Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, as we are finally starting to settle, we are also starting to miss our family and friends. The boys constantly mention their friends back in NC and talk about finding friends here and re-naming them to make them the same as our NC friends. As much as I explain to them that you can’t change their names, they still insist. It’s cute. But they really are lonely. They are. Not me. Right? If I say it enough will it be true? Haha!

See, ever since Stephen went to work, after being on military leave for MONTHS before we came here I’ve had to re-learn what its like to have my kids around me all day. ALL DAY LONG. It’s only been 3 days but it feels like much longer. And doing it in a new place that we don’t really know yet is even more difficult! So, we put our brave faces on and went out into the city, just the 3 of us, determined to meet some other kids, and by default, some moms, too.

We started close to home, at a restaurant here called Fresco. It’s a cute little European type of place with fancy sandwiches and salads and great coffee and smoothies. We’d heard it had a kids play area so I figured there would be, well, kids there! At 10am, not being able to contain the excitement any longer, we walked over. Great restaurant. Great coffee. Great play area. But nobody else was there. Oh, well, it’s only 10am, I decided. Of course people aren’t here for lunch at 10am! So we waited. I got the boys a smoothie and found myself quite thankful that at least they have each other.

Look at their precious faces…

And we waited some more. At 1130 we got lunch thinking my next BFF was going to walk in any moment. But to no avail. No other moms with kids came in and my kids were tired of the place by then, so we left. We headed back to the house for a nap and some cool air. That evening two ladies from Stephen’s office invited us to dinner and we had a really great time. I love hearing how God brings people to IJM. They all have stories similar to ours.

I went to bed happy, convinced that I’d try something new tomorrow and it would be much more successful. It couldn’t be worse, right?


It started off ok, fun actually. We walked to a park here that the international school uses. It’s not much to brag about but the kids had a great time. Again, we were hoping to meet some people and didn't, but the kids had fun.

Here are some photos:

And then we decided, since we were right next to a real live market, which I’ve been DYING to see, that we’d check it out. Oh, that was exciting for sure, but kind of scary, too. It’s like a maze in there and I thought I’d never find my way out. I wanted to take pictures so badly but I was afraid to let go of either kid’s hand! It was hot, smelly, and crowded. But it was really cool. There were a million fruits, vegetables, and kinds of rice. And there was meat just hanging which the kids thought was really cool. The clothing aisles displayed brand names from the US with slightly different lettering – it was clear they were errors from manufacturing here in Cambodia, but still kind of cool. I promise when we go to the gigantic market this weekend with my husband I’ll take pictures. It’s really cool.

Anyway, when we finally found our way out of the maze, a tuk tuk driver offered us a ride. It was only 0.75 miles back to the house but we’d been playing and walking for hours I took it. Well, that’s where the day took a turn for the worst.

See they have this cultural difference from us in that they can’t say NO. So, when you ask them to do something, even if they don’t understand you they will just say yes and then not do it! So, I told him where we were going and he nodded. It’s numbers, so you don’t have to know English to find it. Just to be safe though, I gestured (not pointed, because they are insulted by pointing here) the right direction. Well, he took off the other way. “That’s ok, I guess he’s going to turn at the next block” I thought to myself. Well, he didn’t. And I kept telling him to turn around but he just kept driving. He ignored me! I was just sure I was being kidnapped or something but finally he just stopped and let us off. He thought he was in the right place but it was WAY wrong. I got off, paid him, and waited for another driver, because now we were way far from the house. This time I was picky about my driver and made sure to wait for one who understood me or even spoke English. I mean, I knew where to go, I just wanted him to listen. It was the first time anything like that had happened – usually the drivers are really great. Like this one… he got us back and we came inside, me wondering if we’d ever go out again!

And I have to admit I posted a pretty desperate plea for friends on the online network I am a member of. I just asked if anyone knew of playgroups meeting this summer, or Bible studies, or anything. I’m finding most things are closed for the summer. I guess it was more desperate than it sounded, because I got several responses. I put the kids down for a nap, might have studied my eyelids a bit, too, and then got up to see quite a few responses already to my posting. I now have a date for Saturday with a mom and a couple playgroup options for next week!

So, I’m thankful for that.

And I better go because the monsoon outside is terrible today and I’m afraid I’ll lose everything I typed here if we lose power!

Prayer request – that we meet some wonderful friends soon!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Day of "Firsts"

Well, today was stephen’s first day of work at IJM. I found myself wondering just what I would do with these crazy boys all day… to venture out or not to? It turned out to be a great day.

I had a lot of “firsts” today. Some good, and some not so good, but at the end of the day it all turned out ok. Here’s a glimpse of some of my “firsts” today.

FIRST monsoon…
We’ve been here 4 days and not seen any rain. I thought that was unusual because we were told it’s rainy season so it rains every day. In fact, we actually thought that it rained every day even in dry season, just not monsoon rain! Well, no rain until today. But today made up for it for sure! It was WET. Heavy downpours cause the city to change quite dramatically. For one thing, it cools off a little. It’s warm rain, not cool rain like we usually get back home, but being soaked does cool you off. Actually, we never got soaked. See, as soon as the rain started the Khmer (Cambodian) locals started pulling out umbrellas and ponchos as if out of nowhere! Everyone just moved along as if it were no big deal, and as if the umbrella actually did any good, haha. It was a monsoon!!! It only lasted an hour and a half or so and then just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. The streets were busy again and everything was back to normal chaos. It was quite a memorable experience.

FIRST Vietnamese meal…
I went to Stephen’s office today, on his first day (another first I’ll get to) and they were having a farewell lunch for a couple great ladies in the IJM office. It was a Vietnamese dish but I can’t remember the name of it. Not like I could spell it even if I could remember! But it was white noodles, some sort of spring roll type thing filled with potatoes, a beef mix to add on the noodles, and a fish soup to add to the noodles too. I have to admit I wasn’t really excited to try it but I was a trooper and I did. And I loved it! It was very flavorful and tasty. The dessert was strangely different and good. It looked like little dumplings in soup (Oh, I wish I’d had my camera!) but was sweet. They were made from coconuts and had a bean of some sort inside. We put the dumplings in the bowl and added coconut milk to the dish to eat. It was great. I’m looking forward to a Khmer (Cambodian) dish for dinner tonight.

FIRST visit to the doctor…
This one wasn’t quite as exciting but definitely educational for me. Little Hulk here (he’s in my lap as I type) was fine one minute and went to play and came back with dried blood all over his face, coming from his ear. I wasn’t convinced it was anything serious because he was acting fine, but when we went to Stephen’s office he fell asleep into a deep sleep and woke up saying his ear really hurt and so did his eye. I was a little worried so we went to see an American doctor at an international clinic here. The doctor was great. He was quite friendly and great with kids. He looked in and said, as he suspected before looking, that no, it wasn’t a burst eardrum (thank you!!!) but instead a cut. It was quite deep and pretty far back in there… too far for stubby fingers to go in. He says it’ll heal just fine and we have nothing to worry about. I don’t know about that, doc… I’m worried about what he stuck in there and that he may do it again. Now I’m on a mad search to find the blood covered toy that he decided to stick up there. Oh, his eye is fine, too. It’s just dry. Oh, and I’m super thankful for medical insurance. It was $20 for the doctor visit. However, at this rate (only day 4 here) we’ll never be able to afford doctor visits if my kids don’t stop doing silly things like that!
And my last first is to end on a happy note…

FIRST visit to IJM office…
This was great. Every day IJM’s staff starts with a half hour of time for its staff to say a prayer, read their Bible, whatever they feel led to do on their own. This is their “stillness” time and I think it’s incredibly important. Then at mid day just before lunch, they gather in one place to pray together. The whole staff, which is probably 40 or so here at this office, gathered to pray and we were invited to join them on this, Stephen’s first day. So, we did, and I was impressed. Everyone was so sweet and welcoming and I saw the faces from all over the world who fight together against human trafficking. At prayer time they focused on their clients and cases to pray for and had a short devotional reading time. Can you imagine what the corporate world would be like if everyone stopped to pray TOGETHER once a day? Wow. That could, well, change the world. I am so grateful to God for bringing us here and to IJM for welcoming my family in addition to Stephen. For those who would like to join in, that’s near midnight for you in central USA time zone. What power we can have praying together! Please continue to pray for these cases and issues here in Cambodia. Great work is being done!

And I’m ready for another day of more “firsts” tomorrow. I’ll make sure I don’t forget my camera this time! That’s probably the first time I’ve ever forgotten it, too!

Thanks for reading along and joining me in this adventure !

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A glimpse at our first experiences in Cambodia...

Wow. This place is amazing. I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, I could start by telling you all about how our adventure started off great and took a wrong turn when our first flight was delayed so that it landed in LA just in time for the flight to South Korea to take off, leaving us stranded in LAX for hours. And hours. And hours. Or I could tell you about how we finally got a flight out at midnight that night and that left us stranded at the airport in S. Korea for hours. And hours. And hours. Almost 14 hours, actually…

But I know you are much more interested in the actual information about Cambodia. Yes, after over 50 hours of entertaining kids with no sleep in airports and on planes, we finally arrived.

It was nearly midnight when we stepped off the plane. We were happy to see that at least a few of the signs were in English, and the employees at the airport, despite the language barrier, were extremely friendly and helpful. I mean, we had 4 full size carry-ons, a stroller, and 2 kids, so it was pretty clear we needed some help. They took us to the desk where we got our visas – a process we were told could take a very long time but went quickly and smoothly. After that we went to get our 8 suitcases… 2 per person… and guess what… they ALL made it! Yep, every single one. After all the crazy flight changes they still made it. God is so good.

We walked out of baggage claim to find two of the IJM employees waiting for us with big smiles and taking our picture, too! They greeted us with hugs and we felt at home already. We all walked to the two giant cars they brought to pick transport us and all our luggage and headed across Phnom Penh to the house. We are staying at one of the IJM attorney’s house as he is leaving with his family for vacation in the US in a couple days. That gives us a great place to stay AND extra time to find a place of our own! It works out great for all sides, and we are so thankful.

Anyway, we drove across town and my first impression was all about the traffic. It was midnight and there were motorcycles and mopeds (they call them all motos here) pulling out in front of us and all around us from every direction! Lights would change green or red or yellow but the people just drove anyway! Cars would drive on the right mostly but sometimes on the left side of the road, too. It was quite a sight. But that’s about all we saw that night. We were tired and it was late. We went to bed and saved exploring for the next day.

Here’s what we experienced the next day:

The sounds…
Before 6am sounds of hammers and construction woke us up. I guess they don’t have rules about noise disruption or anything here! That and honking horns, lots of honking horns, woke us up early. The city is a busy place that early!

The smell…
So, you’ll probably laugh at me for saying this but I kind of expected it to smell really tasty here… like a good Chinese buffet or something. Or if not tasty, then like fish or something. My thoughts were all about food. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if I’m being honest, that’s what I expected. Well, it doesn’t. Occasionally we get a whiff when strolling the streets of a good food but mostly it smells like gasoline. Motos are everywhere and the streets smell like gasoline and pollution. Me and my kids, however, we smell like bug spray. All the time. With DEET. Because mosquitos are very scary here! We spray the boys several times a day. I’m praying now for whatever effects this bug spray may have on their health in the future! Anyway, between the bug spray and the gasoline, it definitely does NOT smell like a Chinese buffet! : )

The taste…
Well, I can’t say much about this. On our first day out we found a place called “Lucky Burger.” It’s at the western style grocery store called Lucky. It’s supposed to be Cambodia’s version of McDonalds. It was surprisingly good. Funny thing is we had a chicken sandwich in the airport in Seoul called a “burger” and here they call the burger a “sandwich.” Anyway, for a burger, fries, and a coke it was less than $3. Totally affordable for the kids to have a little American food! It did not, however give me much to comment on about fresh new tastes here in a new place! I’ll get to that eventually and have plenty to talk about I’m sure! Here’s a picture of my “sandwich” at Lucky Burger.

The feel…
It’s hot. So so very hot. And muggy. I guess we’ll get used to it but I’m not sure. It stays hot all the time with 100% humidity most days. I find myself drinking a lot of water. And sitting in front of a fan whenever possible! Apparently electricity is super expensive so fans are cheaper than air conditioning to use. It's bearable for now. Apparently April is the hottest month... and also the cheapest time to fly here... go figure...

The sights…
These pretty much speak for themselves.

These are just random photos from the streets of Phnom Penh.
This is the central market inside here... haven't been in yet but can't wait to see and photograph it!

Toward the end of our exploring, we found a shopping mall, built by foreign investors that had a great view from the top. Here's us posing our first day in PP.

Here's a photo of Stephen and little man on the tuk tuk. They are having fun for sure! Every minute since we got off they've been asking when we can ride again. Oh, if they only knew how much we'll have to do this...

And that's about it for day one. It was a great first day. We were super tired but just pushed through the whole day and crashed early that night. I'll get more up on here when I can. We're looking forward to trying out a new church here Sunday. I can't wait! And the boys keep asking when they can make friends, so that sounds like a good place to start.
I can't believe we live here. Can you? Wow.
And I can't wait to share more!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our First Newsletter

We just sent out this update today.
I thought it would be nice to post it here, too.
If you didnt get an email and would like to be added to the list, just email me.

Dearest friends,
We figured that before we leave the USA we should send out our first newsletter. We’re feeling a whole host of emotions right now. The only thing I can compare it to from ever before is like having a baby. You know, you’re exhausted, still in a little pain, shocked at the reality that your whole life just changed in an instant, terrified at what the future holds, but all at the same time completely overwhelmed with gratitude and blessing. That’s how I felt anyway. That’s pretty comparable to what we are feeling now. The movers are packing our boxes (thank you Uncle Sam for the last move out of the Army being paid for!) and preparing to put them into storage for us. That’s been hard to watch for us and especially for the boys. We’re getting ready to leave this home that we love and worked so hard for and go to honestly, who knows what kind of home? We are saying a dozen goodbyes every day and getting letters and emails and scrapbooks from friends that make us laugh and cry. We are filled with a mix of emotions.

But the overwhelming feeling of thankfulness outweighs them all. We are so grateful to all who support us, encourage us, love us, and pray for us. As our “home” church here in North Carolina said goodbye yesterday with prayer and blessing (and yes, quite a few tears), we felt God holding us, reminding us that He is with us. He is our provider, our protector, our strength, and our shield. He is in Cambodia already making a place for us and preparing hearts to hear what we have to share.

We need your prayers especially in these next two weeks. After all the planning and preparation, the time is finally here. We are leaving on Friday June 17th to fly to Nevada, where we’ll stay with Stephen’s dad for a few days before we leave the country. On Tuesday, June 21st at around 10am Pacific time, we start our flight to Cambodia. It is over 20 hours of flying time with a landing really late at night after the time (and date!) changes. Leading up to this is a lot of packing still to do with our luggage. We get 2 suitcases each. And trying to get suitcases down to 50lbs is stressful and keeping us all on edge! Please pray for our family during the transition here and then for the initial culture shock there in Cambodia.

Here’s a list of areas we need prayer for:
• Finishing up things at our house and handing over keys to a couple who is renting out our home
• Parker and Jack’s mix of emotions that probably feels like ours but is being expressed in toddler and preschool maturity, making it difficult for us to understand or to comfort
• Safety in travel and smooth plane transitions in foreign airports, and that our bags all make it safely and complete with all we packed in them
• The culture shock we’ll inevitably face in Cambodia right from the start (for those who don’t know, we’ve NEVER been anywhere like this before!)
• Good communication back to the states quickly so our families don’t worry about us for too long
• The job and the people waiting for us there. God is preparing them, too.

And here’s what we would LOVE for you to do…. Starting any time on June 21st, when our plane takes off to when it lands a full day later, PRAY. Commit a bit of your time to pray for us. Post on our facebook page if you can to say that you’re praying at that moment. We have people all over the world getting this newsletter and we feel like we can be covered in prayer every hour of our travels. We won’t see your posts, but it’ll show others what times of day need more people praying. And after we land and can look back at it, it’s a great reminder to us of the body of Christ working as one. This journey started when we read “Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson. It’s about following the Holy Spirit anywhere; about the adventure of following God. Well, this is going to be an adventure for sure, and we hope to bring you all along with news and updates and lots of pictures!
Thanks again for the encouragement, prayer, and financial support. We are very excited to start our own wild goose chase.

We’ll update you from Cambodia just as soon as we can!

Passionately pursuing His call,
The Schiffmans
Stephen, Kim, and family

If you want me to add your email address for future newsletters, email me here

Monday, June 6, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

I want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time two young people, age 16, named Philip and Sandra fell in love. They were just kids but they were just sure that their love was real. See, they didn't go to the same school or get to talk on the phone much, so when they saw each other, mostly at church, they had to make the most of each opportunity. So, one hot day at the beginning of the summer, when their youth group was planning a trip to Galveston, they decided to do something quite different. They drove their car from Houston, TX to Mexico. Why Mexico? Because they had done their research and found out you could get married there!

What happened next? You guessed it! They were married and came home to tell their families, who weren't so happy about their whimsical romantic plan. But, it was done, so they supported them as best they could and sent them on their way... to try to make it on their own.

Did they make it? Well, they both turned 17 that summer and moved a couple hours from home. Sandra finished high school while working pretty much full time and Philip started college. The road was rough but slowly they worked their way up from campus housing to a trailer to a house. They each had 1 $0.39 taco for a special treat occasionally but for the most part every penny counted.

And now they've been married for 37 years today.
It's the story of my parents. Well, part of it. I don't think I've ever heard the whole story.

But here's what I get out of it...

Life was tough. But they never lost their faith in God. And when they decided to have children, they taught us that faith by their example. They reminded us that when life gets difficult, God is still there. When you think you are tired and can't do any more, God is strength. When nightmares are scary or reality is too, God is protector and helps us not to be afraid. When boo-boos make you cry, or BIG hurts come along, God is healer.

They taught me to lean on God. They taught me to trust Him. They taught me to listen to God's voice. And when I got to a point in my life that I began to question all I knew about God (when studying science in college), the faith of my parents was a great example. I had learned to hear from God.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I know it's hard to let your little girl and grandsons go and say goodbye for a little while, but know that God goes with us. He goes before us. And I learned much from you.

The Bible says "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." III John 1:4 I hope you can believe that when you are missing us this year!

Thank you for being an example to me.

And Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What a party! What a night! What amazing friends!

I'm just waking up from a long night's sleep after an incredible Friday night benefit dinner for us! Some of the best friends I have ever known (seriously!) put a lot of time and planning (and money!!) into this party and made it a beautiful success. I tried to tell them thank you but am sure that I didn't even come close to saying enough. They did an amazing job. Spout Springs Church hosted the event, where Pastor Steve Davis and the staff there have been a source of support, encouragement, and even excitement throughout this journey! We had dozens of volunteers, some of whom I had honestly never met until last night, and they were all serving with a smile and happy to be there.

And the turn out of guests... wow! I have no idea how many people actually made it but it had to be over 300 with their kids and many of them didn't even know us! Volunteers would point them to the food and then say "Kim's over there" and they'd say "who's Kim?" That's AMAZING to me! People came just to support the mission God has laid out for us and we are so grateful.

Others donated items for a raffle that was a big hit! We made extra money for our home in Cambodia and people got to take home some awesome prizes! Among them were prizes such as a quilt, baby items, purses, Scentsy items, a handpainted picture titled "Cambodia," Pampered Chef, Thirty-One, Jewelry, scrapbooking items, Mary Kay, and a bunch of baskets with themes such as movie night, coffee, home accents/jewelry, and cake pop making. These were a huge success. People even put tickets in our "mystery box" we contributed which turned out to be a big prize for the winner... all the stuff the movers won't pack... like liquids, foods, batteries, flammables. HAHA! But some of that is great stuff, really!

On a more serious note, I have to just say that this was a great night of encouragement and excitement. We talked with so many people. I met people who have been to Cambodia, people who have lived as missionaries, people who said they could see & feel the Spirit around us, people who said they pray daily for missions and will pray for us every single day, people who have seen firsthand what this terrible exploitation looks like, and even one or two who may be called to IJM or something like it in the future. All in 5 hours.

I'm in awe.

God is so big. So much bigger than we can even comprehend. And its no surprise that my Bible reading found me in Ephesians today, where Paul prayed to the Ephesians "And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." (Eph 3:18)

I'm thankful to Paul for that prayer! He didn't just pray that for the Ephesians but for the whole world. Because seeing how great God's love is makes us want to love others more, too. I want to overflow with His love and pour it out all over Cambodia!!

And God, I pray that this is but a tiny glimpse. I know it is. I know what you have planned for us is HUGE. Stephen has a title, a "job," an office to go to, and that work is a meaningful and important job for your kingdom. But you have something even bigger than that for us both. Help us be a light to the world.

And thank you for providing so much support last night so we can do just that.

Thank you for showing off a little bit of how great you are!

And to all our supporters, friends, and fans... are you excited? Because we are! The big adventure of following God to Cambodia has begun! And you're all coming along!