Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life Is A Squatty Potty

      We’ve been living in Cambodia for nine months now and surprisingly no one has asked us, “What’s it like to be a missionary?” But I was thinking about that today- what I would say if someone asked me that. I think they would be surprised by my answer. When people think about missionaries I think they picture big revivals, masses of people getting saved, miraculous signs and wonders. The faces of dirty homeless kids in rags, smiling as they’re handed a piece of food. At least that’s what went through my mind when a missionary would speak at our church. Those were some of the things that drew me to this lifestyle.
I’ve always wanted to do something big for God. Make a big difference. Change the world. And then we moved to Cambodia. Talk about a wake up call! So after living for nine months as a missionary in Cambodia, if someone were to ask me what life is like I would say:

Life is frustrating. Life is hard. Life is living as a minority where every day communication is a difficult task. Life is 108 degrees. It’s holding my breath through a hot and stinky market while buying food and going to four different stores just to find a box of crackers. It’s being drenched in sweat all day long, even in my house, because the only room that is air-conditioned is my bedroom. 
Life is hand-washed clothes that never really get clean. It’s being overcharged for something because I’m white, and being stared at everywhere I go. Life is having running water for 2-3 hours a day (on a good day), and going two days without a shower because of it. It’s having to take deworming pills every 6 months(just in case). Life is a squatty potty(which I’ve gotten quite good at using). Life is not getting to sleep until after midnight because the wedding across the street is blaring Gangnum Style on repeat, and then waking up at 4:30 the next morning, and almost every morning, to Monks chanting. 
Life is forty mosquito bites and power outages. It’s a little boy knocking on the window of a restaurant, begging me for food as I sit to enjoy my meal. It’s being laughed at when I try to speak Khmer and I say something wrong. Life is skype dates with friends and family and watching my nieces and nephews grow up through a computer. Life is rice. Lots of rice. It’s taking a shower with a pail and a bucket. 
Life is not being able to call up my best friend to meet for coffee when I’ve had a bad day. It’s lonely because the only friends I have live on the other side of the world. Life is losing $900 of monthly support in our first 6 months of being on the field. Life is sacrificing the things we want more than anything- like starting a family or having a successful career. 
And let me reiterate: Life is hard. Really, really hard. There are days when it’s difficult to find joy in where I’m at and what I’m doing. There are days when I resent this lifestyle for the sacrifices it requires me to make. And days when I’m ready to give up, pack up, and go back home. There are days when I miss my family so much it hurts and skype dates just aren’t enough. There are days when I can’t imagine doing anything but this, and days when I can’t help but think about doing anything but this. 
I’m sorry if I’ve completely squashed your idea of what life as a missionary is like. I’m just trying to be real. I’ve never heard missionaries talk about this part of the job. It wouldn’t have made a difference in our decision to come here, but perhaps we could have been a little more prepared(if it’s even possible to prepare for something like this). For those of you who feel called to the foreign mission field, you need to know that it’s not all revivals and healings. It’s a beautiful and amazing thing when that does happen, but you can’t expect it 24/7. That can’t be your only goal or you will be sorely disappointed. And for everyone reading this, I’m sure you may be thinking, “Why are they still over there?” Well, let me end with this:

This life is worth it. This life is a smile and “Hello!” from the village kids. It’s a sweet little Cambodian boy dancing and laughing while wearing my sunglasses. It’s going to church and witnessing Cambodians worship God with arms raised high in a country completely consumed by Buddhism. Life is seeing the excitement of a Cambodian as I speak Khmer to them, and then being told I speak it very well. It’s having a conversation with a local and actually understanding what they say. It’s an unexpected rain shower on a hot day and a cool breeze in the evening. Life is getting a coconut from our neighbors to welcome us to the village. It’s a chance to pray with a Cambodian. Life is saying “God bless you” in Khmer to my vegetable lady as I buy some veggies.
Life is hearing, “I go pee on the potty now!” from my niece while skyping. It’s opening a care package that’s filled with snack cakes and velveeta cheese. Life is an unexpected gift from a friend- just because, and an email saying, “thinking of you”. Life is finding a Cherry Coke at the store for 50 cents and finally perfecting the art of cooking rice. It’s a skype date with my best friend. It’s another day of language class and learning a Christian song in Khmer. It’s a day of running water and a nice cold(yes I said cold) shower. It’s walking into my air-conditioned bedroom after a long hot day.
Life is knowing that despite all the hardships and struggles, we are doing what God has called us to do and even though sometimes(well, most of the time) it doesn’t seem like it, we are making a difference in His Kingdom. We are blessed and honored that God would choose us to be His hands and feet in Cambodia and we are thankful for this experience and opportunity we’ve been given.
Even when life is like a squatty potty...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our new home

In the 7 months we've been here, we've moved 3 times(if you count the first initial move). The first place we lived was in Phnom Penh in an apartment above a coffee shop. We stayed there for 2 months. It was too small for us and too expensive so we moved to a place down the street where we lived for 4 months. We had to spend our first 6 months in Phnom Penh doing formal language studies. After our language class ended we were asked to move to one of the provinces, Battambang, which is about a 5-6 hour drive from Phnom Penh. We have been here for a month now and we are so happy to be out of Phnom Penh! The city is way too loud and busy for us. Battambang is small and easy to navigate. We've been here for a month now and it's the first time since we've moved here that I finally feel like I can settle and call this place home.

We live in a village pronounced "Kabko". Our landlady is the Village Chief and everyone who lives around us is her family. We awake every morning to the sounds of either techno music blaring(usually Gangnum Style) or roosters crowing(quite obnoxiously too). The past week it's been to the sound of firecrackers because they have been celebrating Chinese New Year(Cambodians celebrate many different holidays). We have a mango tree that should have some pretty juicy, sweet mangos on them in the next couple of months. We have a small little "yard"(note the quotations) for Sy(our poodle) to roam around in. The reason for the quotations is because it's completely different than a yard that we're used to having back in KY. There's no grass! Sy wouldn't know what to do if we had grass because he uses the bathroom in gravel. And in our 2nd home in Phnom Penh there was nowhere outside to take him so we had a rubber mat in our outdoor kitchen(yes our kitchen was outside) and he did his biz out there.

Cambodian living is so different from America. I'll save that for another post...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wow I suck at this...

So in September I posted a blog and said that I was going to try to blog more often. And my last blog was in September. Oooops...

Obviously a lot has happened since then. We've now been in Cambodia for 7 months. We've celebrated  many first holidays in Cambodia-our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, and Valentine's Day (my birthday is the day before Valentine's Day so it was a combo celebration. We call it Valenbirth Day ;b). We are getting used to Skype date relationships with friends and family. We usually try to Skype with our parents at least once a week and other family members as well as a couple of good friends as often as possible. There's a line we have to draw between staying connected with people back home but not so connected that it interferes with us being "all in here". That was something I struggled with a lot the first few months. Seeing pictures of friends and family and not being able to be involved was really hard for me. God has done a lot of work in me and I'm at a good place now where although I long to be with my friends and family, I have a strong desire to see God's work be done here in Cambodia and I know He's called me to be a part of it. I have days where I feel really homesick, but during those times the Holy Spirit comforts me and reminds me of why I'm here. And right now I actually feel like time is flying by way too fast. Before I know it our term will be up and we'll be heading back to the states. I feel like if I even blink I'm going to miss something! I have a year and a half left here and I don't want to miss a single second of what God's doing and what He's called me to be a part of!

That's all for now. Once again, I'm gonna try to keep this up. Maybe 3rd time's a charm :) I really do have a lot on my mind and in my heart that I'd love to get out "on paper", just need to take the time to do so!

Peace & Love from Cambodia!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Worship Regardless

This morning before I went to my own church, I decided to go to a Khmer speaking church. There was a missionary from the states who spoke there today, so I got to hear him speak in English and then hear it translated in Khmer. I really enjoyed the service. One thing that amazes me and encourages me so much is how Cambodians there worship God. They pour their hearts out! Hands lifted and hearts crying out and no regard for the people around them. It gave me so much joy to see and hear them worship. This country is so broken and in desperate need of Jesus. The things that the people here have to live with and see everyday are so heartbreaking to me. Yet I walk into a church service and see these people praising and thanking God, regardless of their circumstances and environment. Regardless of the brokenness that is everywhere they go.

I thought to myself, "Have I ever truly worshipped God like that?" When I think of any valley I've ever had to walk through, or any hard times or difficult situations I've had to deal with, they seem so minute compared to the things I've seen here. Yet during those times I often find myself struggling to truly worship God. When all is well in my world and I am overflowing with joy and happiness, I find I can't stop praising God. But when the hard times come and all is not well, I dwell too much on the bad that I lose sight of the good and I find it hard to praise God. It's as if I seem to only acknowledge the greatness of God when there are great things happening in my life. But if God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, why should I let the changes in my life affect how much I worship Him and give Him praise? When I'm on the mountaintops God is good. When I'm in the valleys God is still good.

                                    "Oh, thank GOD—he's so good!
                                          His love never runs out."
                                                Psalm 107:1(MSG)

Father God,
I thank You for revealing to me my selfishness and sin. I'm sorry Lord that I have only been praising You when it's convenient for me. I'm sorry that I haven't acknowledged who You are all the time, no matter what is going on with me. I'm sorry that I have been so centered on my life that I have forgotten to praise You. I thank You that You never change. You are always good. You are always powerful. You are always loving, kind, and gracious. Help me to praise, worship, and honor You on the mountaintops and in the valleys; through every triumph and trial, through every season of my life.

I ask these things in Jesus' name and I thank You for hearing me when I call to You.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Who Am I?

Where do I start?
My name is Jessica, but I prefer Jess :)
I love Jesus. He's the bomb!
I'm 25 years old. 
I am married to my oh so handsome best friend, Joshua Aloysius (he hates when I use his middle name...hehe). We will celebrate our 3rd year of marriage next week on the 18th!
Katie & Kathleen keep me sane. Couldn't ask for better friends! 
I'm from Kentucky, but I live in Cambodia. I just moved here 2 months ago.
Josh and I are missionaries through Assemblies of God World Missions(AGWM). We are are currently serving the Lord in the capitol city of Cambodia- Phnom Penh. We will be here for 2 years for our first term, but intend to come back indefinitely. We love this country :)

2 years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a 2 week mission trip to Cambodia. God completely wrecked us (that's a good thing) and broke our hearts for the country. We knew that when we went back home from the mission trip, we could no longer continue living the selfish lives we had. During that 2 week trip, God revealed His call on our lives to become missionaries. When we got home we immediately started the interview/training process to become missionaries through AGWM. We then started the itinerating process. This involved traveling to AG churches around KY (we also visited some in TN) and meeting with friends/family to share about Cambodia and raise funds so that we could move and minister here.

I first started this blog 2 years ago as a way to share our itineration journey and just to unload thoughts and whatnot. Now that the itineration process is over and we are finally in Cambodia, I decided to start blogging about life here in Cambodia and this crazy ride God has us on :) Maybe it will encourage someone along the way. Enjoy :)

Me and Josh standing next to Cambodia's flag at Pre-Field Orientation(PFO)