We have been in Cambodia now for one month! It's hard to believe what exactly we've already done--we've moved into our new house, started language school, begun training for our jobs and become familiar with the city of Phnom Penh.
Here are a few reflections from these last few weeks about the differences of living in Cambodia.
-Living in a tropical climate means that:
*60 degrees F at night or in the early morning feels cold! Some mornings we grab a jacket on our way out to Khmer lessons. We're coming out of the 'cool' season now.
*Constantly having a fan on means that EVERYTHING must be weighed down (money, paper, receipts, light plastic bowls). We are always chasing after a runaway something or alternatively, pepper or cinnamon flies back into our faces when we are pouring them on our food.
*Anything that might melt must be refrigerated. Even while we prepared dinner, the cheese and butter must remain in the frig until the exact moment we sit down to eat.
*Constantly having cold drinks on hand is a cultural must. We should always have a wide selection of drinks in the frig to offer guests.
-We use US dollars to pay for everything but we get change back in Cambodian riel. We are having to memorize what the appropriate change is with 1000 riel being a quarter and 4000 riel being a dollar. Occasionally we borrow money from each other for coffee or tea on the street and then realize we owe 60 cents or 75 cents but we pay it back with 4 or 5 bank notes of 100 or 500 riel each.
-Cambodia doesn't produce much domestically; nearly everything at the corner stores and larger supermarkets is imported, especially from Thailand, France, the United States, Vietnam and, of course, China. One difficult thing is that we are used to paying Chinese prices because we used to live in China. We have been in sticker shock as we stock up for our house--a plastic garbage can that we would have paid $1 for in China is at least $4 here. It's good because it is forcing us to reconsider our purchasing habits and see if we really need that bathroom shelf.
-Cars have steering wheels on both the left and the right. Technically, Cambodian steering wheels should be the left (a result of French influence) but neighboring Thailand has them on right because of British influence. As a result of the previous point, both are seen.
-Fighting against ants is a constant battle. Today alone we found ants on our breakfast food, on a shelf, in the sink, and in a cabinet. Our food will continue to have lots of extra little bits of protein as we figure out the best way to keep them out of our house. Ants are very, very, very smart little creatures!
-The post office doesn't alert you when you receive mail. You have to go to the office and ask if they have mail for you. There is no mailman! It feels weird to be in a country with so little structure to the postal system.
We imagine that every so often we will be posting new differences that we encounter!
It's been three weeks since we boarded planes and headed to Cambodia. During the first week, each day felt like it contained a month's worth of experiences. God remains the same in all the new things - both good and hard - we are experiencing. He is still good and He is present here.
Currently, we are in language study in the morning and training in the afternoon. Each day we have heard different speakers from ministries in the city. We listened to a passionate women who works with a highly marginalized group - transvestites. There was great hope in hearing from a women who works in an assessment center where girls rescued from brothels first go to receive care before being placed back with their families (if it is safe) or in a longer term after-care. We were able to visit an after-care facility that works with both Khmer and Vietnamese girls who have been rescued from the sex-trade. One day we visited a community just outside Phnom Penh that is notorious for the trafficking of very young children, both boys and girls. In this community, it is normal for mothers to sell their children to pedophiles out of their own homes in the evenings. We visited with a pastor in this community and saw a care center that developed in the very building that formally was a brothel with young children. There is also a joyful school bursting at the seams with children from high-risk families, finally able to get an education and loving care from adults. The realities of evil and hope living next door to each other is very intense.
In a few weeks we will be done with training and will begin working at a local park to reach out to a group of children in high-risk and abusive situations. In the afternoons in this park we will be playing games, telling Bible stories, and teaching English. Through all of this, we will be developing relationships with the kids and getting to know their individual needs and circumstances and we will see how we can be a part of the story God has for them. We pray we can be a part of them knowing the power of God's love, the redemption of Jesus, and freedom from abusive situations.
A few days ago we were able to move into our more permanent home and we are thankful for a place to settle into. There is always so much to tell! Please keep in touch with us onFacebookand ourblog. We thrive off of your prayers.
On Tuesday we moved from our temporary housing to our permanent home. It's a two story house with 3 bedrooms, an office and a guest room for visitors! As we are still getting settled, we don't have real pictures to show off, but we do have some from moving day.
We thought you might enjoy a timeline of this slightly crazy day, so here it is:
8.15AM-We meet our tuktuk driver at our temporary apartment and pile in with a few random bags of stuff.
8.20AM-We stop by our director's house to pick up her housekeeper. With two small children our director couldn't help us with cleaning and moving, but she generously donated her housekeeper for a few hours to help us with cleaning.
8.30AM-We go upstairs to Becki's room and pray for a few minutes to help focus before the busyness of the day sets in.
9.00AM-Becki and one of our Khmer teammates set out to the market in a tuk tuk. Rachel and Kimberly start sorting the piles of stuff that had been bought for the moving day.
9.30AM-Becki and company arrive at the market and begin bargaining for curtain fabric and other household items.
10.00AM-The water delivery people finally show up with 5 giant bottles of water for our house after being lost in our neighborhood for 30 minutes. Rachel stood out in the road and eventually waved them down.
11.00AM-One of our teammates arrives to help us with the chaos!
11.15AM-Becki meets another one of our teammates at the tailor to start the process of making curtains.
12.00 noon-Kimberly and Rachel start unpacking the boxes that had been shipped from China. It was like Christmas again finding all of our treasures that we said goodbye to in June.
12.15PM-Becki shows up with her treasures and some take-out for lunch so we eat our first lunch in our new house in the living room! We rest and regroup for a little while.
1.15PM-Yet another one of our teammates shows up to help us. We tackle moving some misc. unwanted things (left from our landlord) to storage.
1.30PM-Several of our Hard Places Khmer staff show up to help with the real moving part of moving day. Kimberly, two of the guys, and our tuktuk driver go back to our temporary housing to get our stuff.
1.30PM-Becki and our teammate start painting some furniture outside.
2.15PM-The tuk tuk comes back with all of our luggage and looks like this:
Yes, this is all of our personal belongings that we brought with us to Cambodia three weeks ago. We each have two suitcases, a purse and a carry on and they all fit on one tuk tuk.
Plus pillows and other random bags and still both guys plus the driver were able to fit!
2.30PM-Kimberly is busy trying to figure out what pieces of furniture we want from the second hand shop that was in the ground floor of our temporary housing. Rachel and Becki are busy at the house taking the suitcases to the various rooms.
2.45PM-The second load comes back looking like this:
There was three people, three shelves, two mattresses, one desk and one driver all in one tuk tuk!
3.00PM-Everyone sits down and enjoys a nice cold soft drink after all the moving.
3.15PM-Rachel heads out to get a PO Box from the post office, arriving 30 minutes later. She finds the right window after going to four wrong windows and begins filling out the necessary paperwork. Meanwhile, Becki and Kimberly are busy cleaning the kitchen and finding a home for everything.
4.15PM-Rachel finally secures a key and pays $13 for a whole year. She just happens to bring a treat of cupcakes home from a local bakery.
5.00PM-Becki and Kimberly head out for an adventure procuring furniture while Rachel stays at home hoping beyond hope that the internet people actually show up (we started calling them around 10am - when they were first suppose to show up).
5.30PM-The internet people do show up--all five of them! They climb up our front gate to install some cords and then wait around for a while to see if a signal is available.
5.45PM-Becki and Kimberly find some furniture for various rooms.
6.30PM-The internet people come in and begin installing the router upstairs.
6.35PM-The delivery guys arrive with some furniture that Kimberly and Becki sent back to the house.
6.45PM-Becki and Kimberly stop by the market and pick up yummy fried rice and fruit.
7.15PM-We eat our first dinner at home and debrief our day.
8.15PM-More cleaning and unpacking ensues. The goal for the end of the night is to have the main rooms of the house clutter-free. The office and guest room piles continue to grow.
8.30PM-The internet people finally get everything in order and we are online three hours after the initial process started.
9.00PM-The goal for the day is met and there is much celebrating!
We hope to have the house in order this weekend so we can take pictures and post them soon.