No room for us

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{This is the third installment in my Reflections from Cambodia.  Be sure to check out part one and part two.}

Kim’s face is filled with regret.  He speaks in English, stumbling over his second language.  He profusely apologizes over and over.  I simply accept it and smile gently.  My friends do the same.  I nod and assure him it’s okay.  He apologizes again that the hostel got my reservations wrong.  That we don’t have a place to stay.  He tips his head down, eyes downcast, waiting.

He expects me to scold.  To rage and yell and threaten.  I see it in his eyes.  He expects me to do all that because I’m a foreigner and from his experience, that’s what foreigners do in Cambodia.

But I’m not just a foreigner – I’m also a Christ follower.  I seek to follow His example in each part of my life.  I’m not perfect.  Far from it.  But I follow the Spirit’s leading this day, calmly accepting his apology and telling him I’m not angry.

His head slowly raises.  His expression is incredulous.  Foreigners always get upset when he makes a mistake.  Yet I am serenely standing there, with a peace that’s not my own.  It’s that peace which comes from my Savior that overwhelms me there at the desk.

Together we work on finding other accommodations for the night.  Every minute or so, I feel him looking at me, trying to figure out why.  Why I am not lashing out at him, treating him like scum?  He tells me that almost all foreigners do so.  But I don’t.  My friends don’t.  He mulls over that the whole week.  He still can't comprehend it.  He sees such a marked difference in my friends and myself that he wants to know why.

Our week ends in Cambodia and we go downstairs to say our goodbyes to the hostel staff.  They are sorry to see us go - and not just because of our business with them, but because they know we treated them differently, with kindness and respect.  We leave with many well wishes from the staff, all smiles.

My friends and I write two notes – one for the staff and one for Kim, the desk clerk.  In these notes we share that we are followers of Jesus, that that's why we don't get angry or yell or treat them poorly.  I share the web address of a Christian radio that broadcasts in the country.   I tell them that I prayed for them and wish them a “God bless you!”.

Today I look back on our first arrival and my response to Kim’s apologies.  I kind of shake my head in wonder.  I didn’t do that.  I know that.  It wasn’t me speaking and smiling peacefully.  It was Jesus working through me, speaking through my lips.  He is the One who works in the midst of plan changes and interruptions and discomforts.  He’s the One who deserves the credit.

And perhaps that makes this story all the more needing to be told - because He's powerful and good and faithful and it's all Him.

I find myself whispering along with John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
 
 Never me, always Him.

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