A few days after the outreach event with New Life, we went back to the slum behind Sovanna Shopping Center after the rain.
A van was unloading bags of a root that seemed to be cassava (木薯), the raw material for tapioca. Tapioca is, of course, the main ingredient for tapioca pudding (西米布丁), 西米露, bubble milk tea 珍珠奶茶, and many other delicious foods. To be exact, 西米 should be sago, which is extracted from sago palm 西谷椰子. Sago palm is relatively expensive. Hence most of the sago products nowadays are actually made of tapioca extracted from cassava or other similar roots.
The cassava were peeled and cooked in big pots to extract the starch, to make tapioca pearls and other products. What I saw the big pots for the first time, I was wondering what they were for. Perhaps this was their communal kitchen? Now I know. Seeing the condition in which the tapioca was extracted, one can only hope that these products do not get into our pearl milk tea and tapioca puddings.
While the adults were working hard, many of the kids were having fun in the pool of rain water in the middle of the road, right in front of the entrance to the slum. This was obviously not normal, clean rain water. But the kids seem genuinely happy, and oblivious to the garbage and the filth.
Dan Ariely’s book “The Upside of Irrationality” discussed the great ability of humans to adapt to almost any situation. Perhaps this is what he had in mind? The children were probably born into this situation, and knew no better. How long did it take for the adults to adapt to it? Perhaps they were also born into this? If we were to be thrown into it, how long will it take us to adapt? And why were they born into this, but not us? Now that we have seen this, how do we respond? What would God want us to do?