Sunday, February 19, 2017

Questions and language learning

Well here we are! We have officially been here 1 month and 2 weeks. Can you believe it? In some ways it feels like we have been here a whole lot longer and in other ways it feels like we just got here. We are settling in past our initial adjustment phase and continue to build new relationships, and meet more and more people. We now are getting hit with our new phase. The wondering about cultural things we don't quite understand, and how it changes when we walk into the room. Or on to the street. What are we missing simply because we are not Cambodian. This is kind of hard and frustrating because we don't want to change what we see just because we are there, but we also can't see unless we show up. So... I guess time will tell what we are missing.

Language learning is very similar because we still don't know very much, and it is hard to go out and practice with so little to practice with. I can effectively shop, and get around in a tuk tuk without Chris, but sometimes I don't want to. I want to have a car with a trunk, not a backpack, and I want to go to Walmart or City Market, not a little corner market and the Russian Market. Days I don't feel like stumbling through language learning I want to hunker down, and go to a store in my car, and come home. However this is not reality and I double check what food we do have and see how creative I can get. But eventually I must go to the store or market, unless Chris goes.

This last week Chris has an allergic reaction to something (we think passion fruit or maybe a recent vaccine), and it was frustrating to not know. It was frustrating to not even be sure what was new because most things are still new for us. However is on the mend and it looks like things should continue to get better, and he will just be avoiding the yummy passion fruit for now.

What do you want to hear about?? What do you want to know?? What questions do you have?? Please leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to write about things you care about, as well as family updates and what Jesus is teaching me. You know the best ideas come while on a tuk tuk with two kids and we get home, and I cannot remember what I wanted to blog about while on the tuk tuk. :)

Games with new friends! 

Layla rocking those rain boot "house shoes" 

Our first date night in Cambodia! 

The girls asked me take their adorable picture on our way to meet the team for our weekly lunch meeting. 

Every family has a comfort food. Somewhere between Colorado and Phnom Penh ours became pancakes. Either banana, plain or chocolate chip. Or some combination of the three. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Insecurity/Fear and our God.

Last week was a hard week. We began missing home, the girls were testing their boundaries all week, I had a cold, and I got hit with a wave of insecurity that seemed to knock me off balance. It was hard. I didn't want to work on building relationships we had started, I didn't want to practice Khmer, I was worried about what others thought, and I was fearful for what my kids' deal was.

It is very safe to say that this week has been so much better than last. The girls got over and through their boundary testing, and are back to their normal fun selves, and through prayer and talking with others I have found insecurity once again melting away.

The other night we spent time out in the neighborhood, loving on kids, playing, and practicing and using Khmer as much as possible. It was so fun, I even got to meet and cuddle a sweet little 2 month baby girl that lives just a few houses down.

Yesterday especially was so fun! I used more Khmer than I have yet in a day, and the more I forced myself to use it the more my confidence built during the day. The girls did great all day, and we had fun doing school, going to the market, the supermarket and lunch with the team. Then I headed to language class, and walked home with a classmate who I seem to be forming a fast friendship with. She and her husband will be our first non-teammates to come to our home for dinner on Saturday night. It has been neat to see how many people in our neighborhood are excited to help, and allow us to practice our Khmer with them. They are wonderful. Yesterday was a good fun day.

All of this to say fighting our insecurities is worth it. I have struggled with insecurity most of my life. For sure a lot of my adult life. About 3 years ago I felt a call to let go, and allow God to really work in my heart in the area of fear. He did this also in college. Each time it is painful, and wonderful. Last summer God really gripped me with wanting to heal the things in my heart that feed my insecurity, and showed me a glimpse of what life here in Cambodia could look like if I was willing to let go. Open up and love people well, without fear of what they are thinking, or what they might do.

This has been surprisingly  easy up until last week. God showed me last week how fear, and insecurity can wreck havoc on living somewhere well. Especially living here well. Here we need to be open, loving, and ok with being that weird family. In a community where the majority of the people have a different worldview, and different religious beliefs we are going to be different, stand out and even at times seem very weird. I can't control what is said about us, but I can control letting them see Jesus in my life and in the life of our family. Fear has no place where there is perfect love. We choose daily to parent from a place of love instead of fear, and to build relationships out of love and not fear. Why not do that with everything God has called us to.

This week has been so much better coming out of the darkness of my own fear and insecurity, allowing my God who is big, mighty, and loving to wash over it. To cover that insecurity with His security. To move me into this new life of His so very gently. To allow me to walk with Him, amongst people He loves. As He continues to work on this in my heart I have no doubt that the joy He brings will flow, and I cannot wait to see what God does here in me, and in people around me.

Don't hide in your insecurities. Don't hide because of your fears. Our God is greater, and is able. He is powerful, and He is good. If you struggle in this area like me, be patient with yourself, and allow God to work on it, in His way, little by little. The person I was when He started this work in me in College is nowhere near who I am now. He is faithful to complete the work He begins, and I cannot wait to see what He has done in a few years in making me into who He made me to be.

As always here are some cute pictures of what our sweet girls have been up to. :)

Amirah spends a lot of our mornings reading. :) She loves her books! 

Layla got up from their bed, but when she climbed into ours decided she needed another hour or so of sleep. 

Every week we have a staff meeting lunch with the team in a food court near our school. The girls usually make a friend to play with while we talk. This was them playing this week. 

Today we went to our first playgroup! It was so fun, and at a cool new urban play area! Layla was so excited to see swings and get to swing! 

As always the tuk tuks are our main transportation if we aren't walking, and the girls love them. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Closing in on a month in Cambodia

Well here we are! W

e have officially been here more than 4 weeks, and in a few days it will be a month! It has been a wonderful month, and a hard month.

This week especially has been hard. We are missing family, both family of choice in Durango, and family, family in Colorado Springs. I have been missing open spaces, green, and playgrounds. (Although our pool is a huge blessing in this area of my life!) I miss certain foods that we can't quite seem to make or get here... Language school is this weird mix of hard and fun, and exhausting. Trying to figure out key aspects to the new culture we live in is exhausting. I miss running errands and just putting things I pick up along the way in the trunk of my car. (yet my new backpack is a step in the right direction for that...)

All that to say, the hardest thing this week has been parenting. Hmmm... I think this would be the case anywhere in the world ;). The girls seem to have settled in, and now are testing their boundaries, on top of just being almost 4 and almost 2. They have pushed and pushed us all week long. We've questioned our parenting strategies and reflected on what seems like progress... We know they will relax and things will ease up a bit once they are sure that the normal boundaries apply to today, here, in this home.

God has been comforting me, and reminding me of how He handles us, His kids. Letting us choose to throw that fit, and then coming in gently afterward to give us the truth nugget we need in His still small voice. Letting us do it our way, and offering a suggestion when that way didn't work, and our hearts are softer to what He was originally asking us to do... He is so good and patient with us. Perfectly balancing when to come in and hold us, as our refuge and safe haven, and when to step back, and wait for the tantrum to be over. I am encouraged by this.

Our home is a safe place. A place that is safe to throw the fit you need to throw and handle the consequences after. A place to try it your own way, and if/when that doesn't work try it the way you were being advised (even though it takes longer). A safe place to learn when and how to listen, and obey. A place to learn to negotiate, politely and kindly. I love that about our home. This is exhausting however, especially while trying to learn to live cross culturally, and learn a language so different from our heart language.

I don't want to be one to complain ever. My hope is that this is more of an honest post. Maybe an encouraging one for other parents who like us have had a rough week, and are wondering if they are doing this thing right or if they need to shift gears. Mostly likely you are doing it right, God made you your kids' parent for a reason, you were the best for your children. So be encouraged, and continue to seek Him in your parenting journey.

"Picnicking" by the pool like we used to do all the time in parks in Colorado. A good way to end a hard week. :) We also had a family fun day today. Such a great day with fun girls!