Uncooked, dry, straight from the package. I break off bite-size chunks and crunch away. It’s a wonderful snack.
People think I’m weird for eating Ramen this way. But let me explain why I do this. Travel back in time—just a few months—with me.
We all gathered around the polished wooden table outside the house. Cambodian students sat around me, their white shirts and blue skirts and shorts damp with perspiration. We laughed and played UNO, and I learned how to say colors in Khmer, and they told me stories about their day at school. Another student joined us — and she brought with her a pack of Ramen.
The students’ faces lit up, and they hurriedly tore open the package and began breaking off chunks of dried noodles, occasionally dipping it into the silver packet of salty flavoring. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Then a student turned to me, and handing me a piece of dry Ramen, she motioned for me to dip it in the flavoring. Continually touched by their generosity in the midst of material poverty, I did…and it was delicious. And my heart was full.
My heart was full.
This is why I eat raw Ramen. Because in that moment, we had no air conditioning, we had no hipster-coffee-shop-environment, and we had no fancy options for entertainment like the movie theater or a mall.
But we had each other. We had laughter and connection and meaningful (albeit broken) conversation. We had community and we shared. They welcomed me into their lives joyfully, and we shared our hearts, our hurts—and our Ramen.
I eat raw Ramen because it takes me back to a time when I had the privilege of sitting around the table with English students and church members I came to love more than I thought possible. By eating dry Ramen, I bring a little bit of the simplicity of Cambodian life into my American routine, and I remember the things that are truly important. I remember to value laughter and connection and community and honesty and sharing. I remember to invite others into my life and am inspired to be in a community in which we willingly and gratefully share our hearts and our hurts.
As I sit on my bed and eat raw Ramen tonight, I invite you into that community as well. Let’s learn from each other and take time to appreciate each other’s presence. Let’s share our hearts and our hurts and our dreams. And our Ramen. I promise I’ll always share my Ramen with you.
This post is dedicated to the English students of Love Cambodia Center in Kratie, Cambodia, whom I had the pleasure of teaching during the summer of 2014. They stole my heart and I couldn’t get it back, even when I came back to the States. As I prepare to return to visit for a week, I am reminded how much they taught me about life and love. Please pray for these students as they courageously go against the grain of their culture to seek Jesus and know His love.