Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Well, as much as Christmas looks like in the tropics.  However, we go all out for Christmas and this year was no exception.  We were staying with the Ketchum girls a few weekends ago and so we had 4 extra helpers this year in getting our house all ready.

After the decorating was done, we all watch Rudolph and ate Schmolie (a special dessert) together.  Megann had great timing and woke up from her nap just in time to grab a spoon and dig in.

Last weekend was our Staff Christmas Party, which is always a highlight for us, and below is us with our dear friends Tepy and Socheata.

This weekend we had our 3rd Annual DeRemer Christmas Party.  We love having the ability to have all our close friends all gathered together in one place during the Christmas season. 

Now we are packing and getting ready to jet set the great Pacific Ocean (around 40 hours of travel...Oofta...) to spend Christmas with Leanne's family in New Mexico, get Chris' brother married off in Philly, and then to DC to see 4 (hoping for 5) wonderful friends who live in DC.

We did take a small break from packing and had a date night last night which included dinner, drinks at our favorite place, Raffles, and then a stop at the US Embassy to see their Christmas light display.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Losing Christmas

This is our third Christmas in Cambodia.  The first was different, the second felt natural, and now the third is upon us.  Life in Cambodia for us is normal, understood, easy in some ways, and what we know and love.  But one day this December, I (Leanne) wasn’t thankful, joyful, or praising God for His wonderful work through us.  I was tired, short-fused, and absent in many ways.  I was defeated.  This went on for a few days, until Chris and I really talked about the emotions I was having.  I was missing Christmas.  Not the malls filled with music, the bows and ribbons, and Santa Clauses; I was missing the miracle of Christ.  I was tired from medical clinics, service trips, meetings, and the aggressive heat of Phnom Penh.  But I then read this excerpt:

"Through Advent, through all these crazy, waiting days, waiting for the Breath of Heaven to come down, we try to remember to just smile, be kind, breathe, laugh, and solve the next problem.  Is this the Gospel?  The Gospel doesn't come wrapped in twinkling lights and satin bows; it comes straight into our pitchest of black of lives.  The Gospel of Christ, it's a baby, and this is how God was born, bloody and vulnerable, and that is how God choose to die, bloody and beaten.  And our God, He knows the coming and going of our darkest battles, and this is exactly how He comes to meet us, through baby Jesus."

The Gospel of the Good News can be seen from the eyes that see the worst of news.  Advent is the believing that God came to us, to heal the pain, and take away the darkness.  He came to be our Emmanuel.  Our Savior came through the impossible to hurl hope upon us and break through the days that go without joy.  He brought us peace.

I learned the way to see the Savior this Advent is to slow down, see the small things, and take note of the wise men, who dropped everything to bring gifts to the King, and be a part of His Glorious birth.

So, we have slowed down.  More time chatting by our tree, having dear friends in our home, and anticipating our time in America with family and friends.  I found my Christmas again, and if like me, you lost your Advent I pray you find it as well...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last week we had our week long holiday called Water Festival and we decided to head out of town with some friends and their families.  We decided to drive to Mondulkiri, Cambodia which is called the "Wild East" of Cambodia, and has really only been accessible in the last 24 months because it used to take 20-30 hours to drive there because the roads were so bad, but now it is a quick 6 with the new National Road 7.  We have been once before, and it quickly became one of our favorite spots in all of Asia. 

We love it because it cools off to a cool 62 degrees in the mornings and evenings (which is down right chilly here), has very few cars and motos making for some much needed peace and quite, and beautiful Cambodian countryside.  We love it there. 

It has been a welcome escape from the concrete jungle of Phnom Penh, that is filled with its dirty and dusty roads, and gives us a chance to be outside all day long, something we long for everyday at home in the city.

We brought our mountain bikes in the van and rode them everyday, while also taking trips to the numerous waterfalls around and swimming in the water holes.  We ate good food, cooked over the campfire, and even had smores!  It was a blessing of a week.

 Our cabin.
 Lunch on the porch.

 Chili dinner.
 Bike rides around our cabin.

One afternoon a group of headed to waterfall called Pulung falls to go swimming and hike around.  The water was chilly and it was nice to actually desire to have the heat so it would warm you from the cool water.

Our big highlight was one morning we took a 30 mile ride to a remote village and neighboring waterfall.  We parked our bikes at a local woman's house, and hiked the remaining 4 miles to the waterfall.  In this part of Cambodia the people live in tribal villages and don't speak Khmer, but rather their own local language.  Sometimes I have to think about where I am, and that Cambodia is already somewhat obscure, then Mondulkiri is even more out there, and that when we ride to tribal villages this far out we truly become off the grid.  It was a great morning of our own mini triathlon!

We then ended our time in Mondulkiri with a campfire and smores with dear friends the Ketchums and the Heins.