Oh boy, do I feel rested. Thank you, Jesus. It’s a warm, sunny, breezy, gorgeous Saturday morning here in Phnom Penh. We’re lazing around, organizing supplies, uploading photos, enjoying the weather, and praying away all mosquitoes carrying Dengue fever (a couple from Massachusetts just arrived at the guest house–their daughter is a missionary here and has Dengue fever–please pray for her).
Our day yesterday was incredible. Delivering those suitcases of supplies and toys was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done in my life. The staff exclaimed thank you, thank you, thank you over and over and over again. I kept saying you’re so welcome and reminded them that it was all God and that roughly 40 other friends chipped in from all over the country. They were amazed that so many people had come together to bless them.
It was absolutely precious.
Bethany, they LOVED the “Punlok Thmey” banner you made them. They couldn’t get over it. We’re taking a staff picture of them with it early next week. Can’t wait!
One of my favorite moments was watching them discover the Etch-a-Sketch. None of the Cambodian staff had ever seen one before in their lives. Veasna immediately started playing with it, and a couple minutes later he turned it around and had sketched an entire scene of Christmas trees. Blew my mind. He is getting a very special Christmas present from us next week. Will explain the awesome story later.
This is Veasna. Our girls love him. If he (20) and Panha (18) want to wait 12 years or so to get married, we’d give them our daughters in a heartbeat.
After the suitcase excitement, we headed upstairs for worship. Oh, wow. Wish I had the words to tell you what it was like to sit in a circle on the floor with Panha playing the guitar and all of us singing in two different languages but in one voice. I could’ve sat there for hours. Those young men and women have been through so much in their 18-25 years, and their faith in Jesus and their gratitude to him for turning their lives around is completely inspiring.
I want to be them when I grow up.
After worship, we headed to lunch at Daughters Shop. Daughters of Cambodia is an amazing organization that empowers women (and some boys/men too–called Sons) to free themselves from the sex industry. They are taught a trade (jewelry making, sewing, cooking, doing manicures) and are paid a living wage while they learn. They have a cafe and shop that had just opened when we were in Cambodia last time.
We ate lunch there (so delicious) and got smoothies and did some shopping. This is the one place on earth (besides the thrift store near my house) that I actually love to shop. I bought some beautiful gifts for some beautiful friends and family back home. I wish I had a whole pile of cash to just buy up everything they make. They had the most beautiful Christmas ornaments and stockings and cards. I might go back and buy some for next year.
Panha gave Gabe a ride on his moto (I got a ride from Veasna yesterday). If you live in Cambodia, it’s the way to go. We’ve seen families of 5 on one moto, so I’m sure we would fit no problem. Oh, wait. We are all slightly larger than your average Cambodian.
Here is some of the staff in action at Kids’ Club in the afternoon. They take attendance and tell a Bible story and teach them songs (mostly in Khmer, but some in English too–like We Wish You a Merry Christmas). Then they get to play a game or two. This one is “Pin the Circle on the Triangle.” There were prizes (pencils and balloons) for different levels of the triangle. The kids (and staff) were roaring with laughter when one of the boys would pin the circle on the wrong wall. One of the kids didn’t put his hands or feet out and ran smack into the wall with his face. Everyone was dying, but you could tell he was in pain, poor thing.
We can’t put any pictures of their faces on the internet. Child predators are looking for kids on the internet, and it wouldn’t be safe. But we’ve taken a TON of photos of their gorgeous faces (some of my favorites are when they’ve jumped into Gabe’s arms) and we’re going to give them to Yvonne and Steph to print out and frame and hang all over the Boys’ Center to give them a sense of ownership there.
We can also show you all the pictures you want in person AND Gabe and I are scheming a way to make a really awesome photo-journalistic-type book about Cambodia and all that’s being done to fight human trafficking. All the proceeds will go to Hard Places Community (they run the Boys’ Center). And we can put pictures of their darling faces in there.
These next three pictures are actually from the day before (Thursday). We’ve made a schedule (God bless Panha for helping us translate with Savong and Pisey) for visiting the orphanage. We’ll go Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday evenings. We didn’t realize that the older kids have school on Saturday, so that foiled our plans a bit. The most we can ever stay at one time is two hours, but that’s perfect.
On Sundays and Tuesdays, we’ll teach English for an hour and play the rest of the time. On Saturday and Thursday, we’ll just play. Tonight (Saturday) Panha can’t come with us, but Yvonne can, so we’re super excited to reintroduce her to these kiddos (she’s visited them a couple of times before).
And we’ll be doing our big boat ride on Christmas Day! What a thrilling way to spend Christmas! It was the only day we could do it, since they’re in school 6 days a week. I can hardly wait.
I mentioned the Angry Birds craze over here, right? We were doing some school supply shopping with Yvonne and Ruthie two days ago, and the girls found Angry Birds erasers for 20 cents, so they bought one for every kiddo at the orphanage. “Angry Birds” is one English phrase that practically every Cambodian under the age of 20 knows how to say.
I brought Scrabble magnets for the kids to play with, and they had so much fun spelling their names. My long-term goal is to collect blank Scrabble tiles and write the Khmer alphabet on them. (long-term as in give me at least 10 years)
And I’ve already gone over 1000 words, so I’ll end with this priceless little gem. I didn’t pose them this way. It started with two boys who wanted their picture taken with Nina, and they kept jumping in one and two more at a time until we ended up with this.
Off to shower, lunch at Boat Noodle, cupcakes at Bloom, and back to the orphanage! See you soon!