Birthdays, Thieves, and Accidents!

This past month has been really eventful. Birthdays, thieves, and accidents all took a part in making it that way.

There are other things that made this month  interesting  like switching up classes at school. Before this past month, I have always been teaching students that knew the alphabet really well and had a decent vocabulary, but this past month we decided that it was time for a change. Micheal had 20-25 students in the morning that were clearly at two different levels. There were some who could read easy words well and carry on simple conversations, and there was also the ones who didn’t know all the alphabet, and almost no English words. I had 4-6 students who could read very well, but struggled a little with conversation. Jody on the other hand had 2-5 students who could read fairly well and did very well with talking what English they knew.IMG_8850-1

As you can see the classes were very lopsided, because of this we decided to mix things up a bit. We mixed my class with Jody’s, and I took the half of Micheal’s students who didn’t know anything. So for the past month I have been trying to teach ABC’s and work on the students vocabulary. It seems to be going ok, but I guess we’ll see. We also mixed up the afternoon classes a bit, but it wasn’t as drastic a change as it was for the morning class.

In July, two of our family has Birthdays. Forrest turned six on the 1st, and Carissa turned 10 on the 13th. We didn’t do much for their Birthdays, but Heather made them each a cake, and Mom made them whatever they wanted for supper.

One day this month Mom, Carissa, and Forrest were in the kitchen playing dominoes. Forrest went to get something in one of the other rooms, but when he went to open the solid glass door to the kitchen it wouldn’t open. He thought it just needed a bit more of a push, when Crash the whole door came tumbling down around him. One of the pieces hit him in the back of the head making two parallel cuts. It ended up not being all that bad but it scared every body for a bit. We were all very thankful that it wasn’t worse. IMG_9089-1IMG_9091-1

One morning last week, Dad called up the stairs wondering where I had parked the moto the night before. I told him that I had parked it where we always parked it. He called back that it wasn’t there. We boys started looking around and noticed that some small logs that i had put in front of the one gate that we never use were moved around. When we went over and looked, we found the lock laying on the ground below the gate. Apparently they climbed over the gate and broke the lock with a hammer. Later we found out that the one neighbor lady had seen a truck sitting there with two men standing by the gate, but was to scared to yell. Long and short of the matter is, We now have one less Dream (moto) than we used to.

Yesterday as we were coming home from school we had a fender bender accident. We came through the traffic light turning left with 2 seconds left on the green (here they give you a second count down). When we came to the middle of the intersection Michael noticed that there was pedestrians crossing the street we were pulling in to. So we braked to a stop, just when we had good and stopped there was a crash and the car shook a bit. Here a moto had tried to make it through the intersection on yellow to red and didn’t see us stop. Nobody was hurt at all, but the brake light on the Visto is broken a little.

Ryan and Austin also had an accident yesterday. He was driving the moto and a lady pulled out in front of him. He was going around a curve already so he couldn’t swerve to much, but he had seen it coming in time to slow down quite a bit. He hit the ladies back tire just enough to lay his bike over. The lady wobbled a bit, but stayed up. Ryan slid down the road a bit on his backpack, which he was wearing in the front because Austin was riding. Austin stepped off when the bike went down, and ran down the road a bit to slow down. Ryan had a few minor scratches and Austin was perfectly fine. We are very thankful that it wasn’t worse. I am surprised that I don’t see things like this happen more often with the traffic the way it is.

Another thing that has changed in the past month or two is that it switched from dry season to rainy season. While rainy season is not near like I thought it would be when we first came, it still rains a lot. Some of the nicest thing about rainy season is that everything turns from a brownish-red to green, and the actual temperatures are much cooler (in the nineties) even if the real feel with humidity is often in the triple digits. The fields all have grass and the trees have the dust washed off.

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When it really rains hard, our yard becomes a miniature pond.

Twice this month when it rained it poured. (Did you know that the saying when it rains it pours is a Mortons salt slogan? We really like to use Mortons salt durning rainy season cause the other stuff doesn’t pour.) The first time we had 3.65 inches in around two hours, and the second time it rained 2.5 inches in less than an hour. When it rains that much that fast it causes some flooding on the road in town because the drains can’t keep up. Some of the worst roads have had over a foot of water on them for a while, but it will go down again once the rain slows. IMAG0084-1IMAG0090-1

The disadvantage of the rain for me is that it is really hard to teach English if it rains very hard. The students get very distracted, and it is really hard to hear or be heard, because of the tin roof. The rain also blows into the open sides of the classroom. About the only thing you can do is postpone class until the rain slows down. We are very thankful that this year we have pavers for the floor. Last year we had major problems with the desks sinking.:( While heavy rain does make class more difficult most of the children love playing in the rain. The older ones especially like playing soccer while it is raining. The other thing that isn’t very nice about the rain is driving moto when you forget your rain coat. It makes for some very cold rides:)IMAG0086-1

And here are a few random pics from the past months.

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Here is a jumping spider for all you nature lovers;)

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Another Jumping Spider. Both of these are smaller than a penny including the legs.

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Random Butterfly

 

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Show Off???

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Alaina saw I had the camera pointed at her. She was on the way to a smile but I caught this expression before the smile showed.

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This is part of the one fishing village that we drilled in quite a bit.

Well that’s all until next time.

Luke for the Helmuths

 

 

A Quick Update

Things have been moving right along since May. There was a bit of a boring stretch where i forgot all about the blog before that, but all of a sudden it was so full that i didn’t have time to write on the blog when i did think about it.

First of all, my cousin Tony came for four days. He was in Asia for a mission trip and extended his stay a bit to come see us:) We had fun showing him what we do around here and take him to some of the local tourist attractions.IMG_7914-1IMG_7922-1IMG_8086-1IMG_8127-1IMG_8201-1

Two days after Tony got here, an IGO group came through and they taught both mine and Jody’s classes for a couple days. That was especially nice over the time that Tony was here so we had free time to hang out with him. The one big project we did with the IGO group was add a kitchen to Sen’s house.

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If you don’t have a ladder use a table!

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We took turns cutting so Matt doesn’t get all the credit!😉

Before Tony left, we took him and the IGO group rat hunting. This time we went on land instead of out on the lake. It was roughly the same area as we went before, but the lake has gone down so much that the area was dry. Well kind of…It had rained the day before we went and it was very muddy. Those of us wearing flip flops had a hard time of it. You could only go so far before you had to stop and get the mud off the bottom. It was still a lot of fun tramping all over the fields. At first we found a lot of half wild buffalo, a few snakes and only a few rats, but around midnight while we were driving home we saw rats run across the road. If the rat was close enough, we jumped off the truck and chased it down. This was a lot more exciting. We continued this plan of attack until the rain chased us home.

Soon after IGO left, Mom and Dad went back to US for a week and a half. Dad needed to go to some Salt meetings with CAM, and some of Mom’s sisters took the opportunity come up and see her. All of us children stayed home, it went surprisingly well actually. I was especially thankful that Jody was around. She did a lions share of the work that mom usually does.

While Mom and Dad were in US, Jasmine left to go back to Canada on the 5th. The sad part is that there are no definite return plans. Before she left, we had some really good times like playing hide and go seek throughout the compound with all the lights out. There are some really good hiding spots around. The last round we played Dallas was it and us boys hid for 45 min before we let him find us, and he had a light to look with.

Mom and Dad made it back on the 9th, then on the 13th Matts family left to live back stateside for at least a year…So needless to say things are really changing around here. The fewer staff means that the jobs get spread to different people making things busier, but honestly it’s not as bad as i thought it would be. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune on sunday when it is only our family, Micheals, and Veasna around. Then we will really miss everybody that left.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words well this look says it all.😦

Well like I said this was just a quick update so until next time Luke for the Helmuths.

Wells…

In a lot of the post that have been done, we have mentioned well drilling, but we have never really gone into the specifics. A lot of that comes from the fact that Lori was doing the blog at first and that really wasn’t her thing. Then when I started writing it was old news. If you aren’t interested in the well process skip to the bottom:)

A normal day drilling starts at about 8:30-9:00 in the morning. It would be cooler to start earlier in the day, but Jody, Ryan, Austin, and I have Khmer class in the morning. By the time we are finished with Khmer class, Frank and Chhom usually have everything needed loaded up on the truck and are ready to go. Recently they have been going a lot further away to drill than they did when we first came two years ago. While there are still people close by that need wells, the places that we are drilling at further away need clean water much more than those close by. The village that we are currently drilling in is especially needy. Their main water source is a river going to the lake, or ponds close by…The water is a runny milkshake consistency because of all the clay sediment in it . Some of them would use this water to cook with ect. The drive to this village from Frank’s place is about 30 min.

Once we get there, we set up. This consists of getting the electric pump connected to our water filtering tank. Connecting the hose and first drill bit to the pump, and running wire from the generator to the pump. If there is a water source close by, they will set the gas water pump up to run water from there into the filter tank. If there isn’t water close enough to use the gas pump, we have to haul water in our big tank on the truck. While this is ok, using the gas pump is definitely a lot easier.

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The blue tank in the front is the filtering tank. The water comes up the temporary casing and goes into the far side of the tank. The water flows over a lip into the near side. This catches most of the dirt on the far side. You can also see the water tank on the truck that we use. Ryan (the one in red) is putting on a drill rod.

After set up comes prayer, every morning right before they start drilling they say a prayer asking God to help the work go smoothly, help them to get good water, and to bless the people they are drilling for.

After the prayer they start the generator, then the pump. The pump pushes water through the steel drill rod, so all they have to do is turn the drill rod by hand. The water pushes the dirt back up the hole. Each drill rod is about three meters long. The drill bit is a piece of flat steel about three inches wide welded on the end of one of the drill rods. You clamp an handle over the drill rod to give yourself something to turn on. (The pics explain it a lot better.) Once they have drilled the first drill rod down, they take it back out and put in a temporary casing. The temporary casing is just a piece of steel pipe that is just big enough around that they can fit the bit down through and is 2 meters long. All this casing is for, is to keep the dirt on the top from caving in and washing out.

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Here you can see almost the entire set up. The electric pump that pumps the water down the well, the hose, and the drill rods on the right.

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Chhom drilling. You can see the handle that gets clamped on the drill rods so you can pick it up and turn it

Once the temporary casing is in, they put the drill bit back in and drill until the end of the drill rod is even with the top of the casing. Then they lift it a little bit (to make so it stops digging in the dirt on the bottom)and unscrew the drill bit from the hose. Once the hose is unattached, they attach one end of of the next drill rod to the hose and then the other end to the drill rod. After starting the pump, they are good to go for another three meters of drilling. After the three meters is finished, another drill rod is added Ect.

Once they find a good place to stop, preferably clay. They pull all the drill rods out and put in the permanent casing.  This is just 1 1/2 inch PVC glued together. They push the pipe all the way to the bottom, then pound it in good and tight with a piece of wood to make sure the end is sealed. Once the permanent casing is in and they have the temporary casing out, they put a smaller drill bit inside the permanent casing and start drilling again. This makes a cavity under the casing which fills up with water. Usually they drill 6 meters after the permanent casing is in.

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Putting in the casing

After they are finished drilling, they blow air down the drill rods (with an air compressor:) to clean all the loose dirt out of the pipe. After they get the main of the loose dirt out this way, they take out all the drill rods and connect the gas water pump to the PVC and let this run until the water isn’t cloudy and there’s no sand in it.

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This is what happens when you blow air down to clean it out. Makes an excellent way to play a joke with someone new around😉

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The depth that they stop at depends a lot on the soil they are drilling in, but it also depends on the area. They like to stop when the bit is in clay mixed with a little sand. If they stop when the bit is in all sand, the end of the permanent casing will not have a good base, and after a few months the sides of the cavity are likely to fall in, clogging the pipe. Usually they put the casing in 16-20 meters deep and drill another 6 meters. In some areas there is so much iron in the water down that deep that they will put the casing in only 6 meters and stop drilling the cavity as soon as they hit water. In the village by the river there is so much clay that they put the casing in at six meters then drill another 20 meters just to try to get a decent amount of water. The clay is so thick that the water has a hard time seeping through. Depending on the area and the well, when we put the gas pump on the well we can fill a 5 gallon bucket up in around 7-10 seconds. Not all of the wells are this good but around Seim Reap a lot of them are

We usually put a black steel handled pump in, with a little cement pad around it so they have a clean place to wash clothes ect. On a decent day, they can usually drill 2 wells, this doesn’t include installing the pump, but on a day when things aren’t going right and they hit really bad sand or rock it can take 3 days to do one well.

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This is the pump I tried to describe:)

Now for all of you that have been bored with the well info, here is a little more for you:) The other day I was out cleaning the yard and i saw a brilliantly colored bird fly into the window of the house. I don’t know if it was just because it was still learning how to fly or if it saw a reflection on the window and thought it could go right through. Either way it was a little stunned and landed in the yard. I immediately went running for my camera. I had seen this kind of bird from the road a couple times and wanted to take pictures of it, but never had a chance. When I came out with my camera, it was still sleeping and kept sleeping until i had taken my fill of pictures.

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Blue Winged Pitta

Mom, Jody, and Alaina came out and were admiring it with me for a few minutes, when Alaina asked, “Whose bird is this?”

“It is God’s bird,” I replied.

She got this shocked look on her face then exclaimed, “Well God can share!”

After I was finished taking pictures, I carefully picked it up to see if it was knocked out or just sleeping. As soon as I touched it, it jerked awake and started squawking. Soon it stopped and sat there calmly as i stroked it. I wanted to get some more pictures so i handed it to Jody who let it sit free on her hand. After a few seconds it flew into our shop and sat there for a few minutes before flying off. After searching online awhile I figured out that it was a Blue Winged Pitta.IMG_7289-1IMG_7293-1IMG_7315-1

A couple days ago we went out on the Tonle Sap lake ,with friends from the fishing village where we are drilling now. With plans to  hand out Bible story books at another fishing village about an hour boat ride away. They said that the children in this village had most likely never seen foreigners before, and they thought that we would enjoy giving them books. Well, once we got there the village was almost deserted. There were 5 people in the village and they told us that all the others had left that morning to go visiting other places for Khmer New Year. We were a bit beat out that there was nobody around, but we still had fun.

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One of the 4 boats.

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Local fisher woman taking a break during the heat of the day.

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The harvest today is snails…We were a couple hundred yards from shore and the water was only knee deep.

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The village we came to see only to find it was deserted. It took an hour each direction to get here.

Last month was Alaina’s birthday. She was one very excited girl.

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On a different note…If anybody has suggestions of things you would like to hear about comment below. That would make writing this blog so much easier as half the work would be done:)

Thats all for now.
Luke for the Helmuths.

 

Everyday Life Update

I was looking back over the blog posts that have been written in the past and I noticed that a the majority of them have been written about the “highlights” of our life…visitors, vacation,  holidays, and things like that. When I saw the general trend, I thought to myself that it would be really easy to write an update on the “everyday” life of our family so here goes…

First off is Dad. Most of his time is taken up heading up the well drilling part of the ministry over here. Before we give somebody a well we go out and assess the need. We have a list of questions to determine the need, and the price. Yes, we charge a little for the wells we put in. It is usually not much but it helps give the people a sense of ownership over it. Dad is in charge of having enough wells assessed for each month so the well drilling team has enough to do for the month. He also determines the order of importance for the different villages. He  makes almost daily trips to the market to get fresh fruit and vegetables…One of the things he enjoys is making sure people know that they are loved by teasing…Must be a Helmuth thing because I think all of us children enjoy teasing too:)…

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Next is Mom. She certainly doesn’t have a hard time keeping busy. I’m sure that any mother could say the same thing, but with 11 of us (with Jody) to cook, and clean for it doesn’t seem like she ever has off. She also does a lot of sewing. One thing that she enjoys doing if she does have spare time is sitting down with a recipe book and finding new recipes to try.

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After Mom is Lori. She is enjoying her time as a personal worker at Beaver Lake camp. If you want more on her everyday life you can ask her…We still miss her around here:(

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Ryan is the oldest of us boys. He keeps busy drilling wells…He does a lot on the manual labor side of the job. He really enjoys his job and is very excited  about the new well truck that is still in the process of getting a new bed put on it to make so that it can easily be used for drilling. The four wheel drive will definitely be nice.  In his spare time he enjoys keeping his moto in good condition, learning new songs on his guitar, and fishing Khmer style.

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Next is ME!!! I teach one English class in the morning. In the afternoons, I often do odd jobs around the school or house. At the beginning of every month, I do the accounting for the last month. My hobbies are photography and reading.

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Austin finished high school around Christmas. Since then he has really enjoyed helping Ryan and the Khmer guys with the well drilling. He enjoys fiddling with small engines, and playing guitar. He is also the family jokester in our family.

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Dallas is on his first year of high school. While school keeps him busy most of the day he finds plenty of time to go bird hunting with his blowgun, and also really enjoys reading.

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Heather is in seventh grade. After school she helps mom out around the house, and even sewed a dress! She really enjoys reading, sewing, and baking.

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Carissa is in fourth grade. She really likes going out to the village where they teach school and playing with her friends.

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Forrest is in Kindergarten. He loves playing any game that anybody will play with him especially indoor basketball.

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Alaina is 3. She likes playing with her little dolls and tagging behind Forrest. If you ask me she gets cuter everyday.

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I guess that takes care of everybody WAIT there’s Jody too! Jody is my first cousin, and she came over as an ESL teacher. Teaching keeps her very busy, but in her spare time she likes to read, spend time with people, and sharpieing.  She definitely fits  into our family very well.

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Until next time Luke for the Helmuths

Jan-Feb

In early January  some of the ALAM Board were here for their yearly trip…The time they are here is usually filled with Meetings Meetings and more Meetings. This year James Mullet and Matthew Miller along with their wives were the board members that came over. While there was quite a few meetings while they were here, we also had a lot of fun with them.

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Matthew and Anna Miller…Their first time back after 5 years.

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James and Ruth Mullet…James comes over here yearly, but it was Ruth’s first time. This is a pretty good representation of meal times for all the board. They had a good time “documenting” the trip.

One day that was especially interesting we rented a van for the day and 16 of us went up close to Battambong for the day. We went to a public school to meet with the principal about giving out christian literature there. We also went and visited an orphanage and gave them Bible Story books and some candy. I was having so much fun playing with the children that I didn’t take a single picture:) The board also went around with us just observing “normal” life. It was fun having them around.

In early February Vernons came for two weeks. It didn’t seem like we did all that much, but looking back we sure got a lot packed into the short time that they were here.

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We cleared a lot of brush by hand while they were here.

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Dallas teaching Jared the ins and outs of throwing a cast net…Jared caught one first cast:)

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We took them to a couple of the tourist attractions around town. Angkor Wat Temple, a silk farm, and some out of the way craft shops were highlights as far as usual tourist things. It was the first time that most of our family had been to Angkor Wat. While the structures are amazing especially considering that it was all done by hand, the best part of the day was just hanging out with family.

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Angkor Watt

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One evening we took them to the mountain.

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These two did almost everything together.

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Jody has been around long enough that she is definitely rubbing off on Alaina…Notice that both have hot tea.

All too soon it was time to tell most of them good bye, Jeanna stayed for another week. We managed to squeeze a day long moto trip around some mountains, and a trip to Phnom Phen out of that week, both of which were a lot of fun.

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We past a lot of cassava farms. On the left you can see some people cutting the cassavas up to dry then on the right they are spreading them out to dry.

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There were many of these trucking stations for the cassava.

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A few days after Jeanna left, Ryan, Austin, and I went on a 6 day moto trip along with 5 other guys. We toured the North Eastern part of Cambodia and also spent 2 days touring some mountains and waterfalls in Laos. We had a blast making many memories along the way.

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Starting:)

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The thousand island falls of Laos.

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A volcanic lake in Cambodia. 

Photo Credits for the last group of Pictures go to either John or Ken Gingerich.

As good as it has been these past two months it is good to be settling back into normal life again…Until next time Luke for the Helmuths

 

Holidays!

There has been 4 holidays in the past two months…Thanksgiving, Water Festival, Christmas, and New Year.

Thanksgiving and the Water Festival were over the same time this year this made it nice for us because we could have off teaching English for both holidays at the same time. We had two days off for the two of them. For the water festival some of our family went down to the river to watch the boat races. We got started late so we only got there in time to watch the last race but it  was still fun watching all the people, especially the Khmer people. They had no idea that we could understand them. Most times they would just start counting. One, two, three… Six Children!! This was surprising for them, but it surprised them even  more when we told them that there was even more at home. Even though we only saw one race we still had a lot of fun.IMG_3333 Downsized

For Thanksgiving our youth group decided to do a supper for all the staff, and  a few other Khmer people. We spent most of the day setting up for it and getting food ready. While we didn’t have a totally american meal, it was still very delicious and we had a lot of fun with all our friends.

 

 

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This December Lori was here for a week and a half. While it didn’t seem like we did that much with her it was a lot of fun having the whole family together for a while again. We had a lot of stuff going right over the time of Christmas.

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Waiting for Lori.

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Lori’s Here!!!

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Catching up.

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First came the school children’s Christmas program. They did an excellent job with all their singing and a play about Mr. Scrooge.

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The Kindergartners.

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Dallas as Scrooge. Deanna brought him Pizza and tried to cheer him up.

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Scrooge in one of his dreams.

 

Christmas Eve we had a very good day that included a Christmas party one of the native families got together in the morning, swimming after lunch:), then our family gift exchange in the evening.

On Christmas day, all of the staff here got together for lunch. After lunch us youth tried to pull taffy. Simply put we made more memories than taffy:)

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The taffy started out looking OK!

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But something was wrong and soon it was just a sticky mess!

The Sunday evening after Christmas we had our annual Christmas party in the village. We spent the afternoon setting up, and making food. After the main part of the work was finished we had some time to relax before the party. After the party started there wasn’t time for relaxing any more it was rush rush rush until time to go home. We had a lot more people than we expected would come out. Nobody got a precise count but we know there was close to 250 people there. While having the party was exhausting, it was worth it for the opportunity to tell the Christmas story to so many people.

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Starting the Chili soup.

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Cutting up bread to eat with the soup.

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Almost finished.

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Relaxing.
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Part of the crowd. More people kept trickling in all evening.

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One of our two English classes. Each class sang two songs.

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Most of the people involved in the skit.

New Years Eve we got together for the evening and to watch the new year come in.

While it has been really busy the past while it doesn’t look like its going to slow down anytime soon, as there is company scheduled to be around from sometime in the next two weeks to the beginning of March. Not all of the company is for our family but it will keep things busy anyhow. One of the nice things  about having company come is that they can bring cards ect. along with them:) So if you wish to send us a card you can either send it to Matthew Millers who leave Ohio the 11th of January…If it doesn’t get there in time there are some youth that from the area that can probably bring it sometime in February. Their address is 7985 SPECHT RD
SUGARCREEK, OH 44681. Or you can send it to my Uncles who are coming the 11th of February their address is 22 Hickory Rd  Bonners Ferry, ID 83805. Thanks to those of you who got cards off in time for when Lori came. We enjoyed them.

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This time of year there are some amazing sunsets.

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Well this will be all for now…Luke for the Helmuths

Cards!!!

If you would like to send us a card or note you can if you hurry…Lori is coming over for Christmas!! (You can probably guess what the next blog post will be about:) You can send the cards to her at P.O. Box 171 International Falls, MN 56649 but it has to be there by the eleventh. Sorry we didn’t think about it sooner.

Luke for the Helmuths