- It bothers me that when we come out of the grocery store after our weekly shopping trip, the food we are carrying to the tuk tuk (a small cart pulled by a motorcycle- common transportation in Phnom Penh and Bangkok) is worth more than a month's pay for the average Cambodian. Sometimes, the tuk tuk driver, or other people standing nearby, will ask, "How much did you pay for all of that?" I just ignore that question- not because I am offended (although I am still adjusting to a culture in which those kind of questions are acceptable), but because I am embarrassed to tell them, "Sixty dollars."
- It bothers me that when I am bartering for a good price for a tuk tuk, I am attempting to lower the price by one measly dollar. For me, one dollar is not going to make a difference in the least. But for the tuk tuk driver, he is fighting to get every last penny he can make just to meet his basic needs. Bartering is a legitimate defense mechanism for foreigners, if it is done reasonably. In most cases, if a tuk tuk driver can get you to pay $20 for a $4 trip, they will do it without blinking. Usually, if you don't already know a suitable price for a certain distance, and you ask the tuk tuk driver how much he expects, you can almost guarantee he is going to overcharge you by at least a dollar or two. The problem is that if we just pay without bartering down to the standard accepted price, the standard accepted price will start going up- for everyone, even Cambodians who can't afford to pay more. But even knowing that, it still seems ridiculous that I am bartering over one dollar.
- It bothers me that when I am soul winning, I hear comments like, "Why are you giving me this tract? How about some money instead!" or "If I come to your church, can you give me a job?" or "If I come to your church, will you give me money?" Honestly, I can't blame them for asking these questions! If I were in their situation, I would probably be doing the same thing! But it still bothers me- not because I am annoyed by their questions, but because it is such a challenge to get them to see their SPIRITUAL needs.
- It bothers me that less than a mile from my house, at the Wat Phnom (one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the city), foreign men mainly from Europe- some from the U.S. and Australia- meet there as a rendezvous point to pick up and abuse children who have been sold into prostitution. In some cases, the parents are the ones responsible for selling their children- a hideous act of desparation. In some cases, the children have been abducted. This is another result- in my opinion, the most cruel of all- of a country being poverty-stricken.
Of course, the last struggle that I mentioned is not only a reflection of physical poverty; it is more a reflection of spiritual poverty. And that is the need that we have come to meet. If I can be used of God to meet someone's physical needs, that is wonderful. But if I meet the physical need of a person without addressing the spiritual need, I have done absolutely nothing for that person. In fact, I have sinned against him and against God.