"Same Same, But Different." These are the words from a t-shirt design that is popular here in Cambodia (as well as some other places in Southeast Asia I've noticed). It has "Same Same" printed on the front, "But Different" on the back. I can't help having these words pop into my head as I experience my first Christmas in Cambodia. There are Christmas trees here that look much like those one would see in the U.S. as well as tinsel garlands and other familiar decor, yet the overall composition usually has a Southeast Asian flair. In church there were Christmas songs, all in Khmer, some having familiar tunes, while most did not. There was the Christmas story which I got to see represented in two different church services, my own church today, and the church of one of my Khmer co-worker friends who invited me to go with her last week. In each there was the inclusion of some comic elements, something I don't generally see when watching the Christmas story re-enacted in the U.S. (at least not intentionally, though children's programs often have some unintended comic elements).
So, it's not like being home for Christmas, but I'm making Cambodia my home for now so I'm learning to appreciate the differences. I thought it would be fun to give you a little taste of the church service from today at my Khmer church, Gospel Commission Fellowship. I only got a few clips before I ran out of battery so you won't get to see any of the Christmas story re-enactment in which Mary cries out in Khmer, "my stomach hurts, my stomach hurts," as Joseph is trying to find room for them at one of the inns. (I hear this is a common feature of Khmer Christmas plays). Anyway, hope you enjoy!
On Tuesday I am going to spend Christmas day out in a rural village with one of my sweet Khmer teachers. It is her home province and her mother still lives there. It should be another fun adventure!