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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Hero's Cheer Squad

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1


When you are forced on a seven year sprint, you must have a team of cheerleaders at every rest stop. My Hero has had cheerleaders show support in the thousands from family to friends, co-workers and kids, and far off strangers running their own race in honor of Traci. Thousands of dollars has been raised, donated, and graciously handed over to cover the extreme cost of medical treatments. It all started with a lump, surgery and the beginning of chemotherapy. Our kids have only known Auntie to be sick as Addison was only two when My Hero was diagnosed. It's normal in their eyes to see Auntie with scars and a bald head. It's normal for them to be gentle and cautious around Auntie as she's sore, sick or recovering from her special medicine. Visits to the doctors and oncologists are seen as special dates with Nana and Auntie.
Nana, our mom, has been the Head Cheerleader for all seven years. From the initial appointment and diagnoses to the first surgery and many since then, my Mom has been a saint. My Hero's church allowed Traci to recover from her first surgery at their Mission House where Mom stayed all seven weeks helping Traci adjust to the new normal. Meals were brought almost daily and we could have opened up a floral shop with the amounts of gorgeous flowers on all the shelves. The preschool walked next door on May Day to surprise Teacher Traci with flowers, cards and encouraging smiles. They left birthday notes on the sidewalk in chalk and made art work for the Mission House walls.


Three weeks post surgery, My Hero had her first chemotherapy treatment and shortly after started to loose her hair which resulted in some fun with the clippers and emotional haircuts. There were three of Traci's friends that came to shave their hair in support as well! Those friends have supplied so much joy and humor in this race which is medicine itself. My Hero's "kids" have given so much in a child-like way of support as they sported bandanas, hat days and offered grace when Teacher Traci wasn't feeling very well. This is just the start of the cheerleading squad...

"But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed."  1 Peter 5:7




{ boobie barf bag humor }


As believers we pray for God's will to be done. We pray for earthly healing as we long to see our loved ones healthy. And when we have a brother or sister in Christ struggle, we team up, join forces and do what we can to help out. So many in our local community, Portland area and on the East Coast have done just that to show My Hero that she's not alone. Locally, we've had silent auctions, benefit evenings in corporate worship, sports events, soup dinners, garage sales, bake sales, and sunny car washes raising well into the five-digits. Traci's past roommate organized a 5k run/walk and bake sale over on the East Coast raising funds that have saved stress and worry when sent a medical bill. Most of those who gave didn't even know who My Hero was and those who do know her have met an angel. The team behind this fighter has been phenomenal, humbling, and Jesus in action.
My mom has never missed a chemo treatment besides possibly one or two. My dad who received treatment at the same time in the beginning, has been just as supportive. Charlie has started his own track record of being at Auntie's special medicine dates too!
Some may not know the extent of My Hero's pain currently because there has been very few times she's seen without a smile on her face. I rarely hear of complaints or grumbling about the marathon she's been running. Of course there are frustrations from insurance battles to prescriptions not being ordered properly. The irritation of bone pain from sitting too long, bending down to get in the car, making the bed, sleep interruptions and doing laundry gets old and creates a mess. The strong recommendation of NOT paddling is disappointing as the team of Pinks are some of the best cheerleaders and the sport has become a passion of Traci's.
But still…she smiles.

{ Kim & Traci at the Praise and Worship Benefit Auction }

{ Grandma Van Dyken joining Pink Phoenix during paddle practice. }

{ Three baldies at dinner after completion of the 3-day breast cancer walk. }



My Hero has a purpose. God has her will in His hands. And when Doctor says forget doing scans, we're being pro-aggressive and changing things immediately, we agree and charge forward with hope. My Hero is not alone as she tries new drugs and seeks better pain management. My Hero has not lost her faith but rather grown stronger clinging to the Words in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." 


 There is so much more fight in this sister in Christ. My Hero is only regaining strength to kick cancers a** and prove that nothing is too big, too hard, or too painful that God can't overcome. God has not left us in our anguish over this long race. Our cheerleaders have not walked away and I'm confident in knowing they will only cheer louder as the time is now to show how much this Hero means to us all.
Our kids don't know anything but, an Auntie who, in the face of fear, hardships and extreme pain, seeks more of Jesus and praises His name with every poke, treatment and pill taken. The example she leads is one I can only hope for and I'm forever grateful she's the one we cheer for everyday.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. I am making everything new!"
Revelation 21:4,5


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!



We have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate this Resurrection Day! We have each other, our supportive families, our amazing friends, and live in a beautiful community. I was looking at old pictures from Easter's past and what a difference a year makes!!!

{ Easter 2012 }

These days I'm not greeted with smiles when I want the girls to be matching. I'm met with sighs and google searches of personal choices of dresses rather then mommy's first pick. As adorable as what Addison looks, it came with a high price. We compromised; Addi gets her first choice dress if she lets mommy cut her hair. Agreed! It put smiles on both of our faces! Charlie was excited to have shoes like daddy as his have holes in them from so much play…we'll see how long the new shoes last! Myriam…well she was proud of her jean jacket and was still cute as a button like she was in 2012. 

Today the sun made an appearance, the dinner was served with ham, potatoes, and sweet dessert and time was spent with family. God has blessed us with so much GOOD in our life and we are grateful for every ounce of JOY God has rewarded us with in our home. Praying we never forget the beauty on the cross and the freedom we have because HE IS RISEN INDEED! 
Happy Easter to our family & friends!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SPRINGin' Forward

It's SPRING and the kids are loving the sunshine, short sleeved shirts and smells of the season. The cherry trees are in full bloom as the daffodils bring color to the barren areas of the yard. The ferns are cut back, the grass has been mowed once, we've had our first grass stain appear this week and the project list is half a page long already! The swings have been already worn in and been put to great heights by all the neighbor kids. Tim is now official with his motorcycle license which makes me thankful for his respect for life, but also thinking I may be finding myself driving behind him going places as he is IN LOVE with the hobby finding every use possible for two wheels. 
Today Addison was studying the Pig War on Orcas Island, so I'm pretty certain that means it's time for a field trip to Roche Harbor and have a Northwest afternoon island hopping and exploring. Our trip to the tulip fields is planned for mid week in attempts to beat big crowds and everything but new spring shoes are ready for Easter Sunday. I'm just amazed how opinionated kids get at such young ages in regards to what's cute, uncomfortable and in style. Feet never stop growing and the gap between one daughter to the next has many years of storage ahead of us. Charlie is much more content to holes in the knees, muddy shoes, and hair going every direction but the same. I'm very thankful for my mom who is sewing too short leggings and soft pants into shorts for the kids! 
Myriam's list of rules is growing as she continues to be two and challenges us as parents to find new ways to really make her understand what 'NO' means. The list of rules began as she was kicked out of the nursery a few weeks ago due to punching kids. (sorry to the kids who were on the receiving end of this gesture. my apologies to the kids and parents. completely embarrassed about that one.) The list went like this:
  • no punching
  • no kicking
  • no pull hair
  • no biting
  • keep diaper on
As of this past Sunday, we have added "no spitting" as said child drank water and attempted toddler baptism during class. Again, my apologies to Teacher Roxy and those children in the spray zone. Myriam finds discipline entertaining. She feels no pain; has no fear. I'm open to suggestions from parents who have walked this challenging road before!
This morning my brother came over for a haircut and stayed after to let the kids play. Once the rain started we came inside, but some children snuck outside and found themselves content to play IN THE BUNNY CAGE!!!  AGAIN!!! I found her two hands full of bunny goodness as she went straight to the bathtub after locking the cage and making sure Sandy was okay. 
Next on the list of rules: no bunny cage

The rest of the week looks promising with limited clouds and sunshine so we look forward to afternoons outside and maybe picnics at the park. I'm always leery to get my car washed as it seems the next day it rains so whats one more day with a dirty car? Think of it as saving you a day inside to face the cleaning that always seems to be patiently waiting it's date with Mr. Clean and Mrs. Windex.
Here's a little of what we've been up to this spring so far…

{ The kids ask to visit Grandpa Haak's grave weekly. Their favorite memory is Grandpa chasing them in his wheelchair! Addi asked to bring flowers and got yellow as she remembers Grandpa telling her it was his favorite color. He mentioned to her that the Easter dress she had on before he died was his favorite. She'll never forget. } 

 { Better known as 'the Grandpa with the blue hat'. }


{ Climbing trees and climbing on Uncle Jason as he sits with his little ladies. }

 { As fun as it may be for the kids to watch our deer friends explore our yard, they are also a reminder for me to get my Irish Spring out so they don't eat all the flowers! }

{ Pinterest encouraged me to build a cross out of twigs, so I did and I love it! What a great reminder as we near the Resurrection. }




Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Run And A Prayer

This afternoon I found myself in the middle of the pack as five of us went for a gorgeous afternoon training run in Everson along the Nooksack River. Once paces were set and I realized I was the lone gal panting in the middle, I turned on my Pandora and let the worship music fill the breeze. I LOVE worship music and even more so, when I'm forcing my body to run when all I want is to sit with a tray of chocolate chip cookies bundled up in a blanket. I'm totally capable of running four or less miles myself but, really do like to have company on longer runs. This was a nice way to encourage my body to go a longer distance in order to push me into the more stretched out runs. 
I found myself getting completely caught up in the worship as the river raged downstream, the robins and few eagles soared through the air and the sun hit my face. My hands went from runners pose to wanting to be raised high and the tears were waiting to fall as I choked them back. 
There is something extremely powerful about this month. This afternoon in God's country, I was met with His grace, His beauty, and His sustaining strength not just in my run but, in life. God has been busy stirring my heart and I was challenged to start a new small group at church for women. God has been side by side through all the preparations, writings, prayer times, and devotion for this ministry. He placed a team of women to pray for me, my family, and those attending. This week as Tim and I approached a what-could-be-dreadful-day, was instead met with restoration, forgiveness, HOPE, and a smile that spoke of the goodness in our lives given to us through our resurrected Savior! The gift we are given through the cross is overwhelming, empowering, and one that I'm beyond grateful for in my life. The cross has saved me. The cross has given me life and filled my lungs with eternal breath that never grows tired or weak. Knowing this truth overwhelmed me today not only in fellowship at church but in fellowship in His creation. How am I, this selfish sinner, allowed a second chance, an eternal gift, and salvation through the cross? I don't deserve it at all. I'm not perfect and struggle like everyone else. Self doubt and worry about My Hero, the fate of my kids, and safety for my family can sometimes be suffocating and cause me to stumble. 
BUT…
God's sacrifice on the cross extended love and offered me salvation even with my struggles, my past, my pains, and rejoices in my worship. Even worship along the Nooksack. 
Pastor Jason was teaching this morning about prayer as it encouraged and convicted me to not just pray when I need something but in EVERYTHING bring it to God. That is very comforting when things are scary but also to know that I can just say, "Hey God, how's it going. Thank you for the tiny pops of color in the yard and the sweet songs of the birds in the morning. Thank you for the messy house as it gave me more time with the kids. Thank you for the romantic kiss in the kitchen and the marriage You've blessed me with." I find throughout the day that I start a dialog with God and even more so when I'm outside whether doing yard work or running. 
I'm finding myself approach this month with abounding eagerness, an open heart for the work God's doing in my life and our marriage, and reverence for the immense Love that was nailed to the cross. 
Thank you Jesus for meeting me today right where I was…even if it was a simple run and prayer.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sign of Tomorrow...


I'm a little ashamed to admit I was excited about finding a book with this title. Pathetic really. How sad is it that we have to change the original, classic titles to accommodate our addicted iPad users? We have an iPad addict in our home. I try to hide the iPad but, desperate searches are attempted where sometimes end up with smiles and others with tears. 
This weekend my sister showed Charlie one of the first cell phones created at OMSI. You remember the one…it was the size of a brick and had an antenna about six inches long. When he looked at the historic phone, it was like he was looking at ancient history and honestly couldn't believe we put up with something so cumbersome. The fact that kids in first grade have their own phones makes me wonder if we're making matters worse for the future of our kids. I've always had a hard time with how fast the world races by and traditions get placed in the backseat. 
I understand the importance of technology but, it's terrifying to think the day where pencils will be replaced by iPads and computers is just around the corner. Will pencils and teaching cursive be a thing of the past? Will typing replace handwriting? When our family got our first computer it was a HUGE deal! I remember having to get up off the couch to change the channel too! Oh, the laziness of our children would have them emotionally falling apart and angry at the thought of it. 
Remember the days when every aspect of dinner was homemade rather then steamed or placed in the microwave? Will our daughters know how to cook a meal from start to finish without using an item from a box or bag? Will they be able to provide for their future families and husbands when they want cookies or will they just have to pop the roll in the oven? 
I miss the days where you had to imagine what the toy was thinking verses the toy telling you what it wants or is doing. When a battery operated toy was something treasured and not wasted or left outside. Now it seems we need multiple of everything to keep us content and happy. When did the need to have every set of LEGOS or every piece to a toy become of demand? I don't ever remember having so many toys and still wanting more. A cardboard box and a good climbing tree kept us kids happy for weeks! 
And let's talk about clothing…my saint of a mother sewed most of my dresses and school clothes. We attended a Christian school where girls had to wear dresses and it was in a time where fabric was cheaper than buying a pre-made dress. I always had Traci's too small hand-me-downs and never did we think twice about wearing anything with writing on the back sides or things that went higher than our fingertips! Shopping this past weekend was frustrating as Addi found ZERO shorts that didn't sport her cheeks hanging out the bottom. There is something tragically wrong with this and I'm about to say,"Kids, we're going pioneer style from here on out. Deal with it."
Summer nights in our neighborhood were a mixture of camp outs, endless games of kick the can, and even parades through our streets with music boxes on our bikes, costumes worn proudly, and me doing cartwheels while marching up and down Greenville Street. I'm terribly afraid our kids would be shocked to see how simple life was just a mere 20 years ago. What happened?
I know we can easily try to slow things down and take away some of the issues but, when will too much become too much? Will we forget the process of canning and sewing? Will neighborhood friendly games be forgotten? Will the days of non-stop rain and board games be frowned upon to our techie kids? When will the hand crank pencil sharpener be placed in the museum?
No need to worry about our family. I'm not going to find a cave and move or start to hand sew all our clothes with a kettle over the fire pit. I do want to become more aggressive in preserving the "good ole' days" and forcing the kids to see what our grandparents lived through and what life is like when the iPads get so called "lost." I want to be able to live with content if the power goes out for more then a few hours and know how to survive without technology telling me how on YouTube. 
I pray I don't ever have to see another classic book change it's title as we change our today's. 

Good night iPad. Good Night Mac Book. 
Goodnight High Definition. Good Night iPhones. 
Good Night Moon.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tagging with Daddy so We Can Play!

 Some of the meetings Daddy goes to are close enough for all five of us to tag along and join in the fun as he works hard…and we HAVE FUN!!! We left mid-afternoon Wednesday and arrived in Portland late that night after torrential down pours, accidents and stops for dinner. The kids we eager to wake up as the pool opened at 9am! They were ready to go and swam until we all looked like aging raisins. Later that day we picked up Auntie Traci and had some fun shopping and MORE SWIMMING!!! The kids decided to have a sleep over at Auntie's and I'm determined they didn't get much sleep from the looks on their faces the next morning. 
We visited OMSI Friday morning along with the entire city of Portland as it was their last day of Spring Break. Boy was it crowded! The kids were spent after a couple of hours so off to the next stop and more SWIMMING! The kids are like fish in the water and can't seem to get enough of it. I had a floaty for Myriam but after take one in the pool I bought her the life jacket wings which gave me more peace of mind as she has NO FEAR around water. The girl just loves it! 
Friday night, Auntie was kind enough to watch the kids at the hotel for us as Tim and I went out for dinner with some friends. What a great night with fantastic food too! Saturday morning the kids we ready to once again, SWIM! No surprise there…Daddy was able to come with us before we grabbed a yummy breakfast and headed back north leaving Auntie to rest after a long weekend of play. Thank you Daddy for letting us tag along and have some Portland fun! 

{ take one to the pool }

{ OMSI in the simulated earthquake house and checking out the amazing marble structure }


{ At Toys R' Us with money burning holes in their pockets. Thank you Auntie for the sweet Minnie hat with built in shades! }

 { take two at the pool }



Always a blessing to spend quality time with My Hero…
even if we did make her tired :)
That's what naps and coffee are for!!!



Saturday, March 22, 2014

A 15 Hour Time Change: Trip Two to Cambodia (this is a long post)

This past summer, Tim and a few others from church, went to Cambodia with many different directions and goals. It was eye opening to say the least, as Tim saw many areas of growth needed for people to maintain the essentials of life as we had everything at our fingertips back home. After much debriefing with Kim and follow-up conversations with Pastor Sophea, Tim felt called to go back to again tackle the business needs of the church in Cambodia. 
This second trip, he challenged a co-worker to come beside him in the journey 15 hours ahead of us and see first hand how God can use them for His children in Cambodia. Josh and Tim flew on points which meant a bit longer in air travel without a direct flight so the first day and a bit was all in the air or spent in airports. Don't feel too bad for them…they still managed to fly business class with flat, bed-like seats and plenty of nice food. God once again, provided safety over the 10 day trip and gave Tim more clarity as to how he can help our brothers and sisters across the ocean. God has blessed Tim with the gift of business and he has thoroughly enjoyed blessing others with some of the knowledge he's been given over the years. 
Last trip, Tim met a mango farmer who had land but no trees. Through fundraising, Addison (more mommy) was able to raise enough money to purchase 200 mango trees for that family but, unfortunately, they lost 1/2 of them due to lack of water. Before Tim left, he was able to purchase another 100 to make up for the loss and was able to give some advice to help keep all the trees green and alive. Addi enjoyed hearing about how she helped someone and seeing pictures, was able to make a connection to those across the world. We used Tim's trip as a social studies lesson as well, studying the land, history, and kids in the area. Brings perspective to a rather spoiled little girl who sometimes wants everything but, has all she needs. The kids were especially weepy this time Daddy was gone but telling them he was sharing Jesus with other people did ease the tension in the evenings. I'm praying we never get too comfortable or "spoiled" that we forget what others don't have and never give thanks for what we do have. 
Here are a few tidbits from Tim's journal and some pictures from the 10 day trip…

Day 2 excerpt....

Brian and I spent the morning discussing strategy for this trip, who is targeting what, and why. Both of us again, don’t know exactly what we are going to do, if anything, but know we need to be here and can help in many ways. 

Brian, Kim, Kate, Anne, and Josh all left and went to see an organization called Reaching Cambodia which takes kids in. 

I stayed back and met with Vibol, the financial manager for the church and compound. When I left last time, he and I had just started diving into financial planning for the church itself, and we were finding that they were missing tons of opportunities to generate income with their facility. So we started right where we left off. It became evident immediately that he had no idea what he was doing. He had 10 spreadsheets that don’t match, tallying into one big one, which is basically a ledger. He expressed how Sophea (head pastor) is having a hard time taking risks and moving forward with expansions and plans. He spent quite a bit of time talking about it. But once I saw what Sophea was being presented, I immediately knew what the issue is. Type A, visionary leaders take risks, expand companies and organizations, and lead intentionally - but only when they have confidence in the plan there are moving forward with. Sophea has no plan, and he’s relying on a  financial guy with the experience of a high school graduate here. So when Sophea asks for a financial breakdown to make decisions from, he freaks out (my assumption), and slows things down. 

I spent 4 hours with Vibol, looking at their financial picture, and assembling a projection for the next 2 years, based on historical information, market research, and opinions about what we felt the property could do if they had the proper tools and took the steps. I a new spreadsheet that was comprehensive with who they were going to target, how they were going to do it, and what kind of revenues that would generate. When we built the spreadsheet in the way I like to see things (from a Type A / visionary perspective) immediately Vibol said “ah… I now see.” He could see how he was presenting things to his leader, and how it would only confuse him. It was a great breakthrough moment for him. 

All in all, we took the property and increased it’s revenue by 40% in 1.5 years, with only a 10% increase in overhead. The freedom that comes for their church when they have that additional income is huge! I am going to spend the next few days finishing the package, and then we are going to roll it out to Sophea. I’m praying it’s received well. 

I later met with a businessman who owns a tortilla making company. We sat down, me, him (Sothy), his wife Chanthy, and Sophea. He gave me his package of tortillas, which I immediately knew were a high grade product. They are fresh, packaged nicely, and weighed about 2x what ours do. He explained how he got into the business, and that he wants to expand but doesn’t know what to do or where to go. We quickly identified that he is the ONLY tortilla making company in the country, that his only competition is from the states and Australia, and he is selling his product for 1/2 of what his competition is. I of course stopped the conversation and asked him to repeat what he had just said. Seriously! They started their business and with fear of failing, the underpriced their product and now are stuck. So I put a plan together with them for increasing their margin by 40% on each package. We are going to lose a few customers, but in the end he’ll still be making more money, working less, and will be poised for profitable growth.

We also identified that he has a desire to change lives of some locals. So I explained how people want to be a part of something but most never take the time, or think they have the time. So he needs to be transparent with his customers, and let them know that he’s taking 3 kids off the streets a year, and teaching them trade. He needs to market it, put it on his packaging, etc and then report yearly to his customers about what they were part of this last year. He was pumped about that idea and immediately got how the transparency would help create more value in his brand and would ultimately result in higher sales. 

By the time we were done, he was so jacked up! It was awesome. He also wants to start a Mexican restaurant here, so I told him when the time comes, I’ll get some restaurant folks to come over and help him take the first few steps. He could not believe that we’d do that. 

{ Pastor Sophea & Tim meeting with the owners of the tortilla company }

Dinner then was with the entire group, and pastors from the Life Giving Network. This was really cool to be a part of. Dan finished his 3 years of training these pastors. They have had to send him monthly reporting every month for 3 years, trained them on site 4 times a year, and has poured time and energy into them teaching them purpose driven church model, systematic theology, etc. These guys were incredible. It’s such a testimony in how they have set up their model for reproduction of pastors. I want to stay behind them on this front as it’s huge. 

It was so cool to hear Dan talk about each guy and what they have accomplished through the process. Not only are all of them pastoring churches, they have led thousands to Christ, baptized thousands, one is translating the ESV bible into the Khmer language, one is running a televangelist radio show, they are all moving into the surrounding villages for mission work, one is pastoring a 300 person church and growing rapidly, teaching English to students, etc. It was absolutely amazing. And on top of it, in everything that was discussed at dinner, all the successes, etc. Everything was done to glorify God, and they gave credit over and over to the fact that it was cause of Christ and his movement on their lives. It was so great. 

{ Dan speaking at the graduation ceremony and dinner for the pastors who went through the PEACE plan and training. }

Day 3 excerpt....

After that we had the driver deliver us to the motorcycle shop to get our bikes. I was nervous as all get out! I have never ridden a dirt bike style bike, and am used to my bike which is big, but solid. These are worn down, rattly, and old. But they assured us they drive well. They took our passports and will hold them until we return the bikes. I really wish I would have brought my helmet. I did however bring Matt’s pair of sunglasses for riders which have pads that keep the air out of the eyes, and these were a life saver. 

We got on the road and went for it. I don't think my sphincter muscle has been that tight in years. I was dripping with sweat, anxiety, nerves, excitement, etc. It was absolutely terrifying and invigorating at the same time. What a rush! We were ducking and diving cars, driving in oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road, merging the wrong way, etc. Everything they do here, we were doing. It was so much fun. You realize once you are out there that they have a mutual respect for each other on the roads and people just watch for each other. It’s amazing. 


{ The beginning of the adventure bike rentals.  Brian and Josh were thankful for Tim's bright shirt as they were a few in the chaos of many on the streets navigating through cars, scooters, and other bikers. }

{ This face tells me to worry. Thankful he at least has a helmet on as law states that just drivers are required to wear them and all other passengers- sometimes up to 5 on one scooter - are not. }

Tonight Brian and I spoke at a class for students. There was about 150 of them there and we spoke about business development, how we got to where we are, and what it takes to maintain a business. It was really interesting. It was also fun. Brian and I just feed so well off each other and pitch crap to each other that it’s hard to not enjoy it. We just have a blast together. Listening to the questions though, from the kids, it’s clear they all want to be business people but have no concept of what that means. They associate it with being rich, having an office, and wearing a suit. One guy was going to school to be a contractor who builds high rises, roads, bridges, and homes (kind of a wide stretch) and he was wondering how to go get all the business to come to him after he had his degree. He has no concept of starting at the bottom, learning the trades, developing a reputation, how to market himself, etc. I think it just hit me today how much the Pol Pot Regime totally wiped out everything about these people. I asked our driver today what it was like here before it all happened. He told me that Shanghai and other cities, were modeling their towns after Phnom Penh. It used to be the jewel of the south ease Asia area. Now it’s a pit. So sad. 

After that we went to Sophea and Jenny’s house for dinner. WOW…. We would struggle to live in that environment. They have a girl there who just moved here from a church in northern Canada. She felt led to come and serve the pastor and his family here so she moved here at 17 years old, last month. She will be here for 2 more months and then will go home. What a great experience for a kid of that age. Would love to see our kids do this or YWAM. 

Day 4…..
Today we started with breakfast as normal. I ended up getting up early and reading Isaiah. How cool that prophets were given visions and words from the Lord that foresaw the coming of our Savior. Good way to start the day.

Next we got on our bikes and rode out to Koy’s place in the country. Koy is with Teen Challenge and he manages 2 complexes. One is in the city and it houses all the women, who they help out of addictions and take off the street and then give them a home, help cure them, teach them about the Lord, teach them how to work, etc. The other one is in the country and it’s for the guys. This complex is quite something. They have agriculture and gardens for the food, pigs which they grow and sell for money, a scooter repair shop which they use to teach the kids how to work and skills, and then a dorm and a small school for them. 

Last time I was there I felt called to send people to help Koy. I feel the same after our meeting today. Koy is still struggling with 50% piglet loss of life, and when pigs are your main source of income, that hurts hugely. They are barely making it, and getting zero support from the main Teen Challenge organizations corporate headquarters. 

{ Pictures from the slum area near the capitol. Puts EVERYTHING into perspective.  No toilets or running water. What you see is what they have...}

{ Koy, the leader of Teen Challenge, with some of the kids in the slum areas. }

Day 5…..
It seems for me on trips like this, there is always a day that changes things. Today I think was that day. We had a quick breakfast and then went off to church. At the breakfast though, Brian and I were chatting and I told him that this trip feels different. I have begun to feel indifferent about it a bit. The first trip was scouting, figuring things out. This trip was supposed to be a deeper push, learn more, help more, and figure out what we want to do. After a couple days we both felt that we have to be here for longer periods of time to make a dent. Much like Greg when he goes to Haiti. He goes for a few weeks. We both feel we need a few weeks here, planned properly, with a team, and then we can do some specific damage that will help the church and believers locally. But this morning we both agreed that it felt like we were at the point where we now know, we just need to dive in or move on. We left the discussion un-ended….

Pastor Kim was preaching at Sophea’s church. We had already met with Kim and he had instructed us to sit separately and engage with people instead of hanging together. I think he also did this so he could focus points towards us. 

Worship was crazy there. People in other countries, that aren’t washed out with appearance issues and success, just have no issue being who they are in worship. This crowd was jumping, cheering, clapping, shouting, etc. I captured some great video. It was totally fun. We spent some time in prayer with individuals, holding hands and praying over each other. 

Then Kim got up to preach. The church was about 75% full, probably 300 there, and they are a younger crowd, mostly in their 20’s and 30’s I would guess. Kim’s message was about the vision he had earlier this week over this church, and over the LGN and what it’s going to be in the future. His vision had to do with this young church being a nation changing church, a church that would plant 10 churches in 10 years, expand way beyond it’s roots, save children from poverty, equip leaders, etc. He shared how he saw a big fire, and people were throwing themselves into the fire and being consumed by it. The fire kept getting bigger and bigger, and eventually, people started leaving the fire with small fires of their own, and spreading out. Wherever those people went, people in the surrounding areas started jumping into their fires as well. Pretty soon, the country was a blaze. The fire obviously was the church. With all his passion, he lit that church up today. 

In his message he talked about how we limit God, we make Him small, but God is “able to accomplish infinitely more than we are able to ask or even comprehend”. This resonated with me as I see this in my life. God has done more with us than I ever would have imagined. I was fresh off an email from a gal to my wife who said that my wife, on that specific night talking to the group of women in Bellingham, was “a miracle” to their marriage, and helped save it. God has used us, and still is. I have also been hearing while I’m here that I need to come and help them get the church infrastructure off the ground, as they will not be able to see it until it’s done. I have now built the bulk of their business plan and am almost ready to roll out to the church. I don’t know how that works with my family, and with what we have going on already and what we feel called to do. 

Kim mentioned in his sermon that he believes this church is going to be a church that impacts marriages locally as well. It was at that moment that God spoke clearly to me and said that I will come down here, build the infrastructure with the church, take a team or two to make it happen. I will lead the trade partnerships for the pigs and agriculture that I have been feeling led to do, and focus also on the church. I will come alongside the businesses that I have been mentoring, work with them on a daily basis for a while, and help them really take things to the next level. My wife will spearhead a marriage conference while she is here. The local churches, which are all connected, will market it, play the video’s at church service, advertise it well to the local community and surrounding villages, and we will then have a weekend dedicated to marriages in the church locally. We will speak, share our testimonies, and have a marriage conference here, where I highly doubt there has been one as they don’t have the resources. 

As I sat there, writing this down and reviewing what I felt the Lord had said, I was asking God if this was Him speaking, if this was real, or just a thought in my mind. While I was thinking / praying this, I was distracted from the message briefly. But right then, after I asked God if this was real, Kim spoke clearly and it was like the room went silent and it was just him and I. He looked right at me and said “God is choosing people from all over the world to come here, to build this church up, to help it expand and become a national influence with the Word of God. There is a reason YOU keep coming back here. It’s because the Holy Spirit is at work, the harvest is ripe, and YOU are supposed to help. Right here, right now.” 

I broke, and couldn’t hold back the tears. After the discussion at breakfast, the feeling that I’m getting some clarity and direction, it was like the Lord just opened my eyes and said “here’s the plan.”. 

{ The three guys out for a dinner at Malis. }

Day 6…..
Day 6 was a bit of a blur. We left early on our bikes and rode through the country! It was a blast. Stopping at shacks for lunch and a beer, driving through caves, on dirt, gravel, driving on the shoulder, weaving in and out of traffic, cows, bikes, scooters, cars, buses, etc. It was a rip! 

Sadly one of the guys had a crash and we ended up in a hospital. Eye opening to say the least. It did not mess with me though, he made a dumb move, and didn’t have a backup plan. The driving we were doing wasn’t necessarily safe in US standards, but there it was, and everyone else is trained for it as well. 

We ended up staying in a villa on the river down by the coast. Very cool setting! 

{ The hotel beach where Tim stayed on the coast. Below is the map showing the distance from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville where he spent one night. }


{ Rather than have a driver, the guys decided to rent adventure bikes to get around. }


{ The view from the top of the mountain overlooking the coast. }

{ Vibol took a wide corner and lost control resulting in a dislocated shoulder and some cuts. }

{ ER looks a little different than ours here in the states. So does the price tag. Over night stay,  two ambulance rides, drugs, and care…drum roll…$300!!! }

{ Love these kids. So excited to sell flashlights to the guys as the entered the cave. }

{ Someone needs a shower. }

Day 7….
Got up early, and back on the road for our trip home. It was a great ride, great roads this time, and we hauled. What a blast!
I went to the place where Kim / Anne were doing their training with the church team. I sat in the back and listened and really picked up quite a bit and felt even more of a clearer direction for me. 

{ Big FAT no thanks on this one. Way to go Brian and Josh for trying crunchy tarantula legs }

Day 8….
Off to the airport! 


The kids and I were able to drive south to pick up Tim from the airport and bring tired Daddy home. Tim REALLY struggled with jet leg this time as he for days later, would be snoring at 7pm on the couch. I'm happy to report he's back on our time and ready to go again!