Meaningful Moments

During our time in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore, we were all so blessed by the friends we spent time with…some old friends and some new friends! The smiles, hugs, meaningful conversations, encouragement offered and received…all of these things we will treasure in our hearts….

Here are some of the many special people we spent time with these past three weeks:
CAMBODIA:
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Kevin, Jill, and Grace Kane…what a huge privilege and joy it was to spend two weeks with them! They love Jesus, and it shows in how they love, care for, and serve others! We are all thankful for them, and hope that we were also an encouragement to them.
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Ly Phanny (Lee Puh-knee) Pastor of Battambang Grace Brethren Church.
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Pastor Chhom and his wife.
This was our first church service we attended in Siem Reap. And, this was where we first heard our favorite Khmer worship song! We didn’t know the words, but we will never forget the tune. We heard this song several times during our stay in Cambodia…at church and during the youth camp. In fact, it’s running through my head right now πŸ™‚
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VandyΒ and the children she cares for and teaches about Jesus before and after school.
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The Cambodian Ministry Partners and their beautiful wives. Each one of them is precious! —

Symean (Simeon) and Nisy (Knee-see)
Chhay (Chai) and Kanha (Con-yuh)
Kakda (cock-duh) and
Chariya (Chah-dee-uh)
Saran (Sa-ron) and Sophanet (Sopa-net)
Samoeun (Sa-moon)
and Channet (Cha-net)
Pov (Po) and Sokvy (Sook-we)
and Seng (Sang)

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Vando and Seyla from Asia’s Hope BB2.
VIETNAM:
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We ran into a couple while we were in Ho Chi Minh City who recognized Ed and Simon from their time in Tra Vinh two years ago!! It was a fun reunion!
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Pastor Dien and Hang (“Hong”) From the only church in Tra Vinh. She was very kind, and helped us translate with Pastor Dien.
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We were able to visit our good friend, Johnny, two times at the Sunrise Cafe!
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Our beautiful friend, Bich (pronounced “Bit”) was such a joy to be with! I wish we could have packed her up and brought her home with us πŸ™‚
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This is Nahn (n-yawn) and Chanda…most of you will know him by the name “Sugar Cane Man” πŸ™‚ He and his wife spent the whole morning and half of the afternoon with us. They even invited us to their home!! It was a sweet time with them.
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While we were at their house, we were able to meet Chanda’s parents. They spoke no English, and we spoke no Khmer, but that universal language of laughter and a smile worked well for us!
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Brian showed Chanda’s father how to use Ed’s camera. It took some time and patience while he tried to understand, but once he did? Wow! Look at that smile!!
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Ed’s friend, Hien (He-un), now lives in Australia while she attends University. But, we were thankful to spend some time with her parents, Canh and Loan. We were even able to “meet” Hien over Skype! These are the times that I consider technology to be the biggest blessing. Our friend, Johnny, was kind to help translate for us.
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As soon as we arrived in Tra Vinh, we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, and then headed straight to the sugar can juice stand to see our friend, Ruby. She was busy, but took a few minutes to sit with us. Thankfully, we were able to stop by the next day for a longer visit.
SINGAPORE:
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In Singapore, we met and spent time with Ed’s friend, Willie Lie who flew in from Indonesia to see us on our 23 hour stay in the city. With Willy Le were Paul and K.P. We learned about the wonderful ministry Paul is a part of, and were able to encourage Willie Lie in his ministry in Southeast Asia.
We are so very thankful for the love and support of our family and friends back home who have been praying for us and for the work God is doing in Southeast Asia. This trip has been exciting, eye-opening, hard, exhausting, encouraging, and long. I am sure we will be processing everything we have seen, heard, and experienced over the last three weeks for a while after we return home…and each one of us in our own way and time. We can’t wait to share everything with all of you once we have πŸ™‚
Please continue to pray for the church in Cambodia! God bless you!
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Church, Bamboo Train, Asia’s Hope!

**This post was started 4 days ago, and just finished! We’ve been on the go every day, and falling asleep soon after returning to our hotel. Much more has happened past the last picture on this post…but that will come later πŸ™‚ We are now preparing to leave Tra Vinh in the morning, heading back to Ho Chi Minh City. We are gearing up for our long journey home in a few days. Thank you for praying for us! Enjoy the photos**

It’s Thursday evening, and we are getting our bags all packed up, and ready to leave Battambang in the morning (which will be about 6:00pm Thursday night for you at home). It’s hard to believe that our time in Cambodia is coming to an end! I think it is safe to speak for the whole team when I say that we will all be leaving a part of our heart in Battambang. God is so faithful and kind. He has blessed us all with so much love, friendship, laughter, …. and some challenges, too! We are thankful for the work He is doing in the hearts of our Cambodian brothers and sisters, as well as our own.

Here are some photos from the last week!

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Lunch at the last day of Youth Camp!

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Chhay and the beautiful Kanha.

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Abbi and Chariya

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Drying dishes…and, for the record, Brian is winning πŸ™‚

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New friends.

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Worship time on the last night of camp. We all moved our chairs into a circle and held lit candles as we prayed. It was so beautiful and special.

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Simon treated everyone to an ice cream treat at the end of the night!

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Emily, Abbi, Muneath, and Andy

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Simon and Chhay

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On Saturday morning, after eating our “take out” breakfast, we waved goodbye to our new friends who were going home.

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Lunch at “Three Sections” – Brian’s very favorite place to get some delicious soup!

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Saturday afternoon – visiting with Ly Phanny at his church and orphanage.

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Ed and Brian preparing for the pastor’s class that happened the next week after camp.

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Riding our tuk tuk to church πŸ™‚

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Ly Phanny’s church! It was so fun to see all of the groups of children singing and praising Jesus!

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We went to Ly Phanny’s church in the morning..and Battambang Grace Church in the afternoon. Pastor Ed delivered the sermon with Chhay translating.

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Abbi, Michelle, Andy, Tola, and Simon

After church, we all walked to the local park to hand out water bottles with verses on them. It was a privilege to join them in this outreach. We spent some time with our new friends before gathering together for instructions and getting the water bottles to pass out.

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On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the next week, Ed and Brian led a seminar for the Cambodian Ministry Partners (CMP’s). It was three days of excellent teaching on what it means and looks like to be a church body. There was great discussion, learning about each other’s cultures, and fellowship. Each of the three days included two sessions, with a three hour break in between. As a group, we all went to lunch together each day. Then, the six of us would have a team meeting before getting a little rest until the next session started.

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Saran

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Simon, Symean, and Samoeun

“The Three Simonts” πŸ™‚

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Team meeting at The White Rose
We got to go on the “Bamboo Train” on Wednesday. The trains were made with strips of bamboo and steel wheels. Each one had a thin mat on top and pillows to sit on. Trains go both ways on the same track since there is only one track! When two trains are going the opposite way, one train has to be disassembled and moved out of the way for the other one to pass by. The top gets lifted off, and the wheels get moved to the side of the track. It is very exciting to watch!

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Michelle, Jill, and Abbi are ready for a bumpy ride!

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Brian, Simon, and Emily were pretty excited!

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The track was surrounded by brush on both sides!

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This was the end of the track where we got off and got some drinks.

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This little girl was so happy to have sold us a bracelet!

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Our train driver stopped halfway back to the station so we could enjoy the beautiful sunset! He even took our picture.
We spent some time on Thursday at Asia’s Hope BB2 orphanage. This was an amazing time for all of us! The children were so excited and loving, and we all had a great time together. Since we visited later in the afternoon, and it was close to dinner time, we ended up taking everyone out for dinner!

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Simon with Vando and Seyla, the house parents for BB2. They have been friends since Simon’s first trip to Cambodia in 2006.
On Friday, our last full day in Cambodia, we were able to tour the killing caves of Phnom Sampov, and to learn more about the tragic history of Cambodia. The hike took a little over an hour, and some of the steps we climbed were very steep! From the top of the mountain we were able to see the beauty of Cambodia.

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Brian: “A combination of terror and time makes comedy” Feeding the monkeys was definitely a bit terrifying! You will have to ask one of us for the story…it’s funny now πŸ™‚

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On the way back to the hotel, our tuk tuk got a flat tire! It was a good reminder of how we take so much for granted. We were enjoying the convenience and fun of the tuk tuks without thinking about the fact that this was our driver’s livelihood, and that it was up to him to maintain his tuk tuk. It was “real life” for him, and it was a good reminder for us to look past our own experiences, and see how we can encourage others in their daily lives.

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We went to a sewing shop on Thursday called Svay Kang. It is part of a village ministry to provide work for the local village women so they do not have to travel to Thailand for work

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They use old sewing machines that use no electricity and natural sunlight instead of lights inside the building.

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We got to participate in a Bible study they did in the middle of their work day.

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The song lyrics in the books were only in Kmer and we did not know the song, so we were not able to sing in English.

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Saran and Sophanet leading the Bible study.

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Abbi, Emily, and Michelle with the sewing team!
Thank you so much for continuing to pray for us as we prepare for our long journey home in a few days. It’s been exciting and exhausting, and we have all learned a lot about the church in Battambang, about each other, and about ourselves. We’ve also learned that being away from home for three weeks is a really long time! πŸ™‚

Battambang Youth Camp

** this post may be long…I guess that’s what happens when we don’t post daily πŸ™‚

A lot has happened since our last post! Three days ago (Tuesday morning in Cambodia, Monday evening at home) we traveled by bus from Siem Reap to Battambang. It was about 3 hours travel time, and there was so much to see out the windows.

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We got settled into our hotel room, and then headed out for lunch…there were western options, as well as traditional Khmer choices on the menu. So far, everyone seems to be really enjoying the Khmer foods!

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All of us were pretty excited for the Battambang Grace Church Youth Camp to start the next day! We were able to rest on Tuesday afternoon, and then rode tuk tuks to Kevin and Jill’s home for Jill’s birthday celebration. Their Cambodian friends prepared a wonderful meal, and we all enjoyed our time together.

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It was fun to watch Brian engage with some of the college aged kids πŸ™‚

We headed back to our hotel around 9:30pm with the agreement to meet in the lobby at 4:50am. We were going to arrive at the Ministry Center at 5:00am to help the CMP’s wives prepare breakfast. The ministry center is less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel. With the exception of Simon, none of us really knew what to expect. When we arrived, we jumped right in to help where we could. The CMP wives were so welcoming and friendly!

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Emily and Abbi being taught how to cut the “Jack Quan” …. Doughnut type bread sticks that are eaten with our breakfast porridge. They are very good!

Soon after we arrived, Jill and two of the ladies were ready to head to the market to buy the food items for lunch and dinner. They needed three people to go with them to help carry the bags, so Emily, Abbi, and Michelle went. It was definitely an exciting experience!

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Kanha, Emily, Abbi, and Chariya

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It was fun to watch Chariya and Kanha shop for the best of everything!

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This is Kanha, Chhay’s wife, and she always has this beautiful smile on her face! She is so kind and patient.

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Presentation is important!

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Samoeun, Simon, Brian, Chhay, and Ed.

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The first day of the youth camp was fun! It was loud! There was lots of laughing! It is like VBS for older kids (ages 15-23). We were encouraged to sit amongst the youth during meals and worship time. It was a little hard the first day…the youth were excited to sit with their friends, and even though some of them know English, I think they were a bit shy to talk to us πŸ™‚
Thankfully, Emily and Abbi were able to connect with some of the kids on day 2. We spent some time at a local park for their game time!

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Ed makes friends everywhere he goes πŸ™‚

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Group picture before walking back to the ministry center.

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Sitting with new friends at dinner.

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Exchanging contact information!

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Washing dishes after dinner

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It was wonderful sitting in on worship time, knowing that even though we don’t understand their words, or can’t read their language, that we are all worshipping the same God! I loved seeing them open their Bibles to learn more about Jesus.

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Thank you for praying for us, and for our dear Cambodian brothers and sisters!

Angkor Wat & a Birthday

It is 11:30pm Monday in Cambodia, which means it’s 9:30am at home. While all of you were sleeping, the Cambodia team had the wonderful privilege of touring Angkor Wat! We are still in the “traveling” and “adjusting to the culture” stage of our journey to Battambang, where we will be serving at a youth camp later this week. Our long term missionaries, Kevin and Jill, along with Chhay, the Director of CASA (Encompass Ministry work in Cambodia) have been so gracious as they have helped us to see and experience the Cambodian way of life. We are all really looking forward to serving with them and the other CMP’s at the youth camp!

We are all a little bit tired from our long journey to Cambodia and busy days, but not even tiredness can overshadow our excitement to be here, and our amazement that God has brought us here!

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Brian, Ed, Chhay, Emily, Abbi, Simon, and Michelle just outside the main wall surrounding Angkor Wat.

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Simon and Kevin after a long hike up some steep stairs..

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Abbi and Emily

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These stairs were very steep, but the view from up top was spectacular!

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We rode to Angkor Wat in tuk tuks, and I think we should have tuk tuks in California! They are so much fun! Our drivers took us to each temple (we saw three today).

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Ed, Brian, Simon, and Chhay

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Simon and Ed

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I wish these girls could loosen up a bit, and try to have some fun!

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Brian – and, yes, he made this face on purpose for the picture, haha!

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Brian and Kevin

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Kevin and Chhay

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Water Buffalo crossed the road right in front us…yes, we moved out of their way!

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This monkey was just sitting on the grass enjoying a corn on the cob..

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Michelle, Abbi, and Simon

AND:
Today this beautiful girl turned 16!
We had a wonderful day at Angkor Wat. Then, celebrated tonight with an ice cream cake at The Blue Pumpkin πŸ™‚
Jill made it extra special by bringing party blowers and silly string!

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Abbi and the adorable little Grace, who is the sweet granddaughter of Kevin and Jill. We’ve only known her two days, but love her already!

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Kevin and Jill Kane

I know this post is long, but with the internet being touchy, I wanted to post as much as possible while I had the opportunity. Our team was able to sit and hear Chhay’s testimony tonight! What an amazing story and testimony to God’s incredible love for Chhay…and all of us! We prayed together…for the camp, all of the youth coming (85 so far!), for the CMPs and their wives, for our hearts to be sensitive and joyful as we serve and encourage them…please pray with us that God would use us mightily, and that we would humbly and obediently do all that He has asked us to do, with joy in our hearts and love for each other. We will be leaving in the morning for Battambang, and are excited to see what He has in store for us! We couldn’t do any of this without God’s grace and your prayer support! Knowing that you all are praying encourages us…thank you, and God bless you!

Sunday in Siem Reap!

This morning after a wonderful authentic Khmer (Cambodian) meal we got to ride tuk tuks to a nearby church.

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We joined a small church led by Pastor Chom. Although the entire service was spoken in Khmer, it was wonderful getting to worship with them!

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After the service, we stopped by a “Lucky Mall” to pick up some items. Emily and Abbi discovered blueberry and strawberry Oreos!

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Right now we all are just relaxing before dinner and shopping later tonight. This is Brian and his new friend Grace!

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Cambodia

We have arrived safely in Cambodia!
Thank you for your prayers.
It was about 4pm local time on Saturday when we arrived. We were picked up by our missionary friends, Kevin and Jill, and one of the CMP’s, Chhay. We took the opportunity to go in the pool to cool off and then had some dinner.

We are going to get some sleep and plan on taking a “tuk tuk” to church in the morning.

(Siem Reap is about 14 hours ahead of California.)
We are having trouble connecting to the Wifi and will update the blog with pictures and more information when we can.