I’ve had lots of people ask me what a typical day in Cambodia looks like for our fam.
A few months ago, I would have said, “Go to school from 8:00 to noon. Shop for food. Moan because it’s hard. Eat lunch out because it’s easier. Come home. Crash. Nap. Cry because figuring out dinner is hard. Read. Shower. Khmer homework. Bed.”
And, after we quit school (and before we started working for The Hard Places Community), our days were boring and hardly ever missionary-newsletter-worthy.
Now is a different story. There’s never a typical day, so to speak, but here’s what our Monday looked like today.
6:30am. Wake up. Get out of bed carefully because my back still hurts from the Hunger Games Marathon I watched on Saturday with the girls in their bed. Make instant coffee with sweetened condensed milk. Go spend time with Jesus on the balcony. (One of my favorite parts of the day–I’m soooo going to miss this special place when we move.)
7:05am. Make sure girls are awake. They are. They’re all reading through the Bible (their choice) at different speeds. One is in Leviticus, one just finished Deuteronomy, and one is doing a plan with Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms/Proverbs each day. They’ve tried this before and given up. This is the best it’s gone so far. As Nina said this morning, “I’ve read Genesis like a million times.”
7:30am. FaceTime with our friends, Jen, Sarah, Hannah, and Owen in West Virginia. The girls ask ALL the time to FaceTime them and it never seems to work with our schedules, so this was the first time. We talked about their awesome Advent idea to pray for a different country every day & they showed us their ornaments. We are plotting a way to get them to Cambodia for a mission trip (their hearts are wrapped up in Honduras, but we think there’s room for both).
8:10am. Our friend, Rachelle, picks Livi up for school on her moto. We are soooooo thankful for Rachelle. First of all, we just love her. And second of all, she’s saving us a million dollars in tuk-tuk money by taking Liv to school.
8:20am. Gabe and I hop on the moto for a quick ride to Joma Cafe where we have our weekly expat staff meeting for HPC. Today’s meeting was unofficially titled, “Let’s See How Many Huge Events We Can Cram Into The Next Three Weeks Because CHRISTMAS!!!”
10:00am. I forgot to take a pic at the staff meeting, so here I am in the tuk-tuk on the way to HPC with my beautiful friends, Alli and Yvonne. Gabe drove his moto, but tuk-tuks are friendlier to my sore back.
10:30am. These are our friends and HPC Siem Reap co-workers, Channorm and Sitha. They’re training with us in Phnom Penh for a few weeks, then they’ll head home to Siem Reap, and we’ll join them in January. We are soooooo excited to work with them. We love them already, and they are both so sweet, so talented, so good with the kids, and love Jesus so much. We’re going to make a really good team (and we would love your prayers!).
12:00pm. These are our sweet friends, Ruth and Sineath. Sineath pretty much runs the center, and Ruth is an amazing social worker (and Christmas decorator extraordinaire). She also just had a miscarriage and could use your prayers. The little boy is P. He was sexually abused at four (he’s 8 now) and completely has my heart. He’s at the center all day and sleeps on the street at night. Ruth and Sineath shared their lunch with him. Jesus, protect this precious boy.
1:30pm. We help Ruth make a game for the Christmas festivities using empty snack prawns cans. I think the game is called Ice Mountain, and I have no idea how to play it. The staff is having a meeting behind us, and I half-try to follow along while I cut paper, but all the Khmer is hurting my head.
1:45pm. The kids start arriving again after lunch. Livi twirls a sweet little girl. Livi will stay at the Boys Center for Kids Club from 2-4. Ava and Nina will go to the Girls Center. I will go to the riverfront.
2:05pm. The Riverfront Kids Club Team stops at the market to buy jackfruit for Kids Club (yum–one of my favorite fruits here in Cambodia). Every day the kids get fruit after play time and the lesson. Some days they also get a snack. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays they get vitamin-packed sweet soy milk.
2:10pm. We walk to the Riverfront, say hi to the kids. More kids come. We sit down on the concrete and dump out the bag of toys we brought (a jump rope, some balls, colored pencils that they use for pick-up sticks, some LEGOs and Brain Flakes). Today the colored pencils were the activity of choice.
2:15pm. I hung out with this sweet little one who can’t be any older than 18 months. She was too little to play with the big kids, so after she stopped crying and let me wipe her nose, we played a game called, “Hand Me the Pencils One By One and I Will Say ‘Akun’ and Then We’ll Start All Over Again.” It was fun. Her smile is precious. She has a golf-ball sized lump above her ear (that has never been there before). Please pray for her.
3:00pm. After an hour, we pack up and move to another location on the Riverfront. The Riverfront is both a very beautiful, peaceful-looking place and a place where very bad, dangerous things happen to innocent kiddos. Some of them are homeless, actually living on the Riverfront, up against walls of building, etc. Many of them sell things (food, flowers, offerings to gods, books, souvenirs) for hours each day. This is also where pedophiles know to come to get what they want.
3:20pm. I am holding the jump rope while snapping this picture. This little girl is one of the shortest, best rope-jumpers on the planet. No matter how fast you go, she never messes up. Fifteen minutes after this, she was screaming bloody murder. She had a wooden skewer stuck an inch into her foot. We pulled it out, I carried her to our tuk-tuk driver/first aid guy, and she just screamed while I held her and stroked her hair. An older girl told her to shut up and carried her away. Broke my heart.
3:40pm. Here the kids are singing a song about Jesus being born, complete with motions. So fun! After this, a review of the Christmas story. Lots of kiddos clamoring to sit on my lap. We have a rule that they sit beside us, not on us, so I scootch them onto the concrete and they press up close. Right before this, we were cleaning up and discovered that one of the littles that comes to Kids Club naked had pooped on the Ziploc baggie that held the colored pencils. A sweet boy picked up the bag and disposed of it for us.
3:55pm. This is Sokmia taking the kiddos across the busy street after Kids Club. Sokmia is a treasure. He works for Punlok Thmey Tours, the branch of HPC that employs young men who have voluntarily left the massage parlors. He is so, so great with the kids, speaks brilliant English, and is one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Praying God continues to do big things in his life.
5:15pm. Girls are decompressing after a big day by working on a puzzle from our friends Pam and Britt. At some point, we will heat up Mexican leftovers (rice, beans, tortillas, homemade chips) and make fresh salsa, add cheese and sour cream and YUM. But we are way too tired right now to cook, so everyone snacks on Ava’s homemade oatmeal cookies and baby goldfish instead.
7:45pm. I am finishing up a blog post, Gabe is editing photos, dinner is eaten and cleaned up (whew!), Girl #1 is showering, the other two are watching Russian cartoons on the iPad. We’ll chill out until 10ish, go to bed, and start all over again in the morning.
Life is good.