Monday, January 25, 2010


I have mastered the oven!!! If you remember this, I attempted to bake cookies before Christmas, and it was quite unsuccessful. However, I was not deterred, and as I recently was able to find some baking dishes (though they were just aluminum disposable ones), I decided to give it another go. This time I made banana bread, and it turned out beautifully. It may have been some of the best banana bread I have ever made!

I am not sure what will be next on the baking agenda. But, I did receive real measuring cups and spoons from my amazing friend Laura last week. Maybe a pie will be in order...

Friday, January 15, 2010


You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule. You're blessed whe you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed whe you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for. You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!--for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Matthew 5:3-12 (The Message)

I am so incredibly blessed, and this Scripture has been especially speaking to my heart in the last several days. I realized that a lot of my posts lately have been on random things, so I wanted to be sure to give you a little glimpse into my heart and my passion today. I have been in Cambodia for nearly 2 months now, and I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't fallen more in love with the culture, the country, and the people. I love in the above verses where it says that when you are care-full, you will find yourself cared for. That is so true. I came here to care. That was my soul purpose, to love the least of these, but often times I feel like I am the one being cared for. I get 20+ hugs a day. I am told daily that I am beautiful and loved. My attempts to learn Khmer are praised with smiles and "very good"s. I am trusted. I make others comfortable, and my lap is always full and my hands always held. Some days I really begin to wonder who is being cared for here... I look at the girls that I am working with and I wonder at the capacity I have in my heart to love them. I have spent months and months praying that God would increase my heart of compassion for people, and somewhere along the way, I woke up and realized that He did, more than I ever imagined. I was paid the most flattering and confirming compliment just this morning. I was told that it is very apparent that I have a spirit who understands what is going on with traumatized girls, and I understand how to help them. This came from a trained counselor who actually trains counselors about a foreign girl who has never even taking a psychology course. Can I get an "amen!" that God doesn't call the equipped but equips the called?
I don't want to make it sound like everything is sunshine and roses all the time. My role here definitely has its fair share of challenges, but I really don't notice them much of the time. However, I have learned the importance of taking a time out! I can only teach so much English or learn so much Khmer before I feel like my brain is going to explode!!! But, my Khmer vocabulary is EXPLODING!! I know most all of my colors, am in the process of learning fruits, can say a variety of phrases (i.e. I love_____, I like______, I want_____), know how to direct a tuk tuk or moto to get where I need to go, and I am even having the girls teach me a song in Khmer! And, on the flip side of that, I have had the honor to watch one of our girls blow everyone out of the water with how quickly she is picking up English. Two months ago, this girl didn't know any English and could barely write Khmer. Now, she begs to spend time with me learning more English and is beginning to speak English to others and teach some of our Khmer staff. Because she arrived at the home just before I did, I have been able to watch her progress so much. If anyone doubts the ability and willingness of God to bind up the brokenhearted, they would only need about 5 minutes with this stunning girl to be convinced otherwise.

There you have it--a small glimpse into the world in which I live and love. Now, I am off to play games I don't understand and love girls I will never forget...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fruit Frenzy!!!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love fruit!!! So, since I have been living in the tropics, I have been taking full advantage of all of the beautiful, fresh, tropical fruit that I can get my hands on. These photos are just a small taste of the many varieties of fruit here.

These are mangosteens.
You cut them open, and you eat the white, fleshy part in the center. They are divine and very sweet! They are supposed to be really good for you as well, full of antioxidants, no doubt!
This is a dragon fruit.
You cut off the ends and the pink flesh easily peels off revealing a lovely white center with little black seeds. Dragon fruit doesn't have a lot of flavor, but it is very refreshing when it is cold (think watermelon in terms of refreshing).
This is a jackfruit. (I obviously did not take this picture because I slacked and didn't get a picture of a whole jackfruit.)
You cut open the jack fruit to reveal several yellow pod-like things. They are delicious! There is a big pit inside each of the sections, and the fruit is a bit waxy looking. But, I think I would grow my own tree if I could!!
This is a mango. This is what a fresh, ripe mango looks like. Not that crap that you get in the produce section at Walmart.
And, this is what fresh cut-up mango looks like. Mmmmmmm!!!!!
This is a passionfruit, which is another one of my favorites.
You just cut the top off of the fruit.
And, you spoon out the center. If you are a person who has issues with texture, this is probably not the fruit for you. The yellow pulp is pretty slimy and the seeds (it's ok to eat them) are a bit crunchy, making for an interesting combination. But, if you can get past the funky texture, they taste great and definitely have a little sour bite.
These are rambutans.
You peel off the spiny exteriou to reveal a white fleshy ball, similar to a peeled grape in appearance. These have a pit in the middle as well, but they are really good and refreshing as well.
So, there are a few fruits that I am enjoying. There are also several varieties of bananas, green mangoes, all kinds of oranges and tangerines, sapodillas, papayas, pineapple, pomegranate, rose apples, and all kinds of things I have never seen before that I am not sure even have English names! And, believe it or not, I am actually acquiring a taste for the mixture of salt and chilies that they dip most of their fruit in here. As gross as it may sound to you, green mango dipped in chili salt is actually quite tasty!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And the answer is...

I just want to say thanks to everyone who played my little game, but next time I expect more participation!!! I know there are more of you reading my blog!

Anyway, here are the much-anticipated answers to what exactly those photos are...

1. This is tamarind. I think it is classified as a fruit, and it is quite interesting. You peel the thick skin off and eat the inside, which is soft and brown, but make sure you spit out the seeds (they're nasty!). It has an interesting flavor and texture, but it is definitely not bad. (I had previously had a bad experience with dried tamarind and had I known that was what was being offered to me here, I probably would have politely turned it down. But, because I was blissfully ignorant, I have actually come to quite like it.)

2. What is she carrying? Well, stick a straw in that bag, folks! It is some kind of soda/beverage thing. I have not actually tried it, but the Khmer people really seem to enjoy it. They are often walking down the street with them. It can't be that bad, right?

3. Definitely not pepsi, but isn't an old pepsi bottle where you keep your gasoline? That, my friends, is your average side of the road gas station. You know, one stop shopping. You get your chips, your candy, and some gas for your moto. Seems safe, huh?

4. This one seemed to puzzle everyone. The Khmer people put their leftover rice out to dry in the sun (often times along with some fish). So, this is rice drying on an old rice sack in front of someone's home. What they do with the dried rice is a bit of a mystery. I assume they probably eat it...but I'm not real sure...

5. In addition to rice (and fish), you will often see people drying bananas out in the sun. So, that is what we have here. These bananas are at varying stages of dehydration.

6. And yes, this sign is prohibiting dogs from pooping on the grass. However, I don't really think the dogs can read the sign. And let's be honest, people don't take their pet dogs for walks here. If there is a dog out, it is wandering around by itself in most cases. Thus, I am not sure how much good this sign really does except for providing a laugh to all the Westerners walking past.

There you have it! A little taste of my incredibly fun, daily life!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Name that picture!!!

I thought I would take some pictures of some now familiar sights for me, and give you all an opportunity to guess as to what you think they are. So, PLEASE play along!!! Just put your answers in the comments section, and I will give you all the actual answers in a few days. (I figure this will be a good gauge to see who is actually reading my blog as well...a girl gets curious!) AND, if you are currently living in Southeast Asia or have ever lived in Southeast Asia, give everyone else a shot first, ok?

1. What are these?
2. What is she carrying in the bag in her right hand?3. It is clearly not Pepsi in that bottle. What do you think it is?
4. What is going on here?
5. What is this?
6. And just for fun, what is this sign prohibiting?
Enjoy! I am looking forward to reading your responses!!!

Hooray for Markets!

I realized that I have been pretty bad at putting up pictures of the city and actually giving you all a taste of where I am living. I really am loving it here. It certainly doesn't look like Indiana, but it is a whole lot of fun to just muddle through and learn to do life a bit differently. Today I will be taking you on a journey through the Russian market.
This is a photo of the outside of the market. This is the moto and bicycle parking area. Note the cardboard sitting over the top of several motos. That is so you don't burn your bum when you get on after being inside the market!
This is a photo down one of the aisles of the of what seems like seven million. However, I feel pretty confident going into the Russian market now. I don't get lost, and I can successfully find a stall that I have been to previously without any trouble.
You can get pretty much anything at the market (if you know where to look) from scarves to clothes to wooden carvings to shampoo to teapots to fruit to cookies to movies to jewelry to your monkey's uncle...ok maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. You really can wander around for hours if you can bear the heat. After about one wander through, I now only go to the market with purpose since it is like walking through a sauna.
In the middle of the market, you can have lunch...if you dare (I haven't yet). There are heaps of stalls serving all kinds of things...over rice. We are in Asia, folks, everything is over rice! Love it!
And of course, you can do your daily grocery shopping at the market as well!
Fish anyone?
Or maybe you prefer your fish filleted and marinated?
Pork is always an excellent choice. And yes, these have been out in the sauna-like heat of the market since probably about 5:30 or 6 a.m. (It was probably about 11:00am when I took these.)
Chicken is probably the most popular choice. Make sure you get the whole chicken because the feet add a nice flavor to your soup!
Well, I hope you enjoyed a bit of a journey through the Russian Market. And, for reference, I don't typically do my grocery shopping in market like this. There are Western-style supermarkets around, and I typically shop there, especially for things like meat. I do enjoy buying fresh produce at the open market, but I can't in good conscience buy a whole chicken that I know has been sitting out for hours... However, if someone else prepares it, who knows what I'm eating. No weapon formed against me shall prosper, right?