Lessons from This and That

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Four years ago, I found myself immersed in the vibrant culture of a Pnong village, surrounded by the lush greenery of Cambodia’s countryside. It was there that I first encountered two little girls, cousins with Pnong names This and That. Their laughter echoed through the village as they chased each other with boundless energy, their innocence a stark contrast to the challenges faced by their community.

Returning from a four-month furlough, I stepped off the dusty road and into the familiar embrace of the village. As I made my way towards the school, I was startled by the sight of two figures racing towards me with open arms. It was This and That, their faces beaming with excitement and joy. In the time since we last met, they had grown taller, their smiles even brighter than before.

They clung to me as if we had never been apart, their chatter a melodic blend of Pnong and broken English. With infectious enthusiasm, they eagerly told me of their adventures in the school built specifically for the Pnong people.

Later that day, as I wandered the school grounds, I was met with another pleasant surprise. That’s mother, a hardworking woman with weathered hands and a warm smile, presented me with a small green tomato from the school’s vegetable garden. It was a simple gesture, yet it spoke volumes about the progress and growth within the community.
Seeing This and That thriving in school filled my heart with joy. Their eagerness to learn and grow served as a reminder of the resilience and determination of the Pnong people. Despite the challenges they faced, they embraced each day with a sense of hope and optimism.

As I reflected on the day’s events, I couldn’t help but marvel at the lessons I had learned from This and That. Their unwavering love and resilience taught me the importance of embracing each moment with gratitude and grace. Through their eyes, I saw the beauty of God’s love for the Pnong people, a love that transcended borders and languages.

In This and That, I found not just two little girls but beacons of hope and inspiration. They reminded me that even in the midst of uncertainty, there is always room for growth, learning and love. As I watched them disappear into the school building, their laughter echoing in the air, I knew that the future held endless possibilities for This, That and the entire Pnong community.

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