Wednesday, November 15, 2017

RAW Impact Chrisy Retreat

     I have learned something about Troy and Nic Roberts, the founders and directors of RAW Impact. They LOVE a good mystery destination. The tradition for our Christmas retreat is to simply tell us the dates that we will be gone. After that you can't trust anything they say! Troy will toss out false leads as to where we are going for weeks leading up to the trip. He'll say, "Bring hiking boots, take containers for fresh water, bring your snorkel and flippers." There is no way to know exactly where we will end up! Ideas about where our destination is fly all around the office. I always suspect it will be beach related simply because the Aussies miss the beach and are pulled to it like a puppy is pulled to a squeak toy. Even once we have all boarded the bus in Phnom Penh we don't know where we are going as Troy gives crazy directions taking us in all sorts of directions.

    I must admit it is exciting and fun to not know exactly where we will end up! It's like a Christmas present! I know it will be fun simply because we are all together, hanging out. 

    This year we went to Ko Rong island right outside of Sihanoukville. We had a blast! It was nice to get out of the city and enjoy nature. I didn't need to wear shoes the entire time we were on the beach! I also just let the sea take care of my hair for me, with both good and bad results. Ha! 

   Highlights:
  • White sand and BLUE/GREEN ocean
  • Swimming with glowing plankton at night!!!
  • Team sandcastle challange
  • White Elephant Christmas game
  • Hanging out in nature!














I have no idea where we will go next year but I'm excited that I'm still planning on being here in Cambodia! If you would like to help me stay here and still be able to pay off my student loans donate here or message me and I can give you the info to donate so I get 100% of the donation.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

October Adventures.

Since I haven't been blogging much lately I thought I'd try a different approach to it. I've been taking a lot of photos of life. I think I've done a good job at documenting life that way. So I'm going to just share more of the stories around some photos!

I'll start with this one:

My oldest friend in the world, Ashley and her husband, Freddy, came to visit me! They were the first people to ever visit me in a country other than America. It may not sound like much but this is the fifth country I've lived in other than America. It meant A TON!! 

Traveling with Ashley and Freddy is not for the faint of heart! They make sure and optimize their time! I got to show them around Phnom Penh and where I work as well as exploring parts of Cambodia that I have never been to!

We took two different overnight busses, rented motos, fed elephants, explored ancient temple ruins and caught up on life. That's one thing I love about Ashley and Fred, we can pick up where we left off as if no time has passed.

It was great to be around them because they are in their tenth year of marriage and it was beautiful to watch them together. I could not be more proud of the couple they are and the friendship they have. It was inspiring to say the least. 10 years may not be more than a drop in the bucket of forever but it is a long time in my book!

If I had to choose my two favorite places/activities from their visit it would be the elephant sanctuary in Mondulkiri (I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE WE HUGGED, FED AND BATHED ELEPHANTS!!!) and renting the scooters in Siem Reap!




The elephants because it was another world compared to stinky ol' Phnom Penh (PP). We went to the mountains! I almost didn't leave once I got there. There were trees, grass, mountains, valleys, vistas, COLD WEATHER and friendly puppies . . . oh, and elephants! I was cold the entire time I was there! I wore pants, t-shirt, my khrama scarf, rain coat and it wasn't really enough to stay warm. Freddy and Ashley were comfortable the whole time. . . I may have acclimated better than I thought to Cambodian temperatures. . . The whole first 12 hours I plotted on how soon I could return and how often I could return. Seriously the best. Sigh. Let's move on, it's making me too sad to think about Mondulkiri when I can see PP right outside my window.


The scooters we rented in Siem Reap (SR) made everything exciting! I love riding my scooter (contrary to my feelings a year ago!) and we had the freedom to explore so much more than with a tuk tuk driver. We stayed till dusk in Angkor Wat and were some of the last people to leave Ta Prohm. The next morning we drove out into the country side to explore a river that also had carvings like the temples. It is back in the mountains and won my admiration because we had to hike to get to it. It felt so much like being back home in Yosemite that I could have sat and cried with happiness and joy. We zipped all around on those bikes and made it back to SR in time for me dash off to catch my bus back to PP with only a few minutes to spare!

I may have been exhausted at the end of their trip but it was incredible on all fronts! They were gracious and patient travelers to Cambodia. They were respectful of the culture, willing to endure language confusion, and game for anything that came their way.

I wish I could have offered them more than I did. They always do so much for me when I am in Texas- picking me up last minute from the airport, letting me crash in their spare room, taking me to the airport at horrible hours, and supporting me in every adventure I've ever had. Thank you Ashley and Fred! Arkoon!







Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Guess what. . .?!

Dear world,

My name is Sonya and I work for RAW Impact.

I have lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia the last 12 months and I will continue to live here at least the next 16 (beyond that we shall re-evaluate when the time comes). The main point is I work here, not volunteer.

I'm living the dream. A dream I have been dreaming since high school.

Don't think the work is all easy. It's not, we often hit walls and have to find new ways to teach things. But the work is good and it is exciting.

I work here. I live here.

Cool.

While I am getting a stipend I am still working on fundraising to finish paying off my student loans. They are less than $5,000 now and I hope to get rid of them by Christmas. If you are interested in helping let me know, every little bit helps!

My hair is rocking the curls these days!

The second edition driving license picture!

I was feeling a bit country the other night ;) 

At long last, my new moto: Foxy Roxy (and all the other cool names I'll call him)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

5 things I am better at now.

1. Drive a moto
  • If you recall, I wrote a very honest blog about driving a moto and being afraid last November. I hated having to drive out to the SALT school. It was far, I often got rained on and it took a lot of deep yoga breaths to not be afraid. Now, I'm loving it. It helps that the road is now paved, it helps A LOT actually. I even hope it rains! Thank you for all the prayers for confidence, courage and bravery. I can now say I like driving the moto out to SALT.
2. Going down the stairs
  • Ha! This one may seem a bit silly and hard to understand for people who have never navigated the Cambodian stairs. They are really narrow and steep. Seriously. The steps are also different levels and sizes. I am 5 feet and 8 inches, which make my feet size 9ish. That means many times my feet do not fit the stairs and my head is close to getting knocked on something hanging. The stories of people falling are aplenty. The first 11.5 months I would walk like a toddler going down stairs; on foot step down, bring the other foot to the same stair and repeat. I always moved out of the way for others to pass me. I didn’t want to feel the pressure of going fast! I’d seen people slip and slide down the stairs and I didn’t want that to be me!! I realized just the other week that I was actually going down them at a normal pace and I wasn’t slipping or sliding! Score another point for Sonya!
3. Unlocking gates
  •  I hate gates and their locks. Yes, they keep us safe but my hand/arm/wrist/fingers were not used to working at such funny angles! Now I don’t hate them as much. I’m much faster at them and am reminded how fast each time a new person comes and they have to open the gate. It takes forever. Haha! Sorry newbie! Although, I suppose I should say a year in and I still drop my keys on the other side of a locked gate. . . and there's rat poo on the ground by my gate. . . blech.
4. Making new friends
  • When I first came I was apprehensive about making friends. I had so many “things” I thought people would be put off by, that they would just think I was too strange. I think we all must feel those “things”, especially when going into a new job, town, culture. I’ve thought a lot about my personality and working on being a better person. While I still have those quirks, I think people either don’t mind them too much (they can be good fakers!) or they appreciate them (here’s hoping!). I mean, even in America people sometimes had trouble following my train of thought!
  • As for the world of Aussies, we’ve all figured out how much sarcasm I can handle before it hurts my feelings. Oy, those Aussies can be real meanies sometimes! Not intentionally, they say they only poke at people they love and care about. . . I say don’t love and care about me so much! When a new Aussie comes and they don’t know the level I can handle the others will kinda try and give a look. Or they will try and change the subject from one they know I’ll get on a soap box on . . . In the end I just say they’re new and will learn soon the level of “love and care” they can give, maybe I’ve even toughened up some?
5. Making friends at church
  • If you have ever moved and started going to a new church you will know the pain of this growth point. The first Sabbath is important, it can make you or break you. I’ll admit my first weekend was rough. I mention it here. Things have been going great. I joined the English Sabbath School (Bible study) and soon made friends. They invited me over to their house regularly for Sabbath lunch and helped me find my church family. The members change a lot because we are the home base church in the capital and many are AFM (Adventist Frontier Missionaries) meaning they have field posts to return to. I’ve been able to tell children’s story, lead out in Adult Sabbath School and just this last week in the Early Teen’s Sabbath School (that in itself was an experience!) I feel like I belong and look forward to more Sabbaths with my church family.

-->

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cambo 1 Year

365 days later.



Not everyone is in this clip. Not every adventure is in this clip. But there is a hecka' lot of fun in this clip!


Friday, June 30, 2017

This is Life.

Today is June 30, 2017.
  
Today was my last day of work one year ago as a Teacher/Principal in Oakhurst, California. It was the end of my last pay period and I haven’t had one since.

I have almost been here one year. ONE YEAR. I have never lived abroad for this long in my life. I always left around August and came back around May/June. Not this time.

A couple weeks back was a bit rough. I found myself missing my family. My trip back to the states left me wanting more. More memories, more laughter and more family adventures. It was a strange feeling, homesickness.




Even more homesickness came the following day. I went to Joma for coffee, per usual, all the usual suspects were there; Jay, Tessa, Maddi and Renee (no Brett as he was working from Australia) and ordered my coffee. The strangest thing happened as I sat down in my seat, I focused in on the music (which could be anything and everything--even if it isn’t the Christmas season) and heard a song that triggered all my senses. Instantly I was back in Honduras listening to a mixed CD on repeat dreaming of all my friends back at Southern (the Uni I went to in TN), imagining all sorts of scenarios for what the maker of the CD mix was trying to tell me. I was no longer a 34 year old teacher in Cambodia but I was a 20 year old young girl in Honduras who thought she would save the world. I had been whisked away to memories of young puppy love, dreams of adventure and the great unknown of university life.

The music just washed over me. My voice caught in my throat as I tried to say that I loved this song and that I might cry and as the end of my sentence came out so did the tears, I was crying. Through a bit of embarrassment I tried explaining that I was okay, even as I was beginning to look a bit like a crazy person. I laughed as I wiped away the tears and explained the best I could what was happening. I was explaining how the song was connected to my time in Honduras, the first place I lived outside of the country and to the time in my life when I didn't have a clue as to what would happen next. In reality where I was then is where they are now. They are shaping those memories that will trigger them to cry in a public place in 14 years. They'll get it then. They'll get that homesickness for family, home and familiarity but also homesickness for a time when responsibility was less, getting a pay check isn't a big deal and puppy love the norm.

It was a strange morning to be sure.
  
All in all, I’m okay. I, shockingly enough, get homesick sometimes.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Soccer/Football

I went to my very first soccer match this week. It was Cambodia Nationals (that means they are part of FIFA) against Indonesia. It was just scrimmage game, which is good because Cambodia lost. Well, I am almost certain they lost. I'm not sure because there were HEAPS of people there and we didn't want to wait till the bitter end and get caught up in the swarm of people leaving Olympic Stadium. We left with 8 min to go, or so. I can confidently if they didn't score in the first 80 min they aren't going to score in the last 8.

 It was quite fun to watch. It wasn't too hard to follow what was going on, kick the ball, run after the ball, try and make it go in the net with the goalie and run some more without stopping. I don't think it will be my last game, my upstairs neighbor plays for a local team and I hope to go to one of his games in the near future!

Cost of ticket: $1.25
Contribution to pay for tuk tuk:$.75
Evening out with friends: Priceless

Enjoy the little news report of the game and stay tuned to my youtube channel for more vlogs coming soon!!

 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Live from my Phnom Penh Apartment!

A week back I took the opportunity to try a live video to give an over view of what I do for RAW Impact. It was fun to share and have live comments on Facebook. In case you missed it or aren't on Facebook here it is on my blog. It was really fun to make and I think I'm going to do another one, only 30 min and I'll try doing it live at the market!

Enjoy!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Time line.



Recently the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventist's (SDA's) office of Volunteer Services (that's a big mouth full!) gave me a shout-out on social media with a #tbt from when I lived in Tchad in 2007. It sparked a trip down memory lane and I spent the next several hours looking through all the pictures of time abroad. I think I sounded like the classic old person... "wow, look at that! I'm so young looking! Wasn't this photo just a few years ago. . .or was it? Oh man, it was almost 10 years ago. . . I AM old. I don't think 34 is all that old but it is an age where I can stop and realize I have done a lot and lived a full life so far. But really, was it that long ago I was in Honduras or Tchad?! 

With it being my birthday this weekend I thought It'd be a perfect time to give a little timeline with photo's of the years. So here we go!

Age 1?
Christopher is a doll face!

Age 2?
 

Age 3?

Age 5-- Kindergarten

Age 10--4th grade
Flower print, second row far left
Age 17-- Senior Yr 

Middle top row

Age 18-- 1st yr of Uni
Middle bottom row
Age 20 --Honduras


Age 21

Age 22

  
Age 23  

 Age 24-- Tchad, Africa




Age 25-- Georgia, USA 


















Age 26-- Summer in Yosemite 


Age 27-- Norway


Age 27-- 10 yr high school reunion

Age 28--Wawona, Yosemite, California



First legit race at 27 (half marathon)
Age 29-- Tanzania 


Age 30--California 
With mom (30 yr between us)
 Age 31-- California 
Bro, Christopher 
The perks of being principal and teacher.



 Age 32-- California



Age 33-- California
Second full marathon race

Age 33-- Cambodia



 Well, there you have it. Sonya through the ages. 
What are your thoughts? 
Do I look older? 
Do I look different? 
I always thought I looked older than I was but now I think I may have just looked like a baby like everyone else! Ha. 
Please share your thoughts! 
Did you know me way back when?
 Can you see a difference now? 
Which picture did you have the hardest time recognizing me in? 





 Even this was 5 years ago now....
Here's a bonus side by side with 10 yr's apart.