Post-arrival #5: Reflections after 5 years on location

Me with my school small group at Khmer New Year

In January it was six years since we first arrived in Cambodia. I’m about to start my seventh semester of teaching at the Bible school (PPBS). It’s the first year I’ll be able to teach the same subjects a second time and I’m looking forward to tweaking content rather than weekly content creation for the first time. Its also the first time I’m teaching without a translator in class. Look at me with my big boy pants on.

I remember speaking to a missionary at Summer School (CMS’s annual conference) and he was talking about the missionary timeline. He said something like this. First term just aim to survive. Don’t die. Stay married. Second term aim to make a list of all the things you might want to do. Third term address the first point on that list. What was useful about this observation was keeping my expectations realistic about the slowness and patience required in mission work. This has been a helpful frame that has proved true from experience so far.

There has also been a change in how I serve here in Cambodia. In the beginning it was very individually based. Though going to a language school, language learning is essentially something that you do yourself. You set your goals and work towards them. When I started teaching it was a similar phenomenon. I would set the syllabus and the content would come from there. Over the last year or so, as my proficiency in Khmer and teaching in Khmer has improved, I’ve taken on more responsibility at the school in a different way. Being involved in a more administrative capacity has meant that that essentially individual feature of the last five years has morphed to a more team or group approach at work. In essence working more as a team is just a different mode from primarily on your own at your own pace. This has been a change that has really only occurred in this second term. 

It’ll be interesting to see what change(s) occur as we finish out this second term and look to our third.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s