*First, I have to make a disclaimer that I don't have all the photos that I want to share because my photography skills leave much to be desired. I can't wait until I receive the pictures from my traveling companions considering that the St. Johns snapped 900 + and I ended up with a meager 114. I'll add them as the come in...
So, after the church gathering we headed out to lunch. As a group we decided that Ronda would order for us at our lunches and dinners and we would all share the delicious cuisine laid before us. From the conversations I had with the St. Johns prior to leaving I thought we were going to have a subsistence diet of rice and beans for every meal, but this was far from the case, we ate very well and I am even now inspired to cook more asian food because it is so awesome.
The first thing I discovered is fish sauce. I'm not exactly sure what goes into it, but wikipedia says, "Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment."... not appetizing?? Well, its served at every restaurant with chilies and garlic. You can use it as a dipping sauce or to pour over your rice. I decided to try it and loved it. It has a flavor similar to soy sauce but is lighter in color and a little bit less runny. If you ever see it on a menu don't let it scare you. I have definitely shied away from fish sauce descriptions before, but now I am a new woman, bring on the fish sauce :)
Steamed White rice is the staple of the Khmer diet for sure. We had it at least 2x a day and could have as much as we wanted. The waiters would come with a steaming bowl and keep scooping it onto your plate whenever you took a break from eating. At this point I was still a little sketched out my the meat selection, but am trying to go with everything. Just focus on the conversation and don't worry about the sanitation... okay, okay, okay... it worked for the most part!
During lunch we chatted about life with Ronda and she has some pretty freaking awesome stories. I asked her how she came to know Jesus. She met him in the Refugee camp while trying to learn English....
You see, when Ronda was 16 she had to flee Cambodia because of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Her father and much of her family were murdered and spent weeks in the jungle dodging mines on her way to Thailand to find safety. While in the Refugee camp she desperately wanted to learn English, but all of the places they were teaching it kicked her out, all of them except for the Christians... so, she learned english through the use of the holy scriptures. These spoke to her heart and she came to start following Christ. The way she told the story was a beautiful picture of God grabbing her heart when she wasn't even looking for it, but in a way that was clear and sweet... Ronda's passion for Jesus still oozes from her every pore.
After lunch we packed into the big blue van and were off to Kampong Chhnang... no, not the same blue van as we have, but VERY similar!