Monday, January 30, 2017

The good with the challenges

Before leaving the US I often wrote about the challenges my heart was facing as we prepared to move our family to the other side of the globe. Saying goodbyes, selling our possessions, trying to pack what we needed, planning to miss people, heartache with each gut-wrenching goodbye, and trying to take comfort in people planning to visit and wonderful technology.

However since we got here it has been mostly the good. That is because it has been so very, very good. I have been amazed at feeling like we were created for this, all four of us. To live here, to do life here, and to love people here. We were made to open our hearts to those around us, and to do life with people. We were for this. I was thinking earlier today about something a missionary that visited our church in Durango told me probably close to 10 years ago, and it has shaped so much of who I am now, and how I view my life. "Wherever you are, be there with all your heart." I don't remember his name. All I do remember is that we were talking to him about wanting to be missionaries overseas someday, and he stopped us and told us that. Later we kind of laughed about it because we just wanted to get to where we were meant to be. However, later in life it came back over and over again and the Holy Spirit has used that for the last 10 years to teach me and shape me into who I am and who I am becoming. As I learn to embrace that idea I feel like I could live anywhere, and it could be mostly easy. When you are where you are, with all your heart, investing in people you meet, and spending time on things that matter, it is much easier to enjoy all the good, and not think too much about the bad or the challenges. God is so good, and we definitely can feel our ministry team praying for us, as we are settling in here. We do not want to lead any of you following our story with the illusion that everything is super easy or exactly like home, so today I wanted to share some of our biggest challenges which we tend to laugh about most of the time because what else is there to do but laugh about them?

So try to laugh with us, here are some of the biggest challenges right now: 

- It is a cash based economy, meaning no credit cards. We have operated most of our marriage and adult life with credit and/or debit cards almost exclusively...It's sad when you get to the supermarket and realize you forgot to check how much money you had in your wallet, and now can only get half your list because you didn't bring enough money.

- It is kind of nice to deal in dollars, and it's not so bad to deal in riels... however dealing in both simultaneously is HARD! Everywhere we go you are paying and receiving change in both currencies. Although we are now starting to get used to it, it is still hard to know if you got the right change etc. when you are constantly going back and forth between the two, and harder still to pay in the market with prices in either currency and you have an almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old you are trying to keep tabs on, while you do the math, find the bills you have, and pay. 

- Bugs... they are everywhere, but mostly at night. We joke they have other things to do than eat us during the day. We also opted to let a gecko stay in the apartment, instead of kicking him out in hopes that he'd eat said bugs. One of our patio doors doesn't have a screen, we are working on getting that remedied, but when electricity is $0.25 kilowatt we are trying to only run A/C at night so doors and windows are open during the day. 

- Tuk tuk drivers are awesome. We love them, they keep us from having to walk everywhere in the high humidity and blazing heat. However sometimes it can be a challenge to give directions in a language we are still learning, and aren't the best at. Thankfully we have become friends with a few who are very patient with us. 

- Hot... to be fair it isn't as hot as it will be later this year. There are days that it feels wonderful and days where the humidity must be higher and it feels hot. The other day even Layla was wiping sweat off her forehead as we walked back from the market. 

- No bath tub. No oven. Now these two we have pretty much remedied. The girls are beginning to enjoy showers, and can play with bath toys when we go swimming. At the end of last week we got a toaster oven! 

- Learning to cook in a toaster oven... it seems to be a little different... I think I can eventually figure it out (I hope). :) 

- No parks/playgrounds near by. The girls are however finding the street and the pool as good replacements. 

- Grocery shopping... I miss my City Market... It's hard to know where I can find what, and what is worth paying a little more for and what isn't. The market nearby seems the best place to get fruit and veggies, but meat is still a big old question mark for the best place to get it... and many baking type things I need to get at the supermarket... if they have it... then there is Layla's beloved milk, we found one that doesn't make her puke, and taste pretty good... but it seems to be carried only a few places. I can get spices etc. at the market... but it always seems we have a list and there are multiple places we need to go.. which means lots of walking or tuk tuk rides. 

- Shopping in the market is fun, the fruit is yummy, and the girls and I love going together. The funny thing is when you by a 1/2 kilo of this, and a kilo of that... all the way down the street your bag is suddenly very full and heavy for the 10 min walk home. I will soon be getting a backpack to help with the weight and managing the girls as I shop. 

-When your brain hurts from language school, home school, and trying to communicate and make friends with the neighbors. I hear that will eventually get easier. 

-Trying to find the "right" home church. We feel like this is a huge decision because we tend to invest deeply where we decide to plant ourselves. We are trying new and different churches than we have tried before, and trying to be very sensitive to wherever God leads us as our new Cambodia church home. 

See, nothing too bad. Truly just challenges of adjusting to a new place. We had similar things when we moved from Durango to Colorado Springs...there were less, but truly we expected more this first month here, and we do tend to laugh about most of these things together. Like the money thing... "Oh I could only get 4 things at Lucky's because I forgot to bring money to go to Lucky's, I'll try again tomorrow." hahaha... It's amazing that when you are doing your best to live intentionally, how much of our lives translates to other places. Jesus matters, people matter, our family matters, time together matters, and everything falls under these categories, they just might look a little different. Lots and lots of grace for each other helps quite a bit too. ;) 

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