The Cham Mafia

Rose Russell November 29 2017, 1:36 am

I love our neighboring Cham village. The entire village is family, they take care of you like you’re one of them, and they love having you over for food or coffee. Last year Mia was teaching English at their mosque and lived with a local family since the 30 minute moto ride to the main house was too dangerous to drive at night. She has since been adopted by the family, as well as the grandparents Pu and Ming even though she no longer works in the village.

Pu and Ming are the sweetest people I have had the pleasure of meeting here. I introduced Pu in my last post as the grandpa, and Ming has come to our Thursday clinic several times and has received treatment. Pu is a story teller and coffee connoisseur. He was 16 years old when the Khmer Rouge happened (Mia has volunteered him to tell us stories) and he has invited us over for coffee after clinic. We climbed up the tall narrow stairs to their nice, but dark, main room where Ming already had hot water waiting for us. I love listening to them talk, but had to decline the coffee because I can’t handle that much caffeine and they were very gracious and understanding. Fun Khmer fact, if you are served something you don’t want or don’t know what it is and don’t plan to eat it, you just say “at je nyam” which literally translated means “I don’t know how to eat that.” and no further questions are asked.

Cambodian coffee is served in little pre-made packets with stunning amounts of sugar, then once its mixed in water, they add even more sugar almost to the point of sludge then slowly sip it for a half hour. Pu loves trying the different flavor packets and becomes really excited when he finds one he hasn’t tried yet. One of these day’s we’ll bring him a gift of some real coffee from Phnom Penh and see how he like’s it.

This week we had to make a Phnom Penh run to re-supply and have the van fixed (for the third time in 3 months). Lorena and I met Mia at this lovely little cafe where she told us about the last two days. Now that she is working at Jesus for Asia, Mia needs a vehicle of her own to take trips out to a building site for a new school, and back to our village to stay with her adoptive family. Well Pu decided to make sure she got the best car possible so he sent two nephews who run taxis to check out dealerships and various cars Mia was interested in. At the dealership they eventually bought the car at, Mia heard the two nephews telling the salesman “Now this car better work. Its for a girl so it has to be perfect and run very well. And it has to be pretty because she’s a girl.”. Other things were probably threatened, outside of Mia’s hearing of course, because the dealer fixed up the car down to the last little buttons, payed the taxes for registering the car, gave her his phone number in case she ever had problems, and begged her to bring it back it to fix a switch that wasn’t working.

So this is family. It’s something we really don’t have in the US anymore. We are teaching the Cham about a Heavenly Father and family, but in the meantime I think they can teach us about our family here on earth.