Saturday, January 21, 2017

Picture Time!

Spent some time this last week working in a village in Kampong Speu. One afternoon Louise and I went exploring. It turned out to be well worth it! Here are a few photographs from that adventure:

Lots of color and construction in the market area of town!

Bumper cars without a barrier! 

Louise photographing the market. 

Some local chicken art work on the walls.

My favorite place!

Not sure what the bunting was for but I loved it!

At the end of the bright alley was the river and a get-away boat.

Local wooden house.

Shabbat Shalom

On Friday night last I went to the local Jewish community center (yes there is one here in Phnom Penh) and celebrated the opening of the Sabbath. I have a few things in common with the Jewish faith, as a Christian I also believe that Saturday is day that God set aside for worship. It's the day that we spend with God and family as a reminder that He is God and to slow down and be present. It starts Friday night at sundown and goes until sundown on Saturday. With the big difference in our beliefs being Jesus. Even with that difference I appreciated the connection that I was able to make with the way that Jesus brought in His Sabbath all those years ago.

I went with Louise, the newest RAW Edu staff member and Olivia, the volunteer here for two weeks with an Eng literacy training team and who is actually Jewish. She was the main motivation for going, I wanted to help her find a bit of home in Phnom Penh.

We arrived a bit late due to confusion of where it was. The room had a small divider between the men and women. There were more men by far. Louise and I couldn't follow along in the book because it was all in Hebrew. At least I knew to read right to left and to open the book from right to left! The mens side was much more vocal in the leading of the prayers and there was a large variety of Jesish men. Some had the wide brim hat, the tight curl on the side of their face or just a simple yamaka. There was one older gentleman who had the prayer shaw for over his head and a young boy who was not yet of age to have his hair cut short yet (I may have called him a girl. . . an honest mistake for a gentile).

After our prayers we went up stairs to the dining area where we sat down to eat our three course Shabbat meal. It was amazing! The food was great. We had challah, salad, humus, fish and taboli for the first course, a chicken broth for the second and perfectly roasted chicken with fried rice (we were still in Cambo after all) for the third course. The rabbi shared from the Torah about Joseph and when his father Jacob blessed him and asked for his bones to be carried back to their country when they leave after the first course. There was much singing of Hebrew songs and lots of talking amongst all the people. I talked with a young newly wed couple that were on their honeymoon before relocating back to Israel where he will be in medical school. I wished them matzel toff just like in Fiddler on the Roof. There was a girl from Israel who is teaching English in a local private school and we also met an Israeli/Australian business man who promised to help us if we ever found ourself in trouble here.

Over all it was a beautiful experience that I was glad to share with Olivia and Louise. It was a blessing to bring in the Sabbath in such a traditional way. Maybe I'll make my way over there again some Friday night in the future.

A blurry picture at the end of a lovely evening. (me, Olivia and Louise)

Thursday, January 5, 2017


I am currently* sitting in a north bound Amtrak train towards Fresno. The sun is making it's way to the edge of the horizon and I'm reminded of the first time I made this trek north.

It was the summer of 2009. I had just finished my year as a boarding school chaplain at Georgia Cumberland Academy in Calhoun, Georgia. I was headed up to Camp Wawona for my first taste of Yosemite (yoh-sem-it-ee for all those Aussies) National Park. It's the place where I would be a part of a dream team programing staff that would have a lasting effect on my friendship. Side note: Chelsea, Anthony and I made dreams come true and magic happen at Wawona for some of the best summers ever. 

I remember sitting in the train 7 years ago thinking about my life and careers I'd had, wanted to have and was going to have. At the end of the summer I was moving to Norway for what I hoped was a dream job working with a mix of cultures and people. I'd still not found my niche in life. I remember talking to other passengers and them being impressed that I'd be spending my summer in Yosemite.

It's hard to believe it was only 7 years ago when it feels like a lifetime. In fact that reminds me of sitting in my bosses office at the end of that school year and having a conversation with him about where I wanted to be in 5 and 10 years. HA! This was never where I thought I'd be, yet I am glad this is how things went.

I was just telling my cousin about how amazing it is that God knew I'd need the last 4 years as a principal and teacher to give me the experience and background to do my current job better. Had I tried to plan out these last 7 years it would never had been to include principal-ing and several dead end plans. God knew I'd need experience in budgeting, working with a board, lesson planning, curriculum, running a school and teaching teachers. He's amazing to think so big and so vast and so incredible to care so much about people in Cambodia that He'd guide my life to include what it has so that one day I'd be able to help make a big difference in the lives of wonderful Khmer people.

Wow, what a thought trail just from sitting on a train and traveling north.

I can't wait to see what else God has in store for me.

*Technically I am sitting in a cafe in Phnom Penh but when I wrote this I WAS in a train.