Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let them eat cake.

Yesterday was our office I.T. (and general know-how-to-fix-anything-you-could-possibly-imagine) guy, Sophea's, birthday who turned what I have deemed the new 25 (which is of course "29").

And today, in typical Cambodia fashion, we held a party for him at our offices here, complete with fresh veggies (safe for even the fragile Western stomachs among us), fish (caught fresh today by our very own Dr. Lina), lemon pepper dipping sauce, rap music (this is a new addition...), brahok (fish paste), and lots of cooked beef (yes please).

Oh, and two kinds of ice cream. One Coconut and one that was labeled "Vanilla" but was later revealed by the taste buds of my poor unsuspecting husband to be in fact "Durian." True story.

Our soon-to-be-here Santa Rosa team can appreciate the irony of this after we once accidentally served a team member (Shannon!) a birthday cake made with Durian (her arch nemesis) for her birthday. Durian is an unfortunate discovery no matter how much sugar has been used to disguise it.

In preparing the amazing birthday dinner, Sophera and Srey Pin excelled in the fine art of cooking a large fish in a banana leaf using an outdoor grill, two sets of tongs, and one former golf club (of course).
Josh went around and made sure to get pictures of everyone at the party for our own personal keepsake.
And yes, it's okay to play cards in Cambodia if it is a holiday, a birthday, or maybe just a Saturday...

Ratah, our fourth year dental student, has the loveliest smile in all the land (see above).
Josh has the uncanny ability to maintain the exact same expression for each and every picture he is a part of.

Almost always.....
Eventually, out came the birthday cake, complete with candles, approximately four feet of frosting, and green spongy-like material hovering around the 3rd layer.
What began innocently enough with singing and celebration soon turned ugly as cake, rather than being carefully sliced and gently placed on individual plates alongside "Vanilla" ice cream, was instead used as a weapon. A terrible kind of weapon that comes concealed within a human hand all too quickly gliding across delicate faces, leaving in its wake both destruction and frosting filled nasal passages.


I later thanked my husband for not doing this to me at our wedding. A perfectly good dessert wasted.
As if flying cake smashed in your face isn't enough of a celebratory event, we can all remember from last Thanksgiving the tradition Pastor Ted began fondly known as, "Throw As Many Unsuspecting People into the Pool as Possible"! No Cambodian celebration would be complete without it! (apparently....)

I employed some clever hiding tactics including forcing my way into dish washing duty in order to not be visible, and eventually walking...then fast walking...then breaking into a flip-flop-fast- run back to the house with my husband before either of us could be forced to uphold tradition. I also didn't know if cake and chlorine would be such a good mix.
In a brighter piece of news, in the end, a little bit of the birthday cake actually got eaten....
In non-party-related news, my athleticism in Cambodia is widely known throughout the vast expanse of land stretching from our bedroom (also known as our "workout room") all the way to a few feet outside our front door in our driveway where I have run with my iPod in many a morning, acquiring both fitness and puzzled looks as I go. I have also lately acquired something new.

"Runner's Knee."

How do I know? Well, I went to and self-diagnosed myself, so it must be true.

The name of it sounds like it should actually make you a better runner (I would call it "Non-Runner's Knee" but apparently you can't submit these things to, but all it does in reality is make you frustrated and cause you to pray for more faith that the Lord would just miraculously heal it.

And in the end it also causes you to buy some $2.50 knee braces at the store (only the finest) convincing yourself and your spouse that supportive athletic gear can be fashionable if properly pulled off.

And, as is evidenced above, I haven't quite figured out how to exactly pull it off...maybe brighter shorts.

This is the LIFE...

Our new staff member, Ryan, arrived on Thursday morning and we greeted him with a whirlwind of new culture, new people and no shortage of activity over the past 2 and a half days. He has been a great sport about it all, settling in well and sharing his passion for the Lord and for the nations with us. We are excited to see all that the Lord has for him here! And we are grateful to be able to pass the role into his very capable hands as we transition home in a few months.

One of the greatest parts of him coming happened on the day of his arrival when he reached into his backpack and pulled out a Costco size bag of LIFE cereal.

I thought I heard angels singing. I could be wrong but this is how I prefer to remember it. And with every bowl I have poured since Thursday (I believe the count is 4 thus far) I have felt all of Heaven, along with the Quaker Oats guy, smiling down upon me as I consume my favorite morning cereal square by square (to make it last longer...).

To encapsulate the past 4.5 months I have gone without having LIFE in my life, our creative friend Aric Nesheim sent along this tribute. It is fitting. And dramatic. Two things I love.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't eat the veggies....

Josh and I had the opportunity a week ago to attend our first Cambodian wedding. Our Office Manager, Naret, got married and we were excited to be able to celebrate with him, his new wife, and plenty of pink balloons, as well as seemingly endless plates of really good Khmer food.

These are the three amazing and beautiful young girls who work in our office in Phnom Penh (Sarom, Pin, and Sophera). And yes, in retrospect, I should have put more sequins on my shirt to better blend in (not that I stick out much).
On the left here is one of our doctor's, Dr. Chhaya (who would play a large part in my life as the week progressed....) and our Foursquare President in Cambodia, Pastor Peter.

Now Josh and I knew very well going in that the main reason we got invited to this wedding was because of our phenomenal and unprecedented Cambodian dance moves. People try to hire us out all the time but we're quite busy and our agent really discourages too much publicity, so we've been saving our sweet moves for Naret and his big day.

You are welcome, friend.

We are the first ones who appear in this video, in case you can't pick us out.

The wedding was beautiful, the music was fun, and the variety of food nearly all identifiable :)

However, as I was happily consuming my fifth or sixth piece of sliced cucumber that night, Josh semi-awkwardly made a joke/prayer that these vegetables would be "safe."

And by "safe" he meant that they would be the kind washed in purified water. We have to be careful of this with teams when we travel out into the province, painfully forsaking beautiful and inviting looking uncooked veggies due to the potential harm they might cause our fragile Western systems.

And now here we sat at a Cambodian wedding, with a Cambodian catering company doing the cooking.....which meant that the odds of filtered water being in the equation were greatly reduced...

I didn't think much more of this until the next day when my stomach began to slowly reject me. I ended up with a very unforgiving fever, a wonderfully (as always) caring husband, and a very kind Dr. Chayya (and Dr. Lina) who made sure I was properly medicated and fully hydrated (my second I.V. in Cambodia. I figured no pictures of it were necessary this time around).

It took a few days of rest and homemade Cambodian chicken noodle soup (I am spoiled), but by Thursday I, perhaps foolishly, risked my new found health and strength by consuming not just an ice cream Sundae (how can you be at the airport and not go to Dairy Queen??) but also a hamburger (the finest in Cambodia..again, how can I resist??).

I like to think it made my stomach stronger in the end. This is the kind of adventurous (perhaps too generous of a word) missionary I am :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cambodia Travels.

Josh and I have put together this latest video that gives a bit of a glimpse into some aspects of our life here in Phnom Penh, as well as some footage from a recent weekend outing we had with Rick Sawczuk and Scott Lang, from my home church in Washington, who were here to do a scouting trip for this year’s medical clinic.

Enjoy :)

(For a bit more screen clarity you can watch a larger version here)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Man Vs. Cambodia

Josh and I are both fans of the Discovery Channel show "Man Vs. Wild" and have learned various helpful life skills from the education of Mr. Bear Grylls (obviously his real name) including:

-How to cook a turtle.
-How to sleep in the skin of a camel.
-How to not fall helplessly into the nearest crevasse (pronounced of course "kra-vaws").

In light of this knowledge, we have talked for quite some time now about offering up our own informative version of this show, which we cleverly and uniquely decided to call "Man Vs. Cambodia" (we are creative if nothing else).

We proudly present to you now the first of hopefully more installments of "Man Vs. Cambodia."

This episode was filmed just today and we have entitled it, "Batman."

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Giving out of our need.

Pastor Ted offered some great thoughts yesterday in our office devotions on the subject of "giving out of our need." He used the example of Pastor Peter, who is the pastor at our Cham Chao home (the Training Center) in Phnom Penh, as well as the President of Foursquare in Cambodia.

Ted shared about his first experiences with Peter, who had very little in terms of wealth and possessions, including no more than one or two pairs of clothing and no sort of transportation to get around the country. The latter part was becoming more of a necessity as the church was quickly growing beyond just the scope of Phnom Penh.

Ted talked about going through his own closet to pull out shirts and pants that Pastor Peter could wear.

And with each offering, it wasn't long before Peter would have given every bit of that clothing to someone else who was in need.

This not only kept happening with clothing, but eventually Pastor Ted gave Peter his own truck in order to travel around the country.

Well, there was another pastor who apparently also needed a vehicle to do evangelism, so one day Pastor Peter drove that truck out to visit this pastor…and came back to Phnom Penh in a taxi :)

This happened with 2 more cars.

This is quite the example of extreme generosity in the midst of apparent lack. This man, who has lived through the Khmer Rouge and seen countless tragedies that should have left the mark of bitterness and self-preservation, literally gave what he had, not because he had more than enough, but because he saw another person’s need and trusted the Lord enough to provide for his own.

This is staggering to me in all reality. And incredibly challenging. It requires the kind of selflessness and trust that I talk so frequently about and yet struggle to grasp. I do not want to hold so tightly to things that I fear it will cost me too much to let them go.

2 Corinthians 8:2,3,7. “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

"As long as we got each other..." (part deux)

My husband surprised me with the slideshow below when I woke up this morning, thus proving both our love for each other, and our undying love for a really good sitcom theme song.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"As long as we've got each other..."

Exactly one year ago today, I had made plans to be a part of a very important, very sacred ceremony. It is one that involves an aisle, a gown, and the celebration of a wonderful, life-changing event.

This is the day I would have joined with a sizable group of others as we each received our college diplomas.

(And yes, I would have been 28 at the time, which means it was an accomplishment many years in the making :)

Not many things in this world could have kept me from such a momentous occasion.

And when I woke up on May 3, 2008, I looked forward to a day that would indeed bring with it a walk down an aisle, a beautiful gown, and celebrating with friends, family, and the man who I would pledge to love, to honor, and to follow….even if it meant moving halfway around the world :)

He is also the man who recently spent $1.08 in the iTunes store in order to begin our now-daily tradition of listening to, yes, you guessed it….

The theme song from “Growing Pains.” As I am certain is true for many other couples worldwide, it has become our theme song (complete with elaborate hand motions and a near knowledge of the actual lyrics). And if there were a way to play it as the backdrop to this post, I would.

So here is to our first year of marriage!

To encompass an entire year in one single post is no small task, but some of the milestones include:

-Leading 13 teams together (with 5 more coming soon!)
-Countless conversations rich with depth, purpose, dreams, and the occasional (frequent?) displays of pure silliness
-Laughter rich with things that perhaps no one else would find as funny :)
-Date nights to The Pizza Company and finally getting to date in general after we got married!
-Learning each other, working together, worshiping together, praying together, challenging one another to not be content with less than the fullest that God has for us.

In all of this, there is no one else I would rather stand next to. No one else I am more proud of. No other hand I’d rather hold (when we can sneak in such scandalous affection). No one else I would rather beat at darts (what?). No one more consistent, more encouraging. No one else I would rather laugh with, grow with, adventure with, and be known by.

From Safeco Field, to winter hiking at Lake 22, to Phnom Penh Cambodia, and soon back home to Washington…

To the man who has loved me well, allowed me the gift of being fully known and fully accepted, and who continues to challenge, inspire, and let me know in hundreds of ways throughout the day how much he loves me. You, Joshua Ferguson, have my heart, my respect, and many more years ahead to add to this growing list of life and adventure together :)

I love you!