HAPPY (belated) THANKSGIVING! WELCOME ADVENT SEASON! While Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Cambodia, it did align nicely with a national holiday called Bon Om Touk (or Cambodian Water Festival), which celebrates the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. (Just think about if the Columbia River in Oregon reverse directions). About an extra million people come to Phnom Penh to watch the festivities. Since I experienced Bon Om Touk last year, my roommate, Amanda, Bullet and I decided to avoid the crowds and go to Kampot for a long weekend. We ended up meeting our next door neighbors from Phnom Penh there for Thanksgiving Dinner, which was some of the best hamburgers in Cambodia. It was a fun night, even for me, since I was just coming back to life after my first ever bout of food poisoning, but I’ll spare you the gory details of that…
Praise God that October’s theme was “seek wisdom,” because November’s was “My Phone aka my map/contacts/translator/photos/communication/calendar/email/money manager/converter/life device Was Stolen” so “chaotic” would be a fair assessment of November. Not to mention my parents came to visit, I taught my first lecture, started my new job, helped out with another motorcycle race and talked my friend into going to the hospital.
November started off with my parents coming to visit for the weekend, we had a great time together. We ate a ton of great food, they got to meet more of my friends, explored some of Phnom Penh and just hung out at their hotel pool. Ironically, I told my mother more than once to keep an eye on her phone as she hung out various tuktuks (transportation here) snapping photos. After saying goodbye to my folks, I headed home to take Bullet for his evening walk…
…scene of the crime…
I was about 10 steps away from my front door, when a moto slowed down next to me, which was definitely weird. I stopped walking, thinking it was one of my neighbors. The next thing I know, this punk grabs my phone out of my hand and takes off. I run back upstairs and my roommate and next door neighbors all help me log into the “Find my phone” app. We track it to a iPhone shop and go there to ask for the phone back. No luck. We go to the police stations and fill out a report. But since there was no phone, nothing could be done…
I’ve had more than enough time to process this event and I’ve boiled it down to two big takeaways:
1. I’m thankful Bullet and I were safe. It could have been way worse. I could have been physically harmed, he could have stolen my passport or my money, etc.
2. It was just a phone. I’m not hugely materialistic, but going a few days without a phone in a foreign country made me realize how much I use it for managing my life. Besides my calendar, books, podcasts, I lost all my contacts, my maps, Google Translate, etc. When you can’t look something up or show a photo or take a photo to remember, life gets hard fast. (This also makes me really appreciate people who left their home countries before mobile phones. God bless them!)
Enough of the bad news. Amanda is heading back to the USA for Christmas so she’s bringing me back a new phone. Let’s keep talking about the awesome stuff that happened in Cambodia.
After my parents visit, I had the opportunity to teach a day lecture on Facebook metrics and marketing at NOMI Network to 16 small business leaders who are part of the NOMI Network. It was so great to share the knowledge I had about Facebook metrics to this community that is making a difference here in Cambodia. It also really opened my eyes to how complicated Facebook can be when English isn’t your first language. I got a lot of positive feedback from the class and hope to continue to keep teaching this course on a bi-annual basis with NOMI Network.
My first month working at M’lup Russey was a lot of figuring out who does what, how to pronounce names, learning all the acronyms. My current favorite is “OVC” (orphans and vulnerable children). I keep thinking of Rachel Ray saying “EVOO” or “extra virgin olive oil.” They are basically the same thing right? I had some small wins at work, was able to help my counterpart translate his web pages into English, published some newsworthy updates on Facebook. Finally, I was able to edit some English subtitles on 13 videos that we hope to publish soon!
November also saw the final Enduro motocross race here in Cambodia. This time in Phnom Penh. You can watch the amazing Youtube video of the race here. I got to volunteer again with the timing team and had a blast as always. I’m so thankful the Welches invited me to the first race in May. I’ve made so many awesome friends from this group. Stef and I even got the chance to ride the course after the races were done. It took the best riders around 7 minutes to complete the loop. It took me about 32 minutes to complete a loop. Definitely somethings to work on in 2019.
Last month, I finished this amazing book on medical cross cultural understanding. It’s called the, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.” I highly recommend it to anyone working in cross cultural situations. I try my best to learn from every situation, but I know there is always room for improvement. Medical situations I struggle with the most here in Cambodia. This is a photo that one of my dear friend here sent me. 10 days after an accident, after her family paid for her to see a doctor to get an injection and advice “not to walk until it heals.” I lost it. I’m not even a doctor and I knew something was really wrong. I prayed then texted two of my friends who spoke better Khmer than me and asked for their help. A few hours later, a married couple from my Prayer Circle Cambodia team had talked my friend and her older sister into their car for a 1.5 hour drive to a hospital to get her foot looked at. She isn’t out of the woods yet, but she’s staying at home, keeping it clean and filling the hole in her foot from where the doctor “cut away the bad meat” in with honey. Please keep her in your prayers.
This is also a great example of how missionaries live here in Cambodia. We are constantly helping one another out and lifting up others in prayer and helping out Khmer friends, showing that we do love them and respect their wishes. My friend didn’t want to go to the hospital without her sister, for example, and was a little apprehensive to get into a car with two strangers. But the next morning, I got a really sweet text from her. Sharing how kind my friends were to her, how they explained why they were so worried about her foot and why it needed to get looked at right away. “They treated me like I was their daughter. Thank you.”
The final milestone of November was Bullet’s 7th birthday! I shared this funny cross cultural moment in celebration of the big day on Facebook:
Most Mondays, Bullet and I join the local running team, Running Bongs, for an evening run. A few weeks ago, one of my Khmer friends says, “Oh, that man said a mean thing about Bullet about wanting to eat him.” (Eating dog is a common practice here.) And I just laughed and made a joke, “Because Bullet is so cute and he wants to eat him like a baby?” My friend looks me straight in the face and says, “Why would you eat a baby?” I respond with, “No, like babies are so cute you want to nibble on their cheeks. You don’t say that in Cambodia?” Apparently not…
Thanks again to my home church, Oaks Parish, for being my sending church and helping support me. If anyone is interested in making a end of the year donation, I’d gladly accept some additional funds. I’m hoping to meet some friends in Kampot (I do love it there) for Christmas and New Years. I’m looking forward to spending some time reflecting on this year, spending more time in prayer this Advent Season and gearing up for 2019.
Christmas is right around the corner. I’d love to hear from all of you what you are doing this season. What you have planned and what you are looking forward too. How I can be praying for you. This will be my first Christmas without my family so please feel free to write to me. Or even better let’s find some time to chat via Facebook or WhatsApp or Goggle Hangout or Skype. I really love hearing from everyone back home. I look forward to hearing from you! As always prayer requests are below.
Hugs from Cambo,
ជេនណា / Jenna (and Bullet)
I would really appreciate you joining me in prayer in the following ways:
1. Continued energy with language learning.
2. I’m feeling really called to find Khmer woman as friends that aren’t tied to a place I work. Just some Khmer girlfriends where there isn’t a power play on my end.
3. Continued financial support.
4. Just for my heart during the Advent / Christmas season. I won’t be with my family and most of my friends heading home for this time. I’m feeling pretty good about it, but who knows how I’ll feel as Christmas day gets closer. It also means I’ll have more free time to chat / message / email.