Friday, February 22, 2013

1,000

In April of 2011, I began the process of learning about finding joy in thankfulness. I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and discovered life through a completely different set of eyes. Eyes of looking for the joy in every part of your day, and being truly thankful for all the many gifts that are lavished upon me.

On April 28, 2011, nearly two years ago I began my own list of 1,000 gifts. This month I have finished writing my own unique list of one thousand things that I have learned to be thankful for. Twenty-two months of living in gratitude, and learning to find joy in each of those things. It was a lot easier to write down the things like #177 - Dinner on the porch while watching the rain come down, than those like #562 - Cleaning the mud/rain water out of my bathroom from the recent storm, but learning to then write #563 - having access to a toilet in my house.

I still find it hard to be thankful for the difficult, but I do love writing on my list the amazing sights, opportunities, lessons, and experiences that God has given Chris and I over the last two years. I continue to learn what it looks like to be living in gratitude when all I want to do is complain or be saddened about the tragedy, injustice, bitterness, ugly, and sadness that God also wants us to walk through.

"If the height of my joy is dependent on the depth of my thanks" then I do want to continue to grow in the depth of my thanks. To live out the Eucharist. To live out a thankfulness for Christ and what He has so divinely given me. A new life by death on a cross. #1,001 - The cross.

But here is what I was thankful for for the past few days:
#993 - Being able to answer a call from my mom's cell phone
#994 - Chris doing the dishes when neither of us wanted to
#995 - Jesus bringing rest from self-effort and self-focus
#996 - Good conversations with employees
#997 - Spaghetti for dinner
#998 - Knowing we will be given enough strength for today
#999 - A pool to swim in
#1,000 - Never once did we ever walk alone (listen to the song here)

So I will keep going. Keep learning. Keep trying to remember why we are to be thankful. Keep choosing joy each day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2Five2 Staff Retreat through Pictures

Last week I, Leanne, headed to the Cambodian beach for our 2Five2 staff retreat.

We had 3 days to play in the waves at the beach. To catch crabs. To sing while the evening lights scattered the shore.


 We played silly games to enjoy true fellowship with one another.

 We sang beautiful worship in Khmer as a group who is faithful to Christ despite the struggles that it can bring.

  video

We got to go on a special tour of the Logos Hope ship that was docked in Sihanoukville while we were there.



We took hundreds of photos. Dear friends. Co-workers.  Brothers and sisters who serve alongside one another.

We laughed.  We smiled. We relaxed. We had fun.

We shared meals together. 

We shared in the peace that Christ brings.  We had a wonderful retreat together.



Thursday, February 14, 2013

One last stay with the Ketchums

For the past week and half or so we have been staying at Angie and Ryan's house with their 4 sweet girls.  If you have followed on previous posts, Angie has been going to Bangkok for the past 4 months for chemo treatment for her recent diagnosis of breast cancer.  These last two weeks her and Ryan went for her surgery.  For those who have been praying the surgery went great and they got all the tumors out and are satisfied with the results.  
 
While mom and dad were gone we had some highlights with the girls: 


1.) Bowling with Lauren and Addie
2.) Seeing the girls perfect the line dance we taught them a few weeks back
3.) Eating grandma's cookies (Angie's mom was there with us this time)
4.) Addie and her driving abilities at bumper cars (I think my heart is still recovering...)
5.) Megann potty training and her facial expression coupled with, "pee pee come out, come on lets go!"
6.) Brenna beating Mr. D to the coffee and newspaper in the morning
7.) Lauren's last regular season soccer game
8.) The puppet show while we went to get pizza out
9.) Megann's welcome home greetings when Chris would return home from work
10.) Addie's encouragement to Chris in his giftings as an Elementary PE teacher
The list goes on...
However, it seems as if the girls will more accurately remember our time with them as described in the picture above.  Either way we are thankful Angie and Ryan are back and she is cancer free!  Praise God for his many blessings.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chapel Day



Last week 2Five2 held one of its chapel days in Prek Pneu.  On these days students are able to play games, sing worship songs, and learn a special message.  On this chapel we learned about oral hygiene and how to brush and clean your teeth.  Everyone got a toothbrush and toothpaste to take home and use and to teach their parents and siblings what they learned in school that day.

Another big step for our program is that on February 25th our students in the catch-up school will be able to integrate into the local public school.  This is a HUGE accomplishment because these children have never had the chance to go to school before and they are more than excited for this big leap in their lives.

In Cambodia teachers are paid a very low salary, some even as low as $25 per month, so in order to live they ask each student to pay around 12 cents a day to attend the class.  This informal fee adds up and the families then can not afford to send them to school, thus leaving the children far behind in their academics.  Through our long fought and maintained relationship with the public schools we are able to send the children without them paying the teacher bribe and allowing them to finally attend.  Each of these students came into the program not being able to read, write, and do basic math and now they are caught up enough to enter back into school.  We are thrilled.  They are thrilled. 

Please be praying for the work that will go on over the next few weeks to finalize these preparations.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

I think we should get off the tracks as to avoid a stampede!

Bike rides in Cambodia look very different than rides in America. There are no trails, no road signs, no bike lanes or latte stops. Bike rides in Cambodia offer up a buffet of adventure like snarling dogs, confused farmers, laughing truckers and an occasional cattle stampede - if you are doing it right.

Two weekends ago, Leanne and I set out to ride from Phnom Penh to the old capital of Cambodia called Oudong. We had done our research on how to get there which included printing out a fuzzy Google map that got wet after five minutes in a bag and a couple of rough landmarks that we wanted to hit. Essentially, we knew we had to follow some decrepit railroad tracks and eventually, after many kilometers of riding, we would find our destination. In theory.

Enjoying the view from Oudong Mountain
Our four-hour ride started off on a very cool morning by Cambodian standards, 80 degrees and a nice breeze. We found our railroad tracks and begin the slow procession towards Oudong. At one point, an hour or so into our ride we decided to ride in between the rails of the tracks. We made enough noise through a rice field that about 40 cattle panicked and began to run right at their owner. The farmer, confounded by two pale foreigners, gave us a look of frustration and jumped on his moto to begin to round up his skinny cows. We decided that, in order not to anger any more farmers, that we would stick to the moto trails running parallel to the tracks.

After asking some pleasant farmers who found it impossible to ride such a distance, we found a delightful road that wound through villages, past water buffaloes, over bridges and to our final stretch.
Biking with a new homie
Cambodians do not travel very far to their destinations. Every time we stopped to ask directions, we were met with hesitant glances which expressed that our goal was indeed impossible. We felt very much like the Wright brothers because nobody believed that what we wanted to do could be achieved by mere mortals.

The last hour was met with tired rear-ends, a hot highway and less-than-aware truck drivers. We were happy to find our destination and I ate my pb&j sandwiches like a 2nd grader that just came back from recess. The 14th century temples were wonderful to explore and the sour mango for dessert made for a great end of the trip.

Bike rides in dry season, not as green as it could be.
Luckily the ride we had arranged the day before worked out perfectly and we rode back in the afternoon, 7 hours after we left, with the sun going down to put a cap on our achievement. 50 km (I am so international because I use kilometers), 4-hours of riding, 400 stairs to temple and lots of funny looks from Cambodians made for an unforgettable day.




Leanne enjoying some rest and Goldfish.
Bike rides in Cambodia come with their own brand of adventure and we loved the experience.
Monks touring Oudong Temple. They did not ride bikes.