We spent our own “golden week” during China’s “Golden Week” (which meant school vacation) exploring some neighboring countries (Cambodia and Vietnam). Within a week we were in three different countries with three different alphabets with three different tone systems and three very different histories (I’m including China).
And I don’t ever want to forget the golden moments that made up that adventure of all adventures that are now woven snuggly into the tapestry of our family. Every now and again I looked around at my family, all of them gathered around me and my heart almost burst with gratitude that we got to do this together.
Sure, it was not all golden sunshine and light. There were the crazy moments wrapped tight right in there amidst the wondrous ones. Things like how one day we realized in horror that we left Elle back at the hotel after an hour on bumpy dirt roads in pouring rain (we were separated into two different vans and both thought Elle was in the other). And the sickening feeling that grips all of our hearts when we realize just how much Lucy can’t see, sometimes even in broad daylight as we helped her maneuver up and down countless over-worn, ancient stairwells. There were the little squabbles and the stinky clothing re-worn over and over in heavy, humid air.
But as always, the golden moments win out. They blanket the sad and annoying ones with a thin muslin of distortion and they all wrap up, the yin and the yang, into a beautiful package that we will always remember.
(Yes some of our kids are young, but I don’t know how any of us would be able to forget even if we tried when we have three photographers grappling with our cameras non-stop. Ha!)
I will only share a fraction of those pictures (which will still seem like a lot) because mostly I want to remember the “moments” from my notes I scribbled down each day.
Things like how the sunlight looked filtering through incense smoke at the entry of Angkor Wat and how one lady singing from her whole soul at church where we didn’t understand one word, filled my heart to overflowing.
As we prepared for the trip, I added some maps to our calendars at our house and gave the kids some assignments:
One of my “moments” was watching them take those assignments seriously…even coming up with power-points to help report what they learned to the family.
Little nuggets of knowledge that they would build on during the week.
And here begins my record of moments from my journal:
Waking up to the sound of a torrential downpour outside and the voices of our neighbors from the desert in the hallway (we had flown in late the night before). Joyous reunion at the complimentary breakfast where the kids’ eyes sparkled with wonder as they piled their plates high with chocolate-laden waffles and croissants.
Trying the delicious traditional Cambodian breakfast of rice noodles with chicken.
Loading in the rental vans in the pouring wetness of the rain, kids in one van, adults in the other, in awe of the flooded roads and how people still got around just fine.
Even with vans loaded to the very hilt and then some with supplies of everything imaginable.
A road-side stop to eat tarantulas.
We all tried the legs.
Surprisingly not so horrible as you would imagine, but the little tarantula hairs remaining in the mouth for a long while after that were a little bit on the queasy side for us usual-non-bug-eaters.
There were all kinds of other things for sale we didn't venture to try...
Watching Grace make friends with these cute local girls, trying to communicate with little language understanding.
Lots of delicious pineapple from these girls:
The grumbling sound of the motor of our river boat, the happy smiles of children waving at us from their homes that lined the river. Women washing clothes, dogs barking, children splashing.
Church in all that thickness, not just the air, but the spirit…smiling, gracious members.
A giant grasshopper keeping the kids entertained in the window, loving singing along in English as they sang out loud and clear in Khmer (Cambodian).
Not understanding one word but feeling so much love in that room.
Watching Max and the missionary sitting translating next to him smile in unison when something funny was said. Pondering where he will be a couple years from now, possibly doing the same thing for someone else. Air got thicker.
Smiling kids in primary and youth classrooms.
Talking to the sweetest man who pulled me aside as we were leaving…he had lived through the Khmer Rouge all those years ago. Heartbreaking things. Broken but so whole after finding the gospel and letting it change his life for the better.
Khmer dinner and hours driving back to the city over even-more-bumpy-from-the-morning-downpour Cambodian dirt roads.