Pitter-patter, pitter-patter. All day, a heavy drizzle fell on the iron roof, each drop echoing in my upstairs apartment just under the corrugated sheets. Water stood in puddles and ran in muddy rivers down the road in front of the school building. A cool breeze blew through the apartment. For the first time since coming to Cambodia, I felt a chill.
I have never been one to sit still very long. I yearned for the rain to stop so I could go outside. Accustomed to the dry climate of my home in Colorado, I didn’t relish this wet weather. The rain clouds dampened my spirits along with the landscape. We were having a few days of vacation from school, and I had been looking forward to working outside and getting some things done. But now the rain. I was tired of working on lesson plans and computer stuff. My roommate was gone for the weekend, so there was no one to talk to. I had a bad case of cabin fever, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.
Finally, at 5 p.m., I had a reason to leave my apartment—prayer time at the home of one of the career missionary families. Deciding not to take the motorbike through all the mud, I asked another career family to give me a ride. I slipped on my sandals and zipped up my rain coat. I ran down the apartment stairs and locked the door behind me. Outside, a cool breeze tugged at my coat. Wandering along the school building toward the front, I came to the parking lot.
As I waited under the covered porch for my ride, relishing being outdoors, I scanned the scenery. A few dogs ran around the yard, and the neighbors across the street sat in their doorway eating rice. There were two parked school buses and next to them, a tent. This is the temporary home of the workers who are building the retaining wall in front of our school. A couple of tarps stretched over sticks and tied down to the side of a low bank was all the roof they had. Old concrete bags covered some open spots. Inside, a couple boards served as a counter, and some more were a bed. They had a hammock in there, too, but that was about all. I stopped short as I studied the crude structure, not even a quarter the size of my clean apartment. There are eight guys living in this tent with nothing to stop the rainwater from making muddy puddles on the floor or the chilly wind from whipping through. And here I had been complaining to God about being stuck in my clean, dry apartment! Oh Lord, I prayed, forgive my discontentment.
My situation didn’t get any better, but my perspective did. Instead of thinking poor me, I began counting my blessings. It was a good reminder that things are usually not as bad as they seem, and many of us are far more blessed than we often realize.