Friday, June 26, 2009

Looking ahead...

It is Wednesday and I am currently sitting in the very lap of luxury as we travel back from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh courtesy of the “Mekong Express Limousine Bus.” As the name would suggest, this is no sub-par bus line that offers one 15 minute potty stop where the girls exit toward the field on the right and the boys on the left.

Instead, this bus comes complete with an onboard bathroom, official Cambodian karaoke on the loudspeaker, (with the occasional Backstreet Boys song thrown in to appease the tourists, or so I like to think) a free bottle of water, and a “Snack Hamper” containing Chicken Curry Pie, Yam Bean in a Puff Pastry, and of course a Red Bean Paste Bun. I think Greyhound offers a similar fare.

6 hours and $11 is all it requires to be so luxuriously transferred from the R&R portion of our time out with teams in Siem Reap back to Phnom Penh.

Bus rides like this afford Josh and I the chance to reflect on the surreal reality telling us that in exactly 9 weeks from now we will find ourselves packing up the last of our belongings and boarding a flight that will take us first to Seoul, Korea for 11 hours (with the hopes of doing a city tour) before boarding a second flight that will eventually land us at the SeaTac airport.

I am now finishing up this entry on Friday afternoon back in the office as we have now officially finished up the first two of our five summer teams, sent off our most wonderful new friend Allie who was here for a month, and will welcome our third team tomorrow! It is this type of busy-ness that will result in us waking up one day soon and realizing it is suddenly July. We call it the “Team Vortex” where you largely lose comprehension of time and dates. The quickness of this process reminds us to be aware of how fast our time here is going, how precious it is, and how many things we are looking forward to at home!

Throughout the day one of us will utter a phrase like “Wendy’s $.99 Menu” as we both let out an audible sigh at the thought and talk about what we plan to order at the drive through. We aim big with our future plans you know. Some other things we look forward to in our transition home include:

Taco Bell. (The Fresco Menu means it's healthy!)

English Muffins! (I may eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We'll see).

Rain jackets.
Red Robin. (We have plans to make a stop there with our Seatac welcoming committee :)

Target (Goes without saying). Starbucks (Same same).

Footy Race car pajamas (Winters are harsh in Washington. Precautions must be taken).
My keyboard! I remember the days when I used to write songs...
Visiting the place Josh and I first met ($6 Safeco Stadium tour. Flirting is free.)
Friday nights at the Scandrett's!
Mt. Pilchuck (I've never been and my husband tells me I'm long overdue).
Faces like these.
And these.
These. (They grow up so fast and some of them go off and get married while you're away in Cambodia.)
Of course these. Always engaged and ready.
The four legged ones. (exercise is good for them)
And lastly, these. (Attractiveness courtesy of the Halloween section of Target.)
Getting to date each other in Seattle!! (a totally new concept for us :)

Going back to the place we had our wedding rehearsal dinner (Alfy's pizza! Because we are classy like that. They do have a salad bar after all.)
Pondering the possibilities of a California road trip to mark our move home as well as my (gag reflex) 30th birthday (how can this be possible??? I don't understand) in September.

This potential road trip would involve not only some beautiful scenery and fun driving time, but also the chance to see some of our very favorite people, including (but not limited to):

That last one is of course my good friend Mickey.

Or, I should clarify rather that I believe we would be good friends had we ever had the chance to meet.

That's right friends, this is where I take full advantage of both my birth month and our move back to the states to say sadly that I have never been to Disney Land.

Shock and awe.

The possible plan is to somehow remedy this tragic situation with a road trip to what I hear is the happiest place on earth. As we all know, I enjoy any chance to revert back to an 8 year old and I can't imagine a more perfect scenario for this regression to take place!

Bring on the mouse ears! I will wear them proudly. And Snow White and I will harmonize. It will be magical.

Hold onto your dreams kids. And any Disney Land tickets in your possession. Or pass them our way. If you feel so led :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Team #2

Josh and I headed out a week and a half ago with some of our very favorite people from the lovely city of Santa Rosa, CA (and some surrounding areas) to do a construction project at our Lamb Church Orphan Home in the Bantey Meanchey province. This team was our second of the summer and they were amazing!
The day after they arrived we headed out to the province for what was supposed to be a roughly 8 hour trip. At around hour 2 of the trip the air conditioning in our bus went out so we hung out by the side of the road and ate yummy deep fried donut treats a lady on a bicycle was selling (we are excellent at surviving in a crisis).

An hour later we were back on the road...

At approximately hour 6, the road became noticeably more bumpy, muddy, and potentially detrimental to our new air conditioned bus. After some pained expressions on the driver’s face and verbal disapproval of the worsening road conditions(some things don’t require translation to be understood), he finally stopped, refusing to drive us any farther.

This presented a problem.

The bad news? We couldn’t reach our destination that day and had to turn around, driving back 3 hours in order to stay in the previous town, anticipating making the drive back in a different truck the next morning with the goal of reaching our destination.

The good news? The team never uttered a word of complaint. Disbelief, yes, but that was felt by all of us as we tried to figure out the best solution to such a situation. Thankfully, my husband is excellent in these types of scenarios and the team followed suit by being as flexible and optimistic as you could ask any group of people to be.

The following day we loaded all of our luggage into one of our trucks from the Training Center and bounced around (literally) for hours until we made it to our guest house and then on to visit the orphan home.

One of the team members said he would have done the entire trip over again if he had to after we got to the home and were spending time getting to know the kids.

The team worked incredibly hard for five days mixing cement, carrying buckets of rock, sand, and cement, shoveling out the spot for the bathroom (and then filling it in :) laying brick, digging post holes, and forming wonderful relationships with the kids at the home through conversations, crafts, songs, and enough candy to keep them wired for weeks to come :)

The team funds also allowed for some wonderfully practical needs to be met including the purchase of chairs, tables, pots and pans, a front gate, new clothes, bug nets and bunk beds.

At the end of the week as the work wrapped up we had the chance to attend a church service at the home and afterward the team put on a carnival for the kids. This was a huge hit for everyone involved as the kids got to have their faces painted, participate in a fishing game, play pin the tail on the donkey, and get balloon animals (or hats or swords, depending :)

The morning culminated in all of us climbing into the back of the truck and going to a restaurant to eat an incredible lunch of beef curry! This has become a favorite of mine since moving to Cambodia and for the kids this is a dish they would normally have on a holiday or some other very special occasion. They out-ate most of the team and it was the perfect way to end our time together with them.

Some personal highlights for me on this trip were getting to have so many wonderful conversations with team members, whether over food or over a large pile of dirt we were shoveling :) I was honored to get to partner with this group of people and share this experience.

They did daily devotionals together with a different team member leading each time and over dinner we would all share our “highs and lows” from the day followed by a time of worship. All of these things fostered a great closeness and openness within the team and blessed Josh and I tremendously.

This was the girl portion of the team :)
My “High” from the trip (aside from the kids, because that’s the obligatory answer) was probably getting fun treats (along with much joy and laughter) from Grace and Shannon! They brought me Life Cereal, Starbucks VIA instant packets, Sour Patch Kids and a pretty incredible Trader Joe's bag! My heart is full.

My “Low” from the trip (since you asked) would have to be the point when my husband and I were innocently walking through a corn field to dig a trench for post holes (it's what we do) and I heard him say, “Look at all those bugs flying around.”

I glanced up and saw what looked like an endless amount of some sort of flying insect, unable to tell if they were everywhere or only in our close proximity.

After quickly examining our hearts to see if we’d done anything that might result in a plague being sent our way, we couldn’t come up with much so we descended slowly and silently toward the ground (make yourself as small as possible, this works in nearly every crisis situation). As I crouched nearer to the ground, one of these mysterious plague-worthy insects came closer to me, buzzing with confirmation that this was in fact a swarm of bees.

Now, to my credit, I did not at any point hyperventilate. I did not cry (so brave). I may have freaked out a tiny bit (this is open to interpretation), but this to me was my very own personal Fear Factor.

In reality, I know I have been stung before and survived, but this was a huge swarm of unpredictable, obviously riled up, potentially angry, stinger-carrying bees! I like to think my freak out (as if one actually transpired) was at least somewhat justified.
The good news is that we weren’t stung (thank the Lord. I’ve been praying for faith enough to see miracles. I’ll count this as an example). But if you look closely, you'll be able to see the ferocious intent in each of those beaty little eyes....

Oh Cambodia, the terror and discomfort you force upon me at times. I hope to be better for it one day :)