Here is Part 2 as I promised. Hope you enjoy it!
Saturday, April 16.
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!
~Heather for the Helmuths~