[pop 98,848]

the city

the city

It seems many Cambodians in the countryside are fascinated by foreigners. The women I have talked with usually comment on my skin. They believe that light colored skin is most beautiful. Therefore, most women wear long sleeved shirts, pants, and [on occasion] gloves, so as to hide their skin from the sunlight. [And here I am trying to get a tan].

Badmiton is a popular leisure activity enjoyed in the evenings. It is played with rackets and a birdie, no net. Grab a friend and go to the park or out alongside the street for some back-and-forth fun.

I smile and say “hi” or “hello” many many many many times a day. I get quite a bit of attention round these parts. I often see many eyes and hear the word “bahlong” [foreigner]. Lots of heads turning. Lots of smiles. Lots of excited “hello”s from school children. Kesara and I were biking home one day when a little boy biked up alongside me. We had a small conversation in broken English and broken Khmi but it delighted the both of us.

There is little machinery or equipment used here. Most of the work and construction is done by manual labor.

Chess is a game enjoyed by men, and played often.

Mosquitoes have become my worst enemy. I’m convinced they’re on Satan’s side.

Kesara has taught me many things, including the importance of brushing AND flossing one’s teeth THREE times each day.

I’m in a constant state of sweat. It’s like I just finished playing a game of basketball. All the time.

You know the pajamas with button up tops and pants that match (maybe your mom wears them)? Women in Cambodia often wear this as everyday clothing. It may seem odd to us, but in all practicality, it makes sense. They keep you cool and protect against itchy bites from mosquitoes.

Kesara and I eat cereal and fruit for breakfast. Every morning. Those of you who know me know I like this, a lot. But don’t worry, I’m getting a good fill of Cambodian cuisine as well.

The mice eat our soap.

In the first week of being in Sisophon, I’ve had two adults (one father, one mother) who have blatantly told me they want me to be their daughter-in-law. The man [one of Kesara’s friends] has 2 sons; the woman [working in the market] has 3 sons. I guess I have options.

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making our way to church by moto

making our way to church by moto

Jesus' Village Church

Jesus' Village Church, meets in a school building

playing soccer with the boys after church

playing soccer with the boys after church

outside view of one of the markets

outside view of one of the markets

stores on the bottom, apartments up top

stores on the bottom, apartments up top

view from the Team Center

view from the Team Center

At the Team Center, I noticed rolls of toilet paper being placed on the dinner tables. As I observed, people would use toilet paper for the purpose I use a napkin. I asked Rachel, one of the OMF workers, why toilet paper is used instead of napkins or paper towels. She said that Cambodians do not use toilet paper. My intrigued look must have begged an explanation. Instead, of using toilet paper, Cambodians use a water sprayer to clean themselves (ie “wipe”). Hmmmmm. So later that day, as Charlotte and I are out-n-about the city, we decide to use the restroom before getting on the tuk-tuk again. I look around. . . no toilet paper. “Ah yes” I say to myself, as I recall my conversation with Rachel. I look around for the sprayer, and right where I would normally find toilet paper in an American bathroom, there it was. Really, who needs toilet paper anyway? I think it’s over-rated. The “sprayer” is to the left of the toilet. As you can tell, there is toilet paper also present in this picture. Yup, they’re mindful of the high maintenance American.

toilet sprayer

I had my first sighting of a house lizard (or “jing-jot” as they are referred to here). I was having a conversation in the Team Center when I noticed something scurrying along the wall from out of the corner of my eye. I had to do a double-take because whatever “it” was, was fast and hard to find [hence why there is no picture for you]. It was making it’s way up a window and blending into its surroundings quite nicely. . . on the INside of the house, mind you. Supposedly, these creatures are good for keeping the insects and mosquitoes at bay (which I fully support). But I think it would be nice if they could fulfill that responsibility from OUTside the home, ya know? I have been told that they usually hang out near the ceilings—[ok, I just had to check right quick. No house lizards in my room tonight]. Since my first spotting of the jing-jot, I have randomly seen four others in the Team Center. Charlotte said they can get rather large, and that they make the weirdest of noises. The ones I have come across have been quite quiet, so I have not yet heard the music they make. Both Charlotte and Kesara assuredly shook their heads when I asked them if these creatures reside in Sisophon as well. There’s word of one living in Kesara’s kitchen. Oh goodness.

Tomorrow is the BIG day! Onto Sisophon Kesara and I go. We’ll be up-n-at-em early in the morn. Our bus leaves Phnom Penh at 7am. . . I will be back in the city for a conference in two weeks, then will return to Sisophon for the remainder of my stay. Ok. Until then. . .

It happened. My feet touched Cambodian soil. My skin has felt the hotness and humidity of the atmosphere (and four mosquito bites). My tongue has tasted many a fruit and other unusual foods. My ears have heard much Khmi, the beautiful Cambodian language. My nose has smelt things I’m not sure how I feel about yet. My eyes have seen a whole new world. . .

I’m staying in Phnom Penh at the OMF Team Center until I go up country to Sisophon on Monday. The Team Center contains the offices of OMF staff. Within the Center there is also a language lab, a medical clinic, a library, and a number of rooms for visiting OMF workers (either those living in Cambodia, or those here temporarily for training or other things). I’ve met a variety of amazing people and have had a variety of amazing conversations the past couple of days—people from all parts of the world serving the Lord in a creative assortment of ways. There’s a cute little German family that stay in the room next to mine. They have two little girls–it’s not too hard for us to find fun.

I could write pages and pages detailing my experiences in the last 56 hours, but I’ll spare your eyes and your time. . . for now. However, here are a few teasers for you:

  • Rain down pour about 3pm every day (street flooding very likely)
  • I ate fish right off the bone today – are you proud, dad?
  • We travel everywhere by moto or tuk-tuk. I think it’s brilliant, and so much fun [even when it’s pouring rain]. A great way to see and experience the city.
  • I can’t get enough mango!
  • I’ve had two language lessons. Proof: sok sapbay chia te? [how are you?]; ar kun [thank you]; thlay ponman? [how much does it cost?]; thngay sauw [Saturday]. I did it by memory. Promise. I also learned to count to ten and the days of the week! I’m practically fluent, almost.

Charlotte, my internship coordinator, and I will be going to a restaurant for lunch tomorrow, then to the market, and then on to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, an old school that was set up as a torture camp during the Khmer Rouge. Because I’m unsure of the reliability of internet connection once arriving in Sisophon, I will try to write again before Monday (and hopefully post a few pictures).

In the meantime, would you please pray. . .

    For continued understanding of Cambodian culture and language.
    For a growing trust in the Lord.
    For simple and creative ways I can encourage the long-term workers.
    For the formation of relationships [here among the missionaries, and up in Sisophon]
    That I would point people to Jesus, always.

Ok, time for dinner. And you go grab yourself some breakfast!

me, when i woke up and realized i was in cambodia

me, when i woke up and realized i was in cambodia

I am now a [physical] step closer to Cambodia! My family and I drove out to Colorado yesterday, hitting the road at the wee crack of dawn. We’re spending time with the grandparents in Ft Collins for the weekend. While my family is playing around and going to game #3 of the Lakers/Nuggets, I will be in Estes Park doing some pre-field training.

The Lord has fully provided me with the finances needed to go to and live in Cambodia for the summer months! Thank you (you know who you are) for allowing the Lord to use you as part of His provision to me. Both your financial gifts and prayers are deeply appreciated, as they are working together to make this all possible! Speaking of prayer, please pray. . .

  • For my training (May 22-25): good preparation, formation of relationships, and a time of stillness and refreshment before the Lord.
  • For travel (May 25-27): My trek to Cambodia will consist of a few pit stops along the way [LA and Taiwan]. If all goes according to plan (ie I don’t miss a flight), I will be traveling from 5/25 at 440pm to 5/27 1130am. Pray against fear and confusion, for seized opportunities for conversation, and for sweet communion with the Lord.
  • For God’s wisdom and grace as I adjust to and live in a new culture.
  • For protection from the Evil One and his attempts to destroy me, and the good works God has prepared for me to do.
  • For my pride and independence of self to be transformed to humility and dependence on God.
  • That I will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10).

The next time you catch word from me, I may just be in CAMBODIA!

a growing trust in the Lord (Matt 6:25-34).
a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:6).
a joyful attitude (Ps 16:11).
visa details to be settled and completed, soon.
faith that God will supply all my needs, both in prayer and financial support.

[24 days until that day. . .]

A friend introduced me to Tirua, a Cambodian in Moody’s undergrad program. I told him of my summer adventures to his home country and asked if he would be willing to get together with me to discuss culture and Khmer (language) and all things Cambodian. He was willing, so we spent an afternoon doing just that.

A peek of what I learned from my time with Tirua:
Chom reab sur = Hello

The proper Cambodian greeting: put hands together at your chest, bow slightly at the waste

Be ready to sweat, and bring a poncho. June – October is their hot, rainy season.

K’ngom chmuah Josi = My name is Josi

Do not touch a person’s head. The head is considered to be very special.

P’sa = Market

Give with your right hand or with both hands, but not with your left hand alone.

Preh Yesu = JESUS (this one might come in handy)

I really enjoyed my time with Tirua. I find it fascinating to learn about cultural distinctives, and it was a blessing to hear how Tirua came to know the Lord. My conversation with him boosted my excitement level up a good 7 notches, at least! Wow. There is so much more to learn. . .

On my Want-To-Do list (before leaving Chicago):
Visit the Cambodian American Heritage Museum in Albany Park
Eat at the Teevy Café – possibly the only restaurant in Chicago that has a Cambodian menu

Chom reab leah for now.
[25 days until departure date. . .]

YAY! You made it. . . Welcome, welcome, welcome! The blogging world is unfamiliar with me and I with it, so I beg for your patience. However, I would have no part in allowing my lack of know-how (or maybe tech-ineptness) to forbid me from creating this site for you and for me. It excites me that you will be able to pace with me as I live and engage with the country and people of Cambodia!

This is somewhat of a crazy transition, or season of preparation if you will. Not to mention something very new and foreign to me (no pun intended). As of now, most of my time is filled with: writing, stamping and sending support letters; figuring out needed vaccines, getting those vaccines, and frowning because of just how darn expensive they are (I suppose my life may thank me later); deciding what will come to Cambodia with me – I’m only allowed a backpack and duffel bag [I’m afraid my indecisiveness will not prove helpful here]; attempting to prepare my heart and mind through prayer and continued study of Cambodian culture; and oh, one can’t forget school – I’m trying to finish the semester, hopefully well.

Ok, I’m off to continue on with the things above. I will be posting prayer requests soon enough.

Thank you for visiting! I hope you will return.

[36 days until take off. . .]