Nov. 2008

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Arun Sua s’dei,

It’s in the low 80’s, and the gusty winds are making the limbs of the mango tree in front of me bob and weave under the weight of the fresh fruit. The wail of stringed instruments and traditional Khmer lyrics float in through the double doors, while numerous sparrows maintain a steady chirping as they work on their nests in the eves. Next door in plastics recycling yard they have just started the sputtering diesel engine that runs the shredder for the bottles about to be fed into the hopper. Straight up is a blue sky and from left to right there is a dusty horizon. It’s Saturday morning at 10:00.

November was filled with a little gobble, rattle and rumble. Of course the gobble centered on our Thanksgiving feast here at the house in Chomka Dong (coconut farm). If you happened to read last year’s November newsletter, it was more of the same and then some. There was more food than you really know what to do with, which I suppose is part of what a traditional Thanksgiving looks like. We had three turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, various veggies, gravy, fresh baked bread and apple pie. AND, of course there was pizza. What Cambodian Thanksgiving is complete without a couple homemade “The Works” pizzas. Oh yes, and you remember mom’s rule about no swimming less than 30 minutes after eating. Well, that was broken in a big way. I don’t think Naret, one of our office managers, had actually put his spoon down when Pastor Ted asked him to go for a little stroll by the pool. Moments later Naret found himself bobbing up and down, fully clothed, in the deep end thanks to a little nudge. Not long after that everyone got into the act and by the end all 30 plus of us had found ourselves hoisted and tossed into the pool at some point. I guess a little exercise is good after a big delicious meal.

Now the rattle and rumble was related to my road trips in to the provinces to meet with the English teacher from the summer teacher training course. Two weekends I took my red ‘mini hummer’ or Hyundai ATOZ on road adventures that could be used as promotional material for the car and company. We also discovered that ‘short cuts’ are ah….. not always shorter. I drove but my partners in the adventure, Khamera and Veasa, were also very busy, or bruised. The first couple times I saw Veasa’s hand go up in the back seat I thought he was being overly polite before asking a question. But maybe, we should have strapped a pillow Veasna’s head for protection against the number of times he bounced off the ceiling of the car. In the passenger seat, Khamera held tight to the dashboard and door handle as we dodged and hit the countless potholes. Three times they were out wading across rivers to check the depth and bottom before I drove across, and half a dozen times they were out again checking the planks and logs on the wooden bridges that we had to drive over. Three hours for 50 kilometers, maybe we’ll take the long way next time. Just have to remember to love and enjoy your time on the line between the dots. And I think we did.

We visited five Homes, and I was amazed at every stop. Long Lep our English teacher in Basedt has 60 plus kids that range in age from six to eighteen, and who ride or walk up to one hour for their daily lessons. He is fun and encouraging so his student always leave laughing and having learned a lot. Phearak at our home in Oral, is still developing his own English, but with great care teaches the younger kids in his home. He diligently and painstaking writes out each day’s lesson plan in English, and creates any supplementary materials the class will need. Sokan in Okantrom is doing double duty by teaching the kids in his home/village both English and Korean. It is an awesome thing to see these teachers in action.

What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:

WoooHoooo….. we are on the road. The area around our existing Weaving and Craft Room has been cleared and replanted, which provides better light and for the windows to be more easily opened to catch the breeze. Our funds are increasing and we are approaching $1000. It is exciting because it is easy to see the potential among the kids. I thank you so much for your support with this project and our goal of reaching $5000 in the next two months. Training will start in January as will a calendar year packed full of visiting teams. Our visiting teams work hard in the various provincial Homes, and also look forward to bringing home a special gift or souvenir. At the moment, we have hand woven silks created at the Center, I would love to add to that a line of bags and items sewn by our new designers/kids. By purchasing any of the products, team members or customers would know that they are not only going home with a beautiful bag or purse, but are also providing directly toward a child’s education and future, as well as making the project self-sustaining. Thank you again for your prayers, words of encouragement, and financial assistance for the kids.

You can donate on-line at this address:

(you’ll see my picture and EVT Program.)

-or- by mailing a check to the office (please write EVT Program in the Memo section)

Kris Warner/EVT Program

c/o Warm Blankets Orphan Care

5105 Tollview Drive, Suite 155

Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

Things learned:

  1. Shopping for Christmas presents here looks a little different. I can’t think of anyone back home who needs a fish trap, a machete, or coconut husker. But let me know, I’ve still got a couple weeks until I head home on the 17th.
  2. A Hyundai ATOZ can really just about go anywhere.

  3. A clump (or is it cluster?) of 5 coconuts weighs just over 20 pounds. AND is not easy to carry on a motoped.

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