(You may want to sit down, this is a longer one)
Wow!!! We have now been in Cambodia for over 5 months. Time sure has flown by and now 2018 is in the rear-view mirror. A lot has happened in the last few months. To catch everyone up, here are some highlights since the end of October.
Our Regional Directors, Mark and Paula Jones made a visit to Cambodia the second weekend of November. It was a nice visit to see some familiar faces. That same weekend, we had the opportunity to celebrate with one of our language teachers – we went to our first Khmer wedding! We were happy to share in her special day and Joyce got to wear a traditional Khmer outfit.
November 21 – 23 was Water Festival or “Bon Om Touk”. Please click on the link to find out more about Cambodia’s Water Festival (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Om_Touk). We had the opportunity to take advantage of the Water Festival holiday and get some rest. We went to Kep for a few days. Kep is a small town in southern Cambodia, along the Gulf of Thailand. One of those days, we took a boat to Rabbit Island for a day trip to the beach (there are no rabbits there…why is it called Rabbit Island?!!!??).
- December 7 was the kids’ school’ cross country races. Elisabeth came in 10th place for all the grade 4 girls! She was super proud of herself. At the end of his race, Jojo enjoyed the good flavour of “Royal D” for the first time (similar to Gatorade). He was also very happy.
- Their school put on an amazing rendition of Beauty and the Beast. We were impressed by the singing and acting.
- HOPE International School, where our kids attend, had their Christmas concert. It was weird singing Christmas songs while sitting outside in +30◦C weather. We know many of you are freezing back in Canada as you read this newsletter. If you are looking to move to somewhere warmer, (cue shameless promotion), HOPE International school is looking for more teachers who want to love the children of international workers in Cambodia. https://www.hope.edu.kh/current-opportunities/
- Jadon went camping with his Boy Scouts Troop for the first time. He had a great time sleeping outdoors in a tent, cooking meals, cycling, and fishing. It was only for one night, but his siblings missed him. Josiah couldn’t wait to give his big brother a hug as the troop biked off the ferry!
- Elisabeth has been to many birthday parties since starting school here. We are glad that she is making friends. We were reminded recently of some of the risks here, as one of her classmates had to postpone his birthday party because he got sick, was admitted to the hospital here in Phnom Penh, and then subsequently transferred to Thailand for medical care. We are thankful that medical care is available Cambodia and in Thailand for more serious needs.
- Some of our classmates as well as our kids’ classmates and family members also had Dengue fever. We have been told it’s like the having a flu/fever but 10 times worse.
Dave and I continue with our daily language studies at Gateway To Khmer (G2K) as well as with a tutor. We are now headlong into learning the Khmer script. So far we have learned សរសេរភាសាខ្មែរគឺពិបាកណាស់ (writing Khmer is very hard). When we learned about cooking words, we had some fun and learned how to make a Khmer banana dessert at G2K. We have been very encouraged as we now find ourselves having full conversations in Khmer without being confused. We often surprise ourselves with how much we have learned in the short 5 months we have been studying the language. We are now at about 1000 words learned. Just don’t ask us how many we actually remember. It was also nice to attend the Khmer church Christmas service and not be totally lost.
The recent holidays were harder on the kids than we had anticipated. They missed the Christmas and New Year’s gatherings that they had grown so accustomed to attending over the past years. We thank our friends and family who remembered us and connected with us via Skype or WhatsApp so that we could count down to the new year with them. We also took the opportunity during the kids’ Christmas break to go to Vietnam and visit some of Dave’s family. It was exciting to take the kids to Dave’s birthplace. This trip turned out to be a huge unexpected blessing as the kids enjoyed spending a week playing with the 4 mini poodles there.
Joyce is missing musical worship a lot and Dave’s guitar was too big to play so she bought a guitalele. We also bought Jadon and Elisabeth ukuleles to keep them busy. It’s difficult for the kids to continue doing the things they loved doing at home such as riding their bikes outside. The roads here are too dangerous and there are not many safe places to ride in Phnom Penh. We really do miss all the parks that Barrhaven had.
We continue to try to build community here in Cambodia. It is a little harder at times because we know that 5 to 6 months from now, we will be moving to Siem Reap. We value the lunches and dinners we have had with many new friends. Many of our new friends are from our language classes and we have developed a small community that helps one another out as we have bonded over the struggles of learning a foreign language. One thing that we will probably never get used to though is saying goodbye. We were forewarned that the life of a missionary is one full of constant goodbyes. We have had to say goodbye to many new friends as they moved back to their home countries. Our kids are also learning to say goodbye to their schoolmates who come and go. We appreciate your prayers as we anticipate that June will be difficult for our kids as there will be many farewells to this new group of friends.
On January 7 it was Victory over Genocide Day (Cambodian Victory Day) in Cambodia. This year the holiday marked the 40th year anniversary of the Khmer Rouge surrendering. The holiday is a solemn affair as it marked the end of a very dark period in Cambodian history. As we talked to an elderly person who lived through the years of hardship, she mentioned how many of the younger people today do not know or understand what happened over 40 years earlier. As we serve here, we can see that this country is still very much rebuilding, both physically and spiritually. Please pray with us as we continue to seek God’s wisdom on how He will use us when we finish our language studies and move to Siem Reap. There are so many good things we can do but we want to do what is best in accordance to God’s plans.
We feel blessed and encouraged as we begin 2019. Thank you to all of you who have faithfully supported us through your prayers, finances and friendship. Please pray for us in the coming weeks:
- Praise God that our health has still been good. Pray that we continue to stay healthy
- Praise God that it “feels” a little cooler or maybe we have adapted to the heat
- Pray for Jadon as he goes on his second Scout’s camping trip this coming weekend
- Pray for both Jadon and Elisabeth as they have school camp coming up. (especially for Elisabeth as this will be her first time away on her own!)
- Pray for Josiah to continue to make friends and focus in class but also to not to miss Phnom Penh too much. He has already said that he’s really going to miss it here when we move to Siem Reap in a few months time
- Pray for us as we continue to deepen our relationship with the Lim Family in preparation for our ministry together in Siem Reap
- Pray that our brains don’t explode with all the new Khmer Script learning
- Pray that God would continue to touch individuals and churches and that they would be generous in giving to the Global Advance Fund
Thanks again for journeying with us!
Dave, Joyce, Jadon, Elisabeth & Josiah.