Saturday, February 4, 2012

Making progress!

It has been so neat to work on this chicken coop with the orphans.  They are hard workers and teach us how to do it with very little tools, or broken tools, or made up tools that are lying around.  The nails are rusty and probably 20 years old, but it's working!  We just make due, and that has been great for the kids to see that with a little creativity you can make anything work.  

I'll quickly show the different stages...
Clearing out the trees, roots, rocks, and debris

The girls had some big muscles carrying load after load of rocks and clay like dirt in buckets--no wheelbarrows around here!
Everybody had a job to do :)
Cleared out and ready for concrete
Breaking up old bricks and tile for a base under the concrete.  Boy were they sore afterwards.  It was all done by hand with sledgehammers.  We are making men out of these boys!  They've got calloused hands to prove it.
Don't you just want to squeeze her?  She worked just as hard as everyone else

getting the sand ready for concrete...
Botevy and her husband Gen--the most selfless people on the planet
Mixing the concrete
I get to take do hair, nails, and art projects while the boys sweat
Step one-concrete done
The kids here at CICFO are SO good to our kids

Well, I'd better get to bed...I'll post the next phases tomorrow.  Doing this has been so great for our kids.  You know the saying, "We can do hard things"--my children are learning that here.  It is HOT, they are sweaty, usually hungry, have blisters, are bit by red ants and mosquitoes, and it is long hard hours working in a primitive situation, but I tell you what, there have been no complaints.  I guarantee that if we were at my house doing this, there would be oodles of complaints and some whining.  But, since this is for somebody else they are really enjoying it.  So, I am hoping that their spirits here will linger enough to get them through their summer of chores :) 

Friday, February 3, 2012

If you would like to...

Some of you have asked if you can help donate to the orphanage in Cambodia.  Botevy told me today that they are in need of 5 more sleeping mats for the children.  They have taken more children in and can not afford to buy them.  Right now they are sleeping on the tile floor.  They also are in need of 5 metal dressers for clothes.  The mats are $30 each and so are the dressers.  If you would like to buy one for the orphanage just let me know!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Mother's Prayer

     I wish I could tell a hundredth part of what we are experiencing here.  I don’t want to forget the things that are changing us here.  It is so interesting how when you step into somebody else’s world for a moment, you realize all the blessings you have.  I have learned that what we consider to be “hard” most of the time is just temporary.  We have hope that the trial will end in a reasonable amount of time.  The things we worry about are not the things that will decide if we can feed our children or not.  We do not have to decide if we should give our children to an orphanage or not simply because we can not provide for them.  I can’t imagine being faced with a decision like that.   It is the ultimate sacrifice of a mother to give their child up so they can have a better life. 
     As a mother I can tell you that when one of my children is hurting, sick, sad, or just having a hard day my heart hurts for them.  Everything else seems to fade into the background and in that moment the only thing I care about is helping that child.
I had an experience last week when we were touring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat with the orphans.  We had 55 people that we were keeping track of-47 of which were children.  Mom, if you are reading this, just skip the paragraph J We were at the last temple of the day and the children were playing tag wondering around the ruins.  We had Tyler, Ashton, and Charlotte right by us, but I let the older children run around with the older orphans.  At  this particular temple we exited a different way than where we entered.  None of us knew that. 
      After we finished exploring around, we all loaded up in the vans and counted heads.  Much to my panic, Brandon (12), Jocelyn (18), and Marcus (5) were not there.  It was getting dark.  I knew that Jocelyn and Marcus were together because only a little while before she was holding his hand going to find their dad, but I did not know if Brandon was with them. The orphans that Brandon had been running around with were all in the vans.  My heart sank and momma bear kicked in.  Some set off on foot to find them, I ran over to a Tuk Tuk and begged the man to take me to the front of the temple, thinking he probably would go there if he got lost.  In his broken English he said he was waiting for clients, but I think he saw the fear in my eyes and he took me.  On that Tuk Tuk ride as dust was blowing in my face I said one of those prayers that you only offer a couple times in your life.  It was one of the most heartfelt prayers I have ever said in my life.   It was earnest.  It was full of faith.  There was pleading and promising.  It was given with complete humility and total dependence on my Father in Heaven.  I knew He was capable of my request for us finding Brandon and the Cleggs safely.   
         We arrived at the front of the temple and they were not there.  My heart was racing as the sun was setting .  The driver said he would report it to the police and that is when the tears started flowing.  They were closing and the guard would not let me back in to look for them, but once again that momma bear came out and I looked him straight in the eye and told him I was going in to find my kids.  Now, people in Cambodia speak VERY little English.  The Tuk Tuk driver was so sweet and he must have explained something to the man while I was running away.  He called after me and said, “2 boy, 1 girl?”  When I heard those words shouted back at me, I felt peace.  I ran back with tears in my eyes and asked him if he saw them.  He said yes and that they had walked the other way out the temple with somebody.   They had been found!.  I was so filled with gratitude for a God that hears our prayers and cares just as much as we do, if not more, for a lost child.  I know that the feelings I felt that day for Brandon are multiplied by our Father in Heaven for all of His children who are hurting, or lost, or hungry, or suffering.  He cares about all of us more perfectly than we care for our own children.  It is hard to imagine that, but I know it is true.  I am grateful for the power that comes from prayer.  I am grateful for a listening Father in Heaven who answered a scared little mother’s prayer.   He is so aware of our day to day doings and He is interested and present.
         Though I have seen much poverty here and it truly hurts my heart, there are so many things this culture can teach us.  They live simply.  A lot of that is forced upon them, but all they want is basic human needs.  One of the ladies who volunteered at the orphanage for years asked the children what they wanted for Christmas.  She said they did not even know how to answer the question because they don’t have wants. 
        They gather.  I love coming home from the orphanage and looking out at the streets and whole families-kids, parents, grandparents are out eating together. They share bowls of food on a simple raised floor made out of woven reeds.  The city is alive with friends and family outside enjoying one another’s company.  They are not in a hurry to eat and get on to the next thing, because there is no next thing.  I LOVE seeing that.
        They are so giving.  Sweet little Chenna is 5 years old and she had on a little CTR rubber bracelet. I pointed to it and told her it was beautiful and she took it right off and put it on my wrist.  Hard as I tried she would not let me give it back.  The other bracelet she had on was a piece of string.  They give everything so freely.  They are happy about it.  That is the light of Christ to me.  When people give and it makes them so happy to give it.  These people give when they really have nothing to give at all.  Doing anything for us is an “honor.”  I can’t tell you how many times we hear that.  They are so humble, the salt of the earth.
         They are happy amidst hardship.  They emanate joy.  They don’t care that they are shoeless, or that they are 15 years old wearing a bathing suit from the movie Cars as shorts, or that they went to church in a pair of pants instead of a skirt.  They are okay sleeping on a tile floor with 15 other people per room and preparing their food over hot coals and a fire.  Such great people.  When the time comes and I am back home cooking on my 4 burner range and putting my laundry in a dryer and food down a disposal and dishes in a dishwasher and I feel like complaining because there is always so much to be done…I will stop myself and remember.  I will remember that I have food to feed my children, a fridge that will hold more than one day’s food in it, a bed to sleep in and that my husband has a job.  I will remember that I won’t have to think once that day about having to give my children up to an orphanage because I can’t provide for them.  I will remember the blessings.
           Well ,on to what we have been doing.  We cleared out the ground and leveled it so we could pour the concrete for the chicken coop.  Botevy wanted another layer down on top of the bricks so the boys took a bunch of old bricks and crushed them up with sledgehammers for a base.  They worked side by side with the older orphans and had a good time, although I am sure they are all very soar like  our family was!  The girls were also a big help as they carried the buckets away filled with dirt, rocks, and roots.  We got half the cement poured and all the orphans were able to put their handprints in it.  So fun. 
        We will finish the cement in the morning and start assembling the chicken coops.  We have never built one before, but I’m pretty sure Matt and Doug can build anything.   Remember, they are Idaho boys :)
       We are also helping them with their mushroom planting.  They grow a type of mushroom I have never seen before and sell them at the market.  They are soft and white and almost look like a flower.  They brought some home and dipped them in batter and fried them up for us.  They were scrumptious.  It is a very different way of growing them.  They grow them indoors in a bag with sawdust and rice powder and something else that I don’t know the name of.  Their mushrooms  are not growing well because they are depleted of minerals, so we helped them purchase the items needed to start all over again so they can yield much more.  I am excited to learn how to do that. 
       We have been brainstorming on  ideas of how we can help Botevy with the children after we leave.  Doug came up with the idea of doing a life-sketch on each child and putting it on their website.  We would interview them and find out what they want to study and do when they graduate.  We could set up a system where families in the USA could sponsor them and help pay for their education here, or school supplies needed or a white shirt etc.  School is not free in Cambodia.  You have to pay for your teachers.  Many of the children here need bikes to get to school.  There are things like that that would be so neat to have people sponsor.  Just a thought, I’d like to know what you think!  The children here are so bright and love to learn English.  If they have the right tools they will be able to get an education and help their families.
         Time for bed, love to you all!
The clearing for the chicken coops!

Never passes up a chance to get dirty!

ps-We were invited to a wedding today of one of Botevy’s friends.  It was so wonderful to see a true Cambodian ceremony.  It is a 2 day celebration with lots of food and music and rituals.  One of the rituals is that the bride and groom cut their hair with golden scissors that are from heaven.  After they do that their marriage will be blessed from heaven…so great for the children to see different cultures!

Monday, January 30, 2012

7 Days In

     We just got home from taking the children to Angkor Wat for the last 4 days.  We rode for 9 hours each way in 4 vans to go 200 miles.  Yes, 200 miles, not 700.  I felt like we were playing a game of Frogger as we shared the road with pigs, water buffalo, cows, mopeds, bicycles, buses, Tuk Tuks, and pedestrians. Holy Moly were we ever glad we were not driving!  The kids made the best of it singing songs and putting their hands out the window and high fiving the people on mopeds.  The Cambodians laughed and thought the kids were pretty cute, but that does show how fast we were able to go the whole way.  It was fascinating to drive that far and not see any variations the whole way.  Most "houses" were on stilts and it was a one room home.  The streets were lined with people selling everything you could think of needed for day to day life, which here, is pretty much food items.
     We have seen, felt, and experienced so much in the last couple days I do not even know where to start.  The best part of the trip was getting to know all the orphans better.  I am continually amazed at how naturally happy they are.  It is absolutely amazing to me.  Our kids every 5 minutes need a drink, or want some candy, or are begging for ice-cream, or a souvenir etc. while these orphans never ask for anything and always say no if you offer them something-- all with a smile on their face.  I need a little bit of that to rub off on my kids :)
     It has been an eye opening experience learning about their stories from Botevy.  I already have about 6 that I am going to take home with me.  That is reasonable right?  I am thinking 12 kids is pretty much the same as 6 :) Matt is already laughing at me, but don't be surprised if one of them makes it home with us.  Most of the children here have parents still living, but they can not afford to feed them or send them to school.  There are so many wanting to come to Botevy's orphanage, but there is not an endless amount of room.  They just took 5 more children in a couple of months ago.  Sray Mi is one of them that has only been here a few months.  She is 12 and she is here because her father left their mother for another women.  He gives all the money he makes to his girlfriend.  So, Sray Mi's mother is left with 6 children to take care of and no way of supporting them.  Botevy was able to take in only one of the children.   Botevy told me that Sray Mi keeps asking her if she could go back and go back and get her 10 year old brother.  That broke my heart. 
Sarong is 10 and is here because her uncle is a member of our church and heard about Botevy's orphanage.  He like so many others pleaded with her to take her in because her family was "so poor."        
     Sarong is the one on the very right in the picture above.  She's the one I'm bringing home :) Love that girl.  Love all these kids!  Monte is on the left, I call her Monte Carlo--and Jenny is in the middle.  Look at all those smiles.  Edible.
     There really is a great deal of poverty here.  Yesterday we bought some boxes of Top Ramen.  Botevy said it would be good to hand out to the people in the provinces who are "so poor."  Botevy and her daughters Sunny and YaYa have hearts that never stop giving.  On our drive home today we pulled over on the side of the road and started to hand out one pack of Top Ramen to each child on the street. Botevy wanted to do this for her orphans as well.  She wanted them to remember how blessed they are to have food, a home, and clothes.  It was so sweet to watch these orphans hand out the TopRamen to these children.  They must have had mixed emotions as they were there because most of them had been in that position before in their life, and some of them as recent as December.
     Cambodians, children and adults, started coming out of the wood works.  I will never forget that experience.  They were so excited for one serving of Top Ramen.  The children standing there completely naked holding onto their noodles is a sight that makes you just stand still for a moment.

As a mother I took a minute to look at each of my own children's faces.  They were somber.  They were quiet.  I knew they had never seen anything quite like what was before their eyes.

 The look on Brandon's face says it all.   At that moment you want to take the shirts off your back and find any food you had in the car and give them anything you could.   This might sound a little strange, but for me there was almost a kind of reverence there on the side of that busy highway.  I worried about them, I still worry about them and I can't get them out of my mind.
    On Sunday we had another unforgettable experience.  We went to see the "water village."  It is on the border of Vietnam and Cambodia and there is a whole group of people that live literally on the river.  Words can not describe it, so I will post some pictures.
post more later, gotta go!  XOXO