Through Facebook I was asked if Jesse and I wanted to join the Benz family in their adventure to the zoo; I declined very quickly. I had made the trek out to the Phnom Penh Zoo once already and one visit was plenty for someone who hates animals.
After I rejected the offer and told Jesse about it he was quit disappointed. I guess for Jesse going only once to see uncaged, winged, large, dangerous, half dead animals wasn’t enough.
The family was also surprised to hear that I would pass up a time to hang out with Hope. Once I found out about Jesse’s love for the PP zoo and that all the Bykota House kids were coming we decided to pack the sun screen and head off to the zoo.
The Bykota House is a Christian home for Cambodian children that have been abandoned. Hope is a beautiful 8 year old girl with cerebral palsy that I had a special bond with. Her, her brother, and mother lived in the pagoda across the street from my house. Everyday I would walk them into Sparrow’s Nest. Long story short Hope moved into the Bykota House is now part of a new family.
My expectations for the zoo were low. But I was really excited to spend the day with Hope and the Bykota House staff. To my expectations the animals were uncaged and freaking me out. I got followed by a Cambodian deer, a stork was on the loose and trying to bite people in the same proximity as me, and cage doors were off their hinges.
But none of those very scary situations were the key part of my day. I enjoyed watching Hope call the animals over to her. She enjoyed her time so much. Jesse got his work out pushing her over tree roots and down steep hills. (No place in Cambodia is made for wheels.) But the look on her face made his workout worth it. I think she loved the peacock the best. She saw it and her eyes lit up. She began making a clicking noise with her mouth and waving over the peacock. However, the monkeys she wasn’t too fond of.
It was a long hot day, but I will always treasure the look on Hope’s face as she watched the animals. She is such a gift from God and to see her in a loving family environment being able to go to a zoo is a life that no one could have ever imagined for her. She has gone from sitting alone on the side of street with a begging bowl in front of her, to laughing and being loved by so many.
A big thank you to the Benz family for the invite and for the Church back in the USA that made this experience possible for 30 kids.
God is so good.