Not so Sketchy Sketches

I may tend to freak out with excitement when we have visitors in the office. Visitors bring a treasure trove of experience and resources with them. After all, our most recent visitor had 30 years of experience in architectural design that he was more than happy to pass on to the team. First took our team out to visit a recently built school to discuss the design. Then we did a lunch and learn on architecture programming and how architecture relates to the other disciplines in the office. He also patiently spent time with all our architects, answering every question they could dream up. It was a lot of training in a short period of time! This is one of many strengths that our office can offer young engineers and architects. We have a network of volunteers from around the globe who can come in and pass along their technical expertise. This is an exciting part of my job – making connections and creating opportunities and watching the magic happen!

The architects are running through an exercise. They have a scenario and are trying to decide the building layout that makes the most sense. (Hint, they did not pick the circle.)

Puth Kiri

A few weeks ago, one of our neighbors invited me to go on a trip with them over the weekend. We hopped in their family’s car, and drove several hours into the province to a Buddhist monument called Puth Kiri.

Essentially, Puth Kiri is a small hill that is almost entirely covered in statues of the buddha. They have some tens of thousands of statues currently, and are hoping to have 84,000 in total someday. All along the road, workmen were casting and painting new statues to add.

Buddhism in Cambodia isn’t entirely textbook — there are a lot of animistic traditions added on to the “Four Noble Truths” — things like appeasing spirits and ghosts, superstitions and rituals. My friend told me that because of the many statues at this location, prayers and vows made here are much more powerful. She prayed for the health and happiness of her family and friends, although she told me that it was OK for me to pray to Jesus instead (No worries, I had already made a lot of prayers on this trip!).

— That they would be drawn to a restored relationship with God
— That they would be willing to ask questions of their Christian friends and neighbors
— That they would not be captive to fear of spirits and rituals
–That Christianity in Cambodia would stay firm to the word of the Gospel – not bend to the culture.


Finding Rest

One area where Ian and I have struggled most since moving overseas is finding rest. When we told people we were moving to Cambodia the more seasoned expats reacted with a, “Oooh, you will love it! But it’s going to be 10x harder to do even the simplest things, such as grocery shopping, let alone engineering and ministry. Don’t forget to leave time to rest, because you will need it more than ever!” (By the way, grocery shopping frequently involves two markets and two shops, just to find the normal week’s worth of groceries).

We have always been very go, go, go type of people and it’s an easy habit to fall back into here. But just like running errands or explaining calculations can take extra time here, extra time is needed to rest too. It has become different in appearance too. Before I would go with the pup to the dog park and run with him or we would go hiking in the mountains. Here it’s more likely to be time in the hammock on the roof or taking a weekend to escape the city and see plants. Ian and the pup recently had a fun opportunity to escape the city, which he will talk about more next week.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you! What is your favorite way to find rest?



How do you treat flowers?

When Ian and I were dating he used to walk me to class and bring a flower he had made from pipe cleaners, each more brightly colored than the last. He started doing this because he knew how unhappy it made me when real flowers die and have to be thrown away. I wish I could just grow flowers but sadly did not receive either grandmothers’ green thumb. I have, however, logged plenty of time ripping dandelions out of our yard in Colorado. A yard full of them isn’t good for resale (no matter how much the puppy loves frolicking in them or eating them). On the flip side, there are some crazy expensive flowers out there! So what makes one flower worth more than another?

You can bring economics into it and say supply and demand. But if GOD created the flowers and could make whatever kind He wants, whenever He wants, that isn’t valid with Him.

In Matthew 6 Jesus uses the example of the lilies of the field. But I wonder if I have trouble trusting sometimes out of fear that God will treat me the way I treat flowers. So what about you? How do you treat flowers? Do you treasure them? Throw them away? Ignore them entirely? Does this affect your image of how God treats you?

*For all my geeky friends, this was inspired from picking flowers while playing Minecraft and wondering if I should let a flower de-spawn or if it was worth detouring to pick it up.


Developing People

This week, by popular request, our office did a training on how to write a professional email. The training was voluntary, but every Khmer staff member and intern came. We focused on communicating with clients or potential clients in particular and discussed everything from subject lines, structure, greetings, content and anything else they could think to ask. I was thankful our HR manager (who is Khmer) comfortably stepped in to explain the differences between emailing a Westerner vs. a Cambodian national (example: extra greetings needed).

At the end of the training, we did a contest! Everyone had the same prompt and submitted an email using what they had learned. I was really impressed with how seriously everyone took it and very good emails were sent! In the end, one of our interns won! He was very creative, asked a lot of good questions and used his resources to put together a solid email. I learned a lot observing how each person approached the competition.

This weekend our office has the opportunity to attend a Christian leadership summit and are going together as a group. I love that this office places such a heavy emphasis on developing people!