Sunday, August 30, 2009

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Goodbyes

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1:24 AM

So it's Thursday night and I leave tomorrow. I didn't know how I wanted to spend my last night in Cambodia, but I knew I wanted it to be special. The day had already been great, from Kid's Club in the slum (I spent 20 minutes painting little ones fingernails) to meeting some American YWAMer's from Battambang (2 ½ south of Siem Reap) to visiting Common Grounds coffeehouse, an American coffeehouse in the city (free wifi and air con..yes please!). So really it was already a pretty great last day. But the girls surprised me with a special evening. They made dinner specifically for me...sandwiches! Khmer rarely eat bread and sandwiches, so it was not a typical dinner for them. Granted the sandwiches were filled with fried pork and oyster sauce (common cooking ingredient here), so it wasn't a typical sandwich for me either! But I appreciated their effort to make sure I enjoyed the meal. Then we played games together. A banana eating contest, a scarf tying game, an animal version of heads up seven up, and my American favorite, the numbers game. I even counted in Khmer, which was impressive for me! Then they all prayed for me and my journey home. And then each girl shared words of encouragement or thanks to me. I can't believe just a week ago I blogged about figuring how to build relationships with these girls and how to do ministry with them, and then tonight they are telling me they loved me. They hope I can come back and stay longer, so they can know me more. They apologized for not speaking enough English (talk about a different mentality from the States, where we get annoyed when people don't speak OUR language!). And on and on they went. Tears were shed, and we laughed a lot too. God definitely showed up in the midst of language barriers and cultural differences, as He always does. These two weeks have forever changed me and shaped my future. The rest is in God's hands and I am anxiously waiting. So I say goodbye Cambodia, but hopefully not for forever.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Day Worth Celebrating

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4:21 AM
Today [Tuesday] was a unique day. Not only because it started at 7am (usually we start at 8:30!). Not only because we used a new mode of transportation (the flat bed truck). And not only because we got to go to a lake. Today was unique because today the 10 White Doves girls were baptized. About 50 of us from the church caravaned out to the nearby lake this morning to celebrate the baptism of the church family's new believers and to share some lunch and community. (How completely cool and random that 50 people could just pick up on a Tuesday morning and spend the morning at a lake!) It wasn't too different than beach baptisms in America. True, all 50 of us came in TWO flatbed trucks, so that's a little different. But we started the morning with worship, and the pastor shared some verses about what Jesus had to say about baptism. Then we walked down to the water and one by one people were baptized. Martin baptized the White Dove girls. It was a beautiful sight to behold. (The Cambodian church both sprinkles & dunks, best of both worlds I suppose!) I was witnessing living, breathing miracles! These girls have literally walked from death to life, and not looked back. They've run to Jesus with open arms, and He has not disappointed them. Martin described today as “pay day”. He said all the long nights, the good days and the bad days, were all worth it, today. I videoed each girl's baptism so Martin can put together a photo and video memory for them, and his supporters back home. I was honored to be a part.

After the baptisms, everyone swam and swam. The lake isn't all that close, so it was a special treat for everyone to get a break from the heat with some water. (I opted against swimming after Martin's comment about wanting to take a bacteria sample of the water...yikes!) After swim time, we shared lunch. The girls were up late last night preparing and there was enough for all. Rice and barbeque chicken! Now that's a Cambodian meal I can get on board with! True, I ate it off a banana leaf from our backyard, but still! It was one good meal. Then, my favorite part of the day, nap time! The huts were lined with hammocks, so I cozied up and fell asleep to the sound of Khmer singing, kids laughing and water splashing. I would like to hope I can request a hammock in my mansion in heaven, because I could spend an eternity in one! After waking up with a “mild” sunburn (I have new degrees of measuring a sunburn since my recent scalding), we loaded up our truck and headed back to the Center. All 20 of us in the back of our truck (sorry Mom!) were having a great time. Funny thing happened on the way back, we were cutting through the Angkor Wat temples (I LOVE that that is a shortcut we can take here!) and we got stopped by the police. NOT because there were 20+ people in this truck, but because Martin and I are foreigners, and we couldn't be in there without buying a pass! They didn't believe we were just taking a shortcut. So we had to take the long route. But still a good time. I know that today was incredibly special for the girls, and I was thrilled to be along for the ride!

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Indecision

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4:20 AM
So my journey here is half over, which I can not believe. And I'm sure some of you are wondering what God has been telling me regarding my future here and moving back. And the truth is, I still don't know! I knew that I had to come here to really get a feel for the ministry and the people and the country before making a decision like this, but I thought once I got here I would know. And I still don't. Part of me loves the idea of uprooting my life, moving across the world, learning a new language, and mastering the motorbike. But part of me misses the comforts and community of home. Could I really live like this for a year (or more)?? It's been really hard to gauge the ministry, because of the language barrier. But if I were to come back, I'd be sure to learn enough to fluent (or at least conversational). So that barrier wouldn't exist. Plus, there's a flexibility to bring my giftedness to the ministry. Such as teaching consistent English classes, or dance classes, or sewing techniques. And I'm sure there's some bigger picture stuff I could help with, such as fundraising or graphics/newsletter stuff. I know Martin & Dary are desperate for reinforcements! It's so laid back and easy going, and it fits me well. Yeah it's really hot here, but the Khmer shower like 3 times a day, which I would be in favor of! And don't forget about daily nap time. And I'm still not a fan of the food, but there's enough Western food at the Lucky Supermarket that I could easily add things I liked to my diet (I just would actually have to cook...I haven't seen a single microwave here!). Dude, there's even TimTams here (my favorite New Zealand chocolate cookie snack...come ON America!). And there's another American girl moving here in the next few months to stay “indefinitely” which is encouraging, because her & I could probably get our own apartment in town. And did I mention I could own a motorbike?!?! My dream of owning a Vespa could be reality here in Cambodia. I could see a Angkor Wat sunset everyday. I was 50/50 before I left, and halfway through...I'm still 50/50. I really need to hear a direct answer from God. I don't feel I can move forward without Him directing me one way or the other. Part of me feels like this will be the best time in my life to make this leap, because I'm single, no kids, and no major attachments holding me to the States, and know it would be amazing. But part of me likes the normal, day to day life in America, and could be happy with the husband, 2 kids and a picket fence. I just don't know. I'm at a crux of indecision.

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Wat Up!

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4:04 AM
OK, I've been waiting a week to use that blog title. Finally got to visit the temples of Angkor Wat today [Sunday]! I had no idea the size of that place. Angkor Wat is just one temple, and there are actually several spread out over several kilometers. Angkor Wat is the world's largest religious monument. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 – c. 1150), Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. In the late 13th century Angkor Wat was converted from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. The temple has become a symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great national pride. A depiction of Angkor Wat has been a part of Cambodian national flags since the introduction of the first version circa 1863. I toured the big ones: Angor Wat (the famous one), Banyon Temple at Angkor Thom (the one with all the faces) and Ta Phrom (the underground tree one), and even a few smaller ones by the road. I'm not going to really say much about these ancient wonders, but instead let the pictures speak for themselves. Once you see the pictures, you'll see why no words could ever sum up what I experienced there today.

I have more photos, but the internet was not cooperating...come back soon!!

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Cambodian Culture

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3:45 AM
On Saturday myself and girls from White Doves went on an outing, to the Cambodian Cultural Village. It's another big tourist attraction in Siem Reap, which is basically exhibits and shows that display Cambodia's culture and it's influences from Asia. The Village is free for Khmer, Cambodians, and $11 for a me, a foreigner (Angkor Wat is free for Khmer and $20 for foreigners....I'm noticing a pattern). But it was well worth the cost. We started out with the exhibits which highlighted Cambodia's history. It was so different seeing another country's history unfold. About halfway through I realized the absence of God, and when one looks at America's history, God is evident. Not so with Cambodia. We took our time walking through and taking lots of pictures. For some of the mothers, these would be their photographs with their children. What a thrill! The girls were eager to take photos with me as well. My favorite exhibit was the one that showed the building of the Angor Wat temples. Complete with elephants, horses and really big men, it really conveyed the sheer magnitude of those ancient ruins. The entire Village was set in a garden. There were beautiful scenic plants and flowers around every corner. I got a little shutter happy to say the least! The first show we saw was a love story, about a young girl who had fallen in love with a handsome boy. But, as with Khmer culture, her parent's had already arranged her marriage to another. Through what I saw as a sad display of society's norms, the Asian crowd laughed along with the bride being bought, and forced to this other man, and then hit when she ran from him. Through a series of well choreographed dance routines, the girl did get her man, and all lived happily ever after. We hope. After the show we discovered the floating village, which I could only compare to (pardon my geekiness here) the computer game Myst, the world with all those &*@! pipes. It was a breathtaking sight, complete with a giant stone waterfall. We then saw a show about Chinese dance which was pretty impressive. Some crazy flexible people those Chinese! Then we saw a peacock dance show, sadly not where actual peacocks dance, but where men in peacock dance wear perform. Entertaining nonetheless! There was also some unique animals on display, a monkey, a hedgehog, river deer, and a red crane! We paused for dinner, which I've pretty much just given up on trying anymore, and then continued on our way. Our final stop was this exquisite garden with miniature replicas of buildings and monuments in Khmer history. As the sun began to set, my pictures could not be more beautiful. Then as 7 of us crammed into a tuk-tuk, we journeyed home, complete with new memories and a lot of photos, and one great day.

Me and the White Doves girls at the Cambodia Cultural Village!

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Poetry

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3:26 AM
Today [Friday] as I walked through Siem Reap, looking for new things discovered, I walked by many, many shops. Crammed one right after another, selling souvenir crap that no one back home actually wants from their traveling friends. But one store jumped out to me today and I had to go in. It was called Poetry. Immediately the stainless steel shelf d├ęcor and grunge font signage caught my eye. A sign said everything in the store was made from recyclable materials, from jewelry to books to postcards to bags. I walked through, wanting to by everything I saw. But today I only bought 2 things, a “sketchbook” with a silver silkscreen imprint of the Angkor Wat temples and the text “Kingdom of Wonders” and a postcard.


I bought the sketchbook to use as a memory book. I've really moved away from the art of a scrapbooking (much to my mother's chagrin), and am all about digital pictures. But there is just something about holding tangible memories from a trip that is just so meaningful. So my intentions are to print out some pictures from the trip and mount them in the book, record some thoughts or verses from the trip, and even have some of the girls write in it, because the Khmer written language is just beautiful. I liked that the cover said “Kingdom of Wonder” because this whole trip has been a wonder. Not only do I “wonder” if I could be moving back here, but I'm in “wonder” of how these people live day to day, and I'm in “wonder” at how big our God is. So I thought it was appropriate, so I picked it up! I was about to pay my 5 American dollars (btw almost all shops use both American dollars and Cambodian riel, so it's quite common to get change back in both currencies. I have 3 different countries currencies in my wallet right now too!), when I saw a stack of sharply designed postcards with catchy sayings. One that grabbed me read “JOURNEYS are nothing more than a pile of plane tickets, bus stubs, restaurant bills, unused anti-diarrhea tablets, dirty laundry and a roll of undeveloped film still awaiting recollection of still memories to remind us that we are all strangers all yearning for a CONNECTION”. Oh what truth! On a $1 postcard! Every city, country and continent across our globe is filled with people searching for a connection. With a person or a place or a higher power, there is a yearning that remains unfulfilled. I consider myself extremely blessed to know that my yearning for connection can only be met my the Most High, and nothing short of eternity with Him will fill that void. So as I travel, across the world and back, I connect with people and places and hope in one way or another I am pointing back to where true connections are found.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Fast Times

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5:49 AM
Every Friday the girls at White Doves fast. From morning until 5pm. Now it may seem like something that would become routine after awhile. Get up Friday morning, go through the day without food, pig out at night. I know in America religious traditions can quickly become routine. So I was skeptical of the idea at first. But I participated nonetheless (I'm barely eating anyway, not eating at all is hardly a stretch). I must admit I was definitely wrong about the monotony of it all. The morning was the same as usual, get up, have devotions (the kids don't fast btw) and go about morning chores and activities. But then instead of lunch time (which is the only real group meal of the day), we gathered around our tables (realized today that there are no chairs in our house...so odd!) and we listened to worship music and spent several minutes in the Word, asking God for a verse to share with the group to encourage each other. After a few minutes, girls began to share. Not just one or two, but all ten! Each girl had a verse God had given them, which they read aloud and then encouraged the group with it. It's quite obvious that these girls have a personal relationship with Jesus. I often get caught up in the theology and forget how easy it is to have a relationship with Him. Childlike faith indeed. After we shared our verses, we stood in a circle and prayed. Next month starts a new term, which means 12 new girls are going to join the house, and the current girls are going into the karaoke bars, guest houses and massage parlors to outreach to the working girls and encourage them to leave and join White Doves. These same girls that were living that life until recently. Paul's words about a new creation have never been more alive to me than right now. We prayed for the new girls and the new term. We prayed for the slum ministry. We prayed for the leadership. We sang in worship. I didn't even realize we skipped lunch. I wasn't even hungry. It was a great experience to share with them.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life or Something Like It

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8:34 AM
So the past two days I've just continued adjusted to the routine or lack there of here at the White Doves house. I'm going to bed pretty early and waking up pretty early too. We begin everyday with devotions, which I like (especially when I know the songs!). Yesterday and today I taught English classes for the girls. It was really fun, and challenging. They know some basic stuff, but really want to learn conversational phrases. But its hard to teach conversation with out knowing vocab! So I've done basic phonics, vocab, counting, and time. I need to look up more online... I've enjoyed having a specific role though! Since I'm just “visiting” and not staff, I don't feel like I have ownership in the ministry, so its been nice to get slices of it :) Every Thursday the girls and staff go out to the slums for Kids Club, where hundreds of kids from the slum come and sit and sing, and play games, get snacks and vitamins and clean water, and get their wounds treated. I got to teach English there too! Angelina Jolie definitely had the right idea about adopting from Cambodia, these kids are beautiful!! I couldn't help be moved to tears as I watched the White Doves girls dancing and singing songs about Jesus to these impoverished kids. To imagine where these girls were only 6 months ago, and to see them now, doing ministry, it's amazing. I'm honored to be a part. I haven't been taking too many pictures, because Martin & Dary have asked me not to take any of the girls at the home, as not to further their exploitation. A lot of times missionaries mean well, sending pictures of the awful conditions to friends and family back home to raise money. But these girls have been used enough. So my pictures of them will be few and fleeting, but their faces are forever with me. They have started teaching me a little Khmer as well. It is NOT an easy language! But I have most of their names (finally) and hello, goodbye, and 1 – 5. I had to write them all phonetically. Ironically, Joy is hard for the to say, so my name here is Jumpai, after a beautiful flower, which I just saw for the first time today. They picked me one! Today I also helped with some cooking, and made some delicious spring rolls. One of the first things I've enjoyed. Then tonight me and a few of the girls walked over to the Siem Reap Mall again so I could get dinner and the girls could shop. Bonus...caramel frapp and free wifi!! I'm pretty sure that I will be in much better shape by the time I leave here, we are walking and biking EVERYWHERE! Tomorrow evening, I'm biking over to the Angkor Wat Temples (free after 5pm!) with a YWAM guy volunteer visiting from Phnom Penh. Can't wait to see them, especially at sunset. So that's all! Coming soon...laundry!

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This Ain't a Scene

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8:06 AM
I'm slowly getting acclimated to the (Christian) culture of Siem Reap. I haven't done anything with YWAM before this, but I knew they are very reputable as far as short term missions goes and on the charismatic side of things. But that's all. One thing I've observed is that the ministry programming doesn't overpower the culture. This is a very laid back city, country and culture. Therefor the ministry here is very laid back. An hour of small group and prayer in the morning, and prayer before meals is really the only organized ministry time. But that's definitely not to say ministry isn't happening. For hours the girls knit these crazy detailed bags, that they will sell for money for the ministry. And Dary keeps music playing throughout the house, some Khmer, some English, but all “Jesus music”. So today I've found myself rocking out to MaryMary, God's Property, Carmen, and Avalon. Clearly not my style of choice. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The girls are learning a dance to “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” for the slum kids tomorrow, and I got to sing it for them (until the CD is found), and it was fun! A little one, Net, comes up to me to dance with her to a hiphop version of “Awesome God”. And for worship this morning we sang “Shout to the Lord” and “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”! Coming out of my hipster generation, and too cool Christianity with its emergent vs. emerging debates, this couldn't be farther from that. I know I've mocked the outdated Christian culture that still thrives in America with the best of them. My worship playlists consist of Derek Webb, Jason Upton, Jon Foreman and of course Preson ;) I even stopped listening to a lot of Hillsong because it was so “overdone”. But absolutely none of that matters here. All that matters is God. Not whose guitar chords are the best, or the lyrics the most profound or poetic. And it's refreshing. And it's not just the Christian culture, nothing about these people are fashionable or trendy. It's so freeing. The girls told me I looked pretty when I was wearing my black skirt and this silly purple Woodstock tee after sweating through my khaki capris from earlier that day. Pretty was not what I felt. But I felt that I looked like one of them. Just comfortable in my own skin, sweat, and dirt.

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Cambodia Dating Scene

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8:02 AM
Relationships and dating are an area interest for me, ironically, being single and all. Probably because of my job, where I actually teach students how to have a healthy relationship, and future marriage. So I thought I would take some time to learn and talk about the current Cambodian dating culture. Well, there isn't one. Cambodians do not date. At all. If a girl and boy are seen together alone somewhere it is assumed they are already engaged or married. So how do Cambodian marriages actually happen? Many are still arranged marriages, where neither party has a choice in who they are marrying. But others it's your typical boy-meets-girl scenario, with a twist. Boy sees girl, she catches his fancy, but doesn't dare approach her. Instead he asks people about her. Who is she? Is she single? Where is she from? What is her family like? After he feels like he has a good idea of who she is and where she comes from, and if he likes what he hears, he approaches her parents. Father and prospective suitor meet, discuss future marriage, and negotiate a price for his daughter, either monetary or goods. At this point, the couple is engaged and now may get to know each other a little. The wedding arrives and its a rich celebration steeped in tradition and family honor. And the couple lives happily ever after?What happens to these couples after the “I do”?

Well, women are taught since birth to respect men and honor and obey them. So a wife has a strong allegiance to her husband. Men are not taught this principle. Men disrespecting their wives (and women in general) is common and expected. Husbands are abusive and unfaithful, and wives are supposed to take it. It's no wonder so many in this culture are in bondage!

I know dating isn't the best invention of the modern Western world, but how else does one discover compatibility with a partner? Do these cultures even want marriages to last? For a country that is so focused on the family, they sure have a warped view of marriage.

I write about this because I think it plays into the issue of sex trafficking here in Cambodia. Men who are unhappy at home with wives they married without knowing, go searching for the physical comforts of a woman. Or men who are too poor to afford a bride, looking to meet some needs, hire one of these bar girls for the night. And women, never taught to stand up for themselves, or value themselves, or realize they are more than a man's object, are caught in this industry to provide for family. How heartbreaking, how devastating, and how overwhelming.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Slice of Cambodian Life

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4:17 AM
Well I made it to Cambodia. I am now living a city where bicycles and motorbikes outnumber cars 10 to 1. Where everyone takes nap after lunch (get with it America!). Where people take their shoes off before entering any building. And where tourist-y city also means 2nd poorest city in the country. I don't really know what expectations I had of Cambodia, but I'm pretty sure its different than I was expecting. I got off the plane and felt I like I was in a movie. It was very surreal. Martin & Dary, the White Doves directors, met me there with smiles and I immediately felt welcomed. I rode in a tuk-tuk from the airport, which is a motorbike pulling a cart with a shade on top. Found out that most drivers in Cambodia don't have a license, just paid a fee and got a “license”. And when you watch them drive, you can tell.

The YWAM base and White Doves center is located in a suburb of Siem Reap and it's even poorer than the city. Huts line the poorly paved streets where owners are offering a service (restaurant, hair salon, internet, book shop) or just living. I (and Martin) am one of the few white people in this area. I'm sure I stick out like a sore thumb! I got to the YWAM base Monday morning and was able to take a short nap before my first trip to the White Doves center, which is about a 5 minute bike ride away. I joined the girls for lunch (rice & undistinguishable greens and beef....still adjusting to the cuisine to say the least!) and got to meet each of them. There's only about 11 girls there right now, many have moved on. And out of this bunch, all of them have been at the center for over 6 months, so they are very adjusted to the way of life there and even have a relationship with God now. Their English isn't too great, and so most of the time Martin and Dary were translating for me. The girls introduced themselves to me (in English) and I found out that they range in ages from 30 – 16. Now that they are more stable, Martin and Dary have begun reconnecting the girls with the children. About half of them have kids, and there's about 6 living at the center. Beautiful little things with huge brown eyes. Two precious little girls have latched onto me for life! After lunch I was able to go with Dary to take a few of the girls to start their “internships”. One girl is working at a hair salon, learning to do hair, makeup, nails, etc... And two other girls will be learning dressmaking. It's exciting to see how far along these girls are in their recovery, to the point of learning such crafts and soon to be employed. The girls who aren't interning simply played with their children, did chores or did some knitting to make some bags they sell. I found out that these girls actually earn money while staying there, $55 a month! So it's incentive to leave the brothel life, and start anew.

I was so jet lagged yesterday that I went to bed at 4pm and slept until 6am the next morning. Dary had picked up some groceries for me (probably after my reaction to lunch!) and I was pleasantly surprised to find bread, jam, Coke, and yogurt (aka Western food). This morning I began mastering the art of bike riding, and joined the girls at the center for devotions and prayer. It was exciting to know that even though I can't understand them, our God can, and how big He is! Martin, Dary and I went out for breakfast (I got iced coffee – delicious!) and I got to hear how they met (he's Norwegian and she's Cambodian...it's quite a story!) and how the ministry came to be. Love those stories! Had lunch with the girls (a little better...still weird) and we celebrated 3 girls birthdays. I found out that not a lot of them know their actual birthday, because their parents never kept paperwork on them, so some of it was just guesswork. It was the most emotional birthday party I've ever been to because 2 of the girls, had never celebrated their birthday before. Mum, turning 24, and Sari, turning 17, had not once had someone ever celebrate their birth or their existence. We sang, ate cake and gave presents. It was beautiful.

I am now in downtown Siem Reap, where tourists and white people are a plenty, sipping a papaya-orange smoothie and enjoying some free wifi. Gotta love it. Some prayer needs...rest & adjustment (jet lag is still wearing on me), and ministry opportunities...I know that sounds odd, but I have found it quite hard to do relational ministry, when I can't speak their language. I would love for God to help me see how to serve these girls. I think I'm moving into White Doves either tonight or tomorrow, so I'm hoping for more chances with the girls. So until next time....good bye!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Travelogue

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2:29 PM
So my journey began at 6:30am, Saturday, when I left for the Tampa airport. I have flown out of that airport numerous, but I have taken so many of its luxuries for granted....free wifi for example. So I board my first leg to Dallas and we're off! I was little nervous because I was sitting with a kid and his mom, but he has remarkably well behaved. Way to go parenting. In Dallas, I got to use the nifty new SkyTrain to get to my next destination. With only an hour to kill, the time flew by and soon I was on my way to Tokyo, Japan.

It was a 13 hour flight, no stops. Something I don't American Airlines ever considered when building their aircrafts. True I had a lucky window seat, and with the 2 seats-aisle-5 seats-aisle-2 seats set up, I only to crawl over one other passenger. That was good. But the rows are so crammed together that while in my seat I could barely move. That was bad. One thing I enjoy about international flights is in-flight entertainment, and here AA did not disappoint. With my very own viewing screen, I spent the bulk of my flight watching “X-Men: Wolverine”, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, “Star Trek”, and “27 Dresses”. And by the time I began to tire of my iPod games (lifesaver, btw), my trail mix and Elizabeth Bennet slaying zombies (plane book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), we were preparing our decent into Tokyo.

On Sunday afternoon. Yeah, we crossed that sneaky International Date Line, so I “time traveled” if you will, to an entire different day on my 13 hour flight. But I find my way out of the gate and things get a little tricky. I didn't have a boarding pass for this next leg, but the original ticket counter said it would be no problem in Tokyo, so I hoped she was right. I located the gate for my flight, and I hiked the loooong hallways of Naritu Airport, got my boarding pass, no sweat. So Sunday evening, I board a Thai International flight to Bangkok. And let me tell you what, I would fly the remainder of my flights on Thai International. They really do it right! It was a HUGE plane, double decker, and the 3 seats-aisle-5 seats-aisle-3 seats set up. Their airline colors are bright pink, purple and gold. The flight attendants were on top of everything, hustling about. And I got free headphones and an eye mask! So if one can judge a country by their airlines, I would venture to say that Thailand is about comfort, luxury, and beauty. And America is about the money, cramming as many seats into a plane as (barely) possible in order to sell the most tickets. But, I digress. Sadly, as beautiful as the Thai airline was, it was my least favorite leg. When I boarded I realized it was a SIX hour flight from Tokyo to Bangkok (so like half of the flight I just finished), and its like midnight Florida time, and I was on the aisle. So I did my very best to sleep on and off, but it just left me groggy.

But we finally landed in Bangkok, at like 9pm and another problem presented. My flight to Cambodia is on a completely separate ticket, and I can't get to the baggage claim without a visa to Thailand. Which I don't have. Now, I didn't JUST realize this (I'm not a idiot..usually), and the lady at the ticket counter in Tokyo set it up for my baggage to go through to Siem Reap, I just had to verify it in Bangkok. But I couldn't verify it because the ticket counter wasn't open! So after multiple conversations with airport staff, the only thing for me to do, was to go back and just wait for the ticket counter to open at 5am.















So now, I'm in a foreign airport in the middle of the night, hoping my bags are going where I'm going and trying to figure out how to get some more sleep! Thankfully, the Bangkok airport is huge, and beautiful, so I wander and find an internet cafe (not free) and then an airport lounge that let me crash on their couch for a few hours (with free internet, ugh), but they closed at 12:30am and kicked me out. So as I wandered the shops of the Bangkok, an oasis beckons me from afar. I blink twice to make I'm not seeing things. I'm not, it's true...I've found Starbucks. I run up to the counter, and realize they are still open (24 hours actually) and order an iced vanilla chai (almost tastes the same), sit down in a big padded comfy chair (which will double as my bed in a few), plug in my laptop and write this blog. Not a bad ending to a long weekend. So, tomorrow I tackle Cambodia. And after today, I'm ready to be DONE traveling and just starting LIVING. Until then, from across the globe, good night.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The "Week Of" Thoughts

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3:30 PM
This is the week I leave for Cambodia. I can't believe it's finally here. I feel like I should be stressed more and packed more, but I am not. I am spending this week closing the chapter on summer jobs, saying goodbye to friends leaving for college, reconnecting with close friends and just living. I've been thinking things like "Am I bringing enough clothes?" and "Am I gonna like the food?" and "Should I bring my own toilet paper?" and "I hope I don't get lost in the airports!" I'm just really excited to get there and see what the country, the people and the ministry is like . I'm anxious to see if it is in fact where God is calling me long term. There are so many unknowns and possibilities, it's a bit overwhelming! At my last Watermark service this past Sunday, Tommy shared these words from Ephesians 4: “In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel.” That's really all I can do at this point, is just run down the road God has called me down. And pray that my life is worthy of that calling.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Visual Journey

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4:00 PM
Check out this video I put together for my upcoming trip to Cambodia...

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