to the church. There, the believers prayed for her. She went home that night and came back again on Sunday, when she became a Christian. After the church members prayed for her, she got better, without any treatment or medication. Now, her whole family are Christians, and she says, “I continually pray to God for strength, and thank him for good things He provides, like my harvest.”
When I sit in meetings like this one, with sweet and honest women like Chel, it’s easy for me to see how the Scriptures about the meek, the humble, the poor and the lowly receiving the Kingdom of Heaven are true. Because a room full of world leaders or media superstars wouldn’t have shared with me their stories of heartfelt transformation. They wouldn’t have teased me about how young I looked, how white my skin is. And they wouldn’t have asked me to put my clean hands on their dirty feet and beg God to do something only He can do.