Sua’sdey from Kampuchea,
How is all back home? I’ve heard news of bouncing baby girls being born, weddings in the works, and exciting summer travel plans. I like it. I like it. Over here it has been status quo, which really means ‘nuts’, in a good way. The past month has been all about computers, and where I previously said ‘loops’ I will now add ‘hoops’ related to our upcoming nuptials.
So computers, well…. Warm Blankets provided us with an amazing dynamic duo, who worked like a dynamic dozen, and together with our Cambodian computer whiz kids, rebuilt our computer lab. Before Tony and Rich’s arrival from the States, the computer room was striped down, painted and polished. Then the team was off and running; computers were purchased, wires run, security measures put in place, Rosetta Stone (English language learning software) installed, and of course a few headaches had. But we now have an impressive computer lab with 27 fully-fitted computers running some of the lastest programs. Khamera and I worked out a learning schedule so the kids will have classroom time for English conversation practice, and then computer time where they can not only improve their English through the Rosetta Stone program but also increase their overall computer talents. Both of these skills are vital for success, especially as they get into university. University classes are most often taught in Cambodian, but the courses and homework are based on western textbooks written in English. With the rapid place education is running at through technology Cambodia hasn’t had the time to translate text books, and after nearly every bit of educational material was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge the country has had a huge challenge trying to rebuild any kind of library providing Cambodian books. So, for any student to get the most out of their classes, a knowledge of English and solid computer skills are incredibly important. With the last pieces put in place we were able to invite all the kids in for a week of test driving the computers and Rosetta Stone. Yay! Success! The computers didn’t crash and burn, and the kids loved the program; even our youngest at four and five years old had their headphones in place and were smiling, listening and clicking their way though the language program. Ah.. the future looks good.
Now for the addition of hoops to the loops, well…. let me just put it in numbers. We’ve been to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs three times, the US Embassy four times, the Ministry of the Interior three times, and the National Police once for and hour long interview. And Pastor Phun has been the the Sangkut (local village counsel) at least four or five times. There are various seals of various colors that are needed, and then some papers require an embossed dry seal, signatures and finger prints are all a part of the process too, as well as at least a dozen ID photos. It’s a nice thing my little car gets good gas mileage, oops… now just need to get the air-conditioner fixed to help out with the 100 degree temperatures. All that said, I think we’ve made it through the final hoop. Well.. let’s see, a letter announcing our marriage will now be posted on the gate outside Chom Chao (our Training Center) and if anyone in the local community has a comment or objection of sorts they have these final fews weeks to bring it before the Sangkut. Yes, that’s how it’s done. Wooo hooo…..
Speaking of weddings, I was actually in one just the other day. The funny thing is that I got the invitation on Tuesday from my friend Jenny (Cambodian girl) and her fiancee Patrice (a French man who I met for the first time that day) then Friday morning I got a call from Jenny at 6:45 AM. Tradition holds that you need three bride’s maids and three groom’s men. Well Patrice was one short so she asked if I would step in. ‘OK’, I said. What that ‘Ok’ meant was that I then needed to wake up Saturday morning at 4:00AM to drive to her parents’ house in the countryside where the wedding was being held. Weddings here start at 6:30 or 7:00AM. Yup! There is a morning session (the ceremony) and an afternoon session (the reception). There is also lots of color and multiple changes of clothes not only for the bride and groom, but for the wedding party as well. Long story short I got there at 6:00AM and got home around 10PM, and between those times I changed clothes six times. By the way, there is a ‘pit crew’ hired to change you in an out of the various clothes/costumes and it doesn’t matter how many people are in the room (everything is held in one room more or less) the ‘pity crew’ will have you down to your boxer shorts in less than 30 seconds. Now I wish to say that they will have you covered up again in 30 seconds, but they seem to think you will be much cooler and more comfortable just in your shorts while you wait for the bride and groom to finish up photos and change into their next costume. I was definitely cooler and by the second or third change Jenny’s brother, Eric (Patrice’s friend), and I were just getting used to standing around in our boxers and black socks while aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, neighbors and passers by took photos with Jenny and Patrice or just came to deliver some fruit or flowers. Oh…. the things you say okay to. It was fun.
What’s up with the EVT program:
Well the girls are still sewing up a storm and producing a greater and greater variety of designs. And to add a little icing to the cake, or maybe a whole new cake for that matter, we may start producing a regular line of bags for a friend in the States who is looking at a new business line. Now, that’s cool.
Okay, I will wrap things up, and just say that I love seeing what God is doing in this amazing place whether it’s loops, hoops, or the excited whoops a five year old as he clicks away on his computer; growing in knowing.