Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First Thoughts

Two weeks. It’s very hard for us to believe that we’ve only been in Phnom Penh for two weeks. Each day feels like a month all to itself. I am seven years removed from all of my China ‘firsts’ and I really do not remember what it was like for everything to be so completely new. It’s as if time has no choice but to slow down in order for me to be able to absorb all the new information - all the details, the sights, sounds, smells, and people.

Not everything has been new. Asia, in many ways, is still Asia. I have been able to assimilate all the Cambodia ‘new’ not just into my United States schema, but also into my China schema. Very little here fits into my US mold, but a lot of it is similar to China.

Yet, Cambodia is so different from China. I see that more and more as each day passes. To me, Cambodia makes China look like the most predictable and orderly country known to man! With only two weeks under my belt that’s not a very informed statement, but for now it’s what I can see and give words to.

The amount of learning in these past two weeks has been extraordinary. I have not only started daily language study but also training in anti-trafficking for sexual exploitation. Our team has heard from several people who are working specifically with exploited boys and girls. Their stories are inspiring and overwhelming. The problems are enormous. As someone said recently, “there will always be more problems in Cambodia.” You can tackle one issue and then ten other serious issues will surface. There is no way to isolate the problem of poverty without intersecting with problems due to lack of education. You can’t work on reaching only sex tourists and not grapple with the supply chain of girls coming from the countryside or neighboring countries. Where does one even begin?

One thing I have taken comfort in these past few days is the fact that I am not the beginning. Many others have come before me and tilled the ground. For many years, people have been fighting for the lives and hearts of exploited and marginalized people in Cambodia and all over the world. I am joining a large Body of workers. ‘Together’ is such a powerful word. ‘Alone’ is scary. And we are not alone! Praise God!

I am eager to learn more from those who have already given so much to the cause. I know my heart will be incredibly overwhelmed at times, but I have teammates here and people all over the world who remind me that we are never alone. There is hope. Change is possible.

Here are some links to some of the amazing organizations we have heard from so far. As things continue here, we will let you know more about what we are learning.

Much love,


Daughters of Cambodia
International Justice Mission
Chab Dai
First Steps

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exploring Phnom Penh

We spent the afternoon walking around the river front area yesterday. Here's a link to our Facebook photo album if you liked the pictures from our previous post. You don't need to have a Facebook account to view these pictures--just click here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Days

Dear friends,

We made it! After some long flights, we all arrived safely without any major snags. It's been less than three days and already we've gotten settled at our temporary guest house, acquired cell phones, met our teammates, had a stomach bug, explored the neighborhood and started language school. We'd give you a Khmer greeting, but we don't remember. We're going to blame that on jet lag.

On Monday we begin orientation and training with our team. This will jumpstart our education into Cambodian culture and the realities of the sexual exploitation that surrounds us. Soon after we will begin working with local children at a park that surrounds a Buddhist temple. More on that later! Also in the coming weeks we'll begin searching for an apartment to call home.

It's been quite a journey to get us to this place. Walking off the plane and realizing we were finally here - that this is our new home, our new country - was surreal. Thank you for all the support and prayers that have made this possible!

There will be many stories to tell in the days to come. We'll post pictures and more frequent updates on Facebook. Feel free to e-mail us any time; we'd love to hear from you.

Much love,

Kimberly, Becki, and Rachel

Wonderful snacks left for us by our team.

We are getting around the city in tuktuks.

Fried bananas and bread on the street--a very yummy snack!

A beautiful gate in our neighborhood.

A vendor selling coconuts.

I can't read Khmer, but I think this is a dentist!

Bamboo scaffolding at a construction site--notice how the wheels are up in the air.

There are NOT underground power wires in Cambodia.