Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne.

It is New Years Eve here in Cambodia. Josh and I had a delicious dinner at the Phnom Penh FCC (pizza and half price smoothies and cokes…perfect!) and are now sitting back in our room reflecting on our time here and all that this new year potentially holds for us. We both have running lists of goals, dreams, and areas of growth we want to achieve this year. The Lord continues to be incredibly gracious to us in our time of living here. We love being married and sharing this time in Cambodia. It truly is an adventure. And it is stretching and challenging to the both of us at times, but we trust (even when we fight against it) that the Lord is using every piece of our time here for a purpose.

I don’t want to miss those moments He brings along. I don’t want to shrug them off in frustration or dismiss the profound when it comes wrapped in the ordinary. I find that a great deal of what the Lord longs to produce in me requires nothing more than my humility and trust. And perhaps my attention. I partner eagerly with Him to begin with and then slowly trail off to follow distraction or veer from difficulty.

I desire more this year. More of the Lord, more from myself, and many more opportunities to be present in each moment.

“For the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, he will be found by you.” 1 Chronicles 28:9

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Motion Pictures.

As a follow up to the last blog, here are two spectacular and riveting video snapshots of our time at home. Videography at its finest. :)

This second one is a recap of our exciting day of sledding. Sometimes we accidentally speak with accents. But the silliness (and the sledding skill) is all on purpose (with the special addition of a top secret mission at the for it..).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home sweet home.

Josh and I were blessed to be able to go home for 3 full weeks this month to visit with friends and family and experience a surprisingly very white Christmas in Washington!

We had been planning toward our time at home with great anticipation. The entirety of our marriage (minus the 3 days after our wedding) has been spent in Cambodia and we were excited at the idea of finally getting to be a married couple at home, feeling like teenagers as we walked around the Alderwood Mall holding hands (something we don’t get to do in Cambodia…we are so brave :) We loved getting to bundle up in layers of clothing (also something we don’t get to do in Cambodia) and be unexpected participants in the great blizzard of ’08 (it sounds more dramatic that way..)
Prior to the winter weather finding us, Josh went off to sleep overnight in the snow on top of Mt. Pilchuck.

And I had plenty of winter adventures of my own trekking to exotic locations such as "Target," "Kohls," and of course "Starbucks." The latter location was a glorious reunion made all the finer by this new festive Starbucks travel mug which not only kept my many Americano's warm, but also saved me 10 cents per purchase making my Starbucks cards go that much farther! A Christmas miracle!

In the realm of other activities, Jaime, Brenda and I got to do what all 20-something-ish-year-olds do around the holidays.

Have a sleepover/sledding party!!

Yes, we were blessed with the glorious company of each other, my mom, two cats, and yummy food, as well as a treacherous driveway packed with ice and snow, perfect for sliding down on boxes formerly used to transport fire logs! Safety first.

I got to spend lots of time with my favorite Ferguson family.

The senior picture pose is catching for it..


And 3 weeks allowed for plenty of opportunities to lose to Tom while playing the card game Fourteen.
Josh had the great opportunity to preach at Hope the second Sunday we were home (and did a tremendous job at all 3 services), and we enjoyed the luxury of listening to English worship at both Hope and New Life :)
Christmas morning found us in our traditional Santa hats, at our most attractive, and ready for any and all photo ops.
Tom worked diligently one of the first days it snowed to build this highly impressive snow man.

And Matt, Josh, Joost, and Makala increased its usefulness beyond just a thing of beauty to a can-filled BB-gun target of practicality. Christmas miracle number 2.
A snapshot of the whole family (minus Andrew, Megan and family) patiently eating breakfast before opening presents :)

We were spoiled.

And entirely okay with that.

We headed back to Phnom Penh on Friday, slept most of the 13 hour flight to Taipei, and once at the airport immediately got lost (intentionally) in one of their magical, peaceful forest displays. We are suckers for nature, whether real or synthetic.

I also took the opportunity to savor my last Starbucks Americano for the next 8 months. The Taipei airport Starbucks makes excellent Americanos for the record. And it sustained me through our long hike just down the way from Gate C11.
We are so thankful that our time at home was restful, sweet, and filled with many great memories and conversations that we take with us as we are now back in Cambodia gearing up for the new year, and the first team of the year which comes on the 1st!

We want to finish here well, to serve the Cambodians and the teams well, and to grow in ways that the Lord has purposed for our time here. Thanks to everyone for the continued prayer support! We see the fruit of it on a daily basis!

Wedding Bells.

Josh and I were very excited while we were home to get a copy of our wedding pictures!! They capture the big day quite well :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'll Be Home For Christmas.

As the calendar officially changes to December and sounds of Amy Grant singing "O Come Let Us Adore Him" come from Emily's computer behind me, I am creating an iPod Christmas music play list (complete with a little classic FigTree21 - - check it), and beginning to form a running list in my head of all the many things I look forward to this Christmas. I always love this time of the year, but it seems especially wonderful after being away from home now for 7 months :)

These are a few of my favorite things about going home for Christmas:

-The song of the same title takes on new significance (even after singing it over 11 times in a row...)
-I get to see the people I love!!! :)
-Repeated viewings of the movie Elf. "What's a Christmas-gram!? I want one!"
-Cookies! Banana Bread. Pumpkin Pie.
-Egg Nog Lattes
-Christmas Music

-Charlie Brown holiday specials on TV
-Christmas Day parades
-Getting to hold my husband’s hand in public without feeling scandalous :)
-Fleece blankets.
-Fire places.
-Christmas lights.
-Snow! (even if we have to drive to find it)

The official Cambodia countdown to going home is now at 3.5 days!..... :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How I spent my Thanksgiving holiday.

It is Thanksgiving Day here in Cambodia, which for the American staff equates to exorbitant amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry, homemade rolls (by Christal) and amazing apple and brownie desserts (created by Emily).

For our Cambodian staff the holiday equates to all of the above, overshadowed only by the addition of pizza. Just like the pilgrims first ate at Plymouth Rock.

Our day began like a normal day for us in Phnom Penh. We got ready, stepped out of our house, greeted our turkeys (who apparently did not meet their fate on this day of thankfulness), and went into the office for a few hours. The day became decidedly more “festive” promptly at noon when we followed the smell of pizza and turkey (a beautiful combination) and ate some snacks before filling up our plates (the first of multiple times) with ridiculous amounts of good (and I like to think entirely good-for-you) food.

I love Thanksgiving.

I'm there..if you look for me.

As the eating slowed down a bit and people were beginning to feel that familiar discomfort of having eaten far more than your system can reasonably consume, shouts of delight and glee (depending on your interpretation) could be heard for miles around as each Thanksgiving Day participant was gently accompanied to the pool for an afternoon swim.

Fully clothed.

Just like at Plymouth Rock.
There were rumors floating around that one of our brave F.C.O.P. leaders may have led the charge on this pool-side
Thanksgiving tradition, but unfortunately we have no photographic evidence to confirm or deny this claim.

Incidentally, for those curious on our respective entries into the pool, Kris and Emily, who had watched nearly dozens of attendees go for an unexpected swim, determined they would not be coerced into this burgeoning Thanksgiving Day tradition. In a rebellious display of independence, they ran and simultaneously threw themselves into the water. Their courage will not be forgotten.

I, on the other hand, was standing in the kitchen by Christal commenting that I would normally take my afternoon swim at this time, so maybe it wouldn't really be so bad after all. I looked out to see my husband being carried away by 4 young Cambodian staff (he would later recall the glory of his struggle and the way he kept them at bay for nearly a minute before succumbing to the mob). I then looked to my left as Christal (mumbling something to the effect of "I'll go peacefully") was escorted away by two staff.

A very soaked Ma Sou (who had been invited for a swim by her husband whose anonymity I will protect here), attempted unsuccessfully to hide me in the laundry room area. I heard the words "maybe she's in here" coming from a male voice and I knew my afternoon swim was undeniably inevitable.

I can't really complain though because I had the pleasure of being carried by a very strong, attractive taller man I normally am not permitted to touch in this culture (my husband, for those not tracking..) A Thanksgiving Day miracle indeed :)

We finished up the afternoon by continuing to watch unsuspecting guests be "ushered" (we'll say) into the pool for a swim, drying out afterwards in the sun, and realizing that sitting at our desks a good 5 hours after eating, we are still completely and entirely full.

Except for Josh who is wondering what's for dinner :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

And for those of you counting along with us, the official countdown to when we board the plane for home is now at 7 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Target here I come....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Same old same old.

While I tend to equate the word routine with something that people fall into, grow tired of, or attempt to avoid, I have found it to be quite comforting during our time in Phnom Penh as we are now post-teams and pre-Christmas vacation. We wake up at the same time each morning, which for me has been 6:15, though we don’t have to be in the office until 8. I don’t know what Cambodia has done to me.

We have lunch at (nearly) the same time every day. I have an hour to read in the afternoons out on our balcony with the sweet sounds of birds chirping and plastic bottles crunching at the recycling factory that resides next door. I have an afternoon snack of either fruit with peanut butter (it balances out…or cancels each other out..either way..) or leftover Fullkorn crackers from the Norway team (cardboard has never tasted so good). We exercise before dinner as Emily swims laps, Josh runs to nearby cultural museums, and I fulfill my dreams of becoming a backup dancer/martial arts expert courtesy of an infomercial DVD purchase 3 Christmases ago (I’m a sucker for a good infomercial). It’s called Turbo Jam. And it is even better than the video with the guy who teaches you N*Sync choreography (so I hear...)

After our swimming, running, and jamming, we eat amazing food prepared by Ma Soki who we secretly (or not so secretly now) plan to take with us back to America one day so we can open a restaurant. We are entrepreneurs.

After dinner, Josh and I have made a little tradition of walking around our complex, hoping that the frogs jumping out of our path (or into our path) aren’t the ones that spit poison in your eyes, and enjoying the Cambodian “winter” weather consisting of cool evenings and stunning lightning displays. We dream about going to REI, Target, and Red Robin, as well as contemplate what the next year might look like for us.

We finish off our evenings by watching an episode of The Office (we finished season 3 last night), enjoying our recent purchase of a $6.80 dart board from the office supply store, doing our respective victory dances depending on who won and what music is playing, having some Bible reading time, and going to bed at the late hour of 10pm to enjoy another day of routine.

Love it.

The reason that this is so glorious to me is that life with teams is routine to a degree, but it is also a constant flow of new faces, new projects, new provinces, new wake up times, and new opportunities for growth and flexibility :) I am praying to be content throughout and within all of these seasons and not simply strain toward the next one.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” - 2 Tim 5:6.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9.

And some specific verses encouraging to me in this season in Cambodia.

”Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” – Psalm 82:3

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” –
Ps 68:5

“Seek justice. Encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” –Isaiah 1:17

Helpful hints.

Some helpful Cambodia Travel Tips courtesy of the bathroom wall at Angkor Wat:
No smoking.
No standing on the toilet.
No chopping your feet off.
No showering.