Friday, November 30, 2018

November 30, 2018

I thought of something clever and funny to write about for today while I was sitting in the mail truck for 5 hours. However,  I can't remember what it was for the life of me. It was a lovely ride back though, the driver was really good.

I've made it through the month of November! I blogged most every day, minus that week in the middle. . . but I bet you are actually glad I didn't blog then because you'd feel guilty for not actually wanting to read it. Ha, don't feel bad, this was just as much for me as it was for you.

I am currently sitting across from the fireplace and the Christmas lights are all on. I've got my 100 Christmas Concertos playing in the background and I am ready for the weekend. We observed 19 teachers this week and I've traveled lots. I'll rest this weekend and then it will be time to have fun when the next group/team comes on Monday! It's the other half of my job that I love, sharing Cambodia with new friends and getting to work side by side with them.

Until then, good night.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

November 29, 2018

When I was in college I went on a life changing trip, it was the NYC Sociology study tour. I knew I wanted to go on it from the first moment I became a student. I learned about it at registration in the university gym (back in the day before you could register online). It was a trip that taught me so very much about life and how to live life.

The trip was a sociology trip to study people and culture in New York City. We’d leave the Saturday night before Thanksgiving (that’s the end of November for those of you not American) and we’d return the following Saturday night. We’d stop off in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Sunday to learn about the Amish culture and then head into the city for the week. During the week we’d visit Harlem, the Lower East Side, China Town, Little Italy, we’d see Broadway plays, off Broadway plays, the Rockettes Christmas program, a synagogue service for Friday night and loads of other things. On Thanksgiving day we’d work with the Salvation Army to feed people a Thanksgiving meal, then we’d all get together for dinner that night and share our own Thanksgiving meal away from home.

The trip happened two and half months (or so) after school started so before the actual trip we had a class met once a week and we’d talk about NYC, we talk about gentrification and loads of other great sociology words. We would learn a bit about the history of different people and buildings. We all learned the address for the YMCA we’d stay at: 224 E 47th street and tried to grasp the metro system before we arrived.

The best thing Mr. Lamb ever taught me was to make connections with people. He encouraged us to create a bit of a routine while there, always stop at the same coffee cart each morning and greet the person running it. To try new things and always keep exploring. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to 18 year old Sonya. I went on that same trip for the next 5 years and learned how to connect better each time. (I was a student for two of those years and after that they asked me to be a student leader, they figured might as well put me to work if I was going to be going anyway!) During those 5 years I took his advice to heart and made friends with the cheeky, flirty New Yorkers, I got hair advice from a woman in a pizza shop in Harlem, I was given a free ticket to a seat 4 rows back from the orchestra pit at the Met Opera, I asked for directions, made a friend and was given his pass to get into a museum.

Those were life lessons Mr. Lamb gave me, I didn’t know it then but they would become a foundation to how I live my life.

Last night I stopped by a smoothie cart for dinner. I asked for a drink in Khmer and chatted a bit as she made my drink. I wished her a good evening and rode the bike back to my hotel. Yesterday evening I had gone for a ride and it was on my way back to the hotel but tonight I wanted a drink again so I rode past all the other drink carts (and there were loooooads of them) to visit that same lady. She recognised me and she remembered what I wanted, told her son to make it and even remembered no sweet and condensed milk. We talked even longer tonight, I was again able to practice Khmer and connect with a human. I even ordered a ‘pancake’ with coconut and Nutella from the cart next to her and chatted with her as well. What a great feeling to connect and make friends and what a great experience to remember Siem Reap by.



I owe a lot to Mr. Lamb and those trips to NYC. I still keep in touch with Mr. Lamb and tell him how grateful I am for all that he taught me.

Make a routine, get to know the people who serve you, smile and connect with humans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

November 28, 2018

Let’s talk about period cramps.

It’s not often talked about by anyone in my mixed circle of friends. Well, I talk about it among female friends but not in a bigger circle. I’ve been struggling these last few years to not feel ashamed of having cramps, pms or my period in general. It’s not like I did something wrong to have it. It’s not like I’m the only one on earth who does. It’s not like it’s unnatural or anything and I think it would be benifitial for others to understand it.

So, here we are.

Let’s talk.

I dislike cramps more than anything on earth. They weren’t always so painful. They got more so once I turned 30. There have been seasons in my life where I have medicated every 6 to 8 hours to avoid crippling pain. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and not been able to move because it was excruciating and they had already gotten so bad that taking anything for the pain was pointless. I simply had to distract myself and wait it out. I’ve prayed for a meeting to be over quickly so I can cycle home and hide in a dark, cool room.

For those of you who have never had a cramp here are some ideas: imagine having food poisoning and your stomach is cramping up and you need to go to the toilet so you can feel better.

Imagine, it is a lovely Sunday and you are going for a long run along a country road and 5 miles in you get cramps and side stitches but there is nothing you can do to stop the pain and you are closer to the end of your run than the start so you just have to keep existing and going on your run despite the pain.

Imagine, being woken up with a migraine and food poisoning and a side stitch from running even though you aren’t running.

Every month isn’t horrible, I know it depends on food, excersize etc. This month hasn’t been the worst but it is still very inconvenient. When the cramps came luckily I wasn’t having to talk to anyone or stand in front of people. I could sit in the back of the classroom and breath through the pain. My whole body tenses up and is tight. There have been times where I get really hot and then really cold, this time, thankfully, it just hurt. During the worst of it I long for the pain to let go, for my body to relax and unclench. Thankfully there was a sitting toilet tucked in the back of the school that I could go hide in, is that too much information? It’s hard to tell when I am writing this alone and not actually telling you to your face-the beauty of the internet. I was grateful for my painkillers and sitting down. I am grateful that the worst should be done by now and I am grateful that it was an easy month.

The best part of all of it is when the pain has gone away and my body relaxes and I feel every muscle let go and breath. It is the best feeling in the world, almost as good as putting on dry under clothes after swimming in the lake all day.

Well, there you have it. I’ve talked about period cramps in a ‘public’ setting. No one seemed to have died, no one fainted from my impropriety, and I am still a genteel daughter of the South. My hope is you have a tiny picture of the horrors of my uterus shedding it’s lining. Wait, was that it? Was that the line? Honestly, I can never tell. This wasn’t even a squeamish post, much calmer than the toilet one. We didn’t even talk about blood or irrational emotions.

Thank you, this has been fun and educational.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November 27, 2018

Today was an early day. I’m up in Siem Reap doing teacher observations in the three schools we are in. The closest school is an hour and 15-30 min our side of Siem Reap city. The best part of getting there is driving past the temples in the early morning light. Gotta love a good temple drive by.


We leave the hotel at 6 am to get to the school in time for their first class. Today there were two other Khmer friends working with me, they are from the partnering organization that helps support these schools. We support only with the Teacher Training program. To get all the teachers in we divide the teachers and sat in on at least 30 min of class for each.

There are two ‘days’ in each school day. Students don’t go for the full day, they go either in the AM or in the PM. The other half of the day you work or help out at home etc.

For today we had 15 teachers to observe between the two halves of the day with a long lunch in the middle. There were several new teachers to this school year and this is our first visit of the year. They run on a calendar similar to the American system October to August, the big break is during the really rainy season.

There were at least 3 new teachers who just finished high school a few months ago, they looked so young, God bless’em. It must be terrifying to become a teacher so young. We are quite excited to get into some good Teacher Trainings with those guys!

There were several good surprises from the teachers. One DRASTICALLY improved from last year. He taught a class with a quick group project to get their attention, asked the students open ended questions that didn’t have answers in the book and really got the students involved. The was another teacher who was teaching vocabulary to some 2nd graders and kept them so busy and involved that no one got bored, distracted or talked. They used lots of different learning styles, they counted syllables, spelt out loud, wrote the word on a personal chalkboard, and pointed to the word in their book. They wrote sentences, talked about them and finished the long class period off with a spelling test.

It was a great day in the schools.

It was cold and rainy. Some of the classrooms were a bit dark and there was lots of sandy mud to dodge when walking across the school yard but by golly it was a great day.



Tomorrow will be another school just a bit further out. I’m looking forward to visiting this school too.

We finished our day, drove back through some beautiful hills/tiny mountains and rolled into Siem Reap city just as every one and their grandmother was going home, the roads were packed. It was an 11 hour day but worth it to help these teachers. Just thinking of the brave new teachers straight from high school is enough to keep me going on a million long days. The work we are doing is important, needed, beautiful, hard and valuable. I love my job.

November 26, 2018

Let’s talk about toilets.

I rode up on the Cambodian Post Van (yes, that’s right the mail truck) to Siem Reap. The ride is always love, smooth, fast and only legit stops—none of this stopping so the driver can buy some meat that is hanging on a hook at the road side meat stand. Anyway, back to the toilets.

Toilets in Cambodia come in many shapes and sizes. You have the classic “squat urinal” and the porcelain throne - some with a seat, some without. With all those options you never really know what you will get, but you can almost always guarantee that you will need to bring your own tp (that’s toilet paper for you Aussies). I always travel with a lovely packet of pocket tissues in my backpack—never leave home without them! So the threat of no tissues at a toilet place isn’t to big. My motto with tp is if you see a trash can, use it. I don’t mind “squat urinals”, I call them that because they look like a urinal that is laid facing up and cemented into the ground waiting for you to squat over it. In Tchad I got quite used to squat toilets, they offer better gravity assistance if you know what I mean. . .

A good toilet stop here will have a functioning lock, a good source of water, a clean seat or clean place to put your feet, running water to wash hands with soap (but if not —never leave home without the hand sanitizer and now that I mention it you probably should just use it anyway after you wash your hands).

The toilet in question had all the classic things, lock, running water, seat etc. Only it had extra things— a giant puddle of water around the toilet, side note never put ANYTHING on the floor around the toilet. That put me on high alert but when ya gotta pee ya gotta pee. I didn’t know how much longer till our big stop and didn’t want to risk it. I entered cautiously and as I used the toilet with my feet lightly touching the water, I felt a drip, drip, drip from above. I looked up and only saw the lights and a gross old fly catcher. Then I realised there was water dripping in from the rain into my bathroom stall. Yikes. I had to shimmy over to the side to finish my business. Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing my overalls!! Gross, those are tricky to wear while trailing in Cambodia. I did my thang and skidadled out of there with a spritz of hand sanitizer for good luck and good riddance.

And now you have a better picture of a toilet stop.

You are welcome.

Enjoy sitting on your toilet tonight and flush some 16 ply toilet paper for me please.

Boy do I miss that stuff.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November 25, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving. Today we feasted. It's the first time I've been able to host the feast at my place of residence. Before it would be over at Brett's apartment because he has more space but with my new apartment I've got a roof space! It was a small gathering but a lovely group of people who I call family.

Without any further ado here is my annual
100 things I'm thankful for:


  1. Cambodian Adventures
  2. My apartment
  3. Khmer language classes
  4. Art/creating things
  5. Wednesday phone calls with my dad
  6. Late night phone calls with my mom 
  7. Listening to my brothers podcast: Casual Cinecast 
  8. Whatsapp-ing with Xelxi about our favorite tv shows, Chris Pine and ways to torture Chris Clouzet (the good kind of torture. . .)
  9.  Drawing pictures with Andrea on my iphone
  10. Talking about fall with Rachel
  11. People who eat my baking and cooking
  12. Friday Night Pasta Night
  13. My Khmer work family who share lunch time with me
  14. Friendly "Grandma" who says hi to me everyday
  15. My regular veggie lady and fruit vendor friends
  16. Fresh flowers for $1
  17. My great smoothie guy who now knows me
  18. Gertie the green slug
  19. Foxy Roxie
  20. Walking Wednesdays
  21. The giant Whatsapp conversation with my high school best friends
  22. Fireworks
  23. Mondulkiri
  24. Nature
  25. Mountains
  26. Lou-louuuuu
  27. Tesser and our staying in contact
  28. Exmouth and adopted family vacations
  29. WA, Australia (I too was surprised it made the list, the rest of Australia better step up it's game)
  30. Fast and safe bus rides 
  31. Books
  32. Magic Noodle and the noodle salad
  33. Friends who visit me!
  34. Rain
  35. Wind
  36. Sunglasses
  37. My long sleeve RAW Impact shirt
  38. My new overalls and Nashville shirt
  39. Communicating in Khmer
  40. Showing Andrea where I live and work
  41. Digital libraries
  42. Dry and clean place to sleep
  43. Internet
  44. Cheap phone data
  45. My replacement phone
  46. The One Project/One House team
  47. Teaching teachers
  48. Getting to be in a classroom
  49. Brainstorming ideas with teachers
  50. VIP seating at the movies
  51. Adventures with Sarah
  52. Paw Paw ointment 
  53. Gifts from home
  54. Mail
  55. Khmer portraits (I looove these)
  56. Fans
  57. Warm showers
  58. Water shoes
  59. Team trips
  60. Cucumbers
  61. Home made popcicles
  62. Amazon prime music
  63. Memories/mementos from home
  64. Color
  65. Long lasting nail polish
  66. Puppies
  67. Kittens
  68. Small babies with squishy cheeks
  69. Khmer children's books
  70. Tourist who speak Spanish or French that I can help and talk to
  71. Good restaurants that are only 4 blocks away 
  72. A good pillow
  73. A good soft top for a mattress
  74. New friends
  75. People who come back on a Team Trip for the second or third time and I get to hang out with them again
  76. Candles
  77. Pillows 
  78. Clear nights
  79. Health
  80. Healthy curly hair
  81. Rivers
  82. Youtube
  83. BBC news
  84. Free choice
  85. Happiness
  86. Coffee
  87. Donuts
  88. My people back in Oakhurst
  89. Life experiences
  90. Second chances
  91. Peppermint soap
  92. Responsibility 
  93. Good sermons
  94. Conversations with God
  95. Quite moments 
  96. Praise songs that say what I am feeling
  97. Hope
  98. Faith 
  99. Love
  100. You, the person who takes the time to connect with me, chat with me, think of me and support me in whatever way you do. I am thankful for YOU.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

November 24, 2018

I watched two really great sermons today. They both come from the Kingscliff Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kingscliff, New South Wales, Australia.

The first is called The Choice You Don't Have to Make. I love how the pastor helps point out that everything points back to Jesus. He is the center, he is all that matters. He is the Gospel. I love how easily it explained what I believe as a Seventh-day Adventist, he gave me clear steps and thoughts to be able to share with others. Jesus All.

Here it is so you can see what I am talking about:



What did you think? Was it agreeable? Is it in a way that you can share with others? Do you agree that they all point back to Jesus?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The second one was also incredible. It is how you can connect with people who aren't Christian, he gives great tools to use. The goal is connection, find the common ground, talk in their language, share Jesus' love. The stories are incredible and encouraging.

Here it is so you can see what I'm talking about:

 

What do you think? Did he give you tools you can use when talking to people? Have you built any bridges before? Any other tools you would add?

It was a beautiful Sabbath for me. I ended my two sermon day with a playlist of some worship songs and simply sat in the moment with Jesus. What a great God.




Friday, November 23, 2018

November 21, 2018

I got back from Mondulkiri yesterday. It was a great Teacher Training and I can see some differences in the classrooms, which is quite encouraging.

The best thing about today was the Nativity scene I made today!!! It is incredible. I am so proud of it. Here is a picture.

I bought these horrific little people key chains in the market that I feel like I actually rescued from a horrible fate of the rubbish bin in some first world country. I took the key ring off them, cleaned their little faces off and added some Bible wardrobe pieces. I was quite pleased with myself by this point and just getting going too!

My next goal was the baby Jesus, I rolled some fabric that I thought would work well but realized it needed a head, the tiny littlest shepherd volunteered his leg for baby Jesus, so he has a sleepy little head now.

Then I hunted around for what I could use as a manger and found a little container that I put some lichen from Oakhurst in to act as his straw for the manger. By now I was getting quite giddy and excited about how awesome it was turning out.

It still lacked a proper 'home'. I knew it would go on my awesome fireplace but it needed a stand or a stable. Then I spotted an old box that had held cupcakes from Bloom (if you ever visit you will learn of the amazingness of a Bloom cupcake). I saw it was the perfect size and had been saved for such a time as this! I covered the blue with left over brown 'brick' tape from the fireplace and it was perfect! It just needed the star for the top. I took the plastic window cover from the box, cut out a star and painted it with gold paint leftover from another volunteer. THE STABLE WAS PERFECT.

Alas, there were no animals, what would the shepherds shepherd and how would the wise men arrive?! Then I remembered my great friend Jacqui had given me some really cool wooden animals. So the animals came to Jesus' birth. The wise men rode the polar bear, American buffalo and moose. While the bunny, fox, squirrel and bird were already at the stable the shepherds brought the giraffe,  elk and gazelle. Even the Australian kuala (not bear) came to visit baby Jesus.

It may be my favorite nativity I have ever owned. I'll be on the look out for anything else that wants to join the celebration of Jesus' birth.




November 23, 2018

Whelp, I'm officially bad at this months resolution. My excuse is that while in a normal everyday office routine I can remember and take the energy to write a blog post. However, when I am traveling all normalcy is thrown out.

Today is day three of Water Festival here in Cambodia. It means more fireworks! They have been every night for the last three nights. It's the best. I just sit outside on my balcony and watch them for almost an hour! It's a great way to unwind and relax. I would like them every night! It is a bit distracting to type and watch the fireworks at the same time. Oooooo! That as a good one. Focus, Reaves.

I had today off as my 'long weekend'. Non Khmer crew at RAW Impact are given a long weekend or our choosing every month, the Khmer staff get the many random government holidays instead. My goal today was to prep as much as I could for the Thanksgiving Feast that will be on Sunday. It's my third one here in Cambodia but the first one I'll be hosting at my apartment! I'm quite excited!

To start my day I woke up at my normal time, because I'm like a school kid on the first day of their holiday and I was able to catch up with my dad for Thanksgiving. Then I read for a half a minute and realized I was sleepy, so three hours after I woke up I took a nap and it was glorious.

The main stuff I did today was clean everything, sweep, mop etc. I also purchased the drinks for Sunday and most importantly I carried them all up the 7 flights of stairs. I also got the stuff to make my pumpkin pie and my apple pie (minus the apples. . . I forgot them and will go and get them Sat night at the Toul Tom Pong night market). I made a cover for the circle chair I have, it was gross from sweat and stuff and was in SORE need of a cover. I sewed it myself, thanks Cris for the free sewing machine!

After all that stairs exercise and sweeping and mopping I'm tire. I'll sleep well tonight. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

November 18,2017

Today Karen and I are off to Mondulkiri for the last Teacher Training of the year. We've had several since September and they get better each time. I am enjoying my job so much! Our current model is working in three areas: Teacher Training, Modeling/Mentoring and Observation. It will be tweaked at the start of next year as we continue to grow and develop our best practice, learning what we can from others who have gone before us and who are right beside us. We'll go into the school tomorrow (Monday morning) in time for worship and then Karen and I will each teach an English class and have as many teachers as possible observe us. This way they can practice filling in the observation sheet that we use with them, they can get ideas and they can learn that it's okay to make mistakes (because we sure will!). It's part of the modeling step of our program. We will finish the rest of the morning observing them teach and the following morning too. Monday afternoon Karen and I will split the time we have with two different trainings. Mine will review the last few topics, lesson plans and learning styles by teaching the types of formative assessments (my favorite!). It will be an exciting afternoon for sure!

We'll finish up Tuesday at lunch and then board the bus back for Phnom Penh. It's a short visit but a good one. I look forward to seeing my friends, the teachers and the cool mountain air. I can never seem to get enough of it.

I'm not nervous in the presenting of information but I just pray that what we teach is useful, that the teachers can appreciate it and add it into their style of teaching. I know that this work is needed, there are reports on reports stating that Cambodia is in need of educational direction. I suppose it is the cloud that is always hanging out in a teachers mind, is this enough to help the student, is this getting through to the student. I'll just have to keep trusting that for today it is enough and that God will help fill in the gaps.

If you are interested in training teachers, have done research or want to join me please email me! I am always looking for new ideas and people! Sonya@rawimpact.org

I'll see you tomorrow in the mountains! 


November 17, 2018

Staff Retreat was a blast. We actually went to my very favorite lodge in Kampot, Villa Vedici! It's right on the river, has a great view of the mountains and is just a little ways outside of the main town. Our days were full but there was still time in the mornings to go for a 4 k bike ride into town to a favorite coffee shop and rest in the afternoon between parties.

The view from the river, sigh.

We reviewed the last year by putting together a timeline with all of our areas big events on it. Educate did quite well with all our major goals being accomplished! It was fun to review all the stories from the last year and laugh at the funny moments and celebrate the victories.

Our super cool timeline.

My favorite parts were the evening entertainments. The first night the Media people put together a short little blooper clip from the last few months, we are quite good at laughing at ourselves! The second night, Sarah and I put together the first ever Annual Bamboo Awards. We decorated little bits of bamboo with glitter and the recipients name and award. Then at dinner we went through all the awards by name and everyone loved trying to guess who got what and cheering for each winner. I won the prestigious Librarian Award, for keeping the office quite (*wink, wink*), making sure everyone is reading, and being overall bossy. I'm totally putting that in my CV/Resumé.

Awards night was 'lit'.

The ride back in the bus felt like we would never arrive. We sat at an intersection two blocks from our office for 20 min waiting for the traffic to shift and let the fat bus through. It was nice to be back home but I miss all the relaxedness of my work family.

Loved the extra hang-out time we had!



Thursday, November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018

Today Leak amd I told the story of why we celebrate Christmas. This is what we told:

 The story of Christmas starts back at the beginning of time, back when the earth was created. In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
(John 1:1-5)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) He created it in 6 days, on the last day he created people in his own image; God created humans to be like himself (1:27). The first was a man named Adam and using a rib from Adam he created a woman, named Eve. Adam and Eve were the first humans created. God had created a perfect world where there was no evil. No one ever cried, there was no pain, sadness or hurt. While their garden was a place of peace there was still the enemy of God, his name was Satan, he hated God because he wanted to be in charge. In the garden, it was Adam and Eve’s job to fill the earth with people and to be masters over all the animals. God told them they could eat from all the trees and plants in the garden, all BUT the Tree of Good and Evil.
                 
 One day Eve was near the Tree of Good and Evil and the enemy of God, Satan, told Eve that God was hiding things from her and didn’t want her to know everything. He told Eve that if she ate its fruit she would know Good and Evil and she would be wise like God. So, she ate the prohibited fruit and then she convinced Adam to eat the fruit as well. Right away they could tell something was wrong, they had lost their connection to God. They had not trusted him and now they knew what evil was, it was called sin- it created sadness, pain, hurt, hunger, fear and death. Its biggest problem was that sin separated them from God—the life-giver. Adam and Eve broke the rules and they could no longer stay in the garden, they had to leave their perfect home and they were sent to earth. God explained to them that because they sinned they lost their connection to him, without their connection to God they would die, that all things now would eventually die.
The cost of sin is separation from God—the life-giver, it’s death. Adam and Eve and everyone born after them would die a forever death.
What Adam and Eve did not know was God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit had come up with a plan to save all of humanity from forever separation from God, from forever death. It was a plan that would take time but God was willing to wait for the perfect time. It was a plan to bring us back together with God. So, as they left the garden God gave Adam and Eve hope, something to look forward to. He said that one day Satan would be defeated and they would be connected to God again, that death would end. They left the garden knowing that one day the Savior would come.

 As each new generation was born the people of God wondered if this would be when the Savior would come. Each mother looked at her baby and wondered would he save the world? Years and years went by. In that time, a prophet/messenger of God gave messages to the people to know what to wait/look for:
Isaiah said:
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). (Isaiah 7: 14) And he also said:
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6
Another messenger of God told the people where to look for the birth of the Savior:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel,
                           
 whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. Micah 5:2
After even more time passed, in a small village, called Nazareth, a young woman named Mary was engaged to be married to a good man named Joseph. One afternoon God sent Gabriel, an angel to visit her. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:28-33)
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin, I have never been with a man.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:36)
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
When Joseph, her fiancé found out about her pregnancy he was shocked and not sure what he should but that night, the angel, Gabriel visited him.
                           
 Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
So, Joseph agreed to marry her.
Just before the baby was due to be born the King wanted to count everyone in his kingdom. That meant poor, pregnant Mary and Joseph had to travel to Joseph’s province, Bethlehem. It was a very hard journey for a pregnant woman. They traveled on a donkey over many hills.
When they arrived in the village they looked for a place to stay but every single hotel was full. There were no rooms left in the entire place. Things were getting more desperate because Mary was going into labor, the baby would be born that night! Finally, there was one hotel owner who said they could sleep in his barn, the house for goats, cows, and other animals.
The family was poor. They didn’t have a fancy things or much money. They were not important or famous. Joseph was a carpenter not a king, they were simply people who loved God and were willing to obey.
That night Jesus became a human. He chose to leave heaven, the perfect garden where God was and there was no sin—death, hunger, pain or sadness. That night the Son of God was born
     
 to Mary and Joseph. The King of the world, the creator of everything shared his bed with farm animals.
That same night there were shepherds watching their flock of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared before them and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will know him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a whole bunch of other angles—an army of angels from heaven—praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth, goodwill to all people.” (Luke 2:10-14)
The shepherds ran all the way to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and there lying in the manger was the baby Jesus, Immanuel—God with us, just like the angel said. They praised God and told everyone that they had seen the Messiah.
There were also Three Wise Men from the east. They had been studying the stars and they discovered one that announced the birth of the King. They followed the star for months until it lead them to Bethlehem where Jesus, the Savior, was born. These three men were the wisest wealthiest men and they came to worship the King of the World. They each brought him a gift—gold, frankincense and myrrh.
These three gifts had meaning too.
         
 The gold was a symbol of kingship on earth, because he is the rightful king of the Jews and of the world.
Frankincense is an incense and a symbol of deity.
Myrrh is an embalming oil and is a symbol of death which pointed to his plan to save all of humanity from forever separation from God.
The baby that was born, baby Jesus, was both God and Man. He went on to grow up and become a teacher, a healer, and to ultimately bring us back together with God, our Life-Giver, by defeating sin--the power that separates us from God. He wanted people to understand that God was good and He loves us. Most importantly Jesus wanted to bring us back together with God by taking the punishment of death on a cross when he was only 33. With his life he taught us how to live and love. This is why the creator of the universe chose to become a baby, born to a virgin and into a poor family in an unknown town of Bethlehem.
We are in a world of sin and that separates us from God--the life-giver. Without that connection, we have no life. Christmas is a day to remind us that we don’t have to be alone, we were given the perfect gift, the gift of JESUS, Immanuel--God With Us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

November 14, 2018

Christmas Staff Retreat! Unfortunatly the cooling down rain storm came just when Penny amd I were getting ready to head out. It was a glorious rain storm and normally a 6 am downpour would be no problem at all. We gathered our back packs and shlepped them down the 7 floors to wait in the bike  covered bike garage on the forst floor for a passapp tuk tuk, it’s a Cambodian rickshaw. The problem was it was a down pour so no one in their right mind was going any where. We waited another 10 min till the rain was almost gone and we were finally able to get one.

When we get those giant downpours the roads can’t get rid of the water fast enough so there were many flooded roads on the way to work. Including a lovely lake rigjt outside our office. This is precisely why I bought shoes that are water friendly because I had to cross the lake many times before we left. I do love a good rain storm!

It will be a bot hard for me to wtite these next few days as I am on my tiny phone with my giant fingers and I’ll be having so much fun I won’t want to write.

Anyway, stay dry out there kids!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November 13, 2018

I am so very tired tonight. I woke up at 12:30 am because my room was so hot. I moved the fan and opened the door to the balcony, unfortunately that also opened up my brain and I couldn't seem to close it again.

After a great meeting with the teachers at the Ta Skor Government school this morning, my brain is done in and I'm packing for the trip, eating a bowl of plain instant noodles and going to sleep.

Good night.

Monday, November 12, 2018

November 12, 2018

There was a buzz in the office today. It wasn't even my fault because I didn't drink any coffee today. I blame the buzz on a full office of people and the fact that it's two days until the Christmas Staff Retreat and for me like any good extrovert the extra people jazzed up my energy.
*Side Note* In case anyone is wondering it is actually a burden at times being an extrovert. By the time the work day was over I felt as if I had just finished a cup of coffee. I was excited, loud, funny and on top of my wit game--why? Because there were people in the office, I'd gotten a lot done, there is a road trip in two days etc. This kind of energy is exhausting and I am aware that people must be annoyed by the happiness and excitement I gush out. Well, it's not like I can really control it. Thankfully my coworkers seem to enjoy it/embrace it/tolerate it and accept me for it. ((I like you for you!)) *End of Side Note*
There is always a lot of talk about our Christmas Staff Retreat. We always go somewhere, unknown to those of us who don't have to do the booking, and it's always a 'mystery'. Except the fact that it's an Australian NGO and they are nutzo about the beach and miss it like a squirrel misses a bird feeder so it's obvious we are going south to the coast. The mystery is simply which town/island/province are we going to. I, however, along with Sam are holding out for the north to Mondulkiri and her mountains, cool air and elephants.

A surprise that has already come is Nic is here from Australia. Those Roberts are a sneaky family who LOVE to surprise! Ha, welcome back to Cambodia Nic, we are very happy to have you here for the week.

We also have a White Elephant gift exchange on the retreat. It's always fun to see what is the most popular with the foreigners and with the Khmer. I'm excited about mine! It may be my best one in the three years I've gone. I'll let you know who gets it. I asked around in the office to see whose gift sounded exciting. I'm not sure what everyone got but the unknown is fun and I like building the excitement around the game.

Over all, I don't care where we go, I don't care what gift I get or who gets my gift. I'm honestly just excited about getting to hang out with my awesome coworkers. They are some of the best of the best. They are genuine, kind, hilarious, strong and my friends. I'll share more about them as we are on the retreat, till then I'm off to sleep so I can regenerate my energy tomorrow, one day more!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 11, 2018

Friday was my day for office worship and I decided it was time for another office read along. I chose My Friend is Sad by my favorite Children's author Mo Williams. I love his books because they are simple to read, enjoyable as an adult and they have such good lessons.

Here's how worship went:



You are enough. It's you I want to be friends with, not anyone else. I like you, for you.

Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loves at all times.

A true friend loves you for you. We just want to be friends with who you are, you don't have to change or try to be someone else. It's you I like!

It's said even better in a great song by Mr. Rogers.

It's You I Like
Written by Fred Rogers | © 1971, Fred M. Rogers

It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys
They're just beside you.
But it's you I like
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself
It's you.
It's you I like.

Be you. Who you are is enough. I like so much about you!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

November 10, 2018

This morning I went to the International Christian Association campus in Phnom Penh to a women's conference. It was lovely. I was able to meet some new people and listen to a speaker from Texas, which is always a treat.

The highlight was the worship songs. I love singing for worship. There is nothing better than a room full of people breathing as one as you praise God for who he is. It's incredible. While I love my local Adventist church we don't sing many praise songs so today was a treat. I wish we could have sung all morning.

A verse that one of the songs reminded me of was Psalms 73:25, 26.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
What I want more than anything is the second line to be true: I desire YOU, God, more than anything on earth. More than traveling home for Christmas, more than my safety, more than a relationship and more than myself. This verse has often been such a struggle for me to make true but today I prayed that it would be.

I was reminded of the power and the importance of prayer. I need to get back to it again. The speaker reminded us that action and worship are not the same as prayer. My plan is to shake my morning devotion time up. I need to pray and not just read something and call it a morning, I'll listen to praise music, meditate on verses and listen for His voice.

Because at the end of the day, my health may fail, and my spirit grow weak BUT God remains the strength of my heart because HE IS MINE FOREVER.

Friday, November 9, 2018

November 9, 2018

I've just finished putting my green chair back inside my apartment, I've turned the kitchen lights off and it's the end of another wonderful Friday night Pasta Night.

Pasta Night is when the other RAW expats gather together in my kitchen, cook a simple dinner and hang out. It was born when I first got here out of a desire to carry on a family tradition of sharing the Friday dinner together and starting the Sabbath (Saturday, the day I go to church) off right. After a long busy week it's nice to slow down, cook a meal with friends and chat about life.

It is an always evolving party. At one point when Re-Knee was here we had to make sure we didn't cook with A LOT of different foods that she was allergic to (tomatoes, garlic, gluten, etc) it was a fun challenge and we were all in support of it. That was how we ended up branching away from always cooking actual pasta. Since then we've experimented with recipes, making everything from roasted capsicum (bell peppers) pasta sauce, smashed avo on toast and spiral pasta (carrots and wax melon spriralized into a 'pasta' type thing, which I think may be my favorite).

It's consisted of just two of us cooking and hanging out. It's been Tesser and Re-Knee laughing and talking about memes and me enjoying their laughter and just listening to their craziness. It's even been a small crowd of almost 10 of us cooking up a storm all doing different parts that contribute to the dinner.

Tonight Karen, Sarah and Alanah came over and we cooked fajitas. I made sweet potato tortillas from scratch, Alanah was a wiz at cutting up the veggies and we used my next to last packet of taco seasoning on them. Sarah splurged on some sour creme and a jar of local salsa and Karen was the supervisor, making sure we picked up the onion slices that kept escaping. We chatted as we cooked talking about everything and nothing at the same time. We simply were present. When everything was just about finished the fireworks started over at the river front by the Royal Palace. They were in celebration of Cambodia's Independence Day! We finished up all the cooking, made our tasty fajitas and ate while enjoying the fireworks from my apartment balcony. It was almost like Cinco de Mayo, ha! We sat and ate and ate and ate until all the tortillas were gone, our stomachs full and the fire works were over. There is never an agenda with Pasta Night, it's simple, we cook, we chat, we hang out.

I've enjoyed getting to know my friends better this way the last few years. There is something special about preparing food together. Your hands are busy and you have things to look at but you can talk and connect with people or listen and hear their stories. Then there is something even more beautiful about sharing a meal with someone. Food connects us to memories, stories and people we love, so we share those moments with each other through out the evening.

Tonight after the food and fireworks, we made our way inside and sat in the living room, in the glow of the Christmas tree, around the fireplace while enjoying the crackle of the beautiful YouTube fire. We pondered the psychological effects of the crackle sound of the fire causing your brain to think it was real and that you would trick yourself into feeling the heat. We had the crackle and two fans going, the heat may have just been genuine heat from living 10 degrees north of the equator. . .

We'll have about 1 more Pasta Night this year. We'll get busy with teams and then Christmas but when we do get together next we'll pick up right where we've left off.

I am so very grateful for Pasta Night and the family it brings.

I pray that we all will always be able to share a Pasta Night with the ones we love.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018

No two days are the same here. One day I may be heading to Ta Skor village to meet with the principal (Tuesday) another day I may be in Mondulkiri conducting a Teacher Training (last Tuesday) or I may be doing a random afternoon of prep for the staff retreat that is next week (today).


I'd say most my days start with me opening my eyes at 5:30 am and getting up at 6 am. Breakfast, quiet worship time and the whole rest of the morning stuff and out the door at 8 am, with a quick stop at Wild Coffee before work with Morning Meeting/Worship starting at 8:30. Then I work on projects, lesson plans, communication etc till lunch at noon. Lunch is normally rice and veggies eaten with my friends in the office but sometimes is an adventure at a new lunch place in town. Then from 1 pm to 5 pm work some more with a recess break somewhere in there so I don't go too crazy (imagine a lot more chair spins then necessary.) I'm back at my apartment by 5:30 pm and I clean, cook, read, watch youtube, or a movie/tv show and do art (braided rugs, weaving, or sewing). I try to rap up my evening and in bed by 9:30 pm but it doesn't always work. . . hence this later posted blog. . . 

That's a regular working in the office day. I'll post about a crazy teacher training day later this month, I've got a couple of them coming up!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November 7, 2018

I walk to work on Wednesday. I don't work far from home. Since I've moved it's even closer but I usually take the long way.

On Wednesday you can get a $1 coffee from our favorite little café, Lot 369. So I walk to the coffee shop (opposite direction from work), say hello to all my friends there and then walk to work. I call my dad and chat with him as I walk, it's hard being 12 hours time difference to chat. Wednesday's are good for calling, no one is busy on a Tuesday night.

As I walk to work I get to see up close the neighborhood. I get to dodge around traffic and tell the tuk tuk drivers I don't need a ride. I really enjoy walking past my regular morning-ride-to-work friends. There's the ladies who sell fruit at the corner, just down from the 5 way intersection. They always have a smile and wave. Then after that next corner I pass "Grandma". When I walk I get to interact more with her. We do a lovely formal greeting, then she says stuff to me in Khmer that surpasses my level 1 and I nod my head. We chat a bit more and then I head on my way to the office. Some days I also see "Grandpa". He's a cutie too, he always stops on his slow walks to reply to my formal greeting. Gotta love the commute friends!

It feels good to walk somewhere. It's a perk of living in the city, I can walk EVERYWHERE!!

On my way home I walk with Sarah. It's a fun thing to look forward to. We chat about the day and I usually stop at my favorite banana stall to get . . . bananas. Today I decided to call the grandma Yey Chek, Banana Grandma, she liked it and laughed at it. Her bananas are always so good, last so long and don't seem to carry a thousand ants like other bananas.

Sometimes on my way home I stop and get a smoothie. My favorite is avocado and mango. IT IS INCREDIBLE. You cannot say anything unless you have tried THIS ONE. I like to buy it take it home and stick it in the freezer so it's more like ice cream. Then I'll pop some popcorn over the stove and I've got dinner! It's so good. Come over and I'll shout you a smoothie and popcorn at my place.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November 6, 2018

It's 8:30 at night and I am sitting on my 7th floor balcony (unless you are an Australian or British, then it's the 6th floor) and I can see in the distance the lights of Olympic Stadium, there must be a soccer game tonight. The construction that happens near it must be finished for the day because I don't see the sparks of the welding.

To the right is a tall building with a giant letter K on the side facing me. It's top floor lights are on, they are red, green and yellow- I think they are trying to be festive in the workout room? The lights are on most nights. When I go to sleep the lights are still on but when I wake in the middle of the night it is dark, minus the giant K. I like to imagine they are having a lot of disco's up there.

Tonight I can hear the planes passing over the city as they go to the left to the airport a few miles outside of the city. They blink softly as they pass. It's a relatively clear night, no stars yet I know they are on the horizon waiting for the city to sleep so they can come out. The longer I sit here the brighter they will get. Often the planets are the first things I see in the night sky.

I can hear the German Shepherd two lots to the right barking at the tuk tuk that is in the street dropping someone or something off. It's not late enough for them to let the dog out to stretch his legs and he'll run down the road with his toenails clicking on the street. I think I hear someones radio playing Khmer music and a child in the distance crying. The music isn't annoying, I find it soothing to have playing very softly in the distance. I definitely hear some whistles, they must be from the guards outside of Royal Mart helping the cars to pull out into the street.

The wind is not blowing strongly so my wind chimes are silent. It's a gentle breeze, enough so my hair flutters gently on the sides. A car passes, a moto passes and it's quite enough again that I can hear a dish and cutlery across the street and voices coming from the street as the neighbors across the road arrive at home. The neighbors across the road on the third floor is still sitting outside. They are often outside, I'm not sure how many men live there but there must be several. They like to sit outside in the evening and listen to music on their phones while they smoke and drink their evening beer.

A street over is a Family KTV, which means it's a karaoke club, advertising for families, I only hope that they are the good kind. It's sign on the top floor is on, the boarder lights softly changing and blinking in their rhythmic pattern. The top corner lights have fallen so the boarder isn't complete, I try not to stare because it will only bother me and make me want to fix it.

I can see the space in the neighborhood buildings where the Russian Market/Toul Tom Pong Market is. The lights from the night market are glowing and I can see the Long After Dark bar that over looks the night market. 

As far as cities go this one is okay, it's an equal blend of friend and enemy. . .my frenemy.

Monday, November 5, 2018

November 5, 2018

Growing up my parents spoke Portuguese as a secret code so my brother and I couldn't understand them. I vowed to learn Portuguese so I could know what secrets they talked about. It turns out my high school Spanish worked just as well.

I remember the day well, we were all in my dad's small car running errands in Fort Worth. My brother and I were in the back and my parents were in the front talking about something or other when all of the sudden they switched to Portuguese. They said some words I didn't understand but then they said "helado" and I knew enough high school Spanish to pick up that they were talking about ice cream. Foolishly, I said, "Yes! Let's get ice cream" and that was the end of the Portuguese code language with my parents.

On my way back from Honduras I was in the airport going through customs and talking with the customs officer and at the end realizing I had been speaking in Spanish. That same summer I remember being in a Target and listening to some ladies talking on the other side of the clothes rack, they were speaking Spanish and I knew what they said. I felt like I was in a secret Spanish club, I was now in a world where I could communicate in my own secret language.

The summer after living in Tchad I was working at Camp Alamisco in Alabama and a group of French youth pastors came over to observe our camp and take back new ideas to France. Since I was the only staff who spoke French I was their official tour guide and showed them the ropes, making friends with them in the process. Again, I found myself in the secret language club.

Even before I planned on coming over here to Cambodia I started learning bits and pieces of Khmer from my friend Khunara, Ra for short. My second Christmas back in Oakhurst I was beyond excited to visit her because I knew all the greetings and wanted to show her I could talk some Khmer. In reality I didn't really know much more than the greetings and a few numbers to barter with in the market. Almost two years in being here I realized I was not learning enough on my own to be in the secret Khmer language club. I needed more help and I needed a class. It is always scary learning a new language, especially in a class. It's vulnerable, hard and embarrassing when you don't understand. But I wanted in the club so I got brave and I went to a class.

The only way to describe what happened is, imagine a big lake that is dammed up, now imagine the dam opening and pouring out water from the lake. That's what my classes felt like, a lake of Khmer words pouring out of me. As each class went by more and more words came and more sentences developed. So much in such a short amount of time. It seems like overnight I was able to have conversations in Khmer. It's been an incredible ride. I finished my class a couple months ago and don't study like I should but I still get to be in the secret Khmer club. Today at lunch I was able to tell a story in Khmer so I could include my friends who don't speak English and it always feels awesome to be able to fill them in on what we were talking about in English. I have a long way to go until I feel really confident in Khmer, but I'm looking forward to visiting with Ra next month and having a REAL conversation with her in Khmer. I want so badly to be in the Khmer language club.

Before I sign off for the day I will tell you the silliest thing I have accidentally said in Khmer, I may have told you already because I think it's hilarious. I had just learned how to ask and answer age questions so I practiced on a friend in Taskor village. I asked him and he in return asked me how old I was so with confidence a diligent student I replied, "Khnum samsap pram chmaa" which in English means, "I am 35 cats". I also mix up months and years which comes out sounding silly and crazy. Today at lunch I mixed up some other word up. It's not easy getting into a language club but it's always worth it.

And that is a small story about being in secret language clubs.





Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 4, 2018

Technology.

When I first lived outside of America I still had to use calling cards, a floppy disk to transfer emails from one computer to the next and I had personalized cd mixes from friends. That was in 2004.

Fourteen years later I video chatted with Tessa and Lou, two friends--at the same time, one was in Perth, Australia and the other was in Brisbane, Australia. We had a mostly clear conversation for an hour without any interruption. I was on my laptop and they were on theirs. It's crazy!

Another video chat with friends in Ohio. 

Living here in Phnom Penh I am quite spoiled. I have internet almost everywhere I go, from a coffee cart to my favorite dinner place, they all have wifi. Even if they didn't have wifi I get more than enough weekly data in my plan that costs all of $1. It's incredible! I am easily connected to EVERYONE! I can talk to my dad in Texas with a better connection than when I lived in California! It's incredible.

A few months back my phone was stolen and I was able to get an iphone 6 plus for under $200. It's a bit slow but no slower than my old iphone 6. My computer charger broke (I think it got fried) and my friend was able to get it fixed for $10 (even though he didn't let me pay).

I just watched Bohemian Rhapsody at a regular movie theater, the same weekend it was released in America. I paid $4.50 for a regular seat and $3.75 for a small sized popcorn (that's always where they get you! I could have gotten an American sized popcorn in a commemorative metal bucket and two cokes for $16 but who in their right mind would pay that much!)

Most everyone here in Phnom Penh has a smart phone. The common phone is an Android as they are user friendly and work well. They have space for two cell cards so you can have both major companies and make free calls to the same brand. Whatsapp is the most common form of professional communication but the regular guy loves his facebook messenger. It's what we use to communicate with each other while we have teams on the ground.

I listen to music via Amazon Prime. It allows me to download most music to my phone (for when I am traveling outside the city and have limited service) or I just listen straight from wifi/data when I'm in the city. I love it and it's the why I pay for prime services.

Overall my technology is better here in Phnom Penh then it was in Oakhurst, Ca. It's the perks of living in a capital city.


***Update***
The day after I wrote and published this the internet went down in the whole city. It was off an on all day today. I ended up leaving work early because I couldn't do any more work without it. *face palm*

Saturday, November 3, 2018

November 3, 2018

In the stories of my Cambodia weather is a central character. Whether he would be the antagonist or protagonist is yet to be known.

The weather of Cambodia at it's best.

Wind has become my closest friend, I open my apartment windows right when I get home to let him settle into each corner. There are windows on three of the four walls and it conveniently lets Wind in on one side so that it can explore the rooms and leave on the other side. With my new apartment there are no neighbor buildings to block my growing friendship with Wind. In fact I sometimes, because Wind is so strong I have to close windows to keep things staying on my walls. pillow.

It is not always playful and cool caresses with wind, there have been times in the middle of the night where something has been brought into my room by wind that smells as if it has been dead awhile or perhaps sitting with death for a few days. There is no way to get the smell out other than to wait for Wind to remove it in whatever time frame he feels. I do enjoy the mornings and evenings when Wind brings the smell of garlic or sweet bread being cooked, those moments are much more appreciated.

Wind does not always stay in the area, he does not ask what I want or take into account the needs of others. There are nights where I long for his presence in my apartment, I morn the loss of the gentle cool caress on my skin. Instead I must carry the burden of Heat alone. On those nights Heat settles in for a turn and brings such discomfort, Heat comes when not wanted and leaves in the night after the sweat soaks into my pillow.

Wind does not always go everywhere. He does not seem to enjoy  Koki in the province of Kratié. Heat is much more present and active there. Heat will fight for your attention and all of your affection. He is constantly on your mind and you can't stop the gifts he brings--dehydration, burn, and heat stroke. Wind is nowhere in site and Heat is needy. I have been on a team trip and every 5 minutes we had to take a break in the shade just to try and ignore Heat.  EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES. Heat is a bit clingy.

The place that Wind does love to go is Senmonorom in Mondulkiri province. Right now it is Wind's moment to shine. He will dance daily with dirt and leaves. The trees move to the tempo that he sets. The nights are filled with his songs and dances, causing me to need a blanket, a genuine soft, fuzzy blanket.

On the best of days both Heat and Wind play well together, they both get my attention and we have a day that is full of excitement, mystery and life. I have learned to adapt to their needs, I can prevent the burn of Heat and embrace the dance of Wind. I supposed weather must be both the protagonist and the antagonist, you need one to understand the other.

Mondulkiri, where Wind plays for days.


The days when I walk outside you can feel the perfectness in the air. Everything seems right. Just enough clouds to cover the sun, just enough wind to caress your skin and it is a perfect mix of morning and happiness. Those days are my favorite. There could never be enough of those days.


Friday, November 2, 2018

November 2, 2018

Oy, these monthly New Year's resolutions are getting hard!

The last I talked about them was in April.

Here's the latest--

May: Off book. To be "off book" with Psalms 121. It was a great passage to memorize

Psalm 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. 
June: On 30 minutes a day of journaling. It went mostly well. I remembered most days and found it to be quite peaceful in the evenings to sit quietly and reflect on the day.

July: Off soda. There were a lot of teams this summer and I realized I was drinking more soda than normal, so I kicked it out for the month. It wasn't too hard, I just drank more water instead.

August: Ugg. I failed miserably at this one. I did nothing, can that be my monthly resolution?

September: Ummmm, I honestly don't even remember this month happening.

October: Off coffee AND On a selfie. Since I didn't do anything for September and I failed at August I made up for it in October with TWO. The coffee one was a bit hard especially at first but I survived. I did find I missed the flavor and the routine of drinking coffee more than I missed the caffeine kick in the mornings. The selfie went mostly well. I forgot a lot of the days, especially because I was sick for a couple weeks and didn't even really go in to work--who wants to remember those days. Over all it was a fun goal to try and remember a picture a day!






November: On blogging. I get to blog something every single day. It can be about the day, a thought, a struggle or glimpse of my everyday journey. I hope we enjoy the month of November! 



November 1, 2018

Dear November 1,

As per our new arrangement in 2017, you are not allowed to get upset by my actions. I understand you are frustrated because Thanksgiving has not yet come and gone and the pumpkins are still in season. Just think about all the positives, I look forward even more to your arrival, November, you get to remind the other months that you have more to offer than just being thankful. Just think if I waited until you were over I wouldn't get to enjoy the cozy at home atmosphere, the anticipation of family and friends. We both know it is better this way. I'm not saying this will last forever, but while I am living here in Cambodia it needs to be this way.

Thank you for your understanding, acceptance, hope and your love, that is what it is all about after all.

Remember, you are now the start of something bigger, you are the start of the Christmas Season!

Love,
Sonya
Step 1: Find free boxes.

Step 2: Cover with free newspaper.

Step 3: Use red and brown tape to make bricks.

Step 4: Light the Yule Log.

Step 5: Enjoy the cozy hug of Christmas. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

New Years Resolution

This year I was inspired to try something new for a resolution. Instead of doing the classic pick one thing to add/take-away to my life I have chosen a On/Off challange. Here's what that is, I choose each month something different to add ON or take OFF my daily life, rotating between the two. You could pick ON drink 3 water bottles full a day for the month and then the next month would be to take OFF all sugar from my diet. It's been fun thus far with March being the hardest month to adapt to.

January: Off all disposable plastic (no take away cups or containers). It was GREAT! It was a struggle but I've managed to make it a habit and I cary reusable plastic containers with me now.


February: On flossing everyday. This one was easy and I saw a lovely improvement in my smile. I still floss everyday too!

March: Off all screens after 9 pm (except any form of texting because it is a good time to communicate with friends back in the states). Now this has been hard! I've fully caved in several times and just used my phone! Blech. I did notice a change in being in bed and asleep at a much more reasonable time. I plan on sticking with this plan and working harder to be off by 9pm. Tonights the last of this month but not the last of the changes!

April: ON. I've decided to be ON Snapchat. . . I know, I never wanted to even download the app but what fun is a New Years resolution if it doesn't challange us? So I'll be on Snapchat for the next month. I don't think I'll be using it after April but I know I'll use it everyday next month. . . here goes!

In case you want to connect on Snapchat, look for DreamsWithFaith.  See you there!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kampot, Cambodia


I took my first long weekend adventure this last weekend. At RAW Impact the expat volunteers get a long weekend a month, to which I am very grateful! I was looking forward to this one for a long time! It was right before a very busy next three months.


  1. We left Friday afternoon to head for Kampot, Cambodia and arrived in good time (4ish hours) missing the evil traffic of Friday afternoon! Wahoo. 
  2. We stayed at a great family type hotel right on the river (Villa Vedici). We could sit by the pool, see the river and the mountains. It was INCREDIBLE.
  3. We adventured by the pool and river all Saturday. It was incredibly relaxing. 
    1. We also rented a two person kayak and went up river. It was beautiful, also very hard to kayak! It's not like canoeing, it's harder. (No pictures of this because I didn't want to loose my phone/camera)




  4. We rented a scooter on Sunday to explore Bokor Mountain National Park. Soooooo very worth it too! It was cooler air, green trees, big rocks...everything I love. We even found most of the ruins and explored them as well.