Over the din of the restaurant, I recognized the familiar intonation and sounds of the Khmer language, though I could not make out any words. I strained my ears and sent glances over as discreetly as I could. “I think they are Khmer,” I half-mouthed and half-whispered to Eric. He cocked his head a little and joined me in listening. A word filtered through here and there. Sure enough, our restaurant neighbors were Cambodian, not something we would expect when halfway around the world in Orlando, Florida.
We had just landed in Orlando the evening before and had not had a chance to stop and buy breakfast groceries. We had already had an eventful day: nearly missing our flight due to a last-minute gate change, barely catching the shuttle to the rental car lot, and a few other minor close calls. (We are still figuring out the art of traveling with two little kids). But we soon realized that this meeting with our new friends was no accident.
“My children are both Khmer citizens,” Eric said as he launched into a conversation in Khmer with the older couple. Their faces lit up.
“Oh, what a blessing to meet you!” the wife exclaimed. In no time, she was pinching Osiah’s cheeks like a typical Cambodian grandma.
Within the first five minutes, the husband placed a video call to his daughter in Cambodia to introduce us. The couple even invited us to their house for their Lunar New Year celebration that weekend! Finally, the husband chided his wife, “Let them eat!” But we still conversed over our meal.
They shared how they had become Christians after moving to America. This was before we were even born. We also learned that their daughter is on a mission trip to Cambodia.
The couple was so impressed with how everything had lined up for them to sit next to us. They almost had not come to that restaurant. They thought about sitting at a table outside. Then they almost asked for a window seat inside. If one of our boys had not had an epic meltdown that morning, we might have finished eating before they even arrived.
The couple left before us, and a while later, our server came over and said, “Your check has been taken care of, so you are free to go whenever you are ready.” In typical Cambodian fashion, the husband had snuck off and paid our bill. We felt so blessed.
On Sunday, we joined them for a meal at their home. They had prepared a vegetarian meal, especially for us, and sent us home with the leftovers. God made it clear that He still has His eye on us — whether in a tiny village in Cambodia or a bustling American city. He is confirming His love and care for us, even by providing a free meal (or two) and a chance to practice our language skills while we are on furlough.