Friday, February 25, 2011

Up the hill

Ever since I've moved here, I have been wanting to visit the temple on the hill behind our home. I can see its brightly colored peak from our kitchen and was intrigued by the prospect of an adventure to check it out. Last Saturday I laced up my Merrells and had at it and I definitely wasn't disappointed. Here are a few sights along the way.
The view from the top. I love being able to see the ocean and  small islands.

The picture is blurry because I was in a hurry- come to find out, monkeys are NOT nice.



Stairs

Don't mess with this guy

JOY. The most beautiful thing I've seen here.


My smiley little friend :)



Hiking home after a long day of prayer

They enjoyed seeing their faces on my digital camera


It's so nice to venture out into our neighborhood and away from the Life University complex. I love seeing my neighbors despite the fact I can't do much more than smile and wave.
When I first decided to come here, a lot of friends and even a few family members tried to talk me out of it. It's true, Cambodia has a violent, horrific past. It still is a developing country with more than its share of problems; but despite it all, there's hope and joy in the faces of the people. I thank God every morning for letting me be a part of the wonderful things he is doing in this country.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cambodian Beaches

Recently, some fellow teachers, friends and I went to Independence beach. It's a short tuk tuk ride away but I felt like we were in an entirely different country! Our neighborhood is quite busy. There are always a lot of motos driving back and forth and people are always walking to and from the many shops that are around.
The beach was right off of a resort so it was quite different from the Cambodia I experience every day. The lawns and flowers were watered and well manicured and quite nice. The beach itself was amazing; pure white sand and beautiful seashells met by the sea.I walked away from the beach a bit along a path overlooking the water and then across huge boulders to a place called Treasure Island and enjoyed the scenic views.

I've seen sand and water in quite a few places in the world but I have to say, Cambodian beaches are my new favorite. I don't know how else to explain it, but they have character and a serenity about them that I've never experienced before. You can do normal beach things like lay in the sun on a lounge chair with your friends but you can also walk a minute away and be all alone and enjoy a beach view uncluttered by bikini and speedo clad humans.







 




I climbed out on a big boulder and sat watching crabs scatter in the frothy waves below me and I have to say it was the most at peace I've been in a long time. There's really something to be said about separating yourself from the craziness of life and taking time to BE. Perhaps you don't have a beach in your backyard but you can still take time to marvel at something small. Maybe that means turning off the tv and watching the sunset or looking out your window at the falling snowflakes; it doesn't matter where in the world you live, we really are surrounded by beauty, we just have to take the time to notice.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Village

Our water is too brown to make rice right now so I guess I have time to write a bit :)


This past week has definitely been the hardest one I’ve had here yet. I got a cold, food poisoning, and shingles. If you don’t know what shingles are I don’t recommend looking it up, it’s not pretty.  I was going to leave that part out for that very reason and also so my mother doesn’t read this and worry; however, I feel that honesty is the best policy sometimes and if you’re reading this you might be interested in how I’m really doing. So the answer is, last week I wasn’t doing very well. But things are looking up.
On Sunday, I dragged myself out of bed to go with the youth group to a local village.  They sang songs, gave a short message and then we handed out food.  I didn’t understand a word of what was said and couldn’t communicate more than “Hello” but I was glad I went. It’s sometimes really awkward not being able to communicate well with people here but I think God is teaching me patience, and that actions really can speak louder than words.
Me and Srey Mom, a really awesome student from LU
I was encouraged by the fact that so many busy university students took time out of their weekend to minister to these people. It made me think of the way I live in the States. At home, I felt so consumed by school and day to day living. I rarely ever purposely set time aside to serve others.
I have no idea how long I’m going to be here but something that I’ve purposed in my heart to do no matter where in the world I live is to always set aside time to do the things that really matter.  
Enjoy the pictures and choppy video!






video

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Class

I’m definitely getting more comfortable living in Cambodia. I’ve stopped thinking that every mosquito here is out to infect me with malaria. I’ve learned a couple Khmer words, (most importantly how to say my students’ names) and I rarely notice the lizards anymore. I’ve even started to run here which is something I’ve always enjoyed in the states. Little by little, I’m feeling more independent. My goal for February is to learn how to bargain at the market and navigate my way around town.
Even my classroom is feeling more like my own. I’m still making improvements here and there, but I’ve created some of the things that I’m used to having in the states, such as a “word wall” and mat where students can sit and listen to stories. I’ve also brought things to the room such as charts, borders and brightly colored stickers.  I’ve started a little lending library in my class and the students love being able to take a book home for the night. I haven’t put all my books out yet because I need to save most of them for lessons. It’s so different here not being able to drive down to the public library and pick out any book.  The books I brought here are precious resources indeed. My students love listening to stories and Curious George is the favorite so far.
All of my students are incredibly sweet. I love the diversity of my class and am so impressed with the fact that most of them speak at least two languages fluently. One of my students speaks German, Thai, English and Khmer. Other nations place such a high value on speaking many languages. I think we should adopt the same attitude in America. We seem to hold the expectation that because many people learn English that exempts us from the need to learn other languages. I don’t agree with this attitude and hope to learn as much Khmer as possible.
Sana, Parady & Sreynoch

My students are patiently trying to teach me the numbers and how to say the names of the various fruits they leave on my desk. The language is so hard for me and they love laughing when their teacher makes a mistake. I laugh at myself a lot here actually. Just last week we had library for the first time. I lined the children up and casually asked the Khmer teacher if I just “Drop the students off.” She looked confused and told me that no, of course I went with them. I was still confused and blurted out “Wait, there’s no librarian?” Of course there wasn’t a librarian. The library itself is a work in progress; there are a few shelves with donated books and a few boxes in the corner. So, if you have a bunch of old children’s books, feel free to box them up and send them our way J
I am learning how to be creative and work with what I’ve got. I’ve learned how to improvise but more importantly, that not everything has to be perfect. The paint on my classroom walls is chipping, my classroom library consists of a few second hand books and the resources here are limited, but I’m learning that a classroom is so much more than the decorations on the walls or the quantity of supplies. A classroom is characterized by the thinking and learning that takes place within its four walls and beyond. It is a safe place where children are supported and encouraged.  Above all,  a classroom is a place where children are loved and appreciated; my prayer is that my classroom is this place.
The Girls

Ohhh the silly boys... saying goodbye to Sarah before she leaves for Korea.


Grade Two <3