Saturday, August 20, 2016

And so we begin.

This is the first blog post from Phnom Penh. Can you believe it? We are finally here. I say we because I feel like this is a group effort to get me here and thus it should be addressed with WE. 

I arrived Thursday morning after time traveling right past Wednesday. Those of you who were able to experience Wednesday I hope you enjoyed it for me.

My apartment is on the second floor, which is nice in the fact we didn’t have to carry the luggage up too many flights of stairs. The stairs here are a bit of a challange but don’t worry I’ll explain more in a later blog. 

I’ve gotten my local sim card and have charged up on heaps of data for the month. Way more than I will ever need and more than I’ll ever use, all for the low price of $6. 

Side note: if you don’t have an iPhone then you need to get whatsapp so we can text. Isn’t that exciting?! So go, get it now!

I’ve gotten settled into my room for the most part. I need to pick up a few things still like a rubbish bin, tape, and basket for dirty laundry etc. My favorite! Unpacking and moving in.

My first morning was welcomed when the sun came up with a drink from my California mug.
I was able to sleep 7 1/2 hours the first night and 8 last night! I hope that continues! Time travel throws the system for quite the loop. Going West is easiest but still a bit of a drag at random parts of the day. Luckily coffee abounds in this place. 

Work. Ahhh, now that is something that I can get really excited about. It’s going to be a bit of time to get everything sorted out but I can tell you that I am incredibly excited and honored to be a part of it. On Friday morning we were in our staff worship/meeting (my first full day here) and just in that short meeting I was already brainstorming a MILLION things that I want to do. That’s not even including the things that Troy, Brett and Kerry have for me to do. If this is any indication of what to expect over the next few years, we my friends, have made a wonderful decision in sending me here. 

My morning latte from Joma has a bear, wombat or possibly a monkey face.
Which is more than anyone could ask for.
Food has been good. No fried spiders yet, but the year isn’t over yet. I’m sure I’ll get them eventually. I bought muesli, rice milk and bananas for my breakfast. Fairly typical of what I have been eating in the States except the rice milk tastes funny and I don’t think I’ll get that one again. I did eat Thursday night at the local $2 corner place that I really liked. I had been excited about the 10 veggie stir fry for 4 months. It was just as I remembered it.

The weather has been delightful. The clouds are here most all day covering the roasty-toasty sun and when the breeze comes it is pleasant. . . as pleasant as can be in an easy bake oven. 

Today, Saturday has been everything I wanted and more. Good conversations with friends both here in Phnom Penh and in the States. Resting with a fan blowing on me and fruit juice popsicles that I made from the freezer. Thank goodness for a Sabbath rest!


That’s all I have for now. Know that I appreciate all the love, prayers and support from each of you. 


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Packing Up

I have made big strides this week in packing!! Thanks to my friend Melissa who came down to visit me yesterday and help me pack. I had been doing well on my own but was daunted with the task of actually putting things in my suitcase. So Melissa responded to my S.O.S. and drove over 2 hours to accept the challenge of packing, or as I like to call it playing Tetris with a 50 lb limit.

This is how things started out:


They got pretty serious after lunch and we attacked the pile with vengeance.

The key to our success was in friendship, good music but also in those nifty vacuum bags!





I have just a few things left to take care of and then I'm ready for a jet plane. I'm excited, scared and jazzed. It's time for a change and I'm packed and ready for it to come.





TAKE NOTICE!!!!

A very exciting update!

As of today I have met my base fundraising amount of $13,000. I can now comfortably cover all my living expenses in Cambodia, which is a HUGE blessing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now that we have met this significant goal, I would like to start on my next fundraising goal of $10,000. Here's why: My plan is to live abroad and continue serving those in need for the long-haul. This would be much easier without my remaining student loan debt still hanging over my head. I've worked pretty hard over the last few years to reduce it, but without a regular income, I am praying and asking for help to eliminate this financial burden.

So every donation that comes in from now on will go directly to help pay off my student loans. This will be a huge help and will give me the ability to work freely in serving the people in Cambodia for as long as needed. 

As always if you have questions please feel free to contact me. 


Blessings to you.
Only a few more nights with this mountain view.

Friday, August 5, 2016

11 days and counting.

Happy Friday!

I am a little over half way to my fundraising goal! I have been given a donation by a church in Canton, Ga for my dirt bike. I'll be getting it in a couple months so I can drive myself out to the villages we work in! Thanks guys!!

I leave a week from next Tuesday. The final count down has begun! I am almost fully funded and can use all the help I can get! If you know of anyone interested in hearing about RAW Impact let me know!

I'll keep you updated as the countdown gets closer!

Lots of love,
Sonya
The packing has begun.

Tax Deductible: If you need to make it tax deductible you can donate it directly to the umbrella organization that RAW Impact is under for it's non profit license in America. The name is Global Development Group (GDG). You can do that here: GDG. If you do donate there please mark it with my name and email me to let me know.

Please note that because it is such a small organization I lose 25%. Here's the breakdown; GDG takes 7.5% from each donation. Then 10% of each donation goes towards growth and 7.5% goes towards RAW's administration of volunteers. With the transfer of funds between exchange rates from US to Australia and then back to Cambodia in US dollars, we lose a percentage there so that's included in the admin costs also. 

Go Fund Me: If you want to just donate via this (Go Fund Me) I loose only 5% to the organization. Please note this is not tax deductible unless I send it the rest of the way to GDG, if I did that I would lose 30%. 

Direct Deposit: This is if you want to just donate directly and not worry about tax deductible receipts. I can send you my Cambodia savings account with Bank of America. 

Monthly Donations: You can donate directly to me with no tax break or you can donate via GDG and get the tax break.

Summer Lovin'

For the entire month of July I have been on the road. I took the month to cram in as many family and friends as I could. I'm quite impressed with my journey and thought I'd re-cap it all.

Started off visiting my good friend Rachel at Loma Linda University, where I promptly got bit by a big dog. (See photo a for evidence) Side note: I'm okay and I did report the dog etc, etc.

Right after the bite.
The bruise got really gnarly!

After a day or so.

More Mexican food please!
From there on the 4th of July I flew to Texas where I chill'axed with the fambam. I saw my girlfriends from high school, a friend from camp and the livestock at my dad's house. I also tried to eat my fill of Mexican food as I don't think it will be quite the same if I can find a restaurant that serves it in Cambodia. My mom and I adventured to San Marcos where we both got henna on our hands.
My pops, and yeah, he looks like Lazar Wolf from Fiddler.
More on that later. . . 
New mural on home town building. 






It's always been a challenge to take a group shot.
I'm so proud of my high school friends!
Mom and I look'n fresh and relaxed. 

In the middle of the month I started the crazy part of the month, I went up to Southern for some meetings with the Global Community Development masters program at Southern Adventist University. Those meetings were AMAZING. I was able to do some networking, brainstorming and overall excitement building. I hope to work more with the department and collaborate with them in the near future!

From Collegedale, Tn I headed out to Orlando, Florida. There I saw family and a really good friend from college.
BEN! Almost 10 years is toooooo long!
My time there was short and I soon found myself on the road to Starr, South Carolina. It was there that my pyro cousin put on a pyro musical in my honor. IT WAS AWESOME! I can't wait till I visit again and it's even longer! I was really excited when my Fro-Yo Friend came down from DC to visit for a day and a half too! I win!

From there I drove through Asheville, NC to visit another friend who has been a cheerleader for the adventures in my life, Marile. We had lunch at a GREAT Greek place and then I hit the road to make it to Nashville, TN before the traffic really got nuts!

Thank you for the love and support Marile!! Here's your personal shout out ;) 
Nashville, Tn was a breath of fresh air, and not just because we watched the new Star Trek movie with Chris Pine, but because of my partner in party planning Chelsea was there. Our time is never long enough! If you ever need an EPIC party or summer camp programed out we might be willing to work for you . . . if the price is right!
Squeezed in a visit with a high school/college friend too!
                                           
Pastor Chelsea hard at work.
Katie's little girl took this! She's only 3!
From Nashville I went down to Collegedale, Tn again to visit with friends, meet one of my favorite authors, Grace Thornton who wrote this book: I Don't Wait Anymore, and I'm certain we are now best friends, right Grace?! If you get the chance read the book, it's amazing. While in Chatt-town I crammed in as many friends and family I could in two days. I think I did well! I even got a visit it to my favorite bakery, Piece of Cake Bakery, the Little Debbie outlet store and the Samaritan Center! It was a busy two days.







From there I went and visited the greatest camp family since Moses and Zipporah, the Wood family. They were at Camp Alamisco when their kids were just tiny things. Now look at them! Yowza!!


The great Maria Sager!
I went from Canton, GA to another little town outside of Atlanta to visit Jacqui who is a great photographer and friend from College. We were able to see the musical In the Heights at the Aurora Theater and were BLOWN away by the talent and music! My old theater director, Maria Sager is also staring in it as Camila and is AMAZING. If you get the chance PLEASE go and see the show. It's by the same writer who wrote Hamilton and it's so moving. Jacqui, Scupper (whom I like to call Scrappy or Scuppy) and I went for a sweaty, humid walk and then I found myself having to head out again.

From there I turned in my rental car at the Atlanta airport and then stayed the night at Maria and her husband's Atlanta apartment. We watched the Great British Bake Off, which for the record is the best reality show and the US could learn a thing or two from their style.

The next morning, early, I headed out for California. So long humidity, afternoon rain showers and the open road!

I made it home the next day after a night spent in Bakersfield with family to break up the drive. After  driving over 2,000 miles I finally made it home to my soft and squishy bed. Ahhh, home. . . for less than two weeks before I move to Asia.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

To do in Cambodia:

Here is my list of things to do once I get to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

They are in no particular order (mostly)

TO DO:

  • Unpack
  • Lay flat/stretch out (after traveling for over 30 hours I am certain this is what I will want)
  • Buy a lovely little bicycle with a lovely little bell
  • Visit the L1 bar and make sure it is up to code in all it's coolness
  • Find a lovely plant to love
  • Place pictures of lovely people on the wall
  • Use the key to the bottom gate in the apt that I accidentally left in my purse from when I was visiting in March
  • Eat at the corner local resturant (I loved the tofu!)
  • Stop by the Don's grocery story to get some water
  • Visit Ra's husbands family
  • Make new friends with the new staff/volunteers
  • Give great big hugs to the staff/volunteers I already know
  • Message my family that I am safe

I can't wait! One month from tonight I fly out of San Francisco! We are getting close to the final stretch now!


If you have any ideas on what I should do once I get to Phnom Penh please leave them in the comments section below. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Goodbye

These last few goodbyes have been a bit harder than in the past. I've never liked saying goodbye, I'm not sure if anyone actually does. I have been saying goodbye to my friends and family in Texas since I left for Camp Kulaqua 15 years ago the day after high school graduation.

This time maybe it's been so hard because I've been putting down roots in Oakhurst, Ca and my parents are getting older. Or maybe it's because I've lived abroad before and I'm not as naïve as I was when I moved to Honduras at 20 or perhaps because this go round I know I'm not going for just a year but for a long haul. I know I'll be back to Texas next summer, which is typically what I've been doing the last 14 years. Maybe this is harder than the past because when I pulled away from my mom's house yesterday I sounded so much like an adult, saying "See you next summer", the same thing they always said to their parents and I drove around the block, just like they always did with their parents when we left every summer. Maybe my tears were more tears of growing up and leaving my childhood behind as I transition into a job I have been dreaming of since I was a kid. Whatever the true cause of this I know it's because I love my family and we all just want what is best for each other. We aren't created to say goodbye and I long for the day when I wont have to anymore.

Today after my most recent goodbyes as I drove away from Granbury this song came on:

 

This was exactly what my heart needed to hear and to say.

This isn't goodbye, this is I love you and I'll see you when I come back home (both to Texas and California).

This Is Not GoodbyeBy Sidewalk ProphetsI can see it in your eyes that you are restlessThe time has come for you to leaveIt’s so hard to let you go but in this life I knowYou have to be who you were made to beAs you step out on the road I’ll say a prayerSo that in my heart you always will be thereThis is not goodbyeI know we’ll meet againSo let your life begin‘Cause this is not goodbyeIt’s just “I love you” to take with youUntil you’re home againThe stirring in your soul has left you wonderingShould you stay or turn aroundWell, just remember that your dreams they are a promiseThat you were made to change the worldSo don’t let fear stop you now ‘causeThis is not goodbyeI know we’ll meet againSo let your life begin‘Cause this is not goodbyeIt’s just “I love you” to take with youUntil you’re home againI know the brightest star aboveWas created by the One who lovedMore than we’ll ever knowTo guide you when you’re lostWhat started as a still, small voiceIs raging now and your only choiceIs to follow who you areSo follow who you are ‘causeThis is not goodbyeI know we’ll meet againOhThis is not goodbyeI know we’ll meet againSo let your life begin‘Cause this is not goodbyeIt’s just “I love you” to take with youUntil you’re home again



As always you can also check out RAW Impact for more information on their work or how to help support me with Go Fund Me or by checking out this information.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

T-minus 47



Tonight when I leave the school I will leave my keys behind on the empty desk.

I will begin the tour to visit friends and family and share more about RAW Impact.

I will be relying on God to provide.

I will be taking a big, exciting, longed for step towards being and international social worker. A career I've wanted since high school.

I love you friends of Oakhurst and am incredibly thankful for your love and support. If you need to be reminded read here.



So, pray with me and for me as I close the door tonight on this section of my life.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Marathoning.

I have been wanting to run a marathon again for quite a while. A marathon is 26.2 miles. It might sound crazy to pay to run the distance but the money helps make sure I'm safe while running on the 163 in San Diego and that there are medical personal every few miles. I also got an awesome medal and finishers jacket.

I digress. . .

I convinced my ultra marathon friend, Chris, (an ultra is a race over a marathon) to run a with me, which was much easier than I thought it would be. I started training in the winter and did a shabby job at it, compared to the first marathon I ran when I trained following a plan to the T. Once my friend Kimberly, whom I affectionately call BerlyKim, realized I wasn't planning on a new PR (Personal Record) she was game to sign up and join me for the race.

I had graduation on Thursday and the next day drove down with my friend Hillary (she was my support team--driver after, cheerleader, bag carrier day of race etc). Best laid back weekend ever!

Race day. I had to walk a mile to the start line because they were expecting 30,000 people and it would have been ridiculous to drive and park. The race started at 6:15 am and they suggested we get there 90 min early so as to make sure we were in our corral and had gone to the bathroom in time. I got up a little before 4 am and started getting ready. I toasted my english muffins in the bathroom so as to not wake Hillary, I put on my Body Glide to prevent chaffing, pilled my hair in a bun like Alexi Pappas, sunscreened up and headed out the door a little before 5 am. Chris, Kimberly and her husband Jason were already up there. I found Chris and we waited in the portapotty line for a long time while the sun came up. Eventually we met up with Kimberly and Jason and then waited all together for the race to start.

Chris, the ultra runner, was in corral 5 and Kimberly and I were in corral 28. . . that can show you how slow we were planning on being ;).  We took a last picture and then we found our appropriate corrals, feeling very much like cattle.
Waiting for the Rock'n'Roll Marathon to start.
The alarm sounded and the first corral started! There was fun music to jam to while in line and we were excited to get started. We were much farther back (almost the next county over!) so  Kimberly and I waited. And waited and waited some more. Then we waited more. Eventually we decided we could go wait in the really long bathroom line and we'd be fine to make it back before our group went. We were right. We waited some more in that line then back to the main corral line to wait some more. Eventually we got really close to the start line. . . and waited some more.




Then it was our turn to go! We finally made it to the Start Line ONE HOUR after the first group! It was 7:15 am!! 

We took off out of the gate with the other bagillion people! We had a good pace and found our groove. We chatted the whole time and goofed off. It was a blast. We ran, yes, but we didn't push to make a new PR so it was quite fun. I loved sharing the memories with Kimberly. 

Bathroom break.
The portapotties sometimes had a line and other times they were all free. Once it was at an angle and quite gross! I came out all disheveled and my shorts all twisted because I had to hold on to the door to not fall backwards into . . . well you get the idea.

In the middle Jason met up with us to offer support and bananas! It was fun having him run with us for awhile. Group running is fun! Had I needed to get a new PR I would have been much more focused but this was a fun run. We told stories, jumped around, high-fived the cheerleader squads along the rout. They were quite the help too! How can you not want to run a bit faster when all these chipper teenagers are cheering you on as if you are Louis Zamerini himself.

By the time you get to the higher miles you usually have found a pack of people who are going your pace. You pass each other frequently and in our case they over hear our stories. One lady thought I was funny and as she passed me at least 10 miles later I was telling a story about cheese balls . . . it was a good story. . . and as she ran past she said, "It's you!" I'm guessing it was a good thing and that her hearing cheese balls she was motivated to run fast and I helped her keep going. Haha. Runners are crazy fun.








We ran hard. . . okay Chris ran hard, his time was 3.25 and Kimberly and I laughed hard :) I can't wait to run the next one. How about in Cambodia?! There's one in December! The Angkor Watt half marathon!



Thanks for the fun race friends!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

IMPORTANT FUNDRAISING UPDATE

IMPORTANT INFORMATION!!!!!

I now have a better understanding of the fundraising process. I will break it all down for you:

Tax Deductible: If you need to make it tax deductible you can donate it directly to the umbrella organization that RAW Impact is under for it's non profit license in America. The name is Global Development Group (GDG). You can do that here: http://globaldevelopmentgroup.org/us/portfolio-item/j790n-rawimpact-projects/. If you do donate there please mark it with my name and email me to let me know.

Please note that because it is such a small organization I lose 25%. Here's the breakdown; GDG takes 7.5% from each donation. Then 10% of each donation goes towards growth and 7.5% goes towards RAW's administration of volunteers. With the transfer of funds between exchange rates from US to Australia and then back to Cambodia in US dollars, we lose a percentage there so that's included in the admin costs also. 

Go Fund Me: If you want to just donate via this (Go Fund Me) I loose only 5% to the organization. Please note this is not tax deductible unless I send it the rest of the way to GDG, if I did that I would lose 30%. 

Direct Deposit: This is if you want to just donate directly and not worry about tax deductible receipts. I can send you my Cambodia savings account with Bank of America. 

Monthly Donations: You can donate directly to me with no tax break or you can donate via GDG and get the tax break.


I hope this helps explain some things! If you have already donated please let me know if you need the tax deductible receipt.