Monday, September 29, 2008

29 Candles

Had you told me a year ago I'd be sitting pool side at a hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia next to my husband of nearly 5 months, I don't know that I would have believed it.

But this is exactly where I find myself today, fighting off the last remnants of a head cold, contentedly full after a lunch consisting of a cheeseburger and banana/orange fruit shake at The Blue Pumpkin, and entirely grateful for my amazing husband journaling his own thoughts on the lounge chair next to me.

It's been a good 29 year journey to this current place. I've found it an easy temptation to evaluate where I'm at in life using only other people's journeys as my reference point. This allows me to pick and choose the way I perceive my own moments ("successes," "failures," and all of the in between) according to how I've judged the moments of others. I'm not sure where I picked up this unfortunate habit along the way, but I am certain it is not one that was intended for any beneficial purpose.

So today I am attempting to honestly ask myself where I'm at according to what the Lord would have for me.

-Am I seeking His best?
-Am I seeking Him?
-Am I serving those around me well?
-Am I attempting to love them without agenda?
-Am I stepping out of my comfort zone?
-Am I loving my husband well?
-Am I walking in the truth that I serve a powerful, loving, saving God?
-Am I setting myself up well for a year from now when these questions will surface again?

I've had a wonderful, relaxing birthday weekend so far courtesy of my husband and the town of Siem Reap. On Saturday we spent nine hours on a bus ride that would normally take five and a half (never try to leave Phnom Penh on a Cambodian national holiday). We have eaten amazing Mexican food, went to a war museum where they let you hold AK47's, went to a crocodile farm, dined at the Pizza Company (no trip would be complete without it), had foot massages, and tonight we finished the weekend by going to the FCC for dinner and finding a room with a pool table where one of us won both of the games we played (it's not important who won, but maybe you should always let the person whose birthday it is win...I think this seems fair).

As to not be selfish with this day of my birth, I will also wish a Happy Birthday to the (at least) 7 people I know who share the same day of celebration.

1. Haley King
2. Andrew Bartee
3. Melanie Bjornethun
4. Amanda Pearson
5. Deborah Bush
6. Daniel Vail

And last but certainly not least:

7. Bryant Gumbel

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do not try this at home (or on your missions trip to Cambodia).

**As a disclaimer, we here at FCOP do not endorse interacting with wild animals while in Cambodia. While we will take you to get your series of rabies shots, we will also tease you about it long after you leave. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's September already?

You know you’ve become acclimated to traveling in Cambodia when you consider 6 hour bus rides a short distance. I often find myself these days sitting in busses, cars, vans, tuk tuk’s (Cambodian moto taxi), something they call a “mechanical cow,” and other modes of transportation for extended periods of time. As a result I get to see a great deal of the Cambodian landscape. The snapshots of each portion of the country continually amaze me and draw me in. It is also the rainy season here now which allows the fields to reveal the best they have to offer in terms of vibrant color and texture.

Josh and I saw a team from Riverside, California off to the airport yesterday. This marked our 8th team in 4 months. It has been a busy season for sure. However, as we sat sipping iced coffee for a few minutes before meeting up with the team for dinner yesterday (we sneak in mini-dates where we can) we commented to each other that while we felt tired from the early morning we had, we were also ending our busy season feeling thankful. We are thankful that the Lord has allowed us a healthy marriage in the midst of living such a unique existence over here, thankful for the numerous people we’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with in the course of this brief four months, and thankful that we have this season of serving in Cambodia. The Lord is doing tremendous things here.

The team prior to this last one also came from California and did a painting project at one of our homes in the Preah Vihear province. Below are a few before and after shots from the project.

The team that departed yesterday was comprised of a group of 13 people from four different churches. We began in Phnom Penh and in less than a week’s time traveled to four provinces and seven of our church orphan homes. During this time the team got to bless the homes by meeting some practical needs such as mattresses for beds, mosquito netting, new school uniforms, school supplies, and more.

The Prek Bey home.

The ultimate in comfortable Cambodian travel...the "mechanical cow."

Included in the homes we visited were two of our “floating homes” that are located in the midst of a floating village (floating Texaco station included) in the Kompong Chnang province.

As we finish up the busy season we are attempting to stay healthy (while fighting cold symptoms) and will head off for a mini-vacation in Siem Reap where we will sleep in, enjoy amazing food, and hopefully eat cheesecake on September 29th at the Blue Pumpkin :)

As I'm typing this, Emily walked by and said "are you updating our blog?" And this was really just the perfect excuse for me to steal one of her pictures and show it off on here. Emily has completed her last official team and is going to be focusing on children's ministry which means great things ahead for our local neighborhood and our church homes, as well as maybe more candy in her desk that will be up for grabs (I hope).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Words of wisdom.

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 4 month wedding anniversary. As any married couple can attest, this is quite obviously more than enough time to understand every aspect and nuance of the marriage relationship. Not only have we already considered writing a book entitled “Raising Your Child – Tips from Non-parents,” but we have also learned some helpful dating and marriage insights relevant to absolutely everyone that I will pass along here for your general information and enlightenment.

#1. Marry an amazing spouse. We can’t recommend this highly enough. Nor could the process for this be any easier. Simply meet someone who is soon to be leaving for a ministry position in a foreign country and two days prior to their departure express your feelings for one another. Make awkward jokes about running away to Vegas together, followed by a casual goodbye at the airport with the thought in mind that you may not see each other for 2 years. Correspond frequently over the next 9 months via e-mail and the occasional Skype call. This process will make complete sense to friends and family and the people who question the actual existence of this mysterious long-distance sort-of boyfriend/girlfriend.

#2. Plan a wedding in 6 weeks. This is the only way you will actually get to date the person you have been talking to in another country. The key to effective 6 week planning is knowing someone who can help with every aspect of your wedding. This is especially helpful when you are blurry and light sensitive as a result of having your second lasik eye surgery to correct the effects of the first surgery (hypothetically speaking..).

#3. Watch as your 6 week wedding is pulled off perfectly thanks to the efforts of everyone involved (and a killer iPod dance mix for the reception). Spend 3 days in-country before moving halfway around the world with your new spouse.

#4. Cram 4 years worth of experiences into 4 months and then marvel at the circumstances of your story, and the way that it works despite its unique beginnings.

#5. Have date nights at the Pizza Company in between teams. Sometimes order the sausage pizza instead of pepperoni for variety.