Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. Coming back was a bit more difficult then I thought. I took T-Giving week off to be with my family, and spent most of it sleeping on the couch or watching USA. It was not the trip home I had expected, but, then again, what trip has been?
Being back in DC was overwhelming. Everyone asks about my time away. And my responses got boiled down to, "Great! Fantastic! Fun!"
"Fun?" Someone challenged me.
"Yeah..." I took a second re-thinking my last statement.
Parts of the trip were really fun. The team was fantastic, the things were saw were hard, yes, but I saw glimpses of God in them. Nothing was as hard (to see, to interact with, to take in) as I thought it was going to be. I enjoyed our day in the home, our time at the school, the day in the village. Even seeing a bunch of slum kids brushing their teeth was a moment to be remembered.
The trip was not hard. It was hard coming back. It is hard answering the questions of what I do with all this. It's hard being here. It was hard not engaging the people more. It's hard to know what to do next.
The trip was intense. There was incredible evil and poverty and sadness - but it was contrasted with the difference doing work in His name can have for people. Cambodia is changing, Cambodia is getting better, Cambodia is growing.
We were discussion porn yesterday at lunch - and everything I tried to attach to the country - it's severe addiction to porn, the lack of opportunity for the people, the lack of social shame over certain acts, etc. - they could attach back to the U.S. That doesn't make any of it ok - but it does show that each culture has its way of coping with things. Someone in Cambodia made the comment that to them, going to the strip club is like going to Starbucks for us. It's ingrained. Even in our own culture porn is becoming more and more accepted. I watched a show last night on TV where the defendant was trying to say porn made him rape because it blurred the line of right and wrong in terms of what a woman wanted. They compared severe porn addiction to alcoholism. We have a show on E! about the Playboy mansion. Even in this time of "economic uncertainty" the porn/prostitution industry is thriving. Pimps are not releasing women because there is no demand, traffickers have not decide to sell drugs because sales of women are bad...
Child trafficking and the prostitution of women is rampant and visible in Cambodia. But it's not a problem isolated to that country. In fact, pressure is mounting in Cambodia for pedophiles so they are going to Guatemala and other Latin American countries to get their fix. More Cambodian men go to brothels then foreigners. The Vietnamese in Cambodia are treated worse then second class citizens with no course of justice because they are so hated. The poverty that marks the country means the cycle of slavery will continue to thrive...
So how do you change a culture?
Very slowly. Grains of salt finding their way into the culture and ripple out.
It takes time to get people to believe/think an action is not okay, just like it took time (and slow progression) to get people to think it was ok.
And that difference can be helped by me, sitting in DC, by being intentional to tell others what I saw and to become engaged and connected...