It’s been quite some time since we’ve written anything, and so thought it would be a good time to give you a general update on life here in Cambodia.
After a 24-day orientation, we “released” the YAGM volunteers to their service sites on September 21. Sarah and I took a few days to decompress (read: sleep) and clean up after orientation, and then about a week later, Rev. Franklin Ishida, the ELCA’s Program Director for Asia and the Pacific, was here for a few days to visit the Lutheran Church in Cambodia and Life With Dignity. In between meetings, we took Franklin to visit YAGM Haley in Phnom Sruoch and YAGM Ryan in Phnom Penh. Franklin got to drive on Cambodian backroads, which included maneuvering through a herd of cows and going through a stream with water covering most of all 4 wheels on the pickup.
The month of October was busy fielding phone calls and emails and text messages from the volunteers as they began to adapt to living in their new homes. For some of them, this meant learning that rats are common in the provinces. Sarah and I have been super-proud of the volunteers in how they have handled discovering that sometimes they share their space with these little critters – they took (and are taking) it in stride.
After the volunteers were in their service sites for about a month we held a “Seminar Weekend” for them. We had them come to Phnom Penh for a weekend of intentional “checking in”, worship in English, and had Longdi come and do a language class (for some, it was review, for others, it was an opportunity to learn new vocabulary for situations they find themselves in at their sites on a regular basis). It was fun to hear the volunteers describe their sites and give us a glimpse into their lives here in Cambodia. The seminar weekend was also a good time to again talk intentionally about culture shock, as well as what it means to live in relationship and service with their communities.
The rest of our time has been spent doing the “random” things that seem to fill our days: meetings, emails, reading, phone calls, text messages, our own language instruction, making newsletters, doing logistics reports, making “informal” site visits, etc. Additionally, we drove to Cambodia’s beautiful northeast and scouted out locations for our first retreat, which is starting this Friday, 27 November, and so far have made a couple of “formal” site visits. We also took a week off for our anniversary. So, we keep ourselves busy, but it’s not the “I have so much stuff to do I can’t think straight” kind of busy that so often we found ourselves in while living in the States, and for that we are grateful.
Speaking of being grateful, know that we are so grateful that you are joining us on this journey in Cambodia by reading this blog, through the prayers you pray on our behalf, and the emails and Facebook messages you send. They mean so much to us and we give thanks to God for you and your support. Have a great Thanksgiving, stay warm (that won’t be a problem here – it’s 90* as I write this), and stay safe!