On return from Malaysia, I had already waited through my new visa application, immigration, and customs, but I still had time to spare waiting for my ride at Phnom Penh Pochentong Airport. In an attempt to extend the comfort of the air-conditioned passenger-only zone, I rolled my suitcase and carry-on into the Duty Free Shop.
Always on the lookout for elusive milk-free chocolate, there it was! A thin bar of 76% Cocoa, Belgian Dark Chocolate. Hungry for a bite, I decided to buy Belgian.
Nita, the young Cambodian woman working in the empty shop, watched the process of me deciphering lists of ingredients in microscopic font as we chatted in Khmer and English—both a bit broken. I learned that apparently it gets boring for Nita with very few customers, so I reached forward with my Belgian bar in both hands and, with a slight bow, said in English, “I want to buy this from you.” I thought it might make her day!
Nita, incredulous, asked, “Buy for me?” Not having the heart to correct her understanding, I said, “Yes, for you.” But then it occurred to me she just might prefer milk chocolate. I asked Nita to pick a chocolate bar of her choice, but inwardly gasped when she reached for a giant, thick, nut-filled chocolate bar easily 10”x4”, with a price tag to match.
When Nita rang up the bill, I gently objected as I pointed to the price tag on the front of the glass shelf, “Oh, but your candy bar was eight dollars.” Nita replied, “Sorry, eleven dollar,” and showed me the correct price posted on the side of the shelf. Smiling at the irony and humor of the situation, and sensing this was a God-moment, I continued to chat. We ended up exchanging phone numbers and looked forward to meeting again soon.
Over time I came to discover that Nita works all day, studies accounting at night, and only has one free day each weekend. I have been praying to the Lord that the giant candy bar might speak to her of his love, generosity, and desire to meet her deepest longings. I look forward to seeing how our new friendship unfolds.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia