12 Hour Layover, Part 2: Reflecting on God’s Presence

Throughout our entire trip (before, during, after) God has been SO present. Here are just a few ways we have seen God working:

  • Our Team:  Brianna and Rachael joined our team partway through training after the trip to Vietnam was cancelled. There was also Nikky, who joined us from the Asian Hope offices in Denver. We all worked very well together. God undeniably had a hand in creating this team, and we are all so grateful for each other. When we think of our team, the verse John 13:35 comes to mind, which says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
  • Welcome Help From Strangers: We were so blessed by the other Summer School Teachers who were teaching in the Asian Hope Organization who came through Teach Overseas. For One, the provided much needed encouragement and advice about how to manage our classrooms and ideas for lesson plans. Secondly, They helped alleviate some of the burden of  planning the VBS, and were reliable in completing tasks to prepare for them, which provided our team with much needed rest, particularly in the last two weeks when we taught swim for four hours after teaching all morning. We have no doubt that they directly contributed to the success of the VBS, as well as our team moral through encouragement provided.
  • God in the Classrooms: Although Asian Hope is a Christian School, only about ten percent of students who attend them are actually christian when they begin. As students progress in the Schools, they are mentored and cared for by Christian Teachers whose ultimate goal is to spread the love of Christ to these children. This Results in compassionate care, which has kingdom impacting results. It was an honor for us to be a part of this this summer, and a joy to love on kiddos who were our students.
  • God in the Cambodian Church: There is much heartbreak and tragedy in Cambodia. This stems not only from the horrific events of the Pol Pot Regime, but huge wealth disparity, dark spirituality, and poor health and nutrition. We reflected in an earlier post that the Cambodian Church is small but full of hope and perseverance.  The Christians are full of determination to demonstrate the love of Christ and to spread the gospel. We ask that you join us in continued prayer for the people in Cambodia who are doing God’s work.
  • God Answers Prayers: Throughout our time in Cambodia, we often posted prayer request, be it safe travels, health concerns, or energy. For those of you who prayed, thank you so much. God definitely heard the prayers and answered them. Although there were times where we did not feel 100%, or that we were exhausted, Overall we remained healthy, safe, and focused.

We still have one (or two) more legs of our journey, Andrea and Money are getting ready to board their final flight from South Korea to LAX. Rachael and Brianna fly to Seattle, and from there they catch flights to Portland and Denver. Please continue to pray for safe travels.

We would also appreciate prayer as we transition back into life in the United States, that it would not be too difficult, but that we would remember our experiences in Cambodia and apply them to our daily lives at home.

Lastly, Thank You SOOOOOOOO much for all of your support, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We have had an incredible time, and we are so grateful that you have walked alongside us in this journey.

Stay Classy Phnom Penh.

12 Hour Layover, Part 1: 15 Tips to Survive in Cambodia

1. Bring peanut butter and use it generously on everything…unless you’re allergic to it, of course.

2. Mosquitoes dominate the air, so bring lots of bug spray. And then bring double than what you think you need. And then bring anti-itch cream because you WILL get bit.

3.a. You’re gonna live in your sweat. Get over it. It’s not if you’re sweating, but how much.

3.b. You’re gonna sweat. Wear neutral colors or else everyone will see how sweaty you are.

4.a. Have an adventurous attitude and be open to trying new things. We’re same same but different.

4.b. Be open to the food, culture, and humidity.

5. Bring someone with an innate sense of direction.

6. Become buddy-buddy with an English-speaking tuk-tuk driver.

7. Prices are not set, so don’t be afraid to haggle until the price is right.

8. Chocolate banana smoothies and shakes will become your new best friend.

9. Watch out for bones in your meat.

10. Don’t put the toilet paper in the toilet. Don’t do it!

11. It’s rains. It POURS. You’re going to be soaked. Don’t bother bringing a rain coat because you’ll get hot. And put everything you carry with you in plastic bags.

12. Ear plugs might be a good idea. A lot of noise at unnecessary times of the late night and early morning.

13. If you have a super-sensory sense of smell, good luck because 95% of the smells are rather unpleasant.

14. Learn some basic, key words in Khmer.

15. If you hate bugs, get over it…or they will get over you.

It’s Hard to Say Good-bye

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for a whole month already and that we’re packing our bags and boarding the plane tonight. We’ve enjoyed our entire time here. Our last week went well and was a lot of fun.We ended VBS on Thursday night talking about the prodigal son.We all enjoyed getting to know the kids in the classes we helped in over the two weeks as well as working with the other teachers who were teaching at the schools with us.  We finished up swimming lessons on Friday. It was fun to be able to see the improvement in all of the kids over the two weeks. We also had our last day teaching our classes on Friday. It was really hard to say goodbye to all the kids that we taught over the month and have grown so close to. Now we are all preparing to go home later tonight. Andrea and Money have a 8 and a half hour layover in South Korea, while Rachael and Brianna have a 12 hour layover. We’ll update our blog more during our layovers.

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And yesterday we ate worms, HUGE gargantuan crickets (like the cockroach godzilla monster bug we described in an earlier post), and embryo duck eggs (which we spared you from by taking a picture with them still in the shell). Hakuna matata!

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We’ll write in a bit. We love you all!

Home soon!

Hello, friends!

After a month in Cambodia, the team will return to the States Monday night.  As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.

Here’s flight information for those of you meeting students at the airport:

 

  • Monica and Andrea return to LAX on July 21 at 10:40 AM on Korean #17
  • Brianna returns to Portland on July 21 at 3:49 PM on Alaska #2151
  • Rachael returns to Denver on July 21 at 11:53 PM on Alaska #680.

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives.  It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

  •  Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,
  • Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,
  • Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,
  • And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives.  The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and we’ll encourage them to keep meeting together to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories.  Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time.  We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account. 

You might appreciate this perspective on returning to America in a blog post from Emily Brown, a former SPRINTer who spent the past year in Zambia with the Mennonite Central Committee.  As Emily looks forward to her own return home she brings up a number of feelings that will also be relevant to SPRINTers in this season.  http://emilybrowntozambia.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/the-countdown-begins/

I’ve mailed team members a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship to help them think through their experience as they move forward.  If you have time I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.  Take a look at some of those articles here: http://www.kristafoundation.org/index.cfm/page/the-global-citizen-journal-5/

Thanks for your support of students on this team!   Please let me know if you have questions.

 

Owen Sallee

SPRINT Advisor

owen@spu.edu

The (Not-So) Itsy Bitsy Spider

Hooray! Everyone who was sick have now recovered after our three day weekend. So thank you for your prayers. We were able to relax and see a movie on Friday. On a scale of 1 to 5, we give How to Train Your Dragon 2 a chuckle and a ha…because it’s puny. Get it? Because dragons have scales. Okay, anyway. That was really all we did Friday because that was our day of rest. But lots of team bonding time.

On Saturday we visited the killing fields in Choeung Ek. Even though it was VERY hard to see, it helped us to understand Khmer (Cambodian) history and culture. Because the genocide was relatively recent, it was so important for us to see in order to understand the Khmer people that we see and interact with on a day-to-day basis. It’s also very important to the people of Cambodia that the world understands what happened in their country, not only to understand their loss, but to prevent future tragedies around the world. They globally promote genocide awareness by remembering the horrors of  their genocide.

This weekend at church the pastor spoke of how Gods’ work is done through God’s people. God’s people are able to do His work through prayer and their willingness to be open to opportunities that God presents in day-to-day life. Although the Cambodian church is small, we have come to see the Christians here are very hopeful and resilient people in the midst of difficult circumstances, such as the aftermath of the Pol Pot regime and dark spirituality. The people have unwavering faith in Gods transformative power to redeem and restore shit (pardon the language, but there are really no words to describe the depths of their pain). We see this faith in the schools we serve which are Christian organizations that equip young people to do God’s work. The schools recognize that Cambodia’s future is with the youth and want to empower and equip them for the future.

A crazy and adventurous activity we did this weekend was to experience a certain type of cuisine. Some were nervous, some were scared, some were excited, but in the end, on the count of three, we all consumed, ze tarantula. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we ate ze tarantulas. Deep fried, topped with lime and pepper sauce, they actually didn’t taste that bad. A word of caution, bring floss with you to make sure you can get all the legs and hairs out of your teeth. In the modified words of Timone the meerecat – “Luau! If you’re hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat, eat my buddy tarantula here, he is a treat.”

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In terms of activities and ministries this week, it looks very similar to last week with morning lessons, afternoon swim lessons, and night VBS. Please continue to pray for energy and motivation so that we will not grow apathetic. We want to continue to be present here during our last week here, rather than just looking forward to being home (though we are all excited to see friends and family).

We all be Like Pruny Raisins

This week has been a whirlwind of busyness! In addition to our morning classes from 7:30-11:30 am, we now teach swim lessons at Logos from 1-4 pm, Monday through Friday, this past week and next week. The kids range from very, very young to teenagers. Most of them don’t speak English, so it’s been a bit difficult to teach them swimming techniques. It has been a good challenge, but we have been learning the value of words given that we can’t communicate with them. We have put emphasis on communicating with nonverbal cues. We’ve also learned several words in Khmer (arm, leg, straight) to help us. Please pray for patience and that the students continue to learn quickly. And for energy! Boy, do we need to keep up our energy because the kids are balls of energy.

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We are also now leading a VBS (with help from the other summer school teachers) three times a week, from 5:30-6:30 pm. There are a total of about 230 kids broken up into three groups. This past week, we taught on Monday, Wednesday, and today (Thursday). So far, we have taught about Noah, Jonah, and Daniel. The kids have enjoyed the stories, crafts, and games we have prepared. We are VERY thankful for the help of the other teachers, as we are exhausted by this point of the day. Due to our exhaustion in the past week, most of our immune systems are faulty at this time. Thankfully, we do not have school tomorrow (due to a holiday), so hopefully we can catch up on sleep and recover. Please pray  for rest, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well, as we begin our final week in Cambodia.

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Siem Reap- Thailand Lost the Battle

This weekend our team traveled to Siem Reap in northeast Cambodia. Siem was the word for Thai before Thailand was the title. Reap means lost the battle. So the city is where Thailand lost the battle to Cambodia. Siem Reap is believed to be the site of the original Khmer civilization. We left Friday afternoon after teaching our classes and returned late Sunday night. Friday, we visited the night market and Pub Street, which is the main strip in Siem Reap that  has a plethora of market, stores, vendors, and restaurants.

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to tour Angkor Wat,  which is a historical site that has over 200 ancient temples, though we only visited four. We learned a lot about the history of the people, the architecture, and the main religions of Cambodia. We learned that Angkor means city and Wat means temple, so City Temple or Temple of Cities. Angkor Wat began as a Hindu temple, but as new kings of Buddhist religion took over, they changed it to Buddhist temples. When power rotated to Hindu kings, they destroyed Buddhist influence in the temples. IT WAS SO HOT! BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!! We apologize for all the sweaty, shinny pictures. After a long day of walking, we all enjoyed foot massages, and some of us even got our feet massaged and pedicured by fish. Tickle tickle little fishies (must say in Gru accent)!

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Sunday, we went on a boat to the Floating Village. It was so amazing to see how people live their lives completely on the water. We saw a floating school, police station, and crocodile farm! After returning we took a cooking class and learned how to make traditional Khmer foods! This was so much fun and we had a blast making fresh spring rolls and chicken amok. Once we finished up eating our delicious meal we headed to the airport and eventually home. We all enjoyed our time at Siem Reap and the many adventures we experienced.

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We appreciate all your continued prayers and thoughts during our time here. Please continue to pray for energy and new ways we can serve those around us.

 

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