Oh, friends. I am EXHAUSTED. And I won’t take the time to tell you why, because I AM SO FAR BEHIND on this big news thing. And every single day there are MORE THINGS to tell you, but I have to get caught up.
HERE WE GO.
So, we’re sitting at the coffee shop with Alli (just as a frame of reference, the date is Saturday, October 3), and she has just told us all these crazy-amazing details about where we’d live and what we’d do if we move to Siem Reap in January.
And I take a deep breath and say, “So, we had hoped to take a trip back to the States this summer–to see friends and family, hopefully raise some more support… would that be possible…? I know the timing isn’t ideal, so soon after we get the center started…”
“The timing is perfect,” Alli says.
Of course it is.
Why is it, again?
“We’ll just send people from Phnom Penh to take over for you. I would love to go to Siem Reap and live for a month with my kids. How long are you planning to be gone? You’ll need enough time to see everyone, to talk to people about what you’re doing, and to GET SOME REST. I think you need at least two months.”
Me (wide-eyed): “We were thinking… two months.”
(My prayer that morning had been: “God, please bless this meeting. My only fear is that Alli will say something that makes my stomach drop–something we just wouldn’t be able to do. Deal-breaker-type stuff. Trusting that’s not the case, God. THIS IS SO EXCITING.”)
(Here is the part where I leave out a lot lot lot of information. I took scads of notes while Alli was talking, and I would LOVE to share all of that sometime, but it’s too much right now. Let me give you a shortened version of the rest of our meeting and go from there.)
So, what’s the game plan?
Like I mentioned before, according to the government, we have to open the center in January. We’ll need to start gathering kids as quickly as possible.
How does one “gather” children to come to your center?
Alli tells me that, when HPC first started, they spent 15 months outside first before they ever had a building. They have 295 kids in their profile system. Only 85 of those actually come in to the center. The rest are on the Riverfront, Wat Phnom, Old Market, etc.
(I have been to Kids’ Club three afternoons this week at these locations and just praised Jesus the whole time for the amazing staff taking his love to these places on a daily basis. Wowza. I have sooooo much to tell you.)
The HPC staff spent a lot lot lot of time at the beginning investigating, profiling kids, taking a photo of them (with permission), gathering info about their parents, cold calling, knocking on doors, surveying.
“Do you have a son? Would you let him come learn at our center?”
“The set-up for a ministry is boring and tedious with a lot of exploration,” Alli told us.
It doesn’t sound boring and tedious to us at all.
Alli is going to take this to her team and to the board. If the team (staff) is cool with it, and the board approves, they’ll send us an official application (a very big, long, intimidating-but-awesome application).
A week goes by. A not-all-that fun week. Since, apparently, I let the world peek into my journals now, here you go:
(just snippets–otherwise we’d be here ’til 2016)
Sunday: I went to bed last night feeling soooo inadequate when it comes to starting a Kids’ Center and knowing limited Khmer...
Monday: I woke up feeling so yuck. Bad dreams about moving apartments and trying to find childcare jobs. In Europe. Yesterday sucked. _____ was a wreck, and we were all in a slump.
Tuesday. Oh, I hate emotional pain. This hurts so bad.
Wednesday: _____ is in a really bad mood. ________ is having a lot of anxiety. Little David (son of friends of ours here in Cambodia) drowned yesterday and was resuscitated. Bethy (my sister) is having a GIRL!
Thursday: So much angst. This is so hard.
(Sunday through Tuesday: camping trip with friends that is equal parts awesome and camping trip from hell. The friends were the awesome part, I can share the rest of the story later, if I’m bored someday).
Tuesday (after we get home from camping): Ava had such a hard time this weekend, and she can’t stop crying. She’s beyond exhausted and so upset that we’re going to Siem Reap in the morning.
Ava got some rest, felt a little better, went to the bus stop without putting up a fight. Six-hour ride to Siem Reap, stayed in the same guesthouse we stayed at four years ago. We girls rested/swam/explored the city on foot Wednesday evening/Thursday while Gabe photographed Angkor Wat.
Around 7am, before breakfast, we held a family prayer time. One daughter refused to pray. We waited her out. I was close to tears. She finally gave in with a one-liner. “I hope there’s no snakes.”
Rosa couldn’t find our guesthouse, so we walked to the nearest gas station. She pulled up on her moto in her cute purple helmet, and we loved her immediately. Livi hopped on the back of Rosa’s moto, and we followed them in a tuk-tuk.
Dirt road. Cows all over. Green green green green green.
The lady who is currently living in the house was gracious to let us in (she didn’t know we were coming) for a little tour. The center first. Big. Lots of rooms. Some big, some tiny. Two floors. Much potential. (and some ginormous spiders) (but no snakes)
Then the house. Also big. Two small bedrooms on the first floor. Nice-sized kitchen. Blue stairs. HUGE open area on the second floor with two more bedrooms. Not sure how many baths. Well, no BATHS. In Cambodia, most bathrooms don’t have tubs or showers. You just shower in the bathroom, and the tile floor dries eventually.
We can see this working. It’s soooooooo different from where we live now. And we know exactly no one here. And lots of emotions are swirling in our heads and hearts.
Rosa shows around Siem Reap a bit, we rest some more at the guesthouse, head home Saturday at noon. On the bus ride home, I get a message from Alli:
“Just heard from final board members. Everyone is game for you guys to fill out application! Just you and Gabe, of course. Hope to have it to you by Monday! (it needs updated)”
On Sunday, we sit beside a sweet Khmer couple in church. They’re engaged. Getting married soon. She’s leaving Phnom Penh to move to where he lives.
Feels like a sign.
Monday morning: background checks.
Monday evening: Alli sends us the application.
It. Is. A. DOOZY. Essay questions. 13 of them. Except, for each numbered question, there are like 8 other questions.
I answer 4. And use 2000 words to do it.
I freak out. If I answer all of these questions honestly, THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO APPROVE US. WE ARE SUCH A MESS.
I think we should probably just forget this whole entire thing.