Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday church with Krung

Last night was a real blast. We spent the night visiting with all the missionary families working here. They all gather at a home and have a special time together. It is always a highlight of the trip and a great chance to meet those serving here. The house was full of kids, laughter, and great food. We spent most of the day with the Kellers, swimming, eating, and visiting. What a great couple!

This morning the Swearingen clan went to a home church with the Kane family. Carol went to visit another church and isn't back yet. I'm dieing to find out how it went. The Kane family is working in a small village called Toey (2-ee). They meet in a families home, the only family who are believers. There is another woman in the village who says she would become a follower if her husband would let her. Apparently if she goes to church, or becomes a believer, her husband will kick her out of the home. This is pretty serious, and the Kanes are continuing to spend time with her and the husband. He is apprehensive of the foreigners and doesn't yet trust. This is a dedicated family and a patient God we are talking about.

Church lasted a couple of hours, and i didn't understand much of anything. We listened to some songs, turned to Mathew in our bibles and listened quietly. Crying babies, pigs, dogs, and chickens could be heard in the background. I mostly watched the man preaching and his wife. He spoke with conviction and love. She listened intently and gently rubbed her pregnant belly. Their son had just fallen the day before and was laying next to us with a large bandage on his forehead. He was give several stitches and some medication for infection. He layed with his head near my leg and occasionally, in his drowsy state, would reach over and rub the fabric of my skirt between his fingers. He would realize what he was doing and look at me from the corner of his eye, until he finally dozed off. I didn't mind a single minute of it.

At the moment, I'm having a rest period. The Kane's are taking care of the kids and we are all going out to see some of the local sites at 4. These families have been so giving to us. We came to encourage them and let them know we are thinking of them and are deeply interested in the work they are doing. We've been richly blessed this week.

Our taxi arrives early in the morning and will take us on a 12 hour trip to Seim Reap. While there we are meeting a family friend/daughter to Carol and touring Ankor Wot. All the missionaries have expressed how important it is to the trip. It will give us a better understanding of the history of the country and the make up of the people. I'm looking forward to it, just not the drive. Thanks for following-

Friday, January 29, 2010

Building Bridges

The other day when we went with Kevin to visit some villages we crossed many bridges. Some made me a little nervous. Let me tell you, I've crossed some questionable bridges in my time but the ones that really make me power pray are the wooden ones. Kevin stopped at one bridge and asked us to help him with some 'minor'repair work. Is there such a thing when it comes to bridges? Dad (retired ODOT bridge inspector)? Several of the boards had fallen into the creek below. Kevin went under the bridge and slid boards to the surface as Scott collected them and placed them in the areas we needed. I say placed because we didn't have nails, nuts, bolts, ties, nothing! This was pretty mandatory repair for us to cross. The stop made me realize that there weren't many vehicles that drive this far out, mostly moto's. We all climbed back into the vehicle and as we were driving across the thought entered my mind that we should have walked across and had Kevin pick us up on the other side. Like most thoughts, it was too late and we were committed. We made it coming and going, thank the Lord! It would have been a long walk home!

Yesterday we spent the day with the Keller and Kane families. Keller's gave us a small glimpse into what it takes to translate the bible. I cant tell you it takes alot of what I don't have! We listened to Carol and the Keller's talk horse lingo (yawn, i know more than i did)and stories or their early missionary years. My only connection to horses is Don and Carol. I was greatful we had Carol with us to bridge that gap. You could tell horses are a big part of their lives and it meant alot to them to have someone who knew what they were talking about.

Hearing all the great stories of the early years was a highlight of the day. It never gets old hearing how people get where they are and what path took them there. Talk about real Hero's of the Faith! many missionaries here are looking for someone to document and write the Keller biography. After listening to just some of the many stories I can see why.

We returned back to our hotel to give them a little break and the four of us discussed how great it was to see their work in action. Carol and I are in a bible study that is walking us over/through the tabernacle. We were in the room as the words of Exodus were going through the first phase of translation. To here "the cloud they followed by day, and the fire they follow by night. God dwelled in that place" gave me goose bumps. There wasn't enough time for us all to email the experience (and I drew short straw), but boy was it rich! All day I kept thinking gluttony, gluttony, i am so full! I couldn't not share this with you.

We walked back to the Keller's and looked at pictures of their 2 day old grand-daughter. We watched as they looked at a going home video on facebook and could see the sacrifice they are making to be here. She played the video over and over and we happily watched. I've only been gone a short while and I look at the same pictures on my ipod and read Demi's emails over and over.

Piling into a car the Kellers drove us all over to the Kane home for dinner. This sweet family has four children under the age of five years old. We visited, laughed, ate sloppy joes and fresh mango, and enjoyed the great view and each others company. Mrs Kane was so appreciative of the things we brought her from the states. I need to say a big 'Thank You' to everyone who took the time to add mayonnaise, chocolate chips, chapstick and so on to your shopping lists. These little things meant so much to these families. Just to give you an idea of how special this family is, Mrs Kane asked for chocolate chips. We brought several bags for all the families and she made us chocolate chip cookies for desert. None of us wanted to eat them because we knew what a big treat these were for them. I relished every morsel of that cookie.

We have finally reached a place with these families that is deeper and more personal than before. we are hearing intimate and delicate prayer request. These families know that we are sincerely interested in the work they are doing and in each individual person. Emails to one another can only be so effective, but to break bread with one another and look into their eyes and hear the triumphs and trials is a whole-nother level.

Today is expected to be another great day. We are all getting ready to go for a swim and the local swimming hole. More time with the Keller and Kane's. Can't wait!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I didn't have a chance to blog yesterday, but I couldn't sort through my mind and decide on what to even tell you. So many great things happened in one day, I am sooo full I can't possibly share everyhing. Or even begin to tell the stories in a way that you could know how it all felt. I've been thinking all morning what and where to begin. We visited 5 villages with Kevin and all have a heart wrenching story to them. I could tell you how I exposed my heart, behind, and faith. How we treked through the jungle with only Kevin and a 4 foot stick to protect us, or how we hunted the wild spotted pig. Our quiet lunch under the trees, sheltered by the red dust of the road. All the babies that caught my eye. I only have time for one small look into my yesterday, so here it is:

At the end of a rich and full day we stopped at Kam (pronounced calm)village and vistited with Galeem and his wife Heng. Galeem is a farmer who is also the church leader in this village. He shared with us that there are only 4 families, in this village of 160 families, that are believers. This is a larger village. He said the church wasn't growing because he wasn't. He doesn't read very well to begin with and he is trying to read his Khmer bible when his language is Krung. He expressed this was making it hard for him to grow as a christian and even harder to teach and lead his church. He had an MP3 player at his house so he could listen to scriptures in Krung, however the batteries were dead. Galeem usually recharges the battery at another house that has a larger battery to charge from, but the family that lives in this home has drinking parties all the time. Making it hard for him to have the time to go over and charge the battery without spending time where he cannot be.

The cool thing was the visit we had prior to seeing Galeem was with a young couple from another village, Sarouen and his wife Morj. Sarouen was the voice used to record the scriptures from Khmer to Krung onto the MP3 players. Our church helped fund the project and we could see the fruits of that donation.

*Side Note: We went to another village that day that had been built up and great works accomplished there by the team of missionaries here in Ban Lung. Unfortunately an outside organization came in and planted themselves down in this village and destroyed all the years of work invested, in just one short-term mission trip. The sadnes in Keven as he shared what had taken place and what he and the rest of the team were left with to try and repair. Thankfully they have the relationships built and they still have connections in the village.

So after visiting this village that once was growing and had church leaders established, but now gone due to foreigners trying, and believing to do good. We were encouraged to see that SFC had been apart of something so meaningfull to this one man, and many others I presume. It confirmed that our partnership with the team established here is working. It encouraged us to see the product of one small project completed and fruit growing as a result. More importantly, it validated to this struggling church leader that Sutherlin Family Church has a sincere interest in the growth of his church and in him. I felt so proud to sit in their company, on the porch of there home and have one comonality with this family.

As we were getting ready to leave Kevin asked Galeem how his farm was doing. He shared with us that the Vietnamese were comming in and surveying a very larg portion of land that they were planning to take over. The plan is to come in and kill all the trees and farms with spray and clear the land to plant rubber trees. This would be devastating to the Krung and Broa people. This would leave them with no food, no way of life, and no homes. Kevin said this is an incredibly large piece of land they are planning to take over. This has been happening for years now and is exactly what happened to the Jari people. More research will take place and kevin has agreed to keep us informed on what transpires.

Please pray with me that God will give Galeem the understanding, insight and wisdom when reading the scripture. Pray that he will be able to acurately convey Gods word to his poeple, that through his growth in Christ he will bring the light into their dark village. Pray that the land to so many hilltribe people will be protected and that God will reveal himself in the process.

Another full day planned today. I am sooo full!! I don't know how much more I can consume. I wish you were here with us to see, and hear all that is being said. So many people apreciate you for your prayers and support. I do too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Soap and water

Squatting under a modest size home on stilts with a 2 month old baby girl sleeping alone in a gently rocking hammock. Moms visiting and toddlers scattered about, this was a different kind of MOPS group. That is how i spent my morning. Visiting with a couple of moms, and there children today in a village that K. Mallow works in. The Mallow family isn't here at the moment, but Kevin brought us here to meet with a family of believers. The husband was working in the fields, rather making a field. He was cutting down trees today. The ladies were home and children were coming quickly to hold on to their moms. I wanted so badly to pick a couple of them up and give them a big squeeze and kiss. I miss my baby! I was looking pretty scary, because they were hiding behind mom. I brought out some bubbles and started making these strange things that would float wildly by. Soon the smiles emerged, then the arms started swinging at the bubbles. Before we knew it kids were running and chasing the bubbles faster than i could make them. A little girl came over and I let her make some. All the other kids were cheering her on. Moms were smiling and swatting bubbles.

We didn't have Hannah today, she spent the day with the Olson kids. I figured I would need something to attract the attention of the kids in the village. Well I knew we were the attraction, but we're sometimes scary. I needed a lure and bubbles worked! At the end of our visit, we handed out some little packets of jelly beans that were given to my before we left Oregon. I gave a mom a big handful i was packing in my pocket and as we drove away, moms and children were eating candy and smiling.

We will be picked up in an hour and revisit the village to meet with the husbands. We'll update some photos and here some prayer requests of the families. I have oranges ready to go and nice large bottle of bubbles. I let you know where the wind takes us tomorrow

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hello Hotstuff!

As Carol and I were walking down to the internet cafe, Carol's moto driver drove past and gave a holler. As we were visiting with the missionary families, we told of our adventure last night. They all laughed at how Carol held on to her moto driver and not the back as customary here. Everyone agreed the driver went away with a story to tell his friends. Just happened that we see the poor soul tonight.

Carol and I had a quiet morning at market today. We went in and picked out a tribal lady carrying a heavy basket of produce. Followed her through the market watching what she did, who she encountered, the various people paying her no mind as she wove in and out of bodies. People everywhere, hurrying, standing, squatting, sitting, shuffling by. I prayed she'd make what she needed from the goods she was about to sell. I prayed for the food she was purchasing/trading that those who came in contact with those vegetables would here Gods word in their language. I asked for protection over her as her callused feet took her safely home today. I prayed for comfort, health, family, her village and their salvation. My God can do all these things.

You see these people coming and going and you can't help but wonder what their life is about. Have they ever heard of Jesus? What pain is in their lives, what joy, what brings them joy, what do they dream of, what are they thinking of me, a foreigner? Was she a hottie in her time, before the hardness of her labor intensive life took over. Now leaving her shoulders bent with the weight she now bares from caring rice in her decorative, handmade basket. I followed her until I lost her in the commotion. Moto's trying to drive in and out of small walkways. It lasted for about an hour of my day and all I could think about for the rest of the day was this wonderful woman and her life.

Here we are at the end of the day. Two things I know for certain: 1-This woman is somewhere in Cambodia and I am praying for her. 2-Carol still has it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

X Country, X Culture, Xing Barriers

Last night was alot of fun. We had dinner with some friends we made here 5 years ago. It's always fun to sit and share a meal with someone you've been praying for. Bee is always a gracious host and last night was no exception. We met at a local church leaders home and got to meet with his family, and 3 others committed to translating the bible into the Brao language. To hear what they have to endure and the process, makes you really appreciate our bible all the more. Our pastor has been doing a great study this month on how the bible came to us. If ur not a church goer, but love history you might want to hear some of the past sermons. You can check them out at

Hannah is a secret weapon here in Cambodia. Many people glance over the foreigners walking through the streets, but boy do they spot Hannah. As I look around at the other foreigners, you don't see any children with them. Her dark eyes, long lashes, freckles and fair skin are show stoppers here. We've had many opportunities to talk with the locals, that would have just walked past us. The kids here love her. Some people remember her being here from past visits. My poor little girl had a rough night last night. She is doing well, but i think the heat, long walks, and different foods are all a bad combination for her. She has never had problems in the past, but for some reason this time is tougher. The more we come the braver we are with the local cuisine. I'll have to remember to ease into it next time and not dive in fork first.

Carol and I were here at the internet cafe last night when our moto showed up to take us to dinner. Carol's eyes go so wide:) We've been talking about how we get around (we ride on the back of a scooter, sometimes 2-3 of us at a time with the driver). I don't know if she thought i was kidding, but boy did she have a good time! We laughed all the way there watching her hang on to the driver by the waist (a no-no here). Hannah explained she needed to hang onto the back of the seat or just relax and go with it. To get us home, two kind gentlemen from dinner took the four of us on two moto's. Scott and Hannah; Carol and Karen. I sat in the middle and carol was on the back. The driver started to go and Carol shouted "Wait!!" She couldn't sit on the seat and hang on too. So I hung on to her legs and she hung on...well i don't know, i was laughing too hard. We safely arrived at the hotel and we were still laughing, even our driver. Carol told me this morning she almost peed her pant we were laughing so hard. All we thought of was the scene in the movie Dumb and still makes me laugh!

We are getting ready to have lunch with the Olson and Keller families. It will be good to see them and catch up on what has been going on the past couple of years. We'll be walking for those who are curios!

Tough day getting better

Today i hit a wall. Im not feeling too well, i think it is the heat more than anything. We were invited to lunch at our friend Bee's house. Got to visit with her and an NGO Gordon. They have been doing some flood relief work in villages near the Vietnam boarder. Came back to the hotel and took a nap, feeling a little better. Moto is here to take us to a potluck dinner. Hope to see some old faces and friends.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have arrived...

Those who work with me would get a kick out of that, "I have arrived!" Anyway, boy was it packed! The ride that is, we did it true Cambodian style. Us Americans had more luggage than passangers and that caused a decrease in leg room. We are stiff, tired, not so hungry, (still recovering from some car sickness)but truely excited to be here. We arrived at the hotel and Kevin Olson called to see where we were at in the treck. I was happy to report we made it without incident. He invited Carol to ride along with him to a village tomorrow, and she still has a permagrin! Ahhh that Carol! How many friends do you have that you can say, "Hey Carol, I think you have a leg sticking to your lip". No joke, I went to the bathroom to pee on my foot, which i did, and when i came back to the van she had a leg stuck to her lip! She ate a grasshopper along with my husband. Why, you would ask? Beacause it was offered to her:) She spoke the Vredenburg language of love for 11 hours of travel and made friends with our traveler companions. If you ever have a chance, i highly recommend you take an out of country trip her. It is so much fun to sit back and watch her interact with the people. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time:0

We arrived at the hotel to be greated by the owner Miss Kim as we call her. We got out of the van and she said, "I remember you, you are back for another visit". She finds it facinating that we would keep coming back to Cambodia. She asked about our friends that have been with us in the past and of course Demi. Remembered we are from Oregon, and helped us with our luggage.

Tomorrow, we visit with some friends we have made over the years and distribute the goodies we've brought for everyone. We just got here and the time is going too fast. My only thoughts of home at this point are of my family. Every meal we end up talking about Dem and Sophia. I miss my girls.

It's starting to get dark. I need to get Carol and I back to the hotel, just a block away, but still in the dark is not good. keep you posted as the week progresses

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Leaving Golden Guesthouse

Sitting & waiting for the taxi to come. I'm so glad we took the time to see some history and walk the streets of phnom penh. It gave us a chance to interact with ppl and work on my Khmer. Met some great ppl, got a little climatized to the weather and reLized how the rest of the world knows how spoiled we r. We were asked many time if we anted a toke toke (taxi). It was too far for is to walk. We even had a couple of drivers offer to get us an air conditioned car. We didn't walk all that far yesterday but still managed to come away with some blister.

Some of the hidden highlights were talking (with little khmer) to different ppl on the street. We stopped at a streetwise mrkt and bought some warred from an elderly woman who looked to b taken with Hannah as we walked past. So we took the time to stop, buy some water and visit. she rubbed hannas arm and was quite surprised we could negotiate price with her in her language. It was soon discovered that we only knew the basics but she was frinning from ear ro ear.

Walking through the stre

gotta go! Taxi here!

Final day in Phnom Penh

What a big day we had! I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3 am this morning. I tried all the trick to get back to sleep, but they all failed me. I got up and went out to the balcany to see what was going on in the capital...nothing! The world was still. No dogs barking, no trafic, nothing! I spend some time catching up on my bible study. The last thing i want to do is get behind on such a great study. Carol came out at 4 and we had a great visit. She couldn't sleep either and was catching up on her study too.

We went to breakfast and started the day at the Russian Market. We wanted to go early in the morning for this. It is quite a maze of venders selling everything possible. It's one of the biggest treasure hunts you'll ever experience.

It was on the agenda to go to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and then to the Killing Fields. Kevin suggested we be at the Museum at 10 to see a film they show. It was hard to watch but worth the time. We toured the school in a silent somber mood. It is a hard place to visit, but is rich with history. It was so hard in fact that Carol couldn't find it in herself to go to the killing fields. We decided to end the morning on a positive, so we took her to the Friend Cafe. One of our favorite places to go.

We skipped over to Museum of history and toured the afternoon away. Followed up with some more shopping and back to the hotel at 6. Tired, but hungry, we drug ourselves to a recommended restaurant down the street and had the best meal so far. The chef came out to meet us and was thrilled to see we enjoyed the traditional Khmer meals.

I'm looking forward to a nice cool shower, a brief burst of energy before I crash for the night. Our taxi comes in the morning to take us to Ratanakiri at 5 am. We've been told it will take somewhere between 9-14 hours. I know its a spread, but we've made it this far! This will be our final leg.

We're enjoying every hot, tired, stimulating minute! So much is swimming through my head. People ask we're here, and its an easy response...because we love you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lovely Lady Locs

We have finally arrived! We have been talking about this moment for almost a year now. To get off the plane was an overwhelming flow of emotions. As you are getting off you are just releaved to have finally arrived safely. The next thing that hits you is the heat as you slowly move through the terminal waiting your turn to get ur visa and enter the country. The excitement of leaving the airport and venturing out with a taxi driver onto the busy streets of Phnom Penh don't fully prepare you for what yuo are about to experience.

Kevin Olson was waiting for us and directed our taxi to the guesthouse of choice. He suggested we keep moving so we could adjust to the time diffence better. After a looonnnnggggg walk, in the heat and sun, we were more exhausted than ever. Everywhere you look there is something to see. We all agreed to stop and eat at one of Kevin's favorite restaurants. We had excellent Kmher food. Almost finished with dinner, and Hannah almost took a nose dive into her meal. She was so tired out she just couldn't take it anymore. She quitely leaned over and said, "mom, i need to go back to the hotel now". I took her back and as she slept I had a long awaited shower. Awhhhh!!! Nice, cool, just what i needed and those within 'nose' range. I was sitting out on the patio/balcony letting my hair dry in the breeze, when I looked across and saw another foreigner doing the same. As it is getting darker I can see other ladies doing the same thing. Here just a matter of hours, and we've already fallen into the 'norm'.

It's now time to give this body the much needed rest it is yelling for. Carol just reminded me it is 4:00 am at home. 7:00 pm here and it is bedtime for this girl. Note: there will be many typos in this post!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taipei here i am

Okay so its January 22 at 7:30. WE arrived about an hour ago now. I think its safe to say i won't run into anyone here i know. You don't know how grateful i am for that right now. Jet lagged, bed head, red eyes, etc. Oh, and if anyone stopes to talk to me they better be standing a good distance away cause i haven't brushed my teeth since January 20th. With that said, i can honestly say i have arrived the same as i left: tired, excited,overwhelmed, and missing my girls immensely!!! With just one more short flight of about 3 hours we will arrive in Phnom Phen. I'm looking forward the warmth of the climate, the people, my luggage, a great dinner and sharing the experience with Carol and my family. Hannah is doing awesome. She was awake until 2 am and had as much sleep as i had. What a trooper! Off to our next gate! Until Phnom Phen, Karen

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Phase 1 complete... Barely!

We finally arrived at the Portland airport & checked in. We had our first BIG scare! When we arrived at check in there was no record of us in the system. No tickets. No itinerary. NOTHING! We made some quick calls and "miraculously" we appeared! tickets, itinerary, everything. Phew! My rearend already aches, and I'm really tired. Despite that, I can't wait for the days to follow:)

Cambodia or Bust!

Although my eyes are open, I don't feel awake. I have dressed accordingly for my travels. Unrestrictive undergarmets, layers, comfortable jeans, etc. I was reminded of what my husband was telling me awhile back... I wanted to make sure I was wearing a pair of jeans that were comfortable for travel. He suggested a few, but I told him "not those, they give me muffin top". He told me, "I wouldn't buy a muffin with such a little top to it." Even though he made me laugh, I had to remind him there was still a top!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So I just invited a Krung basket load of people to stop in here while we're in Cambodia. For all of you early birds we fly out tomorrow. I'm sitting in front of my computer on the I touch postin "remotely". Just testing the murky waters before I go:) Still much to do so stay tuned...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oops! There it isn't

Okay, so the tester post didn't go as planned. I tried sending one from afar, but it didn't work. Note to self: be in a better location to piggy back off of someones wireless internet. I am not discouraged! Will rally myself and try again...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tester Blog

Well here it is...the dusty ol blog that has been in my favorites file. I started it last year as a way to keep my family informed as to what I was up to, but never got around to doing much with it. We are leaving for Cambodia soon and I wanted to see how this was going to work. I'll be leaving some other tests hear and there from my I-touch. If I can make myself smarter in the next couple of days this could be great for all of us. Wish me luck!