It’s one of the most common questions we get: how are the kids doing? Well, we are biased. But we think they have done remarkably well. This was not a move they wanted, nor was this a destination where they ever imagined living. There was hardship in leaving, and there has been some hardship in living here. And certainly a lot of change. But they have done this very well. We are so proud of their courage, and we are amazed at the way they have jumped into a new environment, made new friends, and adapted.
We have encouraged the writing of a kid blog. So far, no one has jumped at that opportunity. So we thought we would let you hear from them directly in another way, with a Q&A format. Here is their perspective – unfiltered. (All interviews were conducted separately.)
Q: What has been the happiest surprise about living in Cambodia so far?
Youngest: The chocolate milk! It tastes better than the chocolate milk in America.
Middle: It’s a tie between two things. At my school they believe in God. So you speak openly about God. Once a week we study the Bible in school. And second, we do most of our work at school, so we barely have any homework whatsoever.
Eldest: The mangoes! They are really good. They are big, they are sweet, and . . . they are really good.
Q: What has been the most unhappy surprise about living in Cambodia?
Youngest: I’m not used to it – the life, the food, and how much you have to travel on your feet.
Middle: In Phnom Penh, there is no green space. Really you can’t cross the street at all because their driving patterns are entirely different. Cars and motos, etc. weave around places. In America, if they did even a hundredth of that, they would get in a car wreck. So you cannot really go exercise outside.
Eldest: It’s really different. You have to watch where you step. Some of the sidewalks are covered with trash and smell bad, so you have to walk in the street. And then you don’t want to get hit by a freaking tuk tuk, so you have to watch where you walk in the street. Also, the money is so confusing.
Q: What is your school like?
Youngest: It’s private, and it’s in English. Sometimes at recess, some people speak in Khmer. But everyone who goes there can speak in English. It’s a big school. The kids like to play gaga ball. I play basketball or talk about Terraria (a video game).
Middle: It has multiple grades. It goes up through high school, but each grade only has one or two classes. So it is both small and big, if that makes any sense. There are two basketball courts. One is for the elementary school (they call it “primary,” by the way), and the other one – the bigger, better one – is for the high school and middle school. We can only go there during P.E., if we’re playing volleyball or something. School is 45 minutes away from our house. It is way out in the countryside.
Eldest: It’s a good school. The people are nice – teachers and kids. There are three floors, and the ceiling is red. It’s not hard to learn names because the school is pretty small.
Q: What’s different about school?
Youngest: We have to take our shoes off when we go into the classroom. But we can wear shoes when we’re in the building but not in the classroom. Also, we have to walk two and a half blocks to get to a bus stop, and then ride on a bus for 45 minutes to get to school. I am the youngest kid on the bus. Everyone else is in 5th, 6th, or in high school. My brother is closest to me in age. On Thursday and Friday, we have to read parts of the Bible. We already read Ruth.
Middle: They don’t start “switching” classes here until sixth grade. Back home, we started switching in second grade. That means all day long I’m mostly with the same teacher, except for P.E. and Khmer/French class. (Yes, we do have Khmer and French classes!) In computer lab, instead of working on coding or playing games, we literally have an email address, and we get emailed projects that we’re supposed to do. And the projects don’t have anything to do with computers. We just do the projects on a computer, during computer lab. One project was to make a paragraph on the differences between the provinces and Phnom Penh. (Since I just got here, they let me write a paragraph about the differences between Phnom Penh and Austin.)
Eldest: The classes are shorter – 50 minutes instead of an hour and a half. That means we cover more subjects each day. There are six classes in all. At home we had eight subjects, but we only covered four each day. We get a 20 minute break after 2nd period, and then we get 50 minutes for lunch. Another difference is that it’s far away. We have to take a long bus ride to get there and back. We usually don’t have any homework. And they have a café.
Q: Tell me about where you live.
Youngest: I live in a big white building. It’s not as good as home. The building is a lot bigger than our house, but the space where we actually live is a lot smaller. Since we’re sharing the building with other people, we can’t bounce balls and things like that. I like that the building has a game room – table tennis, pool, and foosball. It also has the “other” kind of pool.
Middle: We live in an apartment. It is rather small. We don’t have very much space to move around. I share a bed with my brother. On the top floor of the building, there is a pool, a gym, and a game room. In our apartment everything is white, with bright lights. There is only one bathtub, but two other bathrooms with showers.
Eldest: It’s an apartment. It’s white and modern. But the kitchen is red. I have my own bathroom with a balcony. There’s a pool and a workout room.
Q: What do you miss the most about Austin?
Youngest: I miss my dog. I also miss the space in general, because we don’t have as much space here. I miss my friends. And I miss my house and having a place to run around.
Middle: I miss having a backyard where I can play soccer. I also miss having what I’ll call “normal” food.
Eldest: People – my friends. I miss Zoey. I miss being able to walk down to Grandmommy and Granddaddy’s house. I miss youth group. I miss my room. And I never thought I would say this, but I miss my school.
Q: What are you most excited about seeing or doing this year while you are living in Asia?
Youngest: I don’t know. There’s many things I’m excited about. The top three are: going to a beach, riding an elephant, and playing video games.
Middle: Going back home! And maybe seeing the Great Wall of China if we are able to make it there.
Eldest: Coming back. But while we are here, I’m excited about going to a beach.
Q: How can people pray for you?
Youngest: Having the time go by quickly until I get back to Austin.
Middle: That we have a safe trip, and that we end up changing while we are in Cambodia and growing closer to God. You could also pray for us by praying that Mom and Dad help free people from slavery, and that we can help a lot of people while we’re here.
Eldest: That this year hurries up! And that I have fun while I’m here!
Thanks to all of you for your continuing support and prayers!