Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: 'Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn't have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.' Matthew 13:2-9

Last Saturday I joined some of the teachers and other students at my language school for a field trip to the countryside. We drove about an hour and a half outside of the city to a beautiful village. I LOVE the Cambodian countryside. Really, I love any countryside. As a child I took for granted that I lived among green grass, clean air, wildflowers, crickets chirping, starry skies. I never thought too much about the sensation of mud squishing between my toes or about the art of being able to identify poison ivy from several yards away. And, I didn't realize how important those things are to me, how life-giving they are to me until I moved to a city. A city with few trees and lots of concrete. A city that regularly smells of sewage and where grass is for looking at not for walking on.
All that to say, I was excited for the opportunity to get out of the city and see some green. The added bonus was that we were going to be learning more about the rice-planting process...and maybe even do a bit of sowing ourselves!
I love the simplicity of country living in Cambodia. I mean, why not take your cattle for a walk through the neighbors' yard while they sit outside and a snack of green mango dipped in chili salt? And, they will probably share with you while you pass by!
After learning a bit more about the rice planting process, Muyteang and I are heading toward the rice paddy, which we were assured was both leech- and snake-free!
Dany wanted a picture, too!
I love the brilliant green of rice paddies. This field was already planted. Gorgeous!
Our rice-planting instructors demonstrating proper technique. Be sure to roll your pants up well!
Much of the rice-planting done in Cambodia is done without the aid of machinery. The majority of farmers cannot afford modern machinery, so it is a lot of hard work. My understanding of the whole process is a bit limited, but I will explain to you the process as I understand it. At the beginning of the rainy season, fields are plowed, typically using a team of oxen and manual plow. Seeds are then sown in one field, or part of a field. After about a month, the seedlings are uprooted, tied into bundles (like the ones in the picture above), and transported to the other fields, which have been plowed and prepared for the seedlings. The seedlings are then planted in rows in the WET fields with enough space for them to grow and spread. This transplanting process is what we were doing last week. After this, the seedlings will grow for another 3-6 months, depending on the type of rice, before being harvested. There is the very brief version of (my understanding) rice-planting.
So, after our demonstration by the local experts, we slipped off our shoes, hiked up our pants, and in we went!
My friend Becki and I were hard at work, but our teacher Anin had a few suggestions for us.
Some children from around the village came out to watch all the foreigners try their hands at rice-planting.
I am pretty sure this hat made all the difference in my rice-planting abilities.
And, seriously, how can you not fall in love with this beautiful land? God certainly did make some beautiful countryside in Cambodia!
After about 20 minutes of planting and feeling as though we had made enough crooked rows in this poor auntie's rice field, we waded out of the rice field, washed off the mud, and walked back to the village church where we played Khmer games together, chatted with the local kids, ate rice (what else?!?) together, and visited some homes in the village before heading back to the city. It was a beautiful day! It was such a great experience to share in something, even if for a short time, that is so much a part of people's lives here. And, I was reminded of the importance of intentionally sowing seeds in fertile soil. It is such a painstaking process to produce a great harvest of rice, but the returns are amazing. The Kingdom of God is no different. Sometimes sowing seeds is a painstaking process, but the returns are well worth the work and the time. Because God has the perfect place in His Kingdom for ones just like these...

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post so much Heather! It was a beautiful picture of life in your neck of the woods :)