third culture kids (part 3)

I just read TCKs Part 1 and Part 2 out loud to the girls, and we laughed at ourselves and how far we’ve come in the past few weeks & months here in Cambodia.

If you’re new here, this is Part 3 of a little interview series I’m doing with the girls. (Don’t know what “third culture kids” means? Check out Part 1.)

Today’s topic: Communicating with Friends, Family, & Supporters Back in the States.

Note: my words will be in bold. And O = Olivia (14), A = Ava (12), N = Nina (9).

Okay, girlies. Today we’re talking about how to effectively communicate what’s going on in our lives (and minds & hearts) here in Cambodia with the people we love back in America. First of all, why do you think this is important?

N: To let people know what it’s like to live somewhere else.

O: So they know how we’re doing.

A: Because we’re trying to raise support, and people need to know what we need help with.

O: Because we miss them, and we want to stay connected with them. And we want them to not forget about us.

Do you think they might forget about us?

O: Not technically, but they might not know us as well and we might not be as close of friends anymore.

What are some of the challenges of keeping people in the loop of our everyday lives and ministry?

A: It’s hard to tell them every single detail because it’s hard to explain, and it’s better if they just come see us. I really want to explain it, but it’s hard.

O: It’s tiring. It’s like a full-time job, kind of, to keep in touch with every single one of our friends.

N: We have to go to school and study and cook and shop for food, and we don’t have time to tell people everything.

Last week we really started talking seriously about making this happen (communicating with people better). This coming week is Khmer New Year, and while everyone else is off vacationing, we’re having a little “Let’s Raise Awareness & Communication” Staycation right here.

Earlier today we had a family meeting out on the balcony (it was only 86 degrees, thanks to last night’s rain!) planning our week. Gabe and Ava had computers. I had a notebook. And Nina wrote on the tile walls. What are some things we talked about?

A: We talked about raising support and what we each like to do to rest.

N: And what all of us would like to do about reaching out to people or doing some kind of project now or in the future.

O: What makes us happy in life, what makes us the most joyful while we’re doing it, like drawing or reading. And what we each need to do to help other people fulfill their enjoyments.

If you were considering financially supporting a missionary family in Cambodia, what are some things you’d like to know/see first? 

A: I’d like to see what they need the most and what I could help them buy.

N: What they’re doing.

O: What their major goal is. Like, what they envision themselves doing in the future. And how they’re going to tell people about Jesus.

N: Maybe how they spend their money.

Okay, let’s take those things one at a time. Let’s start with the most potentially awkward one. Money. What do we spend our money on in Cambodia?

O, A, N: FOOD!

N: School!

A: A moto!

N: Ice cream!

O: Transportation.

A: Cleaning help, A/C, rent.

O: Fixing our bikes.

N: Taxes!

A: ATM & bank fees!

O: Supporting other missionaries and sharing with people here.

Let’s start with food. Is food cheaper or more expensive in Cambodia than in the States?

A: Both. Produce is cheaper, but American food is expensive.

O: Eating out is cheaper here, and cooking food is more expensive here.

Can you give me an example?

O: If we make pasta here, it could cost as much as eating fried noodles at our favorite corner restaurant. If eating out is cheaper, we might as well do it.

Okay, A/C.

A: It’s really, really hot here, so when we come home in the afternoon, we turn on the A/C in the bedroom, and it’s kind of expensive.

O: I feel like it’s not worth the money. I’d rather be hot. But Dad and Ava like to be cool.

N: And sometimes we get to sleep in your room to save money on A/C.

What’s our transportation situation at the moment?

N: We take a tuk-tuk to school. Livi and Ava ride their bikes sometimes. And Dad just rented a moto yesterday (for a month), and we’ve been going a lot of places on it already.

O: Ava and I ride our bikes to go get groceries by ourselves.

A: I love Dad’s moto so much, and it’s so awesome. I want to ride it all the time. (And I want to drive it too!)

We also walk a lot, right?

N: TOO MUCH! I always offer to pay for a tuk-tuk with my own money, but you never let me!

How much does it cost for transportation?

N: $2 to school and $2 back, and usually we pay $2 or $3 or $5 for a tuk-tuk to go somewhere else.

O: Our bikes were free, and riding them is free, but we just paid $5 to get a new tube for my tire.

A: It costs $70 to rent a moto for a month (plus 2 helmets for free). And gas is $1/liter, and the tank is 3 liters, and I don’t think you use very much when you ride it.

Livi, you mentioned “supporting missionaries and sharing with others.” What did you mean by that?

N: We support two missionary friends here in Cambodia, and we have a Compassion kid named Gabriel in the Philippines.

O: Dad takes some of his guy friends out to eat.

A: It’s a tradition to give your landlords a basket of fruit for Khmer New Year, and we gave money bonuses to our tuk-tuk driver and our cleaning lady and one of our teachers.

Do you spend any Fun Money? Treat yourselves to things? Go shopping?

O, A, N: Joma ice cream!

Anything else?

N: Drinks like Zenya.

What is Zenya?

N: It’s green tea with pomegranate or lemon or grape flavor and lots of sugar, and I love it!

Let’s talk about school. It’s the biggest chunk of our living expenses here in Cambodia. ($1500 every 5 weeks for 40 weeks.) Do you think it’s worth it? What would you tell someone who is considering helping pay for our language-learning?

A: Our Khmer school is really fun, and the curriculum is really helpful, and our classmates are fun. It helps us learn Khmer a lot easier.

O: The way of learning (International Phonetic Alphabet) has really helped us a lot, and it’s set at a pretty perfect place.

What is learning Khmer going to help us do?

N: Everything.

Like what?

N: Get cheaper stuff, because they won’t cheat us because we’re foreigners.

How about some noble stuff?

A: Yeah, like missionary stuff?

Yes, how can we be better missionaries by learning the language?

N: We can’t really tell people about Jesus if we can’t speak Khmer.

A: We could, but they wouldn’t understand us.

What else do you want to tell people?

A: How much the moto impacts our lives. (grins.) (She is obsessed with motos.)

Do you want to be in charge of the fundraising for Dad’s moto?

A: Yes! You can buy a moto anywhere from $500 to $1000, and it will really help us in Cambodia, but we need people’s help to buy it. A moto is the main transportation around here, and it’s the easiest.

Okay, so that was a lot of talk about money. The other things you mentioned that people might like to know were: what we’re doing here and what our major goal is. Should we save that for the next interview?

O, A, N: Yes!

A: And tell them we’re going to be posting photo albums on Facebook and updating and making a video!

Okay, friends. What questions do you have for the girls (or their parents) about our day-to-day life in Cambodia and/or our goals/hopes/dreams for future ministry here?

6 thoughts on “third culture kids (part 3)

  1. Laura

    Who lives above/below/on the sides of you? Are neighbors friendly?
    Do the local kids go to school (what’s that like?)
    Is there a zoo?
    Do you have a crock pot? (would that make cooking easier?)
    I always have tons of questions when I read your blog posts, but often feel (insecure) (missionary-clueless) nervous to reply. No valid reason why, actually. I will keep thinking of more 🙂

  2. Sharon

    This is unrelated to the questions you asked, but I am so thrilled to hear you are sponsoring a Compassion child, while raising support for yourselves! I will be doing “Compassion Sunday” this Sunday at my Church (my first time doing the presentation, despite being a sponsor for years) and am hoping to get sponsors for all 20 kids I have a packet for. I so love that you are a child sponsor!

  3. M

    Not boring. 🙂 Just lots of good answers that leave people without questions!

    One question I have is about parks/play places for the kids. Is there anywhere they can play with other kids?

    I know when I was living abroad, I always felt like I never even knew what was going on in my city/ what social opportunities there might be even on the campus I was studying at. Is this something you struggle with as well?

  4. Pingback: i’d love to blame pms | Marla Taviano

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