Thursday, January 26, 2012

We made it!

I need to apologize for not writing sooner, but the internet here is not very consistent.  I have tried to write this about 5 times, so hopefully it will work this time!  I also need to figure out a better way to share pictures, I have so many incredible pictures but they take about 10 min each to download.  The pictures say it better than I ever could, so I will work on that.
Well as I write it is 3 am and I am having trouble sleeping.  I am sleeping on a hard mat with Matt, Charlotte, and Ashton.  Sam, Brandon, Cole, Tyler, Marcus, and Brandon are on mats upstairs and sleep under a mosquito net.  It is so cute to see them all sleeping under this massive net.  The girls are all together in another room, and the Cleggs have a room as well.  Botevy, the angel that runs the orphanage, has been so kind to open her home to us.  I am very aware that having 15 extra people stay with you for 3 weeks is extremely charitable.  We have had wonderful food.  Adults are loving it, the kids not so much :)  We go to the market everyday, sometimes twice, to get the food to prepare for that meal.  The markets are amazing.  A complete polar opposite of Costco :)  They have endless rows of fruits and vegetables.  There are a couple of fruits that I have never seen before that are delicious.  One of them is a round red ball with spikes coming out from it everywhere.  Inside is a clear fruit that has a pit in the middle.  It is juicy and so good.  I love trying all the new food, as long as it has never walked around before.  I have a hard time with meat anyway, so here I just had to laugh inside as I walked around the "wet" market.  That means there is blood on the floor from the meat.  We wondered the rows of shrimp, stingrays, octopus, pig head, feet, and tongue.  Fish that has been smoked, salted, skewered, or dried.  There was every different kind of meat hanging from a hook. Sandra and I brought Cole and Tyler ( both 8) to have them experience it.  What an eye opener.  Cole buried his cute little face in Sandra's shirt and started to cry a bit- it is a little overwhelming at first.  He perked right up when he was handed a coconut to drink from.  Fresh coconut milk.  It was very good-they use that here a lot when people are sick.
As we were standing in the market Tyler had children come up to him and beg for money.  You can imagine what they were dressed in with dirt all over their sweet little faces as they would take their hand and put it in their mouth showing him that they were very hungry.  He just stared.  Couldn't move or say a word.  Here was a child his same height looking straight into his eyes.  There was a moment at that market today that Tyler will never forget.  That experience will forever be imprinted on his heart and mind.  Last night he got his journal out and drew a picture of it and wrote about how it made him feel.  I can't find it, or I would quote him. I'll attach it later.  I am sure he will have many more experiences like this on the trip.  There is nothing that can tear at a heart more than a child in need.  I want to scoop them all up and take them home with me.  IT IS SO HARD TO SEE A CHILD NEGLECTED AND HUNGRY. 
The orphanage has been just like our experience in Thailand.  The children are so happy and full of life.  The minute you walk in they run and hug every single one of us.  Today we brought clothes, shoes, school supplies, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, crafts and the ever popular nail polish.  They were so grateful as they lined up and waited to be given something.  They would hug you every time they were given something.  It wasn't an ipod, or an X-box game. It wasn't even anything new, but they were pleased as punch and so so grateful.  The Thai people, as well as the Cambodians, have a different kind of heart than we do.  I do understand that we have been born into 2 completely different worlds, but watching these children hold onto their "new" shirt, a pair of flip flops, and some nail polish like it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to them is so good for all of us to be reminded of.  Very few wants, a lot of need. 
There are 4 ladies that help here at the orphanage.  They do not get paid, but they do get a place to sleep and food to eat. They are sweet, humble and happy.  They are probably in their 40's and 50's and were they ever excited to have their nails painted.  It was so cute to see them pick out the color and sticker they wanted on each nail.  Girls are the same everywhere--we all love to feel pampered and pretty every now and then :)
It is always a joy to see the children interact so well.  They speak very little English, but no words are necessary for them.  They play soccer, chase each other, do hair, teach them songs, make bracelets, and arm wrestle.  I on the other hand,  do curse the tower of Babel every now and again as I would love to be able to sit down and hear every one of their stories.  I love to learn about people and where their life has led them.  Maybe I should order the Rosetta Stone language lessons :)
We are taking all the children in the orphanage to Angkor Wat today at 6:30 am.  It is an ancient temple that is very famous in Cambodia.  The children have never been as it is 3 hours away.  We are taking 4 vans for 4 days with 40 people.  I am sure we are going to have quite the experience.  We are staying in a guest house that is $5 a person.  I just keep taking deep breaths as I am not particularly sure what that will entail.  It is all about the adventure though! I have to take my hat off to our children.  There have been no complaints, and they have been very understanding of our new surroundings.  I took a picture last night of Charlotte lying on a mat with a sweaty little head just sleeping away.  For a 3 year old, she deserves a medal.  As long as she has her blanket, she'll be fine.
When we get back we are going to help the orphanage build a chicken coop.  They will use the eggs and eat the chickens.  They will also use the fertilizer for their garden.  Now is when I am really grateful that Matt and Doug are these incredible Idaho boys who can pretty much do anything.  Chicken coops here we come.  I love doing things that will help them long term.  Worth every ounce of effort and cost.
As far as our life here, all of you would have sat back and laughed at us yesterday as we tried to start a "routine." It started off with the little ones waking up at oh, 4 am ready to go.  We are on a no TV, ipod, ipad, computer or nintendo ds diet right now, unless we are traveling and the distance is over 2 hours--that  is what we all voted on before we left.  With that said, entertaining 7 kids at 4 am is no easy task especially when the majority of the house is still sleeping. So by 8 am we were ready to call it a day :)  Matt taught the older kids seminary at 7am while Sandra, Doug, and I started school with the little ones.  Boy did we fail.   There were tears and fits and some thought they were doing more work than the other one.  When the older kids needed to start their home study not all the computers were charged because we only have 1 adapter that is working for all of our 7 laptops/ipads.  It was really quite comical, but we made it through the first day and we know what we need to do better on. 
I was never expecting any of this to be easy, so it came as no surprise and I got a good laugh out of all the mishaps.  I have to hand it to Doug and Matt because there are no secretaries across the hall to do whatever is needed.  Sandra and I are used to it, we are our own secretaries/assistants, but Matt and Doug were troopers yesterday as they turned from business men into pre-school and kindergarten teachers as well as high-school tutors. 
We are tired, but it is a good tired.  We are doing exactly what was planned out in good old Eagle, Idaho.  It sure feels far away right now.  But yesterday as I rode through the streets of Phnom Penh on a Tuk Tuk with my children with mosquitos all around, sweat dripping down my back, the sounds of the street blaring,  sleep deprived, and hungry for Kneaders, I sat back and soaked it all in.  I love it.  I love every bit of it.