Highlights . . .

Ok, so it has not been the most successful blogging experience ever. Between a crazy busy schedule each day and sketchy internet connectivity from the hotels at night . . .just sayin’. Having made our lame excuse, give us a chance to make up for it with “photo-palooza” while we wait in Seoul for our flight home.  Here’s a quick look back at our week in Cambodia. In short, it was an incredible week. 
Garrett, Sara, Kristie, Christina, Marcie, Emily & Melanie at the beach.

All the guys from all three July teams. 

Not sure that racing teenagers is a good idea for a middle-aged man.
The silver lining:  no pulled hammy

Samnang (big) taking a breather from playing at the beach.
Kim Chai making  ice cream! These kids loved it (of course). Yes, I will take a side of brilliant smiles with that main course of vanilla ice cream, sprinkles and chocolate syrup.
Samnang (little) enjoying some ice cream as well! 
The only consequence of home-made ice cream is frozen fingers. 
Billy found the perfect way to warm his hands up: Kristie’s head.
Darrel in his element as an English Teacher. The kids loved him – especially Hieng!
Garrett and Srey Mean hanging out during a break.


Christina and Garrett taking in Phnom Penh from a Tuk Tuk.
Pony showing off her prayer box. The kids loved having a place to store all their letters and photos. The boxes were the brilliant idea of Robbie and Sara.
Michael & Hieng making fruit “sushi” out of fruit roll ups, 
bananas, coconut and other yummy perfection! 
Narin loving him some fruit sushi!
The water park turned all of us into big kids.
Emily loving on Che Sda while at the water park on Wed afternoon.
Reksmey working on his Tie-dye shirt. 
Tie Dye Shirts Completed: Narin and Seinghai proudly wearing 
theirs the next day during worship.
Davan showing that the Tie-Dye shirts were popular with lots of the kids!

English lessons. These would be turned into keynote presentations by the end of the week – with each kid presenting in English to the rest of the kids. 
Rathanak working on his English.

Paly practicing English, too.
Chea showing off her English. In any language, this is one cool girl!
Narin having fun at the “Photo Booth.”
Kim Chai and Srey Lin striking a pose.
Robbie and Samnang (big) putting the finishing touches on his picture frame.
Billy and Srey Nang. Let’s just say that Srey Nang had a “tiny” crush on our friend, Billy.
Sara working with Srey Het and Samnang on their picture frames.

Oodles of creativity oozing out of every single one of these 
kids as evidenced by the picture frames that they made.

KFC! These kids can put away some Fried Chicken. Colonel Sanders would have been proud! 
Seinghai and Rathanak posing with Melanie at KFC.
 Marcie showin some pictures from home to Kim Chai and 
Pony while waiting on dinner to arrive at KFC.

Srey Mom and Srey Leap at KFC.

Having fun after a great dinner at KFC! 
 Chean, Srey Het, Davan and Rathanak enjoying some good ole sugar water.

Stuart saying good-by to Huo, Samnang (big) and Rathanak.

Gropu photo of all the kids just before we said good-bye.

Can’t go to Cambodia without stopping to see Angkor Wat. 
Darrel posing at the back gate.
 Marcie and Garrett getting a lift from one of the elephant “guides.”

Advertisements

Beach was fun!!

What a perfect beach trip!! The kids had a blast, the weather was perfect, and time was well spent.  I had a blast in and out of the water, even though I never planned on getting in.  I also got to take a few walks up and down the beach with some of the kids and I had a great time watching them all interact.
All Three Orphanages Together

Off to the Beach . . .

We had a fantastic time at the orphanage yesterday – as all three Cambodia teams and all the kids from all three orphanages gathered on Sat afternoon. It was essentially a “free play” afternoon. When we first arrived, the reunions were so much fun to be a part of and to watch. It’s such a treat to see and experience these long distance relationships that continue to grow each year. Here are a few pics from yesterday:
Huo and Samnang. Huo is the one with the backpack. As soon as you get off the bus, one of the kids grabs your backpack everytime. Their rationale “We are so happy you are here we just want to serve you.”

Being led through the banana tree “grove.” This was my first time on this part of the orphanage grounds. My escorts were Huo, Rathanak, Pannha and Michael (Huo being furthest away).

Huo and Kim work on the Rubik’s cube. Huo worked all afternoon on it. We’ll see if we can’t get it solved on the bus ride to and from the beach.

A tired team heads to the Blue Pumpkin for dinner. It was close and familiar. We had planned on a more traditional dinner, but the 6:15 “call time” this morning caused us to re-think our plans.  You can tell the 20-somethings and teens on our team – they are the ones texting and emailing all through dinner =) What you can’t see is Chris (across the table from Christina and Emily) doing the same thing on his phone. When Melanie (at the other end of the able also on her phone) told the other three the wireless code, it was like they had won the lottery!

Just a random shot of some Blue Pumpkin marketing. Last year this was Emily’s favorite place. So we were more than happy to check it out again.

Ok time to get moving. Bus is arriving in less than an hour . . .We’ll try to update  you from the beach, but wireless is not a guarantee there. Worst case is that we are back online Monday morning Atlanta time.  Grateful for the way you guys continue to support us and bathe us in prayer!

Day 1 – From Kristie

Just a quick note to say that we were just supposed to tour around Phnom Penh today however, in the afternoon we were able to stop by the orphanage!! It was so much fun because all of the kids from all three orphanages were there so I was able to see all of the kids that I know!!  Its amazing how much some of them have changed just since November.  I realize that a lot of pictures were taken but most not by my camera so I’m just adding a few.  Others with better cameras may be able to update soon!

Narin – just being himself

Me with Thai – He’s from Banteay Meanchey

Playing around at the orphanage

Tomorrow we head to the beach!!

It’s morning again in Phnom Penh . . .

Due to the cloud cover, it’s surprisingly cool here this morning. We miss the blue skies, but are more than grateful for the cooler temps. Darrel and Chris got up early for a run before breakfast. The rest of us made it down just in time for the “traditional” Riverside Cafe breakfast. From omelettes and smoothies to french toast and much bacon. It was a filling meal after 24 hours of airplane food.

As we look around the city we see signs of growth everywhere. From the thousands of motos bustling up and down the roads, to the cranes dotting the skyline – it looks as if Phnom Penh is growing. We love seeing that. We’ll hear more later this morning as we do a quick tour of the city.
First stop will be S21 (Tuol Sleng). This is the genocide museum that we visit every year. And, every year, it is gut-wrenching to stand face-to-face with Cambodia’s horrific past. The flipside is that it always grounds us in the harsh reality of a generation growing up for the most part without adults to look up to.
Afterwards we will head to the Phnom Penh orphanage where all the kids from all three orphanages (Battambang and Battam Meachey) will have gathered in preparation for the beach trip tomorrow.
That’s about it for this morning. It has been so fun to get Sara and Robbie’s “new eyes” as well as to benefit from Chris Chung’s perspective of having lived here for the past 18 months. Chris, Philip Chung’s son, is a recent high school graduate who is an honorary team member. He served with us last year as well. So fun to get to see him again!

Arrival!

First and foremost, we are here. We are safe and grateful for a very easy, albeit long, travel day. Now that the basic stuff is out of the way, here’s a quick recap of our arrival to Phnom Penh:

As a team we checked 21 bags to go along with 15 or so carry on bags. Needless to say it took some logistics to keep track of all the goodies that we brought for the week. As soon as we made it through immigration, our team went to work – as if it had been doing this team luggage thing each and every week since last year. Darrel immediately went to grab multiple luggage carts. Melanie and Billy started pulling bags off the conveyor and one by one everyone else pitched in without having to ask for directions at all. Presto – all 35+ bags accounted for.

Customs was a breeze. As we make our way to the exit, before we even see the kids, we start to hear shouts of “Daaarrrrreeeeellll”, “Kristeeee”, “Melanie” and on and on. Considering that we are about 9 gazillion miles from home, it sure did feel as if we were at a homecoming. There were probably a dozen or so kids here to welcome us, hug us, grab our bags, hold our hands, etc. No matter how often we come, the hospitality still blows us away.

I’m fairly certain that we all would have made the effort for just the airport experience. And, I’m just as sure that all of us are soooooo glad that we have another full week with the kids before we start to think about heading home.

Lots of photos to come, but for now, it’s 1:30. Breakfast is at 8:00 and I definitely don’t want to miss that.  Thanks for checking in on us. So grateful for you guys.

14 hours and going strong

In baseball lingo, we have made it to the “cutoff” man. The long leg of our flight is behind us. Our journey started at 10:00 am as most of us got our first taste of the new international terminal. As you would expect for a facility that is barely 2 months old – it felt like a nice upgrade over the domestic terminal.

We had lots of family members come to see us off. It was a privilege to have Andrew and Solomon pray for us as a team before we headed to security. Once on the other side of security we had a short delay before taking off around 1:30. 
It’s now 5:00 AM in Atlanta, so 19 hours after we first arrived at the airport, we still have another 6 hour flight ahead of us. Somehow after 14 hours to Seoul, 6 hours has never seemed so short!
So here are a few pics from the day:
Sara and Robbie rockin’ the GlobalX tee:

Kristie as she says good-bye to the US for a couple years:

Korean Air making covet as we walk through First Class and Business Class on our way to our 14 hour home on the back of the bus. For the record, as coach goes, Korean Air is amazing. So grateful for that!

They don’t look like triplets, but Billy, Darrel and Kristie act like triplets as they are all smiles in row 32 before the flight takes off.

Just a view for row 31 as we hit Korean air space.

The team is in great spirits – just anxious to get to Phnom Penh and see the kids. More to come as soon as we can. Our flight takes off from Seoul in 30 minutes.  Thanks for your prayers, financial support and emotional support. We’ll do our best to give you the play by play every day!