Walk With Me and Be My Friend

Today I walk with for you.

This is not the first time we've walked together. I really don't know when our paths first crossed-you've been a neighbor and friend as far back as I can remember. Only a phone call away- we could whip up a reason to get together in no time.

img_9166The occasion didn't have to be momentous, a simple walk would suffice. Laughter and childish banter would echo off of Paradise Mountain, as we fearlessly commandeered our siblings into all sorts of adventures. The possibilities were endless- we had the entire mountain to explore, countless hills for sledding, your pond, our swimming pool, and a well worn trail in between.

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Years marched by rapidly and saw us taking on responsibility, as our families joined forces in the dairy world. The walks were more work-oriented these days, but we still enjoyed the journey: pizza settling up parties, your mom's traditional snow day doughnuts, soft pretzels by the dozens…

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And still time moved along. We walked a few valleys together and enjoyed some exhilarating mountaintop sunsets… and our walks (although not as frequent) are more meaningful as we enjoy the sweet communion of life long friends.

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Today will be different, because instead of walking side by side, I will walk ahead of you; and I will stand and watch you with a lump in my throat and (even tho I'll fight it) a tear in my eye… God, in His Sovereignty, writes the most beautiful chapters of our stories.

We know that after today,ur journey will take us to hike areas outside of our beloved Eden Valley. But I am confident that one thing will remain-it will still be the same two brown-eyed girls, enamored by the gift of friendship, supporting each other all the way.

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Don't walk in front of me-I may not follow,

Don't walk behind me-I may not lead,

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wishing you and Daniel all the best! Congrats!

Luv you,

Kendra

3 of 3: Hitchhiking (by default) in a foreign land

Once upon a time, 3 girls summoned their favorite tuk tuk driver and headed off on a little excursion in a beautiful, but foreign land.

In no time, the tuk tuk man had delivered them to the first stop on the journey- Central Bus station. Without too much drama, they climbed aboard the nondescript red bus, AND, because their given seats were taken by some nonnegotiable tourists, they moved to the back of the bus, and prepared to set up camp for the 3.5 hour bus ride.

Travel moved along fairly well, a few of the travelers napped, the one in particular kept her nose pressed to the window drinking in all the sights she could see. And there were a lot of them: Ladies hand washing clothes among the lily pads in the ponds in front of their houses; Families gathering rice straw in from the fields;  Herdsman moving their cattle home for the night.

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This country has a lot of factories and after quitting time- there were so many trucks with workers on the road. The girl at the window wondered if it would be exaggerating to say it was 100s of trucks loaded like this one… (P.S I guess she could count all of her attempts to get this pic to have a fairly accurate idea- taking a pic out the bus window of oncoming traffic can be rather tricky- great shot, Em)

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They were so excited to be traveling, but one small detailed niggled in the back of their minds. The nondescript red bus had a manual transmission and they noticed as soon as they left the station that the driver was having trouble with first gear.Less than an hour into the trip, the very unmistakable smell of something being too hot, joined the party in the back of the bus.

Hour 2.5, things weren’t better at all, no matter how hard the girls were praying. Another passenger went to notify the driver, and he pulled to the side of the road, dug out several handfuls of wrenches and proceeded to the back of the bus. Everybody else got off, but since he was working in the aisle in front of the girls, they stayed put and watched with interest and wished that they were fluent in Khmer as well as transmission knowledge- but neither was the case.

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After several trips between the bottomside of the transmission and the topside, the driver had adjusted the clutch to his satisfaction. He pumped the clutch several times and blew the horn and the bus was ready to roll again.

The bus eased into the rapidly approaching nightfall. The 3 damsels in the back went back to their before mentioned worlds of their own, and noticed with a sinking heart that the ugly hot smell joined the party again too soon. In fact it got worse and in no time, the light in the top of the bus was dimmed by smoke. Somebody had in earbuds and commented on the smoke a little louder than she’d intended and the rest of the passengers panicked. The bus driver pulled off to the side of the road and hurried back the aisle, this time to open a hatch in the roof of the bus, to let the smoke escape.

The no longer, nondescript red bus was barely limping along by now. It was moving only because there was one gear. The driver kept valiantly trying to find another one, but they were all MIA. And before the bus covered very many more miles, that last gear took sick leave, and there the bus stopped along the side of the road. 100 Cambodia Boondocks, Cambodia.

The girls sat in the back of the bus in silence, as the ambitious driver again dug out his wrench set and went to work. At this point, it seemed like the best option was stress eating, and the girls sure were glad for the endless snack bar that was packed in the one backpack. The rest of the travelers looked on with interest and the girls plotted out how they could make the supplies reach around to everyone as they spent the night on the red bus.

But, that was useless chatter, because God was providing. Less than 10 minutes after the bus reached its breaking point, a white van pulled off in front of the bus and stopped, four ways blinking. The one Khmer traveler got off and soon was back on the bus talking excitedly. The most knowledgeable of the 3 ladies got off too, and soon reappeared frantically motioning to shut down the snack buffet, gather the belongings and bid the bus by the side of the road, adieu.

So they did. They threw their luggage in among the vegetables this family was hauling and off they sailed in the darkness.

The van made mulitple stops, dropping off people and veggies.  And thanks to the help of google maps, and a call to the gals destination, soon the little white veggie van was pulling up in front of the most beautiful motel ever seen.

That night, as the girls stood on the balcony watching the small green lights from fishing boats, shining out in the Gulf of Thailand- their hearts were filled with praise to the Almighty Father who provides all things (even  vegetable vans) at the best time.

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His timing is perfect!

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

This trip to Kep was a #30for30 for me… 3 large bodies of water in one month- the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Gulf of Thailand (I thought maybe this would be the Indian Ocean, but according to google (who knows everything) it’s still the Pacific…

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Fishermen taking it easy after working all night

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The crab market at Kep, Cambodia was so fascinating! We did not have enough time there!

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The wild mama monkeys and their adorable babies hanging on for dear life added another dimension to this experience ๐Ÿ™‚

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And the final adventure- ferrying over the Mekong (I think) river to visit Silk Island. (notice the difference between a loaded and empty barge in the background)

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The ferry captain and cutest first mate ever.

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Silk comes from dissolving the cocoons of a silkworm in boiling water. The fibers are wrapped on a reel, then sent to the next location where they are spun into a thread.

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The thread is then dyed and sent to the loom. They said that it takes up to 20 days of labor for 1 yard of intricately woven fabric. Wow.

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I was so amused by the hammock travel. The tuk tuk drivers would even string up hammocks in their tuk tuks while they waited for their passengers to finish shopping. I tried to visualize how how I could do this in my van. ha

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Exotic Asian fruit. My favorite was the eyeball fruit (Kendra’s made up name) on the right. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ladies, thanks for allowing me to tag along on this incredible whirl wind of an adventure! What a priceless memory! luv you!

Approximately 7 different flights and 44 hours, 2 buses and 9 hours, 1 van and 1 hour, 2 ferry rides, countless hours on the back of a tuk tuk, and miles on foot- in 11.5 days- we are home. PTL

 

2 of 3: The Trees in Siem Reap

The little lady spoke English well, as we stopped by her booth in the middle of the Russian Market. “Can I help you with something? What are you looking for?” We were on a quest for an adorable stuffed elephant- a gift for a baby- and she had just what we needed. We entered the bartering game easily and soon had agreed on a price. “What else do you need?” I watched Em’s face and she was doing the exact same as I knew that I was- her face was expressionless, as she focused on looking at the merchandise in front of her. Barely making eye contact with the store opener. You see, the store owner’s face was blown off. Her nose was mostly missing and horrid scarring covered her entire face. It was impossible to look at her and not stare. My mind raced at what had caused those scars (Cambodia is one of the top countries for active land mines) I wanted to cry over the amount of courage that it must take this lady to head out the door every morning… As we finished up our business, her parting words were “God bless you” and I thought of the tree.



The beautiful young girl moved with grace and confidence across the room to where I was seated, enjoying the luxury of a glass of cold ice water. She sat down on the floor in front of me and proceeded to give me the best foot massage ever. We chatted some, but the ever present language barrier made the conversation brief. I watched her gifted hands work, again I wanted to cry. We were visiting   Open Arms   which is a vocational training center for rescued women. (The night before the team at DNI had taken us on a brief drive and we happened through the redlight district. 100s and 100s and 100s of beautiful young girls. My heart broke as I wondered what each story was.) So here we were, doing the only thing that we could to combat the problem, in the week we were there: supporting the system that was already in place and successful, and treating ourselves. This hardly seemed fair. Impulsively, I wished that I could be the one serving her, and then I laughed to myself at the thought of me attempting to covey that request… And I thought of the tree.



Approximately 400 years ago, a little Spung tree shot out its first leaves on a hot day in Ankor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. The tree was surprised out how good the view was so soon. You see, it had chosen to grow up on the Ta Prohm temple wall. This fact totally changed the life of the tree. As the sun beat down on the little tree, some-days, it was so thirsty, it wasn’t sure it was going to survive. But then the rains would come and it would drink and drink… One day, life changed again, for our little friend. Just like that, it’s feet hit solid ground and made their way into the cool moist earth where endless water supply was available. And although the cool smooth stones that shaped the trees existence in the past were still a reality, the tree was able to move past the wall, and make some choices of it’s own.

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Today, there it stands. Unashamedly, lifting up ginormous wooden arms 70 feet in the air. The lacy root system rushing over any obstacle in it’s path. Whispering gentle reminders of courage, strength, and overcoming.

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Yes, there are lots of people who remind me of the tree. Because they chose not to let difficult things in their life paralyze them. Because they move past the pain and embrace the Giver of Grace. Because they can fully claim 1 Peter 2:4 “chosen by God, and precious to Him…”

Amen,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

Our short visit to Jody and Siem Reap was wonderful. They are with ALAM from OH and also work with CAM’s well drilling project in Cambodia. We shadowed the team as they taught English out in the village and were impressed with how the children were learning.

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After class was a game of football (soccer) this is my kind of a goalie ๐Ÿ˜‰

Exploring the countryside and 1000 questions about agriculture in Cambodia was another high point.

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Water Buffalo that were used for plowing the rice fields. They are being replaced by a machine that appears to be 2 wheels and an engine.

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Watched this lady carefully planting the Khmer version of potatoes with her barefeet

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It was hard to leave this gorgeous countryside


And Ankor Wat ๐Ÿ™‚ We visited at sunrise- Em, I and our tuk-tuk driver, along with half of the country. Em said she had “no idea there were so many motivated people” and I had to agree. Anyhow, we waded into the crowds in time to watch the sun begin its daily trek across the sky.

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Ankor Wat is a temple complex, that was constructed in the 12th century. It is also the largest religious monument in the world. There are over 100 temples in the area, but we only had a few hours to explore. (As it was, we walked 6 miles by 8 am, small wonder I needed a foot massage)

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And one last pic (since I don’t have photo document of Jody, Em and I tearing through the darkness on one moto- destination- night market and souvenir shopping) This little farmer boy wanted me to take his pic, so I happily obliged while Em helped his mama catch 2 piglets that were out.๐Ÿ™‰

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What a wonderful 24 hours! Thanks again, Jody, for everything!

1 of 3: Ah, Asia

Dear Cambodia,

The whirlwind week that we spent inside your borders is not one that I will forget.

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Your history touches me. The Khmer Rogue/ Cambodian genocide from the 70s where 25% of the population died is hard for me to imagine. What crippling pain. How can a country overcome that?

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It takes 4100 riel makes up $1 USD… this is equivalent to $2.70

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Your transportation is a marvel. The 3 wheel motorcycle taxis called tuk-tuks running redlights, easing out into oncoming traffic, deciding who goes first by who blows the horn first. ( Kandace, our delighful host lives in a dorm and their motorcycle gang made me smile- they always pulled their motos into the living room before they locked the 14 padlocks for the night. This is the livingroom after curfew:)

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Your people are wonderful. And your culture fascinating. I’ll admit- I was wide-eyed the entire week. Sorry for the times I forgot to take off my shoes at the door… Or when I wasn’t very good at sitting cross legged on the ground… Or when my “Joom riep sue” greeting was totally butchered… Thank you for being patient with all the millions of questions.

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And the food… What an adventure! My favorite was the fried rice. The pork/egg/rice combo wasn’t far behind. The fish egg cake- not so much… And I didn’t get the courage up in the short amount of time we visited to try any of the snails and other little creatures your people are so fond of… I will miss the iced espresso coffee with sweetened condensed milk sold by the neighbor right outside our front door… And the fresh squeezed sugar cane was a delicious treat as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Oh and Em and I wandering into a little restaurant and managing to order a complete meal with basically just hand signals was classic as well..

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And the beautiful precious children. These beggar children with their trick dog was about more than my heart could handle… And the children on the street that Katrina lives on- all heart eyes.

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Oh Cambodia- you still have the chance to know the truth- there are so many people dedicating their lives to show you God and and His love. Please listen! (Cambodia is “95% Buddist with Islam, Christianity and tribal animism making up the bulk of the remainder.” -wikipedia)

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Yes Cambodia, your land of extreme opposites showed Emily and I quite the eventful week.

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Thank you,

Kendra