… I have seen the lice, I have smelt the stench …


Listening to one’s first hand experience coming back from Cambodia is not the same as what I have heard from many others.  The mindset, the expectation, the sighting of creepy crawly on children’s hair, the fear of squatting for bathroom, the fear of getting sick, the shock of the rural-ness of the country, the encasement of oneself to avoid any attack on one’s physical body, LITERALLY hits me like a boxing glove shuffling to my face.  I listened quietly and attempted nothing to defend but to quietly listen and to not offer different perspective.  All the while the entirety of my being wanted to beg to disagree, yet what good would it make to combat against such flights and heights of one’s first impression on a country when this is to me an open invitation to dive into His richness of grace and love for the people in Cambodia!  I listened, I nodded, with a heart being scalpel opened to a delicate surgical hands!!

I have seen the lice, I have smelt the stench, I have snuggled those dirt-filled hands in the nooks of mine in a very hot sweaty day, I have let their little bodies finding ways to lean against me to make themselves comfortable.  I have learned that when you are with the poor, when you cannot possibly distinguish the smell of poverty from one place to another, when your two dangling arms and one pulsating heart are wide opened to embrace the poor and the lice-filled hair, the love of Christ is flooding against all visible currents to fight against all possibilities for you to even get infected but truly becoming one of them and have your whole being accepting and embracing for who they are for they are precious in His sights.  For the stench of dirt and scum are the inviting aroma of not alienating yourself from them, and becoming a part of this love-thread intertwining with one another gaining strength with every twist and nod that makes a cord of three-strands that is unbreakable and un-entanglable.

How can you possibly reject them on all counts??

How can you even see those lice as lice that bite and infest??

How can your attention be focused on the squatting hole in the middle of soiled ground where thousands upon thousands of people indeed live in such condition for decades?

I remember that day vividly again and I wrote mine more than 2 years ago, and I still remember vividly her lice-crawled head lying on my legs that afternoon.  I remember her and the aroma of Christ that she brought to my senses,

“She rested her head on my leg the way my daughter likes to do when we hold each other.   Her feet was touching mine and she felt so comfortable just lying down closing her eyes.  So here I was having these two little girls finding respite in my arms, and I simply offered myself to them both.  It was hot that afternoon, the smell of their head-lice hair was rising up.  I was re-arranging the hair of the girl and thought to myself, that was what Jesus wants me to do, to have my arms opened to them even only for that particular moment.”

Oh Lord, I long to see them again, I long to pack my heart and my suitcase ready to pay them a visit.  I long to be there again and once again experience what He has shown me has never changed.  The smell becomes an aroma, her smell becomes my trail following Christ in places only He desires to reside, reign and rule.  Oh Lord, lead not only my physical being, but more of my heart to follow you even when the stench gets stronger that stinks the hair in my nose, even when the swale gets muddier that soaks the sole of my shoes like wet cement.

I paused before this computer screen glaring, a beautiful spread shaped like a fantail of light, creating a chiaroscuro of dazzling yellows and inky shadows that depicts accurately about Cambodia.  In the hour before this day is done, in the hour before the whole country is awaiting for the election results, in the hour before one visit to the lost, and one visit to embrace the lost, in the hour before one’s action is not condoned, yet one is never rejected and always accepted in love, in the hour creation pulls out all its stops — hammers light like gold flake on leaf and blade and flank, embroiders shadows dark and thick in forest and trench.  All I could see is His glorious light dazzling not only the visible eyes, but our invisible praying hearts for this nation.


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