Mr. Masaya Takahashi was sent to Kompong Luong, Cambodia in 2006 and completed his five years' mission in July 2011. He has a lot of memories about the people he met during his stay.
By Mr. Masaya Takahashi (Yonezawa Church, Niigata Diocese)
Having completed my mission in Cambodia and come back to Japan three months have passed. Sometimes I recall the days in Cambodia, but when I am busy in my daily life in Japan, I feel my Cambodia time as an illusion.
I relaxed in my home for a while and conducted some debriefing sessions. After that I got a new job and started to work. I am on the way to the next stage of my life. Prior to that, I like to close my Cambodian days. This is my last "Letter from Cambodia".
Farewell to everyone
When I was going to terminate my Cambodia mission, I was imagining the scene of leaving the people in the floating village. "What will they say to me?" "Maybe they are not so sentimental...." After all I did not know what would happen. All I knew was that I would cry for sure.
When the last day was approaching the village people said something here and there. The words in the brackets are my thoughts.
A: "Masaya is leaving us. He will not come back, won't he?" (I am leaving not because I no longer like you.)
B: "Is he leaving this month? Why not apply for the extension for one year?" (At this last moment? I have already bought the air ticket.)
C: We will feel sad and lonely after he leaves. So we should have a bad term with him now so that we wont' miss him. Shall we hate him now?" (Oh, very unique idea.)
D: "Are you going somewhere? Please buy some medicine for me at Phnom Penh on your way back here. (He does not understand that I go back to Japan for good. I won't be back. What a shame!)
The church leader Mrs. Panam whom I contacted, talked, called, argued, consulted with, worried about and was deceived by the most in my Cambodia life said to me, "You really go back, don't you? I will hit you. I mean to hit you hard. Then you'll have a pain. The pain will make you to remember me, won't it?" "-----" I felt shy. (She is good at talking.)
The very day came. I went to Phnom Penh to receive my father. He came to Cambodia for the first time just before my last day of Cambodia, and next day I brought him to Kompong Luong Floating Village.
From the city we went to the dock through the rough road which I had gone up and down more than thousand times and boarded the boat. It is our school boat which was made by the support and donation from Japan. (It broke down many times and costs so much for repair...) Though the scene of the floating villages is too familiar to me, it gives me different feelings and discoveries every time. The scene often changes because the village people often change their house boat, which is unique.When we arrived at the church, the children were waiting for me lining up. I thought I was a guest this time. I used to get children to line up to welcome our guests but this time they welcomed me. They were all familiar to me. They were studying in the literacy class in the church or had completed the class and were studying at the public school or dropped out of the class or were from poor families and had never entered to school or children of the church people. When I saw their singing, I recalled memories of each child. I share the memories with everyone. I patted them on the heads and sometimes butt. (I wondered whether they would remember me.)
Some selected children sang a song with choreography which they had practiced so hard. The song was familiar to me but had the different words meaning "Thank you, Masaya, for having let us to go to school. We'll never forget you." They danced singing the filksong. I found the literacy teacher Ms. Roata who was usually shy was dancing with them this time. (They are aperforming very hard for me.)
In return my father played a guitar and sang. (Why my father?!) It was my father's hobbyhorse, "Baraga saita (Roses bloomed)" which was not a piece for children at all. Before singing he was requested to translate the words. The children appreciated the song very much and my father had overwhelming requests for encore. He felt good and sang "Hitorino chiisana te (A small hand)". It was appreciated again!!
He was fully satisfied and distributed sweets to the children with smile. (Who is the leading?)