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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Help Comes From the Lord

Today we went on a moto day trip outside of Phnom Penh. It was a perfect time to go because the Phnom Penh roads were quite clear. It was like Phnom Penh turned into a sleepy suburban town. We didn't have too much difficulty finding our hill/mountain that we were looking for. On top of this mountain is Prasat Phnom Reap, a local Buddhist temple. It was an interesting feeling being on top of that hill, with those temples, on the day I go to church and the weekend of Easter. I had just last night and this morning read two chapters from a book on the life of Jesus covering Gethsemane and Calvary. So thinking on those things and being in a place that was celebrating Khmer New Year with special religious ceremonies was sobering. 

A few weeks ago I was listening to a sermon by David Asscherick (this one I think), an American pastor in Brisbane, Australia and he was talking about how the Israelites kept give up on God and worshiping at the holy places of Baal and the other neighboring gods. The places of worship were on a hill, they were all the highest places. Just like in all the other religious places left in Greece, Rome and surrounding countries, the holy places are the highest places in the area. However, the God of Israel is a god of the valley. His people were in the valley and he didn't even have a permanent temple, which didn't mater because he was with his people there, where they were.

This arvo I remembered all that and then I remembered Psalms 121:
I look up to the mountains--
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever. 
Psalms 121
I don't need to look to these high temples, these places with the reclining Buddha, sitting Buddha or any other place of offerings. I can look to the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth and he will hear me and my cries for help are enough. Because our cries are enough, he will hear any of us. While Jesus was on his way to the cross he thought of us and prayed for me, you and each person who worships on a hill.

It was a sobering realization this afternoon and a beautiful thing as well.

Take a minute and read through those two chapters, Psalms 121 and share with me what you think.

Happy Easter.

I'm thankful for all that Jesus has done for me in my life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I'm Sonya, I promise.

My brother was born first. He was named Christopher Reaves. A legend of a name and not actually inspiration by THE Christopher Reeve but I do think my brother is Superman anyway. When it came time for baby no. 2 the fambam was excited. The high-tech sonogram in Thousand Oaks, Ca said I was going to be a wonderful little baby BOY. My parents picked out the name Jonathan Eli Reaves and the baby shower supplied them with many new baby boy things in preparation for my arrival. With the c-section on April 22, 1983 they got a real big surprise--ME!

My mom says she was ecstatic with the news of a little girl and she had all along been wanting a little girl. She also says that I was a dream come true, something she had always dreamed of having, a little girl. My parents may have talked about girls names, I don't know, but the name I was given is Sonya Faye Reaves. It wasn't by chance that I was given this name either. My name is the Portuguese verb to dream, sonhar. Here's the pronunciation of it in Portuguese. While they lived in Brazil she dreamed of a little girl and boy that one day they would have. When Christopher came along it was the first half of her dream come true and with a little girl the dream was a reality. Hence the Brazilian connection of my name.

I've lived in several countries and the coolest part of my name is that it exists in all the countries languages: French, Spanish, Norwegian, Kiswahili, and now even Cambodian.

I was afraid it might be a hard name to pronounce in Khmer but when I pronounce my name the American way my parents do: (short o sound) Son--ya it comes out sounding like the word promise in Khmer (click there to hear it on google translate)! What a blessing my name is! It helps to create friendships because my name is a familiar sound to them, it's a word they know and understand. Even if it isn't actually helping the locals trust me it is helping me trust that I'm known and in a place God has plans for me in. I was indeed planned for all along, God knew there would be a place for me here in Cambodia, California, Texas and everywhere else I have lived.

I am constantly amazed that God put so many things in place so that I could live and travel abroad doing work for Him. It seems that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. When I introduce myself here I say in Khmer, I am Sonya and I am Cambodian. It knocks down barriers and tosses around laughter instead. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for being born first Christopher!

Thanks for the great name Mum and Daddy-O!

Changes in the villages

My daily job often changes. These last two weeks I was able to work with a team of ladies from Brisbane who came over here to lead classes on women's health in two different villages. It was amazing because they brought Days For Girls kits to give the women at the end of the classes. These kits offer reusable pads so that the women can maintain normal lives during the WHOLE month. A person starts realizing the necessity of reusable pads when you see how much rubbish the world does use and toss out. The thought of "stinky river" is enough to change a person.

It's amazing and painful at the same time. In fact it's one of the many reasons I have switched to using reusable things during my menstruation. This could be game changing for the women of the village of Koki especially because they live out in the middle of nowhere and have nothing available to them. When the price of a package of pads costs more than a weeks income there is a problem!

I have three favorite parts from this trip. Here they are:

1. Getting to know the women in Taskor Village (the one where SALT school is and we are building bamboo houses). I know just enough Khmer to connect with the women and create instant friends. It helps that my name is also a Khmer word so they can remember it easier. (It means promise, fyi) I don't normally get to visit with the local women because I am more often in the school working with Diep and the other teachers. Those three days were AMAZING. I loved most every minute. It was balm for the community section of my heart. We all laughed (especially when I told all my classic foreign language jokes: Said in local language I'm *Khmer/insert country of habitation*. I can't speak *Khmer/language of habitation* because it's so so hard.) and friendships were born.

I loved going out to the iblock of land and having women come up to me to talk saying my name and building on our friendship. Sheesh, I love my job.

My two favorite women. 
The sweetest grandma and her beautiful grandson.
The babies are so beautiful. 
So sweet! Especially when asleep ;)
2. When were in Koki for the weekend conducting classes. The dynamics of this village are much different and I was able to help keep the kids out of their mothers hair during the classes. It wasn't easy at first, the kids didn't know what to do with me. Their village is so far away from anything that they were very cautious of a new person, which is good and reasonable. I sat quietly and they slowly made their way over to me. There was a little boy holding a baby quite close to me so I poked the lil' guys belly and prevented tears by distracting him/her. The connection with the lil' one helped the girls get closer and soon I had the girls putting flowers in my hair and the boy plopped the baby in my lap meaning I was accepted, a safe person and their new friend. We spent the rest of the morning playing in the dirt getting quite dirty. We found empty water bottles and filled them with the tiny rocks making musical instruments, bowling pins and even cars to roll down the dirt hills. I didn't take any pictures because to do so would have distracted all of them from playing and I wanted to be present. There were a few expats who did get pictures but I haven't seen them yet. The whole morning was magical for me. It was what I have been missing from my life these last few months, pure innocent interaction with kids. I had forgotten how much I missed it. I can't wait to get back up to Koki and continue empowering the kids and helping them want to attend school regularly. 

3. The last bit that makes me so happy is from the class. On the last day in Koki after all the classes were over the ladies leading out asked if anyone wanted to stand up and share with the group what they learned by explaining the kit. There were two who stood up; a young girl and an older women. They were able to explain the whole kit, health bits and even include the same jokes! It means that they heard, understood and can share with others! That is exactly what we want to happen!!!! It means that when we do follow ups we can start with those two and get them to help follow up with the others! It means that progress is happening! 

So anyway, those are the three highlights from my last few weeks. It was a busy team trip but worth everything to have those moments. 

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