Christmas Festivities

Happy Holidays! We hope you had an enjoyable Christmas and new years! The Holiday season has once again come and gone! Christmas over here was pretty low key, we don’t have any of the rush that comes with Christmas in the states.

We worked the day before Christmas, in the evening, we had a special supper and a family gift exchange. We like to joke that here, you don’t go get a present, you go FIND one. You can know exactly what you want to get, but to find a shop that sells it is another story! Christmas morning, some things came up that the boys had to work on in the morning. We girls were in the kitchen most of the morning preparing dinner. Kevin’s came over for dinner, Then we spent the rest of the afternoon putt putting. We came back, had a snack, and hung out the rest of the evening. It wasn’t a “normal” Christmas, but it was a very nice break.

Our church had our annual Christmas party again. This year, however, it was much smaller than previous years. With building the church house, we were short on funds, so only those close to us were invited. The morning of the party, we all gathered at the church building to set up and make food. While the men got lights, sound system, and the church ready, we ladies laid out a tarp to sit on and got busy. Being
surrounded with conversations and laughter made the preparation much more enjoyable!

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The service was supposed to start at three o’clock. However, things don’t run on time here! It was five before enough people were there to start! The Khmer people have taught us that for something like this, you invite them for earlier than you want to start. So, since they actually wanted to start at five, they told everybody to come at three! That is a great example of culture differences! It can be aggravating at times, but then I realize that I do many things differently than they would. And you understand that it’s not right and wrong, just what you’ve grown up with.

It was a fairly laid-back party, our church, and some friends and family. We sang some congregational songs, and Tain sang a couple songs.
Behind the scenes of the nativity play this year was, well, hectic! Since we don’t have many youth in our church yet, Sophon asked some youth from another church to help out. However their party was two days before ours, so they were often busy getting ready for theirs. It only worked out for them to practice with us once! But we decided we’re going to give it our best shot! There was a few blunders, some unrestrainable giggles, and a couple forgotten and improvised lines. But the imperfections made
everyone love it even more! One person said her lines for the first scene and started saying the lines for the next scene, then realized what she had done. Mortified, she walked off of the stage and whispered “Oh, I forgot!” We discovered later that the mic was still close to her and picked up what she had said! The crowd roared with laughter at that!

After the play, Sophon came back on stage. “Now we’ll have Teacher… Um, Teacher…?” Sen came over and told him” Allen, Teacher Allen”. “Yes, Teacher Papa Allen will be sharing a small message for us today.” It tickled me to think that very few of the Khmer people know Mom’s or Dad’s name. They are just known as mama and papa to everyone.

One of the nicest things about having a small party was being able to sit down, eat,and visit with the guests. Previous years we were racing around serving tables until the guest left. And often there would be very little food left over because everyone wanted to take some home for their family.

So this is what we did for Christmas! It wasn’t a typical american Christmas with family. Even though we don’t celebrate the same way or do the same activities as we would at home, the reason and joy of Christmas is the same worldwide!

~Heather for the helmuths~

Six Years and Counting

The 11th marked the sixth year since we came! In some ways the six years seem like forever, but in other ways it doesn’t! We are still learning new things everyday, and we still have many firsts! (Monkeys, bats, etc… for lunch)

Thinking back I am flooded with memories. Memories of stepping off the plane and being hit by a wave of warm, humid air and then being confused when everybody greeted us in jackets, shivering, trying to stay warm! The first night, after we got through security and loaded all of our luggage into the vehicles, I was told to climb on the tuk tuk with mom and dad. All the peculiar smells were overwhelming! I was very concerned when the tuk tuk turned right and the rest kept going straight! It’s funny now, but in my little kid mind it was definitely was not a laughing matter, my imagination ran wild! I was sure this man saw this as a chance to make some extra cash, and he was kidnapping us! And I had no idea what dad would do because he couldn’t talk any Khmer. You have no idea how relieved I was when I pulled up to our house, and no one was missing!

Some of the things that come into my mind when I think of the first year are

  • Holding your breath when walking through the market
  • Being scared to talk to strangers, for fear they would rattle off in Khmer and you wouldn’t understand a thing!
  • Always forgetting to take TP with you wherever you go.
  • Debating if holding a baby is worth a chance of getting peed on.
  • Wishing Market sellers would let you at least glance at something without them asking you to buy it!
  • The fact that if you’re a little white kid personal space doesn’t exist
  • Getting aggravated at how being on time isn’t important!
  • Walking through the market and all you hear is “Hello Madame! Buy something please!” and “Good price for you Madame”
  • Loud music at parties being unbearable!
  • Eating only rice and soup or vegetables at the village because you’re too scared of getting a bone.

We’ve definitely adjusted to living here, the stench of the market that I used to dread, and try to avoid, I don’t think about anymore. And for the most part, we don’t have to worry about not understanding people. And now we’re the ones that bundle up for 70 degree weather!

People often ask “When are you moving back?”. Right now we are the only family here, so that makes it hard for kinda to leave. Dad says that if we’d leave right now, he feels like we’d let a lot of people down. So at the moment, only God knows. However Ryan has decided that it’s time for him to move back, He’s planning on leaving in March. It’ll certainly leave a big, empty hole here!

Another question we get asked frequently is “Do you miss the States?”… Of course there are times when it would be amazing to be closer to family, having people to spend the holidays with. There are times when all you want is youth aged people, people that share the same culture and language that you were born into. But there are times when I can’t imagine living back in the states, not living close to these people we’ve grown to love! And not being here to watch the kids grow up! We’ve learned so much, and have been so blessed with this opportunity that not many other people get! Honestly, its home, and I wouldn’t trade having lived here for anything!

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

~Heather for the Helmuths~

 

 

A welcomed visit!

We’ve been adjusted back for quite some time. Life hasn’t been slowing down and it won’t for quite some time! In a couple weeks we won’t be the only Americans here until after February! We are going to have a a lot of people coming through helping with the house that ALAM bought and they are going to fix it up! Once the house is finished we’ll be moving out there. Luke and his girlfriend Stephanie bought tickets for Jan-Feb!!! We can’t wait!  Combine all that with holiday activities and we shouldn’t have much extra time!

The Mountain View team left yesterday… it was so refreshing to have other people here! They only had a week here, but we enjoyed every minute of it!
The day after they got here we went out to the fishing village with dad. We sat in on his lesson, then took a boat ride out on the lake. After eating lunch one of the girls went to Khmer class with me while the rest of them went to town. They spent the next day going to Angkor Watt and the silk farm.
Sunday was extra special since the team sang for us, and Jeff had the message! It was quite a treat to have a Sunday evening with playing games and hanging out with youth again.

Monday the team went out to the school house and started tearing down walls. In the afternoon we were going to take the girls fabric shopping but when we got there everything was closed! So we went back and picked up the guys and went to see the boat races… and by the time we got through traffic, they were done boat racing for the day! So we slowly wiggled our way back to the truck. As soon as the fireworks started, everyone stopped wherever they were, pulled out their phones, and made it next to impossible to walk at all. Ryan and Austin met us at the restaurant for supper, then we all headed to night market. Almost all of the team did the fish massage (basically you pay somebody to let their fish nibble all the dead skin off of your feet). Some of their reactions were priceless!

The next day, after the guys worked on the church house, we went out to pick them up and all the girls sampled grilled dog. After the boys washed up, we headed into town again, and this time we got there in time to see the races. I think that the big crowd with voices and music blaring over the speakers was a good taste of the culture for them! The team cooked us a delicious Mexican supper that evening!

Thursday, their last day here, the boys took the day off and we all went out with dad to Preah Lingeang. This village is about 50 miles from our house. But because of bad roads, it takes 2 1/2-3 hrs. to get there. They still do not have electricity. A couple of Chum’s siblings live there. Soon after we turned off of the main road, I started hearing comments about how bad the road was. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself to think about what they’d say about the last road! The poor baby! She was probably bounced more on the way there than she ever has been before! She couldn’t even keep ahold of her bottle! Once we finally got there, dad told a short bible story and the team sang for us. The guys past us, soon after we got on the dirt road, however they took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up way off the road. By the time they got there, two of them had lost their flip flops and we were ready to eat lunch without them! Right after lunch, we headed home, they were leaving that evening and weren’t going to have much time to get cleaned up and have supper. It was getting close to dark when we got back, they showered, ate a quick supper, and started their goodbyes. It was sad to see them go!

In two weeks Dad’s uncle is coming to do plumbing at the house. So if anyone wants to send cards or family pictures etc… We would love to get them! They should get there in time if you send them soon. You can send them to, 2033 Irish path, Rockingham VA 22802.IMG_5592

~Heather for the Helmuths~

A Trip Across the Sea…

After three amazing months without writing a blog post… We’re back! Furlough was really good. The only thing I would have changed is that we didn’t have enough time with everybody. It seemed like we were in the van traveling most of the time! Dallas and  I Traveled back before the rest of them, and stayed at my uncle’s place. We were picked up in Kentucky by the rest of the family on the 11th. They got there the day before and had one day to recuperate. We began our many hours in the van, new churches every Sunday, and living out of a suitcase for 6 weeks!
Our first destination was Ohio, where all dad’s brothers were gathered to visit Grandad and see each other. There was lots of catching up, retelling of old stories, and an abundance of laughter! We girls and mom had a lovely evening reconnecting with Veasna!

After all our goodbyes, we drove through breathtaking views on our way to South Carolina. We had a wonderful time down there connecting with old friends. We went with Charles’s for a lovely day at the lake. And of course, the boys couldn’t let any chance that they had to fish go!

From there we journeyed up to Kentucky and spent a day with Mom’s sister before going to mom’s family reunion. The reunion started Thursday evening and went through Saturday noon. Only being able to see cousins every one or two years makes you appreciate it all the more when you do! We went to a lovely creek and jumped off the bridge into the nippy water! And the last day, those of the cousins that were left made an excursion to Nashville. We strolled around Centennial Park, made a quick trip into the Parthenon, and finished the day by cooling ourselves off with ice cream! We spent the rest of the weekend there with another one of mom’s sisters, and dad’s cousin’s family.c633413c-b940-405e-a72d-4fb08663ef38

Sunday afternoon we started our long trek up to Canada to see Cordell and Lori. We spent Monday with dad’s aunt in Missouri. Monday night we started for Canada again, and were very, very relieved when we finally got there around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. The time up there was definitely the highlight of furlough for us! Luke flew up the night before so we were able to all be together for a bit! Lori’s house is a bit small for 12 people, so Lori and Cordell set up a tent and a makeshift shower outside for the boys. Even so it took a while to get everyone through the showers at night! We spent several evenings around a nice warm fire after supper.img_20190807_222153 Of course, if you’re in Canada, and if you’re from our family, you can’t not go fishing. In the midst of all our other activities, we made time for two days of fishing! One evening we took food along and had a lovely little fish fry on the shore of the lake.img_20190813_143335-1

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Alaina was very pleased with her fish!!!

 

We had a nice afternoon with Cordell’s family at the park for lunch on Sunday. Tuesday evening came around all too soon! We hit the road once again… we drove through the night, the day, and into the evening again, stopping only for gas and food along the way. We arrived at our uncle’s place in Kentucky a little more than 24 hours after we left Cordell’s. It was just a bit too long a drive to suit us! (Luke went with us back down to S.C.)

We spent a nice day there. The boys went fishing and caught nothing. We girls took the youngsters swimming at a neighbors place, and dad went to work with Felix. We left early in the morning and by evening the next day we had again made it down to South Carolina. We spent the weekend there, said our goodbyes and headed to North Carolina. There, Shane and Tara came and all the boys went camping overnight. They had a blast. We girls decided to go swimming in a pond up on the mountain but soon after we got there it started pouring rain! So we went and visited in a coffee shop instead.

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breakfast

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Our last day was full of packing, goodbyes, and more packing! Luke drove us up to the airport for the first leg of our long trek back to Cambodia. In San Francisco we met up with Lanita Martin, our new school teacher. We are definitely very happy to have a school teacher this year! After traveling for another many hours we finally made it back to Siem Reap! It’s been good to be back and see everyone again. We’re pretty much back into our regular life now and the children just started with school, the boys are back to well drilling and dad’s as busy as ever!
Thank you for your thoughts and support!
Heather

God’s marvelous power!

I would like for you to meet Sophat (pronounced Sopat), a Single mom of 5. A sister-in-law to Sokhum and a member of our church. A few years ago her husband left, burned down the house, and later divorced her. After he left she was left alone to care for her children.

Earlier this year it was confirmed that Sophat has breast cancer.
With the money she made from her job as a hair and makeup stylist for weddings, and cleaning a house occasionally, she tried to keep her head above the water. But with payments for her medical bills, food and children’s schooling, she was unable to make ends meet. Finally she had no choice left but to ask for help from the church. She was unable to hold back the tears as she asked for financial assistance… the church said they would be happy to help with expenses. After church, Dad asked her to go home and read James 5, where it talks about anointing.

The next time she saw dad she told him she wanted to be anointed. So that Wednesday, Dad, Mom, Sen, Frank, and his wife went to Sophats house. Dad explained that the oil itself does not have any special power, but it obedience to God’s word and asking for healing, but we want however God can receive the most glory. If he chooses not to heal her we still want to be faithful in the sickness, and if He chooses to heal her, God alone gets the glory! They then anointed her and prayed for her.

A couple days later Her Brother-in-law called dad. “Oh papa, I have the nice story for you today! Today Sophat went to the doctor for her appointment. The doctor said he just doesn’t understand it! The cancer was there, but now it’s not!!!THE CANCER IS GONE!!!” “Praise to the Lord!” Sophat’s mother is a staunch Buddhist and wanted nothing to do with Christianity, since Sophats healing she has been more open to Christianity!!!
God’s power never fails to astonish us!

Catching Up

It’s almost half way through 2019 already!!! I had half of a post sitting, waiting to be finished a month ago… but I never got around to finishing it. So I’ll start all over.

Alot has happened since my last post so i’ll just skim through and pull out the highlights.

  • The 22nd of March was Alaina’s 6th birthdayIMG_8153
  • Chum’s had a beautiful baby girl.
  • I started having class with Frank’s sister, principle of the Vessvan school, to learn to read and write khmer.
  • Dad was on the way back to a village and he saw some people skinning a huge snake. He stopped to watch, turns out it was a king cobra! Dad thinks it was close to 12 ft. long. They said it was going into it’s hole and one of their dogs came and killed it from behind.
  • We were planning on eating out, but some of us didn’t feel good, and the electricity was off all day so mom and dad went and got food to bring home. We decided to surprise mom, since she was looking forward to eating out, and set tables up really nicely up top and ate up there.
  • The humidity and heat has been really high the last few months, and it’s always in the hot season that they decide to turn the electricity off everywhere, all day long.    ( I don’t know if this belongs in the highlights or not!)
  • We had an IGO team of three guys here for a little over a week. Their names were Austin, Dallas,and Brian!

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    Left to right: Austin, Austin, Ryan, Brian, Dallas, and Dallas!!!

  • the IGO team gave us some money and dad & mom decided to get a small pool for the children.
  • James’s , their daughter and granddaughter , and Steve and his son, were here for a couple weeks. Alaina and Forrest both enjoyed having kids to play with!
  • Three people were baptized, and one became a member of the church.
  • I was teaching Alaina one day. She had a picture of a van, and two words to read and circle the matching one. She read the first word, J-E-T, so she knew it wasn’t that one. But I made her read the second word. She looks at it and sounds it out. She sounds out “V-A-N” but then reads it “CAR” and starts going on to the next question. I stop her and tell her to read it again. She sounds out “V-A-N” again and this time thinks a little bit longer then exclaims “VISTO!” (Visto is a kind of car) I get her to read it a third time, and she finally thinks about the sounds and reads it “VAN”
  • We had a ladies seminar while James’s were here.
  • Dallas’s birthday was on the 9th
  • I made lasagna for mothers day lunch.
  • It rained this weekend, and cooled everything down beautifully!

And that brings us up to today. We’re loving the cooler weather today! The boys have half of this week off because of the king’s birthday. So we’re planning on going up to battambang to see the bamboo train up there and visit some friends… So that should be fun.

Here are some of my favorite pics that I’ve taken recently…

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I think she is one of THE cutest kids around…

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She hasn’t quite mastered the peace sign yet!

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Isn’t she adorable?

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Best friends, well…when there’s a camera around anyhow!

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Well, Until next time.

Heather for the Helmuths.

 

Of Friends and Family…

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the last part of February! Not long ago we were saying” Wow! It’s already the middle of January!” Now January’s been and gone and it’s almost March!
We’ve had 5 sets of visitors since January, My grandparents, Dad’s Cousin Justin, Jon and Veasna Gingerich, along with his mom, and later his dad and brother Ken, and Eli Mast Jr. and his wife! The Gingrich’s didn’t stay with us, but were in the area.
Jon’s and his mom, Eva, arrived on the 19th. Veasna’s family loved having Veasna back and seeing their adorable baby girl for the first time.
Granddads got here on the 22nd. They really enjoyed going out to different villages and tasting new foods. Dad’s cousin, Justin got here Feb.5. That Sat. most of the family went out to the silk farm and the baray. Freda was adventurous and tasted a silk worm! The next day was Sunday and we ate lunch out at the pavilion with the Khmer people after church.
Some of the boys went out way back in the sticks for the night so they could get a head start on drilling a well and make it back before nightfall. They came back that evening with a blue crested iguana! We kept it for a couple days then let it go again.

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Isn’t it beautiful?

The time that our visitors was here went WAY too fast. Before we knew it, it was the 12th and grandads last day here. I think they were both ready to get back to the cold weather! Eli Mast Jr.’s came the night after Granddad’s left. Jon’s and Larry’s left on the 14th. Justin and Eli’s left Fri. the 15th.


Dad studied for his message on Friday so that we could do something as a family on Saturday. After sitting around half of the morning not knowing what to do we decided just to go putt putting. We literally ran around the house getting it cleaned up for company that evening. We had Chhom’s brother Chhun and his wife Sokna, Chhom’s parents, and one of Chhom’s nephews over for supper.
The nest week was pretty much just getting back to the normal grind of things.
At home we usually made donuts when it snowed, but here we usually do it when it gets ‘cold’. It didn’t really get cold this year, but we made them anyway.
Yesterday morning we had the first rain of the year. It didn’t rain much, but it rained. There’s something about the first rain of the year… it smells amazing, and everything seems fresher and greener. It was a little cooler too. We’ve been having some hot weather the last couple weeks!

And that brings us up to the present. That’s all for this time…

Heather for the Helmuths

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