life

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!

Sihanoukville - Home Away from Home

Sihanoukville is a coastal town located about 4 hours from Phnom Penh. It's an easy (and cheap) place to go for our family since we all enjoy the beach. We have our routine that we go by every time, so it's relatively stress-free and makes our time there refreshing. 

The end of last week, we were able to to get away to our favorite spot for a couple of days. This was probably the last time we will go anywhere significant since Baby Jackson comes in November. I guess couples have babymoons before their first baby...this was our family-moon. It was nice! The weather cooperated mostly, so we were able to get plenty of beach and pool time in. What was interesting about this trip was that Noelle and I both felt ready to go back to Phnom Penh sooner than expected. As we were discussing the idea of going home a bit early, I think we both became aware of having the feeling of "full" and content with the amount of rest we've had. In the past, we felt pretty tapped out when we arrived and usually wanted to stay longer but this time was different! We feel thankful about that. It's an indication this time of transition is fulfilling its role. 

We are eager and excited about the future and look forward to sharing more with you soon!

Enjoy some photos below of our time at the beach! 

Rough seas, windy and stormy!

Rough seas, windy and stormy!

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This was one of the better days.

This was one of the better days.

Spontaneous Getaway to Kep

Recently, I posted something on Facebook about dreaming. The Lord has reminded me to dream big and not until recently, I would say "dreaming" has been more on the absent side. I'm so thankful for its return! It's been wonderful to have time to meditate and just have space to navigate thoughts going in and out. I say all of this because this week, we spontaneously took a trip to Kep, (pronounced Kgipe) and it has to be one of the most peaceful places in Cambodia I've been -- a perfect place for dreaming! It's about 2.5hrs from Takhmao (where we live) and it's located down the coast from Sihanoukville (where we normally go). The beach isn't worth writing much about, but the lush mountainous (for Cambodia) terrain is surprisingly beautiful and peaceful. It's a quiet town that draws a handful of tourists but has a small local population so it doesn't seem congested. Kep National Park is beautiful and the beachfront is perfect for morning/evening strolls. We stayed at Spring Valley Resort which is tucked in at the base of Kep National Park. Some friends of ours recommended it and we loved it! We couldn't stop saying how peaceful and quiet the town was. It was a bit disturbing at first, because we are both used to the hustle and bustle of a busy city like Phnom Penh, which happens to be disturbingly congested.

Unfortunately, we were only gone three days, but it was a perfect little getaway from the busyness here in the "big city." We also made a wonderful connection at a place called Kep Coffee (highly recommended). We connected with this beautiful couple right away making the trip worth it for this alone. They have set up a coffee shop and do different things to reach out to the Kep community. 

And lastly, I had plenty of time to do something I love -- take photos :). Enjoy.

Spring Valley Resort

Right outside our room

Right outside our room

Driving up the road in Kep National Park

Driving up the road in Kep National Park

Kep Beach

On the hunt for shells...

On the hunt for shells...

Dinner Out

The boys got to eat on a giant mat and watch Annie while they ate.

The boys got to eat on a giant mat and watch Annie while they ate.

The restaurant from the end of the pier.

The restaurant from the end of the pier.

The drive home

The drive home

Trip Home to the States and More!

In September, Caleb and I had the opportunity to fly back to the States for a short visit. It was Caleb's first visit to the U.S. and I hadn't been back in over 3yrs! It was my first time traveling with a toddler that distance, so I was so thankful to have Noelle's Dad, Bruce, with me on the first half of the journey. Caleb did so great. I was so impressed by how resilient he was whether it be his capability to function with a lack of sleep or adjusting to new people and places. We both experienced some culture shock. I wish he could have expressed it in words, but even I don't have all the right words to express the different emotions and the way I was feeling after being away for so long. One thing I noticed right away was the amount of space available. There is so much space, everywhere. It blows my mind. Also, I loved driving there. My blood pressure stayed consistent and didn't spike to alarming levels because someone decided to quickly putt across my lane and nearly kill himself. I could spend the next several paragraphs comparing and contrasting the differences in culture, but I won't bore you with that. 

What I cherished the most was spending time with family and friends. It was so rich and I was thankful that, for many of our relationships, we could pick up where we left off so easily. I visited some of my old MILL friends, my home church and of course spent gobs of time with my family and some with Noelle's family as well. I am so grateful for our families and close friends. 

Since Noelle and Aaron weren't traveling home this time, Bruce (Noelle's Dad) came to visit the ten days prior. It was so nice having him here with us again. We had lots of fun - going to the zoo and visiting an ancient ruin on the way, lots of games and books with the kids, special father/daughter time and many other memorable moments. And I will say again how thankful I was that we were able to coordinate our flights so we could all fly back together. It was great having his help with Caleb.

Well, you can probably imagine that I took lots of photos during this trip, and as usual I had a hard time narrowing down which photos to include. I tried to break them down in sections so the blog doesn't seem so lengthy :). Enjoy!

Grandpa is Here!

And the zoo...

And the zoo...

Lots of games!

Lots of games!

Grandpa got to be here for Aaron's first day of school.

Grandpa got to be here for Aaron's first day of school.

Aaron running some last minute errands with me before I left.

Aaron running some last minute errands with me before I left.

The big Plane ride!

Caleb was pretty excited to watch Frozen on the plane. We were so fortunate to have a whole row to ourselves too!

Caleb was pretty excited to watch Frozen on the plane. We were so fortunate to have a whole row to ourselves too!

We made it safe and sound!

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Friends!

Friends from my MILL days now living in Ft. Collins helping with MILL City Church.

Friends from my MILL days now living in Ft. Collins helping with MILL City Church.

Aaron Stern and I

Aaron Stern and I

Love my community there. I was so encouraged and felt so supported during my stay in Ft. Collins.

Love my community there. I was so encouraged and felt so supported during my stay in Ft. Collins.

Good friends -- Kevin and Becca Browning and Maggie Turner. Wonderful people!!

Good friends -- Kevin and Becca Browning and Maggie Turner. Wonderful people!!

Picking my Grandma up from the airport

Picking my Grandma up from the airport is indescribable. This woman is so important to me!! Love her so much!

Picking my Grandma up from the airport is indescribable. This woman is so important to me!! Love her so much!

More Friends, More Family!

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Caleb loved the trains at Grandpa's!

Caleb loved the trains at Grandpa's!

Grandma's Birthday Party!

Last but not least, the zoo!

I found myself taking lots of photos of Caleb sleeping. I thought I'd show you a few :)

Finally, Caleb and his big brother reunited!

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.