Its always a great joy to be at COSI Orphanage! I enjoyed my 5 days renewing friendships with so many beautiful children. For many of my young team members (5 the youngest), it was a precious lesson of seeing and experiencing life without its material trappings. Yet, life there is so rich and meaningful. Our young friends embraced us warmly with their pure and simple hearts. Their laughter, humility, sincerity, kindness, joy and helpfulness were daily reminders of God's care and goodness to His children.
It was a busy time for us all with full on schedules and I had only just a small window of time to shop for a bike in Phnom Penh 35km away. I decided on a foldie as our 15 seater chartered bus was stuffed to the gills with 18 folks & tonnes of shopping. Yes, the shopping Phds were there. A quick visit to 3 bike shops revealed that it was nearly impossible to find new bicycles.
Most were used imports and I spotted a one speed Bridgestone foldie from Shinjuku Japan. It was black, had full mudguards and a useful rack. Asking price was a mere US$55 which sounded very reasonable. After some air in the tires and pedals fitted, I took it for a quick test ride and though it was a bit heavy (14-15kg I reckon), it rode surprisingly well. I offered US$40 but US$45 sealed the deal. "Blackie" was no longer an orphan and was whisked happily into our overloaded bus.
At the orphanage, I was giving rides to a queue of small kids like in a fun fair. Their squealing and laughter were priceless. That itself more than "paid" for the bike! There was also a baptism for 50 after lunch by the river 1.5km away and I rode Blackie there through meandering sandy and dusty paths.
On my way there, a menancing bullock cart blocked my path and I passed by it cautiously. Now, that is one green transport! It was hard work riding a one speeder but it sure beat walking in the hot afternoon sun. Given their challenging road conditions, I will concede that a mountain bike would be a better bet, preferably with a Nexus 8 hub gear.
I appointed one of the more responsible boys to look after Blackie. A practical lesson on good stewardship to be practised. Somehow, I know that Blackie will provide many kids plenty of good times and joy on its 2 small wheels.