Learning Khmer has always been on my bucket list. I had one of those intensive 2 hour lesson (to prepare for the vision trip) going through some basic Khmer greetings, that in my opinion did not count as learning. Yet those definitely were His seeds planted in me which are now festering into a discipline of its own. The learning journey has been opening my eyes, ears and heart to a whole new dimension of love for this country.
The fluidity of this language takes a firm grip in me. I learn and understand a lot about its beautiful culture just by learning the language. It has been a month now. I listened to it on GO train, I practised it out loud when I drive (I think the car parked next to me could hear the Mp3 audio files playing in my car with all these odd sounds of foreign language), I mouthed the words when I walked to and from work for no one could hear me away in the drowning noise of downtown Bay Street. I look at my closet with an array of colours of different outfit, my mind immediately translated them into Khmer. It is quite fascinating how this language takes a grip on me.
Brown skirt, a pair of shoes, yellow T-shirt were all being learnt and understood in a different realms of sounds and tones.
… soam boot Poe-uh t’nowt, sbike jung muy goo, ow-oo yoot poe-uh l’ung …
The Lord blesses me with this as I truly find joy and fun in learning. I was hiding in a coffee shop last week learning words relating to “Going to the Market”. There are so many words which share such similar sound in the Chinese language, too, which I find it such an advantage as that would be one of the many ways to retain newly learnt vocabularies.
What impacted me most is when I was watching a Cambodian documentary last Saturday with our prayer group (heavy topic about young virgins being sold). That was my 3rd time watching it, so I tried to close my eyes and was able to pick up some words that I have learnt so far. The impact that it had on me was unthinkably heavy. I was able to pick up the words such as house, aunt, 30, money, died, values, old man, husband from the victims as they shared their experiences. Each word was carefully hidden in each sentence as they shared their experiences of being assaulted and dehumanized. Each word, such simple ordinary word brings about such pain and suffering and hopelessness of a human being, of a nation.
All these words, such ordinary words, “house, aunt, 30, money, died, values, old man, husband” immediately turned to be the most difficult words I had ever heard through the lips of a human being. Reading the subtitle in English throughout this one hour documentary is one thing, learning and banking in the vocabularies and understanding the reversal rule of the sentence structure is also one thing, but listening to a girl who is 15 years old speaking in their mother tongue describing their sadness, and hopelessness of their future threw me into a whole dimension of darkness and brutality. It makes the learning of this language more important and carrying more weight and most of all breathing in me His love and compassion for His people.
Deeper my feet sinking into understanding Cambodia, deeper my tongues and vocal chords practising all the vowels and consonents into understanding its culture, deeper my heart bleeding through stories after stories of assault and brutality, higher my prayers flying up to a few flight of stories to the gates of heaven for Cambodia!!
This morning I cannot help but break out into a song of praise, a song of deliverance for this nation, this is my prayer!!
Your love oh Lord, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies,
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
Your justice keep the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house;
You give them drink from Your river of delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light We See LIGHT!