Sooo, it’s been quite some time since there has been an update on here. This year has flown by! Dallas came back from iGO, and Ryan from the states for Christmas. Then I left before either of them did, to go to SMBI for one term. I enjoyed my time there. I made some good friends and learned so much! I also got to see Luke and Stephanie’s baby boy while I was there. Before I knew it, my time there was up and I flew home to finish up the last 7 weeks of our time in Cambodia with the family.
Life has been anything but normal since coming home. The day after I got home, Dallas came from Thailand for a friend’s wedding. His mission trip for that term of iGO was to siem reap, so he was able to get off a bit early to be at Thain’s wedding. A couple days later, the rest of his ministry team came. They were here for 10 days doing whatever we found for them to do, handing out bible story books, going along to the villages, and watching the well drilling team.
The weekend after they left, we traveled to Chiang Mai. Some of us children have been in Cambodia for nine years and have never been to any of the neighboring countries. We wanted to visit Thailand before we left. We bussed from Siem Reap to Bangkok, then took the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was close to 24 hrs travel in total. It was an interesting trip for sure! It was so nice to see iGO, and meet all of Dallas’s fellow students.
Our time here is winding down very fast! It’s been full of ‘lasts’. Today was our last time at church. We have had our last full week, the last time seeing Sen’s and their dear girls. So many lasts.
Yesterday we went to the new zoo with Friedrich’s, Lanita, and Khmer friends. It was the first time for most of them to ever be at a zoo. It was good to have one last fun day to spend with them.
Now we have started our very last week in Cambodia. My mind can’t fully grasp that we aren’t coming back! We’ve always, always come back. How can we not come back? It’s been our life for the past 9 years. How can things change so permanently, so fast? We fly out of Siem Reap Thursday evening. The next couple days are going to be full of packing and goodbyes. I think the move is going to be hardest for Forrest and Alaina. This is almost all they’ve known. It is really hard on Alaina to know that she might not see some of her best friends again. Prayers are appreciated as we wrap things up here and say our goodbyes!
Sunday morning, Kuan and Brum (church members) along with their daughter and son attended church. They haven’t been here in several weeks.
Sunday morning Brads said they met the daughter leaving as they were walking in to church, but she came back later. Brad preached and said he noticed she just sat and didn’t stand with the others. He felt in his spirit something was wrong.
After church Brum said her daughter wants us to pray for her. Dad asked what she wants us to pray for. She said she has bad dreams with people having bloody faces, sometimes people beheaded. At times a black form holds her legs and she can’t get away. She tried calling her brother but couldn’t wake him. Dad said often people know when a demon or spirit takes hold.
She said she had sworn to an idol at Angkor Watt but had sacrificed to take the oath back. Dad explained that only God can remove those strongholds. Sacrificing just takes us in deeper. They explained the two kingdoms and how Satan, given a crack of our hearts door barges in and takes control, God is a gentleman and knocks for entrance and comes in by invitation.
They asked her if she wants to accept Jesus? She said she doesn’t understand enough. They didn’t feel that they should ask a demon to leave if she doesn’t want to have God fill her. So we prayed that she could understand, as we started to pray she started to shake uncontrollably, Her head would fall back this went for what seemed like 5 minutes..? They again asked her, does she want to ask God into her heart. She nodded Yes. When they asked her to call out to Jesus, she said she wasn’t able to. They started praying over her, telling the spirit to leave in Jesus’ name. After a bit her body stopped shaking, calm. She opened her eyes and she asked Jesus to fill her heart!
She wanted us to go to her house in the afternoon and help her clean her house of the Buddhist shrines etc… We got there and they had made food for us, so we all sat down and ate together. Then we went up to her bedroom and she gathered together all her incense, and things related to Buddhism. Then she told us some about the times that the spirit came into her room. She asked us to pray that any spirits that are in the house would have to leave. We prayed over her, her parents, and her house. Then we brought down all the stuff to burn.
After we started burning it we all sang “I have decided to follow Jesus”. She said she was happy. She asked us to pray over her car as well, she said the spirits had been in the car and she’d feel safer driving it if it would be prayed over. We prayed for her one last time before leaving. She told me today that she slept so well last night. No disturbances or bad dreams bothered her.
Some specific prayer requests we have regarding this situation; 1. Praise God for His Love, power and Goodness, for answering our prayers! 2. Pray that she could go all the way with God, especially for strength, in the next several weeks. Prayers are appreciated!
Hello to all on the other side of the world! We are back into everyday life after a lovely six weeks furlough in the states in early summer.
We were so excited to finally meet the first grandchild who was a year and a half old already! That reunion was the sweetest out of them all, this summer. I can’t count the times I dreamt about wrapping her in my arms and squeezing her. It was surreal when I got out of the van and saw her in person. I gave Lori (the oldest and married of the Helmuths) a hug, but Avianna wasn’t quite so sure of us right away. It was so different to actually see this little girl walk around and know that you could reach out and touch her. It was like someone out of a book or movie became flesh. Thankfully, Avi warmed up to us pretty fast. Everyone was more than willing to take her to play or entertain her. (Lori and her husband Cordell Loewen live in Canada, and came to the U.S. to see the rest of the family).
We spent the next two weeks together with the family. We stayed at my uncles Airbnb, so we did a lot with them. We spent a couple afternoons at the park, disc-golfing, wading in the creek, playing games, and snacking on food. We went to the zoo one day, it was Avi, Alaina, and Forrest’s first time going to the zoo. It was so much fun to hear them exclaim about all the animals, and to see Avi’s pure joy on the merry-go-round. We cherished all the time that we had together, but it flew by so fast! Before we were ready for it, we were taking Cordell’s to the airport to say goodbye agian.
After they left, we packed all our belongings up again and headed to beautiful Tennessee to spend a week with Luke’s. This is where we are thinking of settling down when we move back to the states. So, it was really nice to be able to get to know church people a bit better. They were very welcoming and made us feel at home! It made a couple of my siblings excited about moving home to the U.S. again.
The guys worked on the job with Luke a couple days and helped out with other jobs that needed to be done. When there was nothing to do, I’d either read a book or go on long walks in the beautiful hills behind Luke’s house. In the evenings after the guys were done working, we’d play a game, make a campfire, or just sit around and talk. Luke wanted to have Khmer food one evening, so we invited a couple of youth from church over so they could try it. I tried my best to make do with the ingredients that I was able to find in town. It wasn’t quite right, but it was good. After supper, we hiked up to the bluffs to watch the sunset and ate root beer floats. It was a lovely sunset and we made good memories.
From Tennessee, we made our way to Ohio to spend the weekend with Dad’s side of the family for Grandad’s birthday. We had a lovely weekend together. The men thoroughly enjoyed a fishing trip on Lake Erie. I loved listening to the uncles retell stories from their childhood. We stayed in Ohio a couple days after everyone else left. I was able to meet up with both Lydia and Veasna. That felt like having a piece of home (Cambodia) with me.
We spent the last two weeks in the south with our home church family and uncle’s family aagain. One of the families from church was abroad for the summer doing mission work. They kindly offered us their house for the time that we were there. Some evenings we stayed at home, spending time with Ryan. I was so grateful for the time that I was able to spend with friends. We were also able to go to some of the youth events. It was time to come back before I was ready!
All of us enjoyed our time in the states. It was so good to see friends and family again. It makes me more excited to think about the move home to the U.S. again next spring.
We knew that there was a possibility that we would have to quarantine since we weren’t vaccinated. We were hoping we wouldn’t have to since the board members got through fine. We didn’t though. We had to quarantine in a hotel for a week. We were scared it would drag out and we’d sit there twiddling our thumbs. I think God thought we needed a week of pure rest! I enjoyed myself so much! Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded a couple days longer.
We ate up the majority of our food that we brought from the states. Thankfully, we were able to order food from outside. The last people who we knew that were quarantined weren’t able to. Meals were probably the most exciting part of the day. I was more than happy to have an excuse to get food I’d been wanting to try for a long time! We were able to go to and from each other’s rooms after the guards heard we were all one family, so we were able to eat together for some meals.
All in all, it was a good quarantine. Thanks for the prayers!
This morning, I mixed up the pancake batter and made sausage gravy for breakfast, then Julianna came out of her room. Not many other people were awake yet, so we went for a walk in the rice field and had such good conversations. Veronica came down then, so we all sat by the hammock and talked some more. Eventually Erica came and said that breakfast was ready. Dallas had fried the pancakes. After breakfast we made our plans for the day. While we waited for Lanita to make her dessert for tomorrow, I got my cleaning done and cut up Mangos with Mom, and the rest of them played bocce ball till we were ready to go.
We got drenched on the way to mini golfing! We saw it coming. Thankfully it didn’t get everyone. It was fun, even though I was wet the whole time and I didn’t get any hole-in-ones. Our team ranked 2nd place out of the three.
Everyone on the back of the “blue tomato” (they renamed the mini truck) was armed for any possible attacks of water we might face on the way home! They had a stash of water bottles that they had filled up at home and poke holes in the lids. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a louder truck ride! It was hilarious. All the people on the side of the roads were having a blast. I can understand why though. Doesn’t it sound like fun to soak anyone going by on the road with water and baby powder? Why don’t the states have fun holiday traditions like this? We were thoroughly soaked after going through a couple of groups. Austin turned off of the main road onto back roads to get away from all the people and traffic. When we got back onto Rd 6 the traffic was horrible! The two lane Rd turned into a three or four lane road. Everyone was having a party though. Truckloads of people with big water tanks on the back would attack any other truck group that was equipped with water. It was a sight to behold.
After being on the road for much longer than normal, we finally made it home. I was famished. We were all still wet, so we ate lunch on the porch. Any guesses we ate? Leftover grilled pork again! We pretty much finished it off this time. I was so glad to see it gone!
Soon after lunch, we piled onto the Blue Tomato again. We had to push start it again. (We have to every time now) Dad had said that the rice fields were drying up, and the teams wanted to go rat hunting. I was hoping so badly that there wouldn’t be as many water stations on the small dirt roads. I was disappointed. We were sopping wet again by the time we got out. We each got a bamboo stick and headed out into the field to find the rats. Normally we’d dig a couple of their tunnels and they’d come running out. We dug at multiple ones before we got any rats to appear. Austin was digging at the one tunnel and finally found a rat. He quickly put the shovel over the hole so it couldn’t get out till everybody was ready. We encircled the hole and were prepared for when it came out. It ran straight for Friedrich. I think Friedrich killed it with one of his first blows, but he kept whacking at it. He made sure it was fully deceased.
We had been having such terrible luck at finding the rats. Some of us started walking through the rice fields because we were bored. Soon there were multiple people shouting “Rat!”. I wonder what the Khmer people thought when they saw these random foreigners running wildly through the field hitting the ground! I’m sure people got their daily dosage of laughter watching us! It was a blast though. We soon figured out that all of the rats were in the fields. We’d tramp through the field kicking at the hay until a rat would run past (or even over) our feet. Forrest was so excited about the one rat he saw scurry under the hay, I helped him clear the hay away. His “rat” was actually only a frog. The disappointment was very real! My little bamboo stick broke in my efforts to kill one of the rats. I reverted to using my feet instead. Not sure how good an idea that was. I almost got a couple though! I’m pretty sure I jumped on one, I couldn’t find it though. The one thing I am very sure of though, I was kicking around in the hay for it, and I felt it nibble at and run over my feet! I wish so badly that I could have killed that one. We got a good number of them, we missed a decent amount too. Normally we have big wooden sticks that we use for weapons, but this time all that we had was light bamboo. If we would have been doing it where there was no hay, they would have worked. but there was so much hay and our sticks weren’t heavy enough to go through the hay well. We got plenty of rats to fry up and eat.
Uhh, I got tired of everyone squirting us on the way home! Looking on the bright side of things, it made me enjoy and being clean and dry after my shower more! I would have loved to have just stayed dry for a bit! It was fun for today, but I’m so thankful that it’s going to be stopped by tomorrow!
I was exhausted this evening. I guess yesterday is finally catching up to me. After supper, the team went down to the schoolroom to practice for church tomorrow. Carissa and I cleaned up. I was in a hurry because I wanted to go to sleep! I finally got done and was getting ready to head to bed when Friedrich came and asked if I could go help them. They wanted Dallas to translate. Dallas said it’d be easier for him if someone would say it and him translate rather than him just telling the story in Khmer. I said I could. My brain felt like it wasn’t fully functioning from tiredness. I don’t think any of theirs were either! It was fun though. I came up after all that time, and the shower still wasn’t empty! I took a nice little nap while I waited. Hopefully I will be able to stay awake during church tomorrow!
Sunday, April 17.
The singing in church was lacking this morning. Most of our good singers, Sen’s, Thain and Sophon, were all gone this morning. A lot of people went to their homeland for the holidays. I was disappointed that most of the kids missed the team’s skit. They did the story of Naman. All we had for leprosy spots was random colored chalk. I’m pretty sure that isn’t how it actually looks but they got the idea! We used a brown sheet for the muddy Jordan river. Friedrich also put a water bottle behind the sheet to pour over his head. The children thought it was hilarious how Friedrich ducked behind the sheet and came up wet! The seventh time took a lot longer because he had to scrub off all of the leprosy. It wasn’t practiced to perfection, but I think both the children and adults enjoyed it.
Oh, I forgot to say that Ruth Kuepfer finally got here yesterday afternoon! After all the setbacks she’s had, she’s here in person. She, Lanita and Friedrich’s all came over for lunch.
Most of us were tired after lunch so most of us laid down or rested for a while this afternoon. I laid down for a bit, then got up to go make dessert for the evening. I couldn’t decide what to make, so I went to ask the girls what they wanted. We ended up just talking about other stuff until Austin came and asked if we wanted to go play volleyball. I was torn in two! Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but I had been looking forward to making dessert, but I also wanted to play volleyball. When I thought about it that I can make dessert anytime, but I rarely get to be with other youth, I made the wise decision to pick people over food. The volleyball was a lot more fun today than it was on Wednesday! Everybody was more enthusiastic about playing.
The Holdemans came for supper. It was good to see Sharon again! After eating, we sang for a long time! It was so good to sing in English with a big group. It sounded amazing! After a while we pulled out the musical instruments played along with the music. One thing that I’m really hoping for when we move home is a youth group that loves singing. I miss it so much here. There is just something powerful about a group of youth praising God with singing that I don’t think I’d ever tire of! I love anytime that we have enough people to sing like that. It’s just refreshing to the soul. My voice can’t last long enough, but I could sing for hours. It was a good day
Monday, April 18.
Today was a really good day! Carissa, the boys and I took the team to the temples today. Lanita stayed home since she’ll probably take her Mom and sister in a couple of weeks. She also took Ruth to town to get groceries. (My feet are definitely not used to wearing shoes anymore! Both Austin and I lost our flip flops while rat hunting on Saturday, the only other pair of shoes I have that would be good for walking all day in were my sneakers. They are comfortable, but my toes were very sore by the end of the day!)
We went to Angkor Wat first. There was still a lot of people there, but nothing compared to what it would’ve been last week! It was so much fun to watch Julianna. She couldn’t believe that she was actually at Angkor Wat. She said it was all she ever thought it would be. She was so happy to there. We roamed over the grounds, and explored the many hallways and chambers. We climbed up the many steep stairs to the top level. There was a lovely breeze that felt amazing to our hot, tired faces. Once we had seen most of what there was to see, we started the trek back to the front. We tried asking a random Khmer man to take a group picture for us. It didn’t turn out very well. So we waited until he walked away, then took the rest of our pictures on a self timer. Those turned out much better!
We were all hot, sweaty and hungry by the time we made it back to the truck. We drove around and cooled off until we found a little restaurant to eat at. We ordered our fried rice and fried noodles and the team tried to do some brainstorming for English class tomorrow. They did get a little bit figured out, but we got into more interesting subjects pretty fast! After we had filled ourselves, we went to the “tree temple”. The temple has ginormous trees growing up and through the temple. The trees pushed their way between the stones, causing much of the temple to crumble. I like the majestic awesomeness of Angkor Wat, but there is something more personal and intriguing about Ta Prohm. Someone said “Angkor Wat shows what man can do, but Ta Prohm shows what God and nature can do.”
We were all exhausted on the way home! A couple of us caught little cat naps. When we got home, they did some laundry. We played bocce ball until supper time. Austin and Julianna won both games. Mom made Costa Rican rice and beans for supper. It was so good! I had to laugh tonight. Here’s why. Friedrich asked if we just like Costa Rican food, or how we know about it. I said that we have a lot of relatives that live in Costa Rica. Keith heard that and asked where they are from, he said that he has relatives there too. We found out that we have mutual relatives with Keith because of what we had for supper. Really though, Who does that?! I love food.
A couple of the guys helped with the dishes. (What actually happened was that Friedrich washed the dishes and Austin and Dallas were hanging around, so I handed them dishes to put away. It was still nice of them to do it though:)
Why do they have to leave tomorrow?
Tuesday, April 19.
Today was their last day! It was so fun while it lasted! I’m just grateful that they could come.
They left for English class right after breakfast. I taught school. It was hard for the children to do school knowing that it was the team’s last day here. They got done fast though. No, they probably wouldn’t have gotten any academic awards today. Their main goal was to get done.
The English classes finished around 11, they were packing until close to lunch time. Friedrich and Keith helped me do mangoes for mom. It went a lot faster with them helping me than doing it by myself! I love having mangoes in the freezer, but I get so tired of peeling, chopping, and bagging them! Our freezer is filling up fast.
Everyone left for the last English class right after lunch. Carissa and I quickly washed the dishes and cleaned up, then went over to watch. They did really well! The children absolutely loved the songs and bible story skits! Naomi was telling me about it, and you could easily tell that she thought it was the greatest thing ever. They played games with them for a while, then we all headed home.
Keith and Friedrich wanted to get some drone shots of the “blue tomato” driving down the road, and some of us wanted to go get donuts before they left. So we decided to do both. We had told them about the donuts in Rolous. They are only 500៛ (12.5¢) a piece, and they are so good. They are coated in sugar, they are almost the perfect sweetness. Not as heavy and sweet as some others. After we had eaten our donuts, we drove down the road and got the drone shots they were wanting.
We played a couple games of spikeball for the last time. Then we rushed to get ready for supper. We picked up Friedrich’s and the teachers on the way to town. It was so nice to be able to drive through town and stay dry today! We ate supper at the Mexican restaurant. We had some good conversation over supper. Why do they have to leave so soon after we are comfortable with each other?
After we walked around old market did some souvenir shopping, we came home and they finished all their packing. Forrest and Erica lightened the mood with a sing-off, we all howled with laughter. I think it was funnier because all of our emotions were high, so we let out all the emotions through laughing. Then they prayed a prayer of blessing and strength over us and the mission here. I felt like I could cry with gratefulness for the friendship I had made with the girls, the good talks, and all the fun memories we had made that week!
We loaded up the luggage and push started the truck with them one last time. We all piled on the truck and went to the bus stop. We got there early so we had to wait for a bit. I didn’t mind in the least. Before long, we saw the headlights headed toward us, slowing down and pulling to the side of the road. They put their luggage below the bus and we began saying our goodbyes. We watched as they drove away. Then we had to push start the truck again. Somehow it didn’t feel right to do that without them.
It was a good nine days! Having them here was definitely worth the goodbyes.
Until the team got here, I did not realize how starved I was for connection and community with other young people. I’m not complaining, I do have a couple good Khmer friends. But most of them are older. And honestly different first languages and cultures make it challenging to make deep connections with people. Even though I do know Khmer fairly well, there are days when it is hard to talk, and relationships are hard to keep up. I had become used to not having many people other than my siblings to hang out with.I felt truly refreshed when they were here.
God is a good, good Father. He gives his children what is good. He heaps blessings on us. His gift of community last week was overwhelming. He knew knew exactly what I needed before I did myself! The girls poured into me and encouraged me with Christ’s love until I was overflowing and refreshed. Each single moment was a gift. From spikeball games, rat hunting, mini-golfing, late night snacks, rides in the “Blue Tomato”, to the good deep talks, I was blessed someway through it all. I pray that I will relish all the times that I do get to have friends around me. Thank you for all You have blessed me with Father, and let me never take your goodness for granted!
The long awaited time had come! We were actually getting company again. The covid restrictions here in Cambodia are lifting little by little. They’ve lifted enough that a team from iGo was able to come for one of their ministry trips. After almost 2 years of not being around any other American youth, I was thrilled at the thought of having people who, not only are close to my age and speak English as a first language, but also understand the culture we were born into. I had so much fun writing this blog post and remembering all the good times we had when they were here. It turned out really long so I decided to split into two separate posts.
Monday, April 11.
After a couple of set backs along the way, the iGo team finally made it to our house late this evening. Friedrich’s and Lanita came over for supper. We got to know each other a bit and found our many connections with each other. The poor people was exhausted from their long travels, so they went to bed as soon as they could. They’ve been traveling almost 24 hrs.!
I’m so happy, Julianna and her sister are both going to SMBI the same term as Dallas and I. It’s kind of a relief. I’ll actually at least kind of know someone other than Dallas. Plus they are not only from the mission field, but also from Thailand. We’re pretty much neighbors! It’ll be so nice to have someone with similar experiences in a sea full of “normal” Americans. Oh, there is also two Friedrichs here now, a Friedrich Stoltzfus and a Friedrich Miller (from here).
Tuesday, April 12.
Today we only had a half day of school so that Carissa and I could go with the team. We watched the well guys drill in the morning. Friedrich and Keith both tried their hands at it. We girls sat down by the stairs and just observed. We hadn’t been sitting there long before the house owner noticed that the white girls were sitting in the sun. Of course it wouldn’t do to have them ruin their beautiful white skin with a tan! What a shame that would be! He quickly brought over chairs and set them in the shade where the sun wouldn’t hit any of their beautiful white skin.
After eating lunch with the well team, we went to one of the fishing villages to pass out bible story books. I love hearing them exclaim over how interesting and different everything is. It made me remember how blessed I am to have a chance to live in a place like this. We split up into two groups. We’d give a couple of children books, their friends would see and race over to get one too. There were so many children! They’d come flocking around us begging for a book to take home. After we finished those two roads, we made our way back to the front of the village, giving out books as we walked. We were hot and tired by the time we ran out of books!
Carissa and I were very happy when they were willing to play spikeball with us. We have barely played since Lydia and Lanita left in June last year. Which is really sad, because all of us love playing. It’s just not as much fun with siblings that you see everyday. It was so fun to play again! It felt so good to talk to the girls while we weren’t playing. We had some really good conversations. We got a couple games of spikeball in before us youth went over to Friedrich’s for supper. It was a good day!
Wednesday, April 13.
After breakfast this morning, Lanita came over and we rounded up enough bikes for her and the team to go exploring all morning. The guys were busy with Wednesday staff meeting. I was busy trying my hardest to get Forrest and Alaina to be excited about finishing their lessons for the day! That didn’t work very well. All they could think about was the team biking all over the village, seeing the sights, while we did school. I was relieved when it was finished! I have a feeling that school will not go as well as usual this week. Oh well, what can you expect with visitors here?
Dad got one of the SALT guys to order pork and rice for lunch. We thought it’d be fun do something with the staff for Khmer New Year. It’d give the team a chance to get to interact with the staff a bit more. The Salt staff grilled both pork meat and dog meat (sorry if that fact bothers anyone! It was a badly behaved dog, and it wasn’t anyone’s pet.) The team was excited to try everything. It was very good! We all sat in the shade to eat. The Khmer people definitely knew how to make their meat. My goodness, Vut ordered way to much meat! They didn’t even grill all of it. Our fridge is full of pork now!
The team went out with Dad to his bible study in Kompong Pluk after lunch. I stayed at home and did random jobs that needed to be finished. Sreypov had come home from her homeland on Saturday, but I didn’t get a chance to see her. So I went to visit her. The house was totally empty. I called her and she told me that she went back last minute to her mom’s house to watch over stuff while she is gone. I haven’t seen her in so long! I’m so disappointed that I didn’t catch her in time!
When everybody came back, we went over to Sen’s and watched the guys play volleyball for a while. Then they asked us if we wanted to play too. We did play, I won’t say that they were super competitive games because most of us were very rusty. It was fun to play again though. It was a good day today.
Thursday, April 14.
The team went over to Friedrich’s to paint the inside of their house today. Friedrich and Renita took them out for a Khmer breakfast. We had a normal day of school. We ate some of the leftover pork for lunch. I was really tired after school, so I went to lay down for 15 minutes. I ended up sleeping for over an hour. After I finally was awake enough, I took over some tools and stuff to Friedrich’s. The house looks much better with the lovely gray instead of yellow! After I dropped that off, I came home and made cinnamon twists for tomorrow. Everyone went to Lanita’s house for supper. We’re going up to the mountain early tomorrow morning since we have off for the new year, so we all went straight to bed after we got home.
Friday, April 15.
Ughh! I don’t know how I did today! Normally I can barely go to bed late because I’ll be tired the next day. It must be my “people high” that keeps me so energetic, because it’s not at all normal!
I told a couple people that if they think about it, to call me and make sure I wake up. Well, some people got time zones mixed up! One person called at 1:30 a.m. and another at 3:00. It made me laugh. (If you are that person, don’t feel bad! I loved it!) I got up for real at 3:30 so I could preheat the oven for the twists. I video-called Lori and Avi while I got ready. I can’t believe I actually get to meet Avi in person in less than three weeks!
When Friedrich’s and Lanita got here, we piled into the truck. It was a bit of a tight fit with the guitar, ukulele, breakfast, plus all of us in the truck bed. But it made good memories! Once we finally got there, we hiked down the mountain to a good place to sit. Sitting there surrounded with such good people, I was so grateful for this amazing gift God gave me this week! Julianna and Veronica served everyone coffee. Then we passed around the twists that I made and the breakfast burritos that Renita made. The sunrise honestly wasn’t anything amazing, but it was so worth going up! After we had eaten, we pulled out the instruments and sang for a while. Then somehow a rock throwing contest got started. It was fun.
After we got home, some people decided to take a nap. Some of us girls went over to Lanita’s house to clean the upstairs for her. Ruth is coming tomorrow, she’ll stay in the upstairs. We talked while we worked, a lot of it was about mission related topics. I think it’s so neat that most of this team has lived abroad on missions! It makes you feel a special connection to each other. It was good to talk to Veronica especially. Her family has lived out of country almost the same amount as we have. I think a lot of our experiences, and the way it has shaped who we are, are very similar. It was so good to connect with them!
Guess what we had for lunch? Leftovers. More grilled pork and leftover chipotle bowl. When will it be gone?! The guys left soon after lunch to go swimming. They went to a little lake/pond with cliffs. It looked beautiful! Not the normal kind of place you’d find here. They had a blast jumping off the cliffs into the water.
Meanwhile, the girls decided that we should go find a coffee shop in town with AC and hang out there. We had all climbed onto the truck. That’s when the problems started. We were all on the truck. Mom tried to start the truck, it wouldn’t start. She tried and tried. We called the boys and asked them what the trick was. They tried to explain. We tried. It still wasn’t working. We tried push starting it a couple times. Finally Lanita got on her moto and was going to go get the van. She was on her way out of the gate when it finally started. She put her moto away and we went to pick up Renita. Mom decided she wasn’t going to risk having the truck not work again. So we swapped vehicles at Friedrich’s. We had to connect the battery to the van before we could leave, but thankfully it worked fine after that! We got out to Rd 6. The new year traffic was insane! We sat there for a long time and never got a chance to turn out onto the road. We decided that it’d probably be best to either stay home, or find a shop closer to home. We went to one that Renita had been to before. I’ve seen it multiple times before, but never actually went myself. It was a neat place. They have a big garden/park with lots of little rooms or shacks to sit in. The place was packed full though. They only had one table available. It was interesting ordering drinks, they were out of so many kinds of syrups and fruit. We finally all got our drinks. The artistic ones in the group pulled out their watercolors and painted for a while. Before we left, each of the girls prayed a prayer of blessing over us individually! They’re some great girls.
Poor Mom, she had to deal with all the vehicle trouble! We got back to Friedrich’s and the truck wouldn’t start again! No matter how many times we tried to push start it, it just wouldn’t cooperate. We pushed it out to the road and it was so close to starting. Finally I gave up and called Dad to come get us. Dad tried once and it started up like a charm! Apparently you have to push in the clutch extra far in order to start it.
We had been going to go mini golfing, but it was too late. We decided just to stay at home and play spikeball or throw frisbee. Julianna and I took the moto to go get vegetables for supper. I saw it coming but there was nothing I could do. There was no way out. Up the road aways I saw the people armed with squirt guns, buckets of water and baby powder. I wasn’t sure if they’d get us if we’re foreigners, so I tried to go out around them. It didn’t do any good. One guy stood right in front of us and gave us no choice but to stop. They drenched us with water, then proceeded to rub baby powder all over mine and Julianna’s faces. Through the whole ordeal, they were apologizing profusely! By the grins and smiles on their faces, they definitely weren’t sorry in the least! I got the vegetables I needed. Then I made sure my money and phone was safe in the grocery bag. I was much better prepared to be soaked on the way back.
After supper, we played random group games until 12 o’clock. Lanita called it a day soon after that. The rest of us weren’t too tired yet so we sat around and talked some more. Keith got out his snacks and kindly shared them with everyone. It’s amazing I’m not more tired than I am with having gotten up so early.
It’s so, so good to have people around! I’m so thankful for them.
The holidays this year were probably the most un-holidayish holidays since we’ve been here! It was a bit disappointing, but it was fine! The church had our Christmas party on Christmas Eve. So we were gone most of the day getting ready for that. It was different than any other Christmas party we’ve had.
We decided we were just going have it for the church people to keep it small. Well, I got there in the morning to help with preparations. And apparently a couple of the people from the fishing village let the word spread that we were having a party. There definitely was not just church people there. I didn’t think I knew half of them! But that’s just Cambodia for you.
They made a new kind of soup for the meal! It is pretty much a conglomeration of lots of stuff! It has vegetables, noodles, pork, sausage balls, and crispy garlic to name a few. Then you pour your broth over that and add additional toppings and sauces to it if you want! It was delicious.
After the meal, we set up a bottle roll game for the adults. That was entertaining! We put tape down onto the table and put a something between each piece of tape. They had gifts, soda between the tape. But for a twist, they put in a couple pieces of chili and some slices of lime too! For a while people only landed on the prizes, but finally a couple people landed on the chili. Everybody would just nibble off a bit of the chili. Poor Austin though, didn’t know and he was going to be a good sport about it. So he popped the whole thing in his mouth! He made a face and coughed a bit then rolled again. It landed on the chili again. Everyone told him that he doesn’t have to eat any more since he already eaten more than everybody else combined! He said he had a stomach ache for a while after that…
Christmas day was, well, disappointing this year! Right after breakfast, Some of the Khmer guys asked if they wanted to go cast net fishing. They thought they’d be gone for a while, but be home in time to do something with the family. They left, then called and said that a couple of the ladies were going too, and that we could go along to if we wanted. Carissa and I decided to go on the moto with Pon and Sok after we did some of the housework. They ended up not being ready to go till after lunchtime! We finally headed out around 1 o’clock. We drove on the highway for a while and then turned off onto a smaller road. After some confusion, we finally found an even smaller road to turn onto. It was a path really, not made to be easy to drive a moto on! I could just imagine myself losing control of the moto and either sliding down the bank into the water or laying the moto over into the rice fields. Thankfully we made it without any accidents.
Once we got to where everyone was gathered, they were just getting ready for lunch. We had whole grilled fish, rice and several dipping sauces. I ate a couple bites of the little tiny fish with all the bones in it. They were good. But I decided it would be easier to just eat rice with the sauce than trying to chew the bones well enough to swallow!
After lunch, we washed more 2-3 in. long catfish and put them onto skewers. It wasn’t a necessarily enjoyable task, jabbing the skewer in through the gills and out of the eye socket. For every couple that I’d do one of the eyes would come popping out! And if you aren’t careful the catfish barbs jab you back. And let me tell you, it’s not a very enjoyable feeling!
Finally, around 5 o’clock, they were ready to go home! We made it home an hour later. Both the daylight and our time to do something with the family had disappeared. That fact put some people in a very un-christmasy mood! There was nothing we could do to change it though. So we had pizza for supper and by the end of that, most of us were in better spirits. We made up for it the next day with a good Christmas dinner and holiday snacks in the evening.
Since soon after we moved here, we have come to realize two areas that the Khmer people are very different from Americans are being on time and actually giving invitations! We had no idea what we were going to do on news years eve because of it!
We had been hearing all week that Goy’s were having a new years party, but we had no idea if we were invited or not. They’d talk about it around us. And some of the stuff they said made it sound like they were planning on us but other stuff made it sound like they weren’t! We were invited to two other christmas/new years parties, but also would have enjoyed spending it with just us. Since goys are from our church, we wanted to make them the first priority but we honestly didn’t know what was going on! Finally, the morning of the party, Pon did come and officially invite us. At least we finally knew for sure now!
They killed one of their pigs for supper. I absolutely love their grilled pork! After everybody was stuffed and the dishes were washed, Chhum informed dad that he could share some scripture now. Dad had no idea they were planning on him sharing, but he found a passage and shared it. They had just assumed Dad would be doing it and didn’t bother saying anything to him about it! After that we song a couple songs. Chhum was finished, but Mum asked if they could keep singing. So they did! They sang the rest of the evening! As the evening wore on, the singing changed from enthusiastic singing, to barely getting the lyrics out! I was relieved when it was almost midnight. We had a prayer welcoming in the new year, we headed home and slept very very good!
So, that’s how our Holidays went. Definitely different from at home, but we can still enjoy being with the ones we love even
Here is the first recipe for y’all! This is what we had for supper Wednesday evening. It’s super easy but it does use oyster sauce, A large majority of Khmer foods use it. so if you want to try a lot of Khmer recipes, I’d suggest buying some!
You should be able to find it in the Asian isles in Walmart. But if not, in the notes, I’m sharing an amazon link to the brand that they use here. You could try substituting it with fish sauce or soy sauce but no promises!
~Khmer Bok Choy and Pork~ 1 ½ C. Ground pork 1 Tbsp. Oil 5 cloves minced garlic 1 Tbsp. Chicken bouillon 2-3 Tbsp. Oyster sauce 1-2 Tsp. Sugar ¼ Medium onion Diced 1 Lb. Bok choy Green onion (optional)
Directions: Fry the garlic in oil until the garlic turns golden brown. Add the pork, chicken bouillon, oyster sauce, and sugar. Once the pork is almost cooked, add the onion and cook until soft.
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cut bok choy in half lengthwise. Add the bok choy to boiling water and blanch.
Arrange the bok choy on a platter in a circle with ends facing outward. Pour the meat mixture on top and garnish with green onion. Serve with rice.
Notes: Chicken bouillon, powdered not cubes.
This is the Same brand of oyster sauce that they use here.
I had a fun evening the other night! It was a good ending to a not so great day. The place where Dallas was drilling. The guy that Dallas was drilling for had a pig that was dying. He was more than happy to sell it to Dallas for a good price. After work, Dallas and Dad butchered it and put it in the freezer. It ended up being a lot cheaper than buying it at the market. So it was a bargain on both sides.
Then I went with Dallas and took the innards and Hocks over to Sen’s to give them. In Khmer culture, if someone helps kill or butcher it, you cook up the innards, skin etc, and get together to eat it. So after they were finished butchering it, I went over to Sen’s with Dallas to give it to them to cook. When we got there, it looked like they were already preparing a feast!
The night before, a deer had gotten trapped in Davie’s Dads’trap. It’s a rare occurrence that they ever catch a deer, so Chhum’s family went out to Davie’s homeland late in the evening. And were helping them butcher and eat it into the early morning hours. They barely got any sleep that night, but they did get a small cut of the meat to bring home and let the others taste. The majority of the Khmer people hadn’t had it before.
The ladies were sitting on the tables, busy with preparation. We chatted for a bit, then they set us to work cleaning the intestines for them.
While I picked and cut herbs and vegetables for her, Pan sliced the deer meat super thin. She then squeezed lime juice all over the meat and thoroughly coated the meat with it. Then she added chilies, lemongrass, basil, and a couple other ingredients, gave it a good toss and seasoned it with salt. The result was an AMAZING “Ceviche” of sorts. The sourness of the lime balanced on the spicy chili perfectly. Don’t worry, the lime cured the meat. It still looked raw, but it was Oh SO tender! The dish is definitely something you have to get used to. But it has become one of my favorites!
For the pork, we parboiled it. Then slathered it with a mixture of chili salt and oyster sauce. And finished it off on the grill. It was delicious! It had a hint of sweetness that balanced out the chili and salt. Honestly I think it’s a shame that most Americans are grossed out at the thought of eating the majority of animals’ internal organs! If you know how to prepare them, they are so good! And it cuts down on a lot of waste!
After we were finished eating, We sat around and laughed and talked until the children started complaining of being sleepy. Then we all went back to our homes and slept till the break of dawn.
So that was our fun evening of the week.
( On a side note… If anyone would like to see easy Khmer recipes let me know. I’ve thought about sharing some before, but didn’t know if anyone would want them!)