[To view this update with complete with photos, follow this link.]
Just over a month ago, late in the evening on July 4, we arrived at the Phnom Penh airport and were greeted by our EMU colleagues, Matt and Becky Hancock and Jeremy Farmer. It took 2 taxis and half of Matt’s CR-V to get our luggage to the guesthouse, where we all fell sound asleep till the next morning. (We were exhausted enough that jetlag didn’t keep us up.)
For the next six days, Jeremy and Bonnie Ruth Farmer, 2-year veterans of Phnom Penh, made calls and shuttled us around town for a remarkably productive week. On Saturday, July 5, we bought SIM cards for our phones and we looked at three houses, quickly settling on the second, a more-than-adequate house in a small neighborhood on the northwest side of town. On Sunday I began looking for a car, filled out paperwork for our driver’s licenses, and visited a church. (The service was at 4 pm, and the kids had already given out for the day, so Amy stayed back at the guesthouse with them.) On subsequent days we went to two shops to order our furniture, we bought fans, we made copies of documents, we bought a rice cooker and a slow cooker and a coffee maker. And we kept looking for a car.
The last day before the Farmers left for home, we knew that buying a car was top priority. Jeremy and I prayed (again) for God’s leading, and we (again) began walking the streets near Freedom Park, where used car salesmen display their wares. Instead of leading us to the right car, God led a salesman to us, and he showed us a vehicle, a mid-90’s Toyota 4Runner, a model I’d assumed would cost too much. It turned out to be well within our price range, and it’s the same car two of our EMU colleagues have in the province: with 6 cylinders and 4-wheel drive, it’s great for the bad roads in rainy season. So I bought it.
All during this time, the landlord was having work done on our home: cleaning, painting, fixing things. On July 16, our second Wednesday in the country—by this time the Farmers were back in Ratanakiri and our co-worker Brian Kane had come down to Phnom Penh to help us out—we began our own cleaning on the house, and the next day we moved in. For the last two and a half weeks we’ve unpacked boxes, done more cleaning, killed lots of ants and cockroaches, arranged furniture as it’s been delivered, and generally settled in. We’re still awaiting the master bed, though. When it arrives, it will be our third master bed (in succession, not simultaneously). The first was 15 cm too short for our 2 m mattress. Then the second, sent to replace the first, was 5 cm too short. So on Saturday we anticipate receiving the final version, a bed that’s 2 m long inside the frame and not just 2 m long on the outside.
We also look forward to getting drapes up: we have the fabric and are now waiting on the rods and brackets. Once those are up—which will involve drilling lots of holes in our concrete walls—we can have the drapes made and hung. (We’re thankful for a wonderful American family a few houses down from us who have helped us in many ways. The wife, Angie, took Amy to one of the markets to buy the fabric, and she directed me to the right stall in a different market where I could get the hardware.)
The same day we moved into our home, I bought a used Honda Dream motorcycle (125cc), one of the most popular motos in the country. Last week our 4Runner was with the mechanic, so I was quickly forced to learn how to ride a motorized bike in city traffic. The traffic is pretty wild, but it helps that most cars rarely get over 25 mph, and there are enough motos to provide a sort of buffer around me.
I started language school last week, a trial class that meets 6 hours a week for a month. The class is being offered for free to ten participants, as it is part of the school’s teacher-training. This is a brand-new language school, perhaps the first in the country that implements a learner-centered approach, one that takes advantage of decades of research into effective language teaching. So far I’ve been very pleased, and I plan to enroll full-time once the school starts up at the end of September. I hope to hire a tutor for the month between the end of this class and the school’s startup. Because of childcare, Amy won’t be able to enroll at the school, but she begins working with a language tutor in our home this Thursday morning. Over the next couple weeks we’ll be working to figure out the best schedule for Amy’s study.
One thing that will help Amy’s schedule will be finding a part-time helper, someone who could fix one of our meals some days, help with market shopping, and keep the house swept (a daily job—in fact, our local market is called Dusty Market). Right now I’m going to the market every few days, but that can’t continue once I’m in school every day.
We’ve been thrilled by how well our kids have adjusted. Recently Becca was praying before a meal, and she thanked God “that we are in Cambodia, and that we like it.” The heat hasn’t been too bad these last few weeks, though Amy and I are more than glad to turn on the A/C in our room before bed, and a cold shower feels pretty nice. The kids sleep with fans on them, no A/C, but last week Becca complained that the fan was too cold pointed directly at her. So now her fan oscillates. Weird.
Because of Amy’s unflagging effort, our house has become a home very quickly. She’e the one who has organized, unpacked, and arranged our things, all the while tending to the rest of the family’s sanity. I can’t imagine doing any of this without her.
If you’re interested in seeing more photos, check out our blog, jensendimension.org, where Amy posts about our family life every Thursday. You can also see photos and short posts on Amy’s Facebook page (Amy Sutter Jensen); if you request to be Amy’s friend, be sure to include a note that you get our missionary updates.
We have much to praise God for, and we invite you to join us. We arrived safely. We had all four EMU families helping us at various times during our first two weeks. We found a house and a car quickly and received most of our furniture within two weeks of moving in. None of us has experienced any significant sickness. We feel settled and content.
Please pray with us (1) that we could work out a good schedule for Amy’s tutoring and language study; (2) that I could find a tutor to work with me until late September; (3) that we would seize opportunities to practice and develop our language; (4) that we can begin developing good relationships with our Khmer neighbors; and (5) that we could find a good part-time helper to assist Amy.