The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
~ Nelson Henderson
Now that I’m no longer ignoring my blog, I’ve been prompted by another (Thank you, Lori, for your post that stirred me into action!) to do a bit of gap filling on gap filling.
As do all internationally adopted children, my kids have gaps in their personal stories that can’t be filled. Not only do they have little information on their genetic links and the specific circumstances that preceded their adoptions, their country of birth is also somewhat of a mystery.
They know a lot about Cambodia, of course, from books and photos and films and the tales of our family history, but those can’t convey the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Southeast Asia any more than breathing into a freezer compartment can relate the experience of being cold enough to see their breath.
It has long been in the works for the kids to spend time in their birth country, and this happened for Sam back in February.
Some years back I wrote about Gay’s plan to have him accompany her on an annual housebuilding trip for Tabitha. She’s been doing this every year since Sam came home in 2003, and now that he’s eleven-years-old, it seemed the right time.
I had my concerns, of course, as any mother would seeing her young son travel far without her, but knew most of the building team (Brits, Americans, friends … ) and trusted in their dedication to my son’s safety and had the team leader, Dave Richter on my radio show just a month before, assuring me that Sam would be well looked after.
I won’t say that I was thrilled by him going, as I knew I wouldn’t relax until he was back under my wing, but his excitement was contagious and I knew he was leaving on the trip of a lifetime.
After almost two full days of travel, the first item on his agenda was a 10K walkathon benefitting the building of a women’s hospital in Phnom Penh which he completed with no problems whatsoever … and had raised almost £600.00 for on his Justgiving page. (He’d also raised over 3,000 Seychelles Rupees at a carwash conducted here!)
More difficult were the orientation visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the killing field at Choeung Ek. Although he has been familiar with the tragic history of Cambodia since he was old enough to turn the pages of a book, there’s a lot to process in those places for anyone, even more so a Cambodian-born 11-year-old.
The housebuilding days were a joy for him. Meeting and playing with the children in the village reaffirmed his hope for his compatriots. Working hard felt good, too, empowered as he was at his age to contribute something so substantial to some he knows are his people.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~ Anne Frank
Gay had wisely decided to end the adventure at Angkor Wat with its evidence of the rich and grand history that is also Cambodia … an amazing wrap to an amazing time had by my amazing son.
My love and my gratitude for my children are the greatest gifts I’ll ever know. They are all spreaders of light … candles all.
There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ~Edith Wharton
Here’s a video Gay put together showing some of the highlights of the trip. Huge thanks to Gay, to Tabitha Cambodia, Dave Richter and everyone involved in making this such a wonderful experience.