Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tale of a 2 and 4 Year Old

Annette- Oh, Annette! She is very full of life, laughter and opinions. Already I can see that she is very "with it" and she loves to give her daddy his vitamins and remind him not to forget his wallet. Annette identifies with kids ages 4-5 and thinks she is decades beyond "babies." I love to watch her play. That is, if she will let me watch. Usually I am heavily involved and directed in her play time. She is very specific about where I sit, what I say, which doll I hold etc.  Her favorite thing is to plan a "princess party" including tea with the dolls, dancing, and usually Dr. Annette attending to a medical crisis that arises during the party. She is going to be a wonderful sister and helper to mommy. I'm sure they will be great friends, as long as the baby doesn't mind being bossed around. (: 

Josiah is half way through this school year and loving it! His class just finished a theme on community helpers where they engaged in lots of imaginary play (doctors, firefighters etc). He was very excited to walk to the post office and mail us a letter he wrote himself. I am trying to spend more time with Josiah working on letters and numbers at home.  Because he loves to create he enjoys writing with the purpose of giving cards to people. This has been the best way I've found to teach him letters. He is still a snuggly boy and loves to start and end the day with lots of cuddles.  One of my goals this spring is to work on learning Mandarin with him using an online program. I haven't started yet, but hope to soon. I can't believe he'll be 5 in May, that sounds so old to me- not sure I'm ready for it!

7 Months

This week I suddenly decided that I'd better get some things ready for this baby. One night I was awake from 3-4 in the morning making a long list of everything I needed to buy and take care of. I've been a bit intense, but figure when I have the energy and motivation is the time to act. 
The sciatica (aka pain in the butt- literally) is getting worse and the last two weeks has made walking very painful at times. I've had some friends take Josiah to and from school part of the walk which has been very helpful. I feel like I am doing the pregnant lady waddle/ stagger that I used to assume was other women being dramatic (shouldn't have judged).  BUT we bought a car on Friday!!! We have to register it before we can pick it up, so by next weekend I will be eagerly getting behind the wheel- Hong Kong residents consider this your warning (: Pictures of our new ride to come soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Human Trafficking Documentary

For any of you who may be interested in the topic of human trafficking and sex slavery that I've been writing about lately (spurred on by our trip to Cambodia) I wanted to share the link to this documentary. The show was produced by a Hong Kong team for a public television show here, The Pearl Report.  Nearly everyone they interview is working with a ministry rescuing kids and women. Two of the women (with XP Ministires and Night Life) I heard speak at the Women on the Front-lines Conference. I was greatly encouraged to see Christians leading the way in bringing about justice and freedom.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Wednesday was Jason's birthday, yay! It always seems to sneak up on us after Christmas break. He is a whirlwind of report cards, launching his new classes for the semester and preparing for the retreat he is speaking at this weekend- but we still managed to squeeze in time to celebrate. 

Annette was excited about Daddy's 33 pancakes, since she will soon turn 3, they are the "same"! Josiah was so sweet the first thing he did upon waking up was wrap his stuffed monkey to give to Jason (: 
 We had our favorite baby-sitter Zoe come over (one of Jason's students) and went to the amazing buffet at the Hyatt close to our house. Hong Kong is famous for it's buffets and this one is ridiculous. I had to take a few pictures because everything is so pretty it is like eye candy.

 We were really too stuffed to eat the carrot cake the kids and I baked for his birthday- but Josiah and Annette were happy to eat our share! Jason got an espresso machine (thank you groupon) that he is really excited about. We figured that was an appropriate gift on the eve of of 3rd child for this busy, hardworking daddy. We love you so much babe! Each year of your life is a gift to me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cambodia Part III- Sihanoukville

The Sauder Family’s vision is to start a new mission base in the beach town of Sihanoukville, about a 4 hour drive from Phnom Penh. Early Monday morning Jason and Chad rode with a truck full of their furniture and boxes down to their new home. Jo and I followed in a van with the kids. 

 There is quite a lot of sex tourism in Sihanoukville and not much of a Christian presence. The beaches are beautiful, but the spiritual atmosphere is quite dark. But we know that light shines bright in dark places and will not be overcome (Luke 1:5). Part of their vision is to start a day center for at risk boys and they even have some land they are looking at buying. We helped their family move into a beautiful new home up on a hill and had a great time together praying and worshiping in their house. It was quite intense for me to imagine their situation of moving to a town in Cambodia where they don’t know anybody and learning how to do life and ministry. It is truly pioneering mission work. Jo and I had a great afternoon scouring the markets trying to find some basic essentials for their home. I jumped up and down and clapped when we found the toilet brushes we wanted, ha, ha! Of course we had to barter for everything. I also got to visit an international school with them that they are considering sending their children to. 

We got to have some fun times at the beach while there. The kids built sand castles, Jason ran, and I got massages for a couple bucks on the beach- rough! Our last day in Sihanoukville we rented a scooter and got around Cambodia family style. Jason is a great driver but my mom, sister, and brother have all been involved in motorcycle accidents both in China and Vietnam- so I was pretty reluctant for us ALL to get on the bike. But we went really slowly and mainly on a quiet road out to the beach. Annette fell asleep coming home on the scooter. By that point I knew Cambodia was really getting to us and it was time to head back to Hong Kong (: 

I love the way Josiah draws people
 Girls in bikinis- wow my belly looks white!

I'm not really sure where this photo fits, but I couldn't not include the big tray of fried tarantulas we were offered. No, we did not eat them!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cambodia Part II- Siem Reap

We journeyed north by bus from Phenom Penh to Siem Reap. The bus was surprisingly nice and not at all reminiscent of our African bus trip last year (for those of you who remember that!) 

Our primary destination was the famous Angkor Wat Temples (if you haven’t heard of them just think of the movie Tomb Raider which was filmed there). We have never taken either of our kids into a temple before because we haven't wanted to expose them to the spiritual atmosphere.  However we both felt ok about Angkor Wat  (or “angkor watch” as Josiah calls it) since they they are more cultural ruins that active temples. I was imagining us dragging our kids up and down the ancient steps, but they were actually quite into it. We did have to motivate (bribe) them with gummy bears, juice boxes, a wooden flute, and ice cream over the course of the day- but mostly the ruins to them were like a giant stone playground to explore and climb on.  Annette amazed us with her stamina and smiles, and she wasn't at all afraid of the relief sculptures of faces as we had anticipated. Josiah has become aware that some people pray to statues instead of Jesus . Any sculpture we see now he asks if people worship it, even if it is just art in an airport (:

Angkor Wat did not have great planning  for toilets and there seemed to be 3 stalls for the 20,000 visitors. This was a bit of a hardship for the pregnant woman and toddler trying to stay hydrated. At one point when we were deep in a temple Annette had to desperately "go."  Not knowing what else to do I had her squat on  a pile of 11th century ruins. Yikes! I'm not sure how impressed the European backpackers touring with us were with this!

 Some of the detail was amazing!

 This temple was cool because they left it overgrown with trees

Jason is teaching World Religions this semester so he took a particular interest in the Buddhist and Hindhu history at Angkor Wat. One afternoon he visited a temple to talk to some monks. He got to know a man who was sent by his family to be a monk at age age 10. He had heard of Christianity, but thought it was the same as Buddhism. When Jason talked about Jesus, he said, “who is that?” He said he had never heard of him! The monk had little hope that he would do enough in this lifetime to become “enlightened”. So sad. Jason walked away extremely thankful for the gift of grace. 

 Cooling off back at the hotel

 Siem Reap gets 3 1/2 million tourists a year so there were lots of restaurants, night markets and $2 pedicures along street which Annette and I enjoyed!

This was our favorite place that we stayed

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Kingdom of Cambodia- Part I

We’re home!! I was hoping to be able to post some blog updates from Cambodia but didn’t think about the fact that I can’t get my photos on our ipad (is there a cord that can do that?) We ended up not going to Laos, but instead got to see three different parts of Cambodia. I don’t feel like I did a great job capturing the beauty of the country and people with my camera. Someday I’d like to get better at that, maybe when I’m not juggling kids on my lap in tuk tuks (: Thank you for your prayers. We really felt God’s protection and favor upon us. Traveling really is such a passion that makes me come alive and I am so thankful to be able to do it. I’m also so thankful to come home in the end to hot showers and clean water. 

Part I- Phnom Penh
We flew into the capital city of Phnom Penh spent our first four days there with our friends the Sauders. The Sauder family recently sold nearly everything they owned in Pennsylvania and moved to Cambodia following dreams that the Lord had placed on their hearts of rescuing children from sex slavery. We absolutely loved this family for the three months we spent together at Harvest School of Mission in Mozambique and were so happy to see them again. Jo (the wife) is one of the sweetest and strongest women that I’ve ever met.  She laughs constantly, is incredibly patient and thoughtful while at the same time courageous, spunky and bold. Can you tell I love her?! She obviously is busy homeschooling and caring for their four kids, yet in the evenings minsiters to prostitues in bars and longs to see the street children brought into family. Her husband Chad is looking to see how he can use his business skills in Cambodia, which is something that Jason loved to talk with him about. Their four kids are fabulous and were so loving and protective to Josiah and Annette that I felt “off duty” a bit while they were together. 

Together we got to play with some of the vulnerable street kids that live along the riverfront. We also visited and learned about organizations that are providing jobs from women so they can leave the sex trade. We enjoyed worshiping with them at church and meeting some of their lovely Khmer friends there. They took us to the Russian Market (i love markets!) which was full of cheap and pretty treasures. On New Years Eve our families stayed at a resort outside of the city to enjoy a fun pool and relaxation. Probably my favorite activity in Phenom Penh was simply driving around the city in the tuk tuk observing normal life on the streets, the barefoot monks in safron robes, the smiling naked little kids, and marveling at how many people and objects could fit on a motorcycle (: 

Chad and Ari getting around Phenom Penh
Jo loving on the kids down by the Riverfront

We loved the sunny warm weather!
 The Russian Market
Annette and Sean on the tuk took

I'm not sure why this photo is loading sideways, but I love this shot of Annette waving to people passing on motorcycles. She brought a lot of smiles!