Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gecko Tails
August 2017

  Adventure, Mission and Bringing the Message to Those Still Suffering

My eyes shot wide open.  Groggy, but awake I then hit the button on my phone to check the time. It’s 4:45 am.  What the….?  My alarm failed to go off. We were supposed to be on the road by 4:30 am!  Rism, frism, grism &%x@Z#!  Bophal’s phone rings. Mr. Deth has been outside for 30 minutes waiting for us to emerge. Last night as we were going to bed, the Messenger app on my phone kept dinging and dinging. Bophal asked me to turn down the sound so she could sleep. Hence no hearing an alarm go off at 4 am! As soon as I turn the sound back on, staccato blasts of dings, one after the other of texts telling me to wake up shatter the quiet dark room.  The last text message in the whole slew of messages from Mr. Deth, who is waiting impatiently in the van out front, says; “I am leaving now!” 

Honey, please call the Mr. Deth,” I said, as I jumped into the shower, brushing my teeth and showering at the same time. Meanwhile, Mr. Poya and Mr. LKL are jarred out of a deep sleep by Bophal, a woman now on a mission. They also failed to wake up on time. And John, our 13-year old son, who was supposed to wake up and open COP front doors and gates, did not.  And thus we could not get out of COP because he could not find the keys!

Finally, we rally and are off about 5:15 am. I ride shotgun holding a blazing hot cup of Starbucks instant coffee that is sloshing around in my Seahawks mug that I am trying desperately not to spill into my lap.

With all the confusion and rushing around, it was a pure miracle I didn’t forget my material and supplies. Once on 4-day trip I forgot my underwear.

Three and a half hours later, after we cross a muddy, overflowing, and raging wide Mekong river in our van on a small ferry, we arrive at the Catholic Church Khum Trea, Kompong Cham province.

We begin our seminar in the church building that is both beautiful and spacious. Brilliant flowers of all kinds are planted around the church and other buildings. Scores of butterflies are flitting about. Alcohol Addiction and the influence it has on family members is the topic of our seminar and the team begins by focusing on principles from Al-Anon and then later in the afternoon, we talk about AA’s 12 Step program. 40 people between 25 and 50 years old show up, and most are women. Because of flooding, the men, most of whom struggle with addiction have to stay home to bring their cattle to high ground. The Al-Anon lessons were exactly what the women needed. Although we were deep in the interior of Cambodia, and the people were uneducated, they engaged with the material and our methodology rather well.

Our daylong seminar was successful though we had some challenges. We had to improvise constantly according to the needs and understanding of our audience.  Now 40 people would spread the news about Al-Anon and AA to friends and relatives. Having suffered emotional trauma from an alcoholic husband or family member, they were committed to applying some of the principles of Al-Anon for self-healing, and now have a viable alternative to offer their husbands if they want to stop drinking.

As soon as we hit the road, we were met with an intense downpour. An already flooded section of the country was getting even more rain. We slipped and slid up and onto the ferry and the pilot had to take extra time negotiating the violent headwaters of the Mekong.  The late afternoon sun broke through the storm clouds as we slid down the exit ramp to slippery red mud road and fished tailed up the steep incline to the paved road where the wheels caught traction. The van driver took a detour back and we drove through some of the most beautiful country I had ever seen in all my years in Cambodia. I was overcome with awe. The team: Mr. LKL, my A.A. sponsee and respondent; Mr. Poya, the ONYX assistant; Mr. Nou Vandeth, my colleague in men’s work; and me, all enjoyed the incredible beauty of the area, the adventure, and the challenge of our day’s mission. We were invited to return in September.

 Peace to you!    Brian 

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