Headed Home and Other News

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It's been awhile since we tag-teamed our newsletter, so we thought it would fun to give you individual updates from Noelle and myself. We just can't believe how fast 2014 is going. Cambodia has officially entered rainy season, which means cooler temps, flooding and smelly trash. Fun, huh? Actually, we both really enjoy this season. It can be quite humid, but once a storm comes through, there is a nice wind that comes along with it. So refreshing! In fact, there are days where we can even pull out a candle and blanket. It's not actually cold outside, but if we think about it really hard, we can make it happen in our minds :).

From Jacob

  • I've been doing language 5+ times a week on a full-time basis. I absolutely love it! I feel like I'm really starting to see some overall progress. I've just begun to read the Bible in Khmer and learn "Christian" words. Phalla, my newer teacher has really helped take me to the next level. He has a substantial English vocabulary which is great for understanding translation and learning more advanced terms. Aaron is also bringing home more challenging Khmer homework which I'm also able to check for accuracy and also encourage him to speak more in Khmer.
  • Going home: Caleb and I will be traveling home on 2 September and coming back on the 20th. We wish it was all of us together, but the foster/adoption process for Aaron is still in the works. The government here has changed seats so they are still getting their acts together. As a result, it's taking longer than anticipated. It's been over 3 years since we've traveled home, so we have decided to take turns. We miss you all and are excited to connect. I'll be staying with my Dad for the two weeks; hope to see many of you during my visit!

 

 

From Noelle

I keep pretty busy with my work at Sak Saum which I really love. We are busy working on a new catalog for the fall. I always say it is like Christmas every day because of all of the beautiful products I am surrounded with. And I love the young men and women I get to connect with daily. It is such a joy to work alongside them. Caleb loves his friends there and it has been a natural connection point in the nursery for discussing parenting and connecting with the other young moms and their kids.

I have also had the privilege of helping develop a Sunday School curriculum for the Gospel Community Church in Saang, IHSI’s church plant. We have 8 children or so every week and have been working through the Bible over the course of a year. It has been fun seeing the teachers, translators and children growing and learning together. 

Last but NOT least, I am so excited that my dad is coming for a visit! He will be here in August and then will fly back to the States with Jacob. His upcoming arrival has launched me into full-on nesting, guest room mode. =)

 

Ministry Connection

If you would like to know the latest from IHSI, you can read their blog here. They also recently created a way to receive prayer updates via email and you can sign up for that on the website.

Sak Saum will be having a Christmas in July sale which would be a great time to do some Christmas shopping! Visit www.saksaum.com/store to buy products online and follow Sak Saum on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/saksaum) for all the latest happenings.

Prayer Points

  • Jacob and Caleb’s trip home to the States and Bruce Nygren’s trip here — safe and smooth transitions for all.
  • Movement with Aaron’s foster care paperwork so that we can move on to the next adoption phase.
  • Continued health, protection, and growth for all IHSI and Sak Saum staff.

Thanks so much for your love and care! We miss you.

February Update

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A favorite time during my day is lunch hour in the nursery at Sak Saum. I love bringing my lunch upstairs and eating with some of the young moms and the children. One of the gifts God has given me in this season of my life is the ability to navigate motherhood with them. I have been so grateful to share some of the struggles and joys that are common to moms with young children — sleepless nights, odd rashes, potty training, funny things our children say, and so on. I have learned a lot from them in a short time…

  • Generosity. Cambodians are so willing to share what they have with each other and each other’s children. This has both challenged and encouraged me.
  • Helping. Regularly I watch mothers take turns holding each other’s children or helping calm a crying baby so that the mother can take a brief rest or eat some lunch. 
  • Laughing. There is a great deal of the humorous in parenthood. Some days, the good belly laugh I share over a child’s antics or a new game is such a bright spot.

And it has been interesting to hear from them what they find to be so curious about how I am a mommy. Here are two that they have mentioned to me before.

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  • Talking. I am always talking with Caleb about himself, his actions, the reasons why he should or shouldn’t do something, what God thinks about something and so on. This is quite strange to them! I still catch stares out of the corner of my eye. But the other day, I came up to the nursery and found Channa with her daughter on her lap as she explained to her why hitting the baby was not a good idea and encouraged her patiently to say sorry.
  • Showing affection and saying I love you. I can’t help it! I have a little boy who craves as much physical touch as he can get and I simply cannot help but hug, kiss, and snuggle him. I love telling him that I love him. I love seeing moms loving on their children.

Thanks for letting me give you a peek into my very precious world. I love and miss you!

Noelle

Prayer Requests

Thanks for joining with us in asking God to…

  • Continue to protect our marriage against the normal and abnormal stressors that come with daily life here.
  • Continued progress with Aaron's foster care/adoption process.
  • Give wisdom and strength to the ministry as they experience new growth in many arenas.
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End of Year Giving Statements 

We are working on our end of year giving statements, however you should have received your official statement from New Life Church already. Thanks so much for your patience! We plan to have them out soon.

Learning Khmer

The Khmer Language | I like studying the Khmer Language.

The Khmer Language | I like studying the Khmer Language.

Learning the Cambodian language has been one of the most challenging things I've ever done. I never learned a secondary language in high school, so taking this on has been a new experience for me. I still wonder sometimes what my best approach to learning language is, because it seems so different, than let's say learning a topic like science or history. There seems to be so many moving pieces that have to fit together. 

Looking past the challenge of it all, there is such a beautiful reward on the other end. It will be so exciting to be able to hold a solid conversation without being dependent on a translator. So far, I've been blessed with a community that can speak good English and I LOVE helping them develop their second language so that they can have more opportunity. Everyday life, however, is a different story. I can get around with small chit-chat, but I long to have normal conversation with my neighbor (who still thinks I'm French...lol) or be able to encourage kids while we go on family walks in the evening. And, most importantly, we have two growing boys -- one who is Cambodian and the other who thinks he is in many ways. LOL. We would love for them to be fluent in every way. So far I have managed to stay one step ahead of Aaron and it has been helpful to work with him on his homework in the evenings. Our hope is that this will encourage him to value this part of who God has created him to be and equip him for what God may have in store for the future.

I have two teachers and spend several days a week studying with them and then spend time studying on my own. Several months ago, I began learning how to read and write in addition to learning how to speak. This has helped tremendously in my pronunciation, but it also has slowed things down considerably. The Cambodian written language consists of script so learning the ins and outs, the rules, punctuation has been quite challenging. But there is something about it I love so much. 

I thought I'd share a few facts about the language that you might find interesting. It was fun to compare to the English language when I learned these things.

The Khmer alphabet consists of 23 vowels and 33 consonants. Depending on the consonant used, the paired vowel may have a different sound. There is also a foot or subscript to each consonant that can be paired with any other consonant to make for some very confusing/hard-to-remember words! In addition, there are 14 independent vowels (I think). Lots of symbols to learn!

I've had my moments where I've felt discouraged, but I just remind myself...a little at a time. I wouldn't say learning a language is a natural gift for me, but I am thankful for the opportunity to do it. 

November Update

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Election Season in Cambodia


Over the last five months, Cambodia has been in an on-going political process surrounding their national elections. It has been fascinating and sometimes stressful to watch a developing nation struggle to find its way out of a heavy-handed, often corrupt, leadership into a more democratic way of doing things. As the country has gone through ups and downs, rallies and protests, we have also gone through our own questions and emotional highs and lows. When will the election finally be over? How long will they protest the results? Are the protests effective? What is the right response to corruption? 
 
So we thought this update that we would share a few of the results of our political musings with you. Who knows? Maybe some of these will resonate for you with America’s political climate as well.
 
  1. True change will come to Cambodia not through the leadership of one person (though that one person is important) but through the changed hearts of its people. 
  2. Large scale, national change takes time, perseverance and humility. We have been encouraged to see Cambodians advocate for change in a relatively peaceful, submitted way.
  3. We are blessed to come from a country with a well-established democratic process. We have the right to be heard, for our votes to be included. In nations where deep traumas have occurred, there can be an intense battle against fear and intimidation. Please keep praying for these strongholds to be broken.
Jacob is continuing with his language classes. We have found this to be so helpful with the boys now that Aaron is studying Khmer with the first grade for half a day and Caleb is starting to string short sentences together. Wow! He is also loving his regular workouts with the boys in Saang, discipleship class, computer classes and the various tech work and videos that he does.
 
I (Noelle) am really loving the variety of my work with Sak Saum. Every day is an adventure! One highlight over the last few months has been the birth of three new babies. It is so encouraging to see new life enter the world and to be a part of embracing that life as valuable, loved and full of God’s purpose.
 
Aaron started kindergarten and loves his teacher and friends. He just learned how to read and now spends a good chunk of time with a book, sounding out words. So exciting! He loves riding his bike and eating sour mangos.
 
Caleb turned two on October 31st. What?! =) We love watching him grow up in Cambodia. He loves traditional Khmer music during long tuk tuk rides, his Sak Saum friends and eating whatever Aaron eats.
Caleb's 2nd birthday
It was costume day for Aaron, so Caleb wanted to dress alike!

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Prayer Requests


  • Thankfulness for a safe, fruitful, productive trip for our directors, Eric and Ginny Hanson, and their family during their time in the U.S.
  • IHSI/Sak Saum have many new projects and opportunities on the horizon. Please be praying for those in leadership to have a clear sense of timing, the right people, and for all the details to fall smoothly into place.
  • Prayer for all the details to come together for a visit home.
  • Prayer for good health for our family.

Christmas is Coming...

Sak Saum is a great way to give Christmas gifts this year that are beautiful and purposeful. You can purchase Sak Saum products at the online store and have them sent directly to your loved ones. If you live in Colorado Springs, you can also do shopping at In His Steps International & Sak Saum's Freedom Center. Check it out!
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A Little Getaway

We enjoyed getting away recently as a family. This past weekend, we had a public holiday called Pchum Ben. It's basically a celebration of the dead. Lovely, huh? Many Cambodians go pay respects to their deceased relatives at the local pagoda (Buddhist Temple) and get together with family. If you drive around in the neighborhood, most homes have food, candles, tea and coffee as a sacrifice to their ancestors. It's a very heavy time.

There aren't too many places that are easy with kids so we decided to go to the beach, which is always a hit with the boys. Traffic wasn't too bad and we made record time! The weather cooperated for a little while, but we came home a day early because it started to rain non-stop and it was FREEZING!! 

To make up for the day, we took the boys to Kid's City (an indoor play center) yesterday and they played on a giant playground indoors.

We hope you enjoy some photos of our time. 

 

 

Our Hotel

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Aaron basically looked for shells the entire weekend. He's such an explorer. 

Caleb on the other hand was obsessed with sand, and threw it, launched it with a shovel and threw it again. 

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On the last day, Caleb refused to walk in the sand. Maybe he was tired of the gritty texture...lol. 

 

 

But then, he had his moments... 

Dark and cloudy... 

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A lady was walking on the beach and offered to take our photo. Love this!