sihanoukville

2018 Significant Moments

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Jacob and I were talking recently about this year. It has been hard and good and chaotic and full of growth. We aren’t sure we would choose to do it again! Nevertheless we know full well that the hard parts of life often bring out the best parts of us. 

End of Year Giving

As promised in our last newsletter, we have included our most significant moments of our year below. Yay! BUT before we get to that, we wanted to give you an opportunity to consider making an end-of-year donation (tax-deductible). Whether you are a monthly partner or give occasionally, your support helps us live intentionally and work effectively. It also helps us fulfill the dream in our hearts of laboring alongside Cambodians to strengthen this nation we now call home, protect children, build healthy families, encourage education, prevent human trafficking in all its forms, and introduce people to God’s love and hope. If you would like to partner with us or give in specific ways for the new year, we have listed a few of our needs below.

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Schooling

Aaron and Caleb attend an international school in Kampot and Aaron also studies Khmer in the afternoons at a separate location. Next year we will be starting Jack in preschool. We need to raise an additional $500 of monthly support to supplement these growing school costs.

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Traveling/Transportation

With supporting the continuing work in Sihanoukville, Jacob travels quite a bit more which means extra wear on our vehicle and gas, lodging and food expenses, and additional transportation expenses back home for Noelle. We want to raise an additional $300/month to compensate for these increased expenses.

Stay tuned for some exciting developments happening this coming year in Kompot! In short, we are looking to start a Vocational Training Program for kids in Sihanoukville that are unable to complete their education through the government school due to a variety of factors and/or are at risk. We would bring them to Kompot, provide housing (dormitory) and help them train and learn a skill they love while working on Khmer literacy at the same time. Kompot’s environment is not chaotic like Sihanoukville, so we believe Kompot will provide some space for kids to take a break from the messiness and focus on their futures!


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Leading a Team

At the end of last year, we took over a leadership role of the Sihanoukville base. We said yes, not knowing what kind of year and challenges lay ahead. We have learned so much about each other, ourselves, leadership, cross-culture work, and walking out faith with others in the past year. Grateful, grateful, grateful for the learning!

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Hope & Love in Blue Mountain

In spite of many challenges and changes, we continue to see growth in trust and the effectiveness of our work in the Blue Mountain community. Even in the midst of uncertainty, we see glimmers of good, deep things happening in children and families.

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Deeper, Simpler Family Life

With Jacob traveling more, I am more focused at home than ever before. I have struggled at times with feeling disconnected from the bigger picture of Cambodia, but I am encouraged by the growth in our children and our relationships with them. They are blossoming with creativity, personality, and faith.

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The Big 4-0

So we are 40 now. Can you believe it?! Neither can we. As Caleb said the other day, “Just a few more days until you are a grandma.” Um...what?!

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Changes in Sihanoukville & Move to Kampot

The rapid development in Sihanoukville and its impact on the Khmer people is very difficult to describe. I (Noelle) made a day trip there two weeks ago and wept that night for the sense of loss and change I feel in the city. We are learning deep lessons about change, faith, and injustice that we don’t quite have words for it yet.

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Our Khmer Team

Without a doubt, one of our greatest joys this year has been our Khmer team. We couldn’t ask for better friends and co-laborers. These men and women are sincere, kind, faithful and passionate. We think the world of them!

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Max and Mango

We never thought we would be a family with animals. Hm...yet here we are. We love our furry family members. They bring humor and fun to our lives!

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New Horizons

So now what? A new year awaits and we feel a sense of hope and anticipation. We are learning to love our new town, Kampot. We are expectant for an expansion in our work and vision of what can be here, perhaps first through a vocational training center. (More on that in the new year). And we are standing steady in Sihanoukville - loving with open hearts and hopefully being a source of strength and encouragement as we continue to grow the Dream Center.

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.

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!

Grandpa and Grandma Visit Cambodia!

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad and Stepmom came to visit us and their grand-kiddos in Cambodia. It was so much fun having them! We kept them busy and made sure they had ample time with the kids. A trip to the beach, Saang, Sak Saum and all around Phnom Penh were some of things we did. My Dad even managed to drive my bike which was eventful. I'll let him fill you in on the details, but it involved several Cambodians laughing hysterically at him. Use your imagination.

We are so thankful to have loving family that spends their precious time/money to make there way over here. It means the world to us.

I can't end this blog without including a ton o' pictures. Enjoy! Remember, you can click on the small ones to make them bigger.

We are loving how confident Aaron is getting!

Caleb wants to do what Aaron does :)

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A trip to Gloria Jeans!

 

A trip to the river front

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They would chase after birds all day if they could.

I love the brotherhood resembled here.

A trip to the beach!

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Look at these two love cakes.

Look at these two love cakes.

A trip to the waterfall on the way home!

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Lastly, a family photo.

Lastly, a family photo.