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Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Chapter

A year of joy.
A year of trial.
A year of suffering.
A year of overcoming.
A year of friends.
A year of laughter.
A year of new relationships.
A year of saying good-bye.
A year of academics.
A year of service.
A year of adventure.
A year of calculated risk.
A year of new discoveries.
A year of growth.
A year of freedom.
A year of new hobbies.
A year of memories.
A year of God.
A year of love.
A year of forgiveness.

This chapter of my life comes to a close tonight. But tomorrow, a new one begins. And the possibilities are endless. My story is not my own-it belongs to the Author of life. With the pencil in my hand and the eraser in His, 2011 will produce the chapter of a lifetime. I am nervously anticipating the future, as the blank pages sometimes seem overwhelming. But how exciting to know that though the pages are not yet visible to me, God has already written them (Psalm 139). So why should I fear even the unknown? My story belongs to another.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

North Point's iBand

Merry Christmas from Cambodia!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Oh. My. Goodness.

I leave for Cambodia in 9 days.

NINE days.

I'm overwhelmed.

There's still so much to do -

--- Visa pictures.

--- Figuring out how to get my malaria and other prescriptions without a doctor's appoint.

--- Shopping.

--- Packing.

--- Figuring what I can live without since I already have a full suitcase of Christmas presents and I can only take one suitcase (or pay $55 for a second.)

Meanwhile, I have exams on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

I also work 12 hours during exams.

My Ohio family is visiting this weekend.

The day before I leave, I have family Christmas in the morning, and family Christmas in the afternoon.

I only have 3 Christmas presents for my family of 8.

There are still so many people I want to spend time with before I go.

Again, I leave for Cambodia in 9 days.

NINE days.

Somehow, I'll get it all done. (What doesn't get done, will be forgotten.)

Most memorable Christmas ever?

I'm pretty sure it will be.

Thank you Jesus for being with me every step

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The World-Traveling Backpack

It has traveled to Mozambique:

It's been on a safari in South Africa:

Most recently, it went to Puerto Rico:

It's currently preparing for it's third trip to Cambodia.

and it has never gotten lost!

Monday, December 06, 2010

On the bright side...

Sometimes I just need to sit down and remind myself of life's little blessings:

I have 15 meals to make it through the next 10 days. It could be worse!

One of the books I ordered for Christmas came as ordered!

I don't preach tomorrow; I preach Thursday. That means more time for preparation!

My cherished fish, Abrão, didn't die during the night as I anticipated he would.

It is significantly warmer in central Indiana than it is in Russia!

I just opened a fresh jar of peanut butter, and I still have at least one serving of Frosted Flakes left. (comfort foods!)

Next semester I can work all the hours I want because my co-workers' schedules are very limited.

At least I get to take one suitcase to Cambodia.

My graciously accommodating family is willing to celebrate Christmas a little early this year so that I can still participate in family traditions.

Laura Nelson is so so so kind to put our powerpoint together for tomorrow's presentation.

Once I am in bed, I am asleep! So even the few hours I sleep are guaranteed to be good.

I have plenty of points left for all the coffee I will need in the next 10 days.

Our townhouse is heated... very heated... and I am [semi-] convinced that too hot is better than too cold.

Mom loves me, Jesus loves me, Titus loves me...

Finally, Jesus is already on the throne!

It only took me about 15 minutes to come up with this list, and I am sure that if I gave it 15 minutes more, I could double it. Try it yourself!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dear Cambodia,

Dearest Cambodia,

Children in Kompong Spue

In eighteen days, we will meet again. Only eighteen! It was exactly one and a half years ago that I left. The wait has been long, but at the same time, it feels like I was just there, because I can remember it like it was yesterday. Of course, the wait has been eased by Skype, Facebook, and memories.

Rice field and backside of Wesleyan Bible Institute

I imagine that the 36-hour travel period will feel more like 36 days! I'm quite accustomed to the long trip, but I still don't enjoy it. Going through Cleveland to Los Angeles, then fifteen and a half hours later, I will land in China and finally one more flight to Phnom Penh! Finally... to Phnom Penh - one of my favorite places in the entire world! (And I've seen a lot of places!)

Friends: Leak and Somon

I remember when I arrived there for my second trip; Greg and Resie Fernandez, filipino missionaries who had been on furlough during my previous trip, came to greet me at the airport. I knew Greg and Resie only through email and pictures, but with them came Somon, who was a student at the WBI. When I heard my name and saw Somon, waving, smiling, and leaning over the "do not cross this point" line, I knew that I was home.

Amongst friends at the airport, before my departure in June 2009

I can't imagine what I will feel on the afternoon of December 23rd when I pick up my bags and walk out those airport doors. Who will be there? I haven't been told, but I do know that there will be one very anxious pastor. On June 13, 2009, it was where I said, "Goodbye. I'll miss you." On December 23rd, 2010, it will be the place where I say, "Hello. I've missed you."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I don't know what else to say.

Running errands is like Halloween because every office on campus has a small bowl of candy at the front desk.

A Snowflake Frappe is thus far the best thing that has happened to me this week. White chocolate, coffee, and a blended candy cane with whipped cream on top, and red sprinkles.

I almost almost almost skipped my first class ever this morning; however, remembering that we would be finishing a movie, I decided to go. I'll be bold enough to say that - after 7 semesters of consistently attending classes that were bottom of my priority list - I have earned it.

At 12:30 this morning -- note: that's half an hour after midnight, not half an hour after noon -- I was eating raspberry yogurt, writing a sermon, and singing a love song to my fish, Abrão.

I clocked in at 7:56am this morning on November 31st. Four minutes early on a day that doesn't exist. In my opinion, that is worth double overtime pay!

I'm tired. I'm stressed (and it's written all over my face. One word: acne.) I have no idea how I will manage the next few days, but life isn't so bad.

I leave for Cambodia in 2 weeks, 6 days, 1 hour, and 33 minutes.

¡Gracias Papá Dios para una vida de bendiciones! Thank you Papa God for a life of blessings!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Psalm 124

The story of the Israelites is truly an incredible one. While my story cannot begin to compare with what Moses' generation experienced, I have also needed God, and He has been faithful. No, He hasn't sent a plague across my enemies nor parted the waters, and I have definitely never seen food fall from the sky, but He has acted. Praise be to the Lord; my help is in Him!

Psalm 124

A song of ascents. Of David.
1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Today, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"It was chaos"

I'm really going to avoid posting the same information on both my personal blog and my Cambodia blog, but because this is so important to me and I have so many more readers following here, I'm going to double post. I wrote this last night and posted it on my Cambodia blog. Thanks for reading!

Monday night during the traditional water festival in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh, a stampede killed 339 people and injured 329. [[Edit: Death toll has reached 375.]]

The scene shows hundreds of shoes, clothing and other personal items littering the streets, the bridge and the underlying water near where the festival took place.

According to CNN, the stampede, which began around 10 p.m., likely occurred because a suspension bridge packed with people began to sway, creating panic. Reports cite people jumping from the bridge into the river below. Police then began firing a water cannon onto a bridge in an effort to get them to continue moving across the bridge; that caused utter panic. A number of people lost consciousness and fell into the water; some may have been electrocuted, as the bridge was festooned with electric lights.

I cannot even begin to imagine the hospitals shortly following the incident, and my first prayer was for the doctors and medical staff that would be attending to the injured. According to CNN, "Dozens of people could be seen laying on what appeared to be the waiting-room floor of a hospital. They were attached to intravenous lines connected to bags strung along wires suspended in the air."

The three-day festival, which began Saturday, is held annually to honor a 12th century victory by Cambodian naval forces. During the festival, which includes boat races, participants pray for a good rice harvest and sufficient rain, and to celebrate the full moon.

This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime, during which an estimated 21% of the population died in waves of murder, torture, and starvation. My heart is breaking; though I am thankful to have already heard from friends that report they were not in attendance. Please keep Cambodia in your prayers. The prime minister has declared Thursday as an official day of mourning - ironically, the day of Thanksgiving in the States.

Love love love, Jewel

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sometimes Life is Strange

*Friday at Longhorn Steakhouse, the waiter asked me if I wanted a refill of vodka. He promptly refilled my water glass with water. Strange.

*Jessie and I split a load of laundry yesterday afternoon. Somehow I only ended up with one pillowcase, 4 panties, 4 camis, and 17 pairs of socks. Strange.

*This evening, myself and 8 other adults and 5 little kids met at Brookhaven and we delivered Thanksgiving meals to families who have visited our church's food pantry in the last 12 months. On one street, we were looking for house #2916. However, the property between #2924 and #2912 was clearly empty. Strange.

*Speaking of strange interesting, when I was researching Cambodian foods for my Cambodia blog, I discovered that chicken feet are apparently a delicacy.

"Chicken Fingers" has a whole new meaning!

Otherwise, life is continuing as normal. My stress and homework load has been minimal for the last one to two weeks, but it's really going to pick up after Thanksgiving. We are quickly approaching the end of the semester, final project due dates, and comprehensive exams. Ugh.

I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my twin sis, parents, Grandmom, aunt, uncle, and cousins in Ohio. I won't be sleeping in my own bed, but I'm still thankful for a break (and for many more things!) I have been shaking my booty off at Zumba and getting ready for sweet potato casserole and Aunt Nancy's homemade Thanksgivin' rolls!

I spent the majority of the afternoon doing some blog things! Check out the new blog buttons at the top of this page, and click them to see where they take you! I don't get many comments on my posts, but I know people are reading because I get a lot of hits on my counter! Special thanks to my faithful friends and readers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maddix's Big Idea

This year, Maddix decided that for her fifth birthday, instead of asking for presents, this was her birthday wish: "I would like to raise money for turkeys so I can give them to people who don't have turkeys for Thanksgiving." Seriously? This girl is awesome. Click HERE to watch Maddix's video. Her parents, my friends Nathan and Jade, have really done a great job of teaching Maddix about loving, giving, and being like Jesus.

Maddix's updated total: $958.19 for turkeys AND fixin’s!!! She alone has raised enough to feed the fifty families that will be attending our church's Thanksgiving service, and she isn't even finished. Tonight between 5 and 9, our local Moe's is giving 20% of their profit to Maddix's cause.
Sunday morning, alongside almost 15 others at our church, Maddix gave a cardboard testimony to testify of God's incredible goodness and provision. Our church is proud of that little girl, and we should be!

God is using this little girl in a big way.
Will you let Him use you?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Does this picture intrigue you? Come back tomorrow evening to see what it's all about.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chinese Proverb

"If you want happiness for an hour -- take a nap. If you want happiness for a day -- go fishing. If you want happiness for a month -- get married. If you want happiness for a year -- inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime -- help someone else."- Chinese proverb

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finally Friday!

This was close to the slowest week ever. I don't know why. I woke up on Tuesday and thought it was Wednesday. I woke up Wednesday and thought it was Thursday. I went to bed on Wednesday, fully anticipating that I would wake up on Friday. So I am glad that Friday has finally arrived! Log on at Living to Tell the Story and share your own Friday's Fave. Five!

1. Andrea and Addison reunited
My dear friend Andrea was reunited this week with her 22-year-old son that was abducted 19 years ago! Our wonderful church body is coming together and we are hoping to front a plane ticket for him to fly from California to central IN to meet the rest of his family for Thanksgiving! With tears in my eyes, I am so so SO happy for Andrea! Addison could have shut the door in his mom's face, but he has been warm and responsive! We are rejoicing and praising God for His goodness and faithfulness.

2. Channy's Visa
My beautiful friend Channy had an interview with the US Embassy in Cambodia on Wednesday and she was granted her American visa to visit the States with her husband Jeff. Channy wrote to me, "I knew that He dwelled in my mouth so when the Us embassy asked me some questions and i have ability answered to him quickly and no afraid..."
I am so excited for Channy, and even more excited for Jeff because I understand how eager he is to introduce Channy to his friends and family, and to his country. They were married in Cambodia last December, with his parents and brother in attendance.

3. My newest McConn discovery: pomegranite tea -- iced and shaken -- with vanilla syrup and lemonade. So good!

4. Toy Story 3
Yes, I know I'm 22. Yes, I know that I could be giving my attention to much worthier things. Yes, I know that there are much more exciting things to do on a Friday night. But Toy Story was my absolute favorite movie growing up. I remember saving my allowance and finally having enough to buy the Woody doll, and gradually collecting smaller versions of other characters.
When TS3 was in theatres earlier this summer, I was in Africa, then shortly after in Puerto Rico, two days later spent a week at camp. Tonight, I will be re-living my childhood.

5. Countdown to Cambodia
I leave for Cambodia in 38 days! THIRTY-EIGHT! I thought last week that it was still around 50-something days! That means my "25 days of Cambodia" will begin in only two weeks! I'm not sure how I will be celebrating that special occassion, but I'll think of something! :)

5. Weather
What a gorgeous week! Amen?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today, I am humbled.

Yesterday at lunch, I received a phone call with news that my Zumba instructor's husband, Billy Mitchell, unexpectedly died yesterday morning.

In youth counseling class last night, Prof. Dueker informed us that our absent classmate, Christina, has begun chemotherapy.

I have finally finished a post that I have been writing for my blog Jewel in Cambodia about the Khmer Rouge and the genocide of the late 1970's. In less than five years, about 2 million Cambodians (or 21% of the population) are estimated to have died in waves of murder, torture, and starvation, aimed particularly at the educated and intellectual elite. Read my post HERE.

Young soldiers and torturers of the Khmer Rouge

Meanwhile, my friend Andrea flew across North America to California to locate her missing son that was taken from her at age three. Almost twenty years later, he has been found. Found at last, and with tears in my eyes, I am rejoicing with Andrea and praising God for blessings and answered prayer.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Happy Tuesday?

Stress, overload, and acne. Is it really only Tuesday?

Monday, November 08, 2010


From day one, snotty-nosed Irashmo was my favorite of the children in the creché. There is this common misbelief that we aren't supposed to have favorites, which I suppose stems from the truth that everyone should be treated equally. Nonetheless, Mo was my favorite.
He smiled big, sung loud, and cried a lot. Like his sister Maria, he is a cry baby and was bullied a lot by João and the others because the kids knew Mo would react in a big way. He would scream "maaamaaa" and run into my arms with crocodile tears running down his precious cheeks. He was also very forgiving, because João was his best friend. Mo loved bubbles and every morning he would put grab my bag and ask, "balão?" (balloon) He also loved riding on my back, or swinging in my arms, and he was very jealous when I did either of those two things with another child, especially João. That's why I was often seen like this:

I wish I could have brought Mo home with me from Africa. Oh, I love love LOVE that little boy! I would ensure that he has have everything he needs for his body, mind, and spirit to grow strong. Until the Lord opens the door for me to return to Mozambique, I pray that he is safe and well in the care of his parents, Papa Isak and Mama Sala - very sweet people.

Look at my happy boy!

The first week that I was in Mozambique, I couldn't understand Irashmo's name and I called him "Rudolph" instead because almost every other day he wore this red Rudolph t-shirt.

I love you, my sweet boy.

Friday, November 05, 2010

November's First Friday's Fave Five

Log on at Living to Tell the Story and share your own Friday's Fave. Five!

1. I am not political, but I am grateful that I live in a nation where citizens are given a vote - a vote that does make a difference.

2. White Berry
A latte with Ghirardelli white chocolate and made with [rasp]berry syrup of choice, steamed [skim] milk and espresso.

3. Studying by the fire on a cold November morning in central Indiana.

4. Selling 29 scarves this week!

5. Talking to Titus twice in one week!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Two Questions

1) Why is it so easy to drift to sleep in class during a lecture or in chapel during a message, but when I change into sweat pants, take my shoes off, turn down the lights, and lay my head on a pillow, I can't fall asleep?

2) Why does the girl next to me in Fine Arts class insist on chomping her gum through the entire class period?

I'm in the library pondering these two questions, and working on my sermon. I have 20 pages of preparatory notes due on Tuesday and I still cannot answer: "Why do I want the audience to know?" and "What do I want the audience to do?"

On another [brighter] note, tomorrow is Friday!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cambodian Scarves

I'm so excited about the second shipment of scarves that arrived this week from Cambodia. The scarves are being sold to support my ministry there. I never imagined that it would be such a successful fundraiser. I sold nineteen in only THREE hours of being posted on facebook last night! I leave in fifty days, and I arrive there in fifty-two! Thank you Jesus for calling me to Cambodia.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can't believe it...

She turned 70 last week. I wish our office had given her a once-in-a-lifetime kind of celebration.

Two weekends ago, we sat together at Laura's wedding. Yesterday afternoon, we had a good thirty-minute conversation about life, school, graduation, work, etc. Now, she's gone. She was old, and her heart was weak, but her spirit was strong. I'm still in shock... I can't believe it.

Please pray for Professor Sprinkle's family. Her husband, John, is currently on a cruise with his brother. Her mom, a 98-year-old lady, was placed in the ICU after all the trauma on her own failing heart.

1 Corinthians 15:42-57 (New Living Translation) --
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday's Fave. Five: Thank you Jesus!

Log on at Living to Tell the Story and share your own Friday's Fave. Five!

1. On Tuesday, one of my closest friends in Mozambique called me. I could not believe it! My twin sis, who was with me when I received the call, can attest to how excited I was that it was CALISTO! I have received phone calls from three or four other friends already, but not yet Calisto! Calisto and I shared breakfast and lunch everyday when I was at the Bible college in Xai Xai; he always fought the other students to bring my meal from the kitchen... memories I cherish! While he is at the Bible College, Calisto is working on a project to provide an audio Bible in his language; he estimates that it will take three years.

I miss you Calisto! Praying for you every day.

2. I finally have my Cambodia blog (Jewel in Cambodia) published. I have written 10 posts since late September, but I waited awhile to publish it. Check it out! New post coming tomorrow. :)

3. My nieces in their Halloween costumes. (Click to enlarge)

Miss Leah as a giraffe and Baby Mal as a monkey

4. I spent more than 5 hours in the library yesterday evening, and I finally have a good start to my sermon-preparation.

5. My Redeemer lives!