As many of you know, we just returned from a three week, life-changing trip to visit our friends at an orphan home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Here's a short video of our time spent with the kids at Asia's Hope Prek Eng 2 children's home.
As many of you know, we just returned from a three week, life-changing trip to visit our friends at an orphan home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Here's a short video of our time spent with the kids at Asia's Hope Prek Eng 2 children's home.
We're home! 27 hours of travel and being awake for some 48 hours with little to no sleep almost defeated us but the kids were total champs. It was so nice to be back in our own beds although I did wake up several times last night trying to figure out where I was. I'm always disoriented for a few nights when I return from a long trip. I wake up and sit in bed for several minutes trying to figure out where in Cambodia I fell asleep before I realize I'm home in my own bed. Weird feeling to say the least.
Overall, our trip was amazing. We made many deep friendships with the children at PE2. The last night we were there was difficult for us to say goodbye. There were tears all around. Caleb and Faith were not ready to come home and both cried a lot at the airport and of course Caleb threw in some more vomiting on our way to keep us on our toes. They had an amazing experience and made some great friends. I hope that we can all retun at some point but we will definitely maintain the relationship via email and skype.
Several people gave us money specifically to treat the kids to some special activites. Due to your generosity we were able to do the following: Bring three nice acoustic guitars to leave with them, A special dinner and ice cream party at PE2, a Saturday trip to the zoo and lunch on the river, and a Sunday afternoon at the Central Market where we gave each child $5 to spend on themselves as well as dinner out that evening. They rarely get to go out for food or spend money to buy someting for themselves so that was a very special treat for them. The remaining money collected went into the PE2 college scholarship fund and will help a child go to college next year.
I was, once again, impressed with the people of Cambodia: So quick to smile back, they go out of their way to work through language barriers to prioritize relationships. They are hospitable, family oriented, hard working and dependable. For a people who went through a violent mass genocide 30 years ago, they are getting back on their feet and working through some very difficult circumstances. Discussions about the Khmer Rouge are tearful and heartbreaking even today. But Asia's Hope and other NGOs are doing amazing work there and are very welcome by the people.
I hope to return to Cambodia again in the not to distant future.
This guy was hangin around our hotel room last night. Caleb spotted him out of the corner of his eye, walking from the bathroom, and we both had a bit of a freak-out moment. I crushed him with a wicker tissue box. Good thing I did because the kids and PE2 said they have a nasty bite. I hate spiders. So glad they don't come this size in Ohio.
Written by Becky:
Today has brought about yet another unexpected twist; but we're getting to use to that by now! Narun picked us up at 8 am so that we could get some good play time with the kids before the heat of the day really kicked in. Around 11 though, Faith wasn't feeling so great. She laid down, tried a bit of soda to calm her stomach and some tea that Sopal mixed up for her. But nothing shy of her loosing her cookies all over the front porch would settle her stomach. I'm thankful she got it out before we got in the van. We had a bag ready for the ride back to the hotel and had her sit next to a window just in case. She rested for a while and was thankfully feeling better within about an hour. I've noticed a pattern over these last few weeks. If you're feeling cruddy, once it's passed whether by vomitting or loosing it at other end, you typically feel a little shaky but then you're good to go within a relatively short period of time.
Caleb was so bummed when we told him we needed to get Faith back to rest and in some a/c, so when offered the chance to stay with the kids at PE2 for the day, he jumped on it! I have loved watching him come alive on this trip. My little homebody, that rarely wants to go anywhere (even when we're at home), has turned over a new leaf. He is quick to laugh, eager to hug and hold these kids hands, silly beyond belief and has made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.
After resting for a bit Faith was feeling peppy again and we hit the pool for about 2 hours. It was kinda nice to have some one on one time with my little peanut. She too has been remarkable on this trip! While more naturally outgoing, she has jumped right in with these kids and had an absolute ball! Prior to leaving PE2 today, she was busy painting nails and toenails. She's had fun teaching & learning lots of new games and just goofing around with her buddies. While homesick, she turns very somber when we talk about returning home. She too will miss these sweet kids we've come to love.
Jer, Faith and I hopped a tuk tuk to get our custom made shoes about 4:00 and then walked to dinner at LeDuo (Faith's favorite restaurant over here). Caleb meet us at the restaurant about 6:30...via moto! I think the 30 min moto ride from PE2 into Phnom Penh just may have made his trip complete! Sandwiched between Vee Ly & Sopal he rode up in style. I think it's a good thing they didn't call to ask me about this one first. :)
We swam for about 40 minutes upon return to the hotel before Caleb decided to keep us on our toes by barfing into a poolside planter. At least it wasn't in the pool! Praying that this too will pass soon.
Tomorrow morning, Jeremy will be preaching at church (all 5 Prek Eng Children's Homes attend). Then it's back to PE2 for our last full day with them. Monday, we'll be packing up while the kids are at school, joining them about 3:00 for an afternoon of fun, dinner and then saying goodbye about 6:30 pm. Our flight departs around 11 pm...27 hours of travel and we'll be home on Tues. afternoon.
A month before we left on this trip I asked friends, family, and clients to help us treat the kids at PE2 to some special things. The one event the kids were most excited about happened today.
We woke up bright and early, had breakfast at the hotel and hopped on a tuk tuk out to Prek Eng to meet a bus load of excited kids who were eager to show us their zoo. Part of the money that was donated helped pay for the 25 passenger van that we used to take about 36 people on the 1.5 hour trip. You can see by the photos that we were pretty packed in but no one uttered a single complaint as kids shared seats and joyfully sang songs in unison the whole way there. For most trips as a group, PE2 uses their 10 passenger van that all 30-some people cram into, so this was livin' large! It even had AC!
The Phnom Penh zoo is unlike what we are accustomed to in the US. The most prolific animals there are the monkeys who misbehave, taunt visitors and follow you around the zoo. If you're not careful, they will grab anything loose, a scarf, a purse, a camera and scramble up a tree. Good luck getting it back.
The coolest part is that many of the animals--mostly exotic species of deer, roam the park freely and they walk right up to you, hoping that you will pat them on the head or scratch their noses. The cages used for many of the animals, including bear, monkeys, peacocks, and crocodiles are no more than chain link fences. Get too close to the monkey cage and they will grab you! It was nice to be so up close and personal with many of the animals. Sometimes at the Columbus Zoo, the animals like to hide in the back. Not here though, these guys come right up to the fence; most likely because the tourists here tend to feed the animals.
After the zoo, around lunch time, we all piled back into the bus and headed to what is similar to our metro parks. It had a very wide river running through it and little bamboo thatched huts built out over the water on stilts connected by a split log bridge. We rented the spot for the afternoon. The staff served a fantastic lunch of rice, grilled chicken and pickles. One by one, as they finished eating, the kids changed into their swim suits and jumped into the brown water. It was clear that this was a rare opportunity for them as they played for hours. Becky, the kids and I stayed in the hut and watched the fun as the bacteria in the water would have ruined us for the rest of the trip and beyond.
On the ride home several of the kids fell asleep while others played car games like chop sticks. Everyone was tired and we were ready to head back to the hotel.
Our family walked to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant and had a great dinner of Bun (one of our favorites). Very nice open air place with white table cloths. Most of the entrees were around $4 each. A fantastic dinner to wrap up a wonderful day.
Once back at the hotel, we did a little swimming to wear out the kids before bed.
Thank you to everyone who gave to make this special day a reality!
Today was pretty low-key. After breakfast we packed up all of our stuff and moved into a hotel that is closer to the center of the city. It was pretty amazing how much you can fit on a tuk tuk. After checking in, we spent a couple of hours exploring the new area. I was pretty hot out this afternoon so we stopped in for ice cream around lunch time. We all hit the hotel pool for a couple of hours before Narun picked us up to take is to PE2 for the evening.
The longer we are here, the more I fee like we see what goes on in the evenings. We are typically at the home, playing card games with a couple of the older kids when the elementary aged kids return from school for the evening. They hurry and change out of their uniforms and the fun begins. Cards games, bracelet making, soccer in the courtyard. The whole place comes alive with laughter. Caleb wiped out pretty bad on the concrete playing soccer this evening and Sopal had the first aid kit ready to go. They cleaned his cuts and took really good care of him. She's a really amazing mom.
We had a fantastic dinner of rice, fried fish with pineapple sauce, mangos, and stir fried vegetables. Sopal is treating us right!
Tomorrow we take the entire orphan home to the zoo. Should be quite an adventure!
Saturday and Sunday we were able to spend full days with the kids as the majority of them did not have school. We played countless rounds of Phase 10, Uno & Skip-bo, I painted the girls' nails, and we had fun making various bracelets & box braids with the craft laces we brought. Sunday afternoon we went over to the new land where they are building the new PE2 home & school for the Prek Eng Campus. They have made alot of progress in the past week! We spent about an hour and a half exploring the various plants growing, playing in the sand pile and walking through the building. Can't wait for these homes to be finished; it will be a huge blessing!
Today was perhaps one of my favorite days. It was the perfect combination of vacation sight seeing and the joy of getting to spend time with the kids at PE2. We kicked off our morning with breakfast at Cafe Yejj yet again. It's a quick walk and they have stuff that everyone in our family likes, so it's a win win. With full tummies we set off on foot for the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
During the month of April, the kids and I really dove into learning about Cambodia's history to give us a framework for our trip. We quickly found some pretty hard stuff to digest. While utilizing various library books to gather facts, we also read through "First They Killed My Father" which is written by a survivor of the Khmer Rouge. Her writing really captures the essence of what many Cambodians went through. Having read and thought about what this country has been through, made our trip to Tuol Sleng really hit home. To walk through the halls where innocent people were held captive, to see the hundreds of pictures of those that passed through these doors, the skulls of those tortured, made for a heavy visit. Known also as S-21, Tuol Sleng, was once a grade school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a place of torture & murder during the reign of Pol Pot. Interestingly enough, the Khmer Rouge wanted nothing more than to do away with education; their desire was to create an agrarian society in which the "un-pure blood" of the Cambodian people was done away with. Hard work was far more important than education and so they took the very thing that the people held dear and turned it into a place of terror. 14,000-20,000 people passed through the doors of this former school and death would have been a wish granted; instead they were tortured for endless hours, chained to beds (metal racks), stuffed into tiny cells, starved, and forced into agreeing to crimes that they had not committed. Over the course of our time here, we have talked with both Narun & Sophal about their families and how the Khmer Rouge affected them. With heavy hearts & tears they shared their pain; a bit of their story. As much as I try to understand and put myself into their shoes, I fall short, for my mind cannot truly fathom what these people, this country, has been through; it is a tragedy that must never be forgotten.
From Tuol Sleng we walked to Orussey Market, the biggest market we've been to yet. Whatever you're searching for, if you can manage to navigate your way through the three story high building, you are sure to find it. The smells that waft from these markets is something very unfamiliar to our American noses. From dried mushrooms, to dried fish, pork, beef, eggs, half dead chickens and tons of other stuff, the smells can be quite overwhelming. Word to the wise, don't walk through the markets if you're pregnant! On our way back home, we stumbled across a shoe maker's shop. Just for kicks, we decided to check it out and ended up leaving with 4 pairs of beautiful, comfortable, leather shoes to be custom made for our feet for $100 total. We go back in 3 days to pick them up!
Narun picked us up in the afternoon for our time with the kids after school. Sophal once again, cared for us as family and made Jeremy & I a special tea with honey to hep calm our stomachs. We played lots of card games, football (soccer), & made some friendship bracelets. As always, we had a blast! I have never met more creative, loving, nurturing, kind, joyful and fun kids!
Just for fun...things we've experienced while here...we're not complaining, it's all part of the adventure!
a. stinkier than when you took them
b. clean, but stretched out and unwearable
c. clean, but possibly missing a few items as the number of items you took in doesn't match the number you came home with
As I sat on the floor at Prek Eng 2 playing multiple rounds of Phase 10, I realized that the metaphor for how our lives are like "the cards we are dealt" is so very true---except for one major game changer.
Phase 10, is mostly a game of luck. Your hand at the start of the game pretty much guarantees whether you will win or loose that round. There are some decisions along the way that might help you win but for the most part, if you are dealt a winning hand, you will win that phase.
Growing up in America, I was dealt a really nice hand. Before the dealer handed me my cards, I hadn't done anything special to secure my position. I didn't prove myself brighter or stronger, or more patriotic than the next guy. I was just given my hand--for which I am truly grateful. I grew up in a lower-middle class family with parents who loved me and who worked hard to make ends meet to support their three kids. We lived in suburbia with our nice lawns and friendly neighbors, were able to take vacations to Disneyland and experience the many freedoms that we as Americans have...I wouldn't change a thing. I have been blessed beyond measure; I thank God for the cards I have been dealt. By the world's standards, I was dealt a winning hand.
I know many friends back home who were not as fortunate. They watched selfish parents dissolve their relationships and split the family apart. They experienced the death of a father or mother at a young age and they never got to experience that part of their upbringing. They had a father who was never around. A mother who was addicted to drugs...these were the cards they were dealt. I have seen many of these folks do amazing things with their hand. They beat the odds and did better than their parents did. They chose to forgive, seek help from their church, and find their peace and direction from the card dealer, God, who wants more than anything to replace that neglect and pain with His love and healing.
So as I sat on the floor, I kept thinking about the cards that each of these children have been dealt. I know all of their stories. Most of them are very similar. They worked the streets, dug through trash for water bottles to recycle, or were out in the city or country side all alone. They watched their parents die before their eyes from malaria, HIV, or starvation. They had no hope for an education, no plan for the future, just survival for that day. The world is a cruel place when you are a street kid with no parents.
It would be really sad for anyone playing the game if this was the end of the story. But it's not.
About 2,000 years ago, God chose to send us a game changer. He sent a man named Jesus. If you are skeptical about Him, read on. I think you will find Him more approachable than perhaps you would expect.
There are two times that come to mind when Jesus made statements that changed the game.
At one point Jesus is approached by a wealthy young man:
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:16-21 NIV)
It's that last part that always blows my mind. It also blew the mind of this wealthy man who came to Jesus with a question. He was a man with a winning hand as far as he could see. The next verse says, "When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth." He was unable to trust the very God who gave him his winning hand in the first place to do amazing things with it. Jesus wasn't asking him to live a destitute life. He was offering him real life. And the man walked away sad because he chose to keep his hand to himself.
Jesus goes on to explain that it is impossible for the rich (that includes all of us who have been dealt a winning hand) to enter the kingdom of God. This perplexes the disciples. Impossible? That doesn't seem fair. Then Jesus clarifies his statement with this: "but with God, all things are possible." No, he wasn't reading it off the official seal of the state of Ohio; He was writing it.
If the ruler had been willing to hand his cards back to Jesus, willing to trust the very one who gave him those cards to do even greater things, he would have lived a life of joy rather than sadness. His would have blessed those with a losing hand rather than keeping it all for himself. And there is no reason to believe that God would have made him live the rest of his life in destitution either. He may have chosen for him to become more wealthy than he was before and allowed him to be a resource to further the kingdom of God through charitable giving, or building orphanages, or creating micro enterprise opportunities to change the game for countless others who were dealt a poor hand.
You see, God wants us to join with Him as game changers. To give our winning hands back to him so we can be part of the solution. He promises us that if we do this we will walk away more joyful than we ever could imagine rather than walking away sad because we didn't want to get in the game.
Each of these kids I'm playing with were dealt the worst of hands until some game changers decided to trust their winning hands to a God who can really do amazing things. I guarantee that all of them have a far better return on investment than they would have if they had placed that money in the stock market. Just experiencing their laughter, sharing their joy, and watching them grow together is worth far more than money can ever pay.
This leads me to Jesus' second teaching.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 TLV)
Why do I feel such a connection with these kids on the other side of the world? It's because this is where my treasure is. When we give our blessings to others, God turns our hearts in their direction. This is true in many things in life. People who love animals give their resources to support their local humane society. People who give their money to clean water initiatives, grow more involved in the cause. How we spend our time and money changes the way we prioritize our lives.
The game changer is a blessing to everyone in the game, no matter what cards you were dealt. God promises that if we chose to trust Him, He will return the favor with joy in our lives. He doesn't promise that our lives will be easier as a result but He does promise to change our hearts.
It's bigger than cold religion
It's bigger than life
For dinner, Ny took us to a restaurant called Amazon Ankor where they do traditional Khmer dances while you eat. Both the show and food were outstanding and provided a really unique cultural experience. Faith was mesmerized! After dinner we found out that our driver, Ny, was very sick. He had spent the entire hour and a half in the bathroom. We waited for about 30 minutes until he felt well enough to drive us back to the hotel, where we prayed for him and gave him some medicine. In the meantime, the giant rat (12" not counting his tail) that kept sneaking into the restaurant, the geckos on the wall and the toads hiding in the window sill kept the kids occupied.
tomorrow morning, we're headed back to Phnom Penh.
Last night while out seeing the town of Battanbang, Jeremy got a text from a friend we met at the hotel pool asking if we would like to join his family for dinner. We met at the Gecko Cafe for not only a delicious meal, but wonderful company. The Eng family is here from Canada with a clean water project. It was so great to share a meal & tell our stories. Thank you David for reaching out to us.We awoke with the sun this morning, about 5 am. There is a wedding celebration going on just a short distance away from the hotel and the music is ongoing, which means you hear it late into the night and it begins again with the sunrise. I contemplated unplugging their electrical source under the cover of darkness last night as the earplugs weren't enough. That being said, the kids are still sleeping extremely well and for that I'm really thankful.
Thank you for all who have been praying about Faith eating; it has been so cool to see God at work. Since asking for prayer for Faith on Facebook, she has been eating at least 2 solid meals each day and usually a snack of peanuts somewhere in their as well. My next prayer request is for Jeremy. We believe he has tonisilitis, whether bacterial or viral, I'm not sure; but I had him gargle with doterra Oregano & OnGuard this morning.
We are on the road again this morning traveling from Battambang to Siem Reap. This will only be about a 2 hour drive and I love watching out the window. I thought I would spend most of my time reading, but the countryside is just so fascinating. It's so bizarre to see little barber stands pop up in the middle of nowhere, cows wandering wherever they wish, rice fields being prepared for planting, endless roadside markets, or passing the random moto loaded with a dead cow or a bunch of chickens on their way to market. I also enjoy listening in on the conversation that Jeremy and Ny have. I love learning about their culture and share with him about ours.
On the way into Siem Reap we stopped at a silk farm where they walked us through the entire silk-making process. This was awesome! From the mulberry tree to the egg, caterpillar, cocoon & butterfly, they walk you through each and every step. We got to see the eggs, billions of caterpillars munching away on mulberry leaves, multiple butterflies mating, and even watch a butterfly come out of it's cocoon. He was a lucky one as , most of the cocoons are put out into the sun for 3-4 days which kills the silk worm leaving the cocoon for harvesting. The outer portion of the cocoon is where we get raw silk from and the inner portion gives us fine silk. From here, they walked us through the various processes of spinning the silk, bleaching and dying it, then onto the looms where they make gorgeous fabrics. We loved every minute of this tour!
We pulled into our hotel here in Siem Reap about 1:00 and let the kids swim until 3:30. Jeremy napped after taking some Advil, gargling more oils and getting some Royal D (a rehydration drink) in him. About 3:30 we walked around the market and found some fun Christmas gifts for family. On our way back to the hotel, we told the kids our big secret of the trip. An ATV tour of the countryside! If you come to visit Siem Reap, I highly recommend it! Not only is the sunset tour beautiful and a total blast, but it gave us all a deeper understanding of how these people really live. I was floored by the living conditions & really brought a good perspective about for me and the kids we came to visit in Prek Eng. Running water, toilets, actual walls....that's considered an absolute luxury. It also made me so thankful for Asia's Hope and the transformation & hope that they have brought to so many kids. They have running water, showers to bathe in, fresh meals, clean clothes, healthcare, a private education, loving parents & a family, and most of all the hope of Jesus Christ. Thank you John for your vision so many years ago and for giving of yourself to make Asia's Hope a reality!
Written by Becky:
We started out Mother's Day with an early run to the market to buy flowers to celebrate Sopal. She is the mother of all the kids at PE2 and is absolutely amazing! While they don't celebrate Mother's Day here, I wanted her to know how very special she is. I have never met a more loving, nurturing, caring & giving woman; she is the hands and feet of God to these children. They are richly blessed to have her in their lives & her love for her family is so very evident. As if she hasn't enough children to care for, she has welcomed Caleb & Faith with open arms. She has helped me in our endeavor to get Faith to eat, given us special drink packs to hydrate her, fought for me in the market when trying to buy clothes that first day, she sends us home with fresh mangos, watermelons and bananas, and made amazing meals for our family. The love of Jesus radiates from Sopal! God, I pray that you would richly bless her.
After buying flowers in the market we took about a 25 minute tuk tuk ride out to Asia's hope Christian school where we worshipped with all of the Prek Eng kids @ 8:30 am. PE2 did a special song; so very precious. While we didn't understand a word of the service, it was beautiful to join with these kids in worship.
We walked to PE2 with the kids after church and let game time begin! We played Phase 10, football, soccer, sang worship songs, hide & seek, cat & mouse, sandman, and many other games. In the midst of all the games, we enjoyed lunch together and had a special opportunity to pray for Soriya as she begins too think about college. Soriya is in 10th grade and is the oldest biological child of Narun & Sopal; she is precious and has such a tender heart.
In the heat of the afternoon, Caleb began breaking out in an itchy rash. I wasn't sure what to do for him, but the kids knew exactly what he needed, cooling powder. They so lovingly powdered his entire neck, chest and face for the rest of the afternoon. Whenever the powder began to sweat off, they would reapply it. You guys I wish I could aptly convey the love that these kids pour out so freely. It was so very sweet to watch them lovingly take care of Caleb. In the same way, they are constantly wiping off the sweat from Jeremy's head; such a beautiful picture of servanthood.
I was telling Jeremy that over these past two days I have seen a transformation in Caleb. It's difficult to put into words, but I have seen him let go of his inhibitions and just really embrace his new family. Saying goodbye to these dear friends at the end of our time will be so very hard. But for now, we'll enjoy every minute that we have together.
Today was hot! Really hot!
At 3:30 am I woke up recalling a restaurant we ate at last August that had a swimming pool inside. I knew we were not going to see the kids at PE2 today and we needed a place to let Caleb and Faith cool off and burn off some energy. I sent a text message to Teddy and he found it online. Le Duo Italian restaurant.
We got an intentionally late start this morning and walked to Cafe Yejj for some fresh mango lassis. YUM! Then hopped a tuk tuk to Wat Phnom to walk around and explore. I knew we had a limited amount of time before the kids faded in the heat so I did my best to keep their interest. We played at the park for a few minutes but the heat was just too much. Even though it was much earlier than we had planned, we decided to make our way to Le Duo. After a tuk tuk ride and a decent walk we came upon it. We wasted no time hopping in the pool (about 1:00 pm) and swam and ate a late lunch/early dinner, leaving about 5:00. We've been struggling to get Faith to eat while here. Between the heat, her food allergies, and the fact that she's a picky eater, it's been a challenge. Le Duo was the answer. She ate two steak and veggie kabobs and an ear of corn! We were so thankful to finally get a full meal in her! We will definitely be heading back there before we leave!
After dinner we walked down to the river front and got caught in a storm. Conventiently located, we ducked into an ice cream shop to wait it out...and grab a scoop. After it passed the weather really cooled off and it was quite pleasant to walk around.
We are really looking forward to going to church tomorrow morning with all of the kids. I remember going last year and it was a very moving experience for me. I know Caleb and Faith will enjoy it as well. After church, lunch and playtime at PE2. Can't wait!
This morning, we all actually woke up after a getting a full night of sleep. It seems that our bodies may be starting to acclimate to the time change. We boarded a tuk tuk about 8:00 am and headed for the Central Market area where we watched the vendors open up their shops and display their products. The kids each bought a souvenir before heading over to a stationery shop just a couple blocks away, where they found some pretty sweet art supplies. The prices were very reasonable and they have some cool stuff that's hard to find in the US. Love that my kids geek out about art supplies!
We had a great brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Chinese Pulled Noodles, where they make their noodles, dumplings and buns to order. You can watch them make your food while you wait. So yummy!
I contacted the head of Asia's Hope in Cambodia this morning and he set us up to visit with the kids at Asia's Hope Christian School. We dropped in at about 2 pm not sure what we would be doing. The English teacher brought us into the kindergarten/1st grade English class, handed us a dry erase marker and said, you do whatever you want. Becky lead them in some spelling games and I did drawings on the board to see who could guess the English word the fastest. Caleb and Faith joined in as well. After English class, the PE2 kids took Caleb and Faith with them to their class for the last hour of school. Becky and I realized it was their first classroom experience ever...and it just happened to be in Cambodia. They really enjoyed it even though they didn't understand a word of it.
At 4:00 we walked home with the kids. As we walked along the dusty road, kids crowded around us and held our hands all the way back. It really hit me how much these kids feel like family to us. Narun said the same thing to Becky this evening at dinner; she couldn't hold back the tears. These kids are really something special.
When we retuned back to PE2 the real fun began. Faith brought her big bag of animal balloons (thanks Nana & Grandpa B!) that she got for Christmas to share with the kids and boy did they love them. It was a hot evening so many of the kids gathered in the house to play card games, draw with us and make balloon animals. Caleb and several of the boys played soccer in the courtyard for most of the evening. I've never seen Caleb so sweaty and dirty; he was having so much fun!
We wrapped up the evening sitting at the dinner table with Narun and Sopal. They are amazing people! To parent 27 kids is just mind-boggling to me, and they do it with the perfect balance of structure and fun. It has been really great spending time with them and getting to know them both better.
written by Becky...
This morning we walked around the Russian Market and took in the many sights, sounds and smells that flood your senses. I could walk around these markets all day long, there is so much to explore. We grabbed an amazing breakfast at Cafe Yejj which boasts a more Western menu.
After breakfast, we took our first ride in a tuk-tuk to visit the tailor that Jeremy went to last August. The shirts they made him are so nice and fit so well, that we wanted to be sure to grab a few more. You can't beat $12 for a tailored dress shirt! Watching Caleb and Faith's faces as we traversed the streets in a tuk-tuk was quite comical. The driving is pretty crazy around here, no real order, people just cross intersections at will and honk their horn to let you know their coming through. Motos zip around and squeeze through whatever tight spot they can. After safely making it back to Asia's Hope's Guest House, we showered and awaited Narun's arrival.
While waiting, we called the airport here in Phnom Penh with the help of some Asia's Hope staff to assist us in translating to check on status of my bag. I couldn't believe it when they actually said there was a carry-on for Slagle. My bag arriving here in PNH is seriously an answer to prayer. After my bag was switched with another passengers, it was sent to the Atlanta airport. Korean Air contacted Delta b/c that's who we were flying with when we realized what happened. Delta then transferred my bag to Korean Air and flew it to Seoul and from there to Phnom Penh. The best part is that everything was still in my bag, my clothes, book, SHOES (no more blisters from shoes from the market), an MP3 player for the kids at PE2, an ipod Nano which someone sent along as a gift for her family that lives here in PNH, our probiotics & all of my doterra oils (which is pretty much like our medicine cabinet from home). The best part is when I looked at the tag on my bag, it was the only one that Faith had filled out. She wanted to help me in the airport and so I had asked her to copy one that I had already filled out and to do it in her best handwriting. I don't know why, but the fact that she had filled this one out, brought me to tears because she had taken such care to write legiblly. Thank you God for working out every little detail to not only return the bag to me, but to safely deliver it to the other side of the world.
From the airport, we stopped to pick up coconut ice cream with Narun & Sopal for our dinner & ice cream party with the kids. Sopal as always, orchestrated an amazing meal and we all enjoyed one another's company. Prior to dinner, the kids performed a couple traditional Khmer dances as well as some crazy American dance routines. I have never laughed so hard in my life as I did while watching some of the boys dance to Gangam Style. Absolutely hilarious. You guys can't even begin to fathom the personalities these kids have. They are so much fun to be with and so very loving. I can't move without someone hugging me or grabbing my hand; I love it!
To top off a great dinner, the kids all enjoyed coconut ice cream. Because they can't really store it, they eat their ice cream and bring their cones back for seconds. And as if this wasn't enough...they surprised me with an anniversary cake complete with candles and song to celebrate Jeremy & I's 15th wedding anniversary. After blowing out the candles, several of the kids said what they were thankful for and how they much they love us and pray for us every day. Yes...tears streaming then and now. You've never seen more grateful kids in your life! After being served a giant piece of cake, Jeremy fed me a bite of cake and I him...except I smeared it all over his mouth. :) I missed my opportunity 15 years ago and figured it was as good a time as any to make up for it. Had I realized what I unleashed, I probablly wouldn't have. The kids when given their cake, promptly started feeding one another and smearing it on each other's faces! Let's just say, they were all going to need showers that night.
We played a few more games and Caleb and I sang worship songs with some of the kids. CV sent along 2 complete copies of our worship books that have guitar chords in them. Many of the kids are super eager to learn to play guitar and several can do so already. It was fun to watch Caleb teach them some of the chords and then sing praises to our Heavenly Father together.
We got to bed about midnight last night and slept in until about 10:30 this morning! If you know our kids well, you know that they are early risers, so this is a little miracle for them. The kids had woken up a few minutes before 10:30, but Becky & I awoke to the sound of the doorbell and jumped out of bed to find Narun and Sopal standing outside. We had no idea they were coming. They wanted to take Becky to the market to help her buy some clothes since her luggage was missing; so very kind of them.
Update: Becky's bag was found in Atlanta and they are sending it to the PNH airport. Not sure when it will arrive but it keeps us from having to replace it all. Please pray that it gets here soon and with all contents intact. Besides all of her clothes, it had an MP3 player for the kids at PE2.
After hurriedly dressing, Narun & Sopal took us to the market where Becky bought two dresses and a few undergarments. I got a SIM card for the iPhone so we are all up and running. Faith is feeling pretty gross. She actually walked out of the mobile store and promptly puked on the curb. We think its a combination of lack of sleep and the intense heat. It is HOT...97 degrees and humid! While we've been doing our best to get her to drink water, she hasn't eaten anything all day.
We had lunch at a Pho restaurant. While Caleb and I loved it; Becky thought it was okay. The fish balls weren't her favorite, but hey at least she tried them. Faith was feeling too gross to eat.
At 3:00 Narun picked us up and we went to check out the new Prek Eng campus on the way to see the kids. The school on the campus is almost done. PE 2 has the second floor on it and is going to be so nice when it's completed. The kids are very excited to move in!
Becky, Caleb & Faith had their first opportunity to hang with the kids this evening and what a great time! Within minutes, the girls were doing Faith's hair and Becky was busy playing games. Caleb gave them their new guitars and taught them "everything he knows". He played some songs for them while they intently watched his fingers and then they played around. After dinner with them we played soccer and a few other games outside. Such a fun evening!!
Tomorrow evening, we will be heading back to PE2 for a dance party, dinner, and ice cream provided by our friends, family and clients. We are really looking forward to it.
Less than 2 hours before our plane touches down in Phnom Penh and we are all feeling the mixed emotions of stress, lack of sleep and the excitement of stepping off the plane to see our friends. It started out a bit stressful when our flight from Columbus into Atlanta arrived 2 hours late leaving us with only 20 minutes to race across the Atlanta airport. We were literally running through the airport at top speed dragging and carrying our bags. Ever try to run with a loaded backpack, guitar case in one hand and a suitcase in the other? Not a pretty sight nor easy task! We were all sweaty messes with burning lungs when we arrived at our gate. Becky was in tears when we found out that our flight to Seoul was running about 10 minutes late which allowed us to make this connecting flight. Thank you God!
Getting off the plane in Seoul, we went to retrieve Becky's carry-on suticase, only to find that it was not there. When boarding this flight, there was no room for her carry-on above our seats so the stewardess put it in an overhead bin closer to the front of the plane. By the time we got up there to get it, it was gone. It contains all of her clothes, new Birkenstock sandals which I got her for Christmas specifically for this trip, swimsuit, an MP3 player for the kids at PE2 and a couple hundred dollars worth of doterra oils. We are praying that whoever took it will return it to the airport and we will get it all back; but it seems unlikely. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, as she deals with this. She knows it's just stuff, but it doesn't make it easy, especially when you start calculating the cost of everything in your bag. We'll find some stuff for her at the market to wear once we arrive.
Being awake for 30 hours straight is affecting Caleb as well. He threw up several times on the plane and is pretty miserable. That being said, both of the kids have been amazing! After about 7 hours into our 15 hour flight to Seoul, Faith said, "Who would of thought I would get bored of tv!" This last 5 hour leg from Seoul to PNH has seemed like an eternity, especially with Caleb feeling so nauseas.
We will arrive around 10pm PNH time. Narun, Sopal and hopefully a couple of the kids will meet us there. I'm glad our kids will be plenty tired when we reach the guesthouse. We are hoping that they sleep in tomorrow morning before we head out to buy some clothes for Becky. We anticipate tomorrow being a low-key morning before we head out to hang with the kids after school in the afternoon and evening.
We can't wait to land.