Alive and Leaving

Alive. Yes. The people of the Cambodian Chronicles are still very much alive. Very much busy. Too many should-have-been-written posts. And at the unearthly hour of 4:15 a.m., I am very much awake. Effects of the bit of coffee and tea that I drank last night, I suppose. I know. Caffiene only affects old people. I guess I’m getting old.

I don’t feel old. Definitely not old enough to be getting ready to fly away from the safety of my family in TEN DAYS. Sometimes I just want to go back to being two years old with not a care in the world, trusting my parents for all I need, resting in the security of their love. But I can’t. Make no mistake…their love and help is as present as ever, just in a different way. And I suppose if given the choice, I wouldn’t really want to go back anyways – it’s just nice to think about it.

Many of you know about the new chapter in my life that started opening last October. When my family and I moved to Cambodia, they committed to staying for three years, and I to one. I didn’t have any idea what would happen after that one year was over. Of course, about the time of Grandmom’s funeral, the questions started rolling in. “What are you going to do next?” “Are you staying longer?” The answer was simple. “I don’t know.” I treasure the time spent here in Cambodia with my family. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I have learned so much. But I wanted to know what the next step was.

In October I started seriously asking God to show me His will for my life. Before I came to Cambodia, I had decided that I didn’t want to pursue a different mission. If I was supposed to go somewhere else, I wanted them to ask me to come, not me ask them if I could come. One night I thought to myself how ridiculous this was. What mission is going to ask someone who’s already involved in another mission to come help them? What if deciding to do it that way was a mistake? I decided to ask Dad what he thought, and went to sleep. The next morning I groggily checked my email, and amidst the spam mail the words “Open Door” popped out at me. It was an email from the Camp director of Beaver Lake Camp in Dryden, Ontario, telling me about an opportunity to come serve as a Personal Worker. If you know me, you probably know how close to my heart my Native friends whom I met during the three summers I spent in the North are. It has been a desire of my heart to return to the North for a longer term of service, but each time an opportunity arose, it just didn’t seem like it was God’s will for me to go. This time though, I was amazed at the timing of the email. Could it be that God was giving me my heart’s desire? Whether He was or not, just the email about the opportunity was a huge confirmation to me that God truly did care about me and that He heard my heart’s cry.

The next weeks were some of the hardest, best weeks of my life. It was such a journey of learning to surrender and trust. To give up my own plans for His perfect will. Of trying to control things on my own, in the end realizing that God really does have everything under His control and that I only mess things up when I stick my fingers into the ‘dough’. A journey of tears, and l.o.n.g conversations with my Dad that probably left him wondering where the “Emotional Female Manual” was. I won’t go into the many details of how I felt God leading me (if you’d like to read more of the ‘story’ leave me a comment or message with your email address and I will send you the long version). =) But in the end, He made it so clear that Canada was the next place He wanted me to be. I am so grateful to Him for His leading. Yes, to be sure there are doubts, questions, and fears, but when I start to doubt His leading, I go back to those specific answers, and can rest in Him.

That was five months ago. When I agreed to come, five months seemed like a long, long time to get ready to leave. It wasn’t. Those five months have sped by so quickly, and now the time is almost here. With each passing day, I realize more and more how very much I will miss Cambodia with it’s smiling people, delicious fruits, my dear students, and most of all my precious family. Tears appear from nowhere at the silliest times…when Alaina falls asleep in my arms, her hair a curly mess, and I realize she’ll keep growing without me here to watch. When Forrest runs up to me, eyes glowing, with some exciting tidbit to share, and I just know in my soul how MUCH I’ll miss his amusing ways. When I think of life without Daddy’s reassuring, gentle presence and Mom’s ever dearer friendship. Without my big brothers around to ‘protect’ me from the dangerous world and carry my bags for me, and without my sisters who are growing up way too fast. I will miss them. So. Much. And I know that my leaving will leave a hole here that will be felt probably even more than if we were at home living a “normal” life, but they have given me their blessing, support, and encouragement, and for that I am forever grateful.

I’ll (hopefully) be sending out prayer cards once I arrive at BLC, so if you’d like one please let me know.

This post was going to be about a family trip to the beach, a stolen camera, and how God is bringing it back to me. It’s pretty much blazed a trail of it’s own though, and now here’s one of those should-have-been-written-months-ago posts. =/ For now I will leave it at that, and end with an earnest request for your prayers in the next several weeks, for myself and for my family as we prepare for and adjust to our lives apart.

God bless you all today, and every day.

As always…

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And as a closing treat, here’s a favorite picture of mine from Granddad’s visit. This little lady and her twin kinda weasled their way into his soft Granddaddy heart. (and maybe someday you’ll see more pictures from his visit. Who knows? Maybe another coffee mistake will do it.)

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Seeds of Truth

One of my favorite days while the IGO team was here was the day we went out to Chhom’s homeland village. Several weeks prior, a huge shipment of the Khmer “25 Favorite Bible Stories” that we had translated and printed finally came in. Like I mentioned in my last post, the people in Chhom’s village had been asking us for clothes, and we were excited for the opportunity to pass out some of the Bible story books as well. When our first plans for the trip didn’t work out due to some vehicle issues, we had to wait to go until after Charles’s family left. We were disappointed they couldn’t go along, but were still excited when we set out Thursday morning. The well truck was loaded…big trash bags full of cloths stuffed under the wooden seats, and people piled on the seats. The mini truck was full too.

It was about a two hour drive out to the village. It always amazes me how much the scenery changes in those drives…first the relatively affluental houses in Siem Reap, then the midrange neighborhoods on the outskirts, and by the time we get to the village it’s down to poverty levels. But the people are happy with what they have. What an excited group of people awaited us at Chhom’s relatives’ home. First we passed out balloons to the children, and spent some time playing with them.

And then we handed out the clothes. At first it was an organized operation…we’d each help one child at a time find the ‘perfect’ outfit. Gradually it became more and more unorganized, and suddenly there were people everywhere digging through the piles. It was fun though, seeing the mothers sort through the clothes, a happy look on their faces.

And then was my favorite part of the day – handing out the Bible story books. It was so good to see the smiles on the faces of the children when they were handed a book. To see them poring over each page. To think how they and their parents could hear stories of Bible times. Stories of Jesus, and how He loved little children just like them.

It was a bunch of happy children that walked back down the dusty road to their homes.

Chhum’s family served us a (mostly) yummy meal then. Forrest and Alaina weren’t so excited about the food…they had found a cute little puppy to hold and chase around. Before we knew what was happening, Alaina was feeding the little thing her sucker – and then back into Alaina’s mouth it went!

And here are some favorite shots of the day that just didn’t find a spot in the categories up there….but I didn’t want to leave them out!

It was a tired bunch that headed home soon after our late lunch. But as soon as we got home, the IGO team and a few of us “home folks” headed out to the village to teach our evening English class. We had decided to have our first official Bible class that night. (This is the class that we started at the beginning of this year, and wanted to gain the parents trust before we ‘scared them off’ with Bible teaching…we taught them a few songs, but that’s it.) I think more children showed up that night than had ever attended at once before. They sang the songs we had taught them at the tops of their lungs. My heart just about burst with happiness at the glorious sound of 70+ beautiful children singing praises to the King of kings.

Then the IGO team did a skit about Jonah and the whale. The children (and the adults that had gathered around) watched with rapt attention, as Jonah ran away from God. They giggled uproariously when Jonah was thrown from the ship and “swam” around til the blanket fish swallowed him up. When the fish spit Jonah out (Loren did a wonderful job of being a projectile…I can imagine he was sore the next day) one of the ladies that was watching just about lost it. She bent over and just laughed and laughed. The combination of seeing Jonah flying through the air and watching Aunt Euw laugh had me in stitches. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

And then we handed out the Bible story books to all the children. The adults were eager for their own copies. As I watched the books being handed out, my eyes might have been slightly misty and my heart swelled with…it’s hard to describe what all filled it. Happiness and Sadness and Hope, I guess. Happiness to witness the first time the children had ever heard a Bible story, to see these seeds of truth being planted in the lives of these precious children. Sadness for the many who have never heard, or who have shut their ears to the truth of the Gospel. Hope that these children would recognize these stories as truth, and that someday I can live in heaven with all of my dear students. Pray with us that the seeds would take root in the hearts of the children and their parents and grow until it produces fruit to the glory of God.

A sidenote: That English class had been getting unmanageably large…60+ children for three teachers. Brain-boggling. We thought that maybe once we started the Bible class some of the parents would stop sending their children, but it has seemed to have the opposite effect, and more children are coming regularly. Usually 70+ per night! That leaves us a little understaffed and breathless at times, but we’re excited at how well the teaching has been received.

Have a wonderful weekend y’all! Until next time….

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The Visit

I still haven’t written about one of the main highlights of our first year in Cambodia. You know that we had some amazing visitors, but you haven’t heard much about it yet, at least not from our perspective. It’s been on the back burner long enough now, and it’s about to burn. I should do a poll…is old news too boring to bother posting, or do you like to hear it, even if it is a month (or three) late?

Anyways…Here it is, boring or not.

Finally, Amber walked around the corner with the rest of the family soon following. And the fun began! With them came luggage. Lots of luggage. Filled with goodies from lots of friends. We are so blessed by you. I requested prayer in an earlier post for some lost luggage…well, it came through the next day, PTL!

A Trip to Srey YOung

One morning a few days after Charles’s got here, we all piled onto motos and the well-truck-turned-caravan with its makeshift 2X6 woodens seats, and set off for a tour of the country. Srey Young is a village about two hours from here where the guys have drilled some wells, and we also helped them build a much needed bridge. The country between here and there is quite varied, so it makes for an interesting drive. (At least for the first hour. =/ ) We took along some candy and balloons Donna had brought along to hand out to children, and had fun throwing them out to the children along the road. I’ll let pictures tell you about our day.

The day got stretched out a little extra long when one of the motos had some trouble. (After we fed it some ‘go-juice’ it worked just fine.) We were all very tired and dusty when we arrived home, but it was a good day.

Phnom Kraom (Under Mountain)

One evening we packed a picnic and drove up a little mountain/big hill nearby – in Khmer it’s called Phnom Kraom, which means “the mountain underneath”. I think it’s called that because it’s located under Siem Reap. We got started a little late, so it was dark and the mosquitos were out full force by the time our supper was ready, but the sunset was breathtaking.

Thanksgiving Day

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving more lovely folks moved in. An IGO (Institute for Global Opportunities) team of five people came from Thailand to help out for the next ten days. We loved having them here! Deanne and Geneva stayed at Matt’s house, Crissy stayed with Gale and I, and Loren and Darrell stayed here with the boys. The guys especially had close quarters, but I didn’t hear too many complaints. The more the merrier I guess!

It was lots of fun to have so many people around here for Thanksgiving Day. Dad had bought a pig for a good price out in the village several weeks prior with Thanksgiving meal in mind. We fattened him up with our delicious scraps, and Thanksgiving day found Dad and Charles hard at work grilling him to perfection. In the afternoon people started gathering at our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the regular church attendees came, along with Charles’ family, the IGO team, Matt’s family, and our family. It was quite the crowd. And quite the delicious food too. Not the traditional Thanksgiving spread for sure, but it sure was worth giving thanks for!

We really enjoyed the crowd after dinner when we all gathered around and sang together for awhile. It’s amazing how much life a few extra voices can add to a song!

Charles’s oldest son, Gordon, arrived late that night. He is in voluntary service at Hillcrest Home and wasn’t able to come for the entire time that the rest of the family was here. We were sad he couldn’t be here the whole time, but excited to have him around for at least a few days.

Floating Village & Angkor Wat

Saturday we took Charles’s family to a nearby floating village. The IGO team joined us as well, then went on to tour Angkor Wat for the rest of the day. Charles’s family along with the children from our family also went to Angkor Wat that evening, trying to get in after 5 so we wouldn’t have to pay the $20 per person fee. We didn’t get to see too much, but we did find some monkeys, which was a big priority for Amber. They weren’t too happy to see us, though, so we didn’t stick around for very long.

It was again good to have so many people around for church on Sunday. The IGO girls took care of the children’s Sunday school, and Darrell taught the adults. We had to chuckle at the size difference between Sen and Darrell. Dad was pretty sick, so Loren took his place teaching the Sunday school in Bakong.

Work…

Work?! Oh yes! Don’t let all the pictures of the fun days fool you. We didn’t just have fun. We worked too! (And had fun while we did it. =) The guys spent several days out in Bakong building a new shelter where we are planning to have English class, as well as SALT meetings and Sunday school. The IGO team took over the English teaching while they were here. (I plan to write another post about the IGO team’s activities.) Donna and her girls and the IGO ladies helped so much with the housework, and Donna even did some sewing! With more people around, housework just seems to multiply. Somehow, though, I don’t seem to have very many pictures of work happening. The ones I do have are mostly phone pictures and the quality lacks a lot. Oh well, better include them just so you know we did work!

Tuesday we had planned a trip to a village in Chhom’s homeland. They had been asking us for clothes, and we wanted to pass out some of the Khmer “25 Favorite Bible Stories” that we had recently gotten printed. The well truck had a small problem though, so Ryan took it in to quickly get it fixed before we needed to leave. We sat around waiting, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Long story short, the truck had some BIG problems that surfaced after the little problem was fixed, and in the end the trip was postponed until later that week. Instead, the youth headed over to Matt’s house to sort the humongous pile of clothes we had gotten in a clothing bale from one of the local markets. Poor Lightning stood in as Frank’s mannequin.

The goodbyes started that night. After being treated to a delicious supper by Charles and Donna, we took Gordon to the airport. Charles’s family started packing the next morning and late that night we said our sad goodbyes. I guess those are the times we have to remind ourselves, “Don’t cry because it’s over…smile because it happened.” And we do! It’s hard to put into words how GOOD it was so have them here. I described most of the big events, but I think my favorite times were the times I didn’t write about…the little moments. Shopping at the markets. Piling four people on a moto and going to town. Blossom Cafe. Playing games in the evening. Swimming with the girls. Snow Yogurt. Just talking to our hearts’ content.

Thank you all sooo much for coming!! You blessed us so much, and we thank God for you! We trust that despite the heat and too much rice (I heard a rumor that someone thinks we had rice way too often =) ) you had as lovely a time as we did. Come back soon!

Now.

Yup. Now. Our visitors left, but last minute plans had our dear Granddad flying over a week after Charles’s left. We’re thoroughly enjoying having him around here. The kids in the village love him! It was especially nice having him here for Christmas. Seeing him walk out of the airport without Grandmom at his side was hard. It makes it so much more real that she’s not here anymore. But it has been good. He was sick for almost a week with an upset stomach. At first we thought it was just a flu, but finally Dad called our family doctor and he thinks it’s some sort of intestinal infection. He prescribed some antibiotics, and that snapped Granddad right out of his ailment. We’re so happy he’s feeling better!

Luke flew to South Carolina last Saturday. He’s spending some time with family and friends, and then this weekend he’s leaving for two three-week terms at Calvary Bible School. He seems to be having fun so far, but we miss him! I’m sure he’d love to hear from you while he’s there, so if you need an address, just let me know and I’ll be happy to give it to you. Please note. *You’re also welcome to send any extra Christmas letters or pictures you had to that address, and he will bring them back so that we can proudly display you on our wall. =)*

Well…it’s definitely bed time over here. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015 of learning to better know our Father.

‘Til next time…

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Moi Chnam

One year.

Tonight one year ago we wearily climbed down the plane steps and for the first time walked into the muggy strangeness of Cambodia. A land and people we had only seen in pictures and heard about was suddenly our reality, our life. Strange smells and nameless sounds assaulted our senses. Alarm rattled in the corners of our brains as we rode in the warm open air to the place that was to be our home, seeing our new friends sweaters and hearing their shivers and exclamations about the unusually chilly weather. This – chilly?! Why were we coming here again? The house was big and much different than the picture our minds had conjured up, and a frightening amount of scaly reptiles inhabited it with us.

It doesn’t seem like it could really have been a year ago. It feels like it was only yesterday, but at the same time it feels like half a lifetime ago. Time is strange like that. As our family sat around the table in the restaurant this evening, celebrating our one year Cambodia anniversary, I thought back over our first year and my heart was full.

It’s been hard. There have been challenges, sorrows, adjustments, and tears. But it has been good…so good. God is moving in our hearts and working all things for our good. He has been with us every step of the journey, with grace for the moment.

We thank Him for His goodness. For His provision. For His grace. For you, our friends who have been a constant encouragement and support to us.

I will write more…later. Grandad arrived tonight and it is very late. For now, like last year right this time, I am going to close my weary eyes and sleep.

Thank you Father for this year of grace.

They’re Here!!!

THEY’RE HERE!!!  After over four months of great anticipation, we are so excited that this long looked-forward-to event is finally here! Charles and Donna Wagler and their family arrived late Sunday night. We’ve already had so much fun catching up on eachothers lives. They’re all still struggling with jet lag, so we’ve mostly been here at home “relaxing” and catching up on sleep, but hopefully soon that problem will be remedied and they can sleep ’til 7 instead of 3 am and go to sleep at 11 rather than 8.

And oh, what fun we’ve had going through the treasures they brought with them from our wonderful friends at home. Meat and cheese…Cream cheese…Books!…Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces!…Toys for the children…just to name a few. Thank you…so much! It’s almost overwhelming to see what all people sent…it made me think of another time someone came over and had some things for us. Carissa said, “I guess we’re special after all!” Your support means so much. Hopefully soon we can get more personal thanks to those of you who sent stuff, but for now, “thank you” is all we can say. (One piece of luggage got lost en route, so if you think of it, breathe a prayer that it will find it’s way here. But even without the lost bag, we have so much to be thankful for.)

I think in the next few weeks there will definitely be some blog-worthy happenings, but for now here is a post I wrote last week.

The Water Festival

The Water Festival is a big, yearly holiday in Cambodia, celebrating the end of the monsoon season. The past few years they haven’t celebrated it in Siem Reap. Back in 2010, a horrible accident happened during the festival in Phnom Penh. According to Wikipedia, 347 people were killed and another 755 were injured in a stampede on a bridge. Witnesses said too many people were on the bridge, with people on both ends pushing. This caused sudden panic, and the people in the middle fell over and got trampled. In the mayhem, electric wires got pulled down as well, which caused electrocution.

The next year, it was decided that no festival would be held. Then the king died and so they didn’t observe the festival the next year. Anyways, this year was the first year since 2010 that Siem Reap had its water festival. All the Khmer people that work with us took a three day vacation, and the schools we teach at were on break as well, so we had a break too. Thursday evening a week ago, after the children came home from school and the men came back from the village, our family ventured out into the crowds around the Tonle Sap river to watch the boat races. There were scores and scores of people lining the banks. I noticed though, that the bridges were carefully blocked and guarded. I’ll let the pictures tell you about the races.

My personal favorite was the ladies’ teams. There were only a few, and my, what shrieks came from the boats. The crowd seemed to enjoy them too, because the applaud was much louder when they came along.

Once we got tired of watching the races, Dad gave each of the little people 2000 Riel (50 cents) to spend, and we wandered along the streets looking at the things the various shops and vendors had to offer. Cotton candy seemed to be the favorite among the younger children, although I think even the big children were robbing poor, oblivious Alaina of her supply. I got one of my favorite Khmer treats…rice and beans cooked in bamboo.

At one of the places the children were buying something, I was standing there waiting, and a dear old Khmer lady walked up to me. She took my wrist, and wanted to tie a piece of red yarn around it in exchange for money. It’s a Buddhist thing…I’m not sure about all the details, but it’s a ‘good luck charm’ that I really want nothing to do with. I told her in my limited Khmer that I believe in Jesus. She nodded vigorously, but still wanted money. I gave her a little, and she walked away. Thinking about her though, and how many people fall for the ‘luck’ the charm might bring, and seeing the shrines with fruit and incense for Buddha…walking among the hoards of people…it’s just a sad, helpless feeling that comes over me when I think about all of those people that have never heard of the love of Jesus. Who am I? One person among millions. Where can I even begin?

The other day Forrest said something that is a great answer to those thoughts…I was talking with my friend Contea about the problem of drug abuse in here in Cambodia. Forrest saw us looking at some pictures of side effects of drug addictions and asked what that was. I told him, ”Some people think if they take medicine it will make them happy…but it doesn’t. The only thing that will make them really happy is if they worship God.”
”Well why don’t they just?” he asked.
”Maybe no one told them about God.”
”Well, we should just tell them, then they could tell more people, then those people could tell more people, and more and more!”

Wise words from a four year old I think…a challenge for all of us. Let’s do our part in telling people about the wonderful God we serve!

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Bummys and Bites

 

Hi y’all! English classes today were cancelled due to an extended water festival holiday, so I decided to take advantage of a free afternoon and catch you up on life here.

Last Saturday Matt told us to expect four extra people at church on Sunday. We had no idea who it was going to be, but were excited anyways. When they arrived on Sunday morning, Carissa came up to my room, and told me “The lady has a green dress on, and there’s a little girl too!” =) I soon had the privilege of meeting Packy and Laura Sporre, along with their children Melinda and Lyndon, who had come all the way from Wisconson. They were visiting friends in Thailand, and as I understood, Packy had been in Cambodia before and wanted to come back. (I missed some of the details.) I guess it was through the friends in Thailand that they heard about our mission, and decided to visit for church. We loved having them, and wished it would have been longer. It’s always refreshing to have Christian, English speaking company. Come back anytime, y’all! And for the rest of you…if you ever find yourself in Cambodia, please stop by! =)

Bummys…

“Bunnies”, really. Forrest’s last two puppies are no longer around. Brudo just went missing one morning, and then the next dog, Toby, took a trip on the truck to the neighbors house, and there he stayed. He just couldn’t get it in his head that the porch was not the place to do his business, and we were all tired of it. Veasna’s brother, Hane, loved the dog, and so they agreed to take him. Since then, Forrest has been begging for another pet, but Dad wasn’t quite ready to take just any mutt in again. A few weeks ago, he came home from town with three fluffy bunnies, much to the children’s delight. Carrisa, Heather, and Forrest named them Cottontail, Oreo, and Peter, but Little Miss Alaina just calls them “bummies”. The children have really enjoyed them so far, and are already looking forward to the day when the bunny population starts increasing by leaps and bounces. (If these bunnies are anything like mine were when I was little, it won’t be long before we have a yard full!)

Big bites…

We had a wonderful break this summer from the strange maladies of Cambodia. Recently, though, we’ve been struggling with strange bites and flus again. The other morning Heather and Forrest both woke up with a huge blister on their arms. The blisters were full of pus. Frank and Kompeak thought they were maybe spider bites, and Dad and the pharmacist decided they were blister beetle bites. Eventually the blisters popped, and Forrest’s especially has been “weepy”. Heather’s is healing up pretty well, and Forrest’s is on it’s way. I’ll skip a picture of those sores for the sake of the squeamish.

Alaina’s poor little legs are also covered with some sort of painful, pus-filled bites. We’re not sure if they started as mosquito bites and then got infected, or if they’re something else. They probably wouldn’t be so bad, except she just picks and picks at them, and so they don’t have a good chance to heal. Covering them with band-aids doesn’t help – she just picks those right off too. We’ve tried putting pants and leggings on her too, but they’re both too short to keep all of the bites out of sight. Forrest and Heather got some then too, and one of Forrest’s in particular seemed to be really infected. The bone by the bite was sore when he walked, and he started running a fever. Dad took him to the pharmacist, who prescribed an antibiotic and said if he’s not better in a few days he needs to see a doctor. He’s been feeling much better now, PTL, so we’re hoping that will take care of it for him. Mom’s been faithfully putting Betadine cream and band-aids on Alaina’s legs at night, and we hope they’ll improve soon too.

Those bites reminded me of when I was much younger, and had lots of scars and scabs from too often scratched mosquito bites on my arms. “If you keep picking at those scabs you’ll have scars all over your arms, and then the boys won’t like you,” teased a much looked up to lady one day at fellowship dinner. I think I knew she was teasing, but the thought worried me a little at that moment! I don’t remember if I heeded her warning or not, but the memory sure stuck and I have to grin whenever I remember. =)

Birthdays…

Our dear Veasna turned 17 last month! Jasmine, Shaila, and I took her to the Blossom Cafe for a little birthday celebration. The Blossom Cafe is ranked #3 of nearly 450 restaurants in Siem Reap, and it deserves that rating! Delicious, beautifully decorated cupcakes are their specialty, and I’ll be happy to support the trainees in their efforts. =) If you come see us here and want to go out for coffee, that’s the place to go!

Veasna was fascinated with the fondue cakes at Blossom Cafe, so I decided to try my hand at a marshmallow fondue cake for her birthday cake on Sunday. Humph. I’ve decided that birthday cakes weren’t to be made in Cambodia. It seems every time we try, it’s too warm and the frosting gets all runny. I thought maybe the fondue would be better, and I think it would have been, had I not started with a cold cake. It was looking great, and the fondue was yummy, but then the cake started condensing. By morning it was a rather sad sight. The fondue was all sticky and wet looking, not to mention the tiny black ants that had discovered the treat during the night. The ants disappeared with a little coaxing though, and after setting the cake in an air conditioned room with a fan blowing on it, it looked nearly normal.

And just for your information, no, it’s NOT supposed to be a hat, and those are NOT eggs on the cake. =) One man who was here for lunch was wondering why we would put eggs on a cake. I think it made a bit more sense to him once he heard the eggs were actually supposed to be flowers. Oh well…the cake was good, and that’s what counts! So much for my cooking adventures…

Mom, Dad, and Luke also had birthdays in October. Luke is 18 already, and is a dependable young man. He is great with kids, and does well at the English class he teaches. Mom and Dad are a few years older. =) They spent a day together in Siem Reap acting like tourists – something mom has wanted to do for a while. There are so many neat little tourist shops in town, and we don’t find the time to go to many of them.

Baby AhVia…

On the other side of our compound wall, in the house right beside Sen and Mum’s lives Contea. I met her on one of my trips to talk with Mum about something. She was uncomfortably pregnant, and had a bad cold. The doctor had given her some medicine to take, but she was afraid it would hurt the baby. She asked me if I could look it up online and see if it was okay to take. I was happy to oblige, and that was the beginning of our friendship. Once we had pizza for supper, and the next day Mum asked me what we’d baked the night before. “Pizza,” I said. She told me Contea had smelled something cooking, and she just knew we were making pizza. Oh, she wanted pizza! “Maybe it’s cinnamon rolls,” Mum had said. No, she still thought it was pizza. We had some leftovers, so I warmed them up, and took a plate of pizza over for her. She was so excited! She’d wanted pizza for so long, but her husband wouldn’t buy any for her.

Since then, often when I go over to talk Mum, Contea and I will start talking. She’s a sweet lady, and has lots of questions about Christianity, but doesn’t seem very open to the idea of accepting Christ yet. She says she’s not a Buddhist…she just thinks as long as we do kind things to others that’s good enough to get her somewhere good when she dies. Please pray for me as I interact with her…that she could feel the love of Jesus, and that I would have wisdom and clear, understandable words when she asks hard questions.

Anyways…finally, in August she had little Mr. Ahvia. He’s a great excuse to run over to visit. Someday I want to capture one of his adorable dimpled smiles on camera and share it with you. =)

Company Is coming!

The main thing occupying our minds these days is preparation and excitement for the arrival of Charles and Donna’s family. The girls’ paper chain counting the days til Charles’s get here is getting shorter and shorter. Just six more ‘sleeps’! We can’t wait! Then the day before Thanksgiving an IGO team arrives…fun, but even more fun since my dear friend Crissy will be on that team! So yes…there’s lots of excitement going on around here. It will be a busy time, but so much fun.

Have a happy Monday, y’all!

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Crocs & Cobras

“Lori! Come downstairs and bring your camera!” I have plenty of little photo scouts in my family. Usually the prospective picture involves a sunset, an unusual flower, or a butterfly. Sometimes it’s Alaina looking adorable in one of her legendary messes.

This time, though, it was something different. Something I’m quite glad I don’t have the opportunity to photograph every day. When I got outside armed with my faithful Canon, I was greeted with a little crocodile – Frank’s new project. His powerful jaws were tied shut with an old rag, but the ferocious hisses he let out when people got too close was enough to make most of us keep our distance.

And then there was that thing in the rice bag. When the guys were out in the village to drill wells, someone had caught a cobra (no, I don’t know how they managed that), and Frank wanted to bring it home to show the rest of us. So into the rice bag went Mr. Cobra until the boys were done for the day. Now, the rest of the family gathered a safe distance from Frank and Ryan as they worked together, a bit nervously, to let the snake out of the bag. He came out warily and slowly. Ryan put the end of a long pole on the snake’s back so that I could take some pictures. Cobras really are beautiful in a creepy crawly sort of way, if you stop and take a look [from far away].

With the two ‘dangerous animals’ on our property, everyone was a little on edge. Quiet Mr. Croc O. Dile made for some hilarious moments. Several times while carefully backing away from the cobra, people almost stepped on him, and the resulting hisses were enough to stop your heart and send you running for your life. Once the phone in Sen’s pocket vibrated, and Sen nearly jumped out of his skin, because the snake ‘was about the get him’! I think Dad got video footage of some of those moments, so if you want a good laugh, come see us.

Finally, when I had enough pictures and the snake was tired of the attention, they killed the slithery serpent, and we all relaxed. The neighbors that had gathered to watch the action through our gate went home, one of them taking the cobra for supper! The crocodile now resides in a pool at Frank’s house – I think he’s fattening up for a feast.

The cobra made me think of once when I was a little girl…Ryan came running into the trailer to tell me and mom that “There’s a snake in the big tree, and he’s spitting poison!” Further investigation proved that there was indeed a snake in the tree. In fact, there were three 5 foot black snakes that had decided our big oak was the perfect home for them. No spitting cobras were to be found though. =) Little did we know that 15 years later we would be in a land where there really are snakes that spit poison. Thankfully most of the snakes seem to like to keep themselves hidden.

Exciting News…

A couple months ago, we were super excited when some dear friends of ours called and said their whole family had tickets to come see us in November! (And we still are excited, for that matter.) You should have heard the happy shouts when dad told us. Time for them to come is sneaking right up, and we can hardly wait for Charles’ to get here!

Some of you have asked for our mailing address here in Cambodia. We’d LOVE to get mail, but the fact of the matter is that the postal system here has much to be desired. Of all the envelopes that people have sent over, we’ve only gotten one so far. Packages are a bit less likely to get lost somewhere in the Pacific, but the postage costs are atrocious. So, usually when people ask for an address, I give it, but tell them that the best way to get something to us is to wait until someone is coming over here in person. And now, someone is! If anyone has Christmas cards for us this year, Charles’ address would be the place to send them. We’d love to hear from you! I checked with Donna about luggage space, and I think they should have plenty of room. =) If you want to send something, just ask me for their contact information and I’ll try to get it to you as soon as possible. They are leaving in the middle of November.

Well, it’s supper time here, so until next time…

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