Update

Big Changes Coming

We mentioned in our last update our plans to move there but wanted to take time to explain what led us there specifically.

Located about a four hour drive from Phnom Penh, this town of 200,000 sits on the Gulf of Thailand. We started traveling there in 2010 for short vacations. It was around that time that we also began to have dreams. Not daydreams but in the night, while-we-were-sleeping dreams. It was interesting and strange! We had never experienced this sort of thing before. We knew from the Bible that God does speak in dreams but we had never personally experienced it. After we had about 5-6 between the two of us, we realized we should pay attention. Many of our dreams have included young people and children. Some have been very specific and some more general. We have been praying through and giving thoughtful attention to these things over the last five years as we have visited Sihanoukville multiple times. Jacob and I are not prone to rash decisions…we both have a planning side. So this heart connection with this place first through dreams and then through many discussions has been a slow, growing process.

About Sihanoukville

In 2010, Sihanoukville was an interesting mix of Cambodians, creepy old western men, backpackers, expat workers from Phnom Penh on a weekend visit, and the occasional European family vacationing. Over the last few years it has grown, largely due to the infiltration of the Russian mafia (not kidding) and a mass influx of Chinese businessmen. Everyone believes this little seaside town is set to grow exponentially over the next ten years. Unfortunately, while economic growth is a wonderful thing, it can cause major problems in a third-world country as a few select become massively wealthy and the poor become desperately poor. Desperation opens the door for all kinds of problems — decrease in education as children are forced to work to support the family, trafficking of all kinds, health issues as medical care becomes a luxury, alcohol abuse due to depression and hopelessness and so on.

It is a strategic time for Sihanoukville and we are excited to be there to proactively help Cambodia grow and develop. For the last 10 months, we have been researching ministries and organizations working in this area. There aren’t too many yet! We recognize that this move is significant for our family and we want to exercise wisdom in having the support of community. We have been thankful to meet and connect with the Iris team working down there. They have been so welcoming and friendly as we have explored the possibility of moving there. Over the next few months we will be sharing more specifically what we will be doing. We are excited!


Prayer Requests

Our plan is to move when our lease is up at the end of March. This is a big transition and we would love your prayers.

  • The right house for our family.
  • Peace in everyone’s hearts, especially our kids.
  • Protection physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  • Continued clear direction and open doors in what we will be doing.
  • Additional funding and support as we transition into new ministry.
  • Healing for Jacob’s back. He has been having chronic pain for about a month now.

A Unique Opportunity for January 2017

Since schools are not so great in Sihanoukville, we are planning to homeschool Aaron and Caleb for at least the next year. We are exploring the idea of having someone in their twenties who would love some overseas experience to come live with us and help us with schooling. This would be a great opportunity for someone interested in testing the waters of living internationally but do so in a safe, family environment. Plus the beach is RIGHT THERE. We would offer free room/board. They would be responsible for their plane ticket, transportation, and any extra expenses. Schooling would be about 15-20 hours/week and we could connect this person with additional volunteer opportunities if they wanted to make it more outreach oriented. If you know someone who might be interested, we would love to begin talking with him/her. Email us with ideas!

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.

November Update

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Read about the latest happenings with the Goodlins!
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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!

Donate


Interested in partnering with the Goodlins? Visit our website to learn more: thegoodlins.com/partner

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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2 Years Later

Noelle and I our in March 2010.

Noelle and I our in March 2010.

Transition of some sort is inevitable -- you just can't avoid it. Often times, change is one of those things that if you don't embrace the process, it will work against you. It becomes more challenging, provokes anxiety and creates unnecessary tension. I'm definitely not an expert on transition and change, but we have gone through some lately. 

Back in April, we moved to Takhmao. Takhmao is located about 20 minutes outside Phnom Penh and is the half-way point to Saang. There is a lot happening in Saang. It's where the majority of IHSI's ministry is located. Ultimately, it's better to be closer for many reasons, but moving further out has been stretching. When we go back to Phnom Penh for groceries or a Saturday out or something, we often drive by our apartment and a flood of good memories come back. There is something special about our first place in Cambodia. We loved it there - the relationships were so enjoyable. We made friends with the tuk tuk drivers, market stall owners, the apartment manager, security guard and many others. But in the back of our minds, we knew living there wasn't a permanent. Not only was our family growing, but we wanted to be closer to the people of Saang. Saang has become such a special place to us. Eric and Ginny chose Saang because of relationship and God's call on their lives and ministry, so it has been natural for us to enjoy and participate in relationships that have been formed over years from their investment. We are blessed to be a part!

Reflecting back on our time in Phnom Penh, I think about our first night in our apartment. Wow, I thought. What would life be like? Looking back, we realize we didn't know anything! Here we are, two years later having learned a lot with a deeper awareness of how much we still have to absorb. 

Noelle's modeling our first night.

Noelle's modeling our first night.

Transient

After 2+ years of living in Cambodia, I have found my relationships with the Cambodian people to be deeper than before. I know that's a normal result of friendship, but who would have known for sure until actually experiencing it.  I think of the Father's House kids, like John for example. John is 16 now and was one of the first I really had a heart for. I love going after the ones who need a good challenge. When I met him, he was teetering on good and bad. Through lots of encouragement from the Khmer staff and lots of love, he's one of the most happy, open and vulnerable boys I know. Sopheak and I lead a discipleship group and he's in it. It's been so incredible to watch him grow leaps and bounds. Father's House has played a significant role in his life. Pheaktra and Heng are amazing parents to many. He's really a testamant of God's faithfulness. There are countless testimonies of how God has used IHSI, Eric and Ginny - really all the staff in people's lives here. I truly love being a part of something God is leading. 

Solomon - my best friend here. He's an incredible guy!

Solomon - my best friend here. He's an incredible guy!

John and I. John lives at Father's House. He's grown tremendously!

John and I. John lives at Father's House. He's grown tremendously!

Looking forward, I often think about raising Caleb here. I think about his friendships with the Khmer. I think about Saturday afternoons when he and Aaron will be playing together with Father's House kids and other children from the community. This warms my heart. I also think about Noelle and her work at Sak Saum. She really loves her job there and loves being a mother and a wife. There are not words to express my gratitude for her commitment in all areas of life. She's so wonderful!

I really could go on and on about how God has met us. In countless situations -- easy or challenging -- we always come back to our commitment to Cambodia. It's not always a cake walk living here or being far from family and friends, but there is something incredibly rich and fulfilling in walking out God's best for your life. That's where I rest when it's stretching and that's where I get my passion, love and endurance.