Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Day of School

Today was a huge day for 2Five2. A Monumental day. Today we walked 107 students ages 5 to 17 to school for the first time in their lives.

A day they were told almost 2 years ago would come eventually. A day they have been studying for at our catch-up school for days on end, so that they could too have a piece of paper that said they had accomplished something.

Students were a little nervous as we introduced them to their teacher at the public school. They were excited to see other kids from their village in their class, and thrilled to finally be the child that has a backpack and a uniform that allows them to attend.

I felt like a mom of 107 precious little souls as I sent them off to school hoping they enjoyed their day, and that they remembered everything we had taught them in our building. 

Tomorrow begins a new schedule for them, half day at the public school (that is the formal Khmer schedule) and half day with us at 2Five2 where they will continue to get academic help, learn important information on hygiene and child safety, and most importantly learn of the love and hope in Christ.

I don't think there are many people that know the excitement that these students felt as they walked with their classmates to their first ever day of school. Today they understand the meaning of blessed.

But today we celebrate the hours and hours of hard work the dedicated 2Fvie2 staff have put into these kids, the relationship building at the government school, and the many obstacles we had to overcome.  Today we understand the meaning of blessed.

Praise God for what is happening here in Cambodia, and please pray for these students as they continue in this transition.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Friends and Babies

Our dear dear friends Dan and Jess Hein are having their third baby this year, and we couldn't be happier to celebrate with them.  A few weeks back I hosted a baby shower for Jess so we could celebrate their new baby boy, Joshua.

I hosted it with another friend Angela (all three of us run together on Wednesdays for the past 3 years) and we enjoyed fun games, good food, and wonderful friends.

Dan and Jess leave this month for a 6 month furlough to America and Canada where they will welcome Joshua into their family, and enjoy some needed rest after 8 years of service in Cambodia.  The Heins and their girls Ally and Sophie hold a dear spot in our hearts and we will miss having them as running partners, co-workers, vacation buddies, church and bible study members, and friends we do life with every day.  We will miss you greatly and look forward to one day meeting Joshua!

Me, Angela, and Jess in Mondulkiri, Cambodia - 2012

Me, Jess, and Mindy in Sihanoukville, Cambodia - 2013

Jess and I at our Bible Study Christmas Party - 2011

Jess and her daughter Ally making cookies with us in 2010

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's All in the Wrists

Chris plays in a Monday night men's basketball league, it is a highlight for him every week.  All the guys that go have come to be his close friends, co-workers, and people we deeply respect.  It usually is a great night.

But last Monday while playing Chris took a fall and hurt his wrists.  As I watched one of his friends help him put his shirt on because Chris couldn't do it with his own hands, I knew right then we were on our way to our first ever Cambodian clinic visit.

We went to a clinic that is for ex-pats that are doing missionary work in Phnom Penh and saw a Dr. (who we call Dr. Smiles because every time we talked with him, he just smiled the whole time) that on first look thought he had fractured one wrist and sprained the other.  However, this clinic doesn't have x-ray machines so we were sent a few blocks away to go get the images from another clinic and then bring them back for Dr. Smiles to look at and make a decision.

So we got back in the car again and drove to the other clinic, dodged the crazy rush hour traffic, sat and waited with the other rough and tumble looking Khmer who were in need of care, and got our x-ray.

Drove back to the missionary clinic and had Dr. Smiles look it over.  He said that Chris fractured the radius in his lower arm/wrist area, but wanted to get another opinion because it was hard to see.  So the next morning he took it to his colleague.  Tuesday afternoon we then drove back to the missionary clinic to hear the update from the second opinion.

The second opinion was...drum roll... to get another x-ray.  So yet again we drove back to the Khmer clinic and repeated our steps from the day before.  Got another image and took it back to the missionary clinic to find out he didn't break the radius bone, but a smaller bone in his wrist!  Praise God!

He doesn't have to get a cast, and only has to wear a splint for the next three weeks.  As for the sprained one, he is not supposed to use it, but that is hard to do when the other is broken. But it was wonderful news as tomorrow we leave for Japan to meet up with my mom and visit dear friends, Erin and Blaine who currently live in Tokyo.

We have already had some funny encounters while we try to figure out how to drive, eat, clean, work, and type (thus me typing this blog) with only two and half out of four working hands.  We are thrilled and so thankful for our Dr. Smiles who helped us, the funds to pay for x-rays and care, and that we leave tomorrow for a much anticipated week long break.

Then last night I made an apple pie, because it was an apple pie kinda week...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Our Easter Recap

We don't have any pictures to post or great stories to tell, but our Easter was wonderful.  Easter was the closing day to a very packed two weeks for Chris and I.  We had a team from America that were here working in our projects, the end of the season soccer tournament, and a bike distribution, along with our everyday roles and responsibilities left us tired and ready to rest in the day of Easter.

Our church did a sunrise service at 6:00am and it was a beautiful thing to sing worship of a living God as we watched the flaming red sun rise over Phnom Penh.  The hour long service ended just in time before the heat began to boil, and we enjoyed our church's Easter breakfast of fried rice and time with our dear friends.

But by 8:00am we were back home, streaming some March Madness games, reading books, and enjoying the rest that Easter gives.  After some naps, and lounging in aircon as long as possible we decided to head to the movies at 3:00pm to avoid the abrasive afternoon heat.

However, everyone else in Phnom Penh had the same thought and we packed ourselves into the sold out show of Disney's The Croods.  Though a great and funny movie, the highlight of the movie for us was the reaction of the other 200+ Khmer who were watching the movie with us.

Never have I ever been to a movie before that got the crowd in such a roaring laughter, or applause for every feat the characters overcame.  It was awesome.  The guy behind me was laughing so hard my seat was shaking, and I am pretty sure everyone else in that theatre had that same feeling. 

Cambodians love slap stick humor, and I loved sitting in that theatre and hearing their reaction to these simple Disney jokes.  You would of thought we were watching the movie of year, not just this month's new Disney movie.

Usually if you leave a theatre and talk about the film on the way home, you know you saw a good one.  This time we left the theatre and talked about the experience we had just gone through all the way home.

And that is why I love Cambodia, even seeing a movie is a cultural experience.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Give it to me dirty or don't give it at all...

Leanne and I have been a part of a lot of brokenness over the past year. We have mourned the death of a student who was close to us and a co-worker we both admired. We have seen illness and how it impacts the physical and emotional health of a families and communities. We have seen marriages struggle and fail. We have seen the perils of addiction, the darkness of depression and the barbs of loneliness up close and in real life. It has been wonderful.

An among the tears and the questions we have seen one thing more than anything else; the face of Christ as he moves among this pain and brings healing and renewal. We have seen so much beauty come from so much pain and we are blessed because of this.

I feel like we as Christians pretend that our faith gives us some sort of protection against being a total mess. I perpetuate this belief as much as anyone else. I put on my khakis and blue-collared shirt, tuck my worn-out bible under by right arm and go to church with the pretense that I am healthier than others because I attend and they do not. It seems that Christians believe that going to church displays balance instead of going to church to find some semblance of balance in a difficult life.

Christ is seen most clearly in the ugliness and filth. Christ is seen in a marriage that is mended through prayer and determination. God is seen when believers confess their shortcomings and work to be better each day. Christ is seen in overcoming addiction. Christ is seen in fighting for those who have no ability to fight for themselves. Christ is seen in giving up a lot so someone else may have just a little. Christ is seen in where the ugly is made beautiful. Christians are followers of a man who went to the darkest places that we so willingly avoid today. Christ is only seen through Christians because we live differently and that does not mean what we listen to on the radio or what we choose to drink at dinner; it means that we are willing to go to places that nobody else wants to go and we do it with excitement and expectation.

Scripture cries out how much Christ is revealed in complete pain. The gospels are filled with stories of the broken becoming repaired and ignored finding love. The letters are filled with promises that God is most clear in trial and most profound in the filth for life yet we run from this brokenness because we do not trust that he will stick to his word. We are afraid of the filth even though it is that filth that brings us to him.

I am so fortunate to have been a part of so much pain over this past year because I have seen Christ so clearly and I hope that, as we move to Denver, Leanne and I are part of a community that uses pain to reflect his promises. I want a gospel that is dirty, anything else is far from worth it.