[we don't have everyone's email, so here is our christmas "card"]
Dear all, friends & family,
We are thinking of you all today & are sending warm Christmas greetings & wishes for a happy New Year.
It is hard to believe the calendar; that Christmas is already upon us! In this country that does not celebrate Christmas, it does not feel especially festive. We lack the usual seasonal cues: cold weather; lighted decorations in the street; the smells of warm cinnamon & the comfort of home. But we've been reminded that the first Christmas was probably a lot like this too-a hot, dusty climate full of people going about their daily lives & yearning for God's presence on earth.
We have been in Cambodia for nearly a month & a half now. We feel mostly settled in & are very thankful to our MCC colleagues who have welcomed us so graciously to our new home. New home - we find that we have to continually remind ourselves that, yes, we live here now.
Phnom Penh is full & bustling & gives New York City a run for its money as a "city that never sleeps" (complete with roosters crowing & techno wedding music at all hours). Thankfully, we have a beautiful apartment with a breezy porch where we can escape in the evenings & catch our breath.
We are now starting on month two of our three months of intensive language training. We're trying our best to be diligent students of the Khmei language, although the intense study does make our brains very tired!
We will be starting our work at the Royal University of Agriculture sometime in February.
We are encountering much joy in this new chapter of our lives & for that we are grateful; thank you for your prayers. Friends of ours recently released a song with the lyrics '….I pray that light would leak from our pockets….' & we ask you to join with us in praying for this here in Cambodia.
Please pray that the light of the goodness of God would flow freely from us & that we would, in turn, be transformed by the people we encounter here. People who have been deeply scarred by tragedy & yet, are marked with such hope & kindness.
Joy to the World the Lord has come, Amanda & Daniel
we've found phnom penh to be a city that is simply bursting with movement.
you get the sense that people here have a lot of lost time to make up for & are making up that time with a vengeance.
at first, the traffic here seemed, to us, unfathomable (although, to be fair, we do hear it is worse in vietnam). most cambodians travel by small motor bikes, or motos as they are called here. as far as the traffic goes, it is the law of the jungle out here!
in this city of two million, there are very few stop signs (in fact, the one pictured above is the only one we've stumbled across so far). there are also no more than a smattering of traffic lights, which are a new concept here, so are frequently ignored. rarely does anybody ever come to a complete stop. any traffic rules that we might be used to, such as driving on the right side of the street, using a turn signal, or turning your headlights on, seem to be treated as suggestions at best.
to assist daniel in his attempts to master the moto, we've been riding around the city on moto taxis, called moto doops, to get a feel for the unspoken understanding of traffic rules. (we wear helmets, mom!)
in addition to carrying passangers, we've seen all kinds of previously unimaginable things balanced on the back of these motos. these include: a family of six people on 1 moto; a breastfeeding mother; a passenger holding up another passenger's IV bag; a bundle of 30ft steel construction rods; a flat of several dozen live chickens; what appeared to have been a good half tonne of bananas; and finally; an old soviet helicopter (you can guess which one we made up).
it is quite a change from the charming brownstone in manhatten or the little loft above the coffee show in terrace, but daniel & i really love our new house in cambodia. . . we live above a cambodian family, who are very nice (as far as we can tell, as neither of us speak the same language) & have several children. & a lot of dogs. they run a little roadside shop (all the rage here), where they sell tasty snacks from thailand & cold soda pop in glass bottles.
[here is our street] . .
but, the best thing about our house is the amazingly beautiful & breezy porch!
it has become a very welcome place of solace for us. in the evenings, after a day in the bustling chaos & busyness that is the city of phnom penh, we look forward to spending time reading & studying in the coolness of our porch.
for lovely inquiring minds, here are some pictures from the inside of our house....
[our dining area & entrance to our guest bedroom. a perfect place of rest for any adventurous cambodian visitors.....]
We live in all we seek. The hidden shows up in too-plain sight.. It lives captive on the face of the obvious - the people, events, & things of the day...What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time & stuff like color.
-Annie Dillard, For The Time Being