Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Donating to the DeRemers

The Deremers from Stuart Atkins on Vimeo.

The time has come again for Leanne and I to ask our community, friends, family and extended network for the financial support that is essential for us to continue living and working in Cambodia.

We have been so blessed with the generous support of many people thus far,  but we are still asking that people connected to us think and pray about supporting us and our work in Cambodia through 2012.

At this point in our fundraising, we are asking for partners to donate on a monthly basis or a one-time gifts as follows:

  • Two people supporting us with a one-time gift of $1200 or $100 per month.
  • Four people supporting us with a one-time gift of $600 or $50 per month.
  • Twenty-five people supporting us with a one-time gift of $240 or $20 per month.
If none of those options are a reality for you at this point, any one-time gift would be a blessing to our life and ministry here in Cambodia, regardless of the amount.

We know that finances can be tight and finding the money to give can be difficult but we ask that you consider supporting us as we work at Logos, with 2Five2 and Cambodia Bike Project here in Cambodia.

If you have any questions about the donation process, please feel free to email either of us at:
deremer.chris@gmail.com or leanne.deremer@gmail.com.

For instructions on how to donate, click the "donate" button in the upper left of your screen or visit www.Asianhope.org/give.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and consideration as you partner with us and our work in Cambodia.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cars, Homes, and Bank Accounts

As of this month we have lived in Cambodia for 18 months.  Year and a half. Sometimes it can be extremely hard to not think about what we could of accomplished in 18 months.  Payed off a new car, saved for a house, gone to grad school, maybe we would of gotten ready for a baby (no big ideas we are still waiting several more years).  But we have done none of those things. BUT we have done many other things, lived in Cambodia, started ministries, gave away bikes, educated kids, lead bible studies, meet the needs of the poor, and invested into the lives that surround us daily.  I know in my heart that new cars, homes, and degrees don't define us as humans, or me as a person, but rather what defines me is the character of me heart and the heartbeat of my soul.

I do love things like homes, cars, and savings accounts, because they are not bad things by any measure, but they can tempt me to lose my true character, the character that God has created me to be.  I desire for my head to catch-up to my heart and begin to remember once again that God doesn't care in the slightest about any of those things, but does care deeply for His people, and wants his people to follow in His love.

While thinking about all of this, a quote from Donald Miller recently struck me when he said, "Jesus accumulated friends and allowed them to write about Him, to talk about Him, testify about Him.  The Bible reveals that Jesus ate with people, attended parties, drank with people, worked with people, prayed with people, and traveled with people.  Jesus built our faith system entirely around relationship, forgoing everything else."

I am never own a home, I might only drive a used car (or a moto for that matter), and CU could possibly be the end of my educational career, but despite all of that I can rest in that Jesus isn't counting accomplishment marks like the rest of us are (let's all be honest here) and that He loves me, and He loves what Chris and I are doing here in Cambodia.

I know we all have heard it before, but I can't seem to remember it so I guess it is worth blogging about (for me at least), but we can't take anything from this world with us, not even my 5-year old, hand-me-down love of my life jeans (thank you again Allie for those).  BUT I can take with me the gospel of Christ and the grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness that He freely gives.

All to say, my desire is to continually be reminded that life is about relationships, about people, about love.  Riding in nice cars to meet your friends is awesome, having a new home to invite people into is awesome, and a savings account to be able to give generously is awesome.  But without relationships it all just goes down the crapper...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winners and Losers: The Holidays and Beyond

It is time again for winners/losers of our life over the past couple of months here in Cambodia. This past semester flew by and it is only now that I am able to understand all that occured over the holidays and into the year 2012.

This winners/losers for the past few months. I will keep them short, if that is possible.


The weather: It has been cool in Cambodia for the last 8-weeks. Of course, cool is relative but the past few weeks have brought a couple of mornings in which we almost needed a jacket and one evening in which Leanne put on a sweater for 10 minutes before getting too hot. It was a welcome change from the typical Cambodian heat and helped us feel more in the holiday spirit. One morning, it was 70 degrees which is the coolest many of the long-term residents can remember the weather in recent history.

The Christmas Season: Leanne and I celebrate Christmas in Cambodia like the holiday is on performance enhancers. Nightly Christmas movies, candles, advent calendars, cookie parties and ministry parties made this holiday better than ever. We sure do miss the holidays at home, that will never change but we do it right out here, especially when the temperature hits a bitter 70 degrees.

Travelling with Paul and Brooke: We had the chance to travel to Laos with my brother and his fiance Brooke. Laos must be the sleepiest country on earth. When the travel book explained to us that relaxing with a beer by the Mekong River in the capital city was the best attraction, we knew we found a good spot. We rode boats to boat-access-only towns, we ate in delicious food stands and played cards like we were training to be professionals. It was an excellent vacation with an excellent couple.

Prek Pneu: The school in Prek Pneu is up and running. There are 60 (soon to be 100) kids running around, reading, singing, playing and laughing in this house-come-school building. It is unbelievable that we have been so blessed with this project. It is the winner of winners and I am so proud of Leanne and those kids each time I go and visit. The only problem is that Leanne's office door is only about 5 feet tall and I bang my face on the top of the door every time I go in; besides that I am happy.


Transportation in Laos: I mentioned above that Laos was incredible, which it was, but getting around Laos was like a battle of the will each time we moved. Our 7-hour boat ride was extended to 10 hours when our driver made the rookie mistake of running the boat into a rock. Luckily he fixed the broken propeller with some bamboo that he stole from a fence, a bike tube and a butter knife - completing the entire repair in his underwear. I was impressed until I realized that the boat driver committed the unforgivable offense of running the boat into a rock in the first place. We also had a 5-hour bus ride in which the driver stopped to pee on the tire of our bus three times, as well as stopping to pick up his three buddies and his dinner of sticky-rice in a plastic bag. Lastly, we made the decision to take an 11-hour bus ride through the mountains of Laos which sound small but I think they are as tall as the Andes. Needless to say, Leanne puked twice and I had to listen to Hall and Oates the whole time in order to stay positive. It was miserable.

Locking Babies in our Bedroom: True story. Leanne and I had a Christmas cookie decorating party for some of the families we know. Two of the younguns were playing with one another when the older of the two decided to lock the 18-month old in our bedroom; key inside. Luckily our landlord was johnny-on-the-spot with a copied key and the father of the little girl encouraged us that, "she was used to being locked in rooms by herself..." He was very gracious with that mistake.

My half-marathon: I am going to admit that my half-marathon in December was miserable. I trained, I read, I drank chocolate milk after I ran like all the experts suggested and I still finished just ahead of most of the women in the "legends" division. I blame the heat, and those women for being so fast and arrogant.

Broncos vs. Patriots: This morning, 20 Coloradoans gathered together to root on the Broncos. I think most of you saw it, the Donkeys were smashed. We 10 more Coloradoans in a house in Cambodia than the Broncos had points, they may not share that stat on ESPN, but it pretty much explains the whole game.

There have been countless winners and losers, but these are just some of those I thought of that might give you a glimpse into our last couple of months. We are excited about all of the work we get to do this semester, it will be busy but we will unquestionably have grace and love to sustain us until we return home to relax and reconnect with those we love.

Our Laotian boat making repairs.

Alms giving in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Our broken bus to Vientiene Laos, pre-puke.

Leanne with the most authentic santa ever.

Christmas dinner with Paul and Brooke.
Nam Ou River.  This is where we played cards, read, and spent our sleepy days.
At Kuang Si Waterfalls.

The fam in Nong Kheiw, Laos.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Cambodian Christmas for the newly Engaged

Chris' older brother Paul, and his fiance Brooke came to town last month.  These two wonderful people got engaged last August and both made the awesome decision (we think so) to come and spend their first Christmas together with us in Cambodia.  We were elated to find out that they would be arriving on December 23rd and not leaving until the first week of January.

Christmas is different in Cambodia, the list can go on but I think we have done that before, so we will just skip to why it was so wonderful this year...

1.) Being with family
Spending time with your family is what we all cherish about the holidays and this year was special for us because we had the unique opportunity to meet our new soon-to-be sister-in-law, Brooke, in Cambodia.  We got to learn about one another's childhood, their traditions, the stories of theirs days in high school and college, and their first jobs after grad school.  We are very thankful for the vast amount of time we got to spend with Brooke and being able to know her so well so early on.

2.) Sharing a meal together
We had our Christmas meal on Christmas Eve this year.  While Chris took Paul and Brooke out to the two genocide museums in the city (I know, fun on Christmas Eve, right?) I stayed home and got our final preparations done for our meal.  Once everyone got home we all finished cooking together, and sat to enjoy our meal together.  We swapped funny travel stories, as they as well love to go see the world (hence coming to Cambodia) and have been a major role in our lives in encouraging us to go and learn and explore.

3.) Being a part of new traditions
Christmas as good as it is, always feels a little off.  This year Paul got a Cambodian Krama, a traditional Khmer clothe that for men is worn as a "skirt" and for women as a head wrap.  However, everyone can use them as a dust face mask, head cover, and shawl.  We knew Paul needed one.  We woke up on Christmas morning and opened gifts with one another and then spent some time Skyping with both Leanne's and Chris' families back in the States. After we were all finished with gifts, eating chocolate and left over pumpkin cheesecake for breakfast (some traditions will never change) we packed our bags, and headed to Laos via Siem Reap.

For the next week of our Christmas break we were in Laos with Paul and Brooke and got to travel with them for the first time.  As odd as it sounds this was the first time for Chris and Paul to be on a plane together, despite the millions of miles they have traveled individually.  Again, it was a rich time of learning about one another, reconnecting, and enjoying each other's company. 

After Laos we headed back to Cambodia for 3 days and we had the chance to show them Logos and 2Five2, and how we spend our days in Phnom Penh.  Some days were coffee shops, and some days were walking through the fish market in Prek Pneu and trying only God knows what "fish patty."  It was great for them to have a first hand experience in learning about what makes our heart beat out here. 

(Chris and I outside our building in Prek Pneu.)

On Friday we said good-bye, exchanged hugs and farewells and sent them off to America.  At 18 months, we have become pros at the airport good-bye but it doesn't make it any easier.  The only saving grace this time was that we will see them this summer in 5 short months.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Program for 2Five2

I know it has been over a week since Christmas but we wanted to share about the excitement of the Christmas program we had for 2Five2 last December 23rd.  All month the kids in the catch-up school were learning the story of the birth of Jesus through stories being read to them by their teachers, and a daily coloring book of all the characters from the story.  Being that this was the first time they have ever been told about Mary, Joseph, the angel, and of course the all important baby Jesus they were in awe of the importance of the story.  Decorations were hung, and coloring pages adorned our walls and our staff was excited to see in culminate to our celebration on the 23rd.

Each class sung (well, really just yelled) a song they had been learning all month, and got to watch the other classes perform as well.  We read the full story from Luke, and played a question game after complete with prizes to see how much the kids had learned throughout December, and even watched a Khmer kids Christmas film.  The celebration ended with a meal for everyone and a gift bag for each kid containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap.  (The demonstration on how to brush your teeth was also a cultural experience that was hilarious to watch.)

However, my favorite part of the whole day was talking with an older 14 year old student about what he liked most about the Christmas story and then told us, "the part I like the most is that my teacher told us that God sent Jesus to be with us because He loves us so much.  I like the idea that He loves us a lot."

If each of us could only walk away with that piece of truth at the end of each Christmas season then I think we would all enter our New Year with a true since of peace.

Pictured above: Opening prayer time, Grade 1 singing their song, the question game, eating lunch on the floor.