I think if there was one word to summarize August, it would be “move.” I left the USA on August 1st and arrived in Cambodia on August 3rd. After 30+ hours of travel time, my luggage didn’t make it for a couple more days. Despite that, I’m so thankful for the friends who picked me up at the airport at 11PM and made sure I had a burrito and fresh drinking water at my place when I crashed out. After a shower and quick power nap, another friend showed up at 5:30AM to help me move into my new apartment! Since I don’t own much / have become a pro at moving, it only took a few hours and I crashed out for a couple of hours before picking Bullet up.
The next week was a little bit of a blur, between jet lag, exhaustion from my two week trip home, living in a new place, and Bullet having some stomach issues (I’ll spare you the details). The week was filled with napping at random hours, unpacking, investigating new shops in the new neighborhood, meeting my new neighbors and introducing everyone to Bullet.
The last one came in handy when I accidentally walked through a funeral being set up on my street. It’s hard to tell if it’s a funeral or a wedding being set up until the colors are displayed. White/black for funerals or white/literally any other color for weddings. The giveaway, I realized, was the corpse laying out that Bullet and I casually walked passed. My neighbor laughed at me as I held my hands up in prayer above my forehead and whispered “Soum touk” (I’m sorry) as she showed me the way out.
On the brighter side, I’ve now got a running joke with some of my neighbors that Bullet’s nickname is “Song-ha” (handsome). One of my neighbors was telling me Bullet is a good-looking dog, strong and beautiful. Then I corrected her: “he’s not beautiful, he’s handsome, because he’s a boy!” She got a kick out of my joke and now always greets us with, “hello, handsome!”
I also went on three more practice rides in August. One with my coach, Dennis, and his family, one with my dear friend, Dave, and I even got to lead one with my buddy, Stefanie. My motorcycle got a slight upgrade, better handlebars that protect the clutch and break from snapping off if I drop my bike and I was able to purchase my extra supplies to carry when I go on rides – stuff like tire tubes and the like. There are 25 provinces in Cambodia, I wrote them all out by name in my journal in August. I’ve been to nine so far. I’m hoping to cross them all off my list on my upcoming motorcycle rides.
I wasn’t alone for long in my new apartment before Lisa and Dave Everitt came to crash with me for two weeks. They are back in Phnom Penh saying goodbye to their life here for the past 24 years, before moving back to Portland, Oregon and continuing their role in leadership with their agency as well as a new role of Grandma and Grandpa! Bullet and I were super spoiled to have them in our home for a couple of weeks and getting a good tour of the neighborhood – where the wet market is, the non-sketchy massage parlors, etc. I think Bullet misses having another guy around the apartment to lounge with…
I also turned 32 years old in August. I had a running joke with my Khmer staff at Daughters, “don’t call me ‘bong’ (big sister) anymore, call me ‘ming’ (auntie).” All jokes aside, I was moved to tears at my birthday party, when I was sitting around a massive table with a group of people who I didn’t even know existed at my 31st birthday party. When I reflect back on how hard landing in Cambodia was and how lonely I felt to be sitting down with 20 people who I have a huge amount of love for and whom I felt a lot of love from- it’s really, truly overwhelming. I’ve traveled with, cried in front of, and laughed to the point of nearly peeing myself with many of these people. They have become more than friends, but truly family and I’m so thankful for that. I think birthday parties (or if I’m honest – any day) in Heaven will be just like this. A group of people, who love each other more than words can express, sitting down over a simple meal of mermaid birthday cake and good craft beer and sharing the highlights of life together. I’m so excited for that and hopefully a few of you back home will get the chance to come meet my friends here in Cambodia – before we all get to Heaven.
Finally, August marked the end of my time at Daughters of Cambodia. This was definitely an interesting chapter to navigate. Overall, I know I left well, including staying up most of the night before my last day, making cards for the staff I worked with on a daily basis, sharing a favorite moment with them, and a Bible verse of encouragement. Again, another tearful (in a good way) night. I spent the last day handing out cards, making sure what I had wrote was communicated clearly to those who couldn’t read English. There was a lot of hugs and a lot of reminding my friends that I wasn’t leaving Cambodia, just focusing on language, so I was available to hang out, watch soccer matches, and Lord knows I’d need some help with my Khmer homework! To top it off, Martin, my boss and his family had me over for dinner after my last day, “because we are now just friends, I’m no longer your boss,” to quote Martin. It was definitely a fun way to celebrate the end of a chapter.
So here is to the next chapter! What God has planned for my life here in Cambodia: to more growth, challenges, laughter, and joy.
Below are some prayer requests. I really love hearing from everyone back home. You can reply to this email and share what is happening in your life, and how I can be praying for you. I’m also available to chat via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, feel free to message me that way. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hugs from Cambo,
Jenna (and Bullet)
I would really appreciate you joining me in prayer in the following ways:
- That I will continue to listen to God’s calling on my life here in Cambodia and faithfully follow Him.
- My continued Khmer language studies.
- Safety and health as always. I’m currently fighting my first sinus infection.