Bon Noel and Jol Chinam Temey (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)
So, are you covered in boxes, bows, and ribbon? I can happily hear the zip of Scotch tape off the roller and the crinkle of paper and tissue in the background as Naome and my dad put some surprises together, while Eli lightly snores nearby. Yes, God blessed us this year with a US visa for Naome, and a family Christmas here in California. Woooo Hoooo or Ho Ho Ho….
2011 has been filled with many many, ho ho hos, hurry, hurry, hurries, hip hip hurrays, some HELP, help, helps and a few phews. January started with some hurries as the funds we raised for flip-flops and Pjs jumped in to help buy over 2000 mosquito nets and blankets for some chilly kids up in the mountains of Ratanakiri. Un-menaced by mosquitos they slept snuggly and soundly in their new colorful blankets. Thank you!
From the mountains to the beach, and not many days later we had 700 kids into our Phnom Penh center from all corners of the country. We paraded through the Royal Palace, played games, created some bling, and had an amazing baptism on the beach. And to cap off the month there were some hip hip hurrays as Vibol, Somaly, and Somedy graduated from university; a true hip hip hurray as less than 1% of Cambodian women are able to attend and graduate from university.
Spring was all about the numbers; how many, how much, and so on. I picked up four more classes and forty-five new students. In March, I began teaching English at our newly opened bible college which is lots of fun. I learned that ‘Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous…’, OR in our class it sounds a little more like, ‘Love is pungent, love is fine, love is not jelly….’ Somehow the meaning is still conveyed which is the important part. We also held our Annual Conference hosting another 1,800 fired up youth. And, the kitchen fires were working as well to get through the mountains of vegetables, and hundreds of unwitting ducks, chickens and fish. Successful new enterprises were also born in the spring. We started our mushroom huts, to accompany the cricket and quail businesses. One 10′ by 20′ mushroom hut can bring in $200 to $300 a month; a substancial income for a family, and one that keeps kids in school and out of the hands of traffickers.
School is the ticket. And, this year all of our 9th and 12th graders passed their national exams moving them a step closer to a very bright future. However, the wonderful thing about our kids is that they truly enjoy each and every day. This year Meta and To performed at their high school’s annual talent show and To took third place. And, yes…. he could be seen happily signing autographs in the hallways for weeks. It was awesome; and an amazing confidence booster for someone who comes from an unbelievably impoverished family. In April, I also had the fun of taking my younger kids on a little field trip for successfully completing our Level 2 English book, passing their test and jumping up to the next level. And they had fun discovering their driving, hoops and air-hockey skills. In Cambodia only 17% of boys and just 11% of girls attend secondary school. So, every step we can bring our kids though school is an important one.
July brought us back to the beach with over 200 excited kids who had never been more than, as they say, a stones throw from their home. Needless to say the Lord blessed up with a great day and they were bounding, bouncing, and bobbing through the waves sporting colorful shorts and enormous smiles. July also brought out a whole line of new creations from our sewing room. And, started our warm up and production of items for the Christmas fair. We are learning. Gotta start early.
The next couple months had us puffing and panting as we prep’ed, painted, and polished our church homes all over the country for upcoming government inspections. The challenge was that there was always one more item added by the inspectors sometimes only hours before their arrival. Thus the panting as a little more paperwork or a flag pole needed to be in place for their approval. So, of course there was a big phew that followed every departure.
And the panting continued! Well at least mine continued in to September when God blessed Naome and me with the most amazing gift of a little girl named Elina. Born September 3rd, she has brought us smiles everyday and is doing great. She continually brings us new friends as she really entertains everyone she meets whether it’s with her giggles, grins, or the bounty of bubbles she is able to create. Grandpa is enjoying every minute with her.
October and November had us soaked and swimming. Roughly a million acres of Cambodian farmland were flooded, and 20,000 families displaced. Four of our church homes needed and received some serious repair, but all the kids are safe. And, as I mentioned before, Cambodian’s find a way to pull fun out of every challenge or set back. So, of coarse when you have floods you just roll up your pants and go fishing in or in front of your house. When the waters subside you get back to work. Thank you for your support in helping us do just that. In November I was also able to put together and get distributed, through our amazing staff, over a hundred ‘Practical Needs Kits’ that include shorts, sandals, towels, and toothbrushes, as well as notebooks, and pens. Thank you!!
Wow, it’s December! Well the first part of the month was all Christmas Fair. Karona, Lida, Saran, and I gathered all the incredible creations our sewers put together and we were off. Then for three fun filled days we shared the stories of all the girls working in the vocational training program, and we even sold enough to pay for one girl’s annual university tuition. Not bad for three days.
So that was 2011 and all its hurry, hurry, hurries, hip hip hurrays and helps, and now we are around to the ho, ho, hos once more. Anyway, again I want to thank you for your loves, prayers and support all of which have truly changed the lives of literally thousands of kids here in Cambodia. You have brought light to the shadows; education, hope and opportunity to kids who will run with it, and bring the same to others. Thank you!
If you have the means and would like to continue to plant the seeds of choice for children and widows here please consider sending support to us at:
Warm Blankets Orphan Care International
(Please put Kris Warner/EVT Program in the memo line of your check. This is very important so that it gets to the correct program.)
5105 Tollview Drive Ste155
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008