Happy (belated) 4th of July from Cambodia! I hope all of you have an excellent day of BBQs, family, friends, craft beer and fireworks. I was able to secure some decently made hot dogs here in Cambodia and ALMOST felt like I was home. Words can’t express how excited I am to be flying home TODAY to catch up with most of you. I’m also finally getting that sister I’ve always wanted. (Just think next update will have photos of me in a fancy dress with my new sister! How cool is that?)
(Women’s retreat to Silk Island – various girlfriends from various anti-human trafficking NGOs).
Well June has come and gone. This wave of faith continues to grow and pick up momentum. I recently heard (an English) sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The pastor spoke about how everyone focuses on the “love” part, but he wanted to speak on how important faith and hope are. That they are intertwined. That you need faith for hope to grow and you need hope for your faith to be strengthened. I feel like I’m really pressing into that balance of faith and hope in this season of change.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you who reached out after my last update. If I’m honest, I was pretty anxious about leaving my sending agency and then sharing why with people. I felt like I had really let a lot of people down (as well as myself), but the words of encouragement and support were more than I could have asked for or imagined. I found myself near tears as emails and Facebook messages came in. It reminded me how faithful God is and how before I even came to Cambodia, He told me, “I’m not sending you there alone, I’m sending you with friends.” This burden was much too heavy for me to carry and I feel so thankful to have this weight off my shoulders. I also have received pledges of $1,200 / month in support for the upcoming year. My goal is $1,500 a month to cover living costs, health insurance, annual home leave, self care and more. If you are interested in supporting me or want to learn more about it, please send me a note and we can talk more about it. To those who have already committed support. You are the true heroes here in Cambodia. Your blessings are more than I can count.
(Mango catching at Martin’s house).
My housing situation has changed yet again since my last update. At this point I’m a pro at moving via tuk-tuk and I’m so thankful that Bullet is such an easy going pup. I’ve been house siting for my boss, Martin. While Bullet and I have been gone from our apartment, thieves broke in, stole my flatmate’s motorcycle, bicycle, and a couple of washing machines (these are kept on balconies in Cambodia). On top of that, the helper was attacked. I am so thankful the helper is okay, that my flatmate is okay, that nothing of real value (passports, laptops, etc) was stolen. But at this point, my sweet landlord doesn’t believe it’s safe for us to live in the apartment and is looking to sell it. Danielle, my flat mate made the decision to move out and I quickly followed her lead. I found a great pet-friendly service apartment in a new area of town, where some of my friends live with their two dogs.
(Esther and one of the puppies).
The best thing about housesitting for Martin and Valerie was getting to spend time with Esther during her last few weeks in Cambodia. Esther is an 18 year old woman doing a gap year from Germany volunteering at Daughters of Cambodia. On top of all the laughter she brought to our home, it was fun to help her process some of her feelings about returning back to her country after a year in Cambodia and we had some really great deeper conversations that I will cherish for a long time.
(Jeanie, Katrine, Johanne, Esther and I in Kampot).
After Esther left, the other two young women from Denmark serving at Daughters also flew home. Spending time with Johanne and Katrine, have been some of the highlights of working at Daughters: sitting in worship together, translating words together, grabbing coffee and their hugs. The deep conversations from Esther’s leaving continued to flow into their last two weeks in Cambodia as well.
(If only I could sleep that well).
A big surprise of moving into Martin’s house has been one of their dogs had PUPPIES! That is right, we went from a household of three dogs to seven in one night. Rocky (mama dog) has been a wonderful mother and has done much of the work making my life of cleaning towels and mopping up “accidents” pretty easy. I’m so thankful all four survived and continue to grow. Their eyes have opened, they are beginning to walk and I’m a little thankful I get to head to the States before their cuteness is overrun with pure energy once they figure out how their legs really work…
(Bullet after going to the vet with a sting).
On top of the puppies, June was a month of recovery for Bullet. At the end of May, Bullet got an eye infection which required a week of eye drops. Which he hated, but put up with. Followed by getting stung in the face by a scorpion, which required our second and third trips to the vet in one month. Luckily, after medicine three times a day for three weeks, he got a clean bill of health and his shave is finally starting to grow in. While I’m stateside, he will be staying at the boarding place associated with this vet, so I’m so thankful he will be in good hands. After the scorpion sting, we were at the vet and they put a muzzle on him (standard for Bullet even in the States) and I watched this young Khmer guy scratch his ears and speak so calmly to Bullet while the vet looked at his face and while Bullet was trying to give kisses to the Khmer assistant made me tear up. In a country that is terrified of dogs, let alone big dogs, seeing how close Bullet was to this one young man he’s know from daycare made my heart fill with peace.
(One week later, Bullet’s check up).
Things have been a little different at Daughters this month. I haven’t been able to go into the office, which is making some projects difficult to continue working on. Ultimately, it has been a blessing between, helping Esther leave well, the puppies, Bullet’s recovery, moving and my Level 2 Khmer final having more freedom in my day to help out and serve others has been really helpful.
(This is what a typical Khmer language class looks like. Asking, “What size shoe do you wear?”)
Speaking of Level 2 Khmer, thank you so much for your prayers. I didn’t fail Level 2, but I also didn’t pass Level 2. Basically, I did great at comprehension and terrible at speaking. To make up for this, I’m working with a tutor on speaking. In Khmer culture, there is this thing called “saving face” so it’s hard culturally for people to point out when you make mistakes, because it can cause shame. Having a tutor point out your mistakes is a great way to work on formal speaking and it’s really helping me understand the structure of the language so much better. I’m wicked excited to start Level 3 in September, where I’ll start learning writing!
(Wendy and I out riding).
Prayer training rides continued in June. I went on an awesome half day ride to Oudong, the old capital of Cambodia with my friend and female rider, Wendy, and our coach, Yong. I had a blast! Conquering my fears of cows, eating a custard apple for the first time, walking up to the top of the Oudong temple and so much more. I also made a conscious decision to start riding my moto back and forth to my job at the bar past the two streets that are known for sex for expats praying blessings over the women, conviction for the men and protection over the children there. I’m looking forward to my first ride in August and helping out at another race in September! Check out this cool video of me riding in the floods in my neighborhood. (I hit a floating tree limb at the end – don’t worry. I’m okay.)
I’ll be back in Portland, Oregon July 15 – August 1! (AKA TODAY!) I would really love to meet with you. So please send me an email or Facebook message so we can set something up.