Sunday, July 13 – a special day for a special young lady. Today Carissa turned eight! It’s strange to think that it was eight whole years ago that we welcomed that tiny baby girl into our world. I still remember Daddy exclaiming about how tiny she was, and taking pictures of her little hands with his big ones. But she’s not so tiny anymore, and was quite excited about her special day! Of course the all-important presents were opened right after breakfast, and then for dessert today after church, we had Carissa’s birthday cake. She was pleased as punch to recieve FOUR birthday phone calls this evening.
Carissa is a very sensitive, sweet girl. She’s missing her friends Anisha and Deanna who are in the U.S. right now, but she and Heather are good friends too. She loves playing with her ‘sticker paper dolls’, and she and Forrest have lots of fun together in their imaginary worlds. Moving to Cambodia has been harder on her than most of the other children, I think, and sometimes she just wants to go home, but I think she enjoys it too. I’m so glad God made her a part of our family, even though back then I thought I wanted a brother, not a sister. I’ve changed my mind since. =)
I guess I haven’t updated since Matt’s family left for the U.S. for a ten week furlough. We certainly miss them! Jasmine also went home to Canada for the summer, and so Veasna (who had been living with Matts) moved in with our family. Luke and Ryan are staying at Matt’s at night, just to keep an eye on things, especially since the recent robbery there.
I think the time we miss them the most is on Sundays. With Matt gone, that leaves Dad to give the main topic/sermon every Sunday, as well as to go teach the Bible classes in the villages. To give Dad a break, Luke now takes care of the songs, and Ryan teaches Sunday school. Sunday afternoons Dad and Sen switch off teaching in ‘Hong’s village’ and at the new Bible study we started in Bakong. It makes for a full Sunday, but we manage. And no, we don’t just miss Matts for the work they do around here…we got together almost every Sunday evening for a hymn sing, or just to have fun together. So Sunday evenings seem a little quiet these days.
This afternoon, though, Austin woke me up from a most delicious nap, and said to get up, because we were going to go to the mountain. Yup, there are mountains in Cambodia. =) This mountain is a very small one called Phnom Kraom, and is about a twenty minute drive from here. We never really knew about it, until one day someone was up on the balconey and suddenly noticed the big bump in landscape in front of them. I don’t know how we missed it for so long. I knew I wanted to go see it sometime, but that didn’t happen for awhile. In June, when the IGO team was here, Frank took one of the girls on a moto ride up the mountain, which she loved, and then we youth decided to get up early one morning and moto up to see the sunrise before the IGO youth left. It was hard to drag myself out of bed, but the gorgeous sunrise was so worth it! Since that time, we youth have gone up at least three more times to watch the sun rise or set. The younger children always wanted to go too, but it was hard to take them on the motos. So tonight we went all together on Dad’s trusty little mini-truck.
Forrest asked me on the way there if we were going “over there to the sunset”, pointing in the general direction of the mountain. I said yes, and he said excitedly, “This family is going to God!” =) This past month it has started raining at least a little almost every day, and I’ve loved seeing the land turn from brown, bare fields, to lush green rice crops, and it’s breathtaking to see that green beauty from so high up. It’s also amazing to see the difference in the amount of water all over…Frank tells us that in the middle of rainy season most of the trees you see in the pictures below (other than the trees on the mountain of course) will be covered with water. I can’t wait to see that. Most of the houses in this area of Cambodia are built on stilts. You can see the very muddy Tonle Sap lake in the distance in the second picture. Its water level will keep rising as rainy season progresses.
Once we reached the top, we all piled out and found a spot from which to stand and gaze. It was so neat to see the different weather from up there. On one side we could clearly see the rain coming down on the mountains in the distance, and on the other side the sun was shining through a break in the clouds, creating beautiful rainbow-like shimmers. It looked similar to the shiny, colorful spot gas or oil spilled in water creates. I couldn’t get a very good picture of it, but I’ll show you what I got. =)
It was so relaxing to just absorb God’s creation with my family.
That picture of mom and dad laughing has a story to go with it…one of the girls needed to ‘go’, but couldn’t find a spot to suit her. I told her to go one place in a little shrubby area, but after checking it out she didn’t want to go there either and continued her search. Forrest, however, thought it was a great spot, so he did his business, and was perfectly fine. The other one who needed to go was getting desperate though, and decided maybe that spot would be okay after all. She started going into the bushes, when Forrest exclaimed, “But I already went there and made it a boys’ bathroom!” =)
Due to the clouds, there wasn’t really a grand sunset, but we loved it anyways. We went home and had a yummy supper of biscuits and gravy. It was a lovely Sunday! If you come see us in Cambodia, we’d love to take you to our new favorite spot in this country.
On another note entirely, our minds have been in California a lot lately. My grandparents, (Dad’s parents) are temporarily there with my uncle’s family, so that Granddad can help my uncle with their ‘cage job.’ Grandmom had not been feeling well at all for a while, and the other night she was just full of fluid – she gained over 50 pounds from fluid. She was lethargic, and finally they called the ambulance. By the time the ambulance got there, she was pretty much out and unresponsive. Soon after they arrived at the hospital, the doctor came out and told Granddad and my aunt that Grandmom was gone. Then he went back in and checked a pulse point again, and there was a pulse! And they got busy again. Dad’s siblings flew out as soon as they could, and we were fully expecting to soon be flying to the states for a funeral. However, my grandma is a living miracle, and in my uncle Roger’s words on the tenth…”Monday mother was pronounced dead by the doctor. Today he says she is recovering by leaps and bounds! They are hoping to take the ventilator tube out this evening which she will be very happy to be rid of! She is progressing very well and recovering. We shake our heads in amazement.”
Tonight however, my uncle Vernon called dad and things are still looking a bit shaky. Again, Roger’s update…”Mother is still not out of the woods as they say. She goes from improving to not so good. Like a balance, trying to keep things on the level. Doctors are asking if we want the defibrillator turned off (my insert – the defibrillator is due to Grandmom’s pace maker) and if they should do CPR In the event she goes into arrest. Her defibrillator has been going off several times apparently. They asked mom if she wants defibrillator turned off she nodded yes. When asked if she wants CPR she shrugged shoulders. She is very much knows what gets said and can respond. She asks for ice – her way of getting water … Its hard decisions. Daddy comes in this morning, gets down close, holds her hand, kisses her and says I love you Honey.”
So yes…it’s hard to be so far away from someone so dear at a time like this, but there’s peace in knowing that’s she’s in the hands of the Greatest Physician that ever lived. He will do what is best. Please keep Grandmom and the family in your prayers.
I hope to soon post more updates about…well, about a lot of things you haven’t heard about due to my silence. But until then, here’s the link to some stellar photos by my cousin, Heidi Mast, taken during her family’s (epic) short visit here. We enjoyed having the Marvin Mast family here so much, and only wished they could have stayed longer. Oh yeah, with her permission, here’s the link… http://heidimast.tumblr.com/ You will probably need to scroll down quite a ways before you start seeing her pictures of Cambodia – but they’re all great! Thanks Heidi. Oh, and the credit for our new, more personal header image at the top of the page goes to Hans Mast. And credit for the brilliant idea for the silly picture goes to Marvin – it turned out way ‘cooler’ than I thought it would. =)
Happy Sunday to all you wonderful people out there. (but here it’s definitely a couple of hours into Monday now…whoops) Until next time…