Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back Safe and Sound

Those flights felt SO long! But we all made it home safely.
I'm fighting jetlag as it is 3am in Cambodia right now...I want to sleep!
Hopefully we'll be getting our pictures shared to the team soon.

Thanks for all your prayers for our team while we were over there. I look back at my first post and see how God answered our prayers in many small ways. May we continue to pray for our fellow believers there and for the hearts of many more Khmer people come to Christ!

Thanks again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

At the airport in PP...starting the journey via air

Well friends, we've arrived at the airport in Phnom Penh. We have just over an hour before our flight leaves for Seoul, South Korea--we'll fly out at noon, Winona Lake time. Thanks for your prayers.

We've said our good byes to the staff here, the Kanes, the Goods, the Wises, and Jenn...and even had time to stop by Lucky Burger for dinner. We've checked in our bags and no one had to pull any souvenirs out...all that weight was accepted the first time around...what a blessing!

The bus ride from Siem Reap was interesting. We had a wire break in the AC line...which meant the bus became very hot, very fast. Praise God we had it fixed within 30 minutes at a local shop in one of the villages we were passing through. Some of our pit stops were nicer than others, but we always made it to an eatery instead of having to stop in the bushes like they threatened to do for me. :)

Heather is feeling a lot better, thanks for praying for her. We had some sweet moments on the bus where we all laughed really hard. Who knew that Connor and I had so much in common?!
Abigail and Emily were great partners in laughter as Connor and I kept being ridiculous.
I didn't realize we'd become the center of attention on the bus til we all looked up and the people in the very front and those in the back were just staring in wonder...shaking their heads at us.

Random bus fun...
Would you like butter or mayo on that ham and cheese?
Tether down the curtains!
Inside jokes that DON'T translate well to outsiders...connor, emily, and abigail...
Precious Farm and Resort...that bus went many miles with us.
Scott's not-so-hidden jealousy of Emily's photography skills
iPad shuffleboard
Aladdin pants and the hair that escaped scissors

...I'm sure there are more.

Thanks Cambodia International Airport for the free WiFi and computer station...
And thank you Lord for getting us thus far.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some prayer...

Hey everyone. We just got back from church (a really good time) and came to the hotel to pick up Heather...she didn't go because she wasn't feeling good. We're just about to leave, she's been sleeping well this morning, but her stomach isn't settled.
And it's going to be hours and hours of travel.
Pray for her to be able to get comfortable on the bus.
Pray that she'll be able to get some food in her and keep it down.
Pray that the roads will stay safe as we go.
Thanks for your prayers as always...we feel them.


Just a fun thing to know...
T'here's a sweet pool here at the hotel...not that many of us have taken the time to swim in it, but it looks great! That's not the fun thing to know though...the hotel's neighbor, overlooking the pool area, raises crocodiles. There is aother pool up there on his rooftop that is FULL of crocodiles. The just lay ontop of each other. And when it gets hot they fight each other for room in the pool instead of the hot deck. Quite the sight here in Cambodia.

Breakfast time...I'm late.

Encore Angkor!

Quick note about last night...we went to this nice restaurant and took all of Chom's family with us. 21-top please? We took had one long table! Scott brought his iPad to try and catch some restaurant wifi. He took one look at little Philip, maybe 7 years old, and went over there to teach him how to bowl on the iPad. Camden would have been proud. The boys played bowling and air hockey. You should have seen their faces! I loved catching the mom or dad leaning over to see what the giggles and laughs were all about. iPad was a huge hit...No expression compared though to when Philip got his sandwich. You have to understand that this family doesn't go out to eat...it's too expensive for them. When that double-layered sandwich was delivered in front of him his eyes became the size of coconuts! And his smile...priceless.

This morning was a walk through history...the 900 year old temples of Angkor Wat towered over us. We're bringing back some sweet pictures. A king's palace, towers with etched Khmer faces, statues of Hindi gods, Buddhas, and history told through carvings on the walls of ancient ruins...we walked through them...climbed up them and through them...
Interesting to note that Angkor Wat was used in the filming of Tomb Raider--if you've seen the movie, you'll have a picture in your head of the monster-size stone temples we walked through. I felt like Indiana Jones a couple of moments...just say'in.

In my mind there was a mixture of feelings today. The ruins were gorgeous and impressive. We even found stone carvings of animals on these 12th century walls...one was a dinosaur! And yet, these temples are broken, some destroyed, and deteriorating with time. Some of the temples we awed at had huge trees growing through them and overtaking them. Nothing man can make, no matter how breath-taking, will last the test of time. It's something my mind kept coming back to. These temples were built for gods, but few come for the sole purpose of worshipping them during their visit to Angkor Wat. Most tourists go for their beauty and for their place history.

I'm glad we serve the one and only true God who doesn't live OR FIT in temples built by human hands, but uses this earth as his footstool. He places His spirit in the hearts of His people. We don't need to appease Him. God will not be impressed by our incense and our visits to a building on Sundays where the church meets. Instead, He offers grace. Today's long walk through ancient times for Cambodians was fascinating...but processing the hopelessness of people who worship and pray to stone is heart-wrenching.

I don't know how you transition from this tangent I just went on back to the rest of our day...but anyway...

Lunch was great...We took a break from rice and ate at the Pizza Company!
Honestly though, we've all had it nice...we've been fed really well. The Goods and the Kanes have taken us to all their favorite restaurants. Most have been mighty fancy!
Connor eats the best. If you get full, just pass your plate along. Some of us, like Emily had a veggies pizza with corn on it. Others had seafood, BBQ chicken, or classic supreme. We had a special ice cream dessert delivered to Abigail for her birthday. Everyone stared at us as we burst out singing to Happy Birthday.

This afternoon we returned to Chom's house. (This whole time I was under the impression that his name was Cham...must have heard wrong days ago. Cham is the name given to the Cambodian people who are Muslim...whoops.)
While we had been at lunch it had down-poured, so when we got to Chom's house in the village, it was quite muddy. I'm sure his kids were glad they didn't have to water all those trees and plants though! Before starting to work, we got a chance to sit and listen to Chom and his wife share briefly about their story. Chom was a soldier who lost his leg in 1986. He met and married his wife a year later. They have four boys and three girls. God has provided for them and taught them many things. He told us today, "Now, I'm a soldier for Christ." There family has been very loving to us.

The afternoon was spent wrapping up yesterday's chores. The guys finished the frog farm, and the ladies dug into the (now wet) soil/manure/rice grain mixture. We packed some more bags and got to plant all the tree saplings.

-Connor bought pants that make him Aladdin's twin...we love them.
-Puppies and ducks...adorable in any country. Watch out for Mommas though...
-Heather learned that she couldn't have a boyfriend yet because she hadn't bought a pretty bracelet from one of the little girl vendors. She was ten...and pretty good at what she does. She asked Heather if she had a boyfriend. Trying to keep the girl from convincing her to buy a bracelet for her man, Heather said No...I don't. (Nate, don't worry...this is a good story) :)
The girl said "You don't have a boyfriend yet because you don't have bracelet! I give you 10 for $1...special price for you...special price for you." They haggled forever...it was great to listen in. Those kids crowded Scott and Heather...it made for some sweet entertainment.
-Mosquitoes got into our bus somehow...but only camped out in the back where Jenn and I normally sit. Someone could have stood up and danced to the beat we made with the clapping that ensued. We killed several, but the battles we won didn't compare to the war. I think the red spots on my legs attest to their victory.
-Street kids trying to sell you things know their country capitals...and the U.S. President. It's impressive, but we still didn't want to be a key chain.
-Gambling is illegal. Scott saw a volleyball game going on with some money laid out on the table. He tried to get them to let me play...those only guys play sports really. And the guy said "I'd let you play, but you'd tell on me." ...I wasn't about to play in that game anyway...it would have only served for their hearty laughs.
-Pomegranate Tea will change your life.
-A guy asked Scott on the way back from dinner tonight "Hey, do you want to get stoned?"
Well, Mom and Dad, all those lessons on "Just say No" really paid off. Thanks.
-Elephants are sweet...their poop isn't

Tonight we ate at a restaurant with a traditional dance performance. We ordered food while we enjoyed music and a performance of the many different Khmer dances. We're all so tired...some of us came back early...some of us had to post on a blog before bedtime. :)

Continued Prayer:
-Heather and Kori both haven't felt well today, and Heather's burn is still in the long healing process. Pray for comfort, for settled stomachs, and for Heather's leg.
-Praise for Scott's back! Thanks for praying...he was still sore today but it was much more manageable then before...praise the Lord for that.
-Pray for Chom's family. His livelihood are these trees that we helped plant. Pray that they will grow and provide more income for him and his large family.
-Pray for travels...we are kind of dreading the long process that starts tomorrow. Coming home to the States means first an early morning for church, then straight on the bus for some 7 plus hours from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. We'll get on our first flight late that night to Seoul, South Korea, and then the next big flight will bring us to Chicago (or to Hawaii if you are Emily...I love that she has found pieces of home here in tropical Cambodia).
-Pray for our missions staff here in Cambodia as they transition back into their normal routines. They all will turn around and take the bus back 6 hours to Battambang, to their homes, after taking us to the airport.

Love to all from 'Bodia...I may post from an airport somewhere...who knows. Thanks for your prayers. We love your comments...hint hint.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Working at the nursery...

No...we didn't take care of Khmer babies...though we all would have been up for that!
Cham's property has a tree nursery!

I just got downstairs from a long awaited shower...we've worked all day at Cham's house. It was 95 degrees or so and humid. Everyone drank probably 7 bottles of water each.
Today's work allowed us the chance to join Cham's family in the work they do...everyday.
We carried bucket after bucket of dirt to the back of his property in prep to build a frog farm later in the afternoon. Some of the ladies joined the Khmer women in the market to buy all the food for lunch. It was awesome to see the ladies prep the meal over the outdoor fire. Chicken innards in broth, fish (the whole fish...it was looking at us), green mango slices, chicken and cucumbers, and other yummy toppings to our rice. We finished up the meal with watermelon, lychee, and another fruit that's red with small daggers coming out of it...very sweet...very good.

After we ate it was too hot to work. Everyone took a nap...they set out pillows and mats and turned the fans on. We were out! I think we sweated off all 7 bottles of water today...without exaggerating.

After naptime came some good ol' planting. The guys went to build the frog farm while the ladies joined all of Cham's daughters in mixing soil for the off-shoots that we planted. The mixture first started off with dirt...then we added dried cow manure...then soot from burned rice husks...and lastly we added the rice grain from the husks. Mix mix mix!

Here's the best part...for hours we sat on the ground and mixed the soil BY HAND and shoved handfuls of it into black plastic bags. Each mini-bag would recieve a shoot that'd been cut off his other trees to start the next generation. We sat and sang songs and listened as Cham's wife busted out some songs in Khmer.

We were filthy! It was great to scrub that manure off our legs and arms.

We are headed out know to go to dinner with Cham's family. The place is called the Soup Dragon...I'm kind of excited. We'll hit the market again tonight. It was so nice last night...not too crowded, tons of sweet stuff, and some great buys.

Some fun things today...
-Heather was followed all morning by these two little girls. They were adorable. She let them sit on her lap and they were hooked. I think they slowed her down when they went to 'help' her carry the bucket of dirt, but it was precious.
-um...the team just found out that Abigail's birthday is tomorrow. Sweet! Send your love eveyone! She is going celebrate it on the opposite side of the world!
-Playing in dirt was a highlight fr most of us...we all felt like we were back to our childhood.
Sidenote: Scott says that his best time in life was when he was 12...cause he still acts like he's 12 years old...too bad he didn't play in the dirt with us today.
-Watching the women cook and helping wash dishes outside on the ground afterward
-Enjoying the manual labor and getting a nap! So satisfying...C'ham's family is so welcoming.

Some things to be praying about:
-Heather burnt her leg while getting off the motocycle today. She's fine...but it hurts of course.
-Pray for Jill, one of the missionaries. She's been feeling sick all day. Pray for a quick recovery for her as I know she wants to be a part of this trip with us
-Scott...his back is really bothering him. Pray that his discomfort lessens and that he will return to full motion and energy soon. It was hard for him to bow out of stuff today...we missed him.
-Ashley, me...my lingering cold. It hasn't been too bad, but it's still with me every morning.
-Safe travels and for the salvation of our bus driver, Mr. Vanna

More later I hope! Thanks for joining us and for your prayers.

Working really hard...

Sorry that our posts have been few and far between...
we have been working hard and by the time we get back the Internet is down...

Hope to be able to post something significant tonight...
Thanks for loving us enough to check this blog faithfully...

More to come soon, hopefully!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Bodia Trip Moments...

Fun quptes like:
-"Beyond Special"
Randomness like:
-Royal D
-Heather's fascination with Connor's roommate, Johnny Appleseed
-Scott makes threats that are ridiculous..."I"ll kick you the shin..."
-Scott--"you can be in love with a person even if that person is engaged all ready...I mean...just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can't look at the menu!"
-Sand Ice in all flavors...Scott's work to get the first bite of everyone's to make sure they were ok. Protect and Serve...that's his motto.
-I rode on the back of a moto with Jen through the streets...awesome taste of daily life here.
-we liked do things that will clear the safety measures of WWPGS...What Would Patti Goldsmith Say...so I wore a helmet on my short motor ride.
-Cricket catching plastic in the farms
-Growing mushrooms in plastic bags
-Connor's backpack full of the classics...it's heavier than my suitcase
-Ipods shared in the back of the bus
-Great food...some are better with chopsitcks than others
-A ride in a tuk-tuk...a cart pulled by a motorcycle
-Pineapple goodness in all forms
-Abigail's parents, she says "Hi."
-Heather looks really good when she sweats...or so she says.
-Kyla...I wish I knew the European size for 7 and a hlaf...if I'd had internet then, I wouldn't have made a bad purchase...did I just give away my surprise? maybe...

more later!

An old post...finally posted

Friends! We've arrived in Siem Reap! And our hotel has working internet!
So...after much internet struggle...here is an older post that I wrote and never was able to upload. We're leaving for the frog pond building in 5 minutes! I'll surely post more tonight. As you all are sleeping right now I'm sure at 3am...we're in 98 or so degree weather and heading outdoors. Love from Siem Reap!

Wednesday, May 12-so...I'm sad in my heart...I had a sweet post about this morning's team time several hours ago when we were having Internet problems...I went to post it and it read "cannot locate this site"I lost my entire post. I will have to remember what I all I wrote.We spent team time at the Kane's this morning. Kent Good spent some time explaining to us how complicated it is to share and be gospel in NW Cambodia. we discussed the complexities of multi-cultures, language, socio-economic status, religion, and traditions. Each one opens the door to a million questions that only time, patience, prayer, and local-help can begin to answer.we were able to meet 6 of the Cambodian ministry partners for lunch today and heard their testimonies...I love hearing how God has led these men through personal hardship to bring them to himself. they aren't just believers...they are fully devoted disciples working daily for the kingdom. we joined them out in three villages today to see the first water well that Suran built, to see some micro-enterprises of frogs, mushrooms, and fish...learning SO much. The people are very welcoming...their homes humble but loving.

Ask us about the countryside...we've seen hours of it on the road. Cows cross the road and everything...wish I had a video recorder...we could have been video blogging this trip. :)

Sorry that post was short but I HAD to get something up there...the team is well...all fairly heathly...and haven't had any food problems either. praise the Lord!


'Bodia Team 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Random Helpful Info

Check out other helpful blogs and websites if you're the curious type...
Some of our partners: Kent and Becky Good: (we're about to eat dinner at their house!)

The hotel we are staying in: http://www.khemarahotel.com (or at least one of them) :)

Here is a link to a map of Cambodia...we've been to Phnom Penh, Battambang, and tomorrow we go to Siem Reap.

I'm waiting for some of my notes from the day and then I'll post about the team!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

News from Ashley...

May 11-
-6:45am leave Paradise Hotel for breakfast at the Kiwi Bakery via cycles (a fun vehicle contraption that's basically a wheelchair in the front connected to a bicycle in the back...I felt bad for the small petite Khmer man who cycled me across town...I'm not a small person...but I felt better after I noticed the man's huge calves...their as large as Aaron Crabtree's.
-most of us try an Asian breakfast of either pork and rice or chicken and rice, served with spicy veggies and cucumber slices. gotta love morning iced coffee with sweet milk to charge you for the day. 
-next we toured some sites of the capital from our bus with our faithful driver Mr. Vannak guiding us thru the busy streets of Phnom Penh.
-our visit to Tsoul Sleng Prison was sobering. thousands of innocent Khmer were tortured for their confession of their crimes against the state and executed for being against the Khmer Rouge communist govn't from 1975-1979. the four-building complex had once been a high school. The classrooms were left just as they had been used during that time to memorialize the tragedy that had occurred...rooms for torture, rooms for detention and confession...in years of killings, only 7 people are recorded as having survived.  
-after the prison we visited a Russian Market...I love the small walkways, the crowds, and booth after booth of goods from fake Nike shoes to dish ware and Cambodia's fine silk. 
-lunch was at a sweet restaurant Khmer Suran...more iced coffee, cashew chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and a beef dish with lots of white rice. I sat with Jessica Robertson (Jordan Gillette's older sister) and with Deb and Steve Wise. I love hearing their experiences and how God has brought them here and directed their next steps. I've gotten a chance to talk with Jen Hart as well...her senior year at Grace was my freshman year...so good to see how God has led her after college through some of the very same questions that I and other gracies face.
-I am writing this while I am in the van with the team on our way to Battambang. We've stopped twice so far...once when it was down pouring for a quick bathroom stop...and just 5 minutes ago we left from a pit stop to check the air in our tires. While we waited we bought some fresh fruit from some kids and awkwardly stood around not having the language for small talk. I watched as the kids laughed at us when we took pictures of their baby ducks and their momma. They laughed harder when Connor took a picture of the ladies taking a picture of the ducks. :) I pulled out my duck noise to see their reaction...I got only smiles...the ducks didn't like it...one look from momma and I stopped for the sake of my own safety.  ...back on the road...i'll a write more later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chilling' in Seoul...

Well, we finally made it to Seoul.... Voted best airport in the world 5 years in a row.
We only have about 2 hours here till we board another plane for the 5 and a half hour flight to Cambodia.
Korean Airlines, it's the only way to travel, but... It still stinks. Not sure how I can so quickly forget how awful it is to be stuck in a plane for 14 hours straight.
Anyway, enough complaining.... We made it safely this far.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

And now we sit...

Well, here we are.... Sitting in the Ft. Wayne airport ready to board our flight to Chicago then on the South Korea before arriving in Cambodia... Or merely 'Bodia as we are affectionately calling it.

We will try and blog as often as possible...
Thanks for caring about our trip and praying for us

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Leaving tomorrow...can't wait

Dear followers...
Tomorrow 7 Gracies will embark on a trip to Cambodia.
Emily Metcalf, Abby Clements, Kori Sutterfield, Connor Park, and Heather Storey will join eScott Feather and I as we leave from campus at 5am to head for Fort Wayne.

Can I just say...I'm super excited to get my passport stamped again. It's been too long.

We'll fly from Ft. Wayne to Chicago, from Chicago to Seoul, South Korea, and again from Seoul to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. A total of number of 20 hours and 7 minutes in the air and at least 8 hours and 50 minutes of aimlessly walking through airports waiting.

Ahead of us lie expectations of frog farming...I have no idea what we are getting ourselves into.
Two summers ago the trip with eScott was to Bangkok, Thailand...I'm so excited for SE Asia again. The food in that part of the world is some of my favorite, and the culture is SO rich.

Pray for us. This is trip will be a short one.
Pray that we our eyes will be open to see the people in Cambodia how God sees them.
Pray that our time with the missionaries will be encouraging to them and not burdensome.
Pray that our hearts will be open to learn what God desires for us through this trip.
Pray for the Cambodians who we will interact with--that the gospel will be evident in the unity of our team and in the love of our simple actions.

I have no idea that internet access will look like...so stay tuned.
I'll post when I can! Thanks for your prayers!