surgery–no big deal

This is my very first blog–don’t judge me.
Today was a very surreal day for me as five of our group members had the chance to visit a local hospital in Phnom Penh. While everyone else was picking up trash, we were able to visit many different areas of the hospital including pre-op, post-op, and the ICU. However, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that the OR was the most exciting part of our day. This was my very first surgery ever watched live and let’s just say I was very nervous, no matter how excited I was. It probably didn’t help listening to horror stories about fainting and feeling nausea from previous experience. GOOD NEWS–no sickness. In fact, after about 5 minutes, the whole experience seemed to be quite normal. We learned a lot, and there was a giant cyst bigger than a grapefruit being removed a foot away. Hello pelvic cavity!
It’s definitely crazy to see how the regulations in a hospital change from country to country, though. In many areas, everyone goes either barefoot or wears flip flops. Cell phones and cameras were both allowed AND used in all areas–especially the operating room.
All of this was a crazy experience, but we learned a lot and had a lot of fun. GREAT day.

-Jill Roos

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here i am to worship

i havent written in awhile and i had just a little personal experience i wanted to share. on tuesday our group visited a CRWRC village outside of PP. when we arrived there we were brought into the church for some worship. it turns out that the band that played knew a bunch of Hillsong songs, but they sang them in Khmer. later in the afternoon we were walking back from another village and i ended up talking with the lead singer for a bit. he asked me if i knew the song ‘here i am to worship’ and i nodded. he started singing it in english and invited me to join in. he switched back over to Khmer and we continued to sing together in both languages. it was really special to me and it was really cool to experience something as simple as this. after we finished singing he said to me, “we sing different, but to the same God. the best God.” here in Cambodia i am beginning to appreciate the more simple things in life that we all tend to look over and take for granted. this country may be different in many aspects but this is still God’s land and these are also God’s people. another case of same same but different.

Linds

My Last Night

I am leaving Cambodia early because i have an internship in Chicago next semester that begins earlier than Calvin’s. This trip has shown me so much more than i have ever expected and the people on the trip have been so great.
I hope that every parent that reads this blog understands that i have enjoyed getting to know each person on this trip. There is not one person that i have not enjoyed or been given the chance to see their amazing personality. Calvin is truly blessed with these individuals. Each person is unique and completely in love with God, and i have been given the opportunity to see that every day.
God has blessed this trip with health, and we are all very thankful that no one has been incredibly ill. This trip has not only changed me because of what i have seen and learned in Cambodia, but it has also changed me because i got to experience it with this group. It is very difficult to explain the connection that the group has, and the different things people have to offer. It is an indescribable blessing. There is no way that this group was formed by chance. It was intrinsically chosen, and everyone is here on purpose.
I just wanted to try to explain that I am so thankful for everyone on this trip and i am sad to leave. I feel that i will be missing out on a little, but i know i will be missed too.
Leah Salazar

Stiff

My eyes had creaked open an uncountable number of times, each time only to find ants creeping all around me, and that it was still the middle of the night. But this time was different. My eyelids lifted slowly like the lid to an ancient rusty trunk. A hazy light slithered in between my eye lashes. Morning. Ahhh. Finally. I tried to move but I could only budge, like trying to ride a bike that has a tangled chain that is stuck in the gears. Skqullk. My leg moved an inch across the tile floor. And it was gone. All of my energy, spent on sliding my leg one inch to the left.

I very seriously considered wetting the bed, or rather the tile hallway that was supposed to be my bed, because the thought of moving my entire body in such a way that would get me to the bathroom downstairs, well, that thought was unrealistic. I stored that thought away in the “impossible” section of my brain and let it mingle with other thoughts such as a world where money didn’t exist; owning my own unicorn and naming it Xantha; and warm snow.

My body was covered with dry sweat, grime, and a fitted sheet that fit only on a mattress that was but a wish to me. Ache.

I guess that is what happens to your body when it is twisted through undefined dance moves and retired to a tile floor.

Last night was a whirl of cultures that went brilliantly out of control to a beat of who knows what kind of music. From traditional Cambodian music to non-traditional noise with English lyrics to American hip-hop with Khmer lyrics to Korean pop music. No matter what played, we danced. We twisted, we shouted, we clapped; sweat flinging off of ever one. We mimicked each others moves and created a jammtastic moment that was still thumping in my head.

I let my eye lids fall back into a closed position and waited for another hour to pass, hoping that I would fall back to sleep before I realized how uncomfortable I really was.

Jacoba Bulthuis

Same Same, but different

This is a phrase around here that generally means that things are similar to things back home, but have something different about them.

Today, I experienced this firsthand.

I was working at the Genesis Community of Transformation, an NGO.

We were setting up a printer to be shared by the network there.

We failed initially.

Just like back home.

Same problem,

Same frustrations,

Different solution.

Same same, but different.

– Theo Voss

Srei Pech

Three years ago, we visited the Dawn Orphanage in Phnom Penh. I visited the same orphanage two years ago and two groups of Calvin students visited earlier today. Its a small, underfunded, out-of-the-way place hidden in a poor area behind a small Christian church. Lim Vuthy serves both as the pastor of the church and runs the orphanage. They have something like 60 kids ranging in age from 4-5 to 12-14 now, I think. Mostly they are older kids, because he cannot take new ones. They are at their maximum capacity.

Watching the Calvin students play with the kids three years ago, one little girl caught my eye. Cute as a button, always near the front, extremely attentive with bright, brown eyes. I wondered … what she was thinking? What she was looking or hoping for? I watched her intently. But why did I notice her? There were lots of kids around.

A strange thing began to happen a few months later. When sorting pictures, images of Srei Pech (in inquired her name of Pastor Vuthy) caused deep emotions to well. Over the years, I’ve guarded and measured my emotions and responses carefully. Enough, but not too much, not wanting to stand out. Why did these images evoke such emotions? Where do they come from?

I know practically nothing of Srei Pech. During the interim trip the next year, I wanted to see her badly to see how she was doing. To my absolute delight, she stood in front of the kids singing songs at a makeshift Sunday School classes we spontaneously organized that morning. Still attentive, dark eyes still bright and flashing. I was so glad to see her. I worry about her like a father and yet sad because I really don’t know her nor do I want to show her undue attention and create some false hope. Pastor Vuthy explained her parents were still alive he thought but could not afford to keep her, to feed her. He explained that he could give her just enough food to sustain her and ensure she completed her schooling. She has some hope for a future.

I did not go to the orphanage this year. It was a practical decision. A hard one that hurts badly. I still obsess about Srei Pech even though I don’t know her. There was another organization I needed to visit, but my heart aches because it wanted to be in another place. My students tell me she was not at the orphanage today, but was in school – I hope so! I can see her in my mind, sitting at a desk in the front of the class, dark eyes flashing. Attentive. Cute as a button.

Why do I care so about Srei Pech? I don’t know her at all. I’ve seen her twice for maybe 2 hours each visit. It seems completely irrational. Why did she steal my heart and not so many others? Is she a symbol of my hope for so many in her situation? There is hope, you know. Jesus tells me and tells her, “let my little children come to me.” Oh, I so hope that Srei Pech comes to Christ if she has not done so already and thank God for the heart and sacrifice of pastors like Lim Vuthy. And I thank Srei Pech for teaching me of God’s love and of hope.

Who is your Srei Pech with dark, attentive, flashing eyes?

David Dornbos

More Pictures

Here are a few more pictures:

Serving Lunch at the Dail Center by the floating village

Children arriving in a Thai style tuk-tuk for lunch

Dail Ministry

our computers finally turned over to GCT in PP

Fun at dinner

The GEt-10 Conference

SK Lee at the Get-10 Conference

The hotel in PP had some nicely braided trees

part of the youth from church

walking in PP

at the mall

Yup that price is in American Dollars

Orphanage

We visited an orphanage today. The first thing I noticed was a young girl of about 7 years old in a purple shirt. She was covering her eye with her hand. Eventually, she joined with the group of other kids but still seemed embarassed and kept trying to cover her eye (with her hands, hair, turning her head). I went up to her, gave her a hug, and asked her to play a clapping game with me. She agreed, took her hand off her eye, and revealed a swollen reddish eye. My heart wrenched. I don’t know how it happened to her, maybe she fell, maybe she got in a fight, maybe she has pink eye, maybe someone beat her. All I know is that she was ashamed to let Americans see her face.

We played a few group games with all of the children (maybe 20 kids) and one boy named Pay-ya attached to me. He climbed on my back, pulled at my hair, held my hand, and chattered away in Khmer to me. The pastor later told me that he was the “energetic” one. I taught him how to make a high pitched sound by blowing on a piece of thick grass.

Many people thought that the worst part of this excursion was leaving the orphanage, watching the children sadly wave goodbye and knowing that we would never see them again. However, I think the worst part is realizing that these children are used to having groups come in for an hour and then leave. They are used to getting their pictures taken so that some American can “remember their experience forever.”

We also went to IJM and learned about what they do in Cambodia and other countries. In Cambodia, IJM works mostly with young girls who have been sex trafficked, helping them to be reintegrated into society and to start a new life. One personal story showed the work that IJM is doing because a teenage girl was saved from sex trafficking and now owns her own beauty salon and volunteers with other young girls who have recently been saved from nearby brothels or pimps.

To finish the day off, we went to a restaurant and met Theary, Marti and Daravuth Seng. I sat across from Marti and learned all about his high school days at GRCHS and college days at Calvin.
Alison DeRooy

French Toast and Fried Rice

We were sitting at dinner a few nights ago with out a menu and so Alison and I decided to create our own menu that consisted of whatever we wanted at that very moment.

French Dip.

Grilled Cheese.

Our orders became ridiculously unrealisitic at an Asian restaurant in the middle of Phnom Penh.

French Toast.

We finally got a hold of the real menu, the one with Asian dishes listed in Khmer, at the same time that the waiter approached our end of the table to take orders.

We slammed our fingers down on random menu items to quickly decide what to order. A rushed “Fried Sweet and Sour Chicken” and “Beef with Onions” blurted out of our mouths that were secretly watering for American cuisine.

Many whiles later, our food arrived, tasted quite good, and sank into our stomachs. Following a long walk back to the hotel, we enjoyed the trickery of the hotel shower, gagged on the hotel toothpaste, tinkered with the hotel air conditioner, and found comfort in the raspy sheets of the hotel beds.

Wake up, shower, and split. Half of the the group eat here, half eat there. Alison and I ate HERE, at a restaurant across the street from the hotel. We maneuvered through the vroom-zoom traffic and sat down. The language barrier encouraged us to keep things simple. Chicken Fried Rice for ten people. How much easier could this get?

It was simple enough. After seeing hearts break and be mended over and over watching as many saplovely Cambodian music videos that will fit in a fifteen minute time span, our rice was served.

Rice. Fried Rice. Dry. Bland. Crunch?
What? Oh, don’t worry, that is just a few (or many) uncooked grains.

CRUNCH!!? Oh, don’t worry. That is just a piece of bone.

BONE?!
Oh, okay…?
GRRKL.
Stomach ache.

We weren’t sure, until now, that fried rice could be extremely messed up.

On the bus we go. Two and a half hours on bad fried rice.
Moan.
Complain.
Sigh.
Ask: “What did you guys have for dinner over THERE?”
Hear: “French Toast.”
No.
WHAT!!?
“Yes, French Toast.”
Jealousy.
Major jealousy.
Last night’s dream just became a reality. But not for me. Not for Alison. For the people who went THERE. The situation between HERE and THERE just became extremely uneven. It must be straightened out. Alison and I, we have plans to straighten it out. We have plans to go THERE. We have plans to take over THERE. To eat french toast until we are full and then eat french toast some more.

And for the others, we will put bones in their rice. We will hide them there so that they create and unexpected crunch between their teeth. Because here, French Toast is a luxury. Not something to tease people with. It is a serious thing and bony rice will not take its place in my stomach.

Jacoba Bulthuis

P.S. This bony rice incident actually happened a few days ago. Alison have not tortured the others with bony rice and have moved on from the french toast incident. Although we still feel that it was extremely unfair.

Out of place

Yesterday we went to a large mall just like a mall you would see back home. There was a McDonald’s knock off where some of us ate. I had chicken nuggets and a pop. Others had burgers. It was very familiar, but it felt just wrong. It was the only big building we went into which was entirely air-conditioned. Escalators brought people from floor to floor and just about everything was sold there. It was out of place because everywhere else we’ve been here in Cambodia is so different. Markets contain small stalls where bartering takes place, tuk tuks take the place of taxi’s, motorcycles replace cars, and stairs dominate escalators and elevators (or 5 story hotel has no elevator). Restaurants are small affairs, and serve only Asian food.
At this mall, it was like the west had invaded.

– Theo Voss