OK, this is not a deep or thoughtful post, just a collection to reach out and say hello from Phnom Penh, and give you an update on what is going on.
1) We miss you! We are doing well. We really are. But we miss you! (And our dog!)
2) "Seriously, Doug is a Man." This may not come as a surprise to many of you. Especially those of you who know Doug – my 6’4” husband of nearly 24 years and the father of my children. He is, in fact, a man. But I laughed out loud when this came as the caption on a picture taken by a friend at work and sent out to our entire staff in our new country where the typical person, male or female, is about my size – a respectable 5’1”! Doug got this fame by (gasp!) hanging a clock in our office without a step stool! Our boss, who is a New Zealander also over 6 feet tall, delighted in telling Doug that his manliness had now been affirmed.
3) We are having lots of good family time, which was one of my biggest hopes for this year. We have developed traditions of family movie nights on Fridays, and chocolate chip pancakes on Sunday nights. We have played more games in 3 months than we would have played all year at home. We go to the pool all the time (since it is never cold here!), we laugh a lot, we fuss about who left the “air-con” on, and we delight in a school that doesn’t believe in homework.
4) Naeda is crazy good at volleyball (a sport she only picked up 2 months ago), independently bops around Phnom Penh in tuk tuks with her peers from any number of Asian and European countries, has watched (and re-watched) all the Glee and Downton Abbey episodes, loves talking to friends on multiple continents through the joys of wifi, and has developed her dad’s knack for comic timing and sarcasm. So much fun to have around!
5) Lincoln is growing up. He is reading everything he can get his hands on through his Kindle – Neil deGrasse Tyson books on space, how to invest your money, C.S. Lewis, Minecraft, science fiction, Mike Lupica sports fiction, Peanuts cartoons, you name it. He loves to teach, loves to laugh, loves to play video games, and still listens to all sermons with rapt attention.
6) David, who just celebrated his ninth birthday, is both rough and tumble and sensitive at the same time. He loves his bunny stuffed animals, his brother and sister, and his Hershey chocolate. He also is carrying some serious (but temporary) scrapes on his face from direct impact with concrete after outrunning a scooter in a race. He won’t let us leave the house without a hug, he insists that the (American style) hamburger at Carl’s Jr. a few blocks away is “the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten” and he delights when he hears from his friends. Best of all is wrestling with his big brother.
7) Doug, well Doug is a rock star. If you could see him, you would know that THIS is what God made him for. He sits now and frosts the birthday cake he made for David (we are a few weeks behind because it is hard to find some of the ingredients here!), he has just washed his 4th load of dishes after cooking us some fried chicken, and he has all this energy – because this week he got to prep some slavery survivors for trial. Just imagine. A trial skill honed by death row inmate cases and billion dollar industries, and he gets to use it for God’s justice right here on the other side of the world we call home. He gets to look these men in the eye who suffered untold abuse and tell them how brave they are and how they are changing their country. What a gift he has been given; what a gift he gives.
8) Let’s see. Me. I’m the more complicated case, I suppose. I love my work! I love my colleagues, I love the people all around me each day. By 9:00 a.m. each morning, I get to share love and friendship with at least 30 people I never even dreamed existed last year – the guards at our apartment, the woman who sells cabbage sandwiches up the street, the guard at the corner store who tousles David’s hair every morning, the guy who washes the black SUV by the bus stop each morning, our tuk tuk drivers (“Good morning, oun pro!”), the young family who sit and sell drinks by our office and check their watches to see if we’ve made it on time, their 2-year-old who “high fives” us, the guard who lets us into work…. It doesn’t end! And then I go to work and I research how many millions of people don’t get to go to school at all, how many millions live on less than $3/day, how many have to leave their homes and risk their lives because they can’t provide for their families. But at least I can get those numbers out there. I try to track cases and help write plans to support change in the justice system. It feels like such a privilege to contribute.
And then there are the times I just miss you guys, and I miss the conveniences of home. Or grass. I miss green space. And it all rolls together. God’s justice, God’s plan, God’s timing, God’s world. I am closer to God than I have ever been, and in some ways more alone. It’s a time for growth.
One time when Lincoln was about 2 or 3 years old and Naeda was struggling with her adoption, and Lincoln was struggling with not being adopted, Lincoln looked at Doug and said, “Well, I guess you just have to … be the person you get!”
God has given us this life right now. This is who we get to be – and we are humbled and grateful. This is one of the hardest, and best, things we have ever done. Know we love you and miss you. Thank you for being on the journey with us.