Friday, August 22, 2008

Walls and Basketballs

Last week heavy rains caused a retaining wall beside the church to fall and block this little road.

Bill spent a couple of days doing hard labor with some of the men from church to bust up the cement and shovel dirt back out of the road. Shoveling dirt is one thing. Shoveling pasty clay mud that won't let go of the shovel is quite another!

When we were buying water in Saang last week the coach of the Saang high school basketball team saw Bill and stopped to talk. Before we took our trip to the US, Bill had been going to their practices to help coach about twice a week. Then they had some out-of-town games and the coach stopped calling. Bill thought perhaps the coach didn't appreciate his openness about Christ and that this door had closed. But he seemed eager to have Bill join them again.

It took some effort and an offer to do the work himself, but Bill finally convinced the coach that their goals should be the standard 10 ft. high, rather than 10' 8". So yesterday Bill lowered the goals. The players seemed pleased with the results. Please pray the Lord would help Bill to build relationships with the coach and players and that he would be salt and light to them.

I finished removing grass and planting vegetable seeds along our wall yesterday. You can see the newly dug soil above K's head, and my lovely squash sprouts to the left! Katherine was too busy checking out the grass to look up and smile at the camera.

Ants have invaded our mango trees, so I made some orange oil and sprayed them. Post strike reconnaissance revealed they had moved back in, seemingly undaunted. I tried to console myself with the idea that a few survivors had reported the devastation to another battalion, which then moved in to take the place of their fallen comrades. I think in reality my solution was too weak. I think I'll try planting mint around the bases.


Saturday, August 16, 2008


The water is rising now. This is the land neighboring ours, and it was dry the day before I took this picture. You can see a person wading through it on the far right.

And inside we are making stilted progress at organizing our home. This is the changing table I just set up with a basket to hold Katherine's cloth diapers, covers and soakers, and a place to hang used wool diaper covers to air out. No more changing diapers on the floor!

Organization is actually somewhat of a foreign language to me. I used to think it was just a matter of taking time to clean up after myself. Which is partly true, and difficult when there are so many more fun and rewarding things to do with my time than organize. But honestly, sometimes I just stare at things and not even begin to know where to put them. I even bought books about how to be organized. There are things more fun to do than read about being organized, as well.

One example of something more fun than organizing is taking a refreshing dip in a big inflatable duck.

But when I do need to be responsible and do my chores, it's good to be able to keep Katherine happy and away from bugs and other bite-sized objects on the ground.

Here's one of the wool soakers my mom knitted for K out of yarn kindly offered by some of her sweet friends at Quilt Country. Making fitted cloth diapers and wool diaper covers was my big project while in the states.

Yesterday Bill went to visit with our neighbor who was planting rice between his rows of Lamut trees (I don't know what they're called in English). Bill recently found some information on the System of Rice Intinsification (SRI), and has been eager to share it with the local farmers. Basically it can increase yield by 2 times or more, use a fraction of the seed due to increased plant spacing, and reduce costs by using less water. Our neighbor said he would try it on a 5 x 5 meter plot. This could be a valuable method for the members of the church at Sre Treng because they aren't near a river and lack of water can be a serious issue for them.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The grass is always greener during the rainy season.

We're back in Cambodia. I know we are because it's August and less than 100 degrees; we were awakened at 5:30 this morning to the resounding and incessant bass of dance music being broadcast across the village (a wedding, I suppose); and I was informed several times today at church that I'm fatter than before. Katherine has "good meat." But me? I'm fat. Life is so unfair.

We had a really nice and refreshing time in the States. Katherine got to meet our friends and family. Here are she and Dad swimming:

And we celebrated Bill's first Father's Day (notice the Aggies dress):

It's hard to leave loving friends and family, especially when we know we may never see some of them again. But we take comfort in the assurance that God is wise and good. He is our strength and will make us tread on high places.

At the same time we are glad to be back where we have other loving friends and family in the Lord. We're looking forward to starting a new school year. I'm planning to teach English again a couple of days a week, which I really enjoy. Though it will add to my challenge of joyfully and wisely managing a busy schedule, for which I would request your prayers.

We want to plant a garden, so efforts at cleaning and unpacking have been rewarded by episodes of digging up grass when it's not raining and drawing out plans when it is. Here's what I've gotten done so far:

And here is our blackberry bush, the procurement of which earned me the title of "Good Wife":

This project has made me realize that sometimes it's just better if you don't step back and look at the big picture. Anyhow, we hope to enjoy some organic fruit and vegetables in due season. Pesticides are seriously overused in Cambodia, and if we could demonstrate some credibility in organic gardening/farming methods, perhaps we could have some influence in the community. And with the current restrictions on evangelism, this might be a way to build relationships with more people. As you can see, however, it will be a while before this idea comes to... well... fruition.