Wednesday, September 28, 2005

These two pictures are of the 3 days I spent in a really poor province of Cambodia, which is normally a desert. They had a little rain for the past two weeks so everything looks amazingly green and healthy, but this is a really poor area and the families here are depending on this rain for their lives.

I've got to say that scenes like this, after you've spent the previous 4 months living in a tight-packed, smog filled, urban slum, become sort of magical

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sorry it's been a while...

Well I wish I had a really good excuse for not keeping you all up to date recently, but I don't. I was going to try and say that since we were out of internet for a few days at the office and had to use internet cafes for email that it would have been too difficult to blog, but I really could have if I had made the time. The truth is that I've just been busy. I have a long day. I leave the house each morning just before half 7 and then get back home at night at about 7:00 at night. 3 days a week I get to eat lunch at home but other than that I'm running. I love it though generally.

I'm really getting into this drug research, finding out all sorts of things, and also about health conceptions. It's really interesting. The fact that I taught all my interviewees English for 3 months before I started interviewing means that the majority of them are really comfortable with me and willing to open up to me. I didn't plan on that so that's definitely great how it turned out.

Since I've last written, I've spent a few days in the country side. It was amazing, I was there to accompany one of our organizations doctors who goes down to work with patients at a small health center there once a month. Just being out of the city was amazing, and this province was unbelievably beautiful. The country life is such a contrast to my slum life. Amazing, and a real retreat. I also spent two days at a conference on contemplative prayer and spiritual formation, I know that probably sounds weird to most of us, cause it is a bit out of our usual vocab. But it was good a restarting my times of prayer as meaningful times and remembering that it's not just about me speaking but me listening aswell.

What else?... I've been able to get to know a few of our youth group members a little bit more, which has been good and met some other youth in the community. It's good to get to meet more of the non-Christian young people in my community because I haven't had many chances to interact with them. Cause I work at the day and there usually not around much at night.

Well, It's currently the Cambodian version of Halloween, called "the festival of meeting". Here though the festival goes for about 15 days. It's the time when all the spirits are let out of the afterlife and come back, so everyone is extra specially giving offerings to their ancestors and even to ancestors of people who don't have any living relatives. I guess that's very charitable. But, It's a big family time here (and also a time when everyone has the creeps). From October 1st -5th everything will shut down, so servants is having a one day retreat to use the time wisely. I'm hoping to get some rest too.

Well, I've got to run off and teach my evening class. I'll try and post some pictures soon.

Keep the emails coming! I love hearing from you all.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Taking my mind away from the slums...

Well, I spent yesterday afternoon doing something very frustrating. It wasn't necessarily frustrating because of what I was doing but more because I had to do it here in Cambodia, where I feel I could be spending my time in better ways.

Yesterday, I went about researching different UK universities that offer 5 year and 4 year medical degrees. There are suprisingly many medical schools in the UK, compared to just the 5 in Ireland. Since I'm not like a normal applicant (in that I already have a degree) I fall into the non-traditional applicants section. Thankfully the UK has had much more experience in this that Ireland has and so most schools are happy to consider me. I spent the afternoon figuring out which schools I can apply to (whose requirements I meet) and asking other schools who I wasn't so sure of what they would think of me. This meant lots and lots of emails and navigating more or less navigatable websites. The UK application forms are all due on October 15th and I will have to have narrowed down my choices to the 4 maximum that they allow by then.

I know this is important for my future but right now it is difficult to find the motivation, especially with the guilty feeling that I shouldn't be spending this much time on the internet, especially not in Cambodia. But living in Cambodia doesn't mean I can avoid all the real decisions I have to make about my future, as much as I wish it did. Anyway, I'd appreciate prayer for the right decision in which schools to apply and that one school would deem me worthy of offering me a place. Pray that this process would be easy and not terribly expensive (as I'm sure I'll have to travel to interviews if anyone is going to consider me).

Pray also that I won't let myself get wrapped up in the process to the detriment of the real reasons why I am here.

Thanks you for all of your support and prayers.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Just sitting here...

So I'm sitting here in the office, writing up an interview and it's lashing rain. I thought what a perfect time for another post.

I'm enjoying this part of my internship a lot. I've been having enjoyable times with my family and my work and PRAISE GOD, that this week has been really easy in terms of communication. Each week I feel that my level of understanding and speaking changes, but this week it's been pretty good, no huge frustrations.

So one funny thing about this week has to do with my host siblings. One of my t-shirts that I've had for a long time (and originally bought in a thrift store) fell in a puddle which had some oil in it, and so pretty much I think it's dirty for me to wear. But my little brother Tearum has decided that it's not too bad and has worn it several days this week. When he started wearing it, everyone starting calling him "Bong Michael"- meaning older brother michael- and them me "Ba-oan tearum"- little brother Tearum- it's been really funny because sometimes (like last night) when my 3 siblings were eating together they pretended as if I was eating with them. Tearum did an excellent job of intimidating me, and my struggling with Khmer, and then they tried to speak in english for a little bit (but that failed after about 3 words...). It's been a really fun week just messing around with my host siblings. We've been slagging each other right and left (and finally I know at least a little bit of how to respond).

Anyway, it's been a good week and I'm doing alright.

Some of you might appreciate this. I was sitting in a prayer meeting at our church last night and one of the leaders in the church was praying for unity in the Christian church in Cambodia, he prayed that all the denominations, catholic, protestant, baptist, 'mormon', methodist and presbyterian would be one in Christ. No one else in the room except for the pastor and myself new what these words meant so it doesn't really matter. At least his prayer was an expression that there's very little denominationalism here in Cambodia and that's a good thing.