The slapping grandma

She wears a checkered towel on her head, bares her toothy grin, and her eyes twinkle with untold secrets and jokes.

When we first met her, we were told that she always slaps others as a way of showing love.
We laugh at this, because it honestly sounds really odd.

We wave at this beautiful woman every time we see her in the village.

A few days ago, she sees me, Morgan and Amber getting “Kah Fey” from the coffee lady, and she tags along with us as we walk back to class. She chatters on and on about something, and we laugh and try to “make conversation” even though none of us knows what the other is saying.

She grabs our arms, comparing skin color and arm hair texture.
I walk ahead of her and she reaches out and suddenly slaps me on the back.
I laugh and wrap her up in a big hug.
She laughs, too, and grabs my hand—we continue to walk hand-in-hand down the dirt path.
As I glance at her and see the smirk in her eyes, matched so perfectly by the grin on her face, it makes me giggle. I wonder what she’s thinking.

When we make it back to class, we keep trying to make conversation. She smiles, pinches my cheek and stomach, then slaps me good a couple of times.

I can’t help the laughter that explodes from me as I attempt to process what is happening.
I have never experienced anyone like this and it cracks me up!
Morgan, Amber and I are dying with laughter but, for the sake of modesty, are attempting to hold it in.
We’re not very successful 😛
Our translator, Ravy, stands by, very amused as he watches this unfold.

Today she drops by to say hello as we teach our classes, and the same scenario unfolds.
I love the playful look in her eyes as she hugs us hello.

She sticks around for a little while, and then disappears. We think she’s gone home, when she reappears.
By this time, we’re in-between classes, enjoying our break.
It’s one of our favorite things – lounging on the hammocks strung haphazardly between the trees, right next to the cows.

I see her standing there, and then the next moment I see her topple over.
I rush to help, but she brushes me off. She stands up and staggers around for a few moments.
It takes me just a couple of minutes to realize what is really the issue.
She’s drunk.

It’s so hard, because this woman is so beautiful.
She has lived her whole life in this village. She has seen so much. She has a beautiful family.
She communicates through smiles and slaps to show love.
It’s hilarious, endearing, and unique.
But somewhere deep inside of her is broken and hurting, and she turns to alcohol to numb the pain.
It breaks my heart.
I can feel God’s deep love for her and I know she holds a special place in His heart.

I really wish I knew Khmer (pronounced Kah-Mai) so I could talk to her.
I wish I could tell her of the love of Jesus and how He’s been so faithful in my life.
But, there’s something inside of me that tells me, “Not yet.”
Something that says right now, I just need to show her love, and let her slap me if she wants.

I’m going to keep praying, that the seeds planted will grow. That the Jesus she’s heard about becomes her true Life and Sustainer, and that she receives the love of her Heavenly Father, who loves her so very much.


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