Rit Ri’e Jol Chinam Temay (Happy Entering of the Year New)
Phew! Can you say that about a whole year? The roller coaster of 2010 has just reentered the station and I must say: my head is spinning, my eyes are watering, I’m out of breath, and my stomach was lost in the last loop. But I’m sporting a wide, toothy smile.
January had me bouncing down the dusty roads of Ratanakiri, and working with our ‘Young Lions’ youth team as they shared; their school knowledge, their love for the Lord, and their words of encouragement with the orphans and village kids in this very remote and poverty stricken part of the country. They brought relationship, learning and a million laughs to loads of kids.
Back from the dusty roads, showered and dressed to the nines Cambodian style; January 26th was Naome and my engagement ceremony. If you a want to start a year of with a bang, this is a great way to do it. We had food, friends, fancy clothes, and a first kiss in front of an audience of hundreds.
March madness was all about computers as we reestablish our computer lab. We purchased, refurbished, cleaned, polished and reinstalled our Rosetta Stone English language program. It took a team of five a week of pushing buttons, pulling wires, and a little hair pulling to get us up and running. BUT, we now have 27 computers providing fun language learning for a lot of excited and very eager kids. March and April also had me and my little red Hyundai running all over Phnom Penh making friends with every official in every government office from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Police. You know you have to meet and greet, sign and stamp a pile of paperwork to get married. However, Naome and I made it through every hoop, and in May with dad and brother here, we dawned our first of many colorful costumes as we tied the knot.
All this while, you could hear the buz and hum of the sewing machines as the girls continued to turn out their new creations. They’ve added trim, and pockets, drawstrings and elaborate stitch-work. Sina and Srey Da have used their education savings to help them get started at the Dom Bosco Hotel School. Sapha is currently studying cosmetology and will use her savings to start a small shop near the Center. Our new comer Chhaily, who was afraid to get started because she had never sewn before, is now happily applying her monthly earnings to needed materials at medical school and gas for her moto/scooter. And Karona, our 8th grader, loves supplying her friends at school with new pens, pencils and snacks. Fortunately, part of her earnings are going into her Personal Education Fund for when she graduates. A further blessing to the program is that we now have friends in Singapore and in the States who are helping to sell through fairs, home groups, and bookstores. So, the sewing keeps zipping along.
June had a wonderful visit by friends and their kids from the US. And once again I was floored by the international language of ‘kid speak’. It’s always fun to watch two, three or twenty kids from different countries, and who speak completely different languages somehow become fast friends within minutes; arm in arm, smiling and playing some newly discovered game. That was West and Pearl with the kids in Chom Chao.
A few weeks later it was playing doctor, as a good percentage of our 70 kids in from the provinces for the Music Program got hit by the flu. The clinic was in full operation with round-the-clock care. IVs were flowing, medication moving, temperatures taken, and in the end all left cured and happy to get back to their music making.
Noame and I then made two moves; first over the boarder and second around the corner. We had a chance to go and explore Ho Chi Min, so we paddled the canals of the Mekong and plied the paths of the markets. We filed up on pho and took in a Hollywood movie on the big screen, which was a treat as Phnom Penh theaters only show Cambodian ‘zombie’ movies. Back home, we packed up boxes and loaded up a truck then we climbed a mountain of stairs and heaved furniture up and over our fourth story rail to settle into our new petite one-bedroom penthouse. Happy to enjoy the view while recovering from the sore muscles and achy bones.
Then we broke out the snorkels and slipped on the water wings. Rainy season arrived making my daily commute to Chom Chao for English lessons just that much more entertaining. This year I was lucky to have a variety of guests come for a visit and give the kids a chance to try out the English they’ve learned through our conversation classes and the computer. I’ve also been blessed and had great fun watching Siem Reap teach his twenty plus kids. He’s a 12th grader who has a full plate at school, but loves to teach. I set him up with one class and before long other young kids and even his peers were asking him to teach. So, we are now teaching side by side, or classroom by classroom, every evening from 6PM to 9PM. It’s awesome!
The year wrapped up with flip-flops, farming, and a festival of bags sales. We ran the flip-flops and Pjs race raising over three thousand dollars and bringing fancy new foot-ware along with colorful play clothes to hundreds and hundreds of happy kids. Thank you for joining the fun! Then it was off to Balang, on the border with Thailand, for cutting and thrashing, heaving and hauling, bucketing and finally bagging countless tons of rice. We had an amazing harvest that will fill our kids and stock our Church/Home shelves for a good number of months this year. On returning from the fields and still pulling rice stocks out of my hair, I gathered up our girls’ sewing creations and together with Naome we sold at a festive Christmas fair.
Finally, it was Christmas, a time to reflect and again give thanks for the years great many blessings. Whether life seemed up or down, inside out or backwards; we all were and are forever loved. I thank our Lord, and I thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and thinking of the kids here in Cambodia. Hope your 2011 is rich, and full of joy.