Of Birthdays and Busy Days

Yes! We’re still alive way over here, despite our temporary disappearance from the blog world. And, yes! We are busy. Somehow keeping up the blog gets shoved down the list of things to do when there are so many other good things to occupy my time. However…I am tremendously enjoying a little vacation from the daily English classes! Due to Khmer New Year the schools are almost all on break, and when the normal school is on break and parties are happening, the English students tend to forget that there’s English class and so the attendance gets quite low. It’s not very practical to keep on with class when most of the students aren’t there, so we’re taking a break. We had the last class on Tuesday night, and had the rest of the week plus the whole next week off too.

And so…I created a “To Do” list so that I might spend my vacation wisely, and today I hope to cross “update blog” off that list. =) (“Humph,” I think to myself as I proofread this four days later.) Maybe there are other ‘listy’ people out there that enjoy as much as I do crossing something off when the task is completed…

March was the month for birthdays around here. Miriam turned a year older on March 3. (She can tell you how old young that made her if she wishes.) Miriam is our practical lady…I love her straightforward, honest way of handling life and relationships. She adds such a cheerful note to our lives. To celebrate her birthday, we invited Matt’s family over for supper that evening. Despite the power outage for the first part of the evening, we had a great time and a delicious supper, topped off with homemade ice cream and a lovely cake made by Shaila. Shaila ‘surprised’ her mom with the cake – she and Jasmine ‘needed’ to stay home from the village that afternoon to work on her ‘Home-Ec’ project. Miriam said she knew something was going to happen by the cake-y smell of the house and the funny way the girls were acting when she came home from English class. Moms always find out somehow, don’t they?!

Somewhere in the beginning of March, Tim and Malinda Wentz and their daughter Joanna came from Matts’ area of PA to visit for around ten days. They are from Matts’ home church, so they stayed with Matts, but we enjoyed having them around as well. The men and boys seemed to really enjoy some deep Sunday afternoon discussions with Tim. Forrest and Jenna also loved having another playmate around – Joanna was right around their age. After telling Tim’s family goodbye the night they flew back to the states, I found Forrest sitting in a corner crying. “What’s the matter, Forrest?” “I just miss Joanna!” he replied. He has recently been telling me fairly often how he misses his friends, and he just wants to go home.

Jasmine was super excited when she found out that her friend Theresa was coming for a visit in March. Theresa arrived from Canada on March 12, and was here through the first week of April. I honestly don’t know what all those two did together…they had fun though – that I do know. Oh, and Jasmine got Theresa to bring me some of my all-time-favorite creamed honey from that part of the world! I was pretty excited about that. While Theresa was here, Jasmine invited me to go with them on a trip to Phnom Penh. I will tell you about our adventures there in a future update. =)

It was special that Theresa could be here for Jasmine’s twentieth birthday on March 18. Miriam planned a surprise party for Jazzy the night before her birthday. All the people that come to church were invited, and we had a grand time. At first when I met Jasmine, I thought she was one of the most somber people I had ever met. =) It didn’t take me too long to figure out that my first impression of her was pretty far off, because the fun, happy Jazzy I now know emerged once the “I-hardly-know-you-so-this-is-just-a-little-awkward” stage passed. Now I don’t know what I’d do without her friendship here. Jasmine does so much to make our lives more manageable here. A teacher’s job isn’t an easy one, and we thank you, Jazzy, for the many long hours you have invested in the lives of our little people. Oh, and Jasmine loves candy, hence the theme of her cake. =)

We had a good laugh at Jazzy’s party. Jenna and Deanna both wanted a lick of one of the large lollipops from Jasmine’s cake. Panith, Pila’s husband held the lollipop between them and told them to that he was going to count to three, and then they could both take a lick. “One, two, three,” he said, and as the girls put their heads in for a lick, Panith jerked the lollipop down. And Jenna and Deanna had a lick of ‘sister’. It was great fun just watching Panith laugh.

I had a birthday a few days after Jasmine’s, on March 21. It was a mostly ‘normal’ day, until the ‘Algebra class’ I was supposed to have with Shaila turned out to be a fun party with the school children. We played games, had a toilet paper mummy making contest, and had the most delicious-ful root beer floats! I taught my English class in the afternoon, and for supper mom made my favorite cake – Italian cream. Yum! Thank you to all of you who sent me birthday wishes…they really added the ‘happy’ to my birthday!

And the next day was Alaina’s first birthday. She missed my twentieth birthday by 18 minutes, and has been bringing joy to our lives ever since. This little lady LOVES shoes. She can often be found crawling around with one shoe on her hand and another on her foot. Well, make that ‘walking’. For several months she’s been standing up and taking a few steps, but just wasn’t excited about finding a new method of getting where she was going. Mom was unimpressed that Alaina was the first of her babies that wasn’t walking before she turned one. In the last several weeks though, she suddenly decided walking isn’t so terrible after all, and has been toddling around ever since. All the Khmer people love her, though she isn’t as quick to return the feelings. Chum especially loves to play with her. I think it’s because he misses his own little boy. (Chum’s wife lives with her parents in a village a ways off from here, and Chum goes to be with them on the weekends.)

Maybe you’re wondering by now if birthdays are the only things that keep us busy. Nope. Not true. Sometimes, though, I feel as if I could stay busy just being hot. It really has gotten quite warm the last month or two, and somehow the heat can just drain the energy right out of a person. At home I loved cooking, but here when we use the oven the kitchen itself becomes an oven. In fact, the icing for three of those birthday cakes just got all runny and wouldn’t do its job, simply because the kitchen was so hot. It’s been quite dry too, and there are some evenings when the clouds roll in and it looks like the rain will soon start to pour. Most of the time, though, no rain comes. I love a good storm, and it was always a little disappointing to see the clouds blow away with no refreshing rain. About two weeks ago, our family was out for the evening, and while driving home, suddenly here came the first real rain we experienced here. It was lovely. Somehow I felt like God was watering my thirsty soul, and I couldn’t keep back the tears that mingled with the rain on my face. (Yeah, I’m funny like that…who else cries over rain?!)

The next night there was a big thunderstorm. It was delightful to stand up on the balcony and watch the trees sway in the wind and feel the cooling rain. That was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt cold. Poor Ryan had been in a village quite a ways from here that afternoon, and got caught in the storm on his moto on the way home. He soaked to the skin by the time he got here, and his teeth were literally chattering from the cold. I wasn’t very happy when I came into my room and saw a big puddle on my floor. My door to the outside wasn’t latched and I guess it blew open and the rain blew in. Oh well, at least the area behind my closet got cleaned.

The last week of March Dad bought a mini-truck in Phnom Penh, and spent the next week building a rack and seats for the back. We have been thoroughly enjoying going places as a family now – we can all fit on, with room to spare. We couldn’t nearly all get on the tuk-tuk, and the truck they use for well-drilling usually has the drilling equipment on the back and doesn’t have a comfy place to sit. It’s just much more fun going places together again.

I called this post “Birthdays and Busy Days” but I haven’t told you much about the busy part yet. =/ I was planning on telling you about my version of ‘busy’ in this post – in other words, school – but I guess I’ll keep that for a separate time. In fact, I think I still have enough to say for at least three more posts. =/ So goes life.

Until next time…”May the potholes in your road of life be filled in and smooth, and may you always have a cow’s tail within your reach to pull you along when the going gets rough.”


11 thoughts on “Of Birthdays and Busy Days

  1. Wow!! I love reading your Chronicles and being able to get a little glimpse of y’alls world. You have a way of writing that makes it feel like your right their in the moment. And the tears mingling w/ the rain just tear-ed me up too.:(:( Alaina is so precious and squishy, looks like she can maneuver most anywhere! Give your Mama a big hug for me!

  2. Lori, it’s so good to hear about your family. A belated Happy Birthday to you and dear little Alaina. She looks just as adorable as she did when we saw y’all in November! I’ve been so grateful that we had the opportunity to be with your family before you left for Cambodia. It helps in feeling more connected; after all, we are family!

  3. Really enjoying learning about you and your family and life in Cambodia. You do a great job taking us along with you.

  4. Aww!! THANKS, Lori for the update!!!!! sounds so like HOME!!! We all get such delight reading the NEWS! Your birthdays sounded so great…no one realizes REALLY…how special they are over there..right??! How we wished we could hear Panith’s laugh…Ha! that was just to cute..just so like him to do that! & the rain…& the chattering teeth & the tears…yes!! we truly know what you mean…you put it so good!! …how well we know just what you are really ‘feeling’. May God just hold you close..He does understand exactly how you are feeling!! May you find Him giving you renewed strength…patience with the classes…yes, ever so much…!!! You have a huge load, my dear!! We are praying for you….Love the ending…cow tails..ha ha…so many day brightners in so many ‘odd’ ways! Don’t melt…or swim in the bedroom!! 🙂 Sheila came home after a Phnom Pehn trip to a huge mess too once!! You know one day you will have a real story to write…its in the making I love your style…Have a WONDERFUL week!!!

  5. Happy belated birthday Lori…. i just LOVE reading your chronicles, it makes me feel like i’m right there 🙂 Tell your family Hi… Love the cow tail 🙂 lol

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