The orphanage consists of a three-story house, livestock house and small patches of vegetation. We are staying on the first story of the house with our own small kitchen to make breakfast, the main kitchen and a common room for the kids to study near Kit and Ream's office space. The second story has the boys' and girls' rooms with bunk beds and their bathrooms. The third floor is being renovated to house Kit and Ream. They used to live on the first floor where we are staying, but found that being that close to the kids' activity 24/7 was emotionally impossible. By relocating to the third floor there will be a bit of separation from the everyday noise, yet close enough to respond to needs and emergencies.
Starting off the new year
On Saturday, our musicians jammed with the church worship team learning and teaching worship songs. We didn't exactly make it to midnight to celebrate New Years thanks to jet lag, but we got an early start at church at 8:30. Courtney taught on prayer via Luke 18:1-8 to the kids at Sunday School and then we proceeded to make a lot of paper airplanes that ended up being thrown at the fan to all our delight and laughing pleasure.
After lunch, we went to a neighboring village church on motorbikes and a tok tok with Kit, Ream and some of the older kids at the orphanage to sing and teach the same lesson. We brought some of the school supplies and candy we bought to hand out to the kids and played soccer, jump rope etc. while Rylee and Cameron saw their first patients which were mostly babies and the elderly.
One of the most remarkable moments while there was Courtney being able to see a baby she had been working with weekly during her last visit. The short version of the story is that the baby was having a horrible time breast-feeding possibly because of vaccine poisoning. Her mom's community told her mom that she wasn't worth the effort and she should leave her to die. But this mother's faith compelled her to ask Jesus to send her help and allow her precious baby girl to live. Courtney and a few others pulled together with some basic therapy and the funds to get the baby to the hospital. Now she is as healthy as ever.
On the way back, Cameron and Caleb drove motorbikes for the first time. The bumpy, rocky dirt terrain wasn't ideal for first-time riders, but they took the challenge confidently (matter of perspective) and arrived home safely.
AGHO day off
The kids had Monday off for New Years (they go to school Monday through Saturday with only the days of holidays off) so almost all of the kids and a few of the staff went to the mountain — a 202-stair-step hike (Cameron counted) past old temples and breath-taking views. We all piled into the back of a truck standing up "factory worker style" to get there before mid-morning. It was all worth it.
After lunch, Rylee and Courtney went to visit some of the kids' house. Most of the kids at the orphanage have living parents who cannot support them. So the parents bring them to the orphanage in the meantime. First they visited Vishna's mother who is staying with her sister. She was having post-pregnancy issues that Rylee helped treat. Rylee and Courtney prayed for her and went on to visit Wat's mother who wasn't home. Wat and her mother used to be homeless and their only shelter was a tarp in the bushes. Wat's mother's current living conditions were shocking for everyone. She lives in a shanty made out of bamboo made by people of the village (who are also poor to begin with) that was about to collapse. Wat was ashamed and sad to show them her mother's home and said that her greatest dream is to graduate from college and build her mother a new home.
They also visited Kyo and her sisters' family. Her father recently died and left her mother with a six-month-old baby and thereby no opportunity to work. Kyo's mother told them she is living on the equivalent one penny a day. She said that she often dreams of bringing Kyo's and her sisters out of the orphanage to live with her, but it is simply not feasible at this time for her because she knows it would ruin the future they have the opportunity for by going to school via the orphanage.
Our free time is mostly spent preparing for the concert, playing with and getting to know the kids, helping them do their chores and asking Kit and Ream what it's like to love 43 kids, run a school and keep a healthy marriage (of which they celebrated their ninth anniversary on Sunday).
One of the things that has stuck out the most to us so far is the simplicity of life here. Not just Cambodian lifestyle, but the ministry that Kit and Ream have here is simply a natural outflow of their heart. That has set our hearts at rest and ready to prepare for the coming days.