It’s our last morning in Haiti. We are all packing up and getting ready to say goodbye to the people that we have been working beside all summer. We spent our last few days here at a beautiful resort where we got to swim in the ocean and relax in the sun. It was like paradise and the perfect way to end an amazing mission trip. We are all sad to be leaving Haiti, but all plan on coming back at some point in our lives. Haiti has left such a huge impact on our hearts and it’s hard to say goodbye. We just want to give a huge Thank You to the Tlucek family for hosting us this summer, the other interns that we worked with for an awesome community, and the World Deputation program for giving us the opportunity to serve in Haiti this summer. It has been a blessing.
The past month and a half has been crazy busy and also crazy amazing. We started our trip by almost immediately leaving Lima for Iquitos, a city surrounded by rainforest. We went to prepare for the YMI explorer team that we´d be working with just a few days later. The six-member team (Lynn, Cindy, Max, Katie, Cobi, and Emily) was a ton of fun. We also had a few English/Spanish translators there: Marveli, Daniel, Jonatan, Elizabeth, and Liz. During the week-and-a-half trip, we worked in kids programs and aided ministry lessons in order to provide support for the YMI team. We both grew very attached to some of those we left in Iquitos and were very sad to return to Lima. We don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully describe the impact Iquitos had on us.
We got a few days in Lima to rest and help serve food to a Chinese team that was with Julio’s church at the time. During these few days we also met our English/Spanish translators for our Amazonas trip: Anthony and Leyla. After the weekend was over, we met the next team we’d be working alongside. This seven-person team (Carl, Robin, Tim, Beth, Ben, Zach, and Kevin) was from Maryland. They’re pretty awesome, and also pretty tall. We felt like dwarves. Then we boarded a flight to Chiclayo, where we stayed in a hotel for a night. The next day, we got on an eight-hour bus ride to a city called Bagua where we again spent the night in a hotel. The final day of travel was a six-hour ride in trucks to the side of a river where we were picked up in peque-peques (motorized dugout canoes) for a short ride to Hope Mountain, the seminary/church/whatever-else-it-was where we’d be staying. For the next five days, we worked with churches up and down the river to minister to youth, which involved a lot more trips in peque-peques. Of course, lots of other fun things happened too. We ate zuri (grubs), achuni (monkey), armadillo, and some sort of hawk. We played frisbee, had water fights during boat rides, and grew very close as a team. Amazonas had some peculiar challenges as well. The largest was probably the double-translation. Everything was translated first to Spanish, then to Awajun (a local language of the region), so messages had to be short. Overall though, Amazonas was also amazing, and we were sad to leave there too.
Now, we’re back in Lima for the remainder of the time. We can’t believe that we have only a little over a week left! For right now we are preparing to teach a Sunday school class at Julio’s church and mostly just hanging out. We’ve also gotten to see Leyla and Anthony a few times, which we really enjoy. Rosario’s cooking should be a national treasure, and we’ve lost count of how many desserts they’ve brought home for us. We’ve also tried cau-cau and cuy in the last week! We are a bit like helpless puppies, staying where we are told and eating everything, but we are certainly enjoying it!
Our question for our last week is this: what’s next? What changes when we get home, and what doesn’t? We have to ask ourselves what God has in store next and how our experiences have been preparing us for that. We will be continuing to ask these questions in the coming weeks and months, and we would love it if you would pray with us about this.
That’s all for now, but we’ll probably be updating one more time at the end of our trip!
~Jenna and Ashley (Team Peru)
It is week 5 of English Camp and we have been here for 6 weeks so far! Time is flying by and it is incredible to reflect on all of the things that we have done here. Stephanie has been teaching Older Science, which is boys and girls ages 10-14 and Alessia has been teaching Younger PE, which is boys and girls ages 5-10. I have been a Group Leader for a group of girls ages 10-12. We have all been enjoying our positions a ton and love all of the kids here! There are super cute and it is going to be SO hard to say goodbye to them at the end of next week.
When we arrived in Haiti, we soon discovered that we would not be the only people volunteering at English camp. There are 11 interns in total and they are all amazing people. It was a bit overwhelming at first to learn everyone’s name and remember where they were all from, but now we have grown close to all of them and become a close knit community. Some of the interns will be staying here for a whole year, which definitely puts our 8 week mission trip in perspective. There have also been teams and individuals that have come down to serve for a couple of weeks at a time. It has been great to meet and interact with so many amazing people. Everyone serving here loves Jesus so much and it is inspiring to listen to their stories and testimonies.
On the weekends we have been taking day trips to other parts of the country. We have been to the beach twice so far and have heard rumors that we will be going again this weekend. The beach is beautiful and the water is so clear that you can see the bottom even when it’s 15-20 feet deep! We also get to eat Haitian food at the beach, which we all love because Haitian food is the best food on the planet!! We have also gone into the mountains once and that was gorgeous. The mountains are extremely green, which I did not expect when I heard that I would be going to Haiti. I imagined everything to be dry but the country side is very lush and we have had several thunder storms during our time here. They are really intense, but also pretty cool to watch because the lightning is so bright. When we don’t take trips outside of Port-au-Prince, we have gone to some little boutiques and street vendors. We savor every moment that we get to explore because we don’t get to leave the property during the week due to the high crime rate in Haiti right now. So far we have loved every part of Haiti that we have seen and are looking forward to seeing more of the country before we leaving in a couple weeks!
The heat here is intense and mixed with the humidity, we are all sweating more than we ever thought possible and that any human ever should (“so be thankful” -Alessia). Also, the mosquitos have been horrible. We are all getting eaten alive, but it is worth it when we get to see the kids’ smiling faces everyday. Camp has been really fun so far and has tested all of our comfort zones. We did not know that we would have required tasks to complete when we got here, but that quickly changed. We have to lead stretching in the morning at assembly, lead English songs during morning assembly, tell a Bible story during morning assembly, and give a devotion at the morning meeting or after dinner. These things definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but were also a great opportunity for growth. We are now preparing for the end of camp, which involves teaching the kids songs and verses to memorize for the ceremony on the last day of camp. It is kind of stressful right now, but I think that the end result will be really amazing. So that’s a quick summary of everything we have done so far because we have failed to post anything thus far…I hope you enjoyed reading it!
Haley, Alessia, and Stephanie
A week later and we finally are posting here! We aren’t very good at this but were trying. We have been in India for a week now and every single day here is filled with new experiences, sights, smells, emotions, laughter, and good food (yes its spicy. yes we are struggling).
We are working with the kids and learning their daily routine, as well as how to adjust to teaching children with special needs. It hasn’t been the easiest transition but each day gets more comfortable. Aubrey is working in whats called “The Office” which is where the older kids, who aren’t working on academics, go to learn different skills to go out and live on their own in the working world. They are learning computer skills, paper bag making, laundry, and teamwork. Sarah is working in the art class 3 days a week with the older kids helping them learn about shapes, colors and shading, art history, and painting techniques. The other 2 days she is helping in the preschool with Class B. Most of the kids are non-verbal but they are able to recognize their shapes, numbers, and body parts. They also love snack time, painting/coloring, and getting to sing songs and dance.
After school we are tutoring 4 of the preschool boys. Tutoring is a term we use lightly because most of the time it ends up being lots of coloring and taking silly pictures. It is tons of fun though and usually our favorite part of the day.
Although this week hasn’t been the easiest one of our lives we are learning a lot and very grateful to have this experience.
Lots of love,
Auntie Sarah and Auntie Aubrey
Hey everyone! We’ve made it safely to Lima and the lovely home of Julio Serrano, the missionary we’ll be working with while we’re here. It’s been a long, but good, day. On our flight to Houston, we sat next to a very kind man from Southern Louisiana who told us about his own mission work in Mexico and how he hopes to go back into ministry in a few years. Thankfully, we only got ourselves lost in an airport once, and Jenna was only mistaken for a minor twice! We’re so excited to be here and to meet the rest of the Serrano family tomorrow!
~Jenna and Ashley AKA Team Peru
We arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this afternoon after stopping in New York along the way. Byron and some of his kids greeted us at the airport and soon after arriving at the Tlucek’s house in Tabarre, we were introduced to the other interns that will be working at the camp with us. We got to see some of the Haitian culture on the drive back from the airport and the heat is incredible. Andrew (the oldest son of Byron and Shelley) showed us around the property and gave us a brief explanation of what camp will look like on a day-to-day basis. We ate homemade pizza for dinner and enjoyed refreshing mango smoothies for dessert. The day was long and hot and exhausting, but we made it!! We are all excited to see what tomorrow holds and start doing the Lord’s work.
Yay! We are leaving in a week! We are sitting here looking at the painting next to this computer because we don’t know what to say. But here we are, our first blog post. Lower your expectations now folks it isn’t gonna get much better.
Sarah and Aubrey and also sorta Ryan
Hey, here we go! We will be embarking on our journey June 18th and we are super excited to see what is in store for us. We are all a little nervous, but know the experience will be amazing. We can’t wait to share our memories on this blog and share our journey with you all! Thanks for your support, it is much appreciated 🙂
Hey guys! Team Peru here! We’re so excited to be heading out on the 23rd. We’ve been working hard to prepare for this trip and meeting with Lucero, the daughter of the missionary we’re working with and employee of Youth Missions International. Our biggest concern thus far is getting accidentally engaged while in the Amazon. Be on the lookout for more blog posts as we’ll be checking in a few times during this process!
~Ashley Michel and Jenna Hayes
Hey everybody, it’s Will, Zach, Sophia, and Kiesha here! We are 11 days out and are super stoked!!!
To explain our name, Ubuntu, is a Nguni Bantu term from the Southern African region translating to “human kindness.” Its cultural connotation more specifically translates to “I am what I am because of who we all are.” We find this very fitting with the work we will be doing within the prison community.
Yesterday was a perfect ending to a perfect summer. Last night, Mollie and I were able to share in an incredible experience together we will both cherish forever. A family of five, whose three kids all came to English Camp this summer, invited James who lives here, Mollie, and me to come to their house for dinner. A little background story to how that all came about is because of Angeline. Angeline has been a translator here at camp, whom I’ve grown particularly close to throughout this summer. She invited me to come to her house a couple weeks back, and I of course agreed to that but also wanted to bring a friend or two with me. So we three came and were pleasantly surprised at their hospitality toward us. Needless to say, an hour with this family was just not long enough. The mom told us as we were leaving that she wanted to have us come again, but she would like to have a meal prepared next time. And of course this is all in Creole. We were so thankful to have James with us, because he basically translated the entire time for both us and for them. Haha
So, last night was that night where us three were able to come back into their loving home. It was so cool to see how God orchestrated it all in order for this dinner to happen. It would take way too long to describe all the situations leading up to it in which conflicted with us being able to come, but I can certainly say that God allowed it to happen, and for that I am grateful.
They fixed us a beautiful and delicious Haitian dish, in which included rice, chicken, lettuce and tomatoes, and a beet and potato salad. We weren’t offered water until about two thirds of the way through our meal and we didn’t exactly have a cool breeze coming in the house (a.k.a. we were dripping in sweat) ….however, it was probably one of the coolest and most authentic experiences I have had yet here in Haiti. We were later offered this yummy watermelon juice, which basically crushed up watermelon, and then also offered this alcoholic drink, called cremas, which was served to us at the end. I believe it had whiskey, whipping cream, and a couple different ingredients I cannot remember. It was good, however, it was just really strong. Haha Mollie and I kept looking at each other and laugh subtly at the funny faces we were making as we would swallow. But man, we felt so so SO blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend a night with this family talking over this incredible meal they prepared for us. The cuteness of the kids probably play a role in it as well as they sat in the corner while we ate and would whisper to us sweet nothings in our ears.
Saying goodbye was really hard. The dad prayed for us as we were about to depart and thanked God for us and the fact that if we aren’t able to see each other again in this lifetime, we would surely see each other again in heaven. That mind set has seriously been what I’ve been telling myself as I’ve been saying my goodbyes to others. And it helps! …We have hope, as Christ followers, that this is just the start to the beautiful relationships we will encounter with one another in heaven someday.
-Heidi and the rest of Team Haiti
I guess I had this preconceived notion about what deputation would look like – and it wasn’t pretty. For some crazy reason, in my head, I had this scale with “fun” on one side and with “God” on the other. I could have some fun and some God, or all God and no fun, but I felt like I couldn’t have both. So you can imagine as I was getting ready for deputation how nervous I was. My balanced scale was about to be drastically tipped towards God.
At SeaTac airport, my inner drama queen took over. Instead of my REI travel backpack, I carried some variety of personal torture devise (a cross felt too BCE, was it an electric chair? Realistically though could I carry that on my back?). I hugged my parents goodbye and told them I would be fine, as any decent martyr would, and prepared for a summer of following God. I was about to live out the biblical command to “carry your cross daily” and it was going to suck.
Fast forward to now: we are sitting in a hotel room with air conditioning and free wifi on a tropical island. Yesterday, for Laura’s birthday, we got pedicures, ate every meal on the beachside restaurants and finished the day with a bevy of honey boo boo child youtube clips. I can honestly say that the hardest part of my day was figuring out the optimal time to put on sun screen to avoid getting sun burned while still getting that “yeah I was on a tropical island” glow. Is this real life?
This whole time, we were trying so hard to be selfless and serve, but God kept showering us with more and more blessings. That’s not to say that this trip has been easy. We have witnessed physical abuse, been surrounded (literally) by the sex industry and had to walk past people worshipping idols on every street corner. But I can honestly say God has been here the whole time. We have seen girls leave the sex industry only to go back into the bars for outreach, telling workers about what Jesus has done for them. The ladyboys we work with have taught us so much about being passionate and trusting in God. So even when times have been rough and I feel like God is challenging us, He has never left our sides and is only trying to make us better and more like Him.
In summary, God rox and life truly is so much better when focusing on Jesus. Although it took 20 years, I now think of fun as synonymous with a relationship with the J-Man. As the trip comes to a close, I really think the hardest part will be leaving the people we have grown to love and integrating back into American life (TG we can still watch Honey Boo Boo) but I know we will have each other and this amazing community. I’m sure everyone on deputation has had as many life changing encounters as we have and we can’t wait to hear about them!
Sawadeeka, Copcoonka, Cowtoteka and Sabideemiika,
^just throwing in literally every Thai phrase we know to seem cultured
Yordanos, Laura and Lisa
We’ve been a bit remiss in our blogging so I will apologize now for length…
First off— Team South Africa Durban is not quite an accurate name. We’re in a Zulu tribal area in the central Drakensburg Mountains called the AmangweValley. It is about two hours drive north west of Durban which is a large port city right on the coast. Since we’re in the mountains and it is winter here we get very chilly nights, but we make good use of our hot water bottles and have lots of fuzzy blankets. Then during the day the sun is out and it feels like a typical summer day in Seattle. It’s a very rural area—rolling hills of dry grass filled with every shape and size of cow imaginable. Houses are mostly mud or cement block with thatched roof or corrugated metal. There is electricity but no running water, and roads are abysmal. Getting around is actually really easy. You just stand by the side of the road and hold up your finger, then 15 passenger vans which people call “taxis” drive around taking people to town or other parts of the valley. We’ve had some adventures just getting accustomed to village life—lesson number, one wear a wedding ring to deter proposals, lesson two, always check waterbottle for bugs or you may swallow an earwig, and lesson three, be flexible about toilets or lack there of…
We’ve been spending the last six weeks volunteering for Thembalethu Care Organization, a Christian hospice and palliative care non-profit. It was co-founded by Betsy Meyer a UPC missionary, and it works with women from the AmangweValley to provide home based care to the very sick as well as running two soup kitchens for kids in the area who aren’t receiving proper meals at home. The valley has one of the highest HIV rates in the world with 37-47% of adults testing positive. Many of the patients Thembalethu serves are battling HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, or cancer. The work is such a true and pure example of God’s kingdom coming to earth as these women go around their communities seeking out and serving the most vulnerable and sick. Hannah and I have had a chance to go on home visits with the nurse, where we sit while she checks in on their health and well being. Then we share some scripture and pray for the patient. We’ve also spent time helping with organizational things for Thembalethu, teaching English lessons to adults, and running holiday camps for high school and primary school aged kids. This last week will be spent painting a mural and running a few training days for local pre-school teachers.
Our schedule is very flexible, but I’ll give you a run down of what a typical day has looked like: We wake up around 7 or 7:30 (timing depends on whether we’re going to bucket bathe) then drink your first cup of rooibos tea with breakfast. Walk the twenty minutes from our host family’s house and get to the Thembalethu center around 9. Pray together for the day and drink cup of tea number two while we wait for people to show up. Then do whatever is going on that day with a nice long lunch break and likely time to just sit and read. Around 3 or 4 walk home or up the hill to admire the view for a bit. At home you put on layers of warm clothes to prepare for evening chill, read or play some bananagrams and have cup of tea number three. We eat dinner with our family every night and then after dinner sit under a warm Zulu blanket and watch the news and a couple South African soap operas with the family— we were really surprised that the family had a TV at first, but it actually really helps us learn names, and it comes in handy in conversations with people since soap operas are really popular. We’re definitely functioning on “Africa time” here. If you arrange to meet at a certain time you can count on people to consistently be thirty to sixty minutes later than that. It is a world away from the frantic pace of college life. We’ve both felt very blessed by the freedom from stress and rush, settling happily into a spacious “routine”. I know that realistically things will be busier again upon returning home but we’re both hoping to bring home this wider perspective of how artificial time constraints are.
The warmth with which people have welcomed us here is breath taking. If people know only a little English, it is generally “Hi”, “How are you”, and “I love you”. Hannah and I literally doubled the white population here in Mandabeni upon our arrival, so, needless to say, we stick out A LOT. It’s a bizarre experience to have strangers want to take a picture with you. The stares can get tiring, but often enough they are accompanied by a warm smile that it feels worth it. As I’ve learned more of South African history and current state it blows me away that these people, with every right to hold a grudge, welcome us with above and beyond any hospitality I’ve ever experienced. In spite of clear continued inequality in the country they seem to love the fact that two clueless white girls form America are wandering around their community, riding taxis, going to churches, and just admiring the beauty in this place. It’s truly one of the clearest examples of grace I’ve ever experienced. We’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve love from these people. It’s humbling to see that. I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps a piece of why God brought us here is to give these people a chance to feel seen and admired as we just accept their hospitality with open hearts and gratitude, accept it as the grace that it is.
With such lovely people and the natural beauty we’re surrounded by, it’s easy to see this place as a peaceful rural haven (if perhaps a little rustic), but then you ask ANYONE about their family and there will be close family members lost to disease or accidents. And we’ve learned that over 80% of the valley’s income comes from welfare grants from the government to children and the elderly. Sitting in the room with a sobbing HIV positive 14 year old girl right after re-reading the beatitudes, I think that what had before been a mental understanding of this scripture became a much deeper understanding in my heart. There is a vulnerability and desperation which my privileged life prevents me from ever fully knowing. The hole meant to be filled by God has been partially patched by worldly comforts and illusions of self-sufficiency. These people on the other hand are wide open in their relation to God. Our prayers for them always include at their core a hope that these tremendously sad circumstances be used to bring them closer to God’s love, that they allow them to more fully understand his power and their need for him.
At the same time it raises a lot of questions—how could an all powerful all loving God will this to happen to some of his children. Then you look a single valley over and it’s full of green irrigated fields and luxury resorts. South Africa is defined by the word contrast. It’s hard to see such clear inequality with no simple solution.
As we come into our last week we would love your prayers for a smooth transition and wisdom and love as we say good bye to people. Please join your prayers with ours as we pray for the patients of Thembalethu and for the home based care workers themselves. Also pray for Betsy, Eugene and their son Joshua—they just adopted a two month old girl named Khanya into the family!
Thanks for all your love and support from home! It has meant a lot to us and we look forward to getting to share more with you all in person soon.
Brianna and Hannah
Wow. It’s hard to believe that we have been in Ireland for 5 weeks already. So sorry we haven’t posted an update…definitely wrote a post and thought it published, but I guess not.
Anyways, our trip has been brilliant so far. The weather has been incredible. Everyone here says they haven’t had this kind of weather in at least 6 years. But that’s besides the point. We are working with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) to work with their summer outreach teams and put on Holiday Bible Clubs all over Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We learned very quickly to distinguish between the north and south of Ireland because of the history and relationship between the two. (For a summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles)
Our teams are usually somewhere between 15-20 people who can be as young as 16. Each week, we travel to a new location and a new club where we stay with the team usually in a church hall. We spend the entire week with that team depending on the local congregation for food and often showers. Each team is incredibly different and each location has its quirks. So far, we have done four teams which have all been great craic. (Craic means fun if you haven’t caught on).
What we didn’t anticipate with this trip is how difficult it is to switch teams each week. We get attached…to the teams, to the kids and to the struggles of the local community. Just as we form relationships and get into the swing of a location, we are packing up again and are off to meet a new team that functions differently and requires different roles from us.
But each team has been uniquely enjoyable. We have met the best people, had lots of fun, served a lot of kids and teens and eaten some ridiculously delicious desserts. Seriously though, we’re definitely putting on weight. We’ve gotten to see a side of Ireland that many people don’t. We’ve seen the hurt and confusion and conflict caused by decades of turmoil. (If you’ve seen Belfast Bombings in the news, no worries we weren’t anywhere close.) It’s weird because we were given a brief history of the troubles our first week, we took a tour of Belfast’s most divided neighbourhood and signed the peace wall that divides them and with that simple understanding of things, we know more than a lot of the native Northern Irish teens we are serving with. A lot of them have never even met a Catholic, some have parents who play in the loyalist bands but don’t know why, and many celebrate the Protestant holiday of 12th of July, but don’t realize the conflict underlying it. It’s a bit mad honestly.
Next week, we will be working in Sandy Row, which is an extremely loyalist estate here in Belfast. The area is pretty rough and the kids have not had easy lives. Nikki and Evan will be working with P1-P3 (Kindergarten-2nd Grade) and Levi and Sarah will be working with P4-P6 (3rd-5th grade) during the day and we all will be working with teens in the evenings. If we could have prayer just for strength and grace and extra love to give the kids of Sandy Row, that would be lovely. It’s probably going to be a tiring, and stretching week for all of us. Thank you for your prayers and support.
We have three more weeks and can’t wait to catch up with everyone when we get back!
Sarah, Levi, Evan and Nikki
Have we really been here for 5 weeks?! To say that time has flown by would be an understatement. We have learned so much and cannot wait to share more stories once we get back to the States.
Our usual weekday schedule hasn’t changed since we last updated. Monday through Friday usually revolves around lesson planning and teaching though we all agree that we are trying to focus more on just creating relationships with people instead of just teaching. I have definitely grown so much more comfortable with teaching; I’m not longer really shy in front of my students. We laugh a lot; especially when I misspell words (I constantly have to remind them that I am not a dictionary and don’t actually know everything). The students and leaders continue to shower us with love and kindness; I personally have never felt so cared about. I am already starting to mentally prepare myself for the fact that I will have to say goodbye to everyone in a few shorts weeks.
Besides teaching, on the weekends we do our best to see as much of the city as we possibly can. We’ve hit most of the major tourist spots but also feel so lucky that we have been able to embrace the not so touristy part of Cambodia as well. Meghann and I got to explore the Royal Palace which is simply beautiful. A couple times a week we go to the local market to get food and delicious smoothies, $1.25 for a plate of food! I’m going to miss how cheap everything is here.
Saturdays are also Club Nights. This past week Katie did a song and dance at her club which hopefully we’ll all be able to see soon. Meghann and I stayed at Center 1 for club which was movie club. We watched a Thai movie, didn’t understand a single thing but it was so nice to hear that they appreciated us staying. On Sunday, we went to the ‘Futsal’ Final (Aka indoor soccer) and had a total blast! There was a celebration after and one of the teams from my center for second place in the overall bracket which was really exciting. During the celebration they gave out prizes, sang songs, played games and just spent time together.
God continues to work in all of us as he shows what we each need to work on or learn to love about ourselves. These past two weeks I have been reading a book called Captivating and it has had an incredible impact on my life. I suggest that every single woman reads this and guys, if you want a little more insight on how women work, I would suggest your take a look as well.
Please pray for our health. The national elections are this Sunday and I ask that everyone prays for the right party to be elected and for safety as things may or may not get a little violent. We are also traveling next weekend to Angkor Wat, so pray for safe travels. Meghann and I are going to an island on our last days here, so safety for that trip as well!
All in all, we continue to be so grateful for all the prayers and support from everyone back home.
Sawadeeka! Hello from Thailand.
It’s been and unbelievable 3 weeks to say the least. Our first few days were a blur we were so incredibly tired due to the 14 hour time difference. We arrived on Saturday at midnight and started work on Monday morning.
This has been our motto for the first week here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia! Most of the Young Life staff can speak English but many of the kids/teens we meet don’t know any past a basic “Hello, how are you?” So we have been smiling, waving, and laughing, laughing a lot as laughter has no language barrier. We don’t mind though because the people of Cambodia are the friendliest people that we’ve ever encountered! They jump at every chance to help and tell us that we’re pretty, which is something that we all obviously appreciate 🙂
We’ve done so much in just one week so I’ll give just a couple highlights:
1) Visiting the S-21 Genocide Museum. One of the most haunting and saddest places I’ve been to yet also so amazing because of how knowledged everyone is about their country’s history. We had the privilege of meeting one of the seven people that survived this torture prison. If you don’t know about the Khmer Rouge, I suggest reading this website. http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/pol-pot.htm
2) Attended a Khmer church called New Life. Worshipping in English while they sang in Khmer was such a surreal moment. I felt God present even when I had no idea what they were saying, I never thought that would happen. We’ve encountered so many kids who are the only ones in their family that know Jesus yet their faith is so incredibly strong. I am truly humbled and inspired.
3) We danced K-Pop in the middle of their main park. Katie is a great dancer and fit right in, Meghann and I on the other hand were not so good. However, the people around us got some good laughs and that’s all that matters!
4) Every Sunday the boys play soccer. And no it’s not just pick up games. They have jerseys with their names on them, there’s a referee, a scoreboard and standings. It’s amazing to see how it’s different from US soccer, no one faked injuries and they are nice to each other even when on opposing teams. I can’t wait to cheer my center on next week!
5) We eat… a lot. I swear they want to fatten us up because whenever we go anywhere they are always trying to get us to eat. Now I’m not usually one to complain (plus the food here is delicious) but there comes a point where I physically cannot eat anymore. Oh and the coffee here tops any coffee I’ve had in Seattle… I didn’t think that’d be possible! We eat a lot of mangos and other fruits picked right from the trees in our backyard, YUM!
6) Khmer cheese isn’t cheese… it’s old, aged fish….
We officially start teaching our classes on Monday so prayers are greatly appreciated!
Jum Reab Lea (Goodbye!)
-Team Cambodia (Dina, Meghann & Katie)
Here are a few more personal blogs you can follow this summer:
Natalie Stromgren (Cambodia): adventuringincambodia.tumlbr.com
Katie Hunter (Kenya):www.rafikifriends.blogspot.com (Warning: may contain a PG-13 picture, but it’s a hilarious story!)
Team India: http://india-logs.tumblr.com
Olivia Gaffney (India): http://footstepsinindia.tumblr.com
If we get any more links, we will pass them on!