I've got a pretty cool dad. And I know most people think that about their own fathers - and maybe it's true - but I really lucked out being the spawn of the thoughtful, considerate man that I did.
When I told most people I was considering moving to Cambodia for a year of service, learning, and growth, I got a mix of reactions, many of which questioned my motives and mental sanity. My father, however, was nothing but supportive and excited from day one. I remember sitting across from him over a nice meal out, and him putting down his whiskey with a resounding thud, and hearing him say the following: "This is what you're meant to be doing." Throughout the year, he has made a point to call me frequently to ask about my life here, to tell me that, indeed, nothing has changed at home and while he misses me, he supports me. That's all any of us could ever ask from a father - support, interest in our lives, and unconditional love.
One of the greatest gifts my father gave me before leaving was a small stack of note cards to open on occasion throughout the year. Each one holds a small blurb of wisdom or inspiration, and I've opened them faithfully approximately once or twice a month. Each time I open a card, I've used it as a point of reflection - an idea to meditate on in relation to experiences in Cambodia. In this way, despite long distances and audio-delayed occasional Facetimes, my father has continued to remain incredibly present in the person I am growing to be.
On this Father's Day, as a way to say thanks, I want to share some of these words of inspiration and some excerpts from my written reflections on them. I know my thoughts are disjointed and incomplete and, in many cases, not quite where my head is at currently. But they're part of the journey that this year has been, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Here's to you, dad - thanks for continuing to help me be the best me!
Jenda and Suzan pick flowers on one of our regular walks around the village.
Suzan and Raksmey see their flowers for the first time before they perform their Khmer traditional dance at Christmas.
Dara helps a Kruos Granny with her vision test during a medical mission program.
A Kruos boy collects his water buffalo in a new creative way.
My host ma Lai Heak builds a sand model of Angkor Wat.
My fellow co-volunteers from Germany Manu and Andi and I get muddy in one of the ancient man-made water reserves at Angkor.
Susana embraces life playing on a bench while on vacation in Siam Reap.
My coworker Muntar and I pick rice during the December harvest.
My coworker SoThorng looks at her husband during her wedding ceremonies this May.
The other Cambodia YAGMs and I on a mid-year retreat to Cambodia's southern coast.
The Kruos rice fields. Home.
Love from our father and love from Our Father sustains us
Happy Father's Day to all the dads, father figures, and influential men the world over.